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Re: Barking

Posted by:  Jane McClay
Posted on:  November 15, 2001 at 13:44:33

In Reply to: Barking
Posted by:  Jennifer
Posted on:  November 15, 2001 at 13:25:39

Question:

: I have recently adopted a 3 year old JRT. He is very aggressive to strangers and other dogs. When we go for walks I have to avoid anyone on the street, knowing he will bark and growl like crazy. Most people laugh because he's so small, but I don't like it. I've tried the spray bottle but he seems to like it. He doesn't think it's punishment.

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Hi, Jennifer,

I'm afraid that this can just be a trait of this breed, somewhat. My Gritty is all of 10 inches tall, but he's not intimidated by the HUGE Borzoi in my neighborhood, and when we're walking around the neighborhood, he puts on a MAJOR attitude whenever we see a dog of another breed. The Jack Russells in the neighborhood get ignored, though. While I haven't been able to eliminate his desire to attack other dogs, I have been able to get him under control with simple obedience work, and by walking him over, and over, and over, and over again, so he can see that these other dogs are honestly no threat to him. There is no quick fix for this problem. It will take consistancy and repetition and patience.

Punishing him for this behavior may very well just compound it. Consider for a moment that he's probably got the Napolean syndrome (little guy syndrome) because he's intimidated by the other dogs. Sometimes the biggest bullies are actually the biggest whimps. So if he's afraid as it is, and you get angry with him, the situation will be all the more stressful and scary for him, which may actually lead to some serious aggression issues. It would be better to reward good behavior. With Gritty, sometimes I'd pick him up when I saw another dog, giving him a new, higher vantage point of the situation, I'd say "it's okay, Gritty... chill... chill.. look, I have food!" and I'd treat him when he'd focus on me and not the other dog. Mind you, it took me some time to be sure Gritty wouldn't hurt me when I picked him up. Quite some time ago he would work himself into such a frenzy that it wouldn't be uncommon for me to be bitten. I had to work a long time, doing obedience work, to gain his trust so I can pick him up when he's feeling aggressive. But basically, anything you can do to redirect your terrier's attention would be helpful, and much more constructive than punishment in this instance.

Hope this helps! I strongly recommend you do some obedience work with your terrier if you can find a good trainer. Also take a look at our selection of Training Books. My favorite is How To Be Your Dogs Best Friend By the Monks of New Skete.

Good luck!

Jane