Tag Archives: aggression

Aggression update for Abby the Scottish Terrier

Hi everyone,

Abby is still doing really well.  Refocussing her attention to me changes her demeanour such that she ignores the other dogs.  Even Ann admitted she is doing really well.  (Thanks Ann!)  It has been a pleasure to walk Abby over the last two weeks.  Well, a pleasure in that she doesn’t freak out over other dogs..not so much a pleasure when she decides not to walk).

Something in the comment that Russie made on the first post really made me think.

Russie wrote “We had a much stronger relationship and he clearly trusted me, which was no small thing. He could be distracted with a click or a word–even when another dog was coming at him, teeth bared. He knew I was there to support him, and, more importantly, he was less afraid and had more confidence in himself.”

I think Abby now knows that I am going to handle the situation and it is not up to her.  I once told Ann that Abby was not a confident Scottie as noises and new situations were difficult for her.  Having her focus on me let her know that I could be trusted and that she could relax.  I had her back.  This has changed our relationship and I wish I had done this sooner.

Thanks again for everyone’s advice.  I am getting the Abby I knew back.



Abby’s doggie aggression – reader comments

We had some great feedback from everyone regarding Abby’s disposition toward some other dogs.  I am glad to hear I am not alone in my Scottie experience.

Here is a quick update:  We have had a really good week.  I have restarted her training and getting her to “Watch Me!” (picture me saying that in a loud, squeaky, happy voice).  I use treats and get her to stop, sit, and look at me in the eyes (done by holding a special type of treat by the tip of my nose).  She gets the treat and lots of praise.  I do this each time we see a new dog.  It took a couple of times but now she moves away with me when she sees a new dog and waits for the treat and calmly watches the dog go by.

I don’t always give a treat but I will always praise her.  We have not had any new incidents.  (I am quickly touching wood as I type this.)

Thanks everyone for your feedback.  Here is a summary of some the comments below:

Shari recommended:

Talk to the vet.  Abby might need something like Prozac.  Never used it myself but it might help”.

Sandra wrote:

Oh do I know about walking the difficult Scottie!  We are usually at the farm in mid state Georgia, of course, on a leash except for the family time we spend at the pond when Ansel is so busy fishing he can be trusted not to “break bad” and chase into the woods.  When we have to be in the city we time our walks so to avoid other dogs.  There is always the dog not on a leash whose owner asserts the friendliness of their dog and I assert the non-friendliness of Ansel.  Usually I scoop him up and try to hold him to prevent his work on the other dog.  Ansel was abused as a puppy (now eight years old) and the slightest event can set him off on fearful aggression.  We tried a muzzle, but felt it was causing more damage than good.  What seems to have worked is to provide him a squeaky toy to channel his fearful aggression onto the toy in lieu of the dog, cat, bicycle, etc….you know.


Ansel’s Handmaiden

(Love her sign-off as Ansel’s Handmaiden)

Janet recommended the pet safe bark collar:

I had the same problem with a little breed mama that I adopted.  A pet safe bark collar has really helped when it is needed.   You might try it on Abby.  It has done wonders for Stormy’s attitude.  I talked to a dog behavior specialist in TN recommended by TN Scottie Rescue.  He gave me some very good tips on how to handle the aggression issue.

Here is a link to Pet Safe Bark Collars on Amazon.

Joyce had success with the pinch collar:

I have a two year old with the same problem.  I got her a pinch collar and used properly works like a miracle.  I too have to be aware of what’s coming around the bend, but I found if I make her sit and give her the command “wait”,  she is quiet as a mouse.  Sometimes too, I just say wait and pass them and she is good.  She has been a tough one, toughest I have had and she is my 5th.  Takes patience and training.  You may want to actually “set her up” so you can practice.   Before getting the pinch my leg came between her mouth and another passing dog a couple of times.  Ouch!

Good luck.  The pinch is almost always loose because she behaves.  But just a slight correction gets her right back on track.  Just puts even pressure equally around her neck and is miles away from hurting.  I never used one before, but it works so well, and is more humane than clipping a leash to a collar and her gasping for breath as the regular collar will choke her.  Even a choke collar is better used properly will hang loose if the dog behaves, but good for corrections.

Pinch Collars on Amazon.

Judith has similar troubles with her little Molly:

Sorry to hear about Abby.  It really sucks when your scotties go postal!  I have the same issue with my Molly.  Loves people, is insecure and bites when around other dogs!  A walk is sometimes an exercise in futility.  I’m really good at hiding behind cars when I see another person walking down the street with their dog.  I truly can’t believe the sounds coming out of Molly!  And to make matters worse, she has taught Angus (my wheaton scottie) the same aggressive tactics!  Angus loves to run up to other dogs and bites them to get them to play!  Needless to say, we no longer go to the dog park!!

Mary had success with her Yorkie, Buster, by enrolling him in a training class:

I enrolled him in a socialization class for a year in and half and it really worked. One night a week we would meet with the class and our trainer would have us run drills for an hour and half. We would line up with 25- 30 dogs in close proximity, criss crossing in front of each other, going over jumps but always following the leader, and always moving. We would take breaks away from the group and then get called back in to line up. It worked brilliantly! Now whenever Buster sees an approaching dog on our walks, it’s no big deal. I guess he wore himself out on being aggressive when he couldn’t tackle 25- 30 dogs all at once. I recommend looking in your area for a good trainer who works with socializing groups. It was a great experience and we were all there for the same reason, so you feel a lot less critical about yourself and your dog.

Russie provided titles for books that helped him and his little Scottie.  Fluoxetine was also diagnosed which helped.

I relied on these books to help me gain insight into the mind of an aggressive dog:

  1. Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification
  2. Fight!: A Practical Guide to the Treatment of Dog-dog Aggression
  3. Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog by Emma Parsons

I also love the book Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier. I don’t think I understood the sometimes fragile psyche of an aggressive dog. Parts of the book brought tears to my eyes. Hers is a relationship-based method of training. (She has a website with a wealth of information on this subject.)

But not really having the energy at that precise moment to try harder, I enlisted the help of drugs for my frightened and bite-prone boy. He was on the lowest dose of fluoxetine available, but it made a tremendous difference in his attitude and behavior. Training was easier as he felt relaxed. We had a much stronger relationship and he clearly trusted me, which was no small thing. He could be distracted with a click or a word–even when another dog was coming at him, teeth bared. He knew I was there to support him, and, more importantly, he was less afraid and had more confidence in himself. (You’d think confidence wouldn’t be the problem, right? But so often it is.)

Please check out all the Comments.

Scottish Terrier Terror

The last few weeks have been difficult as Abby has decided that she will only be nice to dogs she currently knows or to unneutered males.  This is making walks more like traversing enemy territory.  One must scout what is coming around the bend and try to get Abby’s attention focussed on something or someone else until the dog moves on.

She is really good at hiding her intentions.  Other owners will say, “But she is wagging her tail.”  I have to tell them that it is not wagging but a tail held tight with excitement that is moving back and forth as she tries to hold in the tension.  The problem with her attitude is that she gets so excited that she will turn and bite anything.  That anything is usually me, my jeans, and my coat.  I have holes in my pants and coat and a nice scar on my leg.

Abby’s behaviour has made walks more tense.  When a new dog comes along, I try to stay relaxed and make sure that the dog does not come too close.  I also try to walk with dogs (and owners) that she has had a problem with. This usually works as they are now considered a bit of a pack so she accepts them without issue.

She is always on a leash now as I cannot trust her.  The last time I let her off, she went after a lovely, old Labrador who was just hanging out as all the owners chatted.  Everything was quiet and then Abby just looked up, saw this dog (even though we had been standing there for about 10 minutes) and just ran at it and tried to bite it.  Thank goodness it was wearing a wool sweater to protect it. There was no damage done but I could no longer trust her.

Now, the biggest worry is about off-leash dogs.  Dogs will run up and their owners shout, “Don’t worry.  He (She) is friendly.” That leaves me shouting, “But my dog is not.”  People with large dogs just say that is okay. They don’t realize that I am hanging on to what I can only describe as a tasmanian devil with larger teeth.

Ann agreed to babysit Abby for me for a couple of days.  Before I was to go away, Ann and I met for the regular weekend walk.  Unfortunately, Abby saw a dog that just set her off.  She turned into a screaming, whirling dervish.  Ann was stunned at the level of aggression that was displayed.  I knew she was thinking, “Uh, I have to watch that crazy dog?” (I ended up not going away so she did not have worry after all.)

This behaviour is challenging.  Abby was socialized and loved to play at the park with all dogs.  I am starting to retrain her from the beginning to get her to relearn proper etiquette and that I am the boss (wish me luck with that one).  I am also considering a muzzle.

Wish me luck!

Abby and her bestie Bridget:

Dreaming they are mountain goats.
Dreaming they are mountain goats.


How to deal with sparring Scottie dogs

Reader Gloria needs help to cope with her two feisty Scottish Terriers, but as a one-dog man, I can’t offer much. I’m hoping that lovely grammar dominatrix knows as much about multiple dogs as she does about prepositions. Here’s Gloria’s dilemma:

I’m not sure where to post my question, but this looks like a promising spot. I have two young Scotties, half siblings. My male brindle, Echo, is now 15 months old. Chloe, my wheaten female, is 9 months. They spar at least once a day, and sometimes 2-3-4 times a day. My husband thinks they do it because they’re jealous and want most of my attention for themselves. I am diligent about being fair to both of them (kisses, treats, holding, petting). I know Scotties have that prickly part of their personality as well as need to be ferocious. But, should I be concerned about this? Try to stop it? I do shout and try to break them up when they’re really going at it. They each tease each other, steal toys, and know how to start a session by grabbing the other dog’s collar. They’ve been able to nick each other under the eye a couple times. I know the female should/will dominate, and she is ferocious, but Echo is not wanting to give up his dominance either. He initially backed down from her, but now knows that he is taller and has long legs and can reach out and put her down by the neck. She immediately squirms loose and goes at it again. The only time Echo truly leaves her alone is when she hovers over something (rawhide or frog) and growls low and seriously. They also have many hours of running outside together, looking out the windows together, chasing critters, watching hummingbirds, walking together. So, they are not always hostiles. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Ask the Scottie News: What do I do about a foot/toe/ankle-biting Scottish Terrier?

Kevin writes:

I’m hoping I can get some advice from you and your readers. We’ve recently added nine-week-old Malcolm (left) to our family. He’s the second Scottie we’ve owned and I can tell you he’s quite a pistol.

We’re having a bit of a problem with his rough play, though. He LOVES biting fingers and toes. So much so, in fact, it’s becoming a hazard since he almost tripped my wife going for her foot while she was walking.

I would really appreciate any advice on dealing with biting puppies. I know chewing and nipping is natural, but feel we’ve got to make sure he knows we don’t like this behavior.

Thanks for any help.

Dear Kevin,

I so feel your pain. Those baby Scottie teeth are very sharp.

Our dog Bridget was also a terrible foot biter. My ankles were covered in cuts and scratches when she was a pup. We couldn’t walk anywhere in the house without getting attacked. We even resorted to hideous Crocs shoes for foot protection.

In the end, we stopped the biting with my secret weapon, the spray bottle. If you follow the link, you’ll also find that the comments include other methods for putting an end to biting.

As for Bridget, she never completely outgrew her ankle biting, but it is now just an occasional nuisance as opposed to a vicious force to contend with on every much-needed trip to the bathroom. Let’s just say that what’s happening in the video below would never take place at our house where the policing would be far more interventionist than a few barks.

‘I feel like I have a Pit Bull and not a Scottie’

I’m posting this letter from a reader in a hurry. I will add my thoughts and some links later. In the mean time, feel free to chime in in the comments.

This is my first visit to your site and I enjoyed reading it.

I am very concerned about my scotty, Bailey and his aggression and behavior to children and adults. I hope you can give me some direction.

Bailey is 7 years old and still full of energy. I walk him every day for almost an hour and we encounter many children and adults who think he is very cute and would like to pet him. Because of his reactions in the past, I just tell everyone not to pet him, he is not a friendly dog, as he is wagging his tail.

Bailey is very devoted and protective of me and would probably risk his life to come between me and someone who may be harmful. Last week several friends visited from out of state. When one went to hug me good bye, Bailey jumped on her, grabbed and ripped her slacks. I think he was going for her leg.

Another instance, a little girl went to pet him, she was warned not to but came right up to him and he grabbed her little hand in his mouth and wuld not let go. He did not bite, but it took a lot of screaming on my part to make sure the little girl got her hand back in one piece. And a third time, an adult went to pet him and he grabbed the cuff of her shirt and would not let go.

He is bad at the vet, needs a muzzle and fights everyone off and we finally found a groomer who is crazy about him but he gave her a hard time, also.
He has been to doggie obedience school, was never abused, and can be very loving and follow directions. Also, he loves to chase cars, people’s feet, kids on bikes, etc. Bailey is very strong and can pull me. He’s been walking daily since he was a pup so he is in great shape.

He came from a private home, his mom was beautiful and friendly. He is a brindle, about 28 pounds and very muscular. Sometimes I feel like I have a pit bull and not a scottie.

My biggest concern is that he not harm anyone. By the way, he gets along with most small dogs, but large, black male dogs are his nemesis. And he absolutely hates a labradoodle who he happens to see on his walks. Just won’t stop barking. And, by the way, he is a very loud barker and it doesn’t take much to provoke him and he will continue to bark. Ihoped he would start calming down at this point, but this dog is veryhealthy and I love him dearly.

Thank you,

Wanted: Jogger-biting Scottish Terrier (or Cairn)

This story about a jogger-nipping canine was a source of dinner table discussion at our world headquarters this evening.

Tompkins County Health Department is trying to contact the owner of a dog that bit a male jogger on the sidewalk connecting College Avenue and Stewart Avenue outside Cascadilla Hall adjacent to the Cascadilla Gorge. The incident occurred about 1 p.m. Monday, April 20.

The biting dog is a black, medium haired, small size, Scottish Terrier type. The dog bit the man as he was jogging past and broke the skin on his leg. The dog owner was a middle aged caucasian female with short brown hair.

My researcher/daughter said “innocent ’til proven guilty” and “it could be a Cairn.”

I was more concerned about the dog owner description, which sounds just like me. I guess we won’t be heading to Ithaca this weekend.

The Terrible Tale of a vicious Scottish Terrier

Incomprehensible, especially when there are other Scotties who are so good with children. Surely, there must have been warning signs with this dog. I find it hard to believe attacks like this come out of nowhere.

A few years ago I was walking down the street when I saw a dog tied to a post lunge at the person walking ahead of me. I assumed the owner must be inside a nearby store so I went in and asked if anyone owned the dog outside and explained what had happened.

A bunch of people came out to look and treated me like an hysterical woman — until a group of students walked by and the dog lunged again and bit one of the group, tearing her jeans but not injuring her luckily.

At that point, the dog’s owner emerged from the store and feigned complete disbelief that her animal could do such a thing, but when she was asked to pay to replace the jeans, she untied the dog and scurried off.

There is no doubt in my mind she knew she had a dog that needed to be muzzled. Unless there’s something like rabies involved, this kind of behaviour doesn’t just happen.

Owner of ‘vicious’ Scottie dog seeks help

A reader writes:

I am at my wit’s end. I have a little Scottie, Gladys Knight, who just turned 4. She is my 4th Scot, but my first female.

My daughter, a 3rd year vet student, says she is vicious and most recently, in the last month, as I have moved above my parents, she has bitten their dog twice.

She is the sweetest dog (my Gladys, and my parents’ dog as well), but she has drawn blood on both occasions and stitches on the one.

Both occasions were different circumstances. I don’t want to have to get rid of her, because I love her so much, but I don’t know what to do.

I am in the Chicago area, so if you have any advice or suggestions, please, I implore you HELP.

Take it away, readers and Scottish Terrier experts.

Video of Bush’s dog Barney biting reporter

News flash: President Bush’s Scottie Barney has bitten a reporter and we have the video:

Talk about sensationalizing the news:

Unfortunately we have to agree that this is going to kill any chance of seeing a Wheaten Scottish Terrier in the Obama White House, especially when you consider that Barney’s companion, Miss Beazley, also recently bit a White House visitor.

Past presidents with ties to Scotties include FDR, who doted on the very famous Fala, and JFK through his wife Jackie, who had a Scottie called Hootchie. (Click on the their names to see fabulous photos.)

As we’ve reported in the past, Barney’s critics include Karl Rove and Vladimir Putin. It aen’t easy being first dog although having those guys as enemies isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As for the injured reporter, Scottie News would like to extend its sympathies to Jon Decker. The editor and publisher of the Scottie News used to be a Reuters reporter and editor herself, and got snapped at more than once in the line of duty if not by dogs by irritable politicians and CEOs. She was glad, however, to learn that Jon’s mother is a Scottie owner and that there are no hard feelings.

We would also like to take this opportunity to raise another issue. Since when do doctors prescribe antibiotics for minor dog bites? Tetanus, and rabies shots in the right circumstances, we’ve heard of, but isn’t this just another egregious example of antibiotics overuse?

For now, we leave you with this still shot from the video.

Barney biting teeth