Our submissive dog is turning aggressive!!

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by disconfigured, May 15, 2012.


  1. disconfigured

    disconfigured PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi,
    I have a 3 year old female lab/springer mix (she's 3/4 lab) named Jodie. We socialised her well when she was a puppy, and has always been a incredibly submissive dog to other dogs and people (she's wary of other people without a dog, barks and growls but soon realises they're friendly and is happy to meet them - others with dogs she likes to greet rather than the dogs themselves!).
    When walking, if another owner has a ball, then she used to half chase it and give up - since it was the other dogs ball etc.

    However, she's started becoming possessive, even attacking when dogs come up to her when she has a ball (hers, or another's!) or a stick.

    She had a ball the other evening, another dog came up to her to say hello and she attacked it. This is very strange behaviour for her!

    I'm wondering what could have occurred for this strange change in her behaviour. Anyone got any ideas? Thanks.
     
  2. Lexiedhb

    Lexiedhb Team Ginger!

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Messages:
    6,335
    Likes Received:
    487
    Simple solution IMO - do not take a ball on walks, and remove sticks from her if she picks them up. I also would not be allowing her to "steal" another dogs ball as that sort of thing can all to easily escalate into an issue......
     
  3. hutch6

    hutch6 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes Received:
    345
    I wouldn't go as far as not taking a ball out as that is taking away what the dog probably lives for and gets enjoyment from.

    If you are playing with the ball and you get hold of it, keep it in sight in your hand but don't throw it, what does the dog do?

    With reagrds to the people situation, how often do you take her to places where there are lots of people about?
     
    #3 hutch6, May 15, 2012
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  4. SiobhanG

    SiobhanG PetForums Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    396
    Likes Received:
    2
    I'd get her seen by a vet. Behavioural changes can be a clinical sign of many things so best to rule those out before starting any behavioural therapy.
     
  5. hutch6

    hutch6 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes Received:
    345
    My mate has three springers all of them are very social, very well behaved and gentle dogs. Two of the dogs hunt up so they don't really give a monkey's about balls and toys etc, the youngest is a different story.

    He acts the same as the OPs dog but he is wired and obssessed when the ball comes out for play time. If he knows you have a ball or a toy he will walk directly in front of you almost hounding you to play. If he has it and one of mine approaches or he gets close to one of mine he growls and charges. If one of mine has the toy he will shadow them until they drop it and then you have to be fast as he will whisk it away, do a few laps and then bring it to you, sit and allow you to take it from his mouth - the dog is manic when it comes to toys and fetch hence why I asked what the dog is like if it knows you have a ball/toy but don't throw it.

    The socialisation things with people is an ongoing thing so if an owner stops takign the dog to places where ther are people etc when they stop reacting thinking everything is going to be OK for the rest fo its life then things wil slowly creep back in so it has to be kept up.
     
  6. disconfigured

    disconfigured PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    We don't take a ball with us anyway, we go to playing fields to walk her, and other owners have balls with their dogs - she joins in. We always take her places where there are other people - either the playing fields or dog walking woods etc. Always other people and other dogs, which to be fair, is best for Jodie as she does love others just has become possessive other sticks and balls.

    If I have the ball, she doesn't jump or anything, she sits (if I ask her to) and waits for me to throw it. If I tell her that enough is enough, she gives up and walks off.

    I should add that she only does this strange behaviour with other less dominant dogs than her (before this, there wouldn't have been any! She was that submissive) - she wouldn't dare turn on a dog which she knows is more dominant.
     
  7. doggiepal

    doggiepal PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hiya

    The book 'Mine' by Jean Donaldson is great for resource issues so that's worth a read.

    I wonder if your dog is fearful though rather than guarding the stick/ball. You're describing some fear issues from before all this happened and what is perceived as submissive is often about displaying signs to show that she isn't harmful - ie 'please don't hurt me.'

    Have a look at some stuff on calming signals to see if any of this makes sense. You mention that she has been wary and growly in the past too, before settling down again when she is more comfortable.

    This sounds like an escalation of an issue rather than a behaviour change.
     
  8. hutch6

    hutch6 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes Received:
    345
    So she joins in with other dogs and will take their toy but if they are in the same weight band or below she will put up a bit of a tussle towards the other dog?

    What's her "Leave" like? Can you throw a ball, send her away to retrive, tell her to leave and then walk her away from the ball without her turning or anything?

    When at home does she have access to toys, chews etc and how often is she given access?

    The reason I ask is that I have three little...., erm, lovely mutts. Two collies (male) and a young long dog (female).

    If I am playing fetch with them the long dog will try and steal the toy from my eldest collie. She will harry him until he either gives up the toy or puts her in her place. Two collies together will fetch fine without issue either one toy or two toys.
    I make sure they are no toys or chews down at home wihtout supervision so I can keep a close eye on them to prevent possessiveness creeeping in. The collies are fine but the long dog seem to want to have everything for herself half of the time so playtime stops or chew times stops and everything goes away again. She is a right little......, bundle of joy, but she is a lot better than what she was like.
    If we come across others playing with toys the collies leave well alone as they are told to do so (switched off to make sure they know it is not their game) but she will venture a bit closer before finally stopping and coming back (the distance is getting a hell of a lot shorter now). If they are aloowed to join in then the collies will fetch but if I ask them to drop, no matter how many dogs are aroudn they will drop and not fuss if another dog comes to pick it up. If the long dog picks it up though she usually runs off with it trying to instigate a game of chase or "I bet you can't get this off of me!".
     
  9. disconfigured

    disconfigured PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Fearfulness could be a factor - she isn't very forward at home. We've never hurt her, but she's very much hide behind a sofa, refusing to come out unless another person has arrived or it's time for a walk. She's very confusing, for a dog. She never used to be like that when she was a puppy, we held her as much as we could and socialised her well, but I guess she's a shy one.
     
  10. disconfigured

    disconfigured PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0

    She joins in, takes the ball and used to bring it either to me, or the person who threw it. She now takes the ball, and growls at other dogs who go up to her, even if she was playing with the dog alone before hand.

    Her "leave" is fine. She does as she's told. Even earlier she was eating something in the garden she shouldn't have been, and I told her to leave it and she left it and came to me. The same goes for balls etc. She has a basket of toys which is available all day, and is given chews in the evening - if she doesn't eat them, they're available to her whenever she wants them.
     
  11. Lexiedhb

    Lexiedhb Team Ginger!

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Messages:
    6,335
    Likes Received:
    487
    You said she had become aggressive surrounding the ball- HERS or another's, so excuse my confusion as to the fact that you DO take a ball with you.

    IMO this is a situation of the other dog biting yours waiting to happen.... You dog steams in, steals something belonging to another dog, and then has a pop when that dog tries to get THEIR ball back, if you meet a dog who is inclined to get their ball back no matter what, your dog will get bitten. I watched this happen to my dog when he would not redeem HIS ball to mate of his, was not pretty and resulted in a trip to the vet- these dogs knew each other well.
     
  12. disconfigured

    disconfigured PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh sorry, I meant she becomes aggressive around her ball in the garden (if another dog is here too) and has became aggressive lately around other dogs balls (silly thing, doesn't realise it isn't hers!).

    As I've previously mentioned, she wouldn't dare do anything to a dog which is more dominant than her - she only does this behaviour with dogs which are less submissive than her (which, previously, there wouldn't have been any). I understand that she is bringing the situation of being bitten on herself, but she has only ever started to do this with less dominant dogs and is still giving the ball up to more dominant (or rather, she doesn't even play with more dominant dogs - she ignores them).

    All I'm wondering is how this sudden behaviour change has come about, I'm not exactly sitting back letting all this happen - she is corrected the minute she takes a dogs ball now that this behaviour has happened. We're, in future, not going to allow her to play ball with another dog as she has no problem simply playing with them, it's when possessions are involved.
     
  13. hutch6

    hutch6 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes Received:
    345
    So she has access to toys whenever she wants and chews whenever she wants, is an only dog and is learning that sharing isn't part of the vocabulary.

    What is she like in the home? Does she bring toys to you to play? Does she take toys away when she has had enough? Does she take her chews to a certain place i.e. easily defendable against other dogs should other dogs be around (I know they won't but she may do this just in case)? Does she show any signs of disgruntlement when you remove her toys or chews?

    It's tough trying to interpret this across as we can't see the dog doing what it does.
     
  14. disconfigured

    disconfigured PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    She has never been an incredibly playful dog, when she comes home from a walk, she is playful but that is the only time. She does, in these instances, bring toys to play with and walks away when she doesn't want to play any more. Her chews always end up in her bed (behind the sofa). She has only ever growled at me once, when I was near her food and after being corrected hasn't dared do it again - other than this, (which was a year or so ago) she hasn't seemed bothered by her toys or chews being removed.

    I understand. We have the same problem, and we live with her. It is as though we have two different dogs!!

    She is loyal outside, with this behaviour being her only aggressive behaviour.

    However, inside, she refuses to come see anyone (unless we have food, and even then she peeks her head out and watches.. she doesn't beg.) or if she wants to play.
    When my boyfriend is over, she willingly sits/lays with him and gives him alot of attention, but with anyone living inside the household it's a different story completely. Even when she knows after being brushed/getting a tick out of her, she will get a treat, she doesn't like either of these things happening!
    She's incredibly intelligent (she learns commands within a day), yet seems confused :(
     
  15. Lexiedhb

    Lexiedhb Team Ginger!

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Messages:
    6,335
    Likes Received:
    487
    Ah I see! Happens all to often with regards to possessions. Balls at home are YOURS, she only gets to play with them on your terms, she must LEAVE it when you ask her to, if not the game ends instantly! No chasing her round. I found swapping the ball for a treat works well, or another ball of equal value.

    I would do as you are with regards to strange dogs if they are playing with a toy..... she does ot join in. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  16. hutch6

    hutch6 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    May 9, 2008
    Messages:
    4,078
    Likes Received:
    345
    I have run this through my head and even I think it is bizarre but here goes.

    She has access to her toys and chews all day - her possessions - and will start a game (bringing you the toy) and end the game (taking the toy away) to HER bed which is behind the sofa - secure as has a solid back so can be easily defended on only four fronts :)confused:).
    Your boyfriend isn't a regular in the household so he is a break from the norm, a distraction and due to her having control of her possessions whenever she wants she may be lavishing attention on him as she wants to be the centre of attention (a bit like a spoiled child).
    She doesn't take kindly to being brushed etc because she doesn't like it and because she has control over her possessions then she wants to control access to her (will only come if you have food).

    Sounds daft doesn't it?

    For a week as a trial I would take her out for a walk and whilst she is out get someone to pick up all of her toys and chews and put them in a cupboard that is not in the immediate vacinity of where she has access to i.e. an internal door to open before you get to the cupboard so a bedroom drawer is ideal.
    You can now decide when play time is (go get a toy from the cupboard) and end play (don't wait for her to take the toy to her bed but when she is eager to play end the game with a cue - I use "That'll do" - and put the toy back out of reach) and you can do the same with chews but just watch her with the chews to begin with.

    I could be way off but it does seem like she is acting like a spoilled attention seeking child :)
     
  17. disconfigured

    disconfigured PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    In regards to thinking she is acting like a child, you're right - she looks sad all the time, for no reason, like shes sulking, for no reason!

    She starts games yes, and ends them, yes but rarely takes her toys with her, she just picks herself up and walks away - to her hideout spot behind the sofa. It's difficult to start a game with her myself, she doesn't seem interested, but I can easily end a game if I wish (she just usually gets bored before me!!).

    She definitely goes to my boyfriend for attention, but to be fair, if she stopped being a sulky child she would get the attention from me! I'm longing for her to come lay with me or even sit with me, but she refuses. :001_tt2:

    Thanks for the feedback, you've seem to have hit the nail on the head in regards to being a child! I'd love to get a dog psychologists point of view though, from actually watching her behaviour but I think she'd act completely different if someone else were around! Like a child! Haha!
     
  18. doggiepal

    doggiepal PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think you've cracked it. She's a fearful dog. The idea of submissive/dominant is largely putting you on the wrong track in my opinion. This isn't a sudden behaviour change - it's been a long time coming by the sound of it.

    I think you may need to do some counter conditioning with her around the things she is afraid of and, if you're interested, maybe look up dominance theory and why it sets people on the wrong track when trying to understand their dog.

    The confusing part is probably the dominance/sumbission ideas that are muddying the waters. Have a look at this video.

    Sorry = that's not the right video. I'll find a better one.
     
    #18 doggiepal, May 15, 2012
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  19. doggiepal

    doggiepal PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    0
    How to speak dog by Stanley Coren is a good book about dog body language and will help you understand your dog better.

    I can't find the video I wanted. I'll try again later. Sorry about that!
     
Loading...