Anyone have any advice on dog aggression? Please help.
March 3, 2008 3:52pm CST
HI all I have a black lab who is afraid of my kids, so when they come to near or get to hyper he growls at them and barks when he gets cornered. He is an excellent dog and I hate to have to put him down, does anybody have any experience here. If so what did you try and what were the outcomes. I try to keep the kids away but they are 3 and 11 months so its not so easy and can't always be done. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks all.
4 Mar 08
Hello; I hope my comments are helpful. First, it is important to know that your dog being cornered is communicating to you via the snarling and barking that he is uncomfortable - he does not have a way out. It is so important to honor these signals and not punish them, this supresses them, and does not solve the problem or address the trigger that brings on the fear. Please always supervise your children around your dog. With them being so young, they do not have the concept yet of appropriate behavior and touch around the dog. Start first with a stuffed animal to show the kids and help them demonstrate what gentle touch on the dog is. Teach the children that the following are no-no's (for everyone) do not lock eyes or stare down the dog, do not face them directly head on (this is considered dominate), instead come at him from the side view, offer a hand to sniff and then reach under the dog's head and pet the neck - do not reach over the head, again a dominate gesture. Also, using calm voices, slower movements and always givng the dog an out if he is uncomfortable are important tips. We also want to teach your dog that good things happen when children are around. When they are in the room together and especially when children are close, give the dog a tasty treat and praise him. He will begin to associate rewards with the children's presence. I'm afraid this is quite a challenge with small children, and it may be that finding him a home with older children or a no-child household is best for him. Use your judgement so that everyone in the family benefits. Should note any agressive behavior, i.e. snapping, your dog becoming posessive of his things, or physical signs of stress such as excessiv yawning, shedding, crying, pacing, please consult a licensed animal behaviorist before the problem escalates. Your local shelter may be able to make a recommendation for someone in your area. And as always, if you do pursue private training, please follow your gut on the methods the trainer uses - some that taut "positive training" actually are using punishment which exacerbates the problem. A favorite author of mine is Pat Miller, look her up, some of her books might help you.