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Q: What can I do with a dog that attacks?

November 21, 2008 | By Alicia S. | 4 answers | Expired: 2146 days ago

Alicia S.

Mia is a wonderful 1 year old Shepherd/Collie mix. I adopted her when she was ten weeks old and have tried to socialize her properly. We took puppy obedience and she is now in agility classes. We love agility and we have a strong bond. She also enjoys going to the dog park, pet store and to Grandma’s house. She is very smart, loyal, protective and overall a great dog.

Mia does have a problem with strangers. When we first started classes she had nothing to do with the instructors, not even for a treat. She will now go up to our class instructors for a treat and even a pet. When the instructors have to hold onto Mia's leash and I have to walk away she panics. She tries to get away from the instructor, pulls, jumps and she just looks like she could have a panic attack. Last night an instructor grabbed her collar to lead her to an obstacle and Mia attacked her. When I last took her to the vet a nurse and a vet tried to examine Mia one day and she tried to attack both of them. She has tried to attack two other vets as well. I'm worried she will hurt someone very badly one day and that wouldn't be good for anyone. She means so much to me and I would hate if I had to loose her because she bit someone. I try to get her out in the world to meet new people and to go to new places. She acts terrified that someone is going to take her away from me. I just don't understand where this aggression is coming from. What can I do to get her over her fear of strangers and to stop this bad behavior?

Readers' Answers (4)
Freeman796
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Dec 04, 2008

Your dog is exhibiting fear aggression. Now that you know she has a problem with strangers, you can manage the issue appropriately. I too have a dog with this problem. I got my American Eskimo dog at 8 weeks of age and socialized her extensively. I took her to positive obedience classes and we do agility too. She is two now and still is not okay with strangers. I have accepted this and am aware of how I need to manage her situation. Strangers are not allowed to approach her and pet her like they can with my other dog. I know this doesn't sound encouraging, but my Eskimo dog has still managed to make many people friends. It just takes a lot more time and work with her. A dog that is fearful of people does best when the new person ignores the dog and does not try to approach or make eye contact with the dog. A shy dog needs time to accept the person's presence and check them out on their own terms. It is good for the dog just to be in the presence of people and get comfortable with them around her. My American Eskimo can walk through a crowd with no problems, as long as no one tries to pet her. Luckily, most people are polite and always ask first, so I just explain that she is shy so they cannot pet her. I don't want her to have any negative experiences with people. She will take treats from strangers sometimes too. If that is too much for your dog, then you can start by having the person toss the treats from a distance. There are many things you can do, and I could go on. The most important thing you need to know is that you have to carefully manage your dog's environment from now on, so that you don't place her in a situation where she may react in a fearful aggressive manner. Don't allow people that she is not completely comfortable with to handle her. If she has to go to the vet, then you will need to put a nylon muzzle on her for the vet's safety. I have to do this with my dog. I only use the muzzle for a short time when I know they are going to be touching her, but as soon as the exam is over she is fine and doesn't need it. Your dog may never be completely comfortable with strangers, but it doesn't mean you don't have any control over the situation. Manage it carefully and do the best you can to make her experiences with people positive. Good luck!

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Danielle M.
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Nov 21, 2008

This is a very hard question like you love your dog but you also have to look out for the well being of others. Im not a fan of muzzles myself but it may help. Has she ever been left alone as a puppy for long periods of time? My best suggestion is time. Perhaps you may try to allow others to spend time with her and at first you walk with them and get to know them then slowly create distance not too far but enough for her to gain her own self confidence wihtout you because it seems as if she doesnt necessarily have that. good luck and i hope everything works out.

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Jay T.
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Nov 24, 2008

First,I would not allow anyone to take her by the collar or leash since this seems to make her anxious and provokes a possible attack.
For vet trips: I would use a soft muzzle to insure no one is bitten--since they do have to handle your dog during the examination.
Your instructor's should be able to help you with a plan to address these issues. It will take time and patience.
Good luck!

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