QUESTION: Aggression. I know it doesn't happen often, but at times, certain situations and just personalities. How to handle it and how to emiminate it after two dogs have decided to be grumpy.
ANSWER: I know it doesn't happen often, but at times, certain situations and just personalities. How to handle it and how to eliminate it after two dogs have decided to be grumpy. This is a general question that I can only truly answer in specifics. But here are a two general thoughts about intragroup aggression: 1) Higher stim = higher risk. Barking at the door or a fence line, competing for food or attention are all times that can flair into aggression with any dog but especially with terriers. Terriers that go to ground are bred to convert excitement into aggression as part of their job description. Many breeds are a long way from the earth now but it never surprises me to hear of excitement tumbling into aggression with a terrier.Suggestion: Prevent those moments. And teach your dogs to wait their turn for attention, treats and meals. Dogs who are controlling themselves are often too busy to focus on controlling others.2) Same = higher risk. Same sex, same age, same temperaments = more likely to fight and fight hard. This is, as we all know, a much bigger deal between two strong bitches than almost any other combo of dogs. The exception to this (the worst, in my experience) is a strong dog who cannot stop until the other dog submits and a reactive dog who cannot offer sumission. That’s an ugly thing.Suggestion: Run dogs who are different together. Avoid same with same. Be very cautious with your reactive dogs.And lastly, forget about “eliminate” and go for “manage”. If you eliminate the triggers you can eliminate the aggression but, allow the triggers and the aggression can be there again.
QUESTION: I have a “Norfolk Behavior” question…..our Norfolk is by FAR the sweetest most affectionate dog on the planet. However, he is still a terrier and that is why we love him. He is VERY observant and he can determine that something is new or different in a ‘heartbeat”. We have a LOT of activity at our home and lots of folks…mostly adult (ie my grown sons) but we do have a 10 year old grandson that is over with his friends all the time. (No problem) Here is the story….the other day, my husband was taking him to Doggy Day care for a couple of hours…and they have a new “attendant” that is a “Little Person” working there…..Our Little Norfolk went “ballistic”! He was freaking out…like he had seen a ghost or something. My husband did not know what to do..other than to try to get our pup under control. He was growling like he was clearly upset or worried! Last night a family came over and they had a litte 3 yr. old girl….and again, he kind of was a mix of “overly excited and almost angry toward her”. It made me nervous….he has never bitten anyone….but I don’t want him starting now. Is there something going on with something we are doing or not doing to manage his behavior. I would appreciate some feedback from our “experts”.
ANSWER: Alarm barking is a common problem and, once a dog is that upset, getting them calmed down is often a matter of getting some distance and giving them other things to do that you can calmly cause them to do. Treat work is often not much help at those moments and correction won't do it either. If the problem is getting worse then he's confused and something that is happening is rewarding him so our task is figuring out what and changing it. If you're picking him up, that could be adding to his confusion.Control at such moments starts at home because if we don't have mental control and compliance when all is calm, we stand no chance when things are not calm. That is an immutable dog training law.Here is a blog I did on Alarm Barking that I hope you find helpful. Good luck - Sarah
Email your question to Animal Behavior Counselor Sarah Wilson. Learn more about Sarah and how she helps you help your dog here. Visit Sarah's website at www.MySmartPuppy.com for additional tips.