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Problems with pup. Biting strangers

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I got my dog when he was ten weeks old. He is now six months old and has developed some issues. He grew up in NYC and I took him to the dog park every day, in which he encountered several dogs on his walk and passed hundreds of people on the sidewalk too. He never had any problems with people.

 

Two months ago we relocated to the midwest, where he rarely ever sees anyone on walks and has had minimal interaction with dogs, simply because there aren't that many people here that gofor walks or take their dogs on walks. We take him and my other dog to the park three times a day where we let them run offleash for an hour at a time. When we do come across a person and he is on leash, he starts to lunge at them and bark. This never happened until we got here. Today he was off leash and ran up to man and started barking and by the time I got to him, he jumped up on the man and bit his shorts. Later on today I took him to the park to play (where there is never any people) when a lady walked by. He ran up to her and barked, circled her and jumped and bit her arm. I apologized a ton and have now realized my dog could be dangerous.

 

It's hard to tell why he's doing this, because when strangers come over into my house he doesnt bite. It only seems to happen when he's outside. I am wondering if this is just his teenager stage? or if him not being neutered has something to do with it? Is it just because he's a puppy?

 

Advice is greatly appreciated!

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IMHO, this is NOT just a teenage 'thing'. I theorize that he is going through a fear period, and he has become fear aggressive. Based on your desription, I don't think that this behavior will just go away as he matures.

 

He now has 2 strikes against him. Have the people that he bit reported him? If he keeps up this behavior, eventually you will run across someone who will report him.

 

Starting immediately, never let him off leash while you are taking your walks. Get a long line (~30'-40' in length) to give him more freedom to roam when no one is around. You will be able to reel him in next to you when another person shows up.

 

You should investigate using desensitization techniques and confidence-building exercises to help him rehabilitate.

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Could he be trying to control other's movements? This can be a very bad BC habit. I agree with Jovi, don't let this dog off leash until you are completely sure this won't happen again. Being off leash is an earned privilege and your pup has not earned it.

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No, he didn't break skin and both of the people said they were fine and insisted I was overreacting. Since the last incident happened I have realized he cannot be offleash again.

 

I will start with the long lead. And I will research those tecniques right now! thank you very much for your help

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It seems as though when people don't acknowledge him he bites. Yesterday he went up to a man, sniffed because the man crouched down and was pet, and was fine. This is why it's so troubling, because he isn't the typical "aggressive dog" and this sort of came about from nowhere

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I wanted to share this recent thread with you. This owner was having a similar issue; her dog was charging, barking and circling but had not yet escalated to a bite. I hope you'll find some of the responses useful. http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=36484

 

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this, it's a very scary behavior and needs to be dealt with right away. Others have given you wonderful advice but I just wanted to add that, since he has escalated to biting, you may want to seek out the help of a professional trainer or veterinary behaviorist. Having a professional who could observe the dogs reaction and your handling skills might be a really invaluable tool given the seriousness of your situation.

 

I wish you all the very best as you tackle this behavior. Please keep us posted on his progress!!

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Is he growling when he does this? Hackles raised?

 

I'm wondering if it's aggression or over exuberant nipping in excitement when he sees people he wants to interact with.

 

Neither is acceptable, but one is aggression and the other is impulse control, and would require slightly different approaches to dealing with.

 

I think it would be very valuable to book at least one private session with a good positive reinforcement trainer who'd go with you on a walk (try to go somewhere where you'd be seeing other people, or enlist a friend he hasn't met yet to meet you so you could set up a situation) to see exactly what's going on and then do work out a training plan.

 

Best wishes figuring it out, and getting it under control.

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Thank you Camden's Mom for your help!! I'm glad I'm not the only one dealing with this. That thread was very helpful.

 

He doesn't growl when he does it and no hackles either. The only time he's growled at someone is when this man tried sneaking up on him.

 

I'm having a hard time understanding what type of aggression it is. When I get home from leaving him alone, he gets so excited and jumps up and sometimes nips me. I never saw this as a huge problem, as I've been teaching him to greet me more calmly and figured he'd grow out of it.

 

I have had people over since yesterday and once he started barking at them, I would have him sit calmly and let them give him treats. He stopped barking after that.

 

Could more socialization with people fix this problem?

 

Also, I don't know if he just doesn't know his own strength. Recently he has been a little too rough with other dogs to the point where they yelp. He is very mouthy, goes for the ears or fur or any loose skin on the dog and also very persistent. I take him away as soon as this happens but it seems to happen over and over again.

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He sounds exactly like a dog who was visiting the place where I live (it has a boarding/training kennel). This year-old dog (also a border collie) would jump up at people and nip at their arms (mine included). There was absolutely no evidence of aggression (no growling, no barking, no hackles). It was pretty clear to me that she was overexuberant and had never learned as a youngster that she shouldn't do that. And she was a pretty slow learner about not doing it around the people there, but she did show some improvement. But her larger issue was impulse control, as Roxanne mentioned, and although she knew she was going to get corrected for jumping/nipping, she really just couldn't help herself. The nips could hurt; they pinched, but there was no broken skin.

 

So rather than label your dog as aggressive or fear aggressive, I'd do as Roxanne suggests and get someone to go with you who is qualified to observe the behavior and give you advice and help you with a training plan.

 

As for the aggressive play, it seems fairly typical to me in pups that age. Usually if the other dogs will correct the youngster, it will stop (at least in my experience; and when the older dogs didn't do the correcting, then I'd just redirect the pup's attention to tug or something else that doesn't involve harrassing the crap out of another dog).

 

J.

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Some great points here, especially about determining what the behavior actually is. In the long run you'll want to teach him to greet people calmly but figuring out the root cause of this behavior will determine the path you take to get there.

 

I just wanted to comment on the guy who tried to sneak up on your pup :mellow: (I wish there was a "face palm" emoticon)

 

Try not to let people do dumb things to your dog. Some stranger trying to "sneak up" on your dog and surprise him is just idiotic. Seriously though, if your pup is in a fear period (or even if he's just having a bad day) something like this could leave a lasting impression. Right now my neighbor is renting a room to a guy who likes to howl at and try to engage Camden in a game of "chase". Sure, I can chase my dog around the yard all day and he'd have a blast... but a stranger chasing him around his yard terrifies him (running away tail tucked, ears back, eyes wide, etc.). It sucks to be rude but I've had to be pretty blunt and tell this guy to knock it off. I've also tried to limit Camden's exposure to him all together... he's a strange guy who interacts with dogs in the most counterintuitive ways...

 

Anyways, sorry for the random tangent (I've been under the weather so my apologies if this seems rather rambling) but I just wanted to say it's OK to defend your dog from people who are engaging in things that are against his best interest. I do hope you were your dog's advocate in that situation and, instead of correcting the dog for growling, you corrected the guy for teasing your dog. ;)

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Thank you all so much for your detailed responses. Noah and I will begin our training and will keep you guys updated! As of today, he kissed a little boy on the face and was great with two strangers that came into the house. He did have a slip up on his morning walk when he saw a neighbor but wasn't offleash.

 

AND we took him to the dog park and petco and he did great both places. Didn't even bark at strangers. I have faith he will be fine in time :)

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Also Camden's mom-

I understand your rant completely. It happened all the time when we lived in a more populated area and it was so frustrating having to tell people "that's not how you greet a dog" or "you're scaring him". He seems to be fearful of men because of the man who teased him. But the man knows not to do that again or will get yelled at!

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Good luck with your puppy! I am reading with interest because I am new to Border Collie ownership. I would never expect that people could be so clueless when it comes to greeting a dog. I have not had this experience with my German Shepherd. My GSD is 95 lbs. and the usual greeting from strangers is to yell at me from far away to tell me I have a beautiful dog! I guess I am a little odd because I always ask the owner before I greet a strange dog and let the dog tell me if they are comfortable with me greeting them (and I back off if the dog seems afraid).

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Also Camden's mom-

I understand your rant completely. It happened all the time when we lived in a more populated area and it was so frustrating having to tell people "that's not how you greet a dog" or "you're scaring him". He seems to be fearful of men because of the man who teased him. But the man knows not to do that again or will get yelled at!

 

 

The one thing many of us have working against us is that we want to get along and we hate to be rude or confrontational. However, when it comes to my dogs ... I've long since gotten in touch with my inner Mama Bear! If anyone gets stupid with any of my dogs, I WILL get right up in their face and straighten them out in no uncertain terms. Not rude, not screaming, not profane, but absolutely no crap taken.

 

I wouldn't tolerate someone antagonizing, teasing or terrorizing my children. Why would I let them do that to my dogs?

 

You have the right to protect and defend your pup, just as you would take care of your own child. You're his shield against the ignoramuses of the world. B)

 

~ Gloria

 

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Thank you all so much for your detailed responses. Noah and I will begin our training and will keep you guys updated! As of today, he kissed a little boy on the face and was great with two strangers that came into the house. He did have a slip up on his morning walk when he saw a neighbor but wasn't offleash.

 

AND we took him to the dog park and petco and he did great both places. Didn't even bark at strangers. I have faith he will be fine in time :)

 

This is wonderful news!! I know you might be a bit startled by this sudden behavior (whether it be fear, anxiety, aggression, whatever) but do keep in mind that your dog is very young and he's like a little sponge soaking up everything you teach him. If you work with him now and show him that 1) people are OK 2) the proper way to meet and interact with strangers and 3) that you will defend him in any situation that he feels uncomfortable, you will not only see the behavior improve but you will be building a strong sense of trust with him. I think you guys are gonna do great!

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