I have recently adopted a 3-year-old Beagle and named her Shelby. The people at the dog shelter (Brad sent me there) said they have had no problems with her the 2 weeks she has been there. So far she has been very good at home and my 2 children Mark 5 yrs. and Tracy 6 1/2 yrs. have been good with her and have really bonded over the past 3 months. We can tell she was well trained.
We have a big backyard which is a plus for the dog, but Tracy wants to walk Shelby down the street. I wanted to show my daughter how and what to do and expect when walking a dog, especially by herself. On the 3rd walk, one of Stacy’s friends started walking up to us and Shelby almost bit her friend. When I went to re-introduce them both again, she tried to bite her a second time. Now, we haven’t had any problems when people have come to the house, on many occasions, so I do not know what is going on here but need to nip this in the bud and fast. I do not want a lawsuit or someone getting hurt. I’m not sure what it is that sets her off with people walking up to her outside on a leash. I know they can be a bit feisty, but again, we’re not having the problem inside the house or even in the backyard. Appreciate any help you can offer.
Thank you for letting me know of the problem you are having regarding your 3-year-old Beagle. From what you have written, I agree you cannot afford to have this behavior go on any longer. You’re very fortunate your daughter’s friend was not bitten. It is very important for you to tackle this problem right now and stop any more situations like this occurring again.
First, let me say that dogs who are normally friendly with people or other dogs in a friendly environment can sometimes become reactive and aggressive when attached to a leash. This behavioral trait, known as “leash aggression” or “leash reactivity”, is most frequently triggered by fear or frustration and can easily be fixed.
Many owners don’t recognize rude behavior in their puppies or older dogs and just seeing it as being excited or even being overly friendly. Sometimes not realizing this behavior owners will let their dog run up to someone one, jumping on them or getting in their face. That is really rude behavior among dogs and is every now and then the end result of a loss of socialization past the puppy level. This is another situation of leash aggression and again, needs to be fixed.
The first thing that needs to be done in this type of situation (temporary), is to get a muzzle for Shelby to wear in public and training in the backyard. You can buy these relatively inexpensively from pet stores and I have listed some on the website (compare pricing). The pet store, if you have one locally, will be able to help you find one for the short-faced terrier breeds. By making Shelby wear this and get her use to it in the backyard both off and on a leash will ensure that something similar to your incident will not happen again while you are re-training her in walking on a leash and having people around her.
From what you have stated in your email and from the nature of her behavior which I have come across a few times with other friends dogs could be due to a territorial aggression problem that could also spread to include aggression toward other dogs and people he sees on your street during walks. Perhaps you should try to avoid the problem and try to take her on walks with both of you when no one else is on the street.
Initially, it sounds as though Shelby has had good training since she is so well-behaved in the house and backyard. Despite this, I would recommend that you start re-training her on a regular basis and under a variety of conditions. I have listed below a series of steps to take that will be useful as many people have used them to get better results from their dogs. Your first step will be to have your training session in an environment where Shelby is comfortable and not threatened. You can decide where you start on the progression if you feel that you would get a good response out of the earlier progressions and do not need to do it again.
Leash Reactive Training
You will also be the best judge of when you should move on to the next step, but I would recommend that you move on when your dog completes a 5 to 10-minute sit-stay and a 5-10 minute down-stay. This may require you to go back to the beginning to quite basic commands but you are better to take things slowly and complete this program over a number of weeks. You and only you at first. Do not include your daughter in these exercises.
1. inside, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
2. backyard, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
3. backyard, off-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
4. outside, on-leash, gradually introducing your dog to other dogs, if around, and people on your street,
5. backyard, off-leash, gradually introducing your dog and people, using friends at first when possible, and then move to neighbors and your children’s friends.
Until all of these steps are completed satisfactorily without incident and she is obedient to you fully, it will be you to walk her yourself outside and unleashed.
Try to minimize the contact Shelby has with strangers and those people she meets during her walks – even when she has been muzzled or unmuzzled.
Outside of training, it may be worth trying to socialize your dog a bit more preferably with friends outside the home who would be forgiving if there was a slight nip! In saying that, if you think that your dog may react badly by biting then consider using the muzzle again even in these socializing situations.
Again, this will have to be a gradual process where the new person/people is/are introduced at a neutral venue and from a distance. By that I mean you should get Shelby to sit and have the person in her sight but a long way away. You want to keep your dog’s focus and attention on you as your friend gradually comes closer.
By reprimanding all bad behaviors Shelby exhibits and rewarding behaviors where she would otherwise have been bad usually her all-round behavior should improve. Use the commands you have taught her when walking her, use a muzzle and short lead if initially and resist tightening your grip on her leash when you see another dog or person approach.
Best of luck with Shelby. It sounds like ultimately she is a very well behaved dog that for some reason has lashed out on two incidents. You should be thankful that you were smart enough to teach your daughter walking the dog and you were there to act quickly and now trying to nip this problem in the bud before it either gets worse or leads to any bites. Make sure that you and your family are “Alpha” over Shelby, first you and your wife then the kids. Even though Shelby is pretty well trained, I would suggest investing a few dollars in a book I believe all new dog owners should have. It is called The Secrete to Dog Training. I do believe, however, that this attitude has something to do with territorial aggression and the methods above will help the most in aiding this particular problem.
Please let me know your results. This will be helpful to others with a similar problem that I can list on the blog.
Best of luck.