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Malamute in heat, provoked aggression.

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Katgoff, Jul 26, 2018.


  1. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    So I have a malamute coming to the end of her first heat cycle, she is 9 months old, lives with 3 other dogs of varying sizes and 3 cats, the most calm dog I’ve ever owned, not prey driven (towards the other pets) at all, not aggressive over food or water. Has displayed excellent behaviour around a friends baby and other children in the past. However earlier today my husbands cousin brought her 3 year old over, he is a loud, tantrum driven, rough child (I would say as most children are but his entire family literally describe him as feral, there’s no discipline) when he first met my dog, he was jumping all over her (I was not in the room at the time to stop him, I assumed my mother in law would see the dangers in that) and she didn’t react, he was lying on top of her apparently and she was nervous (the mother’s words) but didn’t react in any sort of aggressive way, he was then walloping her in the face with a balloon repeatedly and jabbing her in the ribs with a plastic sword and she would periodically start howling (edit for clarity:she does this when excited or when there’s new people for attention so I didn’t realise she was distressed) (I was there at that point and tried telling him off and to leave her along because she will get upset, but as usual he didn’t listen and his mother didn’t say anything) then his sister started waving food in her face, so my dog sat and waited to be given some (as she does) the 3 year old then ran up behind her and jumped on her back, my dog got a fright and turned around to yelp, but caught his cheek (because he was literally on top of her and he pulled her fur) and caught him slightly in the face (tiny little scrape, no blood) obviously this was unacceptable on the dogs part and she was told off and I made her sit next to me for the rest of the day EDIT FOR CLARITY: when I say it’s unacceptable I mean I’m not going to just ignore it. She was calmly told no, and was brought to my side where I was then petting her.

    Then he ran up to her again (20 minutes later) and started shouting in her face and waving a sword at her and she barked at him (que the mother shouting about how my dogs “proper going for him”) so I held her collar while his mother told him to go inside to put some shoes on (EDIT FOR CLARITY: after I told her she’s terrified of him and she’s not meaning to be aggressive, and hinted for her to remove the child) and to just walk past her, he then walked up to her, kept making eye contact (they’re on the same level) pointed the sword at her about an inch from her face then slowly started walking backwards and forwards, then when his mother told him to stop staring at her, he laughed and kept doing it (EDITED FOR CLARITY: his mother then more sternly told him to go inside and he did. This behaviour didn’t continue for long) but I noticed when either I or my brother in law had a hold of her collar, whenever he took a Step towards her or waved something, my malamute would step backwards/jump backwards and howl as if she was afraid of him (EDITED FOR CLARITY: when her collar was being held we were petting her and standing in front of her to put ourselves in the way of the child, because we knew she was scared of him but we literally had no way to separate her as it was not my house or my place to lock my dog in another’s persons room)

    My point is I’m not sure whether she is behaving this way because she was provoked and scared/whether she coming to the end of a heat cycle (she’s been harassed by my mother in laws male dog all day) and is just fed up or if this is an aggression problem and something I need to knos be permanently worried about when allowing her around anyone. As I say she’s never done it before and there were other children there and she was fine with them and she’s been fine since he left. Can anyone help.


    FINAL EDIT FOR CLARITY: after a lot of (some rightly, and some pretty unhelpful and unecessary) irate comments I realise now that I’ve told the story in a way that has made the situation a lot worse while not accepting my own failures.

    YES I do blame myself first, I am her owner and she is my responsibility, I know I failed her as an owner but I was naive enough to think that this child’s behaviour was “not bad” and that my dog was perfectly fine and then suddenly my dog was a monster, as there was 3 other people all dog owners watching it happen. I’ve never owned a bitch before (even this one is my husbands) and they told me it was because she was in heat. The child also lives with 2 other dogs and 3 cats so I assumed he’d been brought up to respect animals, clearly not in hindsight.
    Because the child got caught on the cheek, I naturally feel terrible to the child also, so I was doubting whether I was just biased in thinking that it wasn’t my dogs fault (because I even told my husband if someone put me in that situation I would have done the same. So please don’t think I blame her at all) and was looking for reassurance that it wasn’t my dogs fault. I already know it was my fault I should have stuck up for her more and there’s no excuse for that. I just wanted reassurance for my dog as now I have awful anxiety that my husbands family will think she’s a monster when I KNOW she’s not the problem at all, it was a mixtures of the adults in the situation and the child.
     
    #1 Katgoff, Jul 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
  2. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    I do hope I don’t upset you, but to allow this awful child to continually harass your dog and do very little about it, is just dreadful.
    Why didn’t you put your dog away in another room so she could have a peaceful time and not be teased and provoked. You should thank your lucky stars that your good mannered dog didn’t take a large chunk out of this child. If the parents can’t be bothered to stop the child then you need to step in, stop what is going on, then take your dog away before something awful happens and you find yourself down the vets having your dog put to sleep.
    This is nothing to do with the end of her season, it’s all to do with a out of control child teasing and provoking your dog.
     
  3. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Poor dog. It sounds like she was put in a very stressful position and did her best to avoid the child's behaviour and had no back up from her humans.

    The season may or may not have had anything to do with her reaction.

    I think you as her owner need to be putting things in place to protect her from a repeat of this situation. Either don't invite or allow the family with the poorly behaved child to visit or if they do keep your dog and all other pets away and secure from them.

    Unfortunately this experience is likely to make her very wary about small children in the future (I would feel the same as a recipient of the child's behaviour to be honest). Hopefully with time and managing and protecting your dog and your other pets she will be resilient enough to shake it off.

    It is up to us to protect our pets. It is a big ask to expect dogs (and cats etc) to put up with being jumped on poked and fur pulled etc. with not a reaction or a murmur.
     
  4. fluffybunny2001

    fluffybunny2001 PetForums VIP

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    she is behaving this way because she was being tormented,she was right to react the way she did,and should not have been told off for it!!
    your lucky she didnt seriously hurt the child.
    she is now likely to be worried around kids all the time,and quite rightly so.
     
  5. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    The scene you describe is like one of those pictures where you circle the hazards.

    Try that yourself and you should be able to answer your own question.
     
    cava14 una, JoanneF and kittih like this.
  6. Rafa

    Rafa PetForums VIP

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    If the Mother of this child cannot or won't address his horrible behaviour, you should have removed your bitch from the situation right at the very beginning.

    She was being hurt and tormented whilst you were in the room and you did nothing to protect her.
     
  7. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    This can't be real. Who would allow their dog to be treated like that and not remove her? I was close to tears reading this.

    Horrific.

    And then yell at the dog for defending herself?

    Then it occurred to me that this is likely simply a wind up.



     
    #7 lorilu, Jul 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
  8. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    clearly I have not expressed myself correctly and I apologise for that. I was not in my own home, so I couldn’t just lock her away, I tried telling him multiple times to stop, I put myself in between them multiple times, yet it was wrong of me to assume that the mother of the child would control her own child so I wouldn’t have to as I was unable to remove my dog from the situation. But 3 other adults were also there allowing it to continue so I (wrongfully) assumed that this must be safe, as it is not my family and I was not in my home I was in some else’s garden and felt trapped by the situation and this is something I do feel very guilty about. I know I have failed her, and did not express that in my post to avoid waffling. But she was not being hurt by the child, she’s a 35 kilo massive dog, who has shown no aggression and was not backing away from him/flinching until the incident where she lashed out because she got a fright so to say I was allowing her to be hurt i feel is a knee jerk reaction and not accurate. I understand and don’t blame her at all, when I say I told her off. I simply said “no” and pulled her to my side where she sat for half an hour getting pets from me. The child was roaming in and out of where we were so he would tease her, id tell him off and he’d leave but come back again. I wasn’t just sat watching him do this behaviour continuously and my mother in law and husbands cousin were telling me it was my dog that was in the wrong? We all make mistakes and I think a bit more compassion in the comments would be helpful as I do feel terrible. But I guarantee if I wrote 3 pages about my guilt no one would read the post all I wanted to know was if this was just a case of she’s had enough (so I can say to the mother of the child and my mother in law that the behaviour was unacceptable to avoid it happening again) or if her being in heat had affected her as I’ve never owned a bitch before and that’s what they were saying. I understand how much we all love our dogs and are protective of them. But I seriously think I’ve either completely mistyped the entire situation or it’s been entirely misinterpreted and I apologise for that. Thank you.
     
    #8 Katgoff, Jul 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
  9. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    Extremely unhelpful comment. and nowhere did it state that the dog was “yelled at” I have added some additions for clarity as I’ve clearly made an error in the way I have told the story.

    I’m aware I made mistakes in this situation and failed my dog on this occasion but unfortunately your bizzare, almost arrogant “this must be a wind up” comments will not turn back time. Thank you.
     
  10. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for this very calm and reasonable comment, I’m very grateful for both the critisims and advice.

    I feel absolutely horrified that I let this happen and I do want to make it clear that I personally do not blame the dog at all! Because I don’t blame her yet everyone else in the situation did I thought that I was just being biased as it’s my dog, and came here looking for reassurance for my dogs sake so that I can go to the mother of the child and explain why this happened and how to prevent it happening again. I’ve also never owned a bitch before so thought that they may be partially right in saying it wasn’t the child’s fault at all maybe it was hormones. In which case I was going to make sure she was not around any children until her heat cycle has finished.

    I promise I do everything I can for my dog but In this situation it got away from me too fast and I got overwhelmed and wasn’t confident enough to stop the situation and that is entirely my fault not the dogs.

    Because the child was raised with other dogs I assumed he knew better. From the first instance I saw him mistreat her I should have been much more firm but as it’s my in laws and I wasn’t in my own home I didn’t feel able to. Which again is no excuse and is entirely my fault. I only came here looking for reassurance for my dog. I already know I messed up royally and I do deserve some of the comments I’m recieving however some of them are just not helpful and I know are a knee jerk reaction to the entire situation which i understand but at the same time I’m having loads of people tell me the same thing that I’m a terrible dog owner as if they haven’t all made mistakes when first owning a dog when I KNOW I messed up, which is making me very frustrated when I just wanted reassurance that my dog wasn’t in the wrong as I didn’t think she was either.

    Thank you for your fair comment all the same.
     
  11. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    Your comment did not upset me as I agree entirely that I messed up and it is constructive. I am extremely proud of my dog for the way she handled the situation regardless of my failings and I don’t want anyone thinking I blame her at all! (I worded some things wrong in my original post which may have made it seem like I do) as I was not in my own home I could not lock her away or remove her from the situation. I relied on my mother in law/husbands cousin to help me through the situation rather than do nothing but blame my dog. Which in itself if still my fault as she is solely my responsibility, I do want to make it clear I was telling the child off, and trying to hint to the mother that what he was doing wasn’t okay, (a hint clearly wasn’t good enough and I accept that) and he would leave and come back again and it was started from square one, the child also Barely knows me so I don’t think he sees me as authority which is again my fault. And in the end I did say to the mother that my dog was terrified of him and that he shouldn’t be around her and she left. But the situation got out of hand quickly and I failed on this occasion.

    I only posted because I wanted reassurance for dog that this was not her fault (I don’t think it is) or to do with her heat cycle (that’s what they were saying it was and that the child did nothing wrong) so that I could go to the mother and explain the situation and put in measures to prevent it in future or to make sure she is separated from children for the rest of her cycle for the safety of borne the child and the dog.

    Thank you again and I apologise for the rambling. I really am doing my best for this dog
     
  12. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    OK OP thanks for the clarification. It helps to understand the situation.

    Your dog reacted as any dog (and many humans) would do when surprised in this way. To move to remove /swipe/bat away the thing that was attacking it (in his mind). Your dog has shown excellent bite inhibition given the intense provocation if the child and the surprise that followed so she should really have been praised for being so good. But we all react in the moment.

    I suggest you avoid situations where you are taking your dog to places where uncontrolled children might be and any situation involving this child.

    If you encounter a time in the future where your dog is put in a situation tthat exposes him to behaviour that he is uncomfortable with (it doesn't have to physically hurt him just be unpleasant and let's face it how many of us would have enjoyed being a recipient of the behaviour) then you need to act. Don't wait for anyone else to do so. Protect your dog. Get up, body block the child, tell the parents to remove the child from the dog and remove the dog from the situation. Yes you might come across as rude impolite or what ever social norms dictate as poor behaviour but if you don't you are relying on your very tolerant dog to keep being tolerant. All dogs ( and all humans) have their limit and from a dogs point of view if his body language signals have been ignored and believe me he would have been throwing out lots of signals if being unhappy (which are subtle) then he will be forced to escalate those signals and that could mean a bite.

    Unfortunately there would then be several victims - the child who was bitten, your dog who might be euthanased, and you who might get a criminal record/jail term. All because none of the adults present were willing to step in and stop the child bothering the dog.

    You have a very tolerant dog but expecting him to handle the situation no matter what is unfair to him and the child.

    In future either keep your dog away from these situations or protect him and remove him as soon as they develop. Don't let being polite cause a potential tragedy.

    Your dog may well be wary of children now so give him some time away from ones he doesn't live with or whose behaviour is poor.

    There is no reason to expect him to react poorly to children as a whole in the future but he may not be keen to have any association with this one and not should he be asked to.

    Sorry please read all he's as she's
     
    #12 kittih, Jul 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
    Katgoff likes this.
  13. Snuggles

    Snuggles PetForums Senior

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    I'm not going to comment on the situation other than to say I think your dog was incredibly restrained and I hope that you learn from this and never put her in a situation where she is having to protect herself from children again.

    I just wanted to add, don't be surprised if she never tolerates/gets increasingly aggressive with that particular child in the future. Malamutes have incredibly long memories and this experience may very well be something she remembers for the rest of her life. With that in mind and given her age, she needs some serious positive socialisation with some non-feral children so it doesn't become a complete fear of children in general.
     
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  14. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    I agree with everything you have said. I will clarify when I said she was told off I meant she was brought to my side, calmly told no, and then received pets from me to reassure her/calm her down. Please don’t think I think it was her fault I don’t blame her at all and I’ve said to my husband that I would have done the same if I was her. I know it was my failings that made her do this. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t being biased by this view so I can talk to the mother about it and put in preventative measures for the future without being fobbed off with “it’s because she’s in heat she’s aggressive it’s not the child’s fault” like I got today.

    I’m very proud of my dog for how calm she was today despite my failings and she is fine with other children (which I’m also incredibly proud of her for) now just not this one particular child. Which I don’t blame her for.

    thank you for your comment.
     
  15. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you again for the feedback. As I say I’ve learnt my lesson today well and truly and I am very proud of her for how much better she did than I, in the situation.
     
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  16. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    As far as I’m concerned the child will not be allowed near my dog again. Unfortunately I didn’t know they were coming so was unable to prevent the situation happening to begin with initially which I think allowed me to let it get out of hand as I wasn’t prepared (no excuse at all for that as I’ve said) After the incident she was perfectly fine with the other children there and I shall continue to socialise her with children in a positive enviroment. Thank you for your feedback regarding malamutes and where to go from here.
     
    kittih likes this.
  17. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    OP you may find this diagram useful. It is called the ladder of aggression but should really be called the ladder of unhappiness ...

    Screenshot_20171122-225448.png
     
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  18. Katgoff

    Katgoff PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you so much this is now saved onto my phone for any future encounters with new people. I didn’t notice any of the signs before the snapping but I’m assuming that because she’s such a happy dog in general and there was loads of things going on (even a game of fetch) that they will have been subtle/quick before she got distracted by someone else. I shall definatey keep this handy though, thank you so much.
     
  19. Rafa

    Rafa PetForums VIP

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    This is good news.

    This particular child has shown that he is not to be trusted around dogs and even appears to think it's acceptable to torment them.

    You were very restrained. I think I would have sent the little sod flying.
     
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  20. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    It's worth practicing watching her in situations you know she doesn't normally like eg a trip to the vets, having her nails clipped etc whatever you know she dislikes and keep a look out for the signals lower down the list. They are very subtle and easy to miss unless you are really looking carefully.

    But once you start noticing them you will really begin to tune in to exactly how she feels in all situations. That can be really useful as she will then learn she only has to give these subtle signals and you will sort the issue out (or at least comfort her if it's the vets :D).

    The brief lip flick and the look away are quite common signals and can be very quick. They are common I am not happy signals amongst many mammals including humans and cats. So is the tensing up one.

    Some dogs do more sniffing when anxious or chew as it is a self calming behaviour. You will start noticing her tells once you look carefully :)
     
    Katgoff likes this.
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