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Newly adopted dog now showing signs of aggression

3535 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  tirluc
Hi there-
I need some help. I have a newly adopted dog (about a month 1/2), he is about 1, a poodle something mix. When we went to visit him at the shelter, he was in a foster home with several other dogs. He was fine and the person said he had no issues. Since we have gotten him home, he has shown more and more signs of aggression. He is very attached to me and follows me around constantly.
He is fine with our family members, but on walks or with neighbors, he barks, growls, lunges. But not all the time, and he has gotten progressively worse. He wasn't this bad when we got him.

I have been trying hard to train him on walks. I take treats with him all the time and when a person or dog approaches, we step aside, i get him to focus on me and treat him when he does, repeatedly until they have passed. He is getting better at walks. But tonight, my 10 yo daughter was walking him and the neighbor was out getting his mail. She stopped to talk and teh dog went bananas barking and lunging at the neighbor. He pulled and my daughter accidently dropped the leash. He charged at my neighbor and bit on his calf. It was hard enough to hurt, but didn't draw blood. I ran out as I heard the barking and go tthere just in time to see the biting. We took him away immediately to finish the walk and didn't talk to the dog while we were walkiing.

This is our first dog and we were so looking forward to a nice dog that we could walk with and take to the dog park and the beach, etc. I'm afraid to take him anywhere right now.

Any tips and suggestions would help me SO much. I love this little dog but this is making me very stressed out.

A bit more background - we are fairly strict, in that he must sit and wait for his food, sit and wait to go out the door, walks at heel, doesn't jump up on us, sleeps in his own bed, etc.

Please help.
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Implement NILIF.

Make sure he is calm before he leaves the house on a walk. Practice loose leash walking. Make sure you are socializing him w/strangers, dogs, etc. Taking him to group training classes will help a lot. Make sure he is being walked for about 45 min, briskly, twice a day.

Some problems can be caused by high energy, so the walks will help. Training will drain him mentally, plus socialize him.
NILIF is a good management tool. But you need to get this guy evaluated by a really good professional trainer or a behaviorist before taking him out in public- the risk of him biting someone is too high.
I agree with Dogstar. You need to have a behaviourist see him.
Did he get assessed at the shelter?
Do you know any of his background?
In addtion to the advice above, please invest in "The Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell Phd. www.dogwise.com

The book is very short.. maybe 20 pages.. but can really shed light on exactly this issue with step by step methods etc. for helping the dog.
She also recommends a professional etc. as you do not want your dog to bite anyone. Your dog should be a pet, not a liability.
Lots of good advice but I just wanted to add:

Just getting a dog (from anywhere and at any age) does not guarantee no behaviour issues. You already know he has some issues on walks..so letting your ten year old walk him without an adult present was not the best choice on your part. You are doing the right things with the rewarding of calm behaviour etc and for requesting a sit for attention, food etc. You DO need someone to assess whether this is fear based aggression (which is the most likely). He should also have his thyroid checked and be tested for lyme disease...MUCH aggression is related to the thyroid gland being out of whack, as it does so much more than just run the metabolism. A full panel thyroid can help rule this out.

By ruling out the physical and assessing the behaviour itself (including triggers, the physical signs he shows BEFORE the lunge etc) you can come up with a plan to modify the behaviour. Get help.

The GOOD thing (though it may not seem it at this time) is that he bit the neighbour and DID NOT BREAK THE SKIN. This is a hopeful sign and shows bite inhibition.
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The GOOD thing (though it may not seem it at this time) is that he bit the neighbour and DID NOT BREAK THE SKIN. This is a hopeful sign and shows bite inhibition.
I wouldn't rely on the bite inhibition as it might just be poor bite style/strength. I also agree with the professional help program and no kids walking dog.
I agree that it is not a reliable indicator of future bite inhibition, but do believe that if a dog really wants to injure, it would have. Management is key here. He should not be allowed the opportunity to practice his bite style.
Thanks for your advice. We do walk him, quite a bit. I walk him at least 45 minutes in the am and half hour iin the evening. Plus, two or three 10-15 walks during the day, he is getting plenty of exercise, especially for his little body.
He is totally calm when we get ready to leave for a walk, he is not hyper or excitable in any way, except when we are playing with him.

He has played nice with some dogs, two friends of mine. Totally calm, totally appropriate sniffing and then playing. Some people he responds perfectly fine to, others, obviously not so well.

I'm not sure how well the shelter evaluated him, to be honest. But, that's besides the point - he is ours now.

How do you find a good trainer, we certainly aren't in a position that we can spend a fortune on training.
This is a good place to start to look for trainers in your area.
If you are a "reader" like I am:
The Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell
Click to Calm by Emma Parsons
On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas.

Figuring out WHAT you are dealing with helps you also figure out HOW to deal with it.
i agree w/ everything that everyone has said...get someone in that knows what to do to correct this...the reason you didn't see it b/4 is b/c he has now settled in and has gotten comfortable and territorial (his people), which is not acceptable....he needs to learn that there is a time and a place to "defend/protect" his people and on walks really isn't one of those times/places....get help b/4 it gets worse.....
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