Dont know what to do

Posted by kalexander
Nov 17, 2011
Hoping you can help as this is a real problem for me and my dog.
I have a 1 year old Blue Heeler.
He is over active and i dont know what to do he seems to be aggressive, not towards family (immediate) but anyone who either stands or enters our back gate.
He has lunged at people but he has never been treated badly or misguided.
The worst thing has recently happened at our home, when i was mortified to find my daughters pet rabbit dead in our back yard as it had escaped its cage and there was no doubt it was our bluey, particularly gruesome as well, as he went to town pretty much and we didnt hear at thing!!!

I need advice on what i should do, this is very upsetting and im worried for our smaller dogs, one being a chihuaha (sorry if ive misspelled this). Can this behaviour be treated or is my friend a lost cause.

Please advise
Posted by KOPCaroline
Nov 17, 2011
Hi Karen,

Oh my gosh! How upsetting! I'm sorry for the ordeal you've had lately.

Some dogs just don't mix with small animals - especially if they weren't raised with them. My own dog came into a house with my two rabbits at the time, so I worked from day one to get him to be calm and not mouthy at all with them, and it worked out great. If the dog doesn't interact supervised with smaller animals so you can immediately correct any hint of bad behaviour, then its harder to trust them on their own.

That being said, I would imagine your chihuahua would be a bit different since he can stand up for himself verbally at least, where a rabbit can't so much. Still, its probably good to have playdates and supervised interaction with the dogs if you're concerned. Has your bluey ever displayed any kind of aggression to the little one?

As far as barking and lunging at people at the gate and door - it sounds a bit like territorial aggression or dominance. Does he pace your front yard and keep watch out the windows and at the gate? If yes - you need to put a stop to this behaviour ASAP. Don't leave him unsupervised in the front yard or where the gate is if you can. If you catch him doing any kind of watching/guarding out of front windows or at the door - tell him no and remove him from the area. When you have guests come over, if he responds badly, immediately tell him no, and put him away somewhere by himself (a quiet room, his kennel, whatever). Just keep him away from the areas he misbehaves, and be sure to verbally correct him immediately and EVERY time he reacts badly to visitors.

He's only a year old, so he should pick up on the idea pretty quickly. If you put him away on his own for 10-15 minutes (or more if you find it necessary) every time he acts up, he'll start to learn pretty quickly. You just need to be sure to assert yourself over him so he listens - be stern!

If you find this sort of training isnt working, please let us know, we're here to help. Good luck! I hope things start to improve!
Posted by KOPCaroline
Nov 17, 2011
just another thought quickly -

Is he neutered? You might look into this if not, it sometimes helps calm dogs down.

You might also think about looking into socialization classes - where you and he can interact with other dogs and people in a more controlled environment. These sort of play/interaction classes are really good with dogs with certain aggressive tendancies (but not so bad as to outright attack another dog or person). It could really help you, both with his behaviour and with his listening and responding to you.

I'd also suggest looking into alpha dog training (theres a section on the website under member downloads) with him, even if you've done it already. Even a refresher course can sometimes help a dog become more responsive. I think if he sees you more as a dominant figure to be respected in the house he'll calm down more when you tell him to.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Nov 18, 2011
Hi Karen,

I am so sorry to hear that your daughter lost her pet rabbit and it was actually your bluey who did it.

One of my dogs caught a wild bunny in our backyard this summer. When I saw some small animal dashed out of the bush and my dogs went after it, I yelled "Leave it!!". I think Noah got a hold of it but released right away at my shout. When I went to see what had happened, the bunny was surrounded by my 3 dogs but it was still alive since it escaped under our deck. 2 days later I found the bunny dead under the deck. It was very sad and upsetting.

In the mean time, it was not Noah's fault. It was an instinct of some dogs to chase and catch something moving fast, just like fetching a ball. Some dogs have prey drive too. I don't think it was bluey's fault either, especially if he didn't have a chance to get familiar with the rabbit to recognize it was a part of his family.

I have a few questions on bluey:

- How long have you had him and does he live inside the house along with the other 2 dogs, or is he an outdoor dog?
- Is he getting plenty of daily excercise, both mentally and physically?
- Has he got any obedience training?

Blue Heeler is a very smart and active breed. They need "work". They need to be challenged. They can be very protective if they are not well socialized with people and dogs, more so than other breeds.

If you haven't given him clear boundaries and rules around the house, you should start doing that because he is now at a teenager age and it is very critical that you show him that you are the leader.

In addition, please give him a lot of exercise, for example, 15 mins fetch session twice a day, 2 x 30 mins walks, some obedience training, some tricks and games. If you want to know how to teach him some tricks and games, let me know. I think I can help you with that, if you can tell me what commands he has already learned.

Keeping him busy and interacting with him more will change his behavior. Patience and consistancy are the key of success. Good luck