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What Should I Do With My Aggressive Dog?

I Need Your Help . . . Is This Dog Too Aggressive For Our Home?

This post comes from member gunrock in the Pet Peeves group — can you help?

Our dog Riley is about a year old. We got him when he was around 3 months old. Here are the issues we are having with him and continue to have with him even though he has been through training:

  • He was getting food aggression — he would growl when anyone came near him while he was eating. We fixed that by hand feeding him and this seems to have helped. We do not allow him around our food at all and kennel him up when we eat because he won't leave the food alone.
  • Toy possession — he gets in these moods when he finds a toy he likes he won't give it up and has a death grip on it and will try biting it back if you take it away. He can't have this Kong toy (toy you put treats in) because of this or he growls if anyone comes near him. We have also worked on this but probably should work on it a lot more than we have.
  • Whenever anyone comes near him to get something from him be a kid's toy, shoes, etc. he tries biting to get it back (play biting) hasn't really ever left marks only a few times when the person tries snatching their hand away and they get scraped from his teeth. We were told to give him something before you take the thing away so he doesn't try getting the toy back which we usually do.

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Tonight my stepson went to take away the treat bag (which Riley got off the counter) and Riley lunged at my stepson and left marks where he bit. Did not puncture the skin but it's red, puffy, and black and blue.

  • He is also very energetic and wild. He took him on a 4.5 mile walk and this did not wear him out at all and our other dog was tired.
  • He will growl at anyone if he is not getting his way. He has growled many times at me just because I put him in his kennel and he doesn't want to go in. He is trained and does know sit, down, leave it, give it, and we have been working on heel. He likes it his way or no way.
  • My husband and I are going to talk tonight about whether he should go or not. I am afraid that if he does this to my little ones that they could get hurt worse because they are so little. I don't want any of my kids hurt because I kept him. My other kids don't usually take stuff away; we tell them not to but, if for some reason they did, he would try biting and I don't want them to get hurt. I have a 1 year old, 2 year old and a 3 year old that I don't want them to get bit or hurt by him. I'm not sure what to do. As of now, I want him gone because I am afraid of him hurting someone.
  • Please help our community member and offer any suggestions or tips in the comments below!

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    spottsmom spottsmom 6 years
    No offence but he was obviously NOT play biting. Also why was the child removing something from a dog that is known to have issues with this? You sort of contradict yourself you stated that the dog is trained and knows leave it yet the dog has to have things taken from him if he truly was trained and knew that command he would be dropping it if he even ever touched it. Sounds to me like this dog has a Lot of issues and I have to be honest i have to wonder just how safe it is to rehome him. I Beg you when rehoming PLEASE be Honest Totally Honest I mean no white washing or candy coating the facts and truth If you do it can mean this dogs life. I state this because I know a dog that was brought to the shelter The family was told by the previous owner oh she is sweet and she is great and she is good with kids well the dog ended up biting a family member of it's new home and was brought in to the shelter and of course was put to sleep because of it All because the owner was NOT honest.Had that original owner been open and honest and screened the home well the situation may not have happened. Of course I also have to be honest and say this dog needs a strong active owner and you need to really ask questions visit the home have him visit with Riley AWAY from your home so the dog is not in protective mode on his own territory You do not say is he neutered? if not this could help a LOT as well Many times unneutered males are very territorial and hyper and they change a good bit after being fixed. I am unsure of in fact the above comments are true i am new here but why would you keep getting dogs just to give them away again? Do you have any clue how many rehomed dogs end up in shelters and sadly put to sleep because of these kind of actions? A LOT So Please do not get anymore dogs until you are Positive you are able to keep. it I think with the way things have been going it may be better for you to wait until your kids are older like 17 or older so there will be no more issues but than you will have grandkids etc so until you are SURE you have the time and patience to give a dog please do not get anymore.
    weffie weffie 7 years
    Actually, scratch that--I just realized that you're the same person who ditched Bentley to get Riley, and obviously you're not doing any better with him. You are clearly not a dog-friendly family and it's mean to keep trying and failing. It's not fair to the dogs or to your kids, get them some goldfish or something that doesn't rely on you for behavioral guidance.
    weffie weffie 7 years
    Like Cesar says: Rehabilitate the dog, Train the people! Also, please don't get another dog until you have the time and attention to spend with him... When I had a puppy it was a full-time job chasing after her--they are babies and need that dedication from you. 3 babies and a puppy are a lot for anyone to handle, never mind someone with older kids to worry about too!
    Ellenora Ellenora 7 years
    @gunrock: It's hard to get rid of a dog you love, but it's for the best. I hope you find a more suitable dog when you think it's time for a new one. Give yourselves the time to heal before you look for a new pet. Our next dog was a greyhound named Porsche. She was absolutely precious. It was absolutely the hardest thing to say good-bye to her when she passed away.
    gunrock gunrock 7 years
    After discussing with my husband and emailing our trainer. We all agree that Riley needs a new home. We just don't want to risk it with our kids. Thanks for all you advice.
    Ellenora Ellenora 7 years
    There's two solutions I see in this case: 1. Positive Reinforcement Training...lots of it. It's going to have to be you, the parents, training this dog. 2. Finding a new home for this dog, preferably a home with no children and experienced dog trainers. I lean more towards number two and I'll tell you why. When I was about three and a half, we brought home a black lab puppy named Joseph from the shelter. About a year later, he bit me on my nose (I have the scar still 17 years later). He progressively got more aggressive (he exhibited many of the behaviors your dog is showing) and my parents worked really hard to keep him in my family. They took him to dog psychologist even. In the end, my mom took him to a no-kill shelter and told them exactly what kind of home Joseph needed. It was hard as we ALL loved Joseph, but he was too dangerous to live in a home with small children.
    Hotlegs-Runner Hotlegs-Runner 7 years
    Maybe be a little more firm when giving commands? You have to establish that YOU, the humans, are the alpha males in the house. Meaning, you are the boss of him and that you rule that house. Dogs generally need attention, so when he does something nasty, say, growl, bite or show aggression, do not mind him for 30 minutes even when he comes near you. He will know that he did something wrong. Another alternative is to also get a trainer. Hope this helps =) ♥.•:*¨*:•.♥
    shigleyt shigleyt 7 years
    It seems that you need to take him to an advance training class. Alot of the good ones can work with you on the aggression issues. I have ALWAYS had dogs no matter how old my children are. Dogs need to be trained and also need to be shown who the boss is which is NOT the dog. I don't think you need to get rid of the dog. I would continue on the path you are on but either get a trainer to come to your home or take the dog to more classes.
    gunrock gunrock 7 years
    Kathyann we don't allow our kids (especially small ones) to take toys away or food away. We have had him trained by a professional. Our kids do not hurt our dogs we never leave them unsupervised with our kids. Riley bite last night b/c my step son was taking away something that the dog should not have had and actually Riley bite him before he even took the treat bag away. He lunged at him as soon as he saw my ss coming. So saying that he bite to defend himself is wrong. He bite b/c he didn't want soemthing taken away. We know very well that dogs and kids should be watched at all times and I know for a fact that I dont' trust any dogs around my kids without an adult. Our dogs are either carefully watched or we kennel them if we are busy with the kids and cant' keep our eyes on them. There has been no abuse to the dogs by my kids or anyone else. We watch our dogs closely when around others and do not allow our kids to hit, push, pull, take things away or anything of that sort.
    kathyann24ts kathyann24ts 7 years
    Being trained by you guys is quite different than being trained by a pro. I would do that first, if you like the dog. So that you know, if you take the pooch back to the place where you got it, more than likely it will end up being gassed. Another thing, having a dog with kids that young. What were you guys thinking?? You get a dog after the kids are much older, when they don't hurt the animal or take his food. You have to remember a dog can't talk, & you don't know what your kids did to make the animal react the way it did. A dog can only defend itself by bitting.
    almondflavor almondflavor 7 years
    I think the answer is very clear in this situation but you have an emotional attachment to the dog and feel guilty at the thought of giving him away. What kind of dog is he? Whatever type he is, it sounds like aggression is just part of his personality. If you didn't have small children, I would advise you to invest the time and effort in training him or trying to get him out of these bad habits. But since you do have small children, it's too big of a risk. Sad to say but I think you should let him go - preferably to someone who has a big farm or lots of land and does not have small children.
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