Agressive Rat Terrier

by Anthony Fife-Patterson
(Boonville, Missouri)

Dexter Alexander Fife

Dexter Alexander Fife

We have a 10 year old Rat terrier. Dexter is normally a great dog and a wonderful member of our family. Over the past few years his behavior has gotten very aggressive. He will growl at the cats (one of which he has grown up with) if they just walk past him. When in bed with us, if we make the slightest move, he growls. 5 years ago, I went to pet him and he bit me. Today, I called him to me in a calm voice, " come her baby, daddy needs to clip your nails" I reached out my hand and he bit me. We have a 2 year old grandson that visits. Whenever he is here, Dexter constantly growls at him. Our grandson shows no interest in playing with Dexter. If our grandson just walks past him, Dexter growls. We are very worried that he will bite our grandson. But his biting me today seemed unprovoked. I am at my wits end. I honestly don't know what to do. I love the little guy but I can't have a dog that is aggressive and bites me. We also have a mixed rat terrier that is 15 and Dexter is very dominant with him. PLEASE help. I love my baby boy and I would hate to have to get rid of him. He is current on all his shots. The vet has no medical reason for his behavior. He gets to run and play in the back yard as much as he wants. Please help us.

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Nov 18, 2014
Nothing In Life Is Free
by: Adam G. Katz

Yes-- you can fix this. It's what we call "dog aggression" (in contrast to handler aggression).

You need to focus on two things:

1. Teach your dog to walk on a loose leash around all distractions. If he's on a loose leash, he cannot be paying attention to you and the other dog at the same time. It's either one or another, and if the leash is loose, then he has to watch you because he cannot FEEL from the tension in the leash, where you are.

2. You'll need to learn how to give a motivational correction, so that he clearly understands that this behavior is unacceptable. If he already knows that it's unacceptable, then the issue is that your correction is not firm enough, or you're not using the proper training collar (or it isn't fitted correctly!)

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