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I am new here, sorry to make this my first message but I am in need of advice.  We have an 11 month old boxer named Oscar, he is a big lug, cuddle bunny, lazy goof of a dog and we adore him. Our kids can sit on him, tug on him ( not that we condone it, but if it happens he is ok with it), and he has meshed well with our other two older dogs. HOWEVER he has become aggressive to anyone looking in our backyard, ie the gas man, as well as our neighbors. He jumps their fence and backs agressively at them.  He has gone as far as to bite a man working on the opposite side of their yard, who did not openly invite the attack.  I don't understand what has happened, we neutered him a month ago, we have asked around to see if anyone has noticed anyone antagonizing him in any way.  Our neighbors are very accomodating and have been more then understanding with us, but I do not know the best thing to do.  It happens whether we are home or not.  He is aggressive to the father as well as his two children, which worries me.  We are thinking of installing an invisible fence, the petsafe brand, to deter the fence jumping etc., but does anyone have any ideas as to what might have triggered his behavior or had similar experiences?  I had never before met an aggressive boxer, and accused my neighbors of lying about what he was doing until I witnessed it.
At one time their dog, a female, was getting into our yard and our dogs would play together.  She taught Oscar how to get into their yard, a hole we fixed.  HOwever he has typical boxer spring legs and can easily bounce right over the top now.

PLease someone, will  you take some time to answer me?  I am frustrated and worried.  I am accustomed to having dogs that can run free in their own yard, I don't want to keep him in a kennel or on a cable line.  But I will do needs to be done short of euthanizing him.  I don;t believe in adopting out a dog who has bitten someone, so we are committed to try to fix the problem or problems.

Much thanks!!

Keri
 

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I feel your frustration but I think you need a contact a behavioural trainer asap in order to rectify the problem.  Best of luck.
 

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Hi Keri! And Welcome.   It's great to have you.

First of all, I want to commend you on being so devoted to your dog and not giving up on him!!

I know you said you didn't want to kennel him while you are away.  I used to think that way too and what it took for me is realizing that kenneling is not punishment.  I thought people were nuts when they used to tell me that dogs learn to like their kennels because they are their havens and their own little spaces, and turns out, it really is true.  But most importantly, having your baby in a kennel while you are gone not only ensures you that he isn't growling or being aggressive when you can't be with him, but it reasures you that nothing is going to hurt him either.  

I want to encourage you to consider kenneling him while you're away from him.  And here is the reason. I work in Law Enforcement.  And there are so many times that people call 911 saying they've been bitten by a dog and that just leads to a whole host of issues that are not pleasant to deal with.  The dogs generally get taken away for a 9-10 day watch period, you go through the hassle of verifying vaccinations, registering the dog with the City, and if the "city" determines that the dog is aggressive, they can go through the steps of taking the dog away from you. I do NOT want to scare you, I just want you to know what can happen. And God Forbid someone ever try to force legal action on you because of that.

You are very obviously a responsible and caring dog owner and it's tough thinking about your baby being "confined" when you're not home. But I think having him in a safe place when you aren't there with him is absolutely the kindest thing you can do for him, and for yourself too.

As for the aggression, I wish I had more advice for you.  My dog is also pretty fearful of new people and I have him working with a professional dog trainer/behaviorist now to get that under control, so hopefully after a few more weeks I can pass some of our new found knowledge along to you :)  

Hang in there and feel free to come here and vent as often as you need to.  I certainly am not even close to as knowledgeable as many of the people here and I'm sure they'll all chime in as they find this.  Again, welcome to the board.  It is great to have you here.

Laura
 

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How much training has your dog had?  How often has he gotten to meet strangers and had positive experiences doing so?  How well socialized is your dog?


This sounds like a lack of socialization and lack of training issue to me.  No way should an 11 month old dog be aggressive towards people unless it's been abused or very poorly socialized.


Does your dog behave in your presence?  If your neighbor (adult) is willing to work with you, and you are confident your dog will behave in your presence, have your neighbor come over, ask/put your dog in a "sit" and have your neighbor give him a treat.  Then he can pet him.  You want your dog to associate meeting a stranger with something good happening.  You can also do this with friends, have them come over to meet your dog (give them treats before they come in the house or go out back) and reinforce the positive stranger experience.  If you don't know how your dog will behave in this situation then don't try this, as you definitely don't need another bite.  But if you think/know your dog will behave with you standing right there... than that is what I'd do.  This is textbook puppy socialization, there are plenty of articles out then on puppy socializing (and 11 months old is still darn young).  My dogs run right up to strangers with nubs wagging looking for a treat or to be petted.
 

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I agree with both Oakleysmom and Nexu! I think they've both given you great information and that's pretty much what I would have said.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation right now... I'm hoping you can get everything figured out! Welcome to the forum!
 

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Well, welcome to the forums.
I can't imagine how upset you must be.  I'm sorry I can't help, I've never dealt with this type of thing before.
I think Nexu is right, call a behaviorist/trainer.
Good luck, we're all here for you!
 

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I'm wondering about socialization too.  I don't want to assume anything though without more info.  And maybe I'm wrong, but it sounds like the dog is left in the backyard a lot?  When you're not home, and even maybe when you're home?   Crating would be a good fix in the meantime, or even just at least leaving the dog inside would be safer.  Dogs that are left outside often have behavioral problems, they don't get a lot of socialization and they get bored and overprotective of the property.  Socialization within the family/pack isn't enough, your dog needs to encounter lots of strangers and situations.  Almost all boxers are protective to some degree, but its a huge red flag that he leaves the property to attack.  That's very dangerous and needs to be taken seriously.  You can control who's in your yard, but not your neighbors.   You really think an invisible fence is going to stop a dog with that behavior?  Theres no way, he will go right through it.  What kind of fence do you have now?  It's time to get a 6 foot plus fence and for now I would say the dog should be on a lead and supervised at all times in the yard.  And if he's jumping a 6 foot fence, there are ways to make it harder to get over.   I think the good thing here is that your dog is still young and will most likely respond to training.  But in the meantime this is a dog that can not be trusted and it's your responsibility no one else gets hurt.
 

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Good advice given by all and good for you for asking questions and willingness to stick with your dog and work this out.
 

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Keri - I don't know where you are located, but maybe somebody can help connect you with a dog behaviorist who can evaluate the situation.  In Wisconsin I've had luck with Dogs Best Friend, Ltd, and Dr. Patricia McConnell.  A nearby veterinary school might give you a contact.  I know there are people out there very good at evaluating and treating aggression in dogs.  

Was it a bad bite, or just a warning?  Have you been walking Oscar in the neighborhood daily so he gets used to the noise and activity?  Whether it's fear or aggression you have a problem to solve before he can be around people.  I'd imagine he will pick up your own anxiety now which would make the situation worse.  He's a young dog, and you sound very dedicated in finding a solution.
 

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It could be that kids are antagonizing him when no one is watching also.  Another good reason to keep him in a kennel enclosure close to the house where he is not at the mercy of trouble making kids when he is loose out in the entire fenced yard. I busted my neighborhood kids doing that a few times and they can be very sneaky.  

Nano
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wow!

I'm so touched that so many of you replied, and better that you haven't made me feel like a jerk!  Thanks!  I think a lot of you have touched on possible issues I had not thought of enough or dealt with.  Oscar has had no formal training, no please, don't gasp.  He is naturally a good dog, and listens well, however we never enrolled him in a program because I never saw the need.  Maybe that sounds irresponsible, but I didn't anticipate ever needing to put him in a sit-stay.  As a younger puppy, he watched and learned from our oldest dog, and we did basic things inside like "off, put-down, release, come.."

Our dogs have always been off-leash dogs, they always come when called, we go camping or hiking and I like letting them explore outside.  In our neighborhood they all stick together and near us as we take walks with our kids.  Oscar is always friendly with strangers in that setting.  Yes, I think lack of structure and too much freedom may be a big part of the problem.  I think I understand more from what several of you and others have said that Oscar needs to be purposefully walked, on a leash, maybe just him by himself to allow him to get used to surroundings and people in that setting.  

Regarding his time outside, we have indoor dogs, however we moved last year to a house on 1.5 acres with a splendid backyard.  The dogs enjoy running and playing in it, and with our schedules the last few months we are gone for 3 or more hours at a time.  I just assumed they would rather play outside than hang out inside, is that wrong?  One of you said that leaving him for long periods repeatedly would increase his protectiveness of the area, perhaps that is part of the problem. We aren't there to reassure him when a situation arises that he is unsure about.

I'm so happy that many of you support the use of a kennel or something similar, it's hard for me to remember at times that they are dogs and have different instinctual needs. Our pets have always been family members, and I think I have allowed too much slack and not taken a role as a pack leader, could that be right?

I appreciate all your comments and welcome ANYthing additional, even some chastising will be accepted.  I'm only ignorant until I learn right?  I think we are going to enroll him in a school here, and I will find a trainer that can offer some suggestions about how to patch things up between our neighbors and Oscar(via us).  For those of you who use kennels, do you ahve suggestions regarding outdoor versus indoor crates, especially since summer is approaching?


Sorry to write such a novel :wink:

Keri
 

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Also, the bite was not severe. How could it be with that underbite!  :p
Seriously though, he bit the man's heel, so really just got through the shoe and scratched him.  I thanked God Oscar is up on all vaccines, and the man wasn't interested in reporting it.  I'm not sure if it would be characterized as a warning or not, I was not there to see what happened up to the event.

I hate to feel like an irresponsible pet owner, thank you all for all the feedback, I am thankful.

~Keri
 

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get yourself a electric training collar .
at the first sign of aggression correct him  he will start to get the picture  you will always need to monitor him   just let him know the correction came  with your command
they range anywhere from 150-200$ well worth the money  unless you have a indestructible back yard  he should be in a crate if ever alone
 

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i disagree,  electric collars are un necessary...and dont mesh well with a boxers personality..NOT a good idea to say the least

you got some wonderful suggestions.. good luck sweetie...the first step to a solution is asking for help :D and we are always here
 

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you think putting a dog to sleep is a better soultion than trying a electric collar ?
i personally never had to use the collar  i always was the bad guy and would disipline . but my wife needed the upperhand
the dogs never gave her any respect and acted like she was just another pack member
when  properly used , we are on our 3rd boxer  all were trained on the invisible fence and the electric collar  they all responded great
never ran out of yard ( no type of fence ) and  never were agressive .  my wife  only had to correct mabey 5 times and i put the collar into storage . but now they respond to our voice .
my dogs will callback no mater what they are into .    corrected 5 times with a collar  that is all it took  it did not tramitize them

the collar gives the upper hand to the timid dog owner .
i would not use this collar as a everday thing but as a initial training  you dont need to zap they vibrate too ,,sometimes this is enuf to snap the dog out of a bad state witch is what you are trying to accomplish .

understand these collars are not used to toture but to train .
people need to forget the history of a rescue  stop feeling bad ( this doesnt help the dog )   start fresh  and help them grow
 

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forget the history of a rescue and stop feeling badly? everyone has their opinions i guess...

i have a rescue..a boxer that was used for 4 yrs for a puppy machine..by a byb, neglected, abused, you name it...never ever let out of a concrete cage EVER...at 4 yrs old she was emaciated to 17 pounds & had a number of health problems...now shes 83 lbs

if i forgot about her history and didnt feel badly i cant imagine how she would be...back then she was nervous, snippy and everything made her on edge...

BUT how is she? she is now healthy,and has learned the world isnt such a bad place..we can hug her and kiss her OH shes deaf also...and now knows hand signs and is my 5 year old autistic sons autism service dog...deaf, abused,neglected and jsut needed love and training...

no one said put her dog to sleep...he needs a little training...she admitted that he didnt have any..all he needs is some guidence...

put to each his own..
 

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I agree that an electric shock collar IS NOT the way to go.  I never leave mine outside unsupervised.  When I am out she now has free reign in the house, but until I could trust her in the house by herself she was in her kennel.
 

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the collar is not for everbody , i agree you can train without it , but the owner needs to in control
you could try training class . i am just telling you the collar worked for us , 1 rescue 6 yrs old agressive , surrender, , first i gained her trust , then came disiplne
she has total respect for me , and likewise , she understands i do what is best for us ( her dominate male)  , i didnt baby her just cause she was underfed, abused, negelected, this never crossed my mind when training her
Trust  i did that by taking control of her  and it made her a much happier/healthier  dog

if my dog ever bit sombody i would do whetever it takes to correct this asap( you could lose your baby)  .in my case it would be the ecollar
i am on my 3rd boxer 2 rescued in bad shape . this is what worked for us
i currently have 2 balanced dogs
 

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best to agree to disagree

i have a friend here thats an extremely reputable American Pit Bull breeder and they also rehab abused neglected hunting and fighting pits...wife is a long time dog trainer

all with positive reinforcement & training...these dogs bite, snap, aggressive due to abuse and neglect...and most NOT ALL turn out spectacular..i personally have seen this transformation many many times in the past 3 yrs...

not going to list all the reasons why i feel that the "old ways" of dog training arent so great...but like i said ..jsut agree to disagree and leave it at that :D

to me its along the same lines as scaring a child into behaving..force them to respect and fear you so they behave...
 
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