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Post by BeckyDenae » Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:56 pm

My grandma recently passed away and my mom promised her we would take her dog Kujo. He is an older chihuahua mix. The problem is that he is very aggressive. I think that his aggression is due to fear and dominance. My dad said that if he bit any one he was going to put the dog down. Well last night he bit my 9 year old sister because she got too close to my mom and my dad was feroius. I am sure that there is hope for kujo I just dont know how to train him when no one can get close to him but my mom. We tried a mussle today but that did not work it might have been too small, he just pulled it off and tried to bit my mom becausse she put it on him. I also think my grandma may have hit him because he has issues with hands. I know he has to be stressed going from living with my grandma in PA. to living with in our house in SC. with 6 kids. I have been trying all day to find a trainer in my area that deals with aggressive dogs but I cannot find one. So any suggestions would be greatly appreachated im affraid there is not much time for Kujo.

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Post by emmabeth » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:00 am

Realistically speaking - how much can you take charge of the situation?

If other people will not follow instructions, if they are not willing to do what it takes and if you are working under the constant threat of him being put down..

You are unfortunately not likely to achieve what you want.

You are right in that it is more than likely possible to improve Kujo's behaviour. Whether you can do that, in your household... that is another matter.

I will lay out here some of the steps that would be required to sort out Kujo's problems.

Then.. well its up to you (or whoever is ultimately in charge) to decide.

One thing I will say.. your best bet is to get the ENTIRE family to read this, don't just relay it back to them, sit them down on their butts, and READ it.

Firstly - Kujo is not a very big dog. Humans are VERY big. Not only that but they tower above him and loom over him (imagine a giant suddenly stomping up to you and towering over you, massive hands suddenly descending from above... scary huh?).

Kujo is scared. I would bet at some point in his life Kujo growled at people, to tell them 'Hey... I'm scared.... back off!'.. and if he now bites without bothering to growl.. he has learned that just saying 'back off' is not enough. He needs to really defend himself because these humans, they dont listen to him, and hes little... they are BIG so he uses the only thing he has left... his teeth.

The first thing to sort out then, is to stop scaring Kujo.

You (and by that I mean you and all your family) may well not intend to be scary, but Kujo doesn't know that. To him a lot of perfectly normal human things are horribly scary and if what you say about the way your Grandma handled him is right, he associates humans with being scary, and actually hurting him.

You cannot now force him to understand that you mean no harm, you have to prove to him that you are safe and kind and nice to be around. That is going to take a LOT of work.

Firstly - no running, yelling, shouting, around him, OR at him. Calm and quiet, move slowly.

No staring at him, no calling his name, no trying to make him come to you with food or toys.

No approaching him at all.

Give him his own space, a crate covered with a blanket in a place he feels safe (and if that means moving the sofa around or a little less room under the table... so be it, HE knows where he feels safe, you cannot decide that for him).

In that space, he has a comfy bed and nice toys. You do not shut him in there (unless he accepts this without ANY fuss, no forcing remember), he chooses to go in there to escape from scary things. No one approaches him in there at all, no one takes anything from him in there.

If Kujo is on your sofa, and you want him off - don't pick a fight. He bites, you don't.

Take a treat instead, something he really likes, and toss it away from the sofa, where he can see where its gone. If he likes treats, he will get off the sofa and go get it, you can then sit down.

Kujo may not do that exact 'problem' behaviour, but its an example of how you can avoid frightening him, avoid getting bitten but still achieve what you want.

After a week or so of calming things down, not picking any fights with him, not forcing any attention upon him (pretty much, put his food down, let him toilet, ignore him unless he comes to you and if he DOES come to you.. keep things low key, move slow, quietly hand him a treat, speak softly and dont stare at him at all, dont try to pet him or pick him up)... then see if hes ready to move on a stage.

Now what you want is to keep the calm and quiet going, but have everyone toss Kujo a treat as they pass by him when hes lying down, doing nothing.

This will teach Kujo that people moving around him are rewarding, without forcing him and without confronting him.

Whilst you are doing this, you must make sure his treats are taken from his food ration so if you are feeding him a lot of really tasty things such as hot dog sausage or cheese, cut down his normal meals.

Another thing you ought to do if you dont already, is feed Kujo small meals a few times a day. Don't leave food out for him all day, this gives him something to guard and can encourage fussiness. It will also mean that treats are not nearly so important, and you need them to be important.

When you get to the point where Kujo now starts to look interested and hopeful as you walk by him, rather than hiding or looking worried or like he may bite... you can try clicker training him. Theres a thread about this 'stickied' at the top of this section of the forums.

Clicker training is good mental exercise and I think Kujo is probably a very clever dog. It will give him more confidence (you know yourself, when you learn something and get it right, that feels good.. its the same for a dog. Equally.. if you are punished for something it feels bad.... and how much worse does it feel if you are punished for something when you dont really understand what it was you did wrong...), both in himself, and in you (or whoever else clicker trains him).

For the time being, if Kujo doesnt want you to touch him, dont. If that means he doesnt go for a walk, fine, he will live without a walk. If that means you cant pick him up to remove him from a room.. fine, go in another room and make 'interesting to dogs' noises (like opening the fridge or rustling a packet)... think your way round these problems!

Anyway.. thats what needs to be done.

The real problem here isnt really Kujo - it is your family, specifically your Mom and Dad. If they don't want to follow the instructions, Kujo will remain frightened and unhappy, and thats not fair on him.

If they are not willing... then unless you can persuade them to find him a quieter home where someone will do these things, then the best thing for Kujo probably IS to be put down. As sad as that is, a life of fear is no life for a dog.

Hope this helps,


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Post by Mattie » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:27 am

Well done for recognising that this is fear, most people don't. :lol:

Em's advise is very good but if you contact Karen Peak at she may know of a positive trainer in your area. Karen is very good and also has which is helping lots of owners with children and dogs.

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Post by Owdb1tch » Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:21 am

Super advice, and all the best to you. I hope the family can work this out.
Find the cause, find the cure.

A dog is never 'bad' or 'naughty'. It is simply behaving like a dog.

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Post by Carrie » Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:48 am

Such sage advice! If your family won't do all that, instead of putting him down, maybe you can re-home him to someone who is willing and able to rehabilitate him and wants to keep him for themselves. (?)

I have Chihuahuas and even though they have never ever been purposely frightened or had things done to them that are over whelming, they still crouch when I bend over them to pick them up...just a little, at first. They trust me, but I'm like a dinasaur to them. They are naturally submissive this way and some consideration of their diminutive size has to be taken. They just can't take the boistrousness that larger dogs can. They are friendly, outgoing and trusting though of everyone...have never had a defense reaction out of them. I think you can turn this around, but like it was said, only if everyone follows the excellent advice given. Best of luck to you and Kujo. (although it will take more than luck)
Training with my mind, not my hands.

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