Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

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TVO14
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Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby TVO14 » Mon May 10, 2010 2:51 pm

Hi all,
Quick intro, Chewbacca, our Lab/Chow mix was adopted from a shelter when he was 9 weeks. Neutered with all his shots.
He will be two years old in June. We took him to puppy training and he will stay, sit, shake, all the basic stuff. He's never
shown aggression towards others dogs or people. The only time we noticed it was every now and he would snarl if we tried
to take a bone away from him.
Jump to last week. Chewie lives at home with my girlfriend, her daughter and myself. My Girlfriend was taking a shower in the morning and I was
getting ready to leave for work, and he normally lays in the bathroom floor if either of us is showering. I went to touch his leg because he has some sores
on his belly due to Allergies, he snapped and snarled at me, I let it go and though perhaps it was because of the sores he didn't want to be bothered, so off
to work I went.
When I came home from work, no one was home and he greets me as he always does, at the door, tail wagging and happy as heck to see me. I will go out side and
sit on the patio couch and let him jump up and lick me on the face.( I know, that's Bad)
Cut to later that evening when it's time to go to bed. I was downstairs watching TV and my girlfriend was upstairs in our bedroom reading in bed while Chewie was laying on the bedroom floor. I went up stairs, went to put him as he laid on the floor and he started to growl and get very aggressive. My GF told me to ignore him and walk to the other bedroom and Chewie followed me and growled some more. I walked back into our bedroom where Chewie circled the bed then went underneath it. (That's his safety zone, he goes there when he's been naughty is scared.
Now I'm starting to notice a trend here. He hasn't gotten aggressive with me when were alone and it seemed to happen late at night when I go to bed. (Chewie always sleeps in our room). He's not this way toward my Girlfriend or her 19 yr old daughter who's probably with him the most.
Last night, my GF and I were on the couch watching TV around 11pm and he was laying on the floor to my right. I was sitting on the couch, I leaned over to put him and he growled and snarled at me I tried to correct him but he got up and slowly walked toward the couch, I assumed he knew he did wrong and he keep for affections, I put my hand out and he bit me, leaving two little marks on my hand a little trickle of blood near the nail of my thumb. This startled us all since he hadn't bitten me yet.
I know we haven't trained him as best as we should've but we've done a pretty good job and he's still not aggressive to anyone else except for me. And No, I didn't do anything to him that would deserve this aggression. The odd thing is he's only aggressive at night and when we're not alone. When I come home its as if his memory is wiped clean from the night before and he's just slobbering all over me. Is he enter another phase in his life, IE, Adulthood and these are no symptons?
Could he be protective of my GF, the pack (the Family) or the space (The bedroom)?
I've seen some sites (Leerburg) who says correct aggression with more aggression but I don't know if thats such a good idea with Chow because of their pride and aloofness, I don't want a Chow with a broken spirit or am I wrong in assuming that?
I have no problems swallowing my pride and asking for training help, he's a member of the family, and frankly, it makes me a bit sad that he only acts that way towards me.
Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to give as much info as possible so we can start finding a solution.
Thanks in advanced.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Charly » Mon May 10, 2010 5:25 pm

Hi, I'm Chewie's mom. While I'm saddened and shocked at the recent turn of events, we're willing to try anything and everything to fix this problem. This is what I've come up with, and please send me your thoughts on whether you agree/disagree:

1. We are not allowing Chewie to come upstairs anymore (our bedrooms). He is to stay downstairs all day, and quarantined to the kitchen at night.
2. No more petting and playing around with him. We are going to ignore for now and go about our business.
3. After he bit my BF yesterday, we're not extending our hands, fingers out to him, or our faces.
3. We will try and avoid any sort of rough play, including chasing him around (which he loves).
4. When we go for walks, we will try a strict walk with a tight hold on the leash (I walk him, not the other way around).

While I believe that we are to blame for some of this behavior (we treat Chewie like our baby, not a dog), I want to think positive and trust that this behavior will change. Am I being a fool?

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Selethe » Sat May 15, 2010 2:31 am

I'm sorry to hear that your chow is being aggressive towards you. From reading your detailed description of what happened, I can't figure out why it happened. But dogs rarely act differently for no reason at all. Maybe you should get him checked at the vet to make sure it's nothing physical?

If I rem correctly, Leesturg or wat his name, uses harsh methods and deserves to get his butt set upon by the chows. Dealing aggression with aggression is dangerous and ineffective.

You need to reinforce your role as the alpha - the one who controls resources (not the one with the heavier hand). Not sure if you shd withdraw all affection but this shd be given on your terms, not his. Some suggestions:

- When you come home, ignore him until he is calm and laid down, then you can pat him
- Every food and reward must be earned e.g. make him lay down and stay for a minute before eating or give him a treat only when he comes when called
- Always eat first before he does (if not, you can pretend to eat his food while preparing it)
- No jumping on you (turn away if he does this)
- No sleeping with you or laying on the furniture
- Sign up for obedience classes (learn the right way to walk a chow, a walk is a great opportunity to reinforce your alpha role)

I think you are on the right track but I don't have enough info to comment on your points. A lot depends on how you do it too. You should get a professional trainer to assess the situation and help you.

It's good that you are trying. =D= Too many ppl take the easy way out when their dog get aggressive. Don't give up on your dog!Good luck! :)
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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Merlin » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:19 am

I know we haven't trained him as best as we should've but we've done a pretty good job


But you may not have done a good job letting him know what his status in your life is.
Everytime he growls at you, he's giving you fair warning that he doesn't like what you are doing, and from what you are describing, he is winning.
It's possible that he's only growling at you, because you are the only one who is really ever invading his "space".

Re Leerburg

What you need to know ( and it's important), is that there is a huge difference between an aggressive dog and a dominant dog.
Shepherds , dobies and rotties are more aggressive than they are dominant. Not the same thing at all, so not the same cure.

It sounds to me like your chow is simply being dominant. An aggressive dog would behave far more off the wall and growl at everyone for all kinds of things, and would initiate the growling. Your chow is growling after you are initiating attempts to invade his space, not the other way around.

It's important that you work with a professional trainer so that you solve this issue, and yes, please solve it, because it will only escalate.
You want to be able to handle this situation immediately and with resolve using good techniques, so that this behaviour is ended immediately.

Best of luck
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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Sinniebunnie » Fri Jun 18, 2010 10:25 am

Sounds like he is being protective of your GF.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Lucillle » Tue Jul 13, 2010 4:34 pm

As a new chow owner I have done a huge amount of reading. I think that anyone who puts down the Leerburg methods without critically reading is doing everyone a disservice including the dog, who will only escalate and have to be put down if something is not done quickly. His theory of intensive obedience training makes sense to me. A dog should NEVER be allowed to growl at a family member.
Dogs need to know their place in the pack. Dogs need to obey commands like 'sit' and 'down' every time without fail, or you have failed the dog, yourself, and possibly your family.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Merlin » Tue Jul 13, 2010 4:58 pm

You're absolutely right a dog should never growl at it's owner, but the Leerburg method, also based on dominance but bully dominace ( as I call it) sure does work with GSD's, Rotties, and some other breeds, but it sure doesn't work well with chows.
You will either end up with a introverted chow, or an overtly aggressive one who will most likely not ever trust you.
I think most chow owners will agree on that one, and it's clear you've never owned one for a long time because you haven't picked up on that nuance.
You cannot compare the mindset of a chow to other non spitz breeds.
Good luck!
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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Lucillle » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:24 pm

"because you haven't picked up on that nuance" Oh I see now, little digs because I don't follow the company line.

Ick.
A poor welcome.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Merlin » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:41 am

You know what>? It isn't a dig.
For the record, I was not putting down the Leerberg methods, I simply said they have little or no merit with certain breeds.

The character and personality of chows is far asunder from that of other breeds and yes, I strongly believe you haven't picked up on that.
Is it because you're a first time dog owner? I don't know. Are you? if so, then it would be understandable.
If you are not a first time dog owner, but a first time spitz owner, then you need to spend time away from the Leerberg concept and move towards understanding dogs that have not been domesticated to work with man, ( like chows), and there is a difference by which training methods have positive effects or resounding negative effects.

The old fashioned, "fear-based domination" training methods used by many out of date trainers do not help train this breed. In fact, this is one of the reasons that chows bite their owners, never trust their owners, and will never trust other people. Chows are very democratic in nature and willing to take "you" on if they have to. if you kick your chow, your chow will most likely try to kick you back, and your concept of training will become an endless power struggle that will never end.

It is better to develop a sublime relationship with your chow rather than an "I own and control you" , relationship.
There are a great many better ways to train a chow, rather than trying to bully them, or scare them into believing that you are superior.
Doesn't work well


Welcome!


Cheers
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Last edited by Merlin on Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Auddymay » Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:22 am

Lucille, Merlin was being respectful, more so than most when the subject of Leerburg methods and Chows are involved. When you rally an unpopular opinion, expect discourse. If you wanted a more embracing welcome, perhaps starting by introducing yourself was the better path. In any event, welcome to the forum.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby TVO14 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:24 pm

Thanks for all the great replies. I think its getting worse. In one day he snapped at my sister and mother when we visited her house. When we came home and took him for a walk he snapped at the neighbors then snapped at me the following morning. Anyone know of any good trainers in the Orange County/L.A. area?

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Merlin » Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:44 pm

I do actually. Our rescue partner in LA, Robert Cabral at www.boundangels.com
Give him a call.
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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Charly » Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:10 pm

Thanks to everyone for your replies!!!

I read somewhere that Chows are more like “cats”. Their characteristics are quintessential to feline behavior rather than canine. I can see this to be very true of Chewie.

We just got back from vacation, we were at the beach for a whole week and Chewie ran in the ocean off the leash, happy as can be! He was pleasant with everyone in public, and back at home. It was a wonderful time for all...

We had not been back for more than one day, and Chewie has growled at my BF, his mother, his sister, and our neighbor! I know he can sense my paranoia, which makes it worse.

Also, before heading out on vacation, we took him to the “special” groomer (she deals with aggressive dogs) to have him shaved down for summer. We had to sedate him and muzzle him. That still wasn’t enough. The groomer had a hell of a time with him and said next time she will have to put him completely under. Needless to say, she wasn’t able to clip his nails or finish grooming his mane. He has a vet visit in 3 weeks for his shots, and I’m already stressing about that…

We’re willing to invest the money for more training, but our vet said there is NO amount of training that will help, it’s built into the breed, and once they snap, there’s no indication of when or where they’ll be inclined to do it again, and the older he gets, the more aggressive he will become. Chewie is 2 years old.

P.S. I don’t believe in dealing with aggression to curb aggression, and have to agree that Chows will not take well to that approach. I actually don’t agree with aggression toward any breed. We would never consider or resort to those methods.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Merlin » Mon Aug 02, 2010 5:37 pm

but our vet said there is NO amount of training that will help, it’s built into the breed, and once they snap, there’s no indication of when or where they’ll be inclined to do it again, and the older he gets, the more aggressive he will become. Chewie is 2 years old.


I can't tell you how wrong your vet is.
There is ALWAYS a warning, and there is always training your chow to understand that it's not ok to bite people, - BUT - in the meatime, you need to protect the interests of your chow. Just ask yourself if you'd like to be touched by strangers all the time. Many dogs, especially chows get entirely fed up with that, and there is nothing written anywhere that any dog should have to endure being fondled by a stranger.

I'm glad you are going to work with a trainer.
Bravo!!!
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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Charly » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:18 pm

Thanks, Merlin. I assumed since the Vet is a professional, he must know what he's talking about, right? My BF disagreed as well, and said Vets are "doctors" not “psychologists”.

Chewie is extremely aloof and easily irritated. We live in a hot climate area and he's carrying around this fur coat, it's got to be unbearable! He does not like being touched or coddled. People see him as a little teddy bear and are drawn to his unbelievably cute little furry face. I make him sit and then allow people to touch him…which I’m sure if he could talk, he’d give me a severe tongue-lashing [-X

We love Chewie more than anything, and we certainly don’t want him to harm anyone, or have my BF living in fear in his own home. We have lots of work to do, but just like an unruly child, you can’t give up on them or throw them out on the street…you nip it in the bud.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby TVO14 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:19 pm

Does anyone know of a good trainer in the Orange Country/L.A./San Diego area that specializes in behavioral problems that we can take our Chow?
The link Merlin posted is no longer active.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Sarahloo » Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:29 pm

TVO14 wrote:Does anyone know of a good trainer in the Orange Country/L.A./San Diego area that specializes in behavioral problems that we can take our Chow?
The link Merlin posted is no longer active.


http://www.boundangels.org/

I'm sure it won't be too hard to find someone to help you convince Chewie that he is not the leader of your pack. I think your problem is a fairly common one!
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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Ursa's daddy » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:13 pm

I am sure your vet is great working on medical issues. My opinion is that he does not know a lot about chows. I have two chows, both of which are rescues, and they are wonderful loving dogs. Their responses to situations are not exactly the responses that all other dogs seem to have, and I have considerable experience with dogs.
Some of the things that I have observed are that (1) Chows are very sensitive to "personal space". I take my two out in public, and they act quite well. Put them in the van, and a stranger is not overly welcome to join us. At home, they protect the house and the fenced yard. I have not been able to train the latest meter reader. Malachi knows that the meter reader is afraid, so he gets to see the "I am a big dog" show, and "I can intimidate you." (2) Chows definitely understand the pecking order in their pack, and will assert themselves to show dominance over lower standing members of the pack. Ursa is the alpha dog. She weighs 45 pounds, and if she feels Malachi is not showing proper respect, she will let him know about it. He weighs 75 pounds, and if she barks, he will usually listen.

Now you are supposed to be the alpha dog. You show dominance by controlling access to resources. Physical aggression in not necessary, and in my opinion (as well as that of some others) is not very useful. I AM the alpha dog. I should be able to use a voice command or a look to achieve my purpose. The old Mel Brooks line, "it's great to be the king."
We just got back from vacation, we were at the beach for a whole week and Chewie ran in the ocean off the leash, happy as can be! He was pleasant with everyone in public, and back at home. It was a wonderful time for all...

We had not been back for more than one day, and Chewie has growled at my BF, his mother, his sister, and our neighbor! I know he can sense my paranoia, which makes it worse.

Now I am miles away and have never met you or your dog, but if it were my dog, I would say that he was trying to assert his status in his domain. Apparently he did not get the memo that he was not the alpha. You control the resources. Dogs are pack animals, and they are programed to know that the alpha controls all the resources. If the pack kills a deer, the alpha has first pick, and if there is not enough to go around, the alpha gets what he wants, and the rest have to sort it out. It really does work that way. How do you get to be alpha? By being able to assert dominance over the other pack members. Dominance is a mental thing and not a physical thing. The human dog thing works because the dog understands dominance, and knows that the human is taller, and therefore can see and reach things the dog cannot, and that the human is smarter than the dog. These facts give you a built in advantage. The "nothing in life is free" program is a good one for assuring your position. You can make your dog sit and wait for his meal. You have the power to split the rations into three or four servings and make his sit and wait while you put just a little more in the bowl. Also, as you stated, the dog senses your paranoia. Malachi knows the meter reader is afraid, so he puts on a show. I guess he is expecting the meter reader to pee on himself and show submission. I suspect your dog is doing the same thing.

This is probably way too long. Merlin knows a lot. There is a lot of good information in the forum, so read through and see what all you can find.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby zigsmom » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:18 am

As with a mother dog she will pick up the unruly puppy by the nape of the neck and carry the puppy off. She will also pat the puppy on the nose with her paw if the puppy is doing something wrong. It is not out of the question for you to gently "pop" the puppy on the nose at the same time you say, "NO", in a stern voice. Then give him a chew toy and put him in his time-out area and when he starts to chew on the chew toy tell him, "Good Boy". Always, ALWAYS, reward good behavior, with a verbal reward and sometimes with a small treat. positive reinforcement is the key to training a Chow to want to please their master. That also is important. You must let them know that YOU are the master. You MUST have a firm tone in your voice, mean what you say and follow through with it. Do NOT show aggression toward him, just firmness and love. You will end up with a very loving attentive, smart, obedient friend. I have one who is 6 1/2 years old that we raised from 5 weeks old. He is now my service dog. I trained him myself. He can go anywhere with me now. Good luck with your new friend. :)

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Ursa's daddy » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:06 pm

Hi Zigsmom, that is some good advice. Sounds like you have a lot of experience.
You will end up with a very loving attentive, smart, obedient friend.
That matches my experience with Ursa. Chows are unique in just how personal a friend they can be.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Rory's Dad » Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:08 pm

This is clearly and older post, and i would be interested to know how it is turning out. i agree with Zigsmom to a degree, but hate the idea of popping the puppy on the nose...chows are so head shy anyway and this will just encourage that.

I would wonder if one of the owners is home with the dog during the day, while the other heads off to work. In the chows mind, this can seem as if one is a visitor. The dog is clearly protecting its person or space. The dogs reaction when it was outside its own space is a clear indicator. A professional trainer is a great start, but consider more socialization as well. Take the dog outside the home and introduce it to all sorts of new people and other dogs. Have all family members conduct the 'introductions'. I have had my two previous chows act protectively if I did not 'invite' people into my home. Rory, my 4 month old pup is acting in a similar manner and he goes to Petsmart every weekend to meet new people and dogs. He was not happy to let my brother into the house when i wasnt here and was protective of my wife and daughter. Getting Chewie used to other people and pets is extremely important.

One other note, we have run into vets who just dont get chows, or have a dislike for them without regard to the individual chow. I think this is more common than the vet world would like to admit. Chows are very sensitive to emotion and a vet or groomer that is afraid of them will not get good results. The comments from your vet are very telling. I would look elsewhere.

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Re: Chow Mix turning aggressive only towards me

Postby Ursa's daddy » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:16 pm

Rory's Dad, I too would like to hear how things are going. I think the big issue the public has with chows is that they are protective of their space and/or person, and this is not well understood. I know my two would challenge me when I came home at odd hours. All I had to do is call out so that they would recognize me, and all the barking would turn into kisses. I would also like to hear from Zigsmom about her dog.


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