Rescue dog aggression?

My dog Charlie is 1 year old and only been with us for just over a week. We play with him, walk him, and love him and yet he still has a tendency to bite and jump on us (he is not like this all the time). I am 7 months pregnant and so we're trying to break his habits before our daughter is born, but are getting so frustrated with him. He isn't aggressive if you try to take his toys or food away from him - it's almost as if a light switch flips and he goes from completely mellow to biting and running around (skiddering really) growling. We have him signed up for some obedience classes, but I'm just concerned that this behavior won't be corrected before our baby is here. We are really opposed to taking him back to the shelter or euthanizing him unless there were absolutely no other options as we love this dog dearly. We need any tips or suggestions available to us.

Asked by Charlie on Mar 7th 2010 in Aggression
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Hi Charlie!

This behavior should be evaluated by a professional trainer who uses humane methods and positive reinforcement. I am not a behaviorist, but based on what you've written, it does not sound like aggression, necessarily. Jumping, nipping, wiggling, skittering around, and sometimes even growling can be invitations to play, in dog-language. If that's the case, here are some things that should help:

1. Increase his exercise and opportunities to be out exploring. Walk him and/or take him to the nearest dog park or dog beach to get the wiggles out.

2. When he bites you, yelp "ouch!" like a puppy and leave the room. This is dog-language for, "That hurt, and I am not going to play with you." Close the door if you have to, to keep him away for a couple of minutes. The same method works for jumping.

3. Reward calm, quiet behavior by tossing a treat in his direction when he lies down. Soon he'll lie down and look at you with hope!

4. Read The Other End of the Leash by P. McConnell.

Katie answered on 3/7/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 3 Report this answer


Those sound like over-zealous play behaviors and not aggression to me, especially when you said "skittering around growling". Growling is not always aggression, my dogs have 'play' and 'excited' growls when they are amped up and running around. Sounds like he might need more exercise than you are currently giving him, a daily walk and game of ball might really not be enough... at 1 year old he is probably full of energy. Remember to reward calm behavior in the house, don't just concentrate on what you don't want. And lastly, he's just been re-homed and learning this new place.... it's only been a week.

Kolbe answered on 3/7/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer


try the switch. Toss a piece of chicken and then take the toy or whatnot.
If you are getting ready to have a baby I don't know that I would of went out and got a dog before the baby
The baby will need a good dog that has been around children and that does not have tendencies around toys. Did you ask questions and or did anyone interview you before taking the dog?
You need to make sure this dog is a fit you should take him back if he is too much to the shelter. If that is their policy it might be because they are a no kill one. We have that here they go back to them so that they can make sure the next owner has experience or no children, they will be able to suit him with another home that is not going to have the same issue.
Dogs are work and not just fuzzy toys they all have their own individual complex behaviors and personalities like us :)
I think you need to wait til your child is much older in the future, then try again.

Dieta answered on 3/7/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I agree with Kolbe. It sounds like he's playing, but play or not it's a behavior that should be corrected. Kudos to you for wanting to work with him instead of giving him back to the shelter or euthanizing him. :)

Ava snarls like a mad dog when she plays. It scared me before I realized it's just her way of expressing herself. It might take you some time to learn the difference between Charlie's play growls and aggressive growls. If you want to train him not to growl, say "don't growl" and stop playing with him as soon as he makes a sound. That's how I taught my girly to never growl during a game of tug.

Play biting is more serious.
If he bites let out a loud yelp and stop playing. Ignore him until he calms down.

When you play make sure to always use a toy, like a rope or stuffed animal. Not your hands.

Also, another technique I've learned helps, is to get something yummy on your hands and let him lick. This can teach him it's good to lick, instead of using his teeth.

Ava answered on 3/8/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer

Odin CGC

First of all define biting!! Biting means he draws blood, mouthing on the other hand is normal puppy behavior that can be corrected.

Next how long are walks? What you are describing sounds like the puppy "crazies". When they just get so wound up that the dog does circles and growls/barks. Walks should be 45 minutes to an hour long.

The more exercise he gets the less often he will experiance these puppy crazies and the less often he will mouth on you.

Next make sure to get him as used to a baby as possible. Walk him with the stroller, bathe in the baby wash or use the baby lotion. You may want to get a cd with baby noices on it so he gets used to them also.

Good luck

Odin CGC answered on 3/8/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer