View Full Version : Aggressive Dogs? Updated in newest post.

2009-05-27, 06:44 AM
Heya forum-goers!

So, if you'll recall a few months back I posted a thread asking for naming suggestions for a new dog I had adopted.

Well, I'm back, looking for advice/your experiences.

Melody, as she was named, is a German Shepherd Dog mix, female, and should just be 1 year this month if the guesses at her age are accurate. Well, recently as she's gotten better (she had an injury) she's gotten more aggressive.

Not last Friday, but the one prior to that she got into a pretty serious dog fight with my other dog, and she ended up with I believe 6 sutures. I had a professional dog trainer come back to my house and more or less say within 5 minutes that the whole ordeal wasn't going to work, and that she was now bullying my other dog. (Who is a sweet heart and ignores it for the most part.)

Well, I've got her started on doggie Prozac, a low dosage, and while I think I may be seeing very slight improvements, I'm obviously still very worried.

She's got from fear barking to lunging and barking at people/dogs, and works herself up when someone/thing passes by the front of the house.

She's getting her sutures out tomorrow, and I'm going to talk to the vet about upping the dosage of prozac slightly.

I know ultimately I have to choose what's best for both her and everyone else (be that re-homing her, or if she's un-adoptable and nothing works, euthanasia.), but I was wondering if any of you had ever dealt with an aggressive dog before, what you did, and if you had any success.

I'm also going to be talking with the vet and trainer about using sedatives to try and rewire in her brain how she responds to other people/dogs: if nothing else perhaps she'll be more adoptable for it.

I'm just having a rough time and am hoping people can give some advice/words of comfort.

Thanks all,

2009-05-27, 08:58 AM
Unfortunately I can't say I know much about how to handle aggressive dogs, besides, you know, watching that TV show with the dude that was awesome with dogs. Ill be damned if I can't remember what that show was called...

Either way, I wish you the best of luck with Melody! Have a huggle.

*HUGGLESSS* :smallsmile:

2009-05-27, 09:07 AM
just give chocolate for being nice and hit harder when she is agressive :smallbiggrin:

If that dosn't work hi harder :smalltongue:

2009-05-27, 09:41 AM
just give chocolate for being nice and hit harder when she is agressive :smallbiggrin:

If that dosn't work hi harder :smalltongue:

No, actually that's a really, really bad idea. Chocolate is poisonous for dogs, for one thing. Hitting the dog will make it even more aggressive. It basically makes it bitterly submissive and therefore since it gets scared more easily, it will become more aggressive.

How to fix the behaviour... well there's several ways. I'm not quite versed with them, but they involve the whole reward system. Try having people slowly come closer and closer to the dog. Reward the dog for good behaviour. Try to do this slowly.

You should separate the two dogs, though. That might also be part of it.

2009-05-27, 09:45 AM
The only reason to strike a dog is in self defense, so no, don't hit her.

However, you do need to show her that you are the alpha, and that at least for now, she's the omega of this pack. I don't know how strong or confident you, but this can be a little traumatic for the owner.

The way I learned to establish dominance over a dog waaay back in the day was by subjecting my dog (a giant schnauzer back then) to an Alpha Roll several times a day.

Nowadays some people claim that it's outdated and mean (http://dogs.about.com/cs/basictraining/a/alternatives.htm), but in my opinion, it works quickly and well. Sadly, we did not use it on my younger sister, and so she's still quite aggressive and feisty.

Regardless of my opinion, there are a lot of very good methods online for getting your dog to behave. My current dog is a golden retriever and is about the sweetest thing on earth. When she was naughty as a puppy, I'd pick her up and spin her around so that she was dizzy. I'm not sure that I'd recommend the technique, but it seemed to work. :smallsmile:

2009-05-27, 10:00 AM
The dog fight is the major issue in my view. Usually dogs sort out dominance between themselves without violence.

Since the dog fighting could occur in the future, I'd consider looking for a new home. I'm sure you should be able to find someone who lives out in the country that has experience with German Shepherds.

Mauve Shirt
2009-05-27, 10:15 AM
Unfortunately I can't say I know much about how to handle aggressive dogs, besides, you know, watching that TV show with the dude that was awesome with dogs. Ill be damned if I can't remember what that show was called...

Are you talking about the Dog Whisperer? (http://www.cesarmillaninc.com/dogwhisperer/) It's my mom's 2nd favorite show. You should TOTALLY contact Cesar. :smallamused:

Seriously, if your dogs are fighting, you should probably give one a new home. As long as they haven't bitten a person yet, though, there might be hope if you get a really good trainer.

2009-05-27, 10:15 AM
Sadly, I have quite a bit of experience in this matter. My own dog was quite aggressive. There's a bit of in-depth analysis in the spoiler below.

He started small: He growled when people went near his food. We thought it was because he was so hungry since we'd only just gotten him from the shelter. Pretty soon it went away, and he was the sweetest dog.

Then he started snapping at little kids, and the food aggression returned. Obviously we couldn't let that go, so we checked the internet and called the vet for solutions. We thought that it could be that he was insecure and trying to assert dominance over little kids since they're smaller than him, and started training him not to.

Then one day, my youngest sister (about 10) did something abominably stupid. She put her face right up next to a dog's food bowl while he was eating. A dog with KNOWN food aggression. She got clawed up pretty good. This was nearly half a year ago and you can still see the marks.

We very nearly got rid of him, but I persuaded my mom to keep trying (my sister was being very, very stupid after all.) So we hired a trainer to come out. She showed us some exercises to assert our dominance over him, and for a while he seemed to be getting better (though my sister was still afraid of him . . .)

Well, let's just say he suddenly took a turn for the worse. He kept biting at little kids and then even at adults. In the last week we had him, while we were waiting for replies, he bit me and both of my sisters. I had been reaching for his leash while he was chewing on a toy and he bit me. That shocked me because I had been SURE that he wouldn't have bitten me, as I trained him the most and spent the most time with him. So a word of warning: Don't assume it won't happen to you.

So we gave him to a professional who took in aggressive dogs and trained them to be adoptable. One week after she got him, she emailed us saying that he would have to be put down. He snapped and bit at everybody and even her other dogs, who were used to handling aggressive dogs, wouldn't have anything to do with him. He was absolutely vicious.

Luckily, Snickers wasn't put down, though. I believe he was sent to a sanctuary, which takes in unadoptable dogs, and he is currently living on a farm in Vermont under the name of Simon.


Warning signs of severe aggression are food aggression, snapping at people, a refusal to listen to you, and most importantly, unprovoked biting.

Many dogs can be trained out of this, but some (like my dog) are virtually untrainable and might need to be sent to a professional or even put down. Or both.

It sounds like your dog will be fine though, and will just need some training. If you want, I can post some of the exercises the trainer gave me to work out the aggression and assert your own dominance.

2009-05-27, 10:20 AM
Are you talking about the Dog Whisperer? (http://www.cesarmillaninc.com/dogwhisperer/)

YES! That was getting to me. You deserve a hug.


..That is all. *Disappears*

2009-05-27, 11:56 AM
Be nice to it. (Not that I think you aren't...are you?) Usually you are doing something accidentally to scare it, so think about it for a bit and try to come up with something that might scare it.

2009-05-27, 03:57 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone.

She is food aggressive, but only to other dogs. (She lost 9 pounds from the time she was taken in to the shelter, to the time I got to take her home.) She's gained back her weight, and she shows her aggression only often enough that I still feed her via her tricky treat ball, with my other dog in a separate room.

She does accept me as her alpha (I just started getting the alpha mouth licks a few days ago.), so it's not an issue of that, although I think she's trying to be Beta by attempting to push my other dog around.

An Alpha roll on a dog like this who started with fear aggression would be a bad idea. >_< It's punishing them for doing nothing. (While I'm sure it works with some dogs, it's DEFINITELY not the right way to handle this dog.)

The dogs are being separated except when they're sleeping. (Just because that way only one person needs to be present downstairs rather than two.) One is in the family room/kitchen, the other is in the living room/dining room.

We did manage to complete obedience training, so she knows and will preform sit, down, sit from down, paw, come, and we're working on stay. But when she gets herself into a frenzy that all flies out the window.

If I've left anything out, I apologize, I have to get ready to take Melody to the vet in a little bit.

Thanks again all,

2009-05-27, 10:43 PM
[QUOTE=Mauve Shirt;6164449]Are you talking about the Dog Whisperer? (http://www.cesarmillaninc.com/dogwhisperer/) It's my mom's 2nd favorite show. You should TOTALLY contact Cesar. :smallamused:

Cesar is great.

Many people dislike him.

Don't listen to them.

I had an aggressive dog, but with determination, Cesar's advice, and a little elbow grease we turned her around. She is still high-strung, but much more submissive and excepting of other dogs.

Ninja Chocobo
2009-05-28, 03:18 AM
I've met a total of three dogs that haven't tried to eat me.

I don't like dogs very much.

2009-05-28, 12:04 PM
that dog wouldn't be in my house if i didn't kill it when it attacked my first dog.

Neko Toast
2009-05-28, 12:46 PM
I second the notion of calling the Dog Whisperer. He's helped dogs who were in a much worse condition than what you've described so far.

Can't really give much advice other than that. I do have a dog, but he's a golden retriever, which are considered one of the friendliest breeds of dogs on the planet. He doesn't have aggression issues. Just hyperactive issues when we have company over. He is improving, though.

2009-06-01, 03:21 AM
I'd considered both the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millian, and Victoria Stillwell of It's Me or the Dog; but both are only accepting applications from the Hollywood/LA area of CA, and I'm up in the SF bay area.

On Friday she was up on our hill when the dog next door set her off. I went up to pull her back, looping the leash around her hips when she got my sweatshirt sleeve and tried to bite me.

So after a very long night and an even worse morning I went to surrender her at the Marin County Humane Society. I told them what had happened and that my trainer had talked with Trish King (their behavior specialist who is a registered Behaviorist rather than just a trainer.), who told me within minutes that if I surrendered her, all they would do would be to put her down. I wouldn't even be allowed to go back to be with her if they did it.

We talked about possibilities for probably close to two hours, about what I could do for training, the fact that the Prozac hadn't fully taken effect, and she noticed that Melody had a hot spot on her back, which was obviously giving her pain.

So, I brought her home and took her in to see the vet this morning. She's weighing in at 56 pounds (Up from the 45 when I adopted her, and stable at that weight for almost a month.), they couldn't take her temp (she got frightened so the vet tech decided not to bother.). So, the doctor came in, she greeted him nicely, got a few treats, and then I knelt down to hold the front of her harness while he inspected her.

It became very apparent that her back was bugging her when he squeezed and poked her her spine, and she spun around and tried to nip at him. He went to retrieve a muzzle (for both her safety as well as his own) and I placed it on her before we continued to examine her. When he found the spot and was testing it she thrashed, wanted to bite, etc, and was just generally very much in pain and frightened. After he was done I let her come over for some comfort before he checked both her belly and her reflexes. Both of those were fine.

So she came home again today and is now on a pain relief/anti-inflammatory. It definitely explains some of her behavior. I mean, if I was in that much pain I certainly wouldn't want anyone touching there or poking at it.

Melody has 1-2 months to show some form of improvement or I have to reassess her. My poor "puppy". I'm going to be working with both the behaviorist as well as a professional trainer, and I have a prescription for some xanax for when I decide to try and do some re socialization/trying to get her past her initial reaction when she sees new dogs/people. The behaviorist mentioned that she basically has PTSD from something that happened when she was a puppy, so every time she's getting herself amped up she's reliving whatever it was that happened. So I'm going to work on getting her to start thinking with the front portion of her brain rather than sitting back in her amygdala.

Wish me luck all. I'll keep all of you updated as I can.

2009-06-01, 09:24 AM
Wow... poor thing. You know, if she's been in pain, that alone would make her aggressive without even the need for PTSD.

Anyways, with patience and a lot of caring... I'm pretty sure you can save the poor thing. I've seen some troubled dogs which have become the sweetest things ever. I wish you luck with this.

2009-06-12, 01:14 AM
I have a dog who is, more likely than not, worse than yours in the agression area. We always have to keep him locked out back when people are over because he DOES bite. He cannot even be in the same room as another person or animal, he WILL bite them. We fought with the same problem. We had a trainer come over who bluntly told us he has to be put down, nothing else will work. My mother was heartbroken and convinced, but we didn't...this was about a year or so ago.

Unfortunately I can't say we found a magic cure for every aggressive dog in every household..but we found a system that works for us. He has never even came close to biting anybody or anything. Where it was once difficult to constantly be worrying about him, it's now routine. I don't think about his aggression an inconvenience..and he's gotten better! He can do things like wait across the room while my mom answers the door..he is extremely smart and obedient. =]

What I guess I'm saying is dont give up just yet! If she's just a year old chances are she will grow into something more tameable. If you're other dog just ignores it, it probably isn't a problem for him/her. Waiting on the situation, you might find yourself pleasantly suprised.

Also my mom watches dog whisperer..a lot. haha. maybe that helps?


2009-06-12, 01:34 AM
She experience any head trauma or brain damage?

2009-06-12, 05:09 AM
Try asking the Dog Whisperer:

I'm guessing a look there might give insight to your problem.