Dog Is Aggressive After Owner Died

I have a 3yr old American Bulldog. Since my husband past away he's become worse then ever. He's very aggressive when on walks and chasing my neighbors. He barks and cries all the time inside, he even play bites. He went to Petsmart 3 different times when younger, it didn't really help. He is also fixed. It didn't calm him down. He listened to my husband but never me. Now I'm not sure what to do. Any advice would be helpful.

Arryn from St Louis, MO

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

The problem is the dog does not see you as being dominant over him. He may just look at you as being equal or even below him in rank meaning he doesn't really feel like he has to listen to you. Do some research on dealing with aggressive dogs try www.cesarmillaninc.com and WWW.leerburg.com.

Put up a gate so he cant chase the neighbors and look into Cesar Milan's Illusion Dog Collar and Leash set.

Is it possible that the dog is still mourning the loss of his best friend?

Please, whatever you do don't give up on the dog, you two can be good together.

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

The first poster is right. I 2nd her suggestion about Ceasar the "Dog Whisperer". Get his book or a training tape. You can proably watch his show every day & see similar dog problems. He feels like he is top dog, & you need to be in charge.

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I don't like Caesar because he's not totally non-rough in his training. If you have to bully a dog to get him/her to behave you don't know what you're doing. Visit this site: http://www.victoriastilwell.com/ & if you get BBC record/watch her show, "It's Me or the Dog". She's 100% reward/positive training. She's get more results in 5 mins. than any other trainer on earth.I've had dogs all my life & I've learned tons from her.I've never had a problem w/excessive bad behavior & I've STILL learned a lot.

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

Like you, he's probably grieving. Do you have something with your husband's scent that can comfort him? I agree with the other posters, please do not give up on him. He will in time, bond more with you.

God blessings.

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I also agree, GET Caesar's book or a training tape. Or google for someone in your area with that gift. When I was 12, my Dad died. Although my dog was never aggressive and I was chosen as his favorite in the family, my Dad would walk him daily when he returned from work. It took a good 6 months for Shaggy to STOP sitting on our 4th stair in the hallway to see out the small window in the door to see my Dad come home. (Don't remember, but maybe Mom started shutting the door.) He was hopelessly depressed. I don't know how long it's been since your husband parted, but I wouldn't give up on your pup just yet. He does have sweet eyes. That would be another heartbreak for him. Google EVERYTHING, try alternative medicine, music, incense, speak with your vet. I think you both would be lost souls. Keep the connection strong.

Best of luck to you both.

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with the first two posts 100% but will add that it might be a good idea to ask your vet for a personal pet trainer recommendation. This way, a professional will actually be watching you and your poochies interactions and will know the history in order to give you immediate help without trial and error. You, your poochie and your neighbors will be happier and safer more quickly, too!

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Arryn,

The first thing that came to mind is that he is trying to protect you, like your husband did. This may or not be the case but it is important that he knows that you are the "master" now and that you can take care of yourself.

Because you have both been mourning no doubt, it would be a good time to bond but also to show him that you are now all right and that he needs to follow your lead.

So sorry for both of your loss. Take Care,

Susan

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August 30, 20080 found this helpful

I'm a dog trainer so maybe I can help.

First, educate yourself about pack order and canine communication. From more than one source. Cesar Millan is one source, but there are issues with some of his methods. Don't rely solely on his television show, either. TV is misleading. Try "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor, Stanley Coren's books, "The Dog Whisperer: a compassionate, nonviolent approach to dog training" by Paul Owens (not to be confused with Cesar's book), and Tamar Geller's book "The Loved Dog." I believe most of these authors have websites with information. Victoria Stilwell is also a good choice.

The point is, educate yourself from more than one source. You'll soon realize who knows what they are talking about and who is misguided or is using outdated, punishment-based methods that have been proven to be less successful.

Also, consider the energy you are projecting when your dog is acting aggressively, or when you feel he is about to. Cesar is right about that point: dogs can sense shifts in our emotional state. It's a chemical thing, most experts believe.

Anyway, it does sound like the dog feels he is the pack leader -- either he's taken on the role because he's generally dominant and wants the role, or because he sees no clear, competent leadership and so feels someone must step into that role, and perhaps he feels stressed about the job.

Here are some quick tips to clearly communicate to your dog that you are the leader and he no longer has to assume that role:

Basically, a dog sees the leader as someone who is in control of the resources. The resources are food, play, access to outside, access to inside, access to toys, etc. If you are clearly in charge of these things, you're on your way. Also, a leader leads. So, on walks, it is imperative that you don't let him pull you. Tamar Geller's book and probably her website has a simple explanation of how to easily get a dog to walk loosely on a leash. DO NOT USE prong collars or choke collars, or slip collars or anything punishment based. You will cause more issues. Just refuse to proceed in a forward direction until the dog moves back towards you and causes the leash to loosen. He'll feel the slack in the leash, and he'll be rewarded for causing this slack by getting closer to the object he wants to sniff or farther on the walk. And walk for time, not distance. If it takes him 20 minutes to get to the end of the block, well, he'll figure it out pretty quick, that the next 20 minute walk he'll go farther if he controls himself.

Also, you can try these things at home:

1. Feed him only at scheduled times, and leave the food for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it until the next feeding time. You want him to see that you are in control of access to food, not the magical food dish that is continually full. And make sure he sits and stays until you've placed the food down and have told him okay. Keep pulling the dish away if he doesn't hold the sit. You can also try hand feeding him the first handful.

2. Put him on the leash and walk around the house for 10 minutes or so, doing regular things like laundry, tidying, moving from room to room, sitting down to open mail, getting up again. The dog will have to follow you. This is a clear message to him that you are the leader and you expect him to follow you.

3. Never let him be the first one to greet guests at the door. Make him sit and stay until you've opened the door and let the guests in. If he doesn't hold the sit (several feet back from the door) then close the door, make him sit, and try it again. Each time he stays, he'll get closer to his goal: seeing who is at the door and greeting the person. You may want to practice this when no one is at the door, and then when you can have an assistant to help you by role-playing the guest.

4. Control access to his toys. Put them away and give them to him one at a time, making him sit for them. When you want to give him another, make sure to put the other one away. This isn't being mean, and you're not letting him have no toys. You are just making yourself the controller of the toys.

5. You be in control of play. You start the games and you end the games.

Also, make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. Excess energy and a lack of mental stimulation can lead to frustration and aggression.

Good luck with this. And don't be discouraged.

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August 30, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with all of the posts. When my dog passed away a month ago, my other dog got more protective of myself & the rest of my family. Because of that he was a bit more aggressive. I had to leave out her bedding so that he could still smell her scent to calm him dow. I woud suggest putting one or more of your husbands shirts in his bed or in a place where he can snuggle up with them in order to calm himself with the scent. Please don't give up on him. You both need each other more then ever right now.

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September 3, 20080 found this helpful

I'm so sorry you are forced to be separate from your husband, and you are right to be thinking 'we didn't have this trouble when he was here, wish he was!'

I don't know all that the other posters know about dog training, but it may be that your dog wants to be with someone like your husband, and that would be the solution, yes rehoming. Are you really bonded with this dog, yourself, in spite of the difficulties? Are you promising yourself to be his forever mom? If you really don't feel a yes coming from within to this, think about looking for a home for the dog...? I hope this isn't an offensive post, but this would be a solution for some dogs.

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September 19, 20080 found this helpful

You need to learn how to become the leader of the pack. You must be alpha not the dog.

Remain strong and calm. Never reward bad behavior. Ignore, no eye contact and no voice.

Be sure to praise him when he is good, with voice and or a treat.

Ceasar Milan ~ The "Dog Whisperer" videos are highly recommended to help learn how to correct problem behavior in dogs.

You can learn some really helpful tips from the Dog Whisperer videos.

Also Oberhund's post below is very helpful. I wish you the very best with your success with your dog. It IS doable to have him come around.

Best of Luck.

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