Aggressive Chow Mix

Training and behavior topics, guidelines, and tips for Chow Chows.

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Aggressive Chow Mix

Postby gabj19 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:02 am

I am the owner of an adorable 8 month old retriever/chow mix. I got him when he was 7 weeks old, and as he has gotten older I have noticed that his aggression has gotten progressively worse. When he was a little pup he was a horrible biter. We have managed to stop this behavior. With the people he knows and loves, he is the sweetest dog. He is so calm at home and cuddles and kisses. He even lets my 5 year old niece walk him around and rough play with him.
The first time he was aggressive was with another dog. My friend got a puppy and Rocky and I went over to have a playdate. Rocky was about 16 weeks at the time and the new pup was 8. He immediately tried to attack the puppy and we have had problems with these two being aggressive at first toward each other ever since. They are both male, so I thought that may have something to do with it.
But then, he started to growl at other dogs while walking. I have tried to make him sit and say "no" but he can't seem to understand that they are not a threat. He then started to growl randomly at people who were walking past as well. It is mainly just dogs, but if a person tries to approach me or him he growls.
He has improved with the walking and now for the most part will be friendly on walks and ignore other dogs and people or be nice to them.
When I take him to the dog park, if he gets a ball or stick, he will growl and snap at any dog that tries to take it. It gets so bad that now I immediately take any special treat he finds at the dog park away from him to avoid the conflict.
This past weekend, I went camping with my girlfriend and her family. Her sister has a dog who he loves and plays with no problem. We attached both dogs to cables so they could roam our site but were still secure. When people would pass our site, Bailey (sister's dog) would bark and Rocky would do nothing. When someone had a dog though, Rocky would go crazy barking and growling and lunging. Bailey would again just bark. I would go over to him and try to make him sit and say no, but he wouldn't listen at all. He got so aggressive that it was scary. He didn't scare me because he wouldn't hurt me, but if somehow he got loose, I'd fear he would attack the dog. I was quite frustrated and embarrassed by him.
Once after he growled at a passing dog and when crazy, my girlfriend grabbed his snout and said "no no" and then blew in his face. He then bit her hand. This was crazy to me because he loves her to death. She views him as her own and besides me, she is his main caregiver.
Later, my girlfriend's sister had to leave and Rocky was left as the only dog at the campsite. After Bailey left, he started to growl and bark and lunge at people too. One time a father and daughter passed and the little girl ran away because she was so scared.
I like feeling like he can protect me if needed, but I don't need him scaring away every passing dog or little girl. My girlfriend wants to get a shock/vibrate collar to try to control this behavior because he won't listen to other disciplines. My fear with this is that it may make him have more negative feelings associated with strangers and make him even more unfriendly to strangers.

Thanks to anyone that can help!

Rory's Dad
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Re: Aggressive Chow Mix

Postby Rory's Dad » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:37 pm

1st off...follow your instincts on the shock collar. Absolutely will not work for aggressive behavior. They can have some limited success with barking issues, but that is it. And not the best approach for any Chow.

In the same light, grabbing him by the snout is a nono, as is blowing on his face. His reaction was poor, but not really unexpected. Chows, even mixes, are head shy in nature. They avoid having their faces touched unless well trained to accept it. The max extent of any physical correction should be to hold the fur below his ear or to the side of his neck and direct attention toward you. This doesnt hurt him, avoids head-on contact, and provides control the head swings which would allow a bite. It sets control and gets the dog to focus. Chows have selective hearing. They pretend not to hear you when it suits their purpose.

Dont expect your dog to like every other dog. He does need to learn proper etiquette though. And that comes back to control. And that selective hearing... Find a positive trigger or treat. Similar to puppy class when dogs learn 'leave it', he needs to ignore dogs he's not interested in playing nicely with. Find a fairly busy dog spot or walking path. Sit on the sidelines and when another dog goes by, call his name and when he doesnt bother with the other dog reward him. For my dogs, anything outside the yard or show ring requires cheese. Try bringing a string cheese stick with you on the outing and work on his focus for the reward rather than expressing his interest (positive or otherwise) on other dogs or people. If cheese doesnt work in getting his attention, keep looking for a favorite.

Try to instill positive behavior and a reward system, its way more successful than negative attention or punishments. Scolding a chow will not end up with good results and will alienate your dog from whomever is disciplining in this manner, eventually resulting in him not trusting anyone. Bad.

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