Collie/Flat Coat Retreiver Cross Dog Is Aggressive Towards Children And Destructive At Home
Patricia suggested we be in contact with you regarding our dog, Echo. She is a collie /flat coat retriever. She just turned 3 beginning of May. We adopted her from the SPCA December 31st, 2013. It would be best for me to speak with you regarding the issues in depth, but to summarize she has aggressive behaviours towards children coming into our home (we have two boys ages 7 and 8 and she is great with them). No provocation is needed. She has lunged at several different children as they have walked past her. On one occasion she was on a leash and she lunged at a neighbour boy who was walking past us. She got her mouth around his arm but didn't bite down. We're moving to a new neighbourhood that isn't rural any more and is full of children, so I'm worried about kids running in and out of our house. I don't worry at all about her with our boys. It has been suggested that we start muzzling her when kids come over. I hate to do this but we may not really have a choice. The other issue we are dealing with is her destructive behaviour in the home. She was fine for over a year but in the last three months or so she has started ripping apart our wood french doors and furniture. We did try kennelling her in a large cage she could see out of, but she literally ate it and ripped it apart. She doesn't like to even be in small rooms. She seems to do ok at Patricia's in the kennel where she can get outside, excluding when there is thunder, she injured herself inside her kennel there over the weekend. She is also scared of the wind and on windy days she just shakes like a leaf. we're moving to Cochrane Alberta, and it is extremely windy there alot of the time.
Anyway, I would really like to speak with you more about our situation. At this point I cannot do any shopping, attend my sons music classes, ride my bike or go kayaking (nor can we even do this as a family anymore) because she will damage the house, or escape from the yard and run off if left on her own. We have tried containing her in different ways(ie. gates etc.) but nothing has worked.
We desperately need help with her. We have done training in the past, but with little success.
Answer: It seems she has a lot of issues which may take time to evaluate and "fix". Dogs like these tend to be under confident, have separation anxiety and therefore become destructive if left alone. It becomes extremely difficult for families to deal with this as they tend to become a prisoner in their own home or end up re homing their beloved pet.
I can give you a few suggestions to be going on with, but it does take a more in depth evaluation and plan of action to help everyone deal with Echo and build her confidence.
To start, I would "tether" her to you, while she and you are in the house or yard. This will give her "work" and she will just go everywhere you go, no need for instructions or commands for Echo...your body will do the talking. It may feel different to start with, but Echo will feel a certain amount of security while you "relieve" of her position to protect everyone including the children in your household. As she is not good with other children, she should be placed out of the area your children's' friends are, or at the very least muzzled. But being muzzled only stops bites or nipping, it does not address the issues.
In closing, you need an in home assessment, a need for everyone in the household to be on the same "page" and a dedication to helping your dog become the dog she really wants to be...