Foster dog showing aggression towards children - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2008, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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Foster dog showing aggression towards children

I am the foster mom of a beautiful male who required amputation at our local shelter due to severe injury to a rear leg. He has been with us for over a month now and has become one of the family. He is a wonderful dog in almost every way. The almost is that just in the last week or so, he has growled and charged the neighbor children when they are playing with my son. It is when they are running or yelling and playing. The same children have played ball and petted him many times. Now, they are afraid of him and I have to say that I am worried myself. I have read many of your posts and have to say that my dogs are not "trained". I have never had a dog that had this type of behavior before. I realize that if I were planning to keep Cole, working with a trainer would be the ideal, but I need a quick fix for the situation I am in right now. We are in a neighborhood where the houses are right on top of each other and my son and the neighbors are used to just running into each other's yards. I would appreciate any advice.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2008, 08:33 PM
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

Hi there! Can you explain by what you mean when you say your dogs are not trained?

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2008, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

Hi. What I mean is that they (my two dogs) are very laid back, easy going dogs and I've never taken them to obedience training. I don't have the experience of how to actually train a dog so I am at a loss with Cole.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2008, 09:41 PM
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

Just a thought from my experience.Some rescue dogs are so traumatized by their past that it is hard to know what stress will set them off,Their are a great number of rescue dogs that kinda need a no dog no kid and loving supportive place as an only dog to become themselves.NOT all rescues are understandable.absolutely NO judgemental thought on my part / rescue ROCKS but sometimes the place/dog/rescuer/time may not be right.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-02-2008, 11:18 PM
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

This is a total guess, but it may be the dog showing some insecurity. With missing a leg, he may feel constrained mobility wise, and then be showing aggression towards things that make him nervous and he feels he can't run away from them effectively. Loud noises, fast movement, etc, can all make a dog feel nervous.

I am coming up with this theory from the idea that some on-leash aggression is because the dog feels constrained and then shows "fight" when they cannot go into "flight" mode.

So, my suggestion would be to work on two things: physical therapy and security. With physical therapy, encourage him to move as much as possible and develop his agility. Try to get it so he can move and react quickly and fluidly, as if he weren't missing a leg. He may be able to, but may not psychologically totally get it, so plenty of movement over time should help him getting used to and become comfortable with his new body.

With security, you can work on having him see you as a source of security, and to realize that running and screaming kids is not such a stressful thing. You can work on attention training, having him look at you for extended periods of time while treating him. Then, you can work on him giving you attention while the kids are running around and you are treating him.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 08:14 AM
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

It sounds like the excitement is just too much for him. Do you know anything at all about his previous life? If he was not around children he may just not know what to make of all the noise etc. I would put him away for quiet time when the kids are around and you cannot supervise. If you can I would take him at a distance where he can split attention between you and the kids, and then do simple training exercises with him. I know you said you never did any training, but does he know the basics? (sit, down, etc) You can also teach him a few others like touch (touch your palm or a fist); watch (look at you); paw/shake. I agree with ceardach that he is mostly likely insecure, and since no-one is taking the lead and telling him what to do he is making his own (incorrect) decision. Remember shepherds are dogs that like to know the rules of the game, and right now he does not know what those are.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 09:13 AM
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

My 2 year old rescue gets too overstimulated with kids running around and jumping and playing - he just can't handle it. Too much excitement gets him riled up.

Also, do you think he might be protecting your kids from what he thinks is a threat from other rambunctious kids?

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

Thank you all for your very helpful advice. Unfortunately I do not know anything about his past life. He came to the shelter with his foot and part of the leg missing. It was a horrific injury. I met him 2 days after he came in and he was the sweetest, most loving dog. He had a rough recovery from the amputation. I visited him in the hsopital and as often as I could at the shelter.

He definitely had some training. He knows sit, stay, come and he listens very well. He is definitely attached to my family. The love in his eyes is like nothing I have ever seen!!

I agree that it is too much excitement for him. Part of me thinks he just wants to join in the fun and part of me thinks it is him wanting to protect my son. He makes a low, throaty growl sound as he is running toward the action.

I do think that he should be placed with a home with either no children or older teens. Cole has known my son, Logan, since he first came to the shelter. I was not worried about bringing him to my home.

Any other advice would be appreciated. How do I train him to "watch" and "touch"? Many thanks!!!
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 04:37 PM
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

Touch is great.. I use it for all sorts of situations. How we started was that i put my hand in front of Kali's face a 6" or more (you dont want to be shoving the hand in their face) and wait. they will eventually just wonder what is up and move their nose toward your hand.. then you click (or say "yes" ior "good"!) and reward. you basically repeat this upping the ante til they have to actually touch your hand with their nose to get the click and reward. Then you can start moving it around to be further away, to make them jump for it etc.

Watch I have seen taught two ways:
1. wait for them to give you eye contact, and then click (or "yes"/"good") and reward. Continue doing this to get longer and longer eye contact.

2. Hold a treat out away from your face at arms length. of course the dog will look at the treat, but eventually he will wonder what is up and look at you instead. then click (or "yes"/"good") and reward.

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& emma, tibers and honipie
her (somewhat) trusting cats
always in our hearts:
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& Twinka & Moji
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 10:21 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Foster dog showing aggression towards children

Thank you! I will try your suggestions with him.
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