This is actually a bad sign. And no, he won't outgrow this. He'll actually get worse if it's not dealt with. A dog needs to learn who the Alpha dog is in the family. Right now you're allowing him to be the Alpha dog when it should be you. This dog needs socialization fast. I'd recommend you contact a dog trainer or possibly a behaviorist and ask if they will work with you and the dog. They can socialize him around other dogs and people and teach you to take back the reigns as the Alpha dog. I don't know if it's possible or not. I have to warn you, this may not work. If you didn't have kids I'd be more encouraged to work with the dog. The thing that worries me is how unpredictable he could be. He could bite one of your children. Dogs need to learn as soon as possible to let you mess with his food, take it, etc. This teaches him that you're the master. What if one of your children tried to take a toy from his mouth? I don't recommend you putting your hand in his dish now, though. You might get bit. This would be best done by a trainer. They have tools they can use to work with the dogs without being bit. If you want to try this route, I'd think this would be your best or only hope for change in this dog. You may have to consider though, giving him to a family without children who would be willing to work with him. Best wishes to you. I hope it all works out. God bless.
I completely agree with April. Food aggression isn't a good sign, and it's a symptom of a dog with dominance issues. Somewhere along the line, he lost sight of humans being his pack leaders, so he filled that void himself. That is a normal response for any dog without human leadership. It wouldn't surprise me to see the aggressive behavior escalate to other areas if this problem isn't nipped in the bud.
I'm not as pessimistic as april where these problems are concerned. ANY dog can learn to be calm and submissive, but you have to have the right tools to accomplish the change. The key is consistency in discipline - just like you would apply it to your children. Dogs need to know what the household rules are. If those rules aren't made clear to them, they'll happily make up their own and it's generally not what you want. :-)
DO contact a trainer, or better yet a behaviorist. I think Bark Busters is a nation-wide franchise that addresses behavior issues moreso than basic obedience training. If cost is a problem, you can learn techniques by yourself. Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel) has DVDs available at rental stores, and you can get his books at the library. I've adopted his techniques myself and can personally say they work wonders! You'll learn how to effectively communicate with your dog, and that pays off in ways that may surprise you. You'll have an entirely different and more meaningful relationship with your dog once you both learn to communicate. The great thing about these techniques is that you have to get your entire family on board - especially the children.
In the meantime, is your dog crate trained? To avoid any biting issues until your dog is rehabilitated, feed him in the crate. The crate should be a place of relaxation and safety for him. If he feels no threat while eating in his crate, he'll likely take far less than 2 hours.
As for the peeing issue, in what circumstances does it happen? Does he boldly walk up and water your leg? That is a dominance issue and he is marking his property. Not good. If he just stands there like a deer in the headlights with his tail down and lets go, that is a fear response. Same thing if he rolls over in front of you and pees all over himself. That is a fearful, insecure dog who is trying to say, "You're the boss! Uncle!"
I think you stand every chance of having a balanced, happy dog in your home, but you just need the right tools to turn things around. Yes, it takes time and work and cooperation from every family member, but the results are worth it.
I didn't mean to sound pessimistic. I guess I'm just very cautious. I had a cocker spaniel we tried to adopt from the Humane Society and I took him immediately to a dog trainer friend I knew because this dog hadn't been socialized well and was showing some agression. As I was walking towards the trainer with the dog, the dog was lunging at him and barking and the trainer was shaking his head as he approached us and told me that was NOT a good sign at all. He said he could work with him but didn't recommend he be around children. I gave the dog back to the Humane Society with the promise that they'd contact a cocker spaniel rescue group and give him to them. I didn't want to risk it with my kids.
Jaybay, you sound pretty knowledgable about dogs. Do you think this DVD would work with an older dog who barks too much and doesn't listen well? I did write a post about this but nobody responded. He's always barked a lot but it's been more lately. He's 10 years old so I don't know if there's much we can do at this point. Otherwise he's a pretty good dog. Would you mind reading my post and giving me your opinion? Thanks.
I hope it works out with the jack russle. I heard they can by a bit hyper to begin with. Maybe if you exercise him real well every day he'll be calmer. Good luck with everything.
I have a Catahoula, she is about 60 pounds, and the breed is known to be pretty high energy. We got her at 2.5 months of age. After about a month in our house, she finally growled at me when I came near her with her food. I knew she was a dog that if I let this get out of hand, it would be a BIG problem. What I did, is feed her by hand for about 2 months. She had to sit and be a good dog before I gave her each small handful of food. No agression, no lunging, no nipping my fingers as she ate. After that time I went back to bowl feeding. She was cured of the agression I think about 99% plus. But she still is sneaky, if you are careless with food in your hand, she will still try to grab it from you, not it an agressive way, but still not good. But she will let me take things out of her mouth, and will drop her toys when I tell her too before she goes outside. And she will not try to steal her little step brother's food. They are a little 6lbs chihuahua and a 12 lbs rat terrier. I have more food agression issues with the smallest guy, but his issue is with our other dogs. But, he will let me take his food from him.
I basically agree with all that was said above, you can't let this continue, especially with a Jack Russell, who pound for pound, are one of the strongest dogs I've ever been around. Since he is not a puppy anymore, you definately need to work with a professional if you can.
I agree with the other posters...seek professional help ASAP!
Also, I read a very interesting article about food aggression in dogs by this trainer who trains military and police dogs. The trainer suggested spitting into the food. Yes, that sounds gross, but there is a logic to it. In wolf-pack behavior, the alpha gets first dibs on the food. If a lower status wolf tries to approach the alpha to eat, the alpha will show aggression. Once he's done, he gives the remaining scraps to the rest of the pack. Your dog is territorial with his food, cause he's the alpha. If he smells your scent in it, then he's no longer the alpha. It may take a few times for the dog to realize your scent is in his food now before the aggression stops. If I were you, I would still seek professional help as quickly as possible, especially if he's territorial with other things.
What great ideas on this thread! Sickboy, I love what you did with your catahoula. Handfeeding in conjunction was a great inspiration, and it obviously worked very well. Of course, the key to the whole thing was that you had the patience to keep up with that training exercise, and because you were consistent, it worked wonders. Great job!
puppy_boo, another great idea! When a dog licks your face and mouth area, it's not "kisses" as we humans define it. It is normal behavior from a subordinate pack member to the alpha; in other words, "Where have you been? Got any food in there for me?!" If anyone is too grossed out with the idea of spitting on their dog's food, you can accomplish the same thing by mixing it with your bare hands. You're still getting your scent on the food, which further emphasizes to the dog that his food comes from you, the pack leader.
April - I'll look for your original post here in the next few minutes. Can't imagine how I missed it, sorry about that! The short version is yes, you can definitely train an older dog and rehab any unwanted behavior. It will likely take longer than it would with a puppy, but it is absolutely possible to get the results you want.
OOPS! My comment to sickboy was horrifically worded. What I MEANT to say was: handfeeding in conjunction with discipline... :-)
thanks for all your ideas.and i dont trust my dog.when he eats me &my husband locks him on the deck.i want to get rid of him,but my son has a fit.his papal gave it to him.im nervous when my kids are around him when he eats so they have to come in when he eats.trying to convince my kids its for the best.going to let my son read all your post so he can understand its not just me being overprotecting.and the dog is realy not safe to have.again thanks to you all
Please try not to get defensive when you read this, but I think you are a big part of the problem. You're admittedly afraid of this dog, and trust me, he knows it! When dogs are around a fearful person, they take advantage of it and the result is an aggressive and domineering animal.
You really need professional assistance to over come this problem - for yourself AND for the dog. Dumping him off on some other person really isn't a good solution. Just like shrinking his world out of fear isn't a solution. Please please please do yourself and your entire family a favor and get a behaviorist on board. At the very least, check out The Dog Whisperer's TV show, DVDs and books. If you learn and follow through with the behavior modification and rehabilitation on this dog, you will never ever again be at a loss or afraid of any dog that comes into your life. The benefits are enormous in other areas of life as well. You'll find that you will be far more confident in your dealings with humans and other animals. No fear! :-)
If you do ultimately decide that you can't deal with him, please contact a Jack Russell rescue group in your area. Rescuers are more than willing to work on behavior issues and must get them resolved before rehoming the dog. Everything you've written about him indicates that he is not at all a hopeless case deserving of euthanasia. Either you and your family must do the work to redefine your relationship with dogs, or you have to responsibly find him a new home.