Playing rough

Posted by CBlank
Feb 28, 2008
I have had my Foxhound mix, Sadie, for 5 weeks. We rescued her. First she was in a shelter in Georgia, then made her way to the American Bulldog rescue in PA. She is about a year old. I also have 9 year old twins and a 14 1/2 year old collie, Max.

Sadie is very sweet, and great with our family (even Max). My husband is not home as much as the rest of us, so she is still a little nervous around him. We have all been using the Alpha dog techniques. The problem is that she often plays rough with our kids, especially when they have friends over. She jumps on them and nips hard. If they go down the slide in our yard, she waits on the bottom and jumps on them as they land. She aggressively jumps on kids as they come into our house, and when they are playing. At this point she does not jump on my own kids any time when they are playing in the house, but still bites them once in awhile(especially when they wear gloves) when they play outside. They consistently take her out a few times a day to throw a ball with her, and run around the yard with her. I would really like them to be able to do that with their friends too. Last week, my two year old nephew was over who happens to have a pet Rottie. He has no fear. He ran across the room at one point, and Sadie jump on him and bit the back of his head/neck. When there are other kids in the house, she is a totally different dog. She walks to school every day with my husband and kids, and goes with me to pick them up from activities. In these situations, she is happy and wags her tail like crazy when kids come up to her to pet her. We constantly socialize her. We have also signed up for an obedience class in April. I have also tried putting her on her leash when people come to the house. She started shaking the last time I had her on her leash, and a little girl came over. There are always kids in our house, and I'd really like to help Sadie adjust to that part of our lives. Please help! Thanks!
Posted by elmariachino
Feb 28, 2008
Hello Cindy,
I think here you should use a combination of postive and negative reinforcements.
This takes some weeks, but I guess it should work with your dog.

Whenever Sadie starts to play rough (jumping on people and biting), you say firm "NO" to her and punish her by separating her from the people around (puuting her in a seprate room or outside) for ten minutes.
After ten minutes have her back with the people, and do the same thing when she strarts playing rought again.
Keep doing this until she starts associating being rough with the bad consequence of being seprated from the people.
As she starts to behave around people, praise her generously.
This will make her switch gradually from playing rough to being friendly around people. (same thing goes for other dogs).
Good luck.
Posted by Blue
Feb 28, 2008
Hi Cindy,

It is vital that you get Sadie obedient to you and the children as soon as possible, as her 'rough play' towards children is dominant aggression - which is very dangerous, and can get worse without training and proper structured reprimand and rewards.

All interactions between Sadie and the children should be supervised, I'm sure you already do that as a parental instinct!

As always the first advice for a dominant/aggressive dog is to ensure you [B]and your family members[/B] have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is, all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position, your children should also be involved in these steps:

1) If you come across your dogs while they are sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making them move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dogs around the house on the leash, making your dogs wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you. [B]This applies to visiting children also, when the children ignore Sadie when they walk in, it immediately puts them into a more alpha role.[/B]

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything, wait till they are sitting and being well behaved. Make sure that the children do not play or pet Sadie until Sadie is calm and laying down somewhere - both children who are guests in the house, as well as your own. Sadie should not be allowed to start play sessions, it should always be the kids that start the play sessions - to maintain their dominant position.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

Also, it is recommended that Sadie is not allowed on couches or beds - especially the beds of your children.

She needs to be started on her obedience - even before the classes - especially if you are going to have children around. Work with her for 15 minutes a day minimum on the basic commands of sit, stay and come. You should also work on a command like OFF - practice it whenever you see her up on/against something she shouldn't be on, kids, couch, counters, other people. With adults you can try giving a command like 'up' to have her jump up against you, then "off" to have her get off of you.

Your dog should always be reprimanded for bad behaviour. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on a dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

When introducing her to new people (especially children), it is beneficial that she be on a leash - even if she is shaking from excitement. The shaking can also be indicative of controlled behaviour, she's never been asked to do this before, and so it is difficult and the shaking is a "protest" behaviour. If you can have her sitting quietly before greeting any new people that would be ideal. Do not allow her to greet them if she is aggressive, reprimand her as the behaviour occurs and reward only calm behaviour.

When she is calm enough to be introduced allow slow calm introductions one at a time. She should be seated throughout.

Sadie's behaviour should immediately start to improve upon properly structuring her environment for positive reinforcement for good behaviour and reprimands or no attention for bad behaviour.

I know with kids it's hard to control both the actions of the children and the dog, but try to explain it to both your own children as well as visiting children.

It is also best if the children don't encourage Sadie to chase them at all. Play sessions should only be things like throwing balls for Sadie, frisbees etc. Games where Sadie has no opportunity to become aggressive/prey driven (no tug of war at all). Dogs will chase things that run and scream, it is in their genetics and it is not good to have the children encourage it, even though it's fun!

The children should also practice taking Sadie on walks (with an adult if they are not strong enough to control Sadie). Walks should be at a good heel and never pulling. Practicing walks where the children are in control will expel some of Sadie's energy, and also practice alpha position with between dog and children.

Any biting or mouthing behaviour should be reprimanded by the children and adults [B]as soon as it occurs[/B] and Sadie given a time out (ignored and removed from the presence of the children definitely) or the biting could become more serious.

Hope this helps!
If you have any questions feel free to ask, we'll help where we can,