aggression

by Liz Kennedy
(united kingdom)

My 5 month jack Russell bitch has started to growl and snap when I go to pick her up, she does this mostly at night time when it's time for bed and I want her off the couch. I do tell her NO but I'm frightened she might one day actually bite me. She isn't injured or in pain as she doesn't always growl. She does have a bit of an attitude at times but otherwise she's a loving, affectionate, playful bubbly pup. I need to nip this in the bud now before it gets worse. Please HELP

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Sep 23, 2014
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Carlos NEW
by: Anonymous

Carlos this is probably the worst thing an owner can experience, you have my sympathies 100%.

I had a Sealyham terrier with the problem a long time ago and it was devastating. No one in the household could trust her in ordinary day to day interactions. We tried everything possible but decided the best for her and everyone was to have her put to sleep.

I know of a little Tibetan spaniel bitch who has this problem and as a result she has been in a shelter for years and years. She is a beautiful looking little dog but her problem has never improved. She has mental health issues and thats that. Medication works for some but most owners don't like the results and side affects.

Good luck with finding a suitable home. For myself I wouldn't wish this on anyone, it takes a very dedicated animal lover to want to live with something like this.

What I am saying is don't feel bad if you have to make the hard decision to put the doggie to sleep. Its not your fault or theirs and can be far better than the dog going through numerous and potentialy abusive homes that can't cope and pointless also potentially abusive attempts at corrective training.

Jack Russell characters are a challenge for your average dog owner as it is and many are in unsuitable homes already as a result. Character flaws added to this are for almost all owners even without children or other dogs or pets etc simply unworkable sadly.

Sep 23, 2014
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Looking for a good home... NEW
by: Carlos

I know how it feels to love your dog and have him/her bite you and all thou they love you, they just cant help themselves. I hate to have to give my Cody up but he needs a good home and I wont stop til I find one. Thanks for the help in advance. Heartbroken... Carlos

Sep 23, 2014
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Looking for a good home... NEW
by: Carlos

I know how it feels to love your dog and have him/her bite you and all thou they love you, they just cant help themselves. I hate to have to give my Cody up but he needs a good home and I wont stop til I find one. Thanks for the help in advance. Heartbroken... Carlos

Sep 23, 2014
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Im feeling your pain... NEW
by: Looking for a home for my Cody

I know how it feels to love your dog and have him/her bite you and all thou they love you, they just cant help themselves. I hate to have to give my Cody up but he needs a good home and I wont stop til I find one. Thanks for the help in advance. Heartbroken... Carlos

Sep 23, 2014
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Im feeling your pain... NEW
by: Looking for a home for my Cody

I know how it feels to love your dog and have him/her bite you and all thou they love you, they just cant help themselves. I hate to have to give my Cody up but he needs a good home and I wont stop til I find one. Thanks for the help in advance. Heartbroken... Carlos

Sep 23, 2014
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Im feeling your pain... NEW
by: Looking for a home for my Cody

I know how it feels to love your dog and have him/her bite you and all thou they love you, they just cant help themselves. I hate to have to give my Cody up but he needs a good home and I wont stop til I find one. Thanks for the help in advance. Heartbroken... Carlos

Sep 05, 2014
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JRT aggression NEW
by: Anonymous

Ya I think you do see this differently because of the character of your dog. This doesn't make it "normal" you've just been trained by your dog not to disturb it while sleeping through its use of aggression. If you are happy with that thats fine but if it removes the top lip off a toddler who disturbs it's sleep thats a different kettle of fish entirely. I dont know if you do have toddlers visiting or anyone else for that matter but you will be constantly on edge unless you lock the dog up.

Character flaws have become a real problem with JRTs, this is not to say this is their character because its not it's a fault in breeding. This problem has crept in especially with the widening popularity of the breed where puppies are produced without any regard what so ever to character but rather to satisfy growing demand.

Always meet both parents never buy from a pet shop and ask to see any dogs from previous litters. Mostly they are health problem free as a breed except for some scary eye problems like lense luxation, also brought on by inbreeding and line breeding so avoid pedigree JRTs they seem to have the more problems. Character you can only see for yourself don't take anyones word for it.

Honestly a dog that is aggressive has real problems they can be genetic or environment but this is a puppy so environment can be more or less ruled out. Its not an adult or an adult rescue even. BTW it probably is an adult already as this post is so old.

Fear aggression can be genetic too of course which Im thinking is what was going on here. You simply can't train genetic traits away. You can learn to live with them as you might be doing but it doesn't go away.

Never use a water pistol or any other means of punishment, the dog needs to trust you 100%. Im apalled when I see someone like Cesar Millan on TV he relies almost exclusively on physical punishment which is barabric to say the least. Hurting or even frightening a dog no matter how subtly is not the way to go.

You need to know the limits of what you can achieve though and genetic flaws are probably the limit.

Sep 05, 2014
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Aggression?? NEW
by: Anonymous

I may think a little differently but I dont really see this as aggression!.. my jack russell does the same thing! he plays hard all day and takes his sleep very seriously, and doesn't like to be moved once he is cozy, would you??

Sep 05, 2014
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Aggression?? NEW
by: Anonymous

I may think a little differently but I dont really see this as aggression!.. my jack russell does the same thing! he plays hard all day and takes his sleep very seriously, and doesn't like to be moved once he is cozy, would you??

Sep 05, 2014
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Aggression?? NEW
by: Anonymous

I may think a little differently but I dont really see this as aggression!.. my jack russell does the same thing! he plays hard all day and takes his sleep very seriously, and doesn't like to be moved once he is cozy, would you??

Aug 09, 2014
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Aggression NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi. I wouldn't panic, I would invest in a small water pistol and keep it handy for the off couch bed routine. A quick "no" and a squirt when she growls and I bet she will snap out of it in no time. Don't give up on your JRT, they can be like naughty children and constantly need to be out smarted. Once she works out her tantrums aren't getting her the result she wants she'll drop it. Hang in there.

May 15, 2014
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Dominance training a big NO NO! NEW
by: Anonymous

Forget trying to dominate or being dominant that old school training method went out the window with the Barbara Woodhouses and Cesar Millans of yesteryear.

Use positive reinforcement at every opportunity rather. This builds a team, your dog is your equal. With a JRT you have endless opportunity for this as they are extremely personable and interactive. Even simply clapping will make them excited, use it as a reward, use balls chews everything. Use them too distract from bad behaviour too, once done reward again.

This a continual process not a series of training session that end up with a robot. The world is full of new challenges and simuli a JRT never tires of any of it.

Unfortunately none of this works on a dog with a genetic character flaw and in fact if you try the outdated dominance way out of utter frustration you will end up worse off. If not this time certainly the next, these dogs wont think twice before actually biting you. They are fearful already in buckets.

A sound dog always prefers a leader who treats it as equal, that means it looks to you for fun security a good life and partner, not to you as the top dog to fear. We aren't dogs if we were our pets would all be biding their time to take over from us the minute we show any weakness, this constant change of balance and dominance is not what we want we want a long term stable relationship based on mutual trust and admiration.

I had to mention this as so many people seem stuck on the show it who is boss idea. JRTs are no different to other dogs just more intellegent and active, with mostly high prey drives. In fact if you are thinking on their level you will find they are in fact hugely responsive and eager to please. Being extremely intelligent more so than most dogs except perhaps a border collie you need to be too or it's a disaster.

Find substitutes for prey be it a rope ball or getting rid of your grannies mice in her garage for her on Sundays. Take them to trials and club activities. The JRT will love you for it and look to you for inspiration. The last thing you want is for it to have to get creative on its own because you can't cope, it might be fine some of the time but it will more than likely be a big problem and there are enough abandond JRTs in shelters.

Think out the box believe me they do all the time the more you surprise the more they respond, dont get stuck in a rut. It is a hunting dog not a pug, those eyes are watching for action, team sports and fun not a lap to warm.

Interestingly they love routine in everything else, and will more than likely wake you up sharp at the same time everyday for breakies then sharp for play time and sharp for walkies, they love a timetable a strict one. Nap at ten chewy at twelve.......

All too much seriously think about a diffferent dog type. Its unfair to ignore the breed characteristics and try and change them to suit your lifestyle.

May 15, 2014
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Normal and not normal NEW
by: Anton

Nipping, is not the same as growling and trying to bite. This is not bad behaviour it's a character flaw which is sadly sometimes found in the breed. It's not characteristic of the breed at all but of badly bred ones.

Its not something you can "train" away in a JR displaying this at this age. Sadly people don't realise that this behaviour is genetic and can be passed onto offspring, so they will use a dog for breeding because it looks good even though it has a serious character flaw.

Some can be extremely aggressive to everyone, others just to other people even family who try and pet them. Both are serious character flaws indicating funnily enough timidity and shyness, fearfulness.

Don't confuse it with normal JRT puppy behaviour. As puppies will nip and chew your foot, they might bark at you if they don't get attention for example, wanting to play. This is normal and not aggression but must not be tolerated, just shout back "NO" louder than it is barking, once is enough so mean it as it should stop them in their track. Count to five and praise a lot, throw a ball. Never hurt a dog or hit it or try and punish it in some strange way. Remember puppies have a five minute memory opportunity to remember the naughty thing so it must be an immediate response from you so they make the association.

This wont work with a dog with genetic character problems,

Apr 24, 2014
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Agressive JRT NEW
by: Lesley

We rescued our Jack Russell, Snowy when he was about six months old. He was exactly as you describe. Every time I tried to touch him, he would nip me. It was frustrating as I only wanted to love him and take care of him. We took him to the vet to make sure there was nothing physically wrong and after confirming that we got some advice from a JRT expert.
Basically the advice was twofold, first exercise and stimulation - Jack Russells have a lot of energy and they are smart. They are not happy if left alone all day and they need vigorous exercise EVERY day. Snowy is now 7 years old and has two half hour walks each day, plus a swim when weather permits or another shorter walk and lively games of fetch, tug of war etc. We also invested in hardy chew toys and puzzle toys which release treats when rolled the right way, and we changed the toys around every couple of days so he didn't get bored.
Second and most important advice was to continually reinforce that I was the pack leader. It is not something to be achieved overnight and physical force does not work. But if you are firm and consistent, you will get there. My theory is that Jack Russells are like very inquisitive toddlers - you can't shout them down, but if you are fair and firm, you will get there. It took about six moths for our guy to calm down and it was hard work with me in tears some times, but so worth it. I now have a loving (mostly) well behaved dog who is not agressive to anyone in our home and can even survive the recent addition of crawling wailing grandchildren. Don't give up and don't get him put down. He is nipping and being agressive because he is scared. Teach him to obey you and to trust you and you will have a loving, playful companion for many years.

Mar 07, 2014
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Pack leader NEW
by: Anonymous

Perhaps your puppy doesn't know who the pack leader is? Terriers are feisty, ensure they know where in the pack they rank - even at such a young age. Every dog is the same - from the moment they are born into the world - they need to find their place be it in the home or wild. Persist, be the leader, continue with the training and I'm sure you will succeed. No need to write the poor thing off yet!!!! I live with 6 entire male dogs and we all get along famously because they each have their place - all behind me :)
Good luck.

Mar 03, 2014
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aggressive 5month old JRT NEW
by: Anonymous

No, it's not at all normal behaviour for a 5month old JRT.

Aggressively protecting its spot on the settee is a warning of things to come, not something you can "train" away Im afraid.

If it were simply not allowing it on the settee or any other place humans sit would be the answer. But Im afraid this won't stop it being aggressive when ever you have to move it where ever its made to sit even in a basket.

It's not acceptable to have a JRT puppy with this attitude at all. After a vets opinion and unless they think there is something other than sedatives they can do I highly recommend you take it back to the breeder and demand a replacement. No matter how sad it is for you now because the sadness will only get worse and worse.

If it's a pet shop bought dog you have burnt your fingers and you might have to think of other solutions. If it's a rescue they might take it back.

Mar 03, 2014
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Possessive NEW
by: Anonymous

I don't think your dog is aggressive. Sounds more possive of the couch. As you know this breed is extremely intelligent and quickly learn how they can get what they want. Just be consistent and make her go to bed when it's time. I would ignore the growl and snap (don't get bitten of course but maybe make her get off couch before you pick her up to show her the couch is yours) and don't show her a reaction to it because that is exactly what she is looking for...

Mar 02, 2014
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Aggression in puppy JRT NEW
by: Anonymous

I must add to this JRT's are usually too busy as puppies to be at all aggressive. They want to explore, play and find a mouse. When they are exhausted they promptly fall asleep, you should be able to pick them up gently and they hardly wake up almost floppy in your arms.

They are not a dominant breed as a large mastiff might be. They are super energetic, super spontaneous, pushy and a whole lot of other things but not dominant as such over humans.

If your dog is phlegmatic (not willing) growly when ever you handle it (brush it, wake it, move it, or put the lead on) and very possessive to the point of biting, it's badly bred. No amount of training will solve such a problem. The dog will remain grumpy and unpredictable its whole life.

The vet can definitely take a look and see for some other medical problems and or recommend medication but this is not always very satisfactory sadly.


Mar 02, 2014
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true aggression in JRT puppy NEW
by: Anonymous

Yes a puppy who doesn't want to do something might bark at you playfully or whine, or even run away, perhaps even biting or mouthing you but playfully at most. However proper growling and snapping is more than likely a genetic character problem and at such a young age almost certain. It's very sad.

I just noticed it was a five month old not seven, this is an even worse sign. Usually the problem starts with barking at your face not for attention but to try and evade having to do something.

Some dogs can be 'made aggressive' and this quite different but rather common in JRTs. For example if children (or anyone) has been too rough with them. They learn quite quickly but mostly by the time they are adults that growling to protect themselves works. Some might even go on to bite.

This is less genetic but more environmental. Your puppy hasn't really had enough time at five months old to be influenced to this extent. Though it is always an option if someone is bullying the pup.

MY JRT's have never ever growled at me not ever! Yes the postman or another dog but not me or our family. We can do pretty much anything to them never hurting them. Pick them up while they are asleep, play, rough house normally, they are completely relaxed by it all.

I would love to impress here its not the correct character for a JRT to be anything other than this.

Certainly quite a lot of badly bred JRTs have flawed characters and as the breed is so common its noticeable but this is not the breed, it's all in the breeding. The only exceptions as mentioned are environmental issues that have made it aggressive by the time it's an adult.

Once you've ascertained its genetic in nature you have to decide to let it be and work around it or say good bye in the kindest way and have them put to sleep. It's not fair to pass on the problem to someone else.

Very very hard on an owner. I detest backyard breeders and pedigree ones who pay no heed to character at all and just churn out puppies.

Mar 01, 2014
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Agression NEW
by: Donna

Hi Liz.

We are new JRT owners too so not experts by any stretch. Our 8 month old used to do exactly the same thing at bedtime. We overcame this by just persevering and using a firm, deep voice but even now he grumbles a bit! Your puppy obviously doesn't want to go to bed and leave you! Just be consistent and she'll get used to it. I wouldn't worry. It won't be like that forever.

Donna

Feb 28, 2014
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AGGRESSION NEW
by: ANTON

I have to admit this would and does send alarm bells ringing.

Im afraid this is not normal behaviour. Your dog is unlikely to get over this Im truly sad to say, if anything it will get worse.

As she is only seven months old you have a problem.

Sometimes medication can help at a later stage when it become unbearable. It's worth speaking to your vet anyway to see if there are other medical problems involved such as problems with her hormones or ovaries.

This is truly disappointing for you Im sure. Maybe you could have this addressed by the breeder. Always always see the parents handled and ask around for references when getting a pup. Character is so important its 15-years plus of misery and tiptoeing around a grumpy pet if you get it wrong, and JRT's are particularily feisty.

Some people can live with that others not. So you will probably have to make some very hard decisions down the line.

Good luck

Feb 11, 2014
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night time grumps
by: pauline Twm Tedi tili mum4

I have 2 7month old jkrs who werent cage trained so bed time was quite hard as Twm sleeps with me.I was every lucky as I have a CD of harp music for animals which I put on 5min before I say bed tili who is the little girl and a divea huffs and puffs before she gets into her cage,Tedi gets straight in Iput it on the same time every night 10 to 8 , And if im not well and have to bed in the day I put it on then for them to go into thier cages
I do find the bitches are more verbal dont show you are nevous just speak quietly and stroke her face gentle, she will soon learn to calm down.
Good luck

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