I have Honey, a Chihuahua mix.
We go to Petco a lot and usually she loves seeing other people, even kids.
Today, she growled and barked (which I’ve never heard her do either) today at a little girl, probably about four years old, in a huge raincoat with the hood up. Could it just have been that? Or am I holding my dog in too high of standards?
I asked the mother for her to take her hood off and come let her sniff her, but the mother said “I don’t want my daughter around aggressive dogs”. 🙁
I think it was based out of fear, but I don’t know… I’m upset…
Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions?
Keep the dog away from children! At least ten feet away. I have had to go on antibiotics for a dog bite, twice, over the years, my own small dog.
Don’t try to force the dog to be friendly to others. When she gets anxious (barking, growling), pick her up, talk to her in a calm voice and walk away.
That’s what I would do.
PS: She may never like children or strangers getting too close to her.
I’ll do that, I just don’t understand where it came from. I take her to Walmart (she’s a service dog in training) and a kid came up a pulled her tail and she was startled but fine with it.
Are you working with a service dog trainer? You need to bring this up to them immediately.
What’s the training and (I don’t really like using this word because it’s thrown around so incorrectly but I will) socialization history of Honey?
Yes, I have already emailed her and have a class Saturday.
She’s a rescue. Her foster mom didn’t do sh*t with her, and had 6 other dogs, so she didn’t get much attention. But when I got her and brought her to a college dorm hall of 38 people, she LOVED everyone, and still loves them. I have never had a problem with any dog, kid, teenager, adult, cat, even rat with her. Suddenly, growling and barking.
I just got a Thundershirt for Trixie’s barking and reactive behavior on the leash. “Just got” is the operative- but I do see it beginning to work. She would wake me every night barking at the noisy building next door, at first I loved it because the constant noise and slamming of doors really made me mad but I’m paying for it now. I used the Thundershirt for a couple of hours before bedtime last night and she then slept through the night. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We both got a good nights sleep.
Sometimes it is just their personality, my peke looks like a teddy bear so everyone wants to touch him, but he has always been irritable and cranky. He is 14 years old. I socialized him as much as I could, and I think this helped. But, it is my responsibility to warn people not to approach him….although, I am the only one he has actually bitten.
I have a “Beware of Dog” sign on my gate because of him, lol
PS: I had good results with the Thundershirt in his younger days, thunderstorm phobia.
You can always use it as a dog coat….
Karen, I’ve really been wanting to get a Thundershirt for her because she is very nervous most of the time.
Right now she just keeps looking at me all upset, probably because I’m upset.
And what about with you-what kind of training and situations have you had her in? How old was she when you got her? Did she give any signals before growling and barking at this little girl?
It takes very, very little to set a dog off. Especially one that you don’t have the background of.
Okay, well, hopefully it won’t happen again. If it does I’ll try to calm her. Could she just be having a bad day? She didn’t eat much either.
Thundershirts do work on some dogs, every dog is different. I don’t feel like you will want to rely on that for a service dog
Yes, dogs can have bad days that make them behave differently, especially if they aren’t feeling well, it’s hard for them to express themselves as obviously as you would hope
I take her every where I go. She’s been to classes of 200+ people with me, at dog parks, restaurants, stores, etc. I only got her Feb. 1st of this year and she’s about 3 is what the rescue told me. No, no signals, just a quiet growl and a few low barks. She had her ears back and was shaking. She didn’t want to go near the girl.
Maybe she was in a home where nasty little children were allowed to use her as if she were a toy? You will never know, but, she is telling you by her behavior that she does not like children. She may not be cut out to be a service dog, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be a wonderful companion animal for a retired person or couple….just saying, in case it doesn’t work out.
February 1st is not enough time to know what this dog is going to react to. I have one who isn’t friendly (not aggressive, but definitely gives back off signals) that are very subtle. Hopefully the service dog trainer has experience with that kind of dog. I do agree with L M. Did you work with the service dog trainer to pick a dog? That helps. Keep very close eyes on her when you are out and about, and watch for some of those dog signals and what is causing them. Please keep in mind-a tail in the air isn’t always good, there is so much more to it than that. Watch her tongue, watch her lips. Everything she does, and take note so you can share with your trainer.
A Class of people, that’s generally low key, even though it’s crowded. A store like petco isn’t. And children have a very different energy for dogs to read
You should disagree with the dogs behavior and have her sit or lie down until she calms down. Then make sure she follows you to the person. The person should ignore the dog not go face to face or try to pet the dog.
If she at any time becomes aggressive you have to disagree and correct the behavior you might even have to put her on her side until she calms down.
Make the dog lay down but on her side… you probably would only need to do that if she actually lunged to bite at the child.
Eg. (Don’t know if links work on this site)
DO NOT DO THIS!!!
That’s the Ceasar Milan “Dog Whisperer” technique that shouldn’t be used, especially if you aren’t a dog trainer. I’ve seen so many people do this that shouldn’t.
I’ve had fearful & fear aggressive dogs but I can’t give some input until later. I’m not a trainer, but I have a good amount of experience. I’m the foster that is often asked to take the problem dogs.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by C4D.
You only have to put the dog on it’s side in a very aggressive case but that probably isn’t the case here. But you SHOULD disagree with the growling and barking behavior whether it is a firm NO or SHH or a tap on the side or make them sit.
The dog was probably fearful of the hooded figure and the child was probably making eye contact with the dog which made her anxious/scared and caused her to growl, bark. Usually just making them sit / laydown is enough to snap them out of it.
Putting a dog on its side is alpha rolling. Wording it like that is the equivalent of calling a shock collar a training collar.
NEVER roll a fear reactive dog. It only makes matters worse. 99.9% of the time, Cesars tactics are unnecessary and cause so much undue harm I can’t even begin…
C4D- I AM and I agree with everything you just said
I don’t know what this “disagree with your dog” nonsense you are spouting is about, but take it elsewhere. Dog Learning Theory and Behaviorisms-go research them.
Sam Koch I repeat-NEVER roll a fear reactive dog. Speak with your trainer. Work through it that way, if need be-keep realistic expectations of where Honey is at, and be aware that she may not make it as a service dog, but a wonderful companion she could still be. I am not working with you, so I can’t say one way or the other.
Fear and aggression are separate things. I am not saying to alpha roll a fearful dog but if that dog becomes aggressive and lunges or tries to bite, Picking it up and going hush hush (which was suggested earlier) is the absolute wrong thing to do. Would you try to do that with a mastiff? Good luck.
All I’m saying is you have to try to keep the dog in a calm state and address the situation. If the dog is acting aggressive (lunging, biting etc.) address the situation in whatever way will calm the dog. Don’t just pickup the dog and avoid the situation. Also instead of saying “Can your child remove their hood?” which is very rude by the way. Maybe something like “My dog is still in training do you mind if I try to introduce her calmly?” and it is the parent’s right to say no if they aren’t comfortable with your dog approaching their child. It is your responsibility to have control of your dog whether it is a Chihuahua or a Pit Bull.
I never advocated shock collars? Not sure what you are trying to say with that.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Michael Saull.
What about the story you heard including any sort of aggression? You are suggesting something that (still wrongfully) would be used for aggression, but then you also mentioned fear. This was fear reactive, and there is less than zero reason for alpha rolling a fear reactive dog.
Why are you telling Sam to Roll a fear reactive dog? Taking a dog out of a situation is MOST CERTAINLY a solid technique for calming. Read calming signals, react appropriately.
My comparison to shock collars was a comparison of semantics. And shock potentially do less damage than Cesar’s destructive techniques
If you read what I said again you will see that I said “If she becomes aggressive” which she most likely wouldn’t if you had kept her in a calm state by asking her to lie down. Then you might have to do that if she were to try to bite.
In my opinion it shows the dog that biting is not acceptable. Clearly you disagree and that is fine. Either way you would want to prevent it from escalating to that level in the first place but I disagree that removing the dog from the situation will help, it will just show up again in another time or place. Once the dog is calm she will naturally want to sniff out and investigate and that will make the dog face it’s fear instead of just reacting and avoiding it.
Dogs sometimes roll on their sides or backs for their owners even without being asked to do it (just approaching) so I don’t understand why you are so opposed to asking them to do it when they have misbehaved it is not being mean and it perfectly natural in a dogs mind.
Michael Saull, are you a behaviorist or a trainer? I think not as you are not even aware that fear aggression is probably the most common behavior seen by trainers and behaviorists when people are seeking help with their dogs. Your posts are wrong and dangerous if people read them and try this. Nat Geo’s Dog Whisperer has made a whole lot of people watching the show think they’re dog trainers.
I’ve have/had fearful and fear aggressive dogs. Of course, I have/had very balanced dogs too, but the fear aggressive one taught me the most about dogs. It took a very long time to socialize and counter condition the fear aggressive one to where he was a wonderful dog that people loved. When he passed on a few years ago, many people posted on how much they would miss him and that he was one of the best, most character filled dogs they every met. We took him through so much training and a behaviorist that I now have 2 personal friends that are trainers and behaviorists (and I’m not talking the Petsmart kind of trainers). We also knew the very few triggers we couldn’t counter condition that would set him off, but they were Vet related.
The best way to deal with dogs that are fearful and have some aggression issues are desensitization and counter conditioning. Here’s just a quick link to ASPCA on this topic:
Sam Koch, I don’t know what kind of service dog you were going to use Honey for, but I would seriously consider consulting with a very good trainer. The service dog trainer may work. I can’t say exactly, but she was probably reacting to the girls raincoat as it was foreign to her. The problem is you are still in the “honeymoon” period of rescue. She may get better or worse. It’s hard to say. Some dogs are just fearful and will react when pressed. I have a Lab we got in a kill shelter that had tapeworms, her ears and forehead and cigarette burns in them, has a damaged trachea that the kill shelter thought was bordatella, and yet she is the most confident, easy going dog you would ever know. Everyone loves her. My fear aggressive dog (a lab mix) was an 8 week old puppy that had never been abused, beaten, etc. that so many rescuers think is the problem with the dogs that are fearful. He came to the rescue from a normal family. Just as in people, all dogs are different. Good luck with it. Keep us posted!
C4D-Love and hate that story. Love seeing dogs come out “on the other side” but the ones in that bad of shape to start…painful. Truly painful
Thanks agt! She’s my Avatar. Everyone wants her! She teaches my fosters. We will truly miss her when her time comes, but we’re working on her living forever ;), maybe even more than the crazy boy that smiled (the fear aggressive one).
- This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by C4D.
I agree with aquariangt and C4D, this is a horrible idea for a dog with fear-aggression. If a dog is about to bite, it means that they are at a fear level so high that they feel the need to physically defend themself. By rolling a dog over on their side, also called an alpha rollover, you are making the dog associate the situation with being forcefully and painfully rolled over on their side by the one person they thought they could trust. This may accomplish:
1. Making the dog more afraid and more likely to bite in a similar situation in the future.
2. Making the dog afraid of the owner.
3. Making the dog bite the owner.
Even though aggression may look different than what most people think of fearful behavior, it is almost always rooted in fear. I think it was perfectly reasonably for Sam to ask the girl to remove her raincoat, though it was reasonable for her mom to deny, as that is her choice.
Honey is a Psychiatric Service Dog for me. She hops in my lap when she senses a panic attack come on and if I lay down flat and say “panic” she’ll lay on my chest as a form of deep pressure therapy. She also wakes me up at 8am every morning (her internal alarm for a walk) because I’ll get so depressed I won’t get out of bed.
I am not rude for what I said to the girl. I said to the mother: “Excuse me, I think my dog just needs to meet your daughter without the hood on, I believe the hood is why she’s growling”. I don’t see how that’s rude, inform me? Sorry, I wasn’t very calm in the situation either. Once she started growling I got nervous.
I will never EVER use Cesar Milan’s techniques. I am not fond of him whatsoever.
My trainer said we will talk more Saturday, which is when her next class is.
Also, to clarify, she was not going to bite.
The girl appeared, Honey started shaking, put her ears down, and growled. Just a rumble in her throat, no teeth baring and her eyes just looked scared.
The girl knew not to come near her, but they got in line behind me and Honey moved to the other side of me so I was in between her and the girl. She was obviously scared (now that I’ve calmed down a bit as well, I can see that).
I don’t think this necessarily means that she can’t be a service dog. I would recommend using positive reinforcement to get her less afraid of the things she is afraid of, which it sounds like you are already doing with the trainer. Depending on what your trainer thinks, you may also want to consider having a few private training sessions to work on specific triggers.
And I agree, dogs make the best deep pressure therapy. 😀
agt, I forgot to mention that my little girl made it all the way through Canine Good Citizen! We’ve had her since she was about 8 months, and had no training except she appeared house broken when we got her. So it’s a happy ending!
Sam, she should be able to work out for you, but your trainer will be the best to judge. Do you always bring really good treats with you? It doesn’t always work because I have a current dog that shuts down completely when extremely stressed, but is not aggressive. He would not respond to treats in a really stressful situation. So, again after working with a trainer I slowly desensitized him by starting below his threshold, always carrying treats and slowly working up. There are still things we need to work on, but we have come a very long way.
When you find your dog in that type of situation, probably the best thing to do is walk her away and focus on something else. Sometimes even throwing a treat to the floor and letting her “find it” can refocus her energy. But again, you might need to work with a trainer who is familiar with reactive dogs. A good thing to do is really focus on her body language. Sometimes it is very subtle and/or very quick. Every dog has different thresholds. I don’t know how familiar you are with stress signals in dogs, but here’s a link:
There are many of these on the internet. You do need to learn to read your dog. Then you will see the triggers more quickly.
Sam, I would always assume the worst. Any dog can bite, even the friendliest, sweetest dog in the world. And unfortunately, you’ve only had her a couple of months, so it’s best to err on the side of she might bite.
D_O is right. If you are only doing class lessons, a few private lessons with someone familiar with reactive dogs (if your trainer is not) and positive reinforcement is always helpful.
No No No to Cesar. Just no. Find a positive trainer.
Sam, please don’t Alpha roll your dog. That is one of the worst things that you can do to your dog, and is likely to end with you being bitten. This is what I would do. Get a child that your dog knows and likes to help you. Have the child walk past (not toward) your dog and toss high value treats to her (several times) Then have the child walk by your dog with a raincoat (no hood) on and toss treats (several times). Next I would have the child put the hood on and pass by and toss treats (several times). *Don’t let the child confront, or try to touch the dog.* Keep the dog on a leash at all times, during the training session. If you do this it *should* desensitize the dog to children wearing coats with hoods and “strange” things that your dog is not used to seeing. If you do try this and it works well, I would do maybe daily (if you can) or at least weekly training sessions with the child and dog. Also, if possible, get different kids to help with training.
I like Lab’s method, because it works directly with the trigger (kids in raincoats) without putting the kid in danger. Of course, make sure to get consent from the parent first. 😀
Hi, I’d say the yellow rain coat & hat frecked Honey out, when some dogs are scared, some dogs react, my friend at the dog park has a Cavalier, he’s like my Patch the most friendly calm dog in the world, wouldn’t hurt a fly…….Every time he see this 1 lady that walks thru the park coming home from work he start barking & barking at her then running up to her looking at her then barks, then runs away, he only does this when she wears her big black hat lol….
Thanks for the responses guys.
I looked at the stress signals, and one thing she does a LOT when we are out is shake. I picked out some good treats today and will take it slow from now on; I think I thought too much of her otherwise calm behavior. Poor girl, I’ve probably really stressed her out.
There was a small girl today at Walmart that she didn’t worry about at all, so I want to say it was what she was wearing as well. When I take her some where again, I will see if anyone will be willing to work with her a little (probably Petco).
I talked to my trainer and we have 5 private lessons set up for helping her, since my trainer actually has two little ones! She said with the way Honey acted, she doesn’t think it’ll be a problem, it just may prolong her training a bit. Thank you all so much for the help, I really love this site and the ones who help me.
Go to the vet asap. Loss of appetite, fearfulness, shaking can be signs of body pain or an illness that has grown over time.
LOL Susan! My fear aggressive dog would walk every day with me and if anything was out of place, he would immediately bark at it to “chase it away”. The change of seasons and yard decorations were often a crazy time for him.
Labs is suggesting the exact way to desensitize the dog. Just remember to keep it really slow and don’t push. You have to work under the dog’s threshhold. If you are not really familiar with the dog’s stress signals, it might be best to wait until your trainer can work on this with you. The shaking is a definite signal of stress. If she is at that point, she really should be removed from whatever situation you are in. Here’s a service dog link listing stress signals that might help:
I think Cesar Millian has some great tips for fearful dogs. He would definitely tell you that most likely her “aggression” was feared based. I.E little girl with a covered head so she could not be seen well.
I would NEVER EVER do what L M advised. When you comfort a dog that is in a fearful or frightened state of mind you are nurturing that state of mind. Talking to the dog during that time and trying to use human psychology on the dog (which is what L M’s advice was) is going to make the dog associate whatever you are saying with that moment of fear.
You are not going to be able to talk to a dog and reason with her. They frankly have no clue what you are saying especially when you are speaking to them as if they were a human child, using long sentences.
It also didn’t help that the parent of the little girl could not read your dog and could not tell that it was a fearful growl and bark not an aggressive one.
My suggestion is to find someone who is a close friend of yours who trusts you and your dog and has a child, have the child put a hood on and stand a distance away from your dog. See how she reacts. Then have her take the hood off and see if Honey’s attitude changes. I would take one recommendation from L M which is that for now til you know what triggers her, keep the child a safe distance. If you can recreate the situation that you experienced at Petco but have the outcome what you wanted I.E the parent having her daughter take off her hood and let your dog see she means no harm, I think you can help your dog greatly and also pinpoint triggers for her and then have your trainer advise you on further action.
If she is being trained as a service dog or going for a CGC cert, she can not react like that towards anyone but especially not children.
Also I’d like to add that I have never seen Cesar alpha roll a fear based aggressive dog. I have seen him do it to dogs that clearly are “red zone” as he calls it. I think that his techniques are great, but as the show STATES do not attempt these methods without consulting a proffessional.
I feel that the way he deals with fear based aggression is humane. Apparently everyone disagrees, but oh well. We all have our opinions.
Most of what I described above I got from Dog Whisperer. I can’t see any of that as being inhumane.
I’ve watched The Dog Whisperer. How would you know if the dog’s aggression was actually fear based? The problem with the show is even though it has the disclaimer, everyone suddenly thinks they can do the same techniques with their dogs. I feel that’s where the problems begin.
As Cesar has pointed out many times a fear based dog doesn’t just charge and attack without warning like a truly aggressive or “red zone” dog would. A dog with pure aggression is not going to wait for you to do something he doesn’t like, he’s just going to attack.
I recently had an experience with a dog that had dug himself under a fence and was stuck on the other side of his fence on 5 inches of a tie-out. When I came up to him to try to help him he was barking at me. Most people would have been terrified thinking the dog was aggressive. To me it was obvious that he wasn’t aggressive, he was simply territorial. However since I really couldn’t help the dog since I can’t just open someones fence and put their dog back in their yard I called animal control and they grabbed him. He did not bite the officer, he did not try to do anything to her at all. In fact he lowered his head when she approached him and let her put the leash lead on him.
I told her when she got here that he didn’t seem aggressive just territorial.
As much as you might think you can’t “read” a dog, you certainly can. Which is why Cesar’s idea of DOG psychology works so well. I personally don’t think I’m the god of training dogs now, but what I have taken away from the show is how to interpert dog’s queues a lot better.
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