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Thread: Staffy Aggression

  1. #1

    Cool Staffy Aggression

    Aloha,
    I have a 5 year old male Staffy who is the most lovable dog around people, but if there's a dog he doesn't like or gives him the wrong signals, look out! I've tried socializing him at obidence class, and whacking him across the bridge of his nose with a rolled up magazine like the instructor suggested, but nothing seems to help so far. I know that from all that I've read about Staffordshire Bull Terriers that it's just the Breed sometimes, and from talking to other Staffy owners. There has to be another solution.
    I don't believe that having to neuter my dog is going to solve his aggression problem. Open for suggestions. Kiko's Daddy.
    Last edited by BOBBY ZABLAN; 05-21-2007 at 04:31 PM. Reason: Spelling error

  2. #2
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    Neutering him will actually help - and is better for his health in the long run. Sheesh, your instructor was off base - hitting the dog with a newspaper isn't going to do anything to curb agression! You need to either find a better trainer, or do some serious work with your dog - this isn't impossible, but you'll have to be completely consistent, given he's already 5, so has to "unlearn" the bad behavior first.

    After scheduling his neutering, start working with him on a leash, and whenever you see another dog approach, redirect his attention to YOU instead of the other dog. Simple commands like "Sit" and "stay" will give him something to do to focus on you, instead of the other dog, and reinforce that you are the alpha.

  3. #3
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    Hmm, if your instructor is telling you to whack him across the muzzle with a newspaper, you need to find another instructor double quick. Just because he is an instructor doesn't mean he knows what he is talking about and this guy obviously doesn't.
    By whacking your dog, you are actually teaching him to hate all other dogs. He believes that it is the other dogs presence that causes him to get punished because thats the only time it ever happens in his view and so he tries even harder to drive the other dog away before he gets whacked...hence a higher level of aggression towards them.

    Dogs no not think logically like humans and you can't exactly explain to them why they are being punished so it is all too easy to make behaviour worse or cause a new problem behaviour by using punishment methods.

    Think about it this way as if you were your dog.

    Whenever another dog approaches, my owner maybe pulls on my lead more and tenses up or starts speaking to me in a negative tone. He must be doing this because of the other dog and so he must be frightened of the other dog and if he is, then I should be too because it is obviously a threat.
    If the dog gets too close, I try to drive it away because it is a threat. My owner starts to smack me with magazines and shout at me. This only happens when there is another dog and it gets too close.

    Next time I see another dog, I'll try to drive it off earlier before it gets that close and maybe avoid being shouted at and smacked like I do when it does get too close.

    He does not associate the punishment with his behaviour towards the other dogs. This is the problem with punishment. It often teaches the dog the wrong thing. As you have realised, hitting him with the newspaper has not worked and so this proves that it is a very innaffective means of solving the problem.

    I seriously suggest you look around for another obedience school. That instructor sounds clueless to me...and there are a lot like him around so make sure you do your shopping about.
    Your dog needs to learn that other dogs are a prelude to nice experiences not punishment and then maybe he will learn to trust them and enjoy them a bit more.

    Neutering won't be of help to a 5 year old because any behaviour associated with harmones will now have become learned and so removing the harmonal influence will make no difference.
    Neutering males to curb harmonal aggression and such is only likely to work if done when they are younger...under 3 years of age.
    Dogs are not our whole lives but they make our lives whole.


    www.tmhudsonfineart.co.uk

  4. #4

    Staffy aggression!

    Aloha,
    Thanks to those who have already responded to my Staffy's problem. I guess in all fairness to my obidence instuctor who recomended that I whack my dog across the nose with a rolled up magazine, I needed to mention that it was supposed to be a (1) one time only hit. It was tried by her on some other aggressive dog that was giving problems to another owner and was used as a last resort. She said it worked with a very aggressive "Rotty" and the dog graduated off leash. Again, it was just a suggestion. The hitting of the nose wasn't suppose to be everytime my Staffy got aggressive towards another dog. Also, although my Staffy is 5 years old, I just got him about 6 months now and he is very well discibline on walks and on and off leash as long as another dog doesn't bark at him.
    Understand that my Staffy is not aggressive to all dogs and that it doesn't matter what breed or size they are. He's only aggressive if challenged and I never know when that is except by his signals when another dog gets close by. I'm beginning to recognize them a lot quicker now and I do re-direct his attention or make him sit. The thing that gets me really angry when walking with my Staffy is when the owners of the other barking dogs don't do anything to correct their dogs who started the barking and they are standing right there. Mahalo and thanks for all the advice and comments.

  5. #5
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    Ah, well, congratulations for adopting an adult dog - even big doggies need love! And it's good that his agression is so seldom. Owners are so often more of a problem than the dogs - you seem to be doing the right thing in redirecting his attention to you. Just keep that up, and prepare a polite "control your own dog, please" speech in your own head for the next time someone's undisciplined pup challenges yours.

  6. #6
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    Yeah, if another dog challenges him and he's been on the recieving end previously then you can't really blame him for wanting to stand up for himself but the more scared a dog is, the more likely it is to resort to aggression so they need to have an owner who they can trust and be supported by which they are more likely to want to come back to when these threats approach, not one that inflicts any pain on them or shouts at them.

    Still, owners of the other dogs should be told to keep theirs under control if they come up to cause trouble and if you make an exciting game to play with your staffie like tug o war with a toy or playing with a ball, you can attract him back to you if you see another dog coming to play with his toy and just keep your fingers in his collar or slip his lead on without making an issue and maybe try to keep his attention on the toy so he doesn't care about the other dog. I do this with Jess and she is so intent on her ball, another dog can even come up and sniff her backside and she still stares at the ball and if she does turn around at the other dog and it backs up, she turns straight back to the ball again without even growling....as if there is no time for the other dog.

    I wouldn't use punishment even as a one off. I can't really see how it would solve the problem. Every dog I see regularly that shows aggression to other dogs has an owner who shouts at them and yanks the lead or smacks them and I see the aggressions gradually get worse and worse and these people never seem to cotton on that their punishment methods seem to be making no difference and just put it down to the dog ignoring them or being stupid. It happens every time with every dog who's owners react in this way.

    If your dog was off lead and bumped into another dog who challenged him, would he attack them all out or would there just be an aggressive display of hackles, staring, showing teeth, growling but without actual fighting and if there was a fight, just a quick scuffle or what would be a drawn out fight to the death if you didn't split them up?

    In most cases if left without intervention from humans, it would just be the aggressive display with maybe a short scuffle at last resort without any injury inflicted and resulting in one dog backing down and being pinned to the floor for a few seconds or being chased off or them both making a mutual agreement to quit and go their seperate ways and I have witnessed this between dogs roaming in the street but when humans come wading in shouting and balling, thats what tends to throw everything off and the dogs start fighting. They think the silly humans have come to join in the fightand they suddenly develop, with the humans support, the confidence to attack the other dog so it is always extremely important to stay as calm and quiet as possible if such a situation arises. Sending the wrong message over to the dog is all too easy and usually ends up in fighting where there otherwise wouldn't be one.
    Dogs are not our whole lives but they make our lives whole.


    www.tmhudsonfineart.co.uk

  7. #7
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    I echo Karen when I say thank you for taking in an older dog, did you get him from a shelter? The only reason I ask is because most shelter would have neutered him before adopting him out. Just curious.
    As far as neutering changing behavior problems... I believe it can help, no matter what age.
    An intact male can smell a female in heat a few miles away which could make some males aggressive.
    There's also possible health issues you can help avoid by neutering your dog. You would decrease his chance of testicular and prostate cancer if her were neutered.
    ~Angie, Sierra & Buddy
    **Don't breed or buy while shelter dogs die!**

    I suffer from multiple Shepherd syndrome



  8. #8
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    First off, i like both of your replies very much Canis-Lupess. You pretty much spoke what was running around in my head. From that i have almost no advice left to give, but only comments.

    I'm wondering if it's not truly aggression, but dominance?

    When we first acquired Koli she was mostly mis-diagnosed. She did have a true bit of fear aggression, but it was mostly just her having a strong alpha personality mixed with a huge prey and herding drive. She was like an un-trained spastic border collie who had just escaped a small crate. The methods the trainer was giving me was actually making her become aggressive. Again... the see another dog, get punished line of thought. (Though this was with the Halti... and it was just her pulling on lead.) I knew something was wrong. Still i was at my wits end and really thought i was going to have to have her put down. Someone stepped up though and offered socialization consultations. They have done wonders!!! It's almost like having a whole different dog. Her fear aggression melted away. Slowly she's learning how to not be too domineering. She's learned how to play... nice? Nicer than the games she was playing.

    Anyhow... from that, i suggest finding people that are willing to socialize their dogs with yours on a one-on-one basis. Or two with yours. Take things one step at a time. You are doing a good job already by learning his signs. Desensitize him and work on behavior. Praise him for when he thinks about the wrong behavior but backs down from it. Praise him whenever he's showing desired behavior around other dogs. It will be well worth the time spent. (and you have to have a "play-date"/"socialization session" at least once a week.) I'd say start off though with a certified behaviorist who have dogs specific for this purpose. Yes, they do exist out there. (If you can't find one or can't afford it, anyone with a mild tempered dog and they themselves are will work.)

    G'luck!

    Oh, and i agree heavily... too often humans get involved when they shouldn't. With dogs that aren't truly aggressive sometimes it's best to let them work it out. (It's a lot easier to remain calm when both humans are on the same page. ...which you'll have to make sure of that when looking for another dog for the socialization.) ...Oh, and having the leashes on both dogs can be a bad thing... Tangled leashes can lead to real fights and real bad injuries.

    If you have the time i highly suggest reading "The other end of the leash" (I can't remember her name, but i know the author lives in WI.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Canis-Lupess
    Yeah, if another dog challenges him and he's been on the recieving end previously then you can't really blame him for wanting to stand up for himself but the more scared a dog is, the more likely it is to resort to aggression so they need to have an owner who they can trust and be supported by which they are more likely to want to come back to when these threats approach, not one that inflicts any pain on them or shouts at them.

    Still, owners of the other dogs should be told to keep theirs under control if they come up to cause trouble and if you make an exciting game to play with your staffie like tug o war with a toy or playing with a ball, you can attract him back to you if you see another dog coming to play with his toy and just keep your fingers in his collar or slip his lead on without making an issue and maybe try to keep his attention on the toy so he doesn't care about the other dog. I do this with Jess and she is so intent on her ball, another dog can even come up and sniff her backside and she still stares at the ball and if she does turn around at the other dog and it backs up, she turns straight back to the ball again without even growling....as if there is no time for the other dog.

    I wouldn't use punishment even as a one off. I can't really see how it would solve the problem. Every dog I see regularly that shows aggression to other dogs has an owner who shouts at them and yanks the lead or smacks them and I see the aggressions gradually get worse and worse and these people never seem to cotton on that their punishment methods seem to be making no difference and just put it down to the dog ignoring them or being stupid. It happens every time with every dog who's owners react in this way.

    If your dog was off lead and bumped into another dog who challenged him, would he attack them all out or would there just be an aggressive display of hackles, staring, showing teeth, growling but without actual fighting and if there was a fight, just a quick scuffle or what would be a drawn out fight to the death if you didn't split them up?

    In most cases if left without intervention from humans, it would just be the aggressive display with maybe a short scuffle at last resort without any injury inflicted and resulting in one dog backing down and being pinned to the floor for a few seconds or being chased off or them both making a mutual agreement to quit and go their seperate ways and I have witnessed this between dogs roaming in the street but when humans come wading in shouting and balling, thats what tends to throw everything off and the dogs start fighting. They think the silly humans have come to join in the fightand they suddenly develop, with the humans support, the confidence to attack the other dog so it is always extremely important to stay as calm and quiet as possible if such a situation arises. Sending the wrong message over to the dog is all too easy and usually ends up in fighting where there otherwise wouldn't be one.
    .

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