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Hi.
I am writing to ask options and people's thoughts I have a staffy x she is a 1 1/2 ever since she was 6 months she has been aggressive towards strangers,on walks when we see people with or without a dog she barks, lunges,her hackles are up and the same when people come to our home. I feel it's fear based as she has always been a nervous,skittish dog. I have worked with a lot of different trainers & bahaviourists with no improvement. About two months ago she bit my partners cousin while we were at my mother in laws she circled him as we were walking towards the house together and kinda bumped nipped the back of his calf I grabbed her and layed her on her back to make her submit. Do you think she will ever change,is this going to get worse I have just recently began contemplating putting her to sleep although it brakes my heart this maybe the safest option! Please help advice needed!
 

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I think you are going to the wrong sort of trainers and behaviorists if any of them have suggested or encouraged laying on a fearful dog to "make her submit"

If you were nervous and skittish and when you communicated that you were fearful by say, slapping as someone that scared you, a huge sumo wrestler tackled you and pinned you to the ground, would you become less fearful or would you think "Dang, next time I better make that slap really hard or even a punch so they know to leave me alone" ??

I've had success with fearful (not really fear aggressive at that point) dogs by simply building trust. It sounds like your dog doesn't trust you and doesn't think you can protect her from those strangers. Laying on her or other physically strong corrections are likely making it worse.

Try to build trust and find a trainer that uses positive methods and specifically has experience with fearful dogs.
 

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You attacking her when she is scared is making her much much worse I assure you. I have worked with dogs like you have described. They are are usually good canditates for 'rehab' as long as they have no medical issues and no one punished them for being scared. Having someone they should trust attack them everytime they are upset only reinforces that stragers are VERY BAD things.

I suggest you find a good animal behaviourist or trainer who knows what they are doing. You need to FIX the problems, the root, not SUPPRESS the symptoms.
 

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I agree with the advice of the other folks on this thread. If you are trying to make a fear aggressive dog "submit" and employing "dominance theory" with her, you are making things worse by scaring the dog further. Get a different trainer, one who focuses on positive reinforcement techniques instead.

We have a fear aggressive dog, we've had her for 12 years, since she was 18 months old. She's much, much better now, but I'd never trust her 100% if someone she didn't know just walked into our yard. We've managed her by trying our best not to overface her and put her in a situation where she'll be afraid. A little bit at a time. We introduced new people slowly, one at a time, no parties, no dog parks, no playgrounds, very controlled situations. We started with people who knew dogs and wouldn't be afraid of her OR try to intimidate her. Dog officer, dog aware neighbors, my mother, etc... Treated the crap out of her when she did not react to their presence. Kept her leashed and unable to reach them so there'd be no biting. Only off leash near people once she'd decided they were not going to hurt her or us. Did not punish her when she did react, just removed her from the situation. I have an appliance repairman who can walk right in the house when she's home, he loves dogs and brings cheese (her favorite) every time he comes, she associates him, not with a man invading our home who might hurt her or us, but with good things.

We'd gradually take her out more and, when we saw a person who looked scary to her, keep her at a distance, talk to her and calm her down, treat if her she stayed calm. Rewards for not reacting. Reacting, remove her from the situation calmly.

She does not react to people she trusts. She no longer reacts to people she doesn't know as long as WE are calm, have her near us and under control (on her leash) and the person does not approach her without permission. If they do want to approach her, I have her sit next to me, tell her "good girl" and give them one of the treats I have in my pocket to offer her. They approach slowly and quietly (from "beneath, don't go for patting on the top of the head or back first, that reads as trying to dominate to the dog). Sometimes it helps if I touch the person first, putting my hand on their arm or shoulder, giving her a signal that I (who she trusts) trusts the person. We might have to repeat this on several meetings if the person is a man or teenaged boy (her default assumption is that they are "bad guys").

The vet's is always going to be scary, so I muzzle her there, she would bite them otherwise. She knows she might bite them and she really doesn't want to, but she's afraid. With the muzzle on, she is much calmer, she no longer has to worry about biting the vet and getting in trouble.
 

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Oh, I ride a reactive horse as well...not attacking people, of course, but he will spook easily and lots of things are scary to him. The horse trainer I work with tells me that the key is to keep his attention on ME. I can't just ride around being a passenger or enjoying the view, I have to keep the horse working and asking him to do things, varying the requests frequently enough that he is paying attention to me...that way he doesn't have the time to be looking around at scary stuff ;). My current dog trainer tells me the same thing about my young BC Mix (not aggressive, just a very energetic and bright dog), keep her attention on me, by asking her do to things. He has us working on "attention training", where I keep her focus on me by rewarding frequent eye contact with a treat...this causes her to be regularly "checking in" with me wherever we are so that she is 1) not distracted by what's going on around her and 2) is ready for me to give her direction. This makes animals feel more secure (because they have a person actively engaged with them and running the show, not by using fear techniques, but by just being the one deciding what happens at any given point in time). I think most animals do not want to have to make decisions about how to handle a situation...similar to my children (they think they want all kinds of control over their own lives, but it's scares them and makes them feel insecure if they aren't getting regular guidance and direction).
 

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NEVER EVER roll a fearful, you are making her fear WORSE! The type of people that are tellingou to do this are wrong. She needs POSITIVE associations, not punishment.

You might try this person (since I see you're in Perth). make sure she is using Operent conditioning and counter conditioning for all training. (she's reccomended by IAABC and should be the type trainer you want to help your dog).


5 km away

Kathy McLeod, CDBC



Kathy McLeod is a dog behavior consultant, trainer and published author.
Email: [email protected]

You might also getthese books to help you understand and manage your fear aggressive dog.

SCAREDY DOG! - UNDERSTANDING AND REHABILITATING YOUR REACTIVE DOG, REVISED EDITION
by Ali Brown
EBOOK: THE DOG AGGRESSION WORKBOOK, 3RD EDITION
by James O'Heare

EBOOK: BEHAVIOR ADJUSTMENT TRAINING - BAT FOR FEAR FRUSTRATION AND AGGRESSION IN DOGS
by Grisha Stewart

I also VERY much reccomend this book, EVERY dog owner should have it and read it!
EBOOK: ON TALKING TERMS WITH DOGS - CALMING SIGNALS, 2ND EDITION
by Turid Rugaas
 
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