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Discussion Starter #1
My Heeler pup is a very quiet and observant dog. He has slight dominant traits, very slight; but mainly tends to be rather submissive besides his very high prey drive. He has an odd quality about him that I keep trying to read in to and can't quite figure out if it is good or bad.
He is a good mix between independent and attentive; but he will, at odd times, purposefully lean on me or walk in between my legs. He even, for the first time, leaned against my sister. His poster is normally very calm, but attentive at these times. I have never sensed any dominance or guarding from him when he does this, but I am afraid that I could be missing it.
I currently just ignore the behavior since it does not happen often. Could this be a dominant behavior that I should discourage, or is it something I can let carry on?
 

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Perhaps he just wants attention?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I just doesn't seem like it. He will do it at such odd times. UNLESS it is a bit of a jealousy type behavior. He will do it most often when I am playing ball with the dogs. He is very dramatic about it too. He doesn't just walk up and lean on you; no, he will BACK up to you or swing his bum around until it meets your leg. He will even back up in between your legs rather than walking straight through them. He does it with such energy and then once he gets where he wants, he just calms down and leans, or watches the other dogs. He will even stay there while the others chase the ball, and walk with me if I move. I don't know, maybe it is for attention. I have had dogs lean on me for attention and it just doesn't seem the same. He never looks at me when doing it, usually is paying more attention to everything around him. It is almost more guarding than anything. I need a video of it.
I swear, he is a little drama queen.
 

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My Echo (pwd) does this. She's usually concentrating on something else going on around us, BUT wants to be sure she knows exactly where I am, so she either leans into my leg or puts her paw on my foot. She is also a leaner just because she loves to snuggle as well. But for your pup I'd guess it's the former.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
so, you think I should just let it be? I only ask because I have an aussie that if you let go even the smallest of things, it makes a big difference with her. She is a very extreme and difficult dog, though. I just don't want to overlook something that could be important :)
 

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It truly is hard to say without me seeing the dog doing this in action vs. a written description. I had a dog that I could not give an inch for as well, so I understand your concerns.
 

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How old is he? He's a puppy, right?

From your second description, it sounds like he's using you as "base!!" What I mean is, he's seeing the other dogs begin goofy, fast, rough. My own puppy hides by me as well when my other dogs get a little riled up. He uses me as a safe place because it's not likely the other dogs will come crashing through my legs where he's hiding :)
 

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On the other hand, my little ACD cross definitely 'guards' me. I'm a resource to be guarded apparently. He'll do the same, rub himself against me, or force himself onto my lap if I'm sitting or kneeling on the ground. Then if I watch him carefully, I can see him give the hard eye stare to any dog (other than Mollie) that comes close. When he does that, I walk straight away from him and keep away and don't give him any attention.
If I don't realise and another dog comes close, it escalates quickly. His ears start pinning, lip licking, he goes all stiff and then it's all on. So, as long as I keep my attention on him, (which can be a pain if I'm trying to chatter and enjoy someones company), I do get a lot of body signals.
So, knowing what I know, I'd just keep a wary eye on your pups body language and be prepared to act, especially if another dog comes close and seeks your attention.
I am really hoping though, that you just have a huggy dog that adores being close to you. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
On the other hand, my little ACD cross definitely 'guards' me. I'm a resource to be guarded apparently. He'll do the same, rub himself against me, or force himself onto my lap if I'm sitting or kneeling on the ground. Then if I watch him carefully, I can see him give the hard eye stare to any dog (other than Mollie) that comes close. When he does that, I walk straight away from him and keep away and don't give him any attention.
If I don't realise and another dog comes close, it escalates quickly. His ears start pinning, lip licking, he goes all stiff and then it's all on. So, as long as I keep my attention on him, (which can be a pain if I'm trying to chatter and enjoy someones company), I do get a lot of body signals.
So, knowing what I know, I'd just keep a wary eye on your pups body language and be prepared to act, especially if another dog comes close and seeks your attention.
I am really hoping though, that you just have a huggy dog that adores being close to you. Good luck!
this..what you said. I do believe this is exactly what he is doing, but he just hasn't escalated yet due to my other dogs stay a good distance from me when playing ball. He is a very quiet and discrete dog that doesn't overly react. I do believe it is a bit of a guarding instinct coming out.
 
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Yeah, I hope it's not that, but I think if you suspect it, and you know your dog better than anyone, then chances are it is. Joey will, to my horror, also guard anyone else he, really, really likes. Especially if that person makes all the dogs excited as people are apt to do. I learnt the hard way I've got to intervene and take him away before greeting anyone else if there are other dogs (other than Mollie) around.
Is he ok with the other dogs around food?
 

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My boy, Scotty, does this now. He didn't use to but I'm now "sanctuary". He had a rather bad bowl over. Scotty and another dog got hit so hard that I thought he'd rebroken his leg and that the other dog's leg got broke. Now, whenever the other dogs get rambunctious and running around, he comes to me for safety. He keeps a close eye on what the other dogs are doing the whole time. He was 4 years old when this happened, so it probably wouldn't take an incident this "strong" to make a pup a little wary.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah, I hope it's not that, but I think if you suspect it, and you know your dog better than anyone, then chances are it is. Joey will, to my horror, also guard anyone else he, really, really likes. Especially if that person makes all the dogs excited as people are apt to do. I learnt the hard way I've got to intervene and take him away before greeting anyone else if there are other dogs (other than Mollie) around.
Is he ok with the other dogs around food?

All my dogs guard their food from each if need be and he normally takes his food out to the back part of the yard while the girls eat up close to the patio. My dogs are good about leaving each other alone while eating though and are perfectly happy and calm when waiting to be fed, so I can't really comment on how he would react around other dogs with food.

I would IMAGINE, if a strange dog did not respect his boundaries, he would react aggressively with his food.
 
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Yeah, mine is super aggressive around food. I thought I was doing really great with him for the past 6 months, but he's reached a plateau and is going downhill again right now. His guarding has morphed into me, treats, toys, friends, house, car, in fact everything he can possibly guard he guards. In the past month he's getting aggressive with strange dogs and, to my dismay, dogs he's known and played with for the 6 months I've had him. We are going to a veterinarian behaviourist on Friday as I'm obviously doing something wrong and I have no idea what it is. This dog, and I imagine your dog too, gets heaps of exercise, mental stimulation, socialised as much as I possibly can. I know Cattle Dogs can have that mean streak in them, it's just the type of dog they were bred to be. My vet told me I have to learn to manage it as he doesn't think it can be changed.
But enough about my woes. I'll let you know what the behaviourist tells me, if there is anything I think could help as our pups sound similar. Joe is about 10 months old now.
 

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MollyWoppy,
My first dog was like that. He was a minpin, though, so much smaller, but it was exhausting trying to manage this dog. He lived 14 years, and though I missed him after he passed away, it was also a big relief not having to manage him and stay on top of his every action.

Curious what your behaviorist has to say.
 

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MollyWoppy, it sounds like your Joey and Teaghan, my standard poodle, are twins separated at birth. I have to do the exact same thing with Teaghan. She's so stinking quick to escalate things that I can't always walk away.
At my sisters house, I might be sitting at a chair working on my laptop. Teaghan will be lying clear across the room. One of my sisters dogs might walk by and just glance at me, Teaghan decides she needs to intervene and attacks...
 

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I'll be interested to know what your behaviorist says also. I don't have access to a vet behaviorist in the mountains of Montana.:-/
 

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I'll let you know for sure. I have to drive 3 hours there and 3 hours back to Palm Beach. How I'm going to explain it to 'im indoors' has yet to be figured out. And the cost, my lordey, it's expensive. 'im indoors' will not be happy, but he won't figure that part out for another month or so, well after the fact. However, I've got to give Joe the best chance I can because it must be a pretty stressful way for a dog to live his life, always on guard.
He should be a carefree, happy go lucky puppy, and he is some of the time, but he is guarding more and more things and I don't know why it's increasing. Unless it's the teenage thing. Luckily he is awesome with humans, but my worry is that will also change and I just can't risk that with my living situation. So, a lot of things to figure out with this little dogs brain. Or my brain as I have to be a large part of the problem. But yes, I'll let you know what she says. Will be interesting, thats for sure.
 

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Yeah, mine is super aggressive around food. I thought I was doing really great with him for the past 6 months, but he's reached a plateau and is going downhill again right now. His guarding has morphed into me, treats, toys, friends, house, car, in fact everything he can possibly guard he guards. In the past month he's getting aggressive with strange dogs and, to my dismay, dogs he's known and played with for the 6 months I've had him. We are going to a veterinarian behaviourist on Friday as I'm obviously doing something wrong and I have no idea what it is. This dog, and I imagine your dog too, gets heaps of exercise, mental stimulation, socialised as much as I possibly can. I know Cattle Dogs can have that mean streak in them, it's just the type of dog they were bred to be. My vet told me I have to learn to manage it as he doesn't think it can be changed.
But enough about my woes. I'll let you know what the behaviourist tells me, if there is anything I think could help as our pups sound similar. Joe is about 10 months old now.
Dog aggression doesn't mean there's anything "wrong" with him or that you did anything wrong with him. DA is just natural for some dogs, and ACDs tend to have dog issues. DA can't be socialized, trained, exercised, or loved out of a dog that's genetically predisposed to it. You CAN train him to not act out just because he sees a dog, but you can't train him to love other dogs or be friendly with them. Your boy is starting to mature and come into a more adult temperament, which is exactly when a lot of DA dogs start to come into their nature.

Managing DA dogs sucks, but it can be done. Riddle is not dog friendly and it's definitely a pain, but she still lives a very normal, active life.

Edit: Also, DA has absolutely nothing to do with human aggression. DA and HA are totally separate entities. A dog can be extremely DA and still completely human friendly. Don't worry about him becoming HA unless he starts giving you a reason to.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Yeah, mine is super aggressive around food. I thought I was doing really great with him for the past 6 months, but he's reached a plateau and is going downhill again right now. His guarding has morphed into me, treats, toys, friends, house, car, in fact everything he can possibly guard he guards. In the past month he's getting aggressive with strange dogs and, to my dismay, dogs he's known and played with for the 6 months I've had him. We are going to a veterinarian behaviourist on Friday as I'm obviously doing something wrong and I have no idea what it is. This dog, and I imagine your dog too, gets heaps of exercise, mental stimulation, socialised as much as I possibly can. I know Cattle Dogs can have that mean streak in them, it's just the type of dog they were bred to be. My vet told me I have to learn to manage it as he doesn't think it can be changed.
But enough about my woes. I'll let you know what the behaviourist tells me, if there is anything I think could help as our pups sound similar. Joe is about 10 months old now.
whew honey now you have me worried! I don't THINK he is escalating at all and I am doing my best to watch every tiny behavior, but what you described is very similar to the way my Australian shepherd acts(except she is aggressive towards me and is the most miserable dog I have ever seen, despite best efforts) If my ACD ever took that turn, I honestly will not be able to handle a second dog like that. My aussie is lucky she still has a house over her head until her time passes, she pushes her luck some days still. After 9 years of her behavior, it will be a big relief for me and all the other animals in the house when we no longer have to tip toe around miss crazy pants.


edited to ask, is your pup neutered? I was waiting until my guy was at least a year because his back legs have always seemed slightly 'off' when he walks. I wanted to make sure he matured properly before neutering.
 

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Yeah, he's neutered. At seven weeks old. Yep, thats SEVEN weeks. I almost didn't take him because of that, but they begged me, and I'd fallen in love with the little pup by then anyway. Thats what they do with rescues in Mississippi apparently, neuter them very young before they adopt them out. To be honest, if your pup was as bad as my little Joe here, I'm sure you'd know by now.
How do the rest of your family deal with a human aggressive dog? Thats my greatest worry, that he will bite my husband.

And SD, you reckon I should just save my money huh? (joking). Must admit, after what you said I had to sit down and have a good think about it. It would be such a relief if you are right and they don't normally turn HA. I guess I'd much rather have an DA than HA dog, given a choice.
 
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