22 month old male, aggressive towards strange children

by Toni

Addy is our baby. We've had him since he was 10 weeks and have been raising him with our young sons. They are now 8 and 5 but were 3 and 6 when we adopted Addy.

Addy has been in extensive training and is well socialized with people and dogs. He is an inside dog that other than a few puppy issues, the worst thing he does is excessively lick. He is an absolute joy.

He looks scary and sounds scary when he barks, but has never been aggressive towards people who are in our home. He loves our pool man, our housekeeper, our babysitters, our houseguests, he thinks he is a little lap dog. The only thing we have begun to notice is that when our sons friends are over to play, he growls at the kids and will lunge at them.

We kennel him most of the time we have "playdates" so that they boys are free to play in or out and not worry about the dog. but Addy will lunge at them through the kennel, scaring the boys. A few times we have taken him out and my husband has introduced him to the kids and he'll be fine and lick the boys and then ignore them, UNLESS the boys show any fear, then Addy growls at them. It seems that any child that shows fear of him he gets aggressive towards.

The other day a boy was here and I was coming back from a walk with Addy, as I was opening the gate to put him in the yard the boy came around the corner and jumped back in fear and at the same time and Addy jumped out at him and nipped him in the back. I'm pretty sure he was surprised to see the boy, I know I was, but it was aggressive and it happened really fast. He didn't get the boy as I was able to pull him back, but all the same....

We have never left any kids alone with the dog, nor would we, but I am concerned that if we cannot eliminate this behavior, Addy will always have to be kenneled or fenced when we have kids over to play, thus excluding him from his "pack". Any advice?

Like I said, this only happens with kids, not adults. Strangers have walked into our backyard not knowing he was there and he's done nothing except bark at them. He welcomes any adult we bring into our home and introduce him to, but when we do the same with the kids he acts aggressively towards some of them.

Toni - this is definitely something that you're right to be concerned about because it could end up causing serious trouble! The good news is that it sounds as though Addy has a stable temperament so he's not an 'aggressive' or 'dangerous' dog, but his behavior in certain situations could be considered to be both.

Not actually knowing the dog, or seeing his behavior, means that it's difficult to be certain about what's causing it, but I would guess it's part of the adolescence-to-maturity type thing and that it's a mostly dominant behavior that is being shown in an aggressive way.

Addy most likely sees other children as being below him in the 'pack' structure (dogs often see children as puppies. When they're pups themselves then the kids are 'siblings' but an adult dog may see them as toddlers who need to be put in their place).

He's probably trying to exert his authority immediately so that there's no chance of them usurping him, but that is NOT okay. He needs to learn to respect ALL humans, however small (or unfamiliar) they may be.

Dogs definitely sense fear and are more likely to bully a dog (or human) who is afraid of them. Plus nervous kids tend to squeal or use a high voice, they might run or flap their arms etc. and all of this triggers a prey drive instinct. Some breeds, and some individual dogs, have a stronger prey drive than others and this may be a factor here.

Honestly this is something I strongly recommend that you get professional help with, now, while Addy is still young and his behavior is not deeply ingrained.

A professional dog trainer (who is experienced with large guardian breeds and who only uses positive training methods) or a dog behaviorist would be my suggestion.

There should be several in your area and if I were you I would call around and explain the problem and see who can help and what they would recommend/suggest.

Obviously you don't want to have to confine Addy every time there are other kids at your house, but at this stage you really have no other option. With behavior modification and training help you should be able to quash this 'attitude' he's showing though. So I would start looking for some professional input asap.

I wish you lots of luck with it all. Hopefully some other visitors will have more advice or recommendations for you all too. Thanks for visiting! ~ Sue

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Dec 13, 2013
by: AnonymousTammy

The boy (10) got scared - Beau was very big, so I can't blame him.....but when Beau got to him he just stopped and barked....then the kid punched Beau square in the forehead. Well, he being on high alert in protective instinct thought at this point he'd found the threat and bit the boy in the calf. The boy ended up getting stitches, and after a long battle with his parents (who had always stereo typed our dog) we lost Beau. It took us a few years to even get another dog, and 10+ years to get another Rottie. There was a time when I considered that we may never have a Rottie again because there is a big part of me that doesn't believe Beau did anything wrong that day. I mean, I am very sorry that the boy was bitten, I really am, but the boy assaulted my dog and Beau was protecting himself and his family...he didn't understand 10 year old kid to 150 lb dog ratio, he just knew he got hit and instinct kicked...heck, that is a justifiable even human instinct. But he suffered a worse fate because he was a Rottie. We have a 28 year old daughter who was bitten in the face by a cocker spaniel when she was 5, had 37 and skin grafts on her face and has perm scars....she was blamed for putting her face near the dog while he ate. Beau never showed any agression to anyone ever but this was that time in his life that he was still figuring out how to reconcile domestication and pack mentality. Hopefully things will settle down, for your Addy, as he gets a little older but for now, may I suggest (if you don't already have one) one of those leashes that has a mouth guard...I can't recall what they are called, but they have what looks like a little collar that goes around his nose and mouth (not a muzzle, I think those things make dogs look mean and scare people). I would just hate to see our story repeat itself it was so sad and traumatic for our family and the poor kid that Beau bit. Blessings and hoping all the best for you and your Addy~

Dec 13, 2013
Our story of Beau NEW
by: Anonymous

Part I-
Sue's feed back is so right on! Our first Rottie, Beau was a little like that. The boys used to love to wrestle with him when he was smaller but as he got older and matured to a full 150 lbs, they had a lot more trouble keeping the upper hand. Unfortunately, in his mind, this bumped him up on the totum pole, so to speak. As he came into adulthood, at about 2, we were fully aware of Beau's pack and protect mentality...he wore it as part of his demeanor. Beau was the biggest sweetest goofball you would ever want to meet, but he was VERY territorial. He had his flock and his farm (family and home) to protect, and that is what he did. It wasn't the way we raised him, it was the loyalty and working mind of the breed.

Our Beau was in the back yard one day, and we have zero lot clearance and there was a grass fire near by. The air was full of smoke, and there were helicopters flying over and Beau went on high alert. I explain about the zero lot clearance because the only way to inside was through a gate that lead to the front yard. Now our Beau didn't like wheels, I don't know why but if it was on wheels, he barked at it (never did figure out how to correct this). Because he was so upset the day of the fire, my boys (both) went out to bring him inside. He was on such high alert because of all that was going on, my boys (12 & 14 at the time) couldn't hold him on leash, just as I got outside to help, he took off across the street to a boy who was on a scooter (wheels).

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