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Curbing Agression?

by cathy brown

By now you are all probably tired of Carty the Barker Dog stories, but we are definitely in a deep problem area here and I need advice. Carty (my foster baby rescue) is a "killer" dog with animals outside the house (inside isn't a problem even a brand new rescue foster baby got only a sniff or two and that's that). The problem is definitely escalating--additional new bad behavior is that when he's in his barking frenzy he bites anyone in his way (and this happens when he's indoors barking at a fur person outdoors as well as in the outdoor setting). So far, Lucy, me, and my friend Michael have been bitten--not hard enough to break skin, but enough to yip. I have had the dog trainer. With his help SOME of this has calmed down, some of the time (maybe 30% improvement). But he doesn't always obey the command either indoors or out. Last week he went for the neighbor's dog after stopping on command, but only for a second) and ended up at the vet with stitches and a ripped apart ear. I am at wits end. I realize the training won't work overnight, but am concerned about this new biting thing. Will the consistent use of commands ever extinguish this behavior? Is there some way to address the biting? Does anyone have ANY other suggestion. If we don' t get it fixed, I am going to have to place him somewhere else where there is not sort of a constant flow of other dogs and remind us both he was only "suposed to be a foster baby, anyhow." That would hurt lots. So please if any of you had similar experiences and fixed them, let me know. Thanks.


Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that many of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinarian medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.

I had one agressive biting rescue. I purchased a small muzzel, which he hated, and every time he got wild, I would say no bite and put on the muzzel. After a while, he would bark, look at me and the muzzle, and stop. I always carried it with me when I took him out to test socialize him. I kept him for four months of continuously taking him out around other people and dogs, and even put him in obedience class to be sure it was over. He did fine. I placed him, with his muzzle, and it has been over a year with no problems. My own male, who can get really testy at times, hates time-out. When he starts niping and being a toot, I put him in time out in the bathroom. If he is fighting with my other male, I put both of them in there together. It is quiet as a mouse in ther, they forget what they were fighting about.
-Marsha A.

I love hearing about Carty and how he's doing! I have been following your story for months! Herald, too, is very aggressive to other dogs until he spends a few minutes with them. He will also bite me if I attempt to calm him down in the middle of this frenzy if I get my hand near his face. A neighbor of mine, witnessing this behavior, suggested that it looked to her like he was trying to be protective of his family. I thought,"Of course" Carty may be just trying to is figure out his place in the family. He saw a niche that needed to be filled so for now, he is being aggressive to protect you from those strange dogs. Of course knowing his good intentions doesn't stop his annoying behavior! So what he really needs to know is that you REALLY are top dog in the house and that you will do all of the protecting if anything needs to be protected. Try putting him on a leash and then having someone walk by the house with a dog that will provoke his protective behavior. When he begins his frenzy, give the leash a tug and tell him to sit. MAKE him obey you by any means necessary without being cruel. Keep working at it. Let him know that you will be the one who decides how he will behave when there are strange dogs around. Take him for walks and make him sit again when he becomes aggressive. The whole point is that you want him to direct his attention to you and to your reaction rather than deciding for himself, like a top dog, how he should be behaving. Good luck! I hope you can help him. He sounds like he has been through alot already. Ruth

Marsha and Ruth and those who e-mailed me. Thanks so much for the suggestions. Ruth, your "read" was the same as the trainer's--he feels that Carty is so thrilled to have a "happy home" that he wants to be sure nothing happens and that we all are safe. Also that it is important for me to assure Carty that I am alpha dog and quite capable of protecting us all (Carty probably thinks I'm so mushy that I can't possibly be "aggresive"!) His training method is quite similar to what you suggested. This is all so annoying and to a certain extent threatening (for him, mostly) that maybe I am expecting results too soon. I notice Marsha, that it took you quite a while. So maybe this will all work. There is some slight improvement already. Again, thanks for the help--at the very least it gives me hope to keep on carrying on with this. It will be heaven if we ever get this behavior extinguished!
-cathy brown

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