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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Aggression In A Year-Old Mini Aussie

by Claire

Mickey on the day I got him (last Christmas).

Mickey on the day I got him (last Christmas).

My 1-year-old male Mini Aussie has been showing signs of aggression starting in July of this year (when he was about 10 months); things like growling when under coffee tables or when someone reaches to touch him in cornered positions. He full-on bit my hand once when I was reaching for some trash lying next to him while he was crouched underneath a table, and I immediately made an appointment for neutering and set him up for obedience school, which he did very well in.

After a certain period of time I could predict when he would be likely to growl or snap, so I took measures to avoid those circumstances all together, because I honestly could not control my fear when he would behave like this. After growling or biting he would usually come up to me in an "apologetic" manner.

Having suffered only one other bite since the initial one (one in which I feel completely responsible because I inadvertently trapped and then hurt him (on accident!)), I was beginning to feel better about the situation. I thought that there had been many factors contributing to his aggression (such as living in a cramped space and not getting enough mental or physical exercise) that I had taken steps to rectify. We have since moved out of the cramped apartment we were in this summer, and I have been diligent about exercising him and spending time with him.

However, this past weekend we went to a weekend retreat with a very small church family of about 15 people, and he was given too much free range of the camp and I believe became "overstimulated." He growled at some small children that were there, but quickly changed his behavior (he had never been around children before, so I'm not sure why did this). Later, though, he growled at a man who was petting him, and then, mere seconds later, bit the crap out of woman's hand as he was sitting next to me. I feel like, because he is so energetic and—contrastingly—nervous, he became very high strung over the course of the day, which cause him to lash out.

My question is this: what should I do specifically to ensure that this never happens again? As it is right now I could never have him around children, or, really, anyone, as I am terrified that he will bite someone. I want to be able to feel safe around him, and comfortable when he is around others, strangers or no. Also, what could be specific contributing factors to this aggression? I assume that is fear aggression, but it is so different from what I am used to with him, like a split-second personality shift that I have no way of really predicting.

Aussie Behavior Problems? Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Comments for Aggression In A Year-Old Mini Aussie

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Aggression in a 1 year old mini
by: Anne

A Couple of suggestions:
1) Did you contact the breeder or person you got him from and do you know the parents personalities?
2) Have him temperament tested. Your local dog club, maybe who you took obedience lessons from, will be able to point you in the right direction. This may pinpoint a specific issue your aussie is having.
3) I know dogs that have epilepsy change their behavior for a specified amount of time.
They can growl, which I witnessed a friend's dog
4) Is he on a leash around others, like at the camp. If not he needs to be so you can correct that behavior, hopefully before it happens.
5) Take your puppy to an agility or herding class. you local dog club can point you in the right direction for that also.

You have changed a lot of his environment lately and he just may feel very insecure. Don't be afraid of him, but correct him in a firm non aggressive matter.
How old was he when you got him?
Hope that helps!

Anne Calmes
Gold Ring Aussies
Louisiana, USA

by: Gayle-- Big Run Aussies

Claire, your Mickey is adorable! Puppies can go through really strange fears until they are almost 2, sorry to say. They also need to be socialized, but very carefully. You are making correct judgments when you say that he may have been over stimulated. Aussies can get like that very easily. He needs to feel confident that he is safe and to be introduced to kids gradually with all positives. Sometimes pups--or even grown dogs-- need to be put away in certain situations for their own safety. You might want to hand feed Mickey his meals for a while so that he knows that all good things come from you. You might also want to consult a positive canine behaviorist. You will have a great dog if you show continuing patience with him and I know you will.

Aggression issue
by: Anonymous

Sorry to hear this! I have a ten month old Australian Shepherd female who has bitten me a few times even after teething was over. It is usually during walks when she is overstimulated. It is frustrating, I know. You should contact a behaviorist asap. She has never bitten anyone but me, but I fear she might turn on someone else one day. I always bring treats with me and require her to sit and calm down, as soon as I recognize the signs. At times I thought this was her herding me, or just bossiness. At other times I thought it was flat out aggression. These dogs are nippers for sure by instinct. We took her to training and she is doing a lot better. She also listens a lot better as she is growing older.

Thanks for posting
by: Heidi

Hello - that is one of the cutest Aussies I have ever seen! Ugh! That FACE! :)
I know that Aussies must be aggressively socialized, starting at a young age, especially with children and men. They must be rewarded for good behavior and redirected from bad behavior. I am no expert, this is just what I have read in preparation for my new puppy. I would like to share a training pamphlet that I am quite fond of. I found it here.

I hope you have been able to stop your dogs aggression! God bless!

Aggressive 15 week mini American Shepherd
by: Monte

Our puppy loves people. All strangers. But now regularly she becomes wild and will not allow us to pick her up. She growls and bites when in that mode. Once we corral her she is fine and loving. Fortunately these attacks are only with us. Sometimes it is on walks and seems to be the herding instinct.
Is there a training method?

On aggression on yr. old - Is he sick?
by: Anonymous

Is he ill? Is it genetic?

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