17 Month old lab aggression towards me

Discussion in 'Labrador behaviour' started by karlb, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. karlb

    karlb Registered Users

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    Hi all,

    Before you read the below please appreciate I know this is my fault and I want to fix it.

    My partner and I got a lab puppy when she was 3 months old, she is now 17 months. As a child I had always been quite scared of dogs, as I had previously had a dog with another girlfriend I thought things would be ok.

    Over the past 5-6 months she has been aggressive towards me 5-6 times and over this weekend it was particularly bad. Unfortunately due to my previous fear of dogs my instinctual reaction has been to put her to the floor to prevent getting hurt, now to be clear she is not aggressive towards anyone else and my fear of being bitten is probably irrational.

    I have now learnt that what I am doing in termed an alpha roll and is a particularly bad thing to be doing and probably explains why her aggression towards me is gradually getting worse. To put this in perspective when she was aggressive on Saturday night all I had done was walk into the kitchen of our house where she was laying, we probably made eye contact, nothing more.

    The situation we are now in is that I feel nervous walking around the house as I feel she may be aggressive towards me at any point and am very conscious of the fact that she is probably nervous of me as well. So basically we are in a negative cycle.

    She does not show any aggression towards my partner as she goes to work with her and spends most of her time with her. My partner is definitely the star in her eyes.

    I realise this is because of how I have reacted to her when she has shown aggression towards me and has stemmed from the couple of times she did it as a 12-14 month pup as part of her naturally pushing her luck.

    What can I do to regain her trust for her to realise she is safe with me?

    Thanks loads.
     
  2. karlb

    karlb Registered Users

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  3. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe Registered Users

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    Can you explain what she actually did in this situation?

    I alpha roll my dog all the time. We call it Wrassling and it's play and he knows it is play. We giggle and laugh (oh, that's just me, but he does smile :) ) and he is allowed to put his teeth on me because I know he is not biting me just as he knows I am not beating him up. Sometimes I let him win. Do you suppose there is the remotest chance your dog thinks you are playing?
     
  4. karlb

    karlb Registered Users

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    Hi Snowshoe,

    We are 100% certain she is not playing. In this particular situation she barked and snarled at me and took an angry posture, there was absolutely no playing in what she did. It happened twice on Saturday night and the second time (after the kitchen incident) she did the same followed by lunging at me. Unfortunately my response, once over the second of initial surprise, is to grab hold of her and put her to the floor so I know I have control and she cannot hurt me. To reiterate I now know this is wrong and just makes her scared of me which is what I am asking for advice to resolve. Thanks loads.
     
  5. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Hi Karl, firstly I'd like to commend you for recognising what you did was wrong and, more than that, for having the courage to take responsibility for it and looking for a way to rectify it.

    As far as what you can do to gain her trust, I do think it's going to be quite a long road, if she already has such negativity towards you.

    I think the most sensible course is to get a good positive reinforcement behaviourist in to observe you and give you some pointers. Training using positive methods is great for bonding and creating trust, but I do think that it would be best to have a professional give you advice in the first instance, as they will be able to interpret the tiny signs she is giving off in her body language.

    Where are you in the world? Someone may know of a behaviourist in your area.
     
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  6. karlb

    karlb Registered Users

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    Hi Snowbunny,

    Thank you so much for your response, we are based in the UK.

    At the moment we have a behaviourist coming to see us on Friday which we organised today.

    In addition I have taken some advice from a police dog trainer to toss Bella (our dog) a treat every time I come into a room she is in and to keep a bag of treats in my pocket. This is a basic start so she starts to see me coming into the room as a positive thing and not a threat. Obviously we are adjusting her main meals accordingly :) She has already started to come up to me a bit more as I come into the room, the issue with that at the moment is that it makes me nervous which obviously does not help.

    At the moment I am doing nothing more than that, I am not approaching her or trying to fuss her at all.

    We went on an off-lead walk with her earlier and on that she is absolutely fine with me, possibly because we both had plenty of our own space! We were playing fetch with her tennis ball and she was perfectly normal, as I hope I was with her. The issue tends to occur later at night, she has never been aggressive towards me during the day, it has only ever happened late in the evening.

    Hopefully with the behaviourist on Friday all these little pieces such as and correlation between the time of day it happens, her state at the time, how I react to it etc. will all add up!!

    I think the biggest issue at this stage may be me feeling confident to do things with her. As I have said I know this is my fault and I want to fix it, at the same time I am now nervous when she is around me which I am sure is not helping.

    Kind Regards,

    Karl
     
  7. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Hey Karl, those are all great first steps. It's wonderful you already have a pro coming round to see. Hopefully, it will be someone who is up to date with their methods and has moved on from alpha rolling and the like! :D

    Definitely don't push her to interact with you. It's very easy to try to over-compensate and end up actually causing the dog more stress, so a state of general ignoring most of the time, avoiding direct eye contact and showing her you're not going to push her into anything she's uncomfortable with is a good idea. Tossing treats at a distance, as opposed to trying to use them to lure her closer, is also a good approach. Let her come to you if she wishes, but don't try to coerce her into it.

    I realise it must be difficult for you, if you are dealing with fears of your own, but the behaviourist should be able to point you in the right direction for your next steps. Once you've made those, training a few little fun behaviours, such as her touching a pole with her nose, will help build your bond and trust in one another.

    Do come back and let us know how you get on. What's her name? Do you have any pictures?
     
  8. Naya

    Naya Registered Users

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    Hi Karl, well done for realising that those methods don't work and asking gif help. It's great that you have a tbehaviourist coming on Friday - do you know what methods the trainer uses? There are a lot of positive behaviourists out there, but there are also, unfortunately, a lot of negative ones too. I hope all goes well. Please do let us know
     
  9. Jojo83

    Jojo83 Registered Users

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    If they are a member of the APBC they should only be using the latest positive methods based upon science.
     
  10. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe Registered Users

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    It's good you recognize this. I'm sorry to have questionned you but there are posts all the time on what most of us declare is normal puppy play.

    "Tossing" might be seen as a threatening gesture. To start, what about just dropping it, not too close to her, as you walk by? Let her find it. After a while putting a few on the floor while you sit a bit away and read a book and not look at her. This is what I do with stray and feral cats and what a rescue group that I belong to does when trying to catch a loose dog, if the dog is really skittish. Animals instinctively watch our eyes and hands for threatening moves. Not looking at them and keeping our hands hidden, then later not moving much are entry moves for the human. Maybe you are past the entry level already. :)
     
  11. Karen

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    Hi Karl, just wanted to welcome you to the forum, and to wish you and Bella all the best in your bonding efforts!
     
  12. Pilatelover

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    Hi Karl, I just wanted to wish you the very best and I would love to see a photo of Bella. Good luck with the behaviourist and please keep posting on the forum I'd also like to add I really admire your honesty. :)
     
  13. kateincornwall

    kateincornwall Registered Users

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    Hi Karl , another thing to think about is that you say you are a little stressed , lack of confidence . Bella will pick up on this and sense any tension, so although you are not at ease, try your best to be relaxed around her , then she in turn will relax more . I am so pleased that you have realised that dominance training isn't the way to go , and also admire your honesty in telling us about your mistakes . Labs are very sensitive dogs, but a bond can be built , slowly and steadily wins the race, good luck .
     
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  14. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Good on you for developing an understanding of your role in this and committing to making a change :)
     
  15. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    Hi Karl. Just wanted to wish you well with your fresh start with your dog.
     
  16. edzbird

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    Hi Karl, it sounds like you have made some really positive steps already. Good luck with the behaviourist. Have you thought about getting some help yourself with you fear? It would be great to be a relaxed family with you, your girlfriend & Bella.
     
  17. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

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    Hi Karl, I echo everything that's been said but I just wanted to welcome you to the forum from me, Hattie 9 years and our rescue boy Charlie 6 years. I commend you for taking positive action and wish you success on your new journey with Bella :) Keep us upto date please. xx
     
  18. Plum's mum

    Plum's mum Registered Users

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    Hi Karl, good luck with Bella, I hope the behaviourist is able to help you and that this then increases your confidence, it must be really tough for you if you feel so nervous around her.
     
  19. Saba's Boss

    Saba's Boss Registered Users

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    Hi Karl,
    I have nothing to add to all the positive and helpful comments, and I'd like to say that I admire your honesty and insight to this situation. Saba and I wish you all the best as you work to bond with your dog. Good luck matey! x
     
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  20. Mooz

    Mooz Registered Users

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    Hi Karl,

    Do let us know how you get on. I wanted to write as someone, much like yourself, who has never been that comfortable around dogs. We got our dog when he was beyond puppyhood, but I still found it difficult and sometimes uncomfortable because he was so energetic and lively, and, until we trained him, in your face and jumpy. Once the behaviourist helps you out with the problems you're having, I just wanted to assure you that, although it's sometimes really hard, if you keep nice and calm and relaxed and ignore hyperactivity and follow through with training, your dog will soon be receptive.

    I do a lot of walking, most of the feeding etc. But have never been excited, playful or fussy (some of my family are!) and our dog Henry now sort of mirrors my calmness and treats me in a sort of 'gentlemanly' way! But we have a good relationship, and despite my more distant manner towards him, he is affectionate in a well mannered way and, although I never thought I would feel this way towards a dog, I hold him with much affection and love!

    Best of luck.
     

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