Advice for an unruly dog?

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  1. profile image0
    Emily Sparksposted 12 years ago

    I have an 1 & a half year old Amercan Bulldog named Maggie.  She is a very big and strong dog.  As she got older, she became unruly (as most puppies).  She didn't behave around other people or dogs and we couldn't keep her at a kennel when away.  I took her to some obedience classes and for awhile she seemed to calm down some--we still couldn't leave her with someone when away though.  She seems to keep getting worse and worse. When I tried putting her in her pen (just at night) she wouldn't go in and she just fought me.  I bought treats to lure her in, and that seems to be working.
    She never listens though when off the leash or outside.  She has chewed through all her leashes and always digs holes and tears things up when we tie her outside.  We give her shade, water, a long chain, and everything, yet she just barks.  Recently she has been biting me everytime I try to get her to do something.  She runs off, so I have to catch her and try to put a leash on her, and she just throws herself down and bites.  I don't even have to yell or anything, I am as calm as can be and she still attacks.  Recently she jumped up at me when I was trying to unleash her, leaving a good sizes bruise and some scratches on my arms and leg.  I kneed her in the chest when she jumped up, like I have been taught, but not before she got me and that only made her more mad.  I know young dogs are prone to causing trouble, but Maggie is oit of control, nothing works.  I a worried one of these days she is going to hurt bad enough I will need stiches or something.  I really donot want to get rid of her, but unless she straightens up, I will have to.
      Can anybody help me?  What wuld you do?  Any advice or something that worked for your dog?

    1. paradigmsearch profile image61
      paradigmsearchposted 12 years ago

      Well, I have no direct answer to your question.

      However, as a side note:

      Go ahead and write your apology letters now for when the dog mauls some neighborhood kid (you can fill in the kids' names later).

      Whatever your current lawsuit-insurance amount happens to be, quadruple it.

      1. profile image0
        Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        We are very careful to keep her chained or in a pen.  We don't let her run around loose at all.  We always keep an eye on her and don't let her around anybody, especially children.

        1. paradigmsearch profile image61
          paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Famous last words...

          It's not a matter of if. It's only a matter of when.

          1. profile image0
            Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            That is why we are doing everything possible to prevent it, including either getting help or getting rid of her.  If I didn't think it was possible that she could injure someone I wouldn't be seeking help.  You do not have to convice me of that possibility.  I am here for help, not to argue that she is a possible danger.

            1. paradigmsearch profile image61
              paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              I like you, but the dog has to go.
              If you refuse, the wedding is off.

              1. profile image0
                Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Wow, ok....whatever.  I am done with this convo, have a good day!

                1. paradigmsearch profile image61
                  paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                  Drop by habee's or k9keystrokes' hubs. They might have something. smile

                  1. profile image0
                    Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                    Ok, thanks!

    2. psycheskinner profile image83
      psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

      IMHO you need to contact a trainer and work with them until you have the dog under control.

      1. profile image0
        Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I am kind of skeptical of doing that since we have already spent money on training and she doesn't respond.  I will keep it in mind though:)

    3. Shanna11 profile image76
      Shanna11posted 12 years ago

      Honestly, I would think the dog has to go if you're at your wits end. Paradigm is right.... it's only a matter of when it mauls somebody. My neighbors have a mastiff mix, and it was behaviorally a lot like your dog. I had to watch it, and several times it bit, scratched and pounced on me.

      Last summer it attacked a woman. The family is currently being sued, but they still have the dog. It's not a pleasant route to have to take. Get rid of the dog.

      1. profile image0
        Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, that is pretty much the conclusion we have come to.

      2. profile image56
        Threecatsandmeposted 12 years ago

        The first thing I thought of when I read your initial post was separation anxiety. This is a common problem for dogs, untreated it can lead to severe aggression. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety further isolation is making her much worse. Dog's think in pack mentality, they need a clear alpha, who is a loving dictator, and who they are around all the time, or as much as possible.

        If you're married and your dog behaves for your husband than you are almost definitely looking at separation anxiety. Your dog views your husband as alpha and is either fighting with you for the number two position in her "pack" or believes that she already is in the number two position and is putting you in your place. She would be terrified at being without him, even if she isn't alone. If you're not married and it is separation anxiety it's still the same basic thing, pack members don't leave, and they do get reprimanded when they step out of line.

        This would explain why training was working. You were showing your dog that you were her alpha. Why did you stop training if it was working? I have 20 month old malamute, he's waiting to complete the advanced training for his CGC until he gets his puppy out. I still train him several times a week though. He gets mental stimulation, bonding, and reinforcement that I am the one who tells him what to do, not the other way around.

        A note on the training, a good trainer will never use a shock collar, or any means of physical discipline. If your previous trainer didn't train through positive reinforcement and time outs you didn't have a good trainer. If that was what your trainer used, go back and also ask him for help working through separation anxiety and how to properly use a pinch collar. Correctly used, these do not hurt your dog. They do give the same essential reprimand that a one dog gives to another, a small nip on the neck. This is not a solution, but it can help, until your dog is secure enough to not be an aggression problem.

        Based on your dog's age I wouldn't be surprised if her behavior has worsened because of a developmental stage she's going through right now. Your dog while close to being physically mature will not reach adulthood until three years old. During the time between puppy and adult there are several stages where your dog will try to assert dominance and be more insecure in general.

        When was the last time you took your dog to the vet? If something is physically wrong your dog may be telling you that she's hurting.

        1. paradigmsearch profile image61
          paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          This was an intelligent and thoughtful post.

        2. profile image0
          Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Thankyou for taking time to answer my question so fully!  What you say really makes sense.  She does listen to the masculine figure more.  I try my best to bond with her, walking her and playing.  I am with her all the time and am the one that full care of her.  Does the alpha have to be a male?  Because I am the one who is constantly with her.

          1. profile image0
            Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            O, forgot to mention....we just had her to the vet a few weeks ago and she is physically fine as far as they can tell, so I don't think that is an issue:)

            1. profile image56
              Threecatsandmeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              I’m glad she’s physically ok.
              Unfortunately who her primary caregiver is has nothing to do with who she is primarily bonded with. My husband and I went through separation anxiety with our malamute. I was at the end of my rope before we figured out what was going on. I did a lot of reading on the subject and talked to our trainer. Here’s what worked for us.
              1.    Neither of us say good bye when we go somewhere, this was especially important for Daddy when he left for work. When we get home we don’t acknowledge Eisenhower if he’s excited. By treating our leaving as no big deal and coming home as such a normal little thing that it doesn’t warrant any excitement it made E perceive our, and especially, my husbands, leaving as less of an issue, allowing him to be calmer and less stressed by it.
              2.    While E was going through this my husband made a point of giving me lots of attention when he got home, “petting” me, holding me, etc. in front of E and shooing him away when he tried to squeeze between us. We still do this but it’s not a several times a day thing anymore. This really emphasized for E that I was number two in his “pack”. This made him feel more secure and thus calmer when he was with me.
              3.    Daddy started being my “enforcer” with E. If he didn’t obey a command I gave him right away, Daddy would use his deep, angry voice to tell him what a bad dog he was. He did this every time when he was home, frequently he would be the one to send E to time out for not obeying me. This was another important way to show E how our “pack” is structured.
              4.    I dominated E if I felt he got too disobedient. From what you’ve said I would definitely do this when your little girl bites. To dominate him, we learned this from a trainer, you straddle your dog while simultaneously placing your hand around its muzzle, holding it closed and tilting their eyes up to yours, and bend over so they can feel some of your body touching theirs. You place your free hand wherever you need to; I usually had a hold of the scruff of E’s neck. While staring straight into your dog’s eyes you use a deep, stern voice to tell her that she doesn’t do whatever it was she did. You stay like this until your dog sits. Then without moving your hands or letting your dog look anywhere but right in your eyes you kneel, while still straddling, and let your dog feel your body pressed all along her back. You aren’t putting any weight on her though. Next your dog will lie down; you remain kneeling over her and lean forward to keep your body in contact with hers. When her breathing is calm and her back legs have straightened and relaxed she has submitted. Loosen your grip on her muzzle and stroke her head, around sensitive areas like the eyes, softly tell her she’s a good girl and then slowly get up. Malamutes are stubborn and dominate dogs so there were times when submitting took over ten minutes when I had to do this with E. This really hammers home that you are above them and makes them feel so much safer when with you. E felt like he was number two and was mad at me for telling him what to do and felt like he need to protect me even though he was a baby himself. Using this very doggy method of telling him he was below me made him much happier. I would suggest that you don’t do this alone the first few times; you might need the extra set of hands given your dog’s age. You should only do this for big things and doggy challenges to your authority. It is so very effective and you won’t need to do this much.
              5.    Training, training, and more training. This gave him mental stimulation at class and when we practiced at home. The more intelligent the dog the more the mental stimulation comes into play. From what I’ve seen of American Bull Dog’s you likely have a smart one. For us there were a few months of really intense training and now he gets maintenance a few times a week.
              6.    We stopped kennel training him for times when we were both gone and room trained him. This made him happier so he was less stressed and better behaved. It was also easier to make him focused on finding treats instead of the fact we were leaving.
              7.    I spent about a month where E was leashed to me every day for almost the entire day. We had periodic training and play breaks but other than that he was always at my side. This did two things for him. It made it much more difficult for him to act out in the house. I would and do say his name sternly if I could see him thinking of being naughty, he understood. It also formed a strong bond between us that made him listen to me more and be happier when he was with me.
              8.    My husband and I learned to think and respond like dogs. No easy task but we’re all happier for it.

              The first few weeks of fixing things for E were hard, but as I type he’s lying under my desk and his version of unruly is now the occasional time when he decides he needs to burrow my head in his lap (he’s 100lbs so it’s a big head). It will be hard but what you’re describing is very fixable and the rewards are worth it.

              1. profile image0
                Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Thankyou sooo much for taking so much time in giving me a detailed answer!  I really appreciate it.  What you say really makes sense, and I am going to tey some of your suggestions:)

          2. Beth100 profile image68
            Beth100posted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Threecatsandme is spot on!

            Having bred Rotties and have had various large breed dogs, it is imperative that you teach your dog that you are alpha or second in the pack.  Your voice and body language are important.  Speaking to her with a firm, commanding voice -- not the baby, goo-goo-ga-ga voice that many people have with their pets.  Be firm.  Be consistent.  Do not be afraid.  Reprimand immediately.

            I took in a large shepherd.  He was unfriendly, biting, attacking other dogs, terrible with children, pulled on the leash and basically, had no manners.  After working with him for 8 months, he was perfect on a leash, never nipped/barked/bit any human or animal.  He was ferocious if you touched his tail -- now, you can pull his tail without him so much as blinking an eye at you.  He's great now -- I can vacuum him, brush him and small children climb on him and he has no reservations of what is expected of him.  I, too, had to dominate him but I pinned him behind the head with one hand, straddled him, and held his muzzle down with my other hand to prevent him from biting me.  Only once did he bite -- and frankly, it shocked me, but I pinned again until he submitted.  Never let the dog dominate you or you've lost the battle. 

            Your dog needs to learn what is expected of her and what is not tolerated. 

            The steps that threecatsandme outlined are exactly what you need to follow.  If you follow these steps, you will see her change.  She will become obedient as she will learn what is expected of her. 

            As for keeping her away from people and other animals -- it is a smart move at the beginning, but you will have to train her that other people and other animals are safe.  That she does not need to defend or dominate them.  By teaching her this, she will no longer be a threat to strangers and you will avert her attacking another human or animal.  Socialization is very important for a dog, especially when one has such strong pack mentality. 

            As for chaining a dog, it only makes them more aggressive.  It teaches them that the cirlce that they have with the chain belongs to HER.  Not being able to roam freely will drive the dog insane.  It's similar to putting you in a closet with a baby gate across it -- you can see out, feel the air but never allowed to exit the space.  A pet run is much safer -- make sure the fence is high (about 7') to prevent her from jumping it and make sure the wire is dug under the earth in case she digs. 

            Be patient.  Be consistent.  Be firm.  Dominate her.  Teach her your expectations.  Teach her what is allowable and not (no gray areas; it has to be black and white).

            1. profile image0
              Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              Thankyou very much!

      3. donotfear profile image83
        donotfearposted 12 years ago

        This is a job for the 'Dog Whisperer'.  Contact the network that airs the show or go to Caser's website at this address:

        1. Lisa HW profile image62
          Lisa HWposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Nice suggestion.   Too many people don't really know how to calmly (and kindly) give the dog the sense that the person is the "leader", but also a sense of "kindness, but also security".

          I think dogs are about at the most rambunctious at about a year and a half because they're full size but not fully mature (which tends to be more past  two years old).  They're spunky and active at a year and a half, and they're big; so the situation can seem pretty bad (kind of like the dog version of fourteen/fifteen-year-old kids).

          It seems to me like, maybe, the whole mood/set of dynamics (between the OP and the young dog) needs to be dialed back some and streamlined to some basics.    The "Dog Whisperer" is great at explaining how to kind of do that.   Different breeds have different needs and natures, though; so reading up on the breed may help some too.

          Based on my own experience and approach in having well behaved pets, I think the "Dog Whisperer" approach is so much more effective than some of the more conventional approaches of dog training.

      4. Express10 profile image86
        Express10posted 12 years ago

        The dog probably needs more exercise and obedience training. It is of the utmost importance that the dog not be tied up and left outside. It feels restrained when it should be able to run free which is a confusing thing for a dog. Training a dog never ends, it is like having a child...a lifetime commitment and a heft investment of your time, energy, and money.

        1. profile image0
          Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          We do not just leave her chained outside all the time.  She is  house dog, so she spends time both in and out.  I am careful not to just stick her outside all the time and abandon her.  I would love to let her run around outside, but most times I cannot because I know it will be a hassle getting her back.  I not sure how to let her have "her freedom" to run around without losing control of jer.

      5. CrazyDOGLady1023 profile image59
        CrazyDOGLady1023posted 12 years ago

        call the dog whisperer!!

        if you cant do that, then i would try to find what is making her so anxious or fearful. sometimes, energy can be redirected by dogs to completely random places. What are her surroundings like? Do you guys live in the city with lots of noise or in the country with minimal noise?

      6. profile image0
        Emily Sparksposted 12 years ago

        We live in the country and there are only the sounds of birds, etc.  I have no idea what would make her scared.  No one taunts or teases her or anything.

      7. CrazyDOGLady1023 profile image59
        CrazyDOGLady1023posted 12 years ago

        ALSO!!! If your dog was seperated from its mother and litter sooner than she was supposed to be, she may be missing crucial social skills. im not certain on what to do about that situation, but im sure it would help your quest to find a way to handle her:)

      8. CrazyDOGLady1023 profile image59
        CrazyDOGLady1023posted 12 years ago

        hmm. that is strange. What do you guys do for a living? Are there ANY strange smells that could trigger her? I had a dog once that would act very hyper around me if i had the slightest smell of other animals on me. Also, remember that your feelings and emotions will radiate and effect her. If you're stressed, she may be picking up on it.

        1. profile image0
          Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Stress really?  Wow, that would explain alot.  I have been under ALOT of stress the last few weeks!  I haven't taken it out on her, but you are right, she could sense it in me.
            As far as strange smells, not that I can think of.  Nothing more than the everyday smells.
            We took her from her mother at an appropriate time.  She had lots of time to socialize-people and dogs:)

          1. CrazyDOGLady1023 profile image59
            CrazyDOGLady1023posted 12 years agoin reply to this

            sooooo many factors that could effect her attitude. food, hormones, routine, and yes, even YOUR daily energy can effect her. just dont give up yet!!smile you've got so many more things to try

            1. profile image0
              Emily Sparksposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              Thankyou for your help!  I appreciate it!  I'll hang in there and keep working with her:)

              1. CrazyDOGLady1023 profile image59
                CrazyDOGLady1023posted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Anytime:) follow me and if you ever need advice, i will do my best to help. or i could just give ya some encouraging words!! big_smile

              2. CrazyDOGLady1023 profile image59
                CrazyDOGLady1023posted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Keep us updated!!


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