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Old 09-24-2012, 03:49 PM   #48
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Re: Advice please! Adopted dog is aggressive toward kids

I've have worked in canine behavior and rescue since 1995. I am a firm believer in dominance in dogs.

Here in the Southeastern US where our animal control facilities have kill rates over 90% and our humane societies are anywhere from 30-80%, there are a herd of "rescue organizations" and I use that term loosely. These organizations "pull" animals that are scheduled for euthanasia and farm them out to a "foster home", often outside with limited human contact with as many as 30 other dogs. OP, I don't know where you are located, but I would strongly guess this is what happened with your pup. I have "rescued" many a dog from these warehousing conditions. The foster parents consider it a success that the dog wasn't euthanized, but honestly, the fear aggression, the insecurity, the lack of socializing that I confront in these "saved" dogs is overwhelming and not what I would consider a life worth living. These dogs are nearly feral and do revert to more of a primitive state, more wolf-like if you will. They do pack up and the unbalanced climate of scared, lonely, neglected creatures "feeding" on those very undesireable traits of each other is horrendous. Honestly, OP, your dog has been traumatized and will need a great deal of patience and positive reinforcement and confidence building before I would consider her a well balanced, kid safe, predictable, stable member of your family. I will also say, not all of them are save-able. I had to put to sleep one dog I pulled at 10 months from her "foster home" aka warehouse. I worked with her as a member of our family for over a year. She remained untrustworthy and dangerous. There are lots and lots of stable, loving dogs put to sleep every year while we save some fearful, dangerous ones.

IMO, I would work with this dog for some time. I think growling exists for a reason, its a warning. I don't train it out of dogs as I think warnings are vital to living with one another. I do, however, focus on building up and encouraging insecure and timid dogs. The "stiffening" you mention. Correcting, bossing and dominating a fearful, insecure dog is both foolish and ill-advised IMO. She already would rather crawl and hide at times so Lording over her just makes her more insecure and afraid and unstable. We would be doing a lot of the "no free lunch program" here. "Kujo, its time to eat. Sit. Good girl, great job. What a good dog". "Kujo, time to go outside. Sit. Way to go,wahoo! Awesome." Simple instruction given that's easy to follow and rewarded with praise and doing something she loves like a walk, treat, play, outside, dinner, etc..." Showing the scared-y dog that she is smart and good and capable of doing all kinds of good things. You are reinforcing your position as the head of the household as a side bonus, but most importantly, you are giving your insecure dog the knowledge that she is capable and successful. You are marking good behaviors and expectations for behavior in various situations. You are teaching her good things to do, not just correcting the bad things. Know how that's important to your children, so it is to your dog. GL!
Leslie Helpmeet since 1999. WAHM to Big(04), Middle(08) and Little(09) and Double Blessings (10/13).Granola crunchy, scheduling, Evangelical Liberal mommy that CDs, BFs, ERFs, & BWs. An attached parent without the Attachment Parenting.
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