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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About seven months ago, my friend's family purchased an Australian Shepherd and wanted it as a dog for their youngest daughter, and recently, after going on a playdate with my dog to the beach, this seventh month old Australian shepherd has a habit of approaching people and barking at them and chasing them. He did this with small children. In a sense, he is also affecting my dog's behavior, who, when I take him to the beach alone or with a friend who has a social dog, will approach people willingly, get pet and run back to me, but with this Aussie he will be afraid of people.

On another account, my friend's family is proud that this Aussie bit their oldest son after he playfully tackled the daughter, and that this dog growled at the father when he approached his daughter in her room.

It is not my dog, nor my business, but I feel rather dubious on their opinions of stating that it's the just the "protection" the daughter needs. I understand they want their eleven year old safe, but I feel as though there is a fine line between aggression and protection.

I brought to them my fears, despite not being a canine expert, and said that a dog who barks and growls at people in public areas that is common for people and children to be at is not a form of protection for the girl, but can be considered a threat to the society.

He is only seven months, was recently neutered, and I feel as though with the lack of training and supervision, he'll progress into a worse state and I worry for the effects he might have on my own dog, who's his age, and on a community that is very dog oriented.

When I brought up my fears a bit further, she used my own Aussie against me, who now lives with family in his old age, and how he would nip at her feet when we playfully wrestled or tackle my brother when he yelled and me or came up to me, or when someone hugged me when emotions were high. I couldn't really reply, but he never bit anyone in a way that was aggressive, just got in between. It's worrisome because I don't really want to have a bad influence effecting my dog when they are both at a young age where training is essential. I also don't want the community to isolate them and for them to forget where the line between aggression and protection is blurred.

Should I be worried? Or am I sticking my nose in the wrong place?
 

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I do really think that Aussies are a breed that need major socialization, and hard boundaries. Without those they often turn into what you're describing here. Basically, they need time. If you don't have time don't get an Aussie. I would be worried about a dog that bit kids. Ammy "woofs" at strangers on leash by our house, but not in public areas like downtown on leash. If we were at a beach, off leash, she might woof at some people too but she's not very threatening about it. I think this is just a breed trait, as they were bred to protect cattle and alert you of danger.

The dog needs more time and training. The whole family needs to be told what's acceptable and unacceptable behavior so everyone can reinforce training. That being said, Ammy's not great with small children either and does always want to chase them. Maybe an aussie just wasn't a great fit for their family :/
 

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I don't think they understand the difference between an insecure dog being insecure and a confident protective dog. A confident dog would not go after random people.

If you don't want your dog affected by him, don't let them associate together. Tell your friends you just don't think your dogs' personalities mesh or something like that.
 

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So he's resource guarding the daughter to the point of biting a child and that's good? I hope they still think it's awesome when he rips off a child's face for saying hi to their daughter. :frusty:
 

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Ugh.

Honestly, I cringe any time someone mentions that their dog is "protective" or a good "guard dog." In almost all cases, it's an untrained, anxious dog that hasn't been taught boundaries...and that is not good protection or guarding, but rather a ticking timebomb.

I would say that you are limited in what you can do and it IS hard to watch a young puppy headed in the wrong direction. I would agree that you can opt not to have your dog interact with theirs. I would also be watchful if you have any children and they go to that house to play.

Our dog is "protective" of our daughter, but we do see it as a problem and are actively working to teach him strict boundaries before anything bad can happen. Unfortunately, it sounds like this family will have to have something bad happen before they will see it as a problem that needs to be addressed. Even worse, when that happens, it is usually the dog that is blamed...a dog that was never taught any better. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you so much for confirming my feelings! I talked further with them and the most I could do without starting a feud was tell them to approach the situation carefully!
 

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IMO, only very dog-savvy owners should have Aussies and kids in the same house. hell, only dog-savvy owners should have herding breeds in general - again, in my opinion.

Also in regards to your dog, I personally would keep my dog away from another unruly dog until my dog was 100% trained. You said you already talked to them so this doesn't help now, but whenever I haven't wanted my dog to be around another and wanted to avoid complication, I always just make up some illness or something lol. When Coda was younger (albeit fully vaccinated) when other puppy owners would try and approach her at places like Petsmart, I'd just say "oh she hasn't been fully vaccinated yet (lie), so you should probably keep your dog away from mine." People don't generally want their dog around another dog they perceive as sick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
We went to the beach again, and it's getting more serious. I think I'm going to stop taking Finn with the Aussie to the beach. When it is without the Aussie then I will take Finn.

At the beach today the Aussie chased after a woman, who was a bit tipsy, so she was more unpredictable and she began throwing rocks at him and kicking at him. My friend couldn't get him on the leash because he wouldn't come. The lady began to blame both of us, and even though Finn came immediately when I called, I am still nervous that soon people will start associating Finn as being crude towards people like the shepherd is. A man down the beach with his dog was nervous of the Aussie and of Finn, but once he figured out Finn was nice, he visibly relaxed.

It's good Finn is nice, but the shepherd is definitely affecting his interactions with people, and people are beginning to associate Finn as being an "aggressive" dog who is likely to bite just because he happens to be around the shepherd.

It's awful that one of my favorite breeds is going down the wrong way and my friend admits there is a problem, but the family is at a standstill on agreeing. It's so frustrating to have to sit by and see a really good breed be a poor community dog, just because the owners overestimated their ability. Well, I'm just going to focus on Finnley, and hopefully get him into the local Agility program, that could buy me some excuses.

Maybe I can do some pre-training? Any tips for pre-training a puppy to do agility?
 

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start with regular obedience, they need to have a good sit stay or just a good stay for agility. work on heeling and eye contact.

i'm sorry your friends aussie is such a problem :(. i've seen a couple of them go downhill fast without stimulation/training/socializing. i thought about adopting another aussie puppy that i found on craigslist and when we met him he was just crazy. at 5 1/2 months he had no bite inhibition and bit me, not letting go. drew a lot of blood and i had bruises. no leash work, no boundaries, seemed like he was exhibiting some RG too (he snapped at Ammy at what he thought was treat). i was still willing to work with him though and possibly foster him and train him for a forever home. however, when meeting Ammy, Ammy growled. since the year i've had her it's still the only time i've heard her growl at another dog. after that i had a bad feeling, and decided not to adopt.

truly if you don't work with a puppy of any breed, you get trouble. but with herding dogs and high drive dogs, negligence it can be a recipe for disaster.

i'm on your side, don't take finn off leash to beach. if you go, i'd keep him on leash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As a belated update, I wanted to ask for further advice. The aussie will now get assertive with anybody whenever the child says "ow", even if nobody has gone near her. The father is confident that this is good and that whenever someone comes up to her with poor intentions, he wants to dog to pounce him. I have mixed feelings as I agree that if someone were to attempt to harm me I would want my dog to be able to defend me, but I don't necessarily believe it should be trained or encouraged because if he does it to his own family, than doesn't that mean he isn't aware of any boundaries and therefore, because of the child's abuse of her ability to command her dog's protection by saying "ow", couldn't he be the same to innocent bystanders or family friends just because the child decided it was a game?
I don't believe protection should be trained or nurtured, but in fact, a natural instinct that arrives when it is needed. It overall confuses me on whether their method is okay or not, and if it is or if it isn't, why isn't it? Is it good? Bad? I don't know.
My friend also has it in her head that whenever the dog chases people at the beach barking at people and growling that it's the Australian Shepherd's natural herding instinct, but I have my doubts on that considering my Aussie never reacted in a such a way with other people. Is this actually true? Or is it just a false assumption on her part?

Then, they have the gall to think that Finnley is so poorly trained since he is so wild. I admit, he does have his issues with overexcitement, but he has improved over the course of a week. They also act like he's a bad dog and their dog is an amazing creature simply because he is a "mellow" dog, when all it seems is that he avoids people. I feel a bit offended by this I admit because they are using different training methods than me and also got their dog from a "show quality" breeder, who's dame and sire were both mellow, wherein Finnley was separated from his litter at five weeks, taken to the shelter at six weeks, adopted at seven, and was separated from other dogs when he showed signs of being food aggressive. So, it does hurt a little when they seem to think that my methods are all wrong, but honestly, I don't think they understand that they are two different breeds with different experiences that require different methods of training. I apologize if this turned into a giant rant, but I am really unsure if what I'm saying is understandable and rational. I want to be a dog trainer, and I want to be able to feel like I have even a slim chance to pursue this goal, but if I'm wrong or Finn is so poorly trained than is their a point? I research and teach dogs all these different tricks, but it still seems to me that just because Finn is overexcited at the sight of people, even if he's being friendly, he's a bad dog.
I don't know.
I'm so sorry this turned into a giant rant.
 

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Honestly. This is their dog and if they feel all of this stuff is beneficial than there is a VERY slim chance that all the advice in the world will make them change their stance.

Also - them reacting as such to your dogs behavior is really no different in my opinion than how you're reacting to their dogs behavior. You both need to back off of each other.
 

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It overall confuses me on whether their method is okay or not, and if it is or if it isn't, why isn't it? Is it good? Bad? I don't know.
IMO, their method isn't ok. I can understand the father's happiness at the dog being protective of the children, but if the protective behavior is encouraged in any way it needs to be directed appropriately and able to be VERY controlled. Jo-schmoe person at home shouldn't be doing this, if it is to be done at all, an expert should be doing it and the dog needs to be assessed to see if it is suitable for that kind of thing. IMO, encouraging the protectiveness the way they are is dangerous game.

I want to be a dog trainer, and I want to be able to feel like I have even a slim chance to pursue this goal, but if I'm wrong or Finn is so poorly trained than is their a point?
Well....these are some of the issues you will face as a dog trainer, and part of the problem that you are facing is the human factor, something that is probably going to be harder to handle than the dog factor in most cases. It seems to me that Finn isn't poorly trained, though he should be considered a work in progress, it takes time, and strategies to make things work. The people giving you the opinion that Finn is poorly trained aren't ones that you should necessarily give much weight to. As a trainer, sometimes you're going to have to deal with the fact that there is nothing you can do (probably due to the human factor in many cases), and it looks like you have the same decision to face here when it comes to the other dog....unless you can think of a way to get them to listen to you, the issues with their dog won't be fixed, and all you can do is watch as thing go wrong (though hope they don't). I'd say keep working with Finn, but back off from them, don't have Finn and their dog together. Good luck.
 

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I've always preferred a dog that LOOKS like a big tough protector to one that would actually behave aggressively, because I would rather have an animal that helps me prevent problems rather than causes them. We had guard trained GSDs when I was a kid and it just seems like way too much work to maintain the necessary level of discipline for them to be both effective as guards and safe around people. I have a gentle giant with a very gruff bark now, and I much prefer it.
 
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