Aggressive Rescue Dog

I rescued a 13 week old puppy 3 weeks ago from a local animal shelter. When I found her she was very calm and took well to my 2 1/2 year old son. She is an incredibly intelligent dog. In the 3 weeks I've had her, she has only had 1 accident in the house, has been very easily crate trained, walks well on a leash, and knows the commands 'sit', 'lay', and 'come'.

As it turns out, very soon after I got her, she became sick. Runny nose, sneezing, coughing, etc. She became very lethargic so I took her to the vet. They diagnosed her with an upper respiratory infection and put her on antibiotics.

Now that she is feeling better, she has become very active, playful, and extremely aggressive toward us, toys, and other dogs. She growls, bites, barks, and tries to pin down other dogs and will not back down until I intervene even when the other dogs give her warning growls or even snap at her. She bites my son's heels, feet, toes, face, hands, arms, and anything she can get a hold of any time he gets down off the couch. And she is becoming increasingly aggressive during play time. I have completely stopped playing tug of war with her and only play fetch. I have been taking her on walks 3x a day to get some of her energy out. She is now to the point where she growls and bites me and does not respond to 'no'. I have gone as far as to put her in a submissive position, but it takes her a very long time to submit. She continues to growl and try to bite even in the submissive position.

HELP! I'm not sure what to do at this point. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm willing to work with her but I'm not willing to let my son get hurt and I'm not sure what to do about the other dogs either.

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Aggressive Puppy Behavior
by: Anonymous

It is a little hard to tell if you are referring to puppy biting, or really aggressive biting -- especially because I am assuming that your rescue must still be a puppy?? If so, severe aggression in a puppy is a serious matter. Did you ask why your puppy was surrendered by the previous owner or did you assume that a puppy is a puppy and can't have any issues that can't be overcome? To be clear, I did the same thing myself ... although I did try to find out why the puppy who was only 3-4 months old when I adopted her, but I was told that she and her sister (who was there at the shelter) were transferred in from New Mexico and they did not have any particulars other than she had a sister. After I adopted her (a black lab mix), I found her to have an extremely high IQ (I had always raised show quality Great Danes and Boxers that were always fun and social dogs, but were not at the top of the IQ list), but also an extremely stubborn streak. I did decide to do a DNA test on her because I wanted to know what else I was dealing with in respect to temperment, etc. and found that she was crossed with a Weimearamer and Pit Bull. I certainly was not happy to find out that her grandmother was pure Pit Bull, but she is about 2.5 years old and is a very loving and obedient dog ... although she still has a stubborn steak. However, I digress. If you are actually still dealing with a puppy and your puppy is chasing your son around the house and nipping his feet and hands, that is certainly NOT uncommon behavior. Unfortunately, a puppy finds child fair play and it is a very understandable fact. Imagine that you are a puppy and you are surrounded by adults who tower over you. They also don't run around the house, they don't squeal, and they don't flop their hands in the air. Then comes your son who does all of this and is "reachable!" He is also ... in your puppies eyes ... a lot more fun to play with than adults. You also have to remember that puppies play with their MOUTHS and their TEETH. If you had another puppy or young dog that could offer your puppy the proper stimulus to burn off his energy ... to be able to teeth upon ... to be able to chase, your son would most likely not be the "object of desire" for your puppy nearly as much. I have continually counseled my clients on this subject over and over ... dogs are pack animals and taking a puppy and placing it into a situations where none of that pack stimuli is realized ... none of that running, chasing, wrestling and even biting is part of their lives is very hard on a dog. Top the problem off with the fact that most couples are dual income providers which means that they have to go to work, and viola ... you have just escalated the problem a hundred-fold. As I have also counsled them repeatedly is the fact that I think it is much easier to raise two dogs than it is to raise one, especially if the owner(s) work. Setting aside all of the legal and danger ramifications of leaving your toddler alone, imagine what it would be like for the child if he was left alone for 8-12 hours? Imagine the fear, lonliness, anger, crying and mess you would find when you came home. Well, for puppies, this is sthe same situation. As for your pup, I certainly would get him to basic and advanced behavioral training immediately. I always encourage my clients to start basic obedience under all circumstances, but you pup is exhibting behavior problems far past the scope of a normal puppy, then you should seek help immediately. I hope this helps. I have no idea how long you wrote this so I could be wasting my time.

Employ The Nothing In Life Is Free Approach
by: Adam G. Katz

Employ the "Nothing In Life Is Free" approach, so that your dog starts to view you as the "pack leader." If your dog doesn't see you as the leader, then your corrections will be meaningless. So, if you're doing subtle things (inadvertently) to undermine your leadership role around the house-- it will be counter-productive.

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