My Chow mix has tried to bite several children. Today he almost got a small child on our walk. What should I do?
Dear Mr. Frawley,
I adopted my dog about 2 years ago from a no kill shelter when he was about 8 months old. They told me he was found laying in the street with a bad wound leg from a knife or fence. He is a chow, yellow lab and Shepard or rottie mix. He is neutered.
I took him to obedience training from the very beginning but he would get aggressive towards the other dogs in class and the teacher suggested I put him to sleep or go to private classes. I have gone to private classes with him and he responds well and is not aggressive to the trainer or me. He is not totally trained to come on command but is very well behaved at home.
Walking him is a hassle because he is very aggressive to dogs that come up to him or walk by him while he is on leash and there are many stray dogs in my neighborhood. He bit a greyhound once in the park as I talked to a friend and the dogs walked by us. The dog ended up needing some stitches even though the incident was stopped fairly quickly.
My dog plays well with most dogs off leash but once attacked a dog in my sisters back yard for no reason except we let him out to play with the dog. He used to be very shy around men and other strange people in the house but has become much more accepting of people coming into the house and welcomes them unless they are a stranger to me as well.
I am mostly concerned with him attacking other dogs on leash but today when I was walking him we went passed a young child and his father walking to school. As we passed the boy and his dad my dog aggressively snapped and growled at the child. I am glad I had a good hold on the leash or I feel he would have attacked the kid. Maybe my dog was afraid because the child had a hooded jacket on but the reaction my dog had seemed more than just a warning bark. He also snapped at some little girls who were playing in my front yard and put their faces to my front window. I have since told them not to come into my yard and I put a screen in front of the window so my dog can't see out.
Do you think if I spent more time training him if he would not act out this way. I also feel that he might have some genetic problems that I can not fix. He is very loving to me and I am having a hard time deciding which direction to take.
Please write me back with your suggestions.
In my opinion the Chow mix dogs are some of the most dangerous dogs out there. Far more dangerous than Pit Bulls. I cannot tell you how many emails I get from people who own Chows or Chow mixes that have unacceptable aggression problems with their dogs. If you choose to keep this dog (and not put it to sleep) you need to change the way you handle him.
1. He should NEVER be in public without a muzzle on - NOT ONCE!
2. This dog needs some very serious obedience training with a prong collar. It needs to know that if it shows unwanted aggression to other dogs or ANY PEOPLE it will be corrected so severely that it thinks it's life is going to end. If you do not feel that you can do this (because this is what it is going to take to become the respected pack leader for this dog) then you need to put it to sleep. This training has to be done with a prong or an electric collar. But in either case you need to make the effort to understand the principles of correction and praise, and the use of electric collar training. You cannot just put a collar on a dog an shock it. I have videos on both of these training aides.
You own a very dangerous dog. You have been very very lucky so far - luck runs out. It's time to step to the line and become a responsible pet owner. You have taken the right step in asking for advice. Now you have to follow through because if this dog attacks (not bites) a child, you are to blame and not the dog.
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