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Unread 04-16-2009, 02:01 PM   #1
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Question 'Aggressive' towards 'old' people and dogs!

Hi, I'm in the process of adopting Joe, in case you haven't read any of my other posts, Joe is a rescue dog, he was mistreated and neglected AND ran over, resulting in a nasty broken leg which has an external fixator on. Poor boy. Anyway, he is great with me and my boyfriend (both aged 25) as soft as anything and met family (aged between 6-62) and after a grumble he was fine. The problem is, when he's out on the lead and sees an old person (don't mean to offend anyone!) he's growls and barks at them! We tell him no and pull him away but it's embarrassing and I can imagine he comes across as an aggressive dog which he isn't. No-one knows who his previous owner was so it could've been an old person which is where this behaviour could stem from. Also, he is awful when he sees other dogs! Barking, pulling etc, again we say no and pull him away. We are going to sort out dog training for him but in the mean time has anyone got any advice on what I can do before he yanks my arm of through pulling?

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Unread 04-16-2009, 02:11 PM   #2
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Lianne, first off please don't feel too bad. My Zircon had a habit of growling at little kids for a while. He was not used to them, and I couldn't exactly ask someone if I could borrow their child so my dog could practice not growling.

I worked on it by introducing him to kids who were old enough to throw a ball for him. which he adores, and worked my way down to little kids. Soon just seeing a kid with a ball made the kid his good friend, regardless of the age.

If Joe is simply not used to older people, it shouldn't be too hard to make introductions to help him learn that they are perfectly nice humans. The older members of your family could be a good start if they are willing to lay along. If on the other hand an older person abused Joe, you'll have your work cut out for you. Poor Joe has been through so much, he will have a long way to go to learn that being a pet dog can be a good thing. I suspect that as he learns to trust you, he'll also be more comfortable in unfamiliar situations.
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Unread 04-16-2009, 03:08 PM   #3
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Lianne, first off please don't feel too bad. My Zircon had a habit of growling at little kids for a while. He was not used to them, and I couldn't exactly ask someone if I could borrow their child so my dog could practice not growling.

I worked on it by introducing him to kids who were old enough to throw a ball for him. which he adores, and worked my way down to little kids. Soon just seeing a kid with a ball made the kid his good friend, regardless of the age.

If Joe is simply not used to older people, it shouldn't be too hard to make introductions to help him learn that they are perfectly nice humans. The older members of your family could be a good start if they are willing to lay along. If on the other hand an older person abused Joe, you'll have your work cut out for you. Poor Joe has been through so much, he will have a long way to go to learn that being a pet dog can be a good thing. I suspect that as he learns to trust you, he'll also be more comfortable in unfamiliar situations.
This is what I'm thinking, he may of been owned by an older person as he seems to just sniff younger people. We do seem lucky in the fact that he does seem to trust us already, we have a good relationship with him. I'm hoping that in time he will learn that no-one will hurt him again.

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Unread 04-16-2009, 03:33 PM   #4
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If you can, have an 'older person' who is comfortable around dogs sit on the floor across the room with their side to Joe and not look at him. Have Joe on a leash and allow him to approach and show interest. When he does show interest praise him. At first don't let him get too close, just keep a distance until he relaxes. Might take a fair amount of time. If he truely has a problem he'll never relax. If it's just unfamiliarity, curiosity should win out as nothing 'bad' happens. Eventually he should hopefully approach willingly. At this point, the back of a hand offered out with fingertips down and no movement towards him should help. But make sure he's comfortable! If he hasn't shown a decrease in the barking/aggression before that point I would consult a pro to help out. Use caution, it could be that he's not used to older people... or it could be that he was hurt by someone who was older and is leary of it happening again.
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Unread 04-16-2009, 03:43 PM   #5
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If you can, have an 'older person' who is comfortable around dogs sit on the floor across the room with their side to Joe and not look at him. Have Joe on a leash and allow him to approach and show interest. When he does show interest praise him. At first don't let him get too close, just keep a distance until he relaxes. Might take a fair amount of time. If he truely has a problem he'll never relax. If it's just unfamiliarity, curiosity should win out as nothing 'bad' happens. Eventually he should hopefully approach willingly. At this point, the back of a hand offered out with fingertips down and no movement towards him should help. But make sure he's comfortable! If he hasn't shown a decrease in the barking/aggression before that point I would consult a pro to help out. Use caution, it could be that he's not used to older people... or it could be that he was hurt by someone who was older and is leary of it happening again.
Thankyou for the advice, unfortunatly I don't have any suitable 'old' people I could borrow I do think Joe would benefit from some training anyway so hopefully a pro could lend me an old person! Ha ha!

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Unread 04-16-2009, 03:50 PM   #6
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Ahhh, well... in the long run working a pro will probably be better. They'll be able to assess faster whether or not Joe has a true fear or just an insecurity that needs more exposure. Good luck!
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Unread 04-16-2009, 03:52 PM   #7
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Ahhh, well... in the long run working a pro will probably be better. They'll be able to assess faster whether or not Joe has a true fear or just an insecurity that needs more exposure. Good luck!

Thankyou

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Unread 04-16-2009, 09:48 PM   #8
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A consult with a good trainer sounds like an excellent plan in this case. For reasons you will never know, your dog has a negative association or fear of old people. You can start to change his perception by making good things happen when he sees an old person. If you continue to tell him off / yank him away / get upset yourself when you see an old person you could be confirming his suspicion that old people are bad or scary. Instead try to spot an old person from a long distance away, put as much space as you can between you and the old person. Grin and say in a happy voice look it's an old guy, that's great, at the same time get the sirloin steak (or similar top notch treat lol) out and feed feed feed. When the old person is out of sight stop feeding. Eventually your dog should see and old person, adopt a happy expression and look to you for a treat instead of putting on the aggressive display.

Edited to say that maybe don't say 'old guy' out loud - lol, it could cause offence if you are within earshot, but you get the general idea....

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Unread 04-16-2009, 09:56 PM   #9
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A similar approach can also work to change his opinion of passing other dogs when out on a walk, however, it isn't always easy to set up situations where you can position him far enough away from the other dogs so that he doesn't immediately become reactive. You need to work him 'under threshold' and aim to gradually decrease the distance between him and the other dog. This isn't an easy or quick training process, especially if he has been practicing the reactive behaviour for quite a while, and you will likely need the help of a good trainer.

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Unread 04-17-2009, 04:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaos View Post
A consult with a good trainer sounds like an excellent plan in this case. For reasons you will never know, your dog has a negative association or fear of old people. You can start to change his perception by making good things happen when he sees an old person. If you continue to tell him off / yank him away / get upset yourself when you see an old person you could be confirming his suspicion that old people are bad or scary. Instead try to spot an old person from a long distance away, put as much space as you can between you and the old person. Grin and say in a happy voice look it's an old guy, that's great, at the same time get the sirloin steak (or similar top notch treat lol) out and feed feed feed. When the old person is out of sight stop feeding. Eventually your dog should see and old person, adopt a happy expression and look to you for a treat instead of putting on the aggressive display.

Edited to say that maybe don't say 'old guy' out loud - lol, it could cause
offence if you are within earshot, but you get the general idea....
Yeah thats an idea, to give treats before he can start getting stressed with the poor person I'll give it a go. With the dog thing, I did mention to the owner of the rescue centre about it and she wonders if he has never been properly socialised with other dogs and doesn't know how to behave appropriatly with them.

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