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Intermittently aggressive behaviour

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by James K, Oct 28, 2018.


  1. James K

    James K PetForums Newbie

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    Hi, I’m hoping somebody has some advice or similar experience that could help.

    We have a Bedlington Terrier who from the age of 6 months one day when unwell and had an infection in the penis and testicles started becoming randomly aggressive. He now randomly displays this behaviour however you are not able to tell when it’s about to start. He only displays signs of this when possibly laying on your lap for a stroke or groaning and rolling on his back, he then shows his teeth to which we then stop. He then goes on to groan again as in for a stroke but raises his teeth. He also displays this if eating a chew on your but if touched he growls (sometimes aggressively barks).

    He has a good routine of sleeping in his bed - he never sleeps in our bedroom however he may sleep on the bed if we’re in there however when we go to take him downstairs for the night again he growls.

    He has been well socialised with other dogs and gets on great with them.

    I’ve had dogs all my life, however he is the only one who seems to display traits like this and I feel as if we’re doing something wrong or something is wrong with him.

    It does however seem strange to me that he would come to us for a stroke, then growl and bite when we actually go to stroke him. It’s very hot and cold behaviour but I cannot seem to get to the root of it. He has yet to be castrated and we are planning this but not sure whether this will curb the behaviour.

    Any questions or advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

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    Don't have an answer, but hopefully someone else will.
    I think that in the meantime you should stop doing anything that you know gets this reaction, because repetition only reinforces a behaviour.
     
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  3. Ian246

    Ian246 PetForums VIP

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    I think there may be separate things going on here, but some of it sounds like resource defending to me. (I'm tackling this in an odd order, but bear with me!)

    He's resource defending by the sounds of it.

    I would stop allowing him to lie on the bed - it's nice for him: comfy, smells of you. And I suspect he's growling because he doesn't want to be moved - he's beginning to take possession, perhaps. Again, he may see the bed as a resource.
    Personally, I'd want to nip this behaviour in the bud. You could try Googling 'dog resource defending' or something like that - there's lots of advice; I had a URL for you, but I don;t think the forum likes URLs being posted!

    However, the first instance you describe is hard to fathom without seeing it in action (eg, when you say he shows his teeth, I'm not quite sure in what way he shows his teeth.) It could be that he recalls the pain of his infection and is worried that you're doing (or about to do) something which might cause the pain again (bear in mind, he does not know what it was, what caused it, that it's gone away, or that you won't do anything!) I agree with Linda that stopping doing what ever it is you're doing when he gets upset is a start. If it's only when he's lying on his back on your lap, I'd stop doing that for the time being. You may want to get him checked by the vet to ensure there's no underlying medical issue which is causing him discomfort somehow. I think you're doing right to stop stroking him if he growls. Just ignore him for a little while when he does it. If it persists, you could try excluding him (take him into another room - nothing rough, just take him there by the collar) and exclude him for a little while to show him that if he growls he loses your company and that it's not acceptable behaviour. If a short period (and I mean no longer than a minute) doesn;t work, steadily increase the time. However, you do need to try and work out if something is CAUSING him anxiety and it's not just him trying it on. Bedlingtons are generally very friendly dogs, as I understand it, so it seems a little odd. Sorry that I cannot help any more - I'm a bit perplexed!
     
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  4. James K

    James K PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks very much for the response I really appreciate it. I think for the time being we are going to try and keep his sleeping areas to a minimum and try and keep him off the sofa and bed and in his own bed. See how that works and monitor his behaviour once he’s been neutered.
     
    Ian246 likes this.
  5. James K

    James K PetForums Newbie

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    An update on all of the above. We have had our dog neutered a couple of months back just after my original post. He disliked having a cone on and his behaviour continued for a week or so.

    Once the cone was taken off he went back to not being aggressive, his attitude changed a little and was able to lay on the bed without growling when being stroked and his general behaviour went back to his original self. We are now making him lay in his bed whenever he wants to sleep.

    A couple of weeks following this it seems that he has now gone back into his previous behaviour and it seems to be getting a little worse. He now jumps if you touch him and he cannot see you. He also growls instantly if you move near him when he’s asleep and he’s very quick to snap around at you.

    It has got to the point where I’m paranoid about people touching him to say hi incase he bites, he snarls very easily and anybody touching. The frustrating thing however when up and playing he is happy for anybody to touch him however the second he stops and sits down as soon as he is touched his lip goes and he becomes angry.

    It’s very easy to read posts which say to let sleeping dogs lie etc but I don’t feel as if this behaviour is normal, he definitely has some issues going on which we just cannot figure out. I have him booked into the vets on Sunday to try and rule out illnesses however think they may say it is purely behaviour related.

    The dog is very routined and has been in the same routine since being a puppy, has 3/4 walks per day, has good food (no rubbish to eat) sleeps in his bed in the kitchen, happily plays but it’s just this element which makes me worry. We have even had to consider the long term possibilities of his behaviour when acting like this and it’s extremely frustrating.

    Any further advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  6. McKenzie

    McKenzie PetForums VIP

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    Has his hearing and eyesight been checked?
     
  7. James K

    James K PetForums Newbie

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    He hasn’t - however he has a hard matted lump stuck in his ear which we only noticed a week or so ago. We had a go at trying to pull it out however we needed to take him to the groomers and she eventually managed to put out a huge length of matted hair which she thinks was from a previous groom of him having them trim instead of pluck. He wouldn’t let us anywhere near his ears at first.
     
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