Friday, February 05, 2010

Dog aggression problems: HELP!

At this point, I don't think we have any other option than to get rid of Chiste. But let me back up a bit...
When we first brought Chiste into our lives, he was a rambunctious, happy little puppy. We wanted him to be an outdoor dog. he had lots of room to run around and play. After about half a year, we decided to let him into the house. And so he became an indoor/outdoor dog, and a bigger part of the family. When he was young, we made sure to teach him that he had to share with us. Nothing was so much his territory that he could nip at us if we grabbed it. At the same time, we tried to teach Jeremiah to stay away from Chiste when he was eating. Sometime Chiste would be a little agressive over his food, and nip or growl at Jeremiah (but this seldom actually hurt Jeremiah). This rarely happened with us, as Chiste knew we were dominant over him. We tried again and again to teach Chiste that Jeremiah had dominance over him as well, but this has been an ongoing problem.
Chiste still demonstrated fearful aggression over our house and yard. If friends came, he was fine. If strangers came, or people he decided he didn't like, he would bark like crazy, and usually run away. However, he seemed to get better. Many times he would let Jeremiah snuggle with him on his sleeping pad. And Jeremiah loved to play with him. Things were still up and down, but were good for the most part. One time, Chiste nipped at a girl visiting our house, which was the first time I noticed open aggression. But, though he was still scared of strangers, that didn't happen again.
And then we moved. And Chiste became more aggressive (barking at people more, scared of strangers). We understood that losing his territory can affect a dog. So we had patience with him and kept trying different techniques. We eventually bought a training collar and noticed great improvements. However, we still struggled to convince him that when we said "safe," that meant the person was safe (for some reason, he dislikes Dominicans no matter how many times we tell him they're safe). Because this yard has no fence, we have a dog runner for him, and try to walk him often. And he's been allowed in the house and porch (where we put up a fence). We have a doghouse for him outside, and he sleeps inside in the bathroom.
Lately, things seemed to be going much better. He was becoming more obedient, seemed happy, etc. (though still didn't like strangers). And then, something happened. I'm not sure what. But he's just recently decided he doesn't like Jeremiah. He's started to nip him more- and it actually leaves marks. And then, yesterday, he took two very aggressive nips at Jeremiah. Jeremiah is beginning to be afraid of him. The first time, Jeremiah was playing with a container of cat treats. The second time, he was standing by the fence. I thought maybe he was nervous because there were some students working in our yard. We tried to re-establish Jeremiah's authority (though it's hard when he doesn't take it himself). And then today I realized that anytime Jeremiah gets near Chiste, he growls at him. Later, Jeremiah was reaching near Chiste to grab some blocks (that belong to Jeremiah) and Chiste growled and bit him again. This realization did it for me- for some reason, Chiste does not like Jeremiah. He's happy, playful, and obedient around me and Daniel, but he's become very aggressive around Jeremiah. Now I admit, though we've tried to teach Jeremiah to be gentle with Chiste, he can sometimes be a little rough and annoying, but he's gotten so much better and I haven't noticed him doing much besides chasing Chiste (which I tell him to stop or he goes to time-out), or occasionally giving his car a push so it bumps him (again, he goes to time-out). But most dogs can handle this.
But apparently Chiste is the kind of dog that needs peace and quiet, and no annoying young kids. Which is a problem. Because we have two kids, and they come first! Unfortunately, I don't know what we can do with him. If we get rid of him, I have little hope he'll end up in a good home. But we can't keep him, because I refuse to endanger my children. And we can't make him an all out-door dog, since we have no yard and he'd just be on the runner all day. And I don't think he'd be very happy with that (not to mention he would bark constantly.
This is so hard, as Chiste has become a member of the family. But I guess he's just not a dog that can handle toddlers. So, anyone want a dog?


Joanna said...

This happened to another friend of mine- They had a baby, and their dog did fine with the new family member until the baby became mobile and got into the dogs face and space and stuff. They talked to a dog behaviorist, and tried to work through the growling and nipping. The solution (for them) ended up being teaching the dog that it has permission to get out of the situation when it is feeling encroached upon. When the kid is in the dog's face or stuff, my friend would call the dog, and give her a treat. This taught the dog that she's allowed to leave the space if she's unhappy, rather than retaliating. They were able to keep their dog, but it was very iffy for a while.

They did a lot of work to try to find a solution for their family- it's totally understandable if you aren't able to.

Teresa said...

Yeah- for a while it seemed fine, and we thought we had a working solution. But now this house is so small there's not much "space" for anyone! And he seems to get aggressive even if Jeremiah is just near him. Daniel wonders if it's because as Jeremiah's older, he now thinks of him as a threat to his "dominance." Chiste is super obedient with us (Daniel and I) in just about anything except in submitting to other people who don't know how to make him submit or not be afraid of them (he's aggressive when afraid too, and he's afraid of anyone he doesn't know, besides English speaking females).