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8 Month Old Border Collie Aggressive Snapping

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by SJF0512, Jun 4, 2021.


  1. SJF0512

    SJF0512 PetForums Newbie

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    Hello! Looking for some advice..

    We have an 8 month old border collie, she’s been a challenge since day one which we expected to an extent given the breed, however, the most recent issue we are faced with is aggression. For the most part, she is a very sweet dog, caring, fun and obedient, but then there is the other side of her personality which almost feels as if she is a totally different dog to the one we know.

    In the past couple of months she has developed a very reactive disliking of people (familiar to her or not) stroking her, despite showing huge excitement to see them i.e. running up to them/jumping up/wanting their attention.. and because she seems to eager to say hello, people naturally say hello back by petting her, but to this, she growls (sometimes barks) and snaps at them after a couple of strokes.. She recently bit one of our friends on the hand and he drew blood which obviously was *not* ok and we were terribly disappointed. When she acts this way, we are sure to pull her away, discipline her and tell her we aren’t happy with that behaviour..but she still continues. We’ve had trainers come to see her and give us advice, they’ve all said it ‘could just be a phase’..but we’re not so sure? We’re now considering a behaviourist, as a last resort, but, we’re losing hope to be honest. She is a lovely dog 60% of the time, it’s just this 40% that makes us wonder if we can continue with her, given the aggression, and we have a baby on the way too. We are unsure if the aggression comes from a place of fear? Confusion? Excitement? Or a mix of a few things.. It’s certainly confusing for us (and others) since she comes off as such a friendly dog, hence why people try to pet her.

    I’d like to add that she bites/shows aggression to my husband and I occasionally too, although not via stroking or petting, usually just when she can’t have her own way - this dog is VERY determined and often wants things on her own terms.

    Any thoughts or advice would be hugely appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Sophy
     
  2. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    @Twiggy who may be able to help more. A few things stand out. Have you had a vet check ? She could well be in pain. What do you mean by discipline? Telling her off is likely to make her more anxious. Dogs don’t think like us she won’t be trying to get her own way. She is more likely confused or worried.

    If you have guests pop her somewhere quiet with a chew. If she is snapping don’t pet her maybe ask for a sit or alternative behaviour.
     
  3. SJF0512

    SJF0512 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for your reply. In terms of the vets, she used to be perfectly fine going for check ups etc at the vets but now she just growls and snaps at the vet, so we have been advised to avoid taking her (unless it’s urgent), until she is more comfortable, in order to avoid her associating the vets with a negative feeling. When I say discipline, we would never physically harm her, only via our voices (slight raised tone, nothing extreme), to ensure she knows that is unacceptable behaviour.
    In the way of guests putting her somewhere quiet with a chew, she tends to have a strong case of ‘fomo’...and can’t stand being away from wherever we are, and whoever we are with, and will just bark incessantly until we allow her to join us, which we do try to avoid unless the barking is out of control..
     
  4. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    Collies are very sensitive I would stop raising your voice if it was working and she understood she wouldn’t still be doing it.

    My two don’t like being left out either but if she bites the wrong person you could find yourself in trouble. If you must then ask people not to pet her.

    Is she muzzle trained ? Might be something to work on so she can be seen at the vets.

    How much exercise and mental work do you do with her ?

    A behaviourist is a good idea but no one who uses dominance theory what area are you in someone may be able to recommend.

    Finally it may not be aggression my boxer was and still is very mouthy.
     
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  5. SJF0512

    SJF0512 PetForums Newbie

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    That’s a possibility, but how else do you let them know you don’t approve of the bad behaviour?

    We have tried to encourage people not to pet her, but because she shows such excitement in seeing them/jumping up desperate to say hello, people naturally put their hand out to say hello - it can be so hard to manage in the moment! We will continue to tell people to leave her though..

    No we haven’t muzzle trained her, do they help the aggression long term?

    She gets walked twice a day, has a very good run about and throughout the day we try to do some fun games with her to keep her stimulated.

    We are in the Suffolk area :)
     
    #5 SJF0512, Jun 4, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
  6. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    Collies are horrors for looking as though they are friendly then taking a nip when a hand is put out or more often taken away. Is she close to you when she does this. I would keep her well away from other people before she hurts someone. Muzzles obviously do not stop the dog from wanting to nip but they physically stop the dog from succeeding though they can still knock and bruise with the muzzle. I take it she is working lines (farm type). She needs a lot of stimulation and training but it might well not stop the nipping. you need to be insistent that every visitor totally ignores her, stands up straight and keeps their arms crossed so she cannot reach hands.
     
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  7. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    She is not showing 'bad behaviour' it is just behaviour. It's us who have decided what is good or bad behaviour, dogs just choose a behaviour in a particular situation and if it gets them what they want they will do it again. It's up to us to show them which behaviours we like by rewarding them, and to manage the situation so they can't make bad choices. Shouting at her for nipping is counter-productive. She is more likely to be anxious around people if she keeps getting punished (and loud voices to a sensitive collie is a major punishment).
    Instead never let her run up to anyone. Ever. Keep her focus and attention on you and proof her recall so you can call her away from people. She is likely conflicted and wants to say hello but gets anxious and tells people to stop in the only way she has found out works. Also silly excited 'flirting' behaviour is actually a coping mechanism in a situation that worries her. Some dogs attack/make a scene (fight), some run away (flight), some freeze, and some go all silly and wiggly (flirt).
    I'm afraid her FOMO isn't going to cut it if she's nipping people. You need to pop her in a crate or another room with a nice chew of stuffed Kong and show her that people = quiet calm time. She will then start to get less excited by visitors, and the calming chew releases happy hormones so she will see visitors as a good thing (in the long run). You could keep her on a lead too if you don't think you will be able to keep her apart, but make sure she has no opportunity to make any contact with the visitors, just see them from a distance on a lead.
    She is a teenager and her hormones and biological changes affect their behaviour a lot, but that just means you need to get on top of any issues that might occur before they become ingrained behaviours.
     
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  8. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    I haven;t got time to reply in detail as I'm off to an agility show very shortly but in simple terms you are getting into arguments with your bitch and she will always win. Two quick pieces of advice - put her on a lead when you have friends around and don't allow anyone to touch her - do not raise your voice or tell her off. The very best thing you can do at the moment is totally ignore her. If she comes up to you seeking attention then fold your arms and look out the window. Dogs hate to be ignored especially collies and that is your best line of defence at the moment. You cannot get into an argument with her if your are studiously ignoring her. Just to add that whoever gave you the advice that 'it's just a phase and she will grow out of it' is totally wrong because it will escalate, as you are now finding out.
    Whereabouts are you (assuming UK) as I know many collie savvy trainers covering most counties?
     
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  9. SJF0512

    SJF0512 PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you very much, this helps a lot. We live on the Suffolk/Essex border
     
  10. mrs phas

    mrs phas karma is a funny old thing

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    I also live on the Suffolk Essex border
    I know of an excellent trainer/behaviourist in the area (if your where I think you might be)
    I will inbox you
     
  11. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    I have sent you a private message and given you a choice of very experienced and collie savvy trainers. I know them all personally.
     
  12. Ragnar&Biffy

    Ragnar&Biffy Biffy

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    to me based on what you have said especially the points about showing aggression towards your husband and you then this comes across as the dog does not trust you. not jumping in saying you've done anything intentionally wrong but they are so sensitive collies as mentioned above, they watch your every move and take it everything you say. Think about your entire way you act around the dog even when you think shes not paying attention. Trust with a collie is something special .. these are not the types of dogs you can normally just waive a bit of food in front off and all will be forgotten , they remember negative associations so well but don't always remember why.

    for other members really .. would it matter that being a female.. could be anything to do with that at the age shes at??
     
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