Monkey, 8 lbs of Aggression

This post is part of the series Working with Aggressive Dogs

Other posts in this series:

  1. Monkey, 8 lbs of Aggression (Current)
  2. Types of Aggression in Dogs
  3. Fear Based Aggression in Dogs

Having an aggressive dog sucks, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, we have one in our pack.  Monkey, our female Jack Russell Terrier, is 8 lbs of aggression at times.  She’s not that way all of the time, but anytime she gets too excited or wound up, she displays aggressive tendencies and usually attacks whoever she deems to be the weakest dog in the room.  Mostly our Old Kids if she can get to them, which she usually can’t.  If they aren’t around, she goes after Pantera, a 5-7 year old Jack Russell Terrier/Min Pin mix.  The submissive half of our bonded pair of brothers.

Monkey, 8 lbs of aggression

Monkey, 8 lbs of Aggression, and How to work with Aggressive Dogs
She doesn’t look aggressive does she? Playing with a 14 wk old foster puppy.

Luckily, with Monkey, I can tell when she’s about to snap.  She gets a certain look in her eye, and it gives me about 2 seconds to distract her enough to stop the attack.  That is if I’m close enough, and catch her mental break before she goes off.  And it usually happens due to over stimulation.  Someone coming in or knocking on the door.  Something unexpected happening, such as me dropping a pan, or knocking something over.

Now, Monkey isn’t the average dog.  She has a bit of a back story that makes her a little more difficult to work with than most dogs.  I’ll tell her story in a post at some time but the gist of it is: Monkey was born in a puppy mill.  She came to us as a foster dog, at 11 wks old on Halloween in 2014, with a broken neck.  We didn’t know she had a broken neck, that took many vets and three months to discover.  Everyone thought it was her back, until she finally got into a specialist at PVSEC.

She then spent almost 3 months in a neck cast.  She was miserable, even on pain meds.  We babied her too much, never having handled a dog with a serious medical condition.  She had to spend most of her time confined to a crate, and we felt bad for her.  So during the time she was allowed out, we let her have her way.  Even if it meant kicking one of the other dogs out of the bed she wanted.  Or taking the bone she wanted from someone else and giving it to her.

Our mistakes caused her aggression

Monkey, 8 lbs of Aggression, and How to work with Aggressive Dogs
Here she is guarding her daddy.

In hindsight, we realized we should have started teaching her the rules, and training her, even during her recovery.  It really didn’t help that just as she got out of her cast, the Man of the House was in a motorcycle accident and laid up for a month.  They bonded in their forced restricted activity, which is when she become a foster failure.  And he babies her even more.

She now thinks she “owns” him.  And he hasn’t stopped babying her.  Sister and I work with her endlessly while he is away for work.  We make progress, we have her listening to us and following the rules.  Then he comes home after two weeks out, and rewards her for bad behavior.  When he leaves, we’re back to square one.  We start the endless cycle over.  No matter how many times I have the talk with him about it, he still sees her as the little injured dog she was two years ago.  His buddy for his month on the couch.  He doesn’t recognize the aggressive dog, and brat, that she’s become.

But is it really aggression?

Monkey, 8 lbs of Aggression, and How to work with Aggressive Dogs
Taken about 2 minutes before she attacked the fluffy puppy.

Lots of dogs that are deemed aggressive, aren’t really aggressive dogs.  They just need more training, and some behavior modification.  Or in Monkey’s case, it’s when she gets over stimulated, she doesn’t know how to calm herself down.  And we’re going to start working on her with that.  Her brothers, Santana and Pantera, are confident and adaptable personality types, respectively.  So when she has a mental break, Santana wants to step in and take over, and Pantera follows his brother’s lead.

So over the next few posts we’ll be talking about how to work with a dog that shows some aggression in different situations.

This post is part of the series Working with Aggressive Dogs

Other posts in this series:

  1. Monkey, 8 lbs of Aggression (Current)
  2. Types of Aggression in Dogs
  3. Fear Based Aggression in Dogs

Continue reading this series:

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