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Thread: Aggressive Dog

  1. #1

    Default Aggressive Dog

    I'm new to this forum and I am hoping someone can please help me. I'm begging.

    I have a 2 year old ridgeback/mastiff cross breed dog. She was 8 months when we got her from the RSPCA. She was surrendered at 4 months old so she spent a lot of time behind a small cell. The time she spent at the RSPCA meant she was not socialised appropriately. That and it is likely the previous owner didnt do any socialising either. To make it very clear btw, I am not dismissing the unbelievable good work of the RSPCA. They are a wonderful group of people who regretfully have too many animals to care for and individual attention cannot be given to all animals. DH and I have always believed we should get our animals from a shelter before buying into puppy/kitten farm growers selling their animals at pet stores. All our animals come from the RSPCA, regardless of age/background and we will continue to return to them for future animals. The RSPCA are definately not to blame for my dogs bad behaviour.

    It seems that prior to our dog coming to live with us, that she may have been very mistreated by her previous owner even though she was apparently willingly surrendered. While she is a big dog and could easily nail you to the ground if she really wanted to, there is nothing more heartbreaking then see her cower when you lift your hand unexpectantly to do something trivial like scratch your head or when you bring people over she doesnt know. I dont know much about dog training but I believe a dog does not learn that kind of behaviour out of nowhere. I also know she is never praised for this behaviour, nor is she consoled by us to reinforce it.

    While our pooch may be petrafied of humans to a degree, she displays the opposite traits to other dogs. We find she tries to dominate other dogs, particularly older ones but not limited to, and she is always the offender. We have tried everything. We have muzzelled her, taken her to puppy training, tried the check chain, tried the halti (which she bit right through - 3 of them in as little as two days!), tried treats, tried praising, tried socialising, tried raising our voices, tried the clicker. Nothing has worked. Its terrible because we can not take her to our local dog park for fear of her attacking other dogs. The other day she attacked my sisters dog when her kids opened up the back door after given them instructions not to. We tried introducing them prior to the incident occuring but i could see my dog was trying to domianate so we seperated them. I thought my dog was going to kill it which was frightening. I held my dog down, while my sister tried prying my dogs jaws from her dogs scruff. I was lucky it was not someone elses dog off leash down the street and i was not alone.

    Anyway, it isnt just our dogs aggressive behaviour toward other dogs that is a problem. I cant take her outside on a leash, esp. when other dogs walk by or bark because our dog harks up and will not settle. Irrisponsible owners who have their dogs freely roaming the streets is worse. She is 25kg's and growing full of muscle and there have been too many times she yanked me out on to the road unexpectantly when i led her by myself. While i have seen some women control monster dogs like great danes and other such dogs, mine is just too flighty and dangerous for me to handle without my DH's assistance. Even he struggles. We have tried distraction techniques, heel, her most favourite treats to use as a distraction and used voice control, yanking the check chain to snap her out of her fixation, everything. Our dog would rather stop all oxygen on the check chain then heel and gain reward. Nothing has been successful and we have run out of options. Our dog trainer was also no use either. While she was good, she could not come up with a solution for our problems after we gave her video footage of some bad behaviours or even when some were displayed at the school. We also could not afford the $200 price tag attached to have individual sessions with her.

    Playtime is not much better. Growing up I have always had dogs around. While our dog can cower at virtually anything, I'm not use to mouthyness and boysterous behaviour. It becomes unpleasant to play with her. The only thing i can do now is wait for her to sit after giving the command a million times and then praise her if/when she settles. I cant play tug-of-war with her because this game she is obsessed with and wants to dominate. The one thing i am trying to train her out of. As the owner, DH and I are trying to establish dominance and be the leaders of the pack. I often feel sad for her when i go on the deck and come back inside without playing with her. She just waits by the sliding door hoping I'll return to play and i wont. Its actually very sad and i hate watching her behind our glazed windows (whcih we did because of her) and seeing her tail go from a waggle, to half a waggle, then to finally mope away.

    Btw, training at home our dog is brilliant. She can sit, stay, watch, crawl, shake, come, rollover, go down, catch and wave which i taught her to do last week. In saying that, she will only do these things if she is undistracted. As soon as a dog in the neighbourhood starts barking, no amount of telling her to come or sit, stay etc works. She just will not obey any commands.

    As you can appreciate, I am at the end of my teather. I love this dog. My DH is mad about her. She is highly intelligent. I hand her that. She is not agressive if you take her toys away, food etc. All her bad behaviours are ruining our experience having her though. I know that if something is not done now, while my pooch is not agressive toward us, I understand that she can turn and poor behaviour does not change with age. I dont want to have to have her put down or return her to the RSPCA. She had a really bad/cruel start to life and I would hate to give the previous owners irresponsibility/cruelty power over us and our relationship with this animal. I dont want them to have the last laugh. I want my dog to have a better and happier life then what they managed to give.. Regretfully, it seems the very short time they had with her has had a bigger impact on our dog than the 2 years we have had her trying to undo their damage.

    My apologies for the huge post but I'm desperate.

    Please help.


  2. #2


    Hello Poochlover, Sorry your going through this. I can't help, Just wanted to say . I'm sure others here will be able to give you some great advice. Best of luck to you and your pooch.

  3. #3


    Hmmmm...I'm sorry too. I'm afraid I don't have much advice for you. Hopefully other members that are more experienced in this area will be able to give you some advice.
    I also used to have a RidgebackxMastiff that I adopted from the Animal Welfare League when she was 4 months old. She was similar to your girl in the way that she was unsocialized and scared of everything. I never had a problem with aggression though and with lots of love and positive reinforcement she got over her fears quite quickly and became the sort of dog everyone wanted to take home with them.
    Your girl sounds very intelligent, i'm suprised that the trainer gave up on her. Have you tried another trainer or behaviourist?

    I don't think you can solve her problems on your own, I'm pretty sure others will agree that professional help is needed.

    Have you contacted the RSPCA to see what they think and if they can recommend anyone? It's really sad when these guys finally find a loving home but can't deal with it because of the past

  4. #4


    Hi and welcome Poochlover,

    You have a very Dog Aggresive girl on your hands there it would seem.
    And to be completely honest the best thing you can do regarding the behaviour is to simply not put her in a situation where she can react.

    When walking her,be sure she is muzzled .
    Using a Halti as well will also give slightly more control as would a Sporn Harness.But you need to work hard at first at getting her focused on YOU,her attention must be on you.

    You need to be prepared for a long,hard road ahead to try to deal with this,to see some improvement,and then you also have to be prepared for the fact that maybe nothing you do will help at all .

    It is very hard to give such advice over the internet and what you really need is a trainer to work with you.

    May I ask where you are ?

    May I also ask to see some pics of the little terror
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  5. #5


    Actually I have just gone back and reread and there are many issues here that need addressing ,and I think by a professional.No offence to yourself but you have a dominant dog,by the sounds of it a fear aggressive dog and also a dog aggressive dog.

    Really not a good mix

    Edited to add that reread a fourth time and things do seem a little grim.
    Would you mind PM'ng me and I'll see if I can put you onto someone who can maybe help with this type of behaviour.
    Last edited by ChoppaChop; 07-28-2009 at 10:56 PM.
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  6. #6


    Hi pooochlover .

    Sorry to hear about your dramas. I have just bumped a thread in this section called the triangle of temptation. I haven't used this one but have heard lots or positive stories about it helping dogs with problems similar to yours.

    The trainer that wrote it may be a good one to consult - if you're not close to him he could no doubt recommend someone for you.

  7. #7


    Thanks everyone for your feedback. I think that my only option really is to involve a professional trainer when i can afford it. As I am only new to the doggy world, can someone explain how a dog can be a dog agressive dog, but highly timid around people? I always thought that both go hand in hand. Not my dog though. She played with an infant the other day. She was very placid. More curious. 6 kids also ran over to her as well. People think because she has cute floppy ears that she must have a pat. I dont mind because my puppy loves it. While she was a little frightend at first, she eventually lapped up the attention. I have no concerns with her around children I am pleased to say. She only gets rough when she gets excited with us which is the biggest concern. I'm learning to snap her out of this though. I ignore her until she sits. She is slowly getting it.

    Until i can afford one on one training for her, I will persist with distraction techniques when walking her. Could anyone give me some good advice on how this could be done effectively? I know to use a treat she likes, such as cabanossi to get her attention. Its just getting the attention in the first place which is difficult. SHould i be using my voice or anything else? I cant use a Halti on her because she bit through the last 3 the same day we got them. Her teeth are very sharp. So far, only the check chain partially works.

    I would really love the day she could interact with other dogs. She misses out on a lot.

    Thank you Nattylou for referring me to the Triangle of temptaiton forum too btw. I will have a look at it and see if some anything there can assist.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Hawkesbury NSW


    Hi poochlover,

    The combination of dog to dog agression and timidity around people is not uncommon.

    The reasons behind this behaviour are another story. Perhaps your bub was neglected during the critical period of her development? Denied contact with Mum and siblings at an early age?

    I am so happy this girl has such devoted owners

    You need a very experienced behaviourist and this is most certainly a priority.

    Where are you located?

    "Ignoring" mouthing and dominant behaviour from a dog with these issues can be very dangerous as it may reinforce/ strenghten these behaviours. Esspecially if you react in any way or verbalise your concerns.

    Your dog may never be sociable with other dogs.

    I would be keeping a dog with these issues under full supervised control every single second of the day while the issues are being addressed.

    Anything other than full supervision and control from what you have said is an accident waiting to happen.

    I am very sorry if this sounds harsh

    I dont want it too, just concerned.

    "There is enough love and concern for animals in every community to overcome the irresposibility of the few"
    Nathan Winograd.

  9. #9


    Hi Billy and others,

    It would not surprise me if my dog was removed from her litter too young. I believe she was probably purchased as a very irresistable cute little thing from a pet store at the 6 week mark. I understand this can be very detrimental to a dog The fact our pooch was probably removed from her litter and had an owner who couldnt control her was always going to make things difficult.

    We are on the Central Coast. When we got pooch from sommersby RSPCA, they had a few trainers in our local area. Initially, we were impressed by the creditials of an ex-police dog trainer, which they recommended. But he charged something rediculas for his classes like $300 as apposed to another lady they recommended (and who we went with) who charged only $180 to acheive similar outcomes. My H and i couldnt afford either of them for private one-on-one training but we did invest in puppy training with the lady trainer.

    Here is a new development. I'm totally confused by my dog now. As if i wasnt cofused before!!! We took her to the play park the other day. A girl there had a dog roughly the same age as ours. My dh and i got worried about our dog going to attack her dog. It was a crossbreed sort of dog like ours, but smaller. Just as rough as our dog and seeminlgy dominate. I didnt see it roll on its back for submission either. Rather than attack, our dog played with it happily for at least a good hour - off the leash!!!! - Go figure! Btw, she was only taken off the leash because DH couldnt keep up with the running and scuffling!! He was becoming a part of it! LOL!!! Then, we took her to the beach. There was a Whippit/pointer dog heading towards ours. The way it was behaving i thought it was going to attack us because it had that sort of erect look dogs get when they are about to attack. Apparently that look was more just that particular breeds behaviour, not an agressive trait as such. It was just weird. They interacted and also played. It seemed like a youngish/middle aged dog. It was same size as ours and also did not show a submissive trait. They just sniffed each other after the other dog approached us, then they instantly played. Maybe our dog hates just Collies regardless of age, and she doesnt like older dogs. I really dont know what to make of her now. Does she have any hope for proper socialising knowing now there are a few good interactions? How can i harness this? Actually, how does one dog know they dont like another dog? When it happens, its almost instantaneous. They smell, then fight. Can i snap my dog out of the aggressive behaviour before she interacts with another dog? I can tell when my dog is trying to dominate as well because she try's to stand over them, like she is going to mount them and her ears go backwards funny. With these other dogs, that never happened. It was just a sniff-sniff, then "Lets play" kind of thing. How can my dog not attack these other dogs, but my sisters dog which was slightly older, very gentle was attacked? I really dont get it.

    PS. I could not find the triangle forum? Could someone give me directions on how to find it. I'm still triyng to navigate my way around this forum.

    I'm very appreciative of everyones help too. You all come back with good feedback. I seriously think I would have to go to professional therapy sessions because of this dog, if it werent for you!!! LOL!


  10. #10


    just bumped triangle forum for you

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