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Re: aggression against owners

Posted by:  Jane McClay
Posted on:  February 22, 2001 at 14:45:10

In Reply to: aggression against owners
Posted by:  Bill Sholar
Posted on:  February 22, 2001 at 11:16:47

Question:

: Can some J R psychiatrist explain this? Our 4-1/2 year
: old male lays on his blanket on the couch every night
: after dinner. Frequently, my wife or I will stroke him
: or scratch his belly, and nuzzle his head.

: Last night, my wife was nuzzling him and he gave a vicious snarl and tried to bite her face!! What????

------------------ Response Area -------------------

Hi, Bill,

It's really hard to truly determine what makes your Jack Russell tick based on only a few sentences, but I'll give it a shot.

Aggression can happen for a number of reasons. It SOUNDS as though your little guy is just a little too comfortable with your wife. He likely considers her an equal to him. I would NEVER allow a dog to growl at me, and this starts early in my household. I never play tug of war (teaches a dog to compete with you, and they often like to growl during this game, which teaches them that you accept their growling and don't have a problem with it). I don't let my dogs rush through a doorway ahead of me. As their alpha, they should never want to get under my feet or get in my way. I do leash exercises to teach them how to walk respectfully on a leash, and never, EVER pull me. You see, it's a matter of working with your dog on ALL levels to be sure that he never ever feels comfortable enough with you to challenge you or your wife.

A dog who knows his place in the family "pack" is a happy one. I've found that the "aggressive" dogs I've gotten into rescue seemed to be seriously unhappy and misguided. When a person takes control and shows the dog who's boss with patience and understanding, it's like a huge weight is lifted off the dog and they literally seem lighter spirited and happier.

Please be sure to nip this in the bud. If you aren't comfortable with disciplining your dog in a calm and patient manner (without a lot of anger and without inflicting pain or degrading the dog) interview a few trainers and try to find one whose methods you're comfortable with. While you're at it, pick up Nicholas Dodman's book _Dogs Behaving Badly_ so you can understand why your dog behaves the way he does.

Good luck!
Jane
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