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Crate Aggression

Hi All , So Mackenzies crate aggression is getting worse especially with my husband. When he goes to put her in it ,always with a treat she will go in willingly take the treat but the min. she is done eating it goes after the crate door or his hand if he hasn't secured it . She will also attack the roof of her crate randomly ? I have it covered with a blanket I am thinking of removing it to see if it makes a difference. Any suggestions would be welcome


  • If you leave the door open does the dog go in and out on its own ?

  • she will go in during the day when my son is home and sleep with the door open once me or my husband get home she will go in and out but only if we are in the room and I think she is just seeing if we will give her a treat. I have never seen her go in and lay down to sleep when I am home. She goes in easy when we ask we say crate and she gets a treat after she's in the problem is once she's eaten the treat she comes at you or if the door is shut she will attack the top of the crate . HELP
  • She seems to be making a game of it

    Acting territorial about it

    Let me think
  • Arrow was like this, he would growl at me if i approached him in the crate. He would growl and snap if i tried to close it and he wasnt facing me.
    He loved his crate and would go in it.

    I told him off, called him out and to go back in.... nothing helped

    in the end i thought its his one space in the house, let him settle, get comfy then lock the door, always approach when he can see me etc... sorted, no further problems. I guess he just wanted me to know it is his bedroom and his space. He comes out when calls, i can put my hand in there, no problems now.
  • so last night she was good going in or we were quicker closing the door :) but once in and after we left her alone she attacked the roof of the crate for about 2 min. then fell asleep ?? The crate is covered with a blanket should I take it off. She does have an ear infection which we have been treating for a week could that be it ?? She does not like us putting medicine in her ears so that's been challenging ... Its been a rough week
  • This situation is awfully hard to evaluate without seeing things in person.

    Just some ideas: Is the crate located in a remote space or rather central and exposed? Is there a lot going on around it or is it really a refuge for the dog?
    If kids are present and all adults, do they in general respect when the dog walks into the crate to lie down and leave it alone? Or is the dog being bothered sometimes when in the crate?
    Do you remember any negative experiences the dog could have connected to the crate that may trigger the aggression?
    I would consider putting a blanket over the crate a good thing, because it likely makes the dog feel less exposed in the crate. Actually, I don't feel he blanket is causing the issues. But that is only a feeling. I can't really assess the situation, because I was never on-site.
  • What if you use different blanket, maybe the color makes her nervous. I know it sounds a bit weird. Our bully does not like solid white. He barks at people wearing white t-shirts, absolutely hates white towels and goes after white paper towels and napkins.
  • edited February 15
    That's not weird. My experience tells me the same: Dogs can see different colors and they do have preferences and aversions. My Bull Terrier likes pink toys more than others. We have the same as you, Brooklyn, with white kitchen towels and other paper wipes. But I think that is more because of the things I do with them: She does not like me to wipe her down with those. She loves my personal white plushy blanket though. It is not all a matter of colors. But they can definitely be an aspect to be considered in some cases.
    Often with dogs only monitoring the situation plus the moments before and after very closely can resolve the mystery of what triggers a certain behavior.
  • @Djammy The crate is up against a wall in our bedroom so it is remote and a refuge. No young kids and yes when she is in it she is left alone but I do believe there was some type of crate abuse before we got her . She has been crate aggressive since we got her but I thought it was getting better and it was never to this extent. She was really going at the inside roof of her crate 2 nights ago so I removed the blanket and she instantly stopped. I believe she was getting ready to attack it last night after she went in but I looked directly at her and said NO and she stopped. She is a really sensitive dog and I think I am part of the problem because I get scared and act it. When I said No to her last night I was to fed up to be scared and she stopped. Its to bad you aren't local I would invite you over to see it.
  • Could an ear infection amp the behavior up ? We have been treating it for a week now she bit my husband this morning while he was trying to put medicine in her ear it did not break the skin . It's gotten so we have to be sneaky about the medicine and put it on our finger then put our finger in her ear which she allows. Again it's been a rough week but I love her so I will do what I can to make this better
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  • edited February 16
    Looks like you are already getting closer to the core of the problem, figuring out that telling her "no" stops her and removing the blanket makes things better. That's exactly what I meant when talking about observing things closely.

    Again, it is hard to really assess the situation from here.
    But, everything you describe points toward one thing: The dog has not really accepted the crate entirely yet, even though she seems to go in for a nap etc.
    I don't know for how long you have been trying to get her used to the crate now, how long she has to stay in there and I could not find how old your dog is. These can all be factors.
    She goes in for the treat, but she does not want to stay in there when you guys are at home.
    Bull Terriers are family dogs and they don't like to be excluded. This COULD be a factor.

    Maybe placing a worn piece of your clothes inside and/ or a toy that she loves could help the situation. The dog should not be left alone in the crate with the toy. This is only to show her that this is HER spot. Of course, this is to be taken with caution because if she has already reacted aggressively towards you when in the crate things could likely get worse when you need to remove a toy from the crate with her inside.
    Maybe starting back at square one and just closing the door for a few minutes every time and then opening it again and rewarding with a treat when she was calm could help.

    I think it is a great thing that you gave a new loving home to a dog that has obviously been abused in the past. It is hard, because there is often no telling which triggers can set off aggression - often caused by fear.
    That ear infection and the fact that you need to treat it could definitely make your dog a little more sensitive, if not defensive, at the moment.
    For the times you feel fear, here's what I do, maybe it helps:
    I look at my dog as a toddler with sharp teeth. Yes, she is able to hurt me. But in general that is not her intention.
    She has feelings and fears and I want her to know that I respect when she is afraid of something or does not want something and that I am willing to deal with it together with her.
    If it is something I do not necessarily have to let her go through, I just skip it.
    If it is some kind of necessary treatment or so I always try to make the situation as comfy for her as possible and if necessary take breaks and give her space.
    Of course, sometimes a dog can also just try to get its way. But when you know your dog, you learn to distinguish those behaviors.
    When corrected in such a situation your dog's behavior will be completely different than it will be when fear is leading its actions.
    A dog that gets corrected when being too bold it will likely react either huffy or maybe be sorry.
    A dog that gets corrected under stress and fear will likely be intimidated or become even more aggressive.
    Open aggression is often preluded by other warning signs: crouched posture, ears down, head down, tail tugged under the belly, for example.
    In critical situations I always watch for those signs that tell me my dog is feeling uneasy.
    Once I notice these signs, I always use the chance to teach my dog that she can trust me. I slow down, give her space, try not to make her feel cornered. I talk to her in a calm voice. And oftentimes instead of going towards her and touching her, I just let her come - if needed I try to win her over with a treat. And then I walk through the situation with her, slowly, step by step.
    If you feel uneasy or afraid next time, maybe try to remember that your dog is telling you something. It is your chance to show your dog that she can trust you. Allowing your dog space and showing its feelings is not the same as retreating. If you are a confident leader and not afraid your dog will build even more trust in you. Of course, it goes without saying that when dealing with a dog that shows aggression - no matter what caused it - one should take every precaution to stay unharmed in case the situation escalates. That can always happen. So, face not within reach in case the dog lunges up etc.
  • @Djammy Thank You so much ! I actually am going to print this out . Mackenzie is 15 months we have had her for a year in March . It is true most of the time she wants to be with us not in her crate and when anyone is home she is out. With my husband and I she will not go in to sleep with the door open if we are home she actually will not lay down and sleep anywhere when we are home . My other 2 dogs will be laying on there beds sleeping but Mackenzie does not stop moving so usually once in the am and once in the afternoon we tell her crate and she goes in ,we close the door and she passes out for an hour . The weird thing is that when she is home with my son or daughter with the crate door open all day she will go in the crate and sleep on her own with the door open. I have yet to figure this one out. I truly appreciate the advice this site has helped me so much over the last year.
  • edited February 17
    I don't know what your kids are doing at home. But I would imagine the average son maybe likes video gaming and his computer and the daughter her phone, books or make-up. What I am trying to say is: Kids are usually were busy with themselves. It may just not be very interesting for the dog when she is alone at home with your kids. So, she takes the time and naps to be ready and fit when you and hubby come home and the real fun and action starts: Preparing dinner, doing laundry or dishes, opening and closing the fridge, giving doggie attention - even scolding when you almost trip over her repeatedly because she is always behind you could be entertaining for her. It's family action and that is definitely what a 15 month old Bull Terrier craves and enjoys.
    Maybe she really just does not like to be ripped out of the action and out of being in the middle of attention the moment she enjoys it the most and does not want to be away in the crate then.

    You have several choices: You could use her very active times to incorporate some super easy obedience exercises into your daily life - or if you want even train some tricks. Just for a minute or two each time, but spread over an evening or - if you have the time - a day. A sit, a stay, a down ... first just a few seconds, then expanding the time she has to hold it. Treat and praise. It does not matter if she knows the exercises already. There’s always room for improvement.
    And besides that those little tasks do TWO things: they shape behavior by showing her which behavior you like AND they keep her busy and wear her out in little portions. Does she also get enough physical exercise? Fetching? Some kind of running? And enough interaction (tug, cuddling etc.) with you guys?
    I mean, don't get me wrong, at that age they can be insatiable when it comes to getting attention, even if hey are already tired and worn out and get enough exercise every day. So, more is not always the solution.
    Maybe you are already doing the best thing for her by commanding her into the crate now and then and the key just lies in choosing different times, for example, when things slow down at home after dinner or when you specifically watch herself slow down on her own. So, she does not feel like she could miss something when she is away sleeping.
    Again, I don't know if I am right about the situation. Just throwing in some more thoughts for you.
  • @Djammy Boy you are spot om with my kids :) the whole message actually . I had a light bulb moment this weekend in trying to think of what has changed in the last few weeks ? which was when this got so much worse ... my son went back to school so she is now in the crate more with the door shut. Most of December and January either my daughter or son were home so other than at night sleeping she was only in the crate a few hours a day and that was broken up over the day . Now there are 2 days where she is spending 5 to 6 hours its broken up as well but I think its just to much time. I play ball with her for about 30 min every day after work in the yard then she gets a walk and my son takes her out once or twice a week in the morning for a 20 min run/walk . I am trying to bump up the exercise but its hard when you work 9 hours a day . I have reached out to the rescue where we got her and they have put me in touch with a trainer . Thank You for all the suggestions. I have been doing a lot of what you said . Your right I need to remember she is a toddler and acts like one . I think the worse part of all of this for me is being afraid of her because I don't trust her ,she does show signs though and I can usually spot them . My husband and I are determined to help her get past this ,she can be so sweet and so funny. I love her so much I just want her to be a happy dog.
  • edited February 20
    Happy that I could get you to maybe take a slightly different angle when looking at your situation and by this come to new conclusions. Nice idea to look for a trainer. I only hope she or he is experienced with Bull Terriers. "This dog is untrainable" I've heard of a lot people reporting those statements of trainers who were just not able to cope with the breed and its temperament. The statement is nonsense and it doesn't help. I hope that you have found competent help.

    Maybe, just one more thing: Our girl Djamila is a little hotspur, very proactive and communicative, also when there are things she does not like. When we left her at home alone for a moment for the first time locked in in her box after she got comfy in it, she literally hopped through our living room with that thing.
    My goodness, was she angry! We were able to watch it over our home security camera.
    I still can't help myself laughing when I think about it even today.

    There are lots of things she does not like. Where do I start, cleaning her ears, her toes, bathing, tooth brushing, being wiped down with a cloth, nail clipping and being touched from above.
    Today, we have gotten to the point where all of this is possible. And I think a good portion of our success - besides the fact that we have trained a lot and took baby steps - is that I am not afraid of her. The reason I am not even though I sometimes hear a hum or what sounds like a growl from her is that I have taken a lot of time to watch her in those critical situations. And every time we had a disagreement, while being firm and stopping her from overreacting, I've never noticed any real sign that she was trying to get her way by attacking me or hurting me.

    I am not saying that you are in the same situation with your dog. I can't know that.
    And there are dogs trying the path of real open aggression out of fear or dominance.

    BUT, what I am trying to say is: Watching your dog and working with her, noticing when she is dialing back once she realizes that her behavior does not amuse you ... all of that interaction will help you gain back your confidence. So, the worst thing you could do right now would be to avoid her.
    You are absolutely on the right path, because all of your thoughts involve her and working with her.
    I think this is one of the basic conditions that set you up for success because it will help both of you.
    There may be setbacks after longer periods of success and there may be advice that just does not work for you. But, sooner or later you will find your own way to deal with this and you will find solutions that work for your family and in your household.
    I am sure! Good luck!
  • @Djammy It really helps to know that others have been thru similar issues and have come out the other end. I understand about the trainer we have had some issues with trainers and one of our other dogs and no one can tell me Mackenzie is untrainable she is just to smart . Thank You again ! I will keep you updated :)
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