Hi, i hope someone can provide some ideas. Our almost 2 year old female bc is a bit of a puzzle she seems to be a combination of agression and submission. She shows agression towards myself and my daughter and most recently my husband (that did not go well). Seemd to happen when she is laying down (hard to say if she is sleeping) and you reach out to pet her, she lunges at you and makes like she is going to bit, lips back, etc. She hasn't actually connected with my or my daughter but she did with my husband. I always correct this behavior and she cowers down. She does show some fear by way of barking at pretty much anything (people, the dark, trees, shadows, etc). We have invisibe fence and when people walk by she will run to end of the fence barking sometimes with her fur raised - she sounds and looks pretty scary. If i am there she will make a big fuse about barking then hide behind my legs. Once she knows neighbourhood people she is the sweetest thing with them and they play with her for hours. We have an older dog and they get along fine. My daughter does play very roughly with the dog, wrestling etc. Could this be a problem? Any ideas on some exercises/training i can with her to help her. My husband is not amused, i need to fix this behaviour before he says the dog has to go.
I agree with Joe that she is displaying fear-based aggression. The barking, the air snapping (when she is in a the vulnerable position of lying down), and hiding behind you are definitely fear. Many fearful dogs will also make big "go away!" threat displays when they are behind a barrier (even an invisible one) because they feel empowered, but will run and hide if confronted.
I would urge you to please stop "correcting" her for her fear displays. You can't punish out fear, but you can make it a whole lot worse. She needs work on confidence-building and trust, and to never perceive you as a threat (cowering is fear, not submission). She has probably been trying to tell you for some time that reaching toward her frightens her, and it has escalated to the air biting and now making actual contact. She feels she is running out of options, and an intentional bite may be on the horizon.
I hope the material Joe referred you to helps. You should consider finding a knowledgeable, positive APDT trainer (not the trainer-in-a-box variety like Bark Busters, PetSmart, etc.) to help you with her confidence and trust issues. I wish you the best of luck!
~Molly Lilibit - serendipitous stray * Opal - hound x goat * Clara - my best mistake Phoenix Rising Border Collie Rescue * www.PRBCR.org
i think you guys are on to something, now that i think about it when she was a young pup someone pulled her out of a corner by her collar. That has stuck with her, i warn all visitors and neighbours to please do not pull her by her collar. This new behaviour seems like it could be an extension of that. I will definitately check out the link
Ditto what Molly said. This poor dog is fearful, and needs to know you all will protect her, not give her reason to snap. Not to mention, petting a sleeping dog is potentially a problem, even for a non-fearful dog. There's a reason for the saying "let sleeping dogs lie"! If you must pet her while she's sleeping, give her verbal warning first by quietly saying her name and then gently approach her, never looming over her.
Correcting a fearful dog can certainly backfire. I hope maybe you can find a positive reinforcement trainer to help. In the meantime, help build her confidence and let her tell you what she can accept and can't, like petting her while she's vulnerable.
Ditto what everyone else has said. In addition, you can be thankful that your dog is giving you multiple warning signals (lifting lip, growling, lunging, snapping without connecting) without biting. Punishing these warning behaviors is extremely dangerous, as the likely result will be a dog that bites with absolutely no warning.
To modify your dog’s fearful behavior, you really need to find a positive trainer that can help you with desensitization (gradually exposing the dog to low levels of the fearful stimulus) and counter conditioning (changing your dogs associations of the fearful stimulus from bad to good, i.e. unknown person approaching = copious amounts of yummy treats). Here is an article on how to find a trainer: http://www.positivedogs.com/articles/articles.html