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Old February 3rd, 2018, 08:07 PM
gibby gibby is offline
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Location: Atlanta, GA
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7m. old lab/boxer mix aggressive, biting kids

We have a 7 month old puppy from the Humane Society - we adopted him 3 months ago. I think he is a lab/boxer mix. He is a typical puppy - boisterous and in need of training (we are going to obedience classes). We adore him and he is really a sweet dog. BUT - over the last two months he has displayed some very concerning behavior. When he is comfortable on the couch or bed, but needs to be moved for whatever reason - he will growl, lunge, and bite. He will also do this when he has a toy or a special treat. I have read about resource guarding, and I have discussed this with the trainer at obedience classes - but I haven't gotten a very good answer. I have kids ages 5-17. I am sure we have been too lax with him - letting him sleep in the bed, letting him on the couch, and that stops now. I'm guessing this is a dominance issue, and he only recognizes me as dominant - not the kids.
But I grew up with dogs in rural Illinois and I never saw this type of behavior. We had Irish wolfhounds, Irish terriers, Ridgebacks, Whippets, and rescues over the years. They were always on the furniture and in beds - I've never seen this.
Henry (the puppy) never does this to me (the mom) - only the kids. The 13, 15, 17 year olds are very good with him - calm and don't mess with him. They are old enough and don't play with him. The younger kids had to be taught not to provoke him or even actually play with him (other than fetch with a tennis ball) - and they've been very good the last month. But prior to one month ago, I can see now that he probably saw the younger kids as his playmates (totally our fault). Does our puppy need to go back to the shelter? The thought breaks my heart - but I can't have a dog that bites. On the other hand - I'm thinking this is my fault as I didn't properly establish all humans as the boss, and he as the dog. Is this amenable to training at this point? Nobody but me approaches him when he has a toy or food now. But, just tonight, my son was walking by his dog bed - and he growled, lunged, and bit his leg (didn't break the skin, but there are clear bite marks with bleeding under the skin).
I was right there. I'm guessing that Henry probably thought someone was going to disturb him - but my son was just walking by. My question is - is this type of behavior something we can change ? Or is this just a dog that shouldn't be around kids?
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Old February 4th, 2018, 09:38 AM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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Welcome to the board, gibby.

It's possible to fix this, but probably not by yourself. You'll need to find a good trainer experienced in handling aggression and resource hoarding--and you'll need to do your research to find one that's suitable. First get educated in techniques. There are a lot of online resources for that, but many of them are questionable, so do some digging. Get advice from your vet; look at credentials; check for online references and reviews on possible trainers; ask lots of questions of the trainers on your short list... Find a new trainer if you aren't satisfied with the answers you get.

In the meanwhile, though, you'll need to find a way to keep Henry from hurting your children. When he lunged at and bit your son, did Henry have something with him in his dog bed, or was he just lying there? If he had a toy or a chew, you may be able to temporarily keep things in hand by simply not allowing Henry access to toys or chews when the kids are around. Find yourself a good trainer and have Henry evaluated, then go from there.

This can be a tough nut to crack, but don't beat yourself up. Try not to overthink it, because you'll drive yourself crazy. Concentrate more on what you need to do to control it than why it occurred, because in my experience, the causes are many and not all under your control.

Many years ago we had a dog with aggressive tendencies and it took us many years and some lucky occurrences to get it truly under control. But I'm no expert. I freely admit it was a combination and sheer good luck and fortitude that finally won out.

Good luck and keep us posted, please!
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Old February 5th, 2018, 10:05 AM
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marko marko is offline
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Hi gibby and welcome,

I think this is fixable as well (with additional help) and a couple of things come to mind right away. Dooger wants to be king, but there can be only one.

There is a mindset that I subscribe to, that everything belongs to you. The couch, the toys, all the food - everything. Dooger should look to you before deciding what to do. Especially now.

Dooger is showing signs of dominance and aggression when on the couch -
Couch belongs to you. Get dooger off that couch. Never allow him on it.

(How to get there safely is the issue)
Instead, get a dog/bed or blankets and put that in the corner. That is his lying down space.

Toys should never be left out - they belong to you.
They should be given from time to time by you and when you are ready to take back YOUR toy, dooger needs to sit quietly and give you back your toy.

(How to get there safely is the issue)

Usually food rewards and ultimately petting or 'good dog' rewards is all that should be needed to get your dog to respect you 100% of the time.

I think you are on the right track though seeking the extra advice

If you are looking for extra high quality info (not free though) - Tenderfoot Training were experts on this site for years. They have an awesome dog obedience training course

They show you drills and how to lead your dog with love.

For now dooger should not be left unsupervised when kids are around. not ever. Supervised, using common sense - possibly.

Being aware of the precursors to a bite (hackles up, showing, teeth, growling) is not difficult if dooger is in eyesight. It makes sense that kids should be closer to you than they are to the potential lunging distance of the dog.

Hope that may help and feel free to ask additional questions.
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Old February 5th, 2018, 04:35 PM
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Winston Winston is offline
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Location: Hamilton Ontario
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Welcome to pets! so thankful you seem to be open to a discussion......

Ditto Ditto Ditto to everything that everyone has said.

I just wanted to add that always remember this ...NLIF

Which means NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE....everything, everything, everything until he learns the expected behaviour....food, walking, sleeping, anything he does should be on your expectation. You can nip the biting quickly by having the pup on a lead or leash attached to you..If he decides to nip you can correct him before it happens. I would say you can set him up to situations that you know he will react and when he is attached to you he will learn quickly that it is not allowed.
You dont have to hit but use a verbal voice that is load and meaningful. I used a growl of sorts or an AHHH AHHHH. You need him to believe in you being the boss basically which you can then teach your family.

Dont give up...you have lots to read and decide.
Best of Luck
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aggressive, puppy biting

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