Cocoa aggression saga continues.........
(Mount Prospect, IL)
I've written before about my Chi family. :) Cocoa, the sole survivor of a litter of 4 is doing great for the most part. I've been working with her on her food aggression and she's come a long way. She won't bite me at all anymore and I can take food away from her at will. She sits for every treat and her meals. She is the last one to be given any treats and has to wait her turn (I go in order of age). She will still go and hide with her treats if I just give it to her and she will still growl at any other dog or person (other than hubby) if they get too close to her and her treat. That's the next step to overcome.
Cocoa is now 5 months old and looks like a long and lanky fox. She has great looking parents and they have nice pedigrees, but she just looks like a wild little baby fox - with a personality to match. I keep joking that she was switched at birth, as she was born at the vets office after the first two pups died.
We started taking the little miss to puppy classes and she's a barker. She barks at all other dogs and no matter what we've tried in class, she just barks. Last night, she started showing signs of fear aggression. I think she was overwhelmed with constantly being told off at barking, that she got scared. She kept snarling and lunging at the other pups that came too close. The trainer even had her on the ground a couple of times and waited for her to settle, but you could see the wild eyed fear on her little face. She would either try to find a place to hide or lunge. The trainer thinks that she just needs more socialization and with time she'll get used to other dogs. I'm afraid that she'll stay like this. How do you train fear out of a dog? It's like trying to get a person afraid of flying on a plane. No matter what, the fear won't go away.
Do fearful dogs ever change? She just seems like such a little monster and I feel bad when I have to tell people to keep their dogs at a distance. She may be tiny, but she's capable of doing damage. What do we do to turn her around? She's not afraid of our other Chis or our 99lb Weimaraner - she loves him. She also shows no signs of aggression when my son's mini schnoodle comes on a rare occasion. Only with other dogs and always when on her leash.
Well, it seems as if Cocoa is improving especially with her food aggression - so give yourselves a pat on the back for that. It's down to your training and perseverance.
It's difficult to say with fearful dogs, just how they will change as they grow, but generally as their self-confidence improves, so does their behavior.
I think it sounds as though these training classes are very stressful for Cocoa, and the constant corrections (especially the physical ones) are scaring her. This isn't good as you want her to see obedience as fun and a positive experience.
If I were you, I would check with other dog obedience schools in your area to see if any of them have classes specifically for shy/fearful pups. Sometimes they do. Also, you could ask your vet if he knows of anything like that.
To overcome this fear of hers you need her to have only positive experiences around other dogs, and you will probably have to move much more slowly and carefully than with a more confident pup. The fact that she loves your other dogs, and is okay with the your sons' dog is good, it shows that her behavior is more situational than simply a fear of other dogs.
I'd recommend that you check out my Socialize Your Puppy for lots of tips and advice on how to get her more confident around strange places, people, dogs and so on. It's an ongoing process for most dogs.
Many dogs are more 'aggressive' or defensive when they're on a leash. It's similar to the way that most crated dogs will react aggressively or defensively towards other 'free' dogs. It's because they feel that they're not able to run or to defend themselves properly because they're on the leash. I have several dogs and even two who get along great under normal circumstances, may get into a 'argument' if one of them is leashed and the other isn't. It's not uncommon.
As for her looking like a little wild thing, I can't remember how old she is, but she may simply be going through the 'puppy uglies' stage. Many pups look gangly, awkward, skinny and sometimes definitely not 'pretty' during this period of 'adolescence' but they grow out of it and into their adult bodies given time. I wouldn't worry about it, you love her no matter how she looks and you're doing a good job with her.
I hope these suggestions help a bit, keep up with the great work that you're doing, and be patient with her. She's come a long way, and with love, patience and consistency I'm confident she will mature into a great little dog. Best of luck.