Could this be fear aggression?
Our lovable pibble's outside behavior is going downhill.
My boyfriend and I have had our darling pibble for almost a year now. I'll call her "T", since some of our friends follow these posts on Facebook, as well.
To make a long story short, we got T from a friend of a friend who has drug and relationship issues. We used to pet sit her, so we were already familiar with each other. T is now spayed, her skin allergies are under control, and she is back to a healthy weight.
There is nothing glamorous about her past. In fact, it was down right crappy. She has behavior issues that we're still trying to work through.
At home, T is a dream to be around. But when we're outside, her manners fly right out the window. We are stuck in this apartment until July. She was not raised around children, so all the noisy kids running around the complex, make going for walks a nightmare.
Today she lunged and growled at a boy walking down the sidewalk, because he was carrying a very real looking toy gun. We immediately turned around and went home. I don't want to be one of "those" pittie owners. But her lack of outside manners has me terrified that a neighbor will blow things out of proportion and start concocting stories.
Because of our current work and school schedules, it is simply impossible to find a professional trainer that can help us out. Our schedule won't be normal until July. Does anyone have any tips on how to help us correct her behavior on our own until we can get her to regular training sessions? Help!
-T's mommyGale's Reply:
Since T is an absolute angel with
people she trusts and environments that are relatively calm, I am going to assume that you are dealing fear aggression.
Fear aggression is a response many dogs have to situations that are novel or unsettling for them. Basically, T seems to have adopted the attitude that the best defense is a good offense. And, given her history, it's understandable.
There are two fronts on which you can address this. And, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you'll want to do some of both. One is to manage the environment. The other is to work with her to overcome her fear.
It sounds like you anticipate being in a better situation in a few months. So, in the meantime, reducing the frequency and/or intensity of her encounters with situations that upset her may help.
For the time being, try walking her during times when she'll encounter fewer people--especially children. Or put her in the car and go to a location away from your apartment complex for your walks.
While this won't address her fear response, it will lower her stress level and yours while you are working on a solution.
I would also recommend that you begin working with her fear aggression via counter conditioning. As you noted, the ideal would be to get professional help. But, since that's not possible for you right now, there are some excellent books on the subject. Two of my favorites are The Cautious Canine - How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears
and Click to Calm - Healing the Aggressive Dog
Good luck. Feel free to post back here and let us know how things are going.
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