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Categories: Dog Aggression , Dog Bites

Q. I have a 15 month old Malinois that nips on occassion when excited. Today he attacked my son when he tried to take something away. What should we do?
I have a 15 month old Mal. I am very impressed with his abilities and he seems to love people. He does nip on occasion when excited. This appears to be a friendly nip as he does it to me. I do correct him and the behavior is under control. He is excelling in obedience, does well in public, does not show aggression with other animals and until today, no food aggression. I say no food aggression until today, because my older son texted me at work and said Chase just attacked him. He texted me pictures and bite marks on both arms and hands. This morning I had a leaky milk jug and set it on step before I left for work. I forgot about it and when my son took Chase out, he found it and started to lick it. My son walked towards him to investigate and apparently Chase showed his teeth. My son instructed him to "no touch" and normally you can take whatever he has. When my son tried to retrieve the milk, Chase attacked him. Non of the bites caused blood, but teeth marks evident. Son is very upset.

A. Back in the 1990’s I had a German Shepherd that did the exact same thing to my son, only the bites to my son were more serious.

Your dog is entering maturity and obviously considers himself a high rank than your son. Without knowing your sons age my guess is that you need to change the way you live with your dog.

You made some comments in the email that cause some concern:

1-There is no friendly NIP. All you have done in allowing this is to "let the dog practice bad behavior."

2-You say he shows no aggression to other animals. This dog should not have any contact with strange dogs. I wrote an article on Dog Parks. I recommend you read it (even though you may not be taking him to a dog park, the concept of meeting strange dogs applies).

3-There had to have been other signals which you have missed (but I guarantee 100% that they were there) on issues your dog had with your son. At this point your son should obviously not be expected to handle the dog at all.

4-If we had the dog we would not allow the dog to even approach the boy. We would teach him that one of our rules is that he 100% stays away from the boy and have absolutely nothing to do with him. This is accomplished by keeping the dog on a leash in the house and using a dominant dog collar. I did a DVD that you may want to consider called Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

5-We would start feeding the dog in his dog crate. We would not reach in and take the food bowl away when he was done. The bowl would come out after the dog was out of the crate.

Fixing a good deal of your issues comes down to proper management. I recently produced a short video on Management for one of our recent newsletters. It’s free to watch if you can watch streaming video on your computer. I suggest you watch it. Good management is just as important as good obedience training when it comes to living with a dog.

I suggest that you run this dog through our pack structure program - Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog.

Obviously the dog should not have contact with your son. So this means a dog crate or dog kennel when you are not around. It would be a mistake to think that you are going to teach your son to handle this dog. That is unrealistic (after this incident) to think your son can be taught to manage this dog – no matter what age he is.

Regards,
Ed Frawley
  
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