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Possible Fear Aggression? Suggestions/input Please


Guest kahjul
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Guest kahjul

Derby is our first grey-a quirky girl. We got her at 14 weeks, she is now 1. She loves our lab and plays rough with her, but I have never heard or seen any actual aggression. They both bark and growl and roll around, jump up, run, etc. Recently at the dog park (where we have been going once or twice a week since she was tiny) a border collie growled roughly at her to get away from his ball. Her reaction was to snarl and growl back-pretty aggresively. As soon as I heard the growl I was calling her and reaching for her, but in a split second, he bit her and she went after him. I grabbed her and we left before anything more came of it and the bite on her was just a tiny scratch, so no damage or vet bill. Since then, she has growled at my son when he was laying with her and pinched her foot accidentally, and growled at the lab for stepping on her late at night. I know she has thin skin and can be hurt easily, but in the past, these things would not have warranted a growl. No teeth showed in these 2 instances, but I'm concerned she's having a reaction to the fear of being hurt. She always greets new dogs in a bow, ears forward, wanting to play. If they're quite big, she will stand like a statue or roll over while they sniff, then run off together. She is totally non aggressive to small dogs and doesn't seem to have a prey instinct, so I was thinking of letting her play in the smaller dog yard at the dog park until she gets her confidence back. We haven't been back since the incident. I also firmly told her NO and held her muzzle momentarily for the 2 at home growling times. I really think its a fear reaction, how do I soothe her through it and make her realize her over-reacting will make it worse? OK, that kinda sounded lame, but help me out here...

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To tell you the truth, none of the behaviors sound like fear to me. The BC at the park had something she wanted, he didn't want to give it up, they exchanged some teeth over it. No fear there.

 

If her foot was pinched and if she was stepped on, I'd say she was hurt, not afraid of being hurt. She growled to tell your son and the lab "Stop it!"

 

How old is your son? Unless a teenager and maybe not even then, I wouldn't let him lie on the floor with her. That's a vulnerable position for a dog. Best to "let sleeping (or lying down) dogs lie," right?

 

At the park, I don't think it would be fair to the small dogs to have a big dog in with them. I would tend to go when the park is more empty and keep a close eye out for interesting toys etc.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Guest lat41065

I agree with Batmom at the dog park she got bit so she tried to bite back, fair response in my book though scary for you.

 

To growl when made uncomfortable is normal here and I have a large pack of 10. I allow that, they need to communicate with each other. Kids laying with dogs is trouble IMHO.

 

Big dog in the small dog section........ bad deal. They separate for a reason. It would be just as irresponsible to put the big girl with the smalls as it would to turn a maltese loose in the big dogs.

 

She may be feeling a bit touchy right now but honestly harsh correction may perpetuate the behavior in my opinion. I usually say be nice if its a warranted fuss. You cant make her understand about overreacting as dogs arent wired that way. its pretty much black or white for them.

 

Things should settle down. Good luck and I hope I helped even just a little : )

 

Lesley

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Guest kydie

IMHO I beleive people read to much human emotion into their dogs, her response in the dog park was normal, there are no dog parks here and if there were I would not go there, one never knows how others control or not, or care for thier dogs, I don't want to subject mine to other uncontroled dogs, or dogs not cared for medically, Yes, Yes, I know I am a snot. they live in a pack here with it's own dymanics. I don't think she needs "soothing" she needs to be told "No" when she growls, she is speaking dog, "don't do that, I don't like it", and again IMHO she needs to know, this is behavior you will not tolerate. just me, everyone has their own ideas, good luck :)

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Guest kahjul

OK, the incident with my son, btw, the 3 of us were laying on the couch together and she got kinda squished, so it wasn't unsupervised child/dog time. But he is 12 and pretty animal savvy, not a toddler. I think you all are right, the dog park incident was fair play on both parts, I just don't want her to become a fear biter or??? So, just concerned. Thanks for easing my mind. I'm still debating a return to the dog park...

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Hmm, the dog park incident would be a good illustration on why one of the dog parks near us expressly forbids guardable items like food, treats and toys. Not that people actually observe that, but if a dog were growling over a toy that wasn't supposed to be there I'd have some serious words for the owner of said dog about the rules and reasons for them. That potential guarding aggression is why they put those rules into play, and if his/her dog was a guarder, there should not have been a toy to guard - end of story.

 

I think my reaction wouldn't have been to do major punishment for the growling at home, but maybe a quick "hey!" and a boot off of the furniture for a short time. Things get crowded on the couch, and if there's no space and you feel crowded on a people location like a couch or bed, the dog moves. Just my view, though. Sounds like she's a good dog, just asserting her desire to not be squished or trod upon. :)

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You're gettting good answers. A note about growling -- I will not correct my dogs for growling as it is an important communication, not aggression itself; in other words, I will not train them out of growling, as that is their warning. I will of course redirect/refocus if there's a chance of escalation.

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You're gettting good answers. A note about growling -- I will not correct my dogs for growling as it is an important communication, not aggression itself; in other words, I will not train them out of growling, as that is their warning. I will of course redirect/refocus if there's a chance of escalation.

This. It doesn't sound to me like any of the reactions were unwarranted and she may just be finding her voice as she grows out of puppyhood.

 

I do have a slightly different opinion about the dog park interaction - I think it's possible for a dog to become fearful from a single incident. That's probably not what happened here since she wasn't hurt, but if it were me, i would err on teh side of caution and proceed as if she is now fearful. I don't mean you should avoid dog interactions, but rather make sure her interactions with dogs moving forward are all positive so she can get her confidence back if necessary. So avoid throwing her back into the dog park with a bunch of dogs. Instead, I would go at an off time when there might be only a dog or two, or set up a play date with a friend or two in someone's yard, makign sure they are well socialized dogs I would also keep treats on me and reward for positive interactions on walks - nice greetings with other well socialized dogs on lead. Some people might feel this is overkill, but there's certainly no harm in it, and likely something to be gained.

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