Dog Training World Forums Aggression Problems Fear Aggression Attacks small dogs and snapped at my daughter Reply To: Attacks small dogs and snapped at my daughter

  • Michael D’Abruzzo

    November 11, 2016 at 7:31 pm


    Thank you for the detailed reply and the compliments on the community.  I am sorry that sometimes answers can be discouraging!  I truly believe the first step to success with any dog is to accept then as they are, and then we can see them and ourselves as successful with a different perspective that doesn’t necessarily need to be a better or worse perspective as the original.

    In reading your post my thoughts are, that no matter what temperament we thought we had from a genetic point of view, Kaia is now showing dominance from her working line genes which can switch on at any moment. Would this be correct?….

    The thing about genetics and having a dog that may be 1/2 working line and 1/2 pet line is that it isnt like mixing black and white paint and you get something in between, or a Jekyll and Hyde sort of dog that sometimes shows one side and then the other.  Temperament is a lot like hair color.  If you breed a white and a black dog together you may get some that are white and some that are black, but probably none that are grey.  Each physiological and temperament trait gets sort of mixed together in different combinations so when you mix dobermans for intstance of working and show lines they all look basically the same, so the pups will all look the same.  But if temperament is different, you will get some that act like mom and some act like dad (or grandma, grandpa, etc..) in different combinations.  So if mom had low prey drive, submissive temperament, low resource guarding and dad had high prey drive, dominant temperament, high resource guarding…  a pups from the litter will not necessarily be something of medium everything it is more like one pup may have low prey drive, dominant temperament, low resource guarding. Another may be high prey drive, submissive temperament,  low resource guarding.  You get the point..

    So a tendency for dominant behavior with children isnt something that gets switched on and off.  You treat it as always on.  Dogs are pretty predictable for the most part which is a good thing.  She will likely always show aggression if pestered while resting (at very least when there isn’t a dominant household member looking over her).  So do what you are doing about the resting dog.  Disciplinary bites are one of the most common bites to familiar children.  You can see another typical bite at the 4 minute mark of this video:


     We (our immediate family) have followed this guideline from day one however there have been instances where people outside of our immediate family have not done so successfully thus tipping to entitlement. We always let the people know but can still be challenging from time to time.

    I wouldn’t worry about how others interact with your dog, besides when it comes to safety.  There is no need to coach visitors about having a certain relationship with her unless they were going to be a regular part of the household and expect to give her commands and such.  If a guest and Kaia mutually want to interact that is ok.  If you feel Kaia is being a pest or bossy to a guest it will be your job to communicate to her to disengage.

    I later introduced tug after watching your video and being confident there was an appropriate way to play it. To this day Kaia has never won the toy and i certainly feel it fulfills some of her drive. because of her size and strength i am the only person to play this with her.

    This sounds good.  You do not necessarily need to “win” the toy every time as long as you start and end the interaction.  Dog play is practice fighting and hunting.  Dogs take turns playing rolls, so it is OK if “wins” during play as long as you can have her bring it back to continue the game and you ultimately end the game.  I like to tie an old leash to a tug toy. So I will sometimes let them win the tug from me, but I will still hold onto the leash attached and then I steal it back or reel the dog back in and start playing tug again, where I may “out” the dog and then start the game again where the dog may win… I always end the game on my steal or an “out” and usually give a treat reward at end.  You just want to make sure you dont win so much that she doesn’t enjoy it.  Have her always think you have her best interest and happiness in mind.

    We have kept our “own stash” from day one. although we do have one toy that is left down all the time but is not used for play. Should this be picked up too?

    Yes, pick that up too.  All or nothing be very clear to her as to not send mixed signals.  At the same time never deprive her.  If there is one toy left down because you want to make sure she has something in case she gets bored you can offer a chew multiple times during the day. If she chews she can have it.  You can also leave items on ground if you are not home or she is in her own domain (like a crate or yard) that no human is sharing with her at the moment.  She can always be the queen of her own domain.

    Overall, it sounds like you have been doing extremely well with her!  A couple minor adjustments and you could teach leadership exercises to others.