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Re: aggression

Posted by:  Marie Evans
Posted on:  November 03, 2002 at 13:08:33

In Reply to: aggression
Category:   Aggression
Posted by:  nicholas pash
Posted on:  November 03, 2002 at 11:26:15


: I have a 4 yr old jrt who growls and nips if he is disturbed when he is laying next to one of us.this is the only time he is like this.It just started within the last few months.This is a male dog and the only pet in the house.


Hi Nicholas,

A sudden change in temperament calls for a trip to the vet to make sure there is nothing physically wrong with your dog to display such behavior.

Once he's been checked out and deemed healthy then your JRT has just lost his furniture priveleges. A dog that cannot show manners when on the bed or couch is a dog that should not be allowed on the furniture until he understands his order in the pack (family).

One of the important things anyone can do with any breed is to make sure their dog understands its place in the pack and a way to do this is yielding.

Your dog will want to gain as much status in the pack (family) as he possibly can because with status comes perks. Status in a pack is not achieved within the pack by aggression, but my submission, with the lowest ranking animal yielding to a higher ranking animal's display of authority. As you can see your terrier is starting to move himself up the ladder!

You need to start doing a number of things to keep him from assuming increasingly higher rungs on the dominance ladder.

One way to help keeping your status is to control the use of space by him. You need to teach your dog to yield to on command and by your body position.

Whenever your dog gets in your way, tell him to move and shuffle (using tiny, shuffling steps don't pick your feet up off the floor) through him if he doesn't. Plan your routes around the huose through your dog. If he's lying in your path, don't walk around him. Instead, make him move out of your way. Remember, don't kick your dog just shuffle your feet his way.


If this is the case you need professional help to deal with this problem. Dogs only bite members of the family to whom they feel dominant or when there are serious dominance related, but unresolved, questions.

Put a leash on your dog, and pull him off the furniture if he shows signs of serious growling use the command "MOVE IT". Don't ever attempt to grab him and get him off. One of my terriers has some dominance issues and I always make him yield. If he's in my way, I make him move. Politeness is for people, not dogs! So if Scruffy is laying by the kitchen sink and you need to use it, don't walk around him, make him move. Every time you are "polite" and accomodate your dog you are only reinforcing his increasingly higher status in the pack.

Just the other day my terrier was laying in my office chair. I went to lift him off of it (I know dumb mistake haha) and he gave a serious growl. I left him there, got his leash, put it on him and pulled him off the chair and he was not let back on that chair the rest of the day. All of a sudden, a new attitude developed, one more fitting of his place in our pack :) If you give an inch these guys will take the proverbial mile. This is what we mean by a firm hand, not physical punishment but letting your dog understand its place in your family. My dogs gets loved, cuddled, spoken to, treated all the time but they must understand their place in our home. The King and Queen of our house is my husband and me, not the little princes ;)

Sorry this was so long but yielding is a vital part of teaching pack order that everyone needs to do, starting even when your terrier is a pup.

Get him checked out first and then start to make him understand his place in your home.

Dick Russell once wrote "You know, to train and then live with a dog, there are two things you need to get from him. The first is his love. That's easy. Dogs give it freely. The second is his respect. In most classes I have observed, this issue is not addressed. It results in dogs that know "tricks", but are not really responsive to the owner. Yielding, because it simulates precisely one phase of the dog's natural social behavior, gets his respect."

I was lucky enough to find a trainer that incorporated this into her classes, it does make a difference.