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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

Comments

  • 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
    @corey90260
    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 :)
  • @Djammy The trainer suggested we put a second crate in our living room so that when she was in it she wouldn't feel left out . What do you think ? I was thinking of trying it out just putting a blanket in it and leaving the door open . Thoughts ?
  • Hi Corey, I think she would prefer to be with you guys on the sofa.
    And also , let her on the bed at bedtime.
    I know all the good habits...... :D
  • First of all just to be clear, this time I am only answering because you asked and I do not intend to discredit the competence of the trainer. I am a sceptic, admittedly. But that does not mean that I am immune to professional advice.
    I am just giving my own opinion here. There may be truth for you in all of our thoughts.
    The trainer seems to think that she may feel excluded. That's where we all obviously are on the same page.
    But to be honest with you, I am not sure if it would give her more satisfaction if she were "crated in the center".
    I am sure the trainer has good reasons for this suggestion and has probably given you more advice than just that connected to the crating. I think this - as many things - would be trial and error and success remains to be seen.
    Your dog does not really seem to like the first crate, yet. This is something I would put part of my focus on: Getting her comfy in the crate that is already there before thinking about other crates. But you could spare the money for a second crate anyway, because what the trainer suggested can easily be tested with the crate you already have, don't you think? Even if it means that you have to move it around twice a day.
    If I decided to try the advice, my approach would probably involve the crate that is already there.
    She may buy the changed location. But I am honest, I don't think she will really rest in an exposed place. If she really wants to be part, having her watch the action without being able to take part on the worst end could even result in more uproar.
    I don't know what the goal is exactly. If it is only about getting her used to the crate, training in baby steps, making being in the crate a good experience for her and building positive connections for her with the crate would be key.
    If it is only about getting her to rest now and then, first of all I would try to accept that she will likely not really start to settle before the age of about three years. Let's not fool ourselves here. She is a Bull Terrier. And if Bull Terrier owners need one thing then it is patience. If I wanted to make resting more attractive for her, I would maybe rather try to buy a bed - and not another crate - and put it close to the action. She will probably still not really nap on it when there is action around the house. But she may start to use it to lay down and watch things around her, which I would consider a great first step. Also this would give me the chance to praise her calmly and reward her every time she lays down for a few moments and show her that this is a desired behavior that brings good things and actually attention for her. Because I would proactively walkover and reward her. If she jumped up afterwards - highly likely - I would try to just ignore her as good as I can and reward as soon as she returns to the bed for a few moments.
    This could also be a training exercise - a stay on her bed. Of course, at first I would have to content myself with just a few moments of success. But over time this exercise will help her slow down, it teaches her an alternative behavior to the restlessness and who knows, maybe she starts to like it sooner than I would expect.
    The bed at best would be elevated, such as this one, for example
    http://www.bullterrierfun.com/kuranda-all-aluminum-chewproof-dog-bed-for-bull-terriers/

    Dogs like it when they can overlook the scene. That - in my opinion - is also why many of them like to be on the couch. It just allows for a better overview. This preference is connected to dominance issues in much less cases, than usually stated.

    If it is really about taking part for her, I would actually rather go with Neil and try to grant her the time with you - on the sofa or wherever. And with the crating I would take baby steps.
    Again, just my three cents.
  • edited February 23
    First of all just to be clear, this time I am only answering because you asked and I do not intend to discredit the competence of the trainer. I am a sceptic, admittedly. But that does not mean that I am immune to professional advice and approaches that are different from my own ones.
    I am just giving my own opinion here. There may be truth for you in all of our thoughts.
    The trainer seems to think that she may feel excluded. That's where we all obviously are on the same page.
    But to be honest with you, I am not sure if it would give her more satisfaction if she were "crated in the center".
    I am sure the trainer has good reasons for this suggestion and has probably given you more advice than just that connected to the crating. I think this - as many things - would be trial and error and success remains to be seen.
    Your dog does not really seem to like the first crate, yet. This is something I would put part of my focus on: Getting her comfy in the crate that is already there before thinking about other crates. But you could spare the money for a second crate anyway, because what the trainer suggested can easily be tested with the crate you already have, don't you think? Even if it means that you have to move it around twice a day.
    If I decided to try the advice, my approach would probably involve the crate that is already there.
    She may buy the changed location. But I am honest, I don't think she will really rest in an exposed place. If she really wants to be part, having her watch the action without being able to take part on the worst end could even result in more uproar.
    I don't know what the goal is exactly. If it is only about getting her used to the crate, training in baby steps, making being in the crate a good experience for her and building positive connections for her with the crate would be key.
    If it is only about getting her to rest now and then, first of all I would try to accept that she will likely not really start to settle before the age of about three years. Let's not fool ourselves here. She is a Bull Terrier. And if Bull Terrier owners need one thing then it is patience. If I wanted to make resting more attractive for her, I would maybe rather try to buy a bed, meaning a place she can decide to be in or not completely on her own - and not another crate - and put it close to the action. She will probably still not really nap on it when there is action around the house. But she may start to use it to lay down and watch things around her, which I would consider a great first step. Also this would give me the chance to praise her calmly and reward her every time she lays down for a few moments and show her that this is a desired behavior that brings good things and actually attention for her because I would proactively walk over and reward her. If she jumped up afterwards - highly likely - I would try to just ignore her as good as I can and reward as soon as she returns to the bed for a few moments.
    This could also be a real training exercise - training a stay on her bed. Of course, at first I would have to content myself with just a few moments of success. But over time this exercise will help her slow down, it teaches her an alternative behavior to the restlessness and who knows, maybe she starts to like it sooner than I would expect.
    The bed at best would be elevated, such as this one, for example
    http://www.bullterrierfun.com/kuranda-all-aluminum-chewproof-dog-bed-for-bull-terriers/

    Dogs like it when they can overlook the scene. That - in my opinion - is also why many of them like to be on the couch. It just allows for a better overview. Well, that and, yeah, Bull Terriers often just like it padded and comfy and they love to be close to their humans. This preference is connected to dominance issues in much less cases, than usually stated.

    If it is really about taking part for her, I would actually rather go with Neil and try to grant her the time with you - together on the sofa or wherever. And with the crating I would take baby steps.
    Spoiling them is not a bad thing as long as we do not lose our focus on working on the behaviors we don't like at the same time. Spoiling only becomes unhealthy when there are no boundaries.
    Again, just my three cents.
  • @Djammy thank you again , I actually decided not to do after thinking about it I thought it just might make matters worse . Ups and downs this weekend she bit me the other night while sleeping in our bed, and last night she bit my husband in the crate. We are still working really hard on this and will not give up this morning she got aggressive when I went to let her out of the crate so I said no and walked away ,went back a few minutes later with a treat and had her lay down in the crate then let her out and had her so a sit ,down and wait then gave her the treat . Patience ...
  • edited February 25
    I can't help myself but wondering why she is going forward with so much steam. Not being ok with things is one thing. What I am trying to figure out is why she is using her teeth so much.
    Is it just juvenile cockiness or something else?

    Can you read her signs meanwhile and tell when she is about to attack? To me it sounds like it happens in connection with the crate, yet randomly. Is that the case?
    How hard does she nip? Does it feel like she is just trying to "hold you back" or does it really hurt and draw blood? A dog's mouth is also like their hand as you know for sure. So, biting does not in every case happen with the intention to hurt someone. That's why I'm asking.

    Does she also nip or bite on other occasions? Has she ever nipped or bitten anyone else she got in contact with except you and your husband? And if yes in which situations?

    What do you guys do right after she bit you? How do you react?

    What are you doing when reaching into the crate? Is it to give her something or, you know, what are the circumstances here?
    Just asking a few nosy questions to maybe get a better understanding of her behavior.
  • Lets see if I can answer your questions .
    When she bit me the other night in bed that was the first time she broke skin and it was tiny. I had covered her because it was cold and I was scratching her ears to get her to go back to sleep and out of no where she snarled and nipped me ,I could tell she felt bad immediately .My reaction was a yelp at her because it startled me. I believe with me she holds back and typically when she acts aggressive I say a strong no ,sometimes I walk away or I may have her sit or lay down.
    Its not reaching into the crate that brings on the behavior its closing the door or opening it although she would do it if we reached in while she is in it . I never reach into the crate when she is in it.
    My husband on the other hand is a different story .I say she loves him the most ( she really loves him shows him way more affection than me ,climbs on top of him in bed and licks his whole face) but she bites him the most to.
    He is less calm with her more reactive although he is really trying not to be . Saturday he was laying on the floor with her she was in her crate and he was petting her and she seemed fine ( I was in the other room so did not see it ) until she wasn't and she went after his hand and bit him bad ,the worst so far. I told him he is pushing her to hard to fast and he agreed what he did was dumb and his own fault.
    The crate is the worst with the nip or lunge and it is random but she will absolutely give you clear signs, but she has done it in other places and she has done it to my son a few time when he was petting her ,he reads her well and has not been bit .
    Its in the random spots where its not as clear but that could just be because we aren't looking for it? She has no issues when I go in the crate to take out the blankets to wash them but she isn't in it when I do this.
    I don't know if any of this gives you a better understanding of her .I will say when she is sweet she is so sweet . Last night she actually laid down in our living room and slept for an hour this is the first time she has ever done this in the year we have had her it was wonderful !
    I cannot thank you enough for trying to help me with this :)
  • You own 3 dogs, how is she with your other dogs? What is her place in The Pack?
  • I have an 11 year old male and she loves him ,she actually drives him crazy but he is good with her . I also have a 10 year old female they get along but we have to keep a close eye on them. Mackenzie tests her a lot and although there have been some snarling / showing teeth matches they have not actually fought but like I said we keep an eye on them . This is one of the reasons she is crated when no one is home. She is low man on the totem pole at least that is how we treat her ,last one fed ,last on to get a treat ,last one out of the gate when we walk and so on but she definitely tests it
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  • Sorry for the delay. Every time I have cleared my desk a little, new tasks start piling up.
    Anyway, I wrote an answer one or two days ago already, just wanted to give it some more thought.
    But I am going to post it as I wrote it in the first place because I am afraid you will have to wait much longer otherwise.
    I hope there is something in it for you.
    This story continues to reveal new angles. I was actually about to ask you about your other dogs, myself, because I just noticed in another discussion that you mentioned having two more dogs.
    This issue does not only seem to be limited to a box or crate.
    More and more I have a feeling like this is something general and your dog has just not settled in yet, not accepted your home as hers and does not fully trust you so far.
    Given her age this is not very surprising news. Bull Terriers usually take around three years until they really bond. But once that happens they will stick to you like gum.

    She seems to be fine with the other dogs and they are with her. That’s awesome news because especially when it comes to other dogs Bull Terriers can be loners.
    But I think in this case the other dogs may play a role as far as they are another part of a household your dog still seems to be figuring out - especially when it comes to her own place and role in it.
    As I mentioned before, there are many different reasons why dogs show aggression and it is by far not in every case related to dominance or simple anger.
    I would much more suspect that if the aggression were focussed on the other dogs.
    In fact, in far more cases aggression towards humans is caused by fear or pain. Mental illness is another issue. Maybe you’ve heard of SOA before. It COULD play a role. Some dogs, especially Bull Terriers go through episodes of it at a certain age.

    But after reading all your reports to me it feels like she is just majorly insecure and not sure which way to chose to fit into this family yet. She is definitely not trusting you so far. Which sounds a lot worse that it is because that’s something that can and should be worked on.
    I think a good thing for her would be to have one dedicated person that is her main contact, who is feeding her, walking her, training her. All other family members should be pulling on the same string, can also walk her now and then etc., of course. But I think at the moment she could use a “go-to” person to work with and learn that trusting this person will pay off for her. Once she has learned it with one person she will translate it to others. I find this especially important because as I remember you said that she has had a previous owner and that you are not sure if maybe abuse has been involved.

    I actually still don’t really get why your husband seems to be reaching into the crate for no real reason. It sounds like he enjoys teasing her. A settled and stable Bull Terrier would probably not mind the teasing and rather like stupid actions.
    In this case, however, teasing her in that confined space, considering the entire situation, could make her feel cornered and push her even more towards defending herself.
    It is not a good thing to go through many bite situations with an insecure dog. Because usually people are caught by surprise by pain and instinctively retreat. That inadvertently sends the wrong message to the dog. It learns that biting and showing aggression helps to keep unwanted things away. The more often this situation occurs the more that message gets imprinted.
    Now, once the situation has escalated and biting has happened there’s no way to walk back in time. The real problem solving definitely needs to happen BEFORE the dog snaps.
    Step one would be to avoid all the unnecessary situations in which she has bitten in the past - such as unnecessarily reaching into the crate and other situations you know of.
    The blanket may set her off for the same reason, she my get scared when she is not able to follow the action. But that is just a wild guess, she may also just not like it or protest against being excluded from the action. One would really have to see the dog and the situation to tell. Yet, again … pretty easy to avoid. Just leave the blanket off. Solved.

    So, what about the situations that can’t be avoided. As she has been in your household for some time now I am sure some kind of pattern has emerged - situations meanwhile known for setting her off. And even when she randomly attacks she sends out sings before and those signs should also be familiar by now.
    The next step would be to make the situations that can obviously NOT be avoided as comfortable for her as possible and to take it very slow then.
    Some people think that an aggressive dog should be disciplined and subdued until is displays obedience. This may be working to put a juvenile and cocky dog back into place.
    The problem I see with an insecure dog is that disciplining only adds more stress, makes the dog feel even more cornered and on left its own. And that is likely to make matters even worse.
    She needs to learn how to handle situations that stress her out the right way. If she does not get into a stressful situation in the first place or working on such situations happens in tiny steps without overwhelming her, she has a good chance to come to different conclusions when feeling stressed out than only going forward aggressively.

    We’ve had a ton of issues we needed to work on in the past with Djamila. And she is also pretty mouthy, although - other than getting carried away during playtime now and then when younger - she has never actually hurt us with her mouth. And that is although she has more than once grabbed my hand and “held me back”.
    My way was to find the balance between doing what I have to do - applying a certain treatment, for example - while interacting on a metaphorical and literal eye-to-eye level with her. That means sitting in front of her, not reaching down standing above or behind her, not forcing her or pinning her in a certain position. Watching her, talking to her, stroking and rewarding her, but also giving her time and her space if she chose to walk away from the situation is all part of it. Sometimes even today - it can take a while to clean her ears moist. I am still trying to figure out how I can do it using a cleansing liquid without freaking her out because it REALLY stresses her to feel fluid in her ears. Even though she hates it to her guts, she still lets me do it, shaking like a twig in the wind. It breaks my heart seeing her like this, enduring the procedure, scared to her bones. I still have to figure this one out entirely. But I am already glad to feel that my dog is only trying to avoid the fluid not me and still trusting me enough to even return to me when called back without knowing if I will continue the procedure or if I am finished.

    Sometimes the solution can be as simple as a smear of peanut butter on a surface. Like I tried the other day after hubby suggested me to do when bathing her.
    She likes to swim but she is not a fan of all kinds of body care procedures. This little tip we had seen at our vet’s before and on Facebook now makes the bath a little more attractive for her, licking the fat stripe of peanut butter from the bathtub while I shampoo her.
    It is far more often about confidence, or in the bathing case comfort, trust and a feeling of security than we think. A dog that feels all this will not get to the idea to bite someone. Why would it!
    Regarding the crate, for example, maybe it is a good idea to really limit confinement to times, when nobody is at home. The other dogs should also not be around if only one is confined an the others are allowed to roam free. They should at least be in a different room then, so they also do not get a chance to tease her while she is confined.
    When the family is at home I would think in general the crate stays open and make closing it a game or training like I have described it before, starting out with the door closed only for a few seconds and rewarding calm behavior during that period and so on.
    I would also really consider giving her a worn piece of clothes of the person that is the dedicated contact…

    I could write a lot more. But this answer is already long again and I am still not really sure if I have gotten the entire picture.
    After all, if I am right, the above should point you in a good direction.
    There is an awesome book that has helped me a lot in the past and that I warmly recommend. It is a training book. But I actually love it so much because at the same time it gives so much insight into the mindset of a Bull Terrier that even if you’d never use even one of the training tips you’d still be benefitting from all the general insight. The book ist Jane Killion’s “When pigs fly”.

    My perception of your situation is likely still incomplete seeing it from afar. And even if I am perfectly right there are always different ways to reach Rome. Therefor it is always a good idea to hear different ideas and then find your own solutions and strategies.
    I am just mentioning it because my answers are taking such a huge space in your discussion. That could be misleading.
  • @ Djammy Thank You ! So much of what you wrote makes sense and I have started doing a lot of it. First I want to explain about my husband and reaching into the crate .He was by no means trying to tease her ,he is a lets fix it now kind of guy and I am sure he thought what he was doing would help her in hind site he realized how stupid it was and never to be repeated. I agree with you about her being insecure ,not knowing her place . I would say that I am her main person ,I walk her and spend the most time training her and playing with her plus I am the calmer person . The good news is that she has clamed down in the last week ,no crate aggression and no bites. We have increased her exercise and I have increased the amount of training I do with her while playing and walking with her. I am wondering if some of her increased aggression was due to the ear infection ? I have not heard of SOA I will look it up, and I have the book :) I just need to read it . I will be putting one of my shirts in the crate this afternoon when I get home .
  • I just read the thread on SOA and watched the video . If you have watched the video you will get an idea of what Mackenzie does in her crate or what she looks like wile doing it . She never does it while sleeping she is always fully awake and she will stop as soon as she comes out so I don't think its SOA .
  • edited March 3
    If it really were SOA, there are several different possible outcomes.
    I just wanted to mention it in one of my last posts for the sake of completeness because health issues can indeed also be a factor when it comes to aggression.
    I've heard of quite some Bull Terriers in the past showing signs at some point in their life. The breed is listed among those most prone to this phenomenon. Yet, it is said to be rare and often being confused with other forms of aggression. As far as I know, in many cases it occurs in their adolescence (up to thee years), making it sometimes even harder to tell, if it is indeed SOA, some other form of aggression or just juvenile testing of limits. Cases of real SOA, again, are said to be rather rare and their development and treatment can be very different. Some dogs only have kind of temporary episodes before the phenomenon vanishes again. Other individuals sadly can become completely unmanageable.
    The source of SOA is believed to be some kind of mental disorder caused by some dysfunction of the brain. SOA-dogs often also start showing seizures at some point in their life and even SOA itself is believed by some experts to be kind of a similar state as a seizure.

    Very characteristic about SOA - as the name tells - is the sudden switch: The dog goes off without any warning signs "out of the blue", attacks and immediately falls back into "normal" as if nothing has happened. Often the dog seems a little surprised after the incident, confused and NOT realizing at all that it just attacked. The trigger are often - but not always - situations when the dog is being startled, such as being approached in its sleep or from behind.
    I am speaking from my own experience here. Our last Bull Terrier went through such an episode at about the age of three. She always attacked right out of her sleep and did not remember anything once she was really conscious. Luckily, she never caused any serious harm because she was a very soft dog and even her aggression was very moderate. The episodes occurred pretty frequently for a few months before they disappeared as she grew older. Later in life she started suffering from real seizures - it was heartbreaking for us. But, looking back, I think that the SOA-like symptoms in her youth could already have been an early sign that something was not right with her health. She turned 14 years old though and was a wonderful dog. We loved her to pieces and she is the reason, why I love Bull Terriers so much.
    At the time I did not know what SOA is. Only in retrospect I was able to connect the dots and am pretty sure that's what it was, even though no vet has ever verified it.

    Up until now I do also not read SOA from what you describe.
    SOA would be irrational and unconsciously, therefore educational measures (obedience training) would not be sufficient or even able to manage that condition. A conscious behavioral pattern on the other hand is intentional and very likely corrigible by training.
    Especially your husband putting his hands in her crate in an attempt to "cure" her crate aggression and her response to me sounds like she is very conscious at that moment, which does not really sound like an SOA situation to me.

    If indicators really would pile up pointing towards a dog suffering from SOA, medical testing would be wise, because it could also indicate possible later health problems already and give you an idea of how to deal with them. Also a medication regimen could be set up to control the episodes because the condition is not curable, but in many cases the symptoms are treatable. On the other hand, of course, testing could also be a way to rule out SOA.

    Just as you, I am still more leaning towards insecurity as the source of aggression in your case, looking at your family situation. Having a person she really trusts in will help her in the long run. I am really sure of that. All of your training, everything you do together will strengthen your bond and help her become a good and confident dog. Insecurity can enhance symptoms of aggression, while confidence and a feeling of security in your presence can do a lot to help, also obedience is in the right place and rules are enforced.

    If you still feel that your family is safe around your dog I would keep watching her for now, continue training her and interacting with her and see how things develop.
    The only thing is safety first. So, I would really inform everyone in the family and if necessary take precautions - not leaving her alone with little kids or elders etc. - just to make sure everyone stays safe while things are being figured out and developing for the better. And to make sure that Mackenzie gets no chance to spoil her opportunity of growing into the family and into being a wonderful canine citizen by doing something stupid. There is always something we can do. I have found lots of truth and comfort in that realization in the past.
  • BrooklynBrooklyn New York
    What if she simply does not get enough exercise? Bullies are high energy dogs and they need daily intensive exercise in addition to walks, especially teenagers. They might calm down and become couch potatoes when get older. When the dog's needs of exercise are not fulfilled, and her unreleased energy building up, it might lead to frustration which will result in aggression. Her unreleased energy might be the cause of sudden snapping, biting and also could be the part of her crate aggression. When you lock the dog with bottled up energy in the crate, she might be redirecting her anxiety and aggression on her crate. She does not understand that it is not the crate that makes her frustrated but built up energy makes her grumpy.
    I understand it is not easy to give your dog daily intensive exercise if you work 8-9 hours a day, but 30 minutes playing ball in the backyard might not be enough for her to get rid of that energy. Our vet once told us that high energy dogs need at least 40 minutes of exercise daily. Our bully needs 1h 15 minutes to 1 hour and a half of running after the sticks on the beach in the morning to be calm and happy dog for the rest of the day. Maybe just as 1 week experiment you or your husband could take her for 40 min – 1 hour walks, play fetch or bicycle ride. Maybe your kids could take her jogging, hiking or rollerblading/skateboarding. Maybe you have a treadmill, you can put her on treadmill for some time. Anything to make her tired. Tired dog is a happy dog. I’m pretty sure she would be snoring next to you for more than 1 hour.
    What works for one person or dog might not work for another but at least you can try. It worked for us. We had very similar situation to yours except instead of your crate aggression we had leash intolerance. I was working 12 hrs a day 4-5 days a week so I could exercise Vinnie only on my days off. My husband is not a walking type so on days when I was at work the dog was limited to 15 to 20 min walks 3 times a day. He will turn 2 years old next month, he is a teen like your girl. We experienced almost every single situation you described in your posts. Growling, sudden snapping or biting without reason, extreme stubbornness, and out of nowhere he developed leash aggression. It became impossible to put the leash on without getting snapped. He was never abused or hurt by his leash. He was following everyone around the house and was always excited or restless. 3 months ago I started working from home so I decided it’s time to bring some structure, rules and boundaries into his life. Now every morning I take him for one - one hour and a half beach walk. I think this beach walk is the highlight of his day. We jog, play fetch, tag of war, dig holes and swim in the ocean even in winter (who knew that bullies like swimming). It is very easy to train the dog or learn new tricks while playing. Bullies are very smart so they need to be mentally exercised as well. They like to have a job. While out I ask him to find a good stick to play fetch or look for a big shell. Last time he was tracking the horse down and was really enjoying the process. At home we play hide and seek or hot and cold games. Their noses are amazing, they can literally find anything anywhere.

    So long story short, after few days of taking care of his physical and mental needs we noticed that Vinnie’s behavior started to change. Now he is calmer, relaxed and submissive. He listens better and respects me more, he totally accepted my leadership and became very attached to me. He did not growl or snapped in months and his leash aggression is gone. Now he brings his own leash when he needs to go potty or it’s time for the morning exercise (for that he also brings my beach pants, gloves and a hat :) ). Last night my husband told me how amazed he was by those dramatic changes in Vinnie’s behavior. Now from my own experience I believe that dog’s behavior can be improved by fulfilling their needs for exercise to get rid of that excess energy.
    But as I mentioned before what works for one dog might not work for another. But you can always give it a try.
    As for the crate aggression/ desensitization – do you put anything else in her crate besides the blanket? Bullies are like little princesses, they like to be cozy and comfy. That’s why they choose couches, chairs and their owner’s pillows (even if they know they are not allowed but still trying to land their little butts on them). Maybe if she would have some soft and cozy dog bed inside of her crate, she would feel more comfortable to stay in there? Your t-shirt is a good idea too. Along with your t-shirt you could leave a very good treat for her. So every time she is in her crate she would find something yummy. After a while she might be walking into the crate voluntarily hoping to find a treat. If she does so, it would be better if you give her space by ignoring her so she is not afraid that door will be shut right behind her. She knows that the crate door does not close by itself, you (human) close it – probably, that’s why she tries to snap at you (to stop you). But since you are out of her reach, she redirects her anxiety of being trapped towards the ceiling and the door.
    Fortunately we never experienced any crate aggression and our bully loves his crate. He spends a lot of time in there just relaxing or napping with door open. We use 2 crates – one for the night and one in the living room. We don’t cover his living room crate – in that case he can observe everything and everyone (so he knows when fun begins :) ) and does not feel excluded while we are having dinner or watching TV. We never go into his crate when he is there, ever. That’s his space and we respect it. We never crate him as punishment, we never raise the voice when he is inside. That is his den. I attached the picture of Vinnie relaxing in his crate, watching my husband cooking.
    It was just my thoughts on your situation because it felt very similar to our own. But I am not an expert so I might be wrong.
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  • @ Brooklyn I agree about the exercise .The 30 min playing fetch is on top of a 40 min walk every evening and a short run in the morning 2 or 3 times a week . I also have 2 other dogs that she plays with. The more exercise she gets the better.
  • @Djammy Yes to the safety always , she has calmed some in the last week her crate reaction is only happening maybe once a day and when she does it now we say no and walk back out of the room for a min. when we go back in she is fine.

    @Brooklyn She has lots of blankets in her crate ,I tried a bed but after a week she decided to eat it so out it went. She has no issues going into her crate all we have to say is crate and she will run to it and go in its only when closing or opening the door that she reacts. Your Vinnie looks a lot like my Mackenzie :)
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  • @Djammy things are going so much better incorporating a lot of your suggestions has really helped. :)
  • I am so happy to hear that things start running a little more smoothly lately for you. I hope this also takes some of the tension off your backs. Because the training and development of a dog in general needs to be rewarding and fun for the owner. That makes it so much easier to deal with everything that could be in our way, such as setbacks or slower learning periods. I keep my fingers crossed for your continued progress.
  • @Djammy A little update, Mackenzie is doing wonderful ! She rarely reacts in her crate and is just becoming such a sweet dog.
  • Awesome news, @corey90260 !
    Sometimes I really feel like dealing with a mute - very furry :) - person. They are so ... present in the here and now and crave to be the center of attention. They can be moody and have a temper ... owners HAVE to love dealing with all of that or it can become really stressful.
    Glad you believe in your girl and find your joint path!
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