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Hey all- I am hoping someone has some good advice or past experience that they can help me to give me some hope here.

I have a 10 month old pit/pointer mix. He is a gentle, sweet animal who loves everyone he meets, plays great with dogs of all sizes(he goes to the dog park everyday for an hour), loves cats, great with babies. He is fairly well behaved for an animal with an unlimited amount of energy, and sits, lays down and does "place" very well(place being he has to sit on his bed, or anything I declare place, with at least 2 paws on the place).

He is a shelter dog I adopted. When I first got him, I saw his behavioral records and couldnt believe he failed his aggression tests. The rescue group who saved him at 3 months old sent him to a farm where they rehab dogs, and then he was sent to live with a trainer they use to help with his rehab.

Lately he's gotten more comfortable in my apartment and has slowly gotten extremely aggressive if im near him while hes eating or playing with his toys. It all started with these frozen bones that I was buying him from the dog store- and its slowly gotten worse and worse, and extended into his eating, his nylabone and pretty much all his chew toys. Its gone from growling to snapping at me. This is going to be an 85 pound dog fully grown, and I'm now scared of him.

I have been working with him- I am feeding him by hand to try to get him used to the idea that the food is coming from me directly and not from the bowl, and towards the end I put the bowl down and let him eat from the bowl directly while I pet him and praise him and he's great during that. For the toys I give them to him while I hold them for a few minutes, then let him have it and go to try to pet him, and he just freaks out. He stops playing with it stares at me, and no matter how calm i try to pet him and praise him, inevitably starts to growl and it just grows from there. I have a prong collar on him but corrections just seem to make him crazier and to be honest, I get scared and back off. Once I come back he will just let me take it away, which I do and give back right away to show I'm not trying to take it but it doesn't stop anything.

I am going away next week and the trainer who trained him originally is coming to my apartment to dogsit and work on these behaviors with him.

I am just wondering if anyone out there has any experiences similar where the dog stopped the behaviors? I am starting to feel hopeless and out of options. I can't fathom giving him up, no one would take him and he would eventually be put to sleep at the shelter I am sure of it. I love him a ton but this behavior is making me love him less. Its hard for me to imagine ever having kids and trusting him around them. I feel really lost about him.

Advice on what to do thats worked is great but to be honest, I'm more just looking to see if anyone can help me out with any similar stories that have worked out so that I know he can even be helped.
 

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well im sure this can be fixed, he is only 10 months old and still a puppy afterall. keep feeding him by hand, my puppy had really really bad food aggression. anyone who would walk by close enough to cast a shadow near her she would attack and lunge at full force and with her teeth ready to go! it took a while but alternating days of feeding her by hand has helped a ton (probably about 2 months of doing this) and now i can come nearher and pet her (as can anyone else) while she eats and she lets me take pieces out without getting angry.

she was also aggressive with special treats like bones. i just simply stopped giving them to her until i taught her the command 'drop it'. now i am slowly giving her better treats and teaching her to give them to me at my command before going back to giving her something really good like a bone. she was not very aggressive with her toys but for that issue i would probably just do the same thing. only have 1-3 toys out for him to play with and under your supervision - put them back up everytime so that you are the one who begins and ends play time. i woudnt let him have his toys out and available at his will until he learns drop it.
 

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Mealtimes-

Tie him down somewhere. sit a few feet away. Tell him to sit. if he sits give him ONE piece of kibble by tossing it at him. Repeat this...with different commands.


Toys-NO TOYS plural. at all. take them all up. then pull out ONE toy and only ever have one toy available to him at a time. Now you keep that one toy out of reach. When you want to give it to him make him sit for it and wait. if he sits he can have it.during toy time pull out a second toy. hold it up. shake it at him. Catch his attention and as soon as he looks tell thim to drop it. if he drops the first one ..AS SOON AS he drops the first one yell out good boy and toss him the new toy. if he doesn't drop it then completely ignore him. to end playtime do the same thing but with a stinky treat.

repeat.

Good luck and I would nix the prong personally...
 

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I would get in a good trainer or behaviorist experienced in dealing with aggression to give you on-site help with this. While he's just a puppy still he is an adolescent now and is testing the boundaries and rules. This sounds like a dog that needs very strict, absolutely no exceptions type rules and boundaries.

Put him on a very strict NILIF program along with daily obedience training (have someone show you how to properly fit and use a prong collar). As far as toys go, put them all away and when you schedule a playtime, you hold the toy. When you wish playtime to end, and before he loses interest, put the toy away. He gets no toys on his own, at least for now. Continue to hand feed, asking for a sit (or other behavior) for each bite. Take at least one power walk each day. A power walk is one where the dog must walk on a loose lead without pulling, lagging, marking, sniffing, etc. unless you first call for a break.

Unless the dog is genetically mis-wired, which I doubt, you can work your way through this time of adolescent rebellion. Praise and reward him for correct behavior but don't be afraid to issue a properly timed and motivational correction (meaning he thinks twice before repeating the corrected behavior) when warranted once you know he understands proper behavior (this is where nilif and obedience training help).
 

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First off, do NOT lose hope. You are dealing with a puppy yet at 10 months old. I have managed to get several dogs over their food/toy/treat aggression by working the simple trade up method. It is described on Sandra Scott's website. I caution you though to not push it too far if he is truly asserting himself at this point. I for one do not feel it is a benefit at all to sit and pet your dog while he is eating. At this point, that is what is increasing his aggression. Toss only a small handful into his bowl and stand a step back, let him eat without talking to him or touching him, when he is done he will pick his head up, drop in another small handful, repeat over an over until his meal (ration) is complete. Do that over and over again. Once he is relaxed like that bring the second handful down when he has one or two kibbles still in the bowl. You still do NOT want to be touching him while he eats. This process gets him comfortable with the idea of your hand coming down by his bowl. Another method you can do later is "trading up" He has a toy and is guarding it. You instead of trying to rip the toy away from him, offer him a tasty treat. As he takes the treat, you take the toy. Again, use caution. Make sure the treat is something he REALLY goes crazy for. Piece of chicken or beef.
If at any point it you feel you are at risk of being bit. BACK OFF! It is not worth you getting hurt. You might need to have a trainer/behaviorist that has experience with this to help you get started. Dog aggression is serious and should not be taken lightly. Many people in their attempts to get dogs to tolerate them while eating actually make it worse. Thinking back I have to say most of my dogs had some degree of food aggression but they all got over it with some simple work. Stay safe, don't over do it. Good Luck and keep us posted how it is going... Please do not give up on your dog, sounds like he is wonderful otherwise.
 
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