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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Q&A on Pack Structure

Q&A on Pack Structure

Q&A on Pack Structure

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Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet DVD

  1. I'm having with problems with basic commands still and issues such as jumping up and grabbing the leash. Any advise?

  2. My dog is becoming more and more aggressive and I am concerned about the safety of my children. Do you have any suggestions on how to fix this aggression problem?

  3. I feel that I have let things slide with the pack structure. My dog everything to me and I know I'm too soft! But now I have a large list of problems... Can you please help?

  4. My Dog Argentino is female dog aggressive. Is there anything that I can do to help change this?

  5. I wanted to learn how to teach Schutzhund to my dog, but am having many problems trying to bond with him? Any suggestions?

  6. My dog is trying to avoid his collar being put on for training. I'm unsure of what to do.

  7. I have an aggressive dog that bites and growls at me and others. Do you have any advise?

  8. My dog bit my son requiring many stitches. I think this has something to do with our family structure, what are your thoughts?

  9. We're having issues with 2 litter mates and their fighting. I am wondering if you think we'll be able to control the problem or should we find a new home for the one?

  10. What's the safest way to break my two poodles apart and how can we keep them from fighting in the first place?

  11. If I establish pack leader authority with my dog, will it help his aggressive tendencies to stop? 

  12. I have an extremely hyperactive dog who bites everything. Do you think that an electric collar will help calm him down when he gets hyperactive?

  13. My partner and dog play this backwards game of chase, if this is an ok game to play?

  14. I have two dogs and they occasionally fight. We have been working a lot on training, but what can I do to help stop this behavior?

  15. Our rescue dog has killed my other dog and one of my goats. I think that I either need to find her a new home or put her to sleep. What are your thought?

  16. My parent's dog growls at me when I hug him, but he follows all my commands and is very obedient. What do you think of this?

  17. My Rott plays with my brother's dobermans everyday, today she bit the older one. Should I be concerned that she will do this again or if she'll snap at my children?

  18. My rescue dog runs and hides every time we come home or when she gets home with us after a walk. How can I make things better for her?

  19. I'm unsure if some of my bonding work is ok. Is what I'm doing ok? Also, I am having problems with my pup shredding his bed. Any suggestions?

  20. I do all the work - feed, train, etc - when it comes to taking care of my dog, where my boyfriend always spoils her, but she attacks only me. What am I doing wrong and how can I fix this?

  21. I'm back up training... My question is, is my pup suppose to be calm and submissive going in and while in the crate and not cry at all before I move on to the second phase? Also, what can I look for to be able to tell if he accepts me as the pack leader?

  22. My wife & I just got a dog, we want to start him off right and know we have a long way to go. What do you suggest?

  23. My boyfriend's Rottie recently bit me because I was trying to teach him not to get into my cats' toys. I had only known him for less than a month, do you think that it was too soon for me to be correcting him?

  24. I believe we are having trouble with pack structure in our family. How should the other members of our family behave with the dog? Should Rex be in a COMPLETE isolation from everyone else except for one person for a week or longer? How should we introduce additional family members as pack leaders?

  25. I have a 2 year old male shar pei who growls at me if I try to approach him while he is laying down/resting/sleeping. If I proceed to approach him when he growls, he will then bark viciously and snap at me. Is this acceptable? After all, I WAS interrupting his sleep. Or, is it unacceptable for a dog to snap at its owner at ANY given time?

  26. I have a 75 lb. airedale that growls at me, I have an e-collar and I ordered the "training with an e-collar" and " training an aggressive and dominant dog."Do I need the special collar also?

  27. We have a few problems involving aggression with our Rott that are only becoming worse. What do you suggest?

  28. Our dog bites people in certain situations. How would you handle this and what do you suggest?

  29. I am training my dog for SAR, we had an incident with a trainer and the trainer being bitten. Other members of our SAR group now think he is too unpredictable to be in this field. What are your thoughts?

  30. My dog listens to my husband more. He says I need to let the dog know I'm the boss, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that. Any suggestions?

  31. I have a 1yr old GSD that is becoming increasingly afraid of meeting friendly strangers. I am at a complete loss and was hoping that you could provide me with some things to try or some of your items that you sell.

  32. I have two pit bulls, 1 male, 1 female, both three years old. They are aggressive towards other dogs and will do anything to get to a cat and kill it. We have established the master of the pack situation, but I am having trouble controlling them off the leash. Any suggestions?

  33. Can you please explain where Prey Drive fits into the dominance & aggression behavior spectrum. My dog does seem to have a fairly strong prey drive, and I wonder if this is a negative behavior that needs to be corrected (like aggression).

  34. We are doing the Pack Structure DVD. Is this going to set them back in any way on the things we have worked with them on? How do I know when they are crate submissive? This will not hurt my relationship with my dogs will it?

  35. My dog seems to be becoming dominant and aggressive. I know now I've done a lot of things wrong. What should I do?

  36. I'm wondering if there is anything I should change with how my children interact with our dog. Also, do you sell or recommend any type of crate bedding/mat to place inside his crate that he can’t shred/swallow and is easy to clean?

  37. I have an 8 year old GSD who keeps biting people. I did buy an Innotek shock collar some time ago, but want to make sure I am implementing any training with it properly and have been told it shouldn't be use to try to control aggression? I'm looking for whatever advice you can give to help me understand what if anything I should do to correct this, or keep from getting worse.

  38. Can you direct me to an article that would tell me how to teach then how to walk on a leash? Should we not let our dogs play with toys together? How much 'play/fighting' should we allow?

  39. My 2 year old mixed breed dog has begun to develop aggression. Is there anything else that I can do to ensure that this never happens again. Will crating him downstairs help the problem, or just eliminate the opportunity?

  40. My puppy is almost 11 months old. At night (anytime after 10:00pm) he turns into a grumpy old man and growls at us. How do I correct this problem????

  41. I own a German imported 5 month old very inbred Short Hair Pointer with a ton of ability, prey drive and energy. What other approaches can I use to better become the pack leader?

  42. My 4 month old puppy does not see me as a pack leader, what do I do?  I'm worried this could get serious.

  43. I have 3 dogs. Since I got the youngest, the other two attack each other and I need to pull. What do you think of my situation and what do you recommend?

  44. I have a 4yr old mixed breed that I brought home when he was about 6-8 weeks old. My dog has always had a behavior problem, but was never really aggressive until a year ago. I have 2 cats that he has attacked, he has bitten my husband in the face, and snapped at me. What can I do to change this?

  45. I don’t want to rush into it but, eventually, how will I know the dog has understood the pack rule and I can advance to Obedience Training?

  46. Where do we keep the crate? We are wondering if we are confusing him by moving the crate from room to room during the beginning phase of the crate/pack structure training?

  47. I've been watching your video on establishing pack order in the family and I recall you mentioned when a dog raises its front paw and places it on you;  I forget the meaning.  This seems like a statement of superiority to me, but I think you mentioned it is actually one of submission. Should I allow my dog to do this?  Please explain...

  48. I recently added a third dog to my household. I wanted to ask a few questions about pack leaders. I obviously don't want these two dogs fighting over stuff, is it something they have to workout themselves? do I not give them toys or feed them together? Also, what collar is best to to ensure it wont slip off a dog's head?

  49. I have worked very hard to be the pack leader from day one. A younger dog and mine play very nicely together, but the older one is a jerk. In this situation where I am not a member of the household, is it worth my time to attempt to introduce the dogs? Should I become an accepted member of the pack who outranks both dogs first? Is it even possible to join this pack if I do not live in the house? If so, in what order should I watch/read and implement your videos/ebooks?

  50. I just purchased a Doberman puppy in June of this year. This is the first Doberman that we have ever owned. She seems to always have the need to be touching me. Is this an issue, should I be worrying about it?

  51. I have a 4 year old GSD that we placed him in a new home a few months ago, at the time his new owner picked him up he was extremely obedient.  The person that took him no longer had the time to spend with him, so he came back. He has made a complete turn for the worse.  Is this an issue that can be corrected?

  52. How do I find out if my 2 german shepherds see me as the pack leader?

  53. I own an eight month old doberman. He has separation anxiety, jumps up, climbs fences, gobbles food, and has no manners. I am looking for an excellent training school I can send him to. Please help me.

  54. I’m a little confused about the advice you have given regarding dogs who are timid with strangers. Can you explain the specifics of when each type of training is appropriate?

  55. I have been doing collie rescue and bought your DVD to learn methods for my foster homes to help them when they add a foster dog. But your methods take weeks... Do you have any suggestions on significantly streamlining this when you bring a foster dog into your home?

  56. I have a 3 year old male GSD who is overly friendly with strangers. At this point, is it realistic for me to change this behavior and, if so, how?

  57. I have a 2 yr old GSD. He harasses other members of my family. Why is he doing this and how do I get him to stop if he is not behaving this way around me?

  58. My dogs usually play well together, but two of them have been exhibiting some aggression. Do you have any idea what might be going on? How should I deal with this issue?

  59. I have personally had 7 dogs in my career and I have always brought a second puppy into the home without any incident. Just a suggestion but maybe your training and dog experiences are with breeds that tend to be aggressive to begin with?

  60. I have a Boxer and an American Bull Dog that occasionally fight and I'm not sure why. I love both my dogs and don't want to get rid of one or the other, but what can I do for these dogs?

  61. I'm applying what I read in the Newsletter to my own dog.

  62. When we went in to the vet my dog sat in her carrier and trembled. What should I do for her? How can I comfort her and let her know I'll take care of her without seeming like I'm condoning and giving her reason to fear? She wanted to nip at the vet's hand when he offered it to her--what should I do about that?

  63. My 12 month old female German Shepherd does not like to be pet. Is this petting issue abnormal?

  64. I have a 3 year old pure bred Intact female German Shepherd that I just got in December 2008 well at first she seen calm and easy to train. I now don't think I can affordably train her and want to rehome her. Please help.

  65. We have a bull terrier. He has become the flying monkey from hell!!  My older pit bull mix has mothered him since he was 6 weeks. I am thinking the electronic collar would be best used. Which do I buy?

  66. I have a 4 year old American Staffordshire Terrier. She is having problems with my brother's new pup. Where do you think they should start? Would you suggest any specific videos or training equipment?

  67. My 9 month old pup does great with commands on leash, but as soon as the leash comes off he turns into a beast. What can I do?

  68. My pup barks at the TV relentlessly, sometimes she does it when there are loud noises but sometimes just because.  She does not show these things when my trainer is here-what can I do?

  69. I want to teach my dog basic obedience. In reading how much Ed is sold on the marker method I just am not sure what I need. In watching the marker video I was totally impressed but wasn't sure if that is the method you use for basic obedience. What would work the best?

  70. As a new owner/trainer, I feel like I'm missing some tools to optimize my 'boy's' behavior - tools that perhaps my trainers have not recognized that I need. Can you help me with him?

  71. My dog whines all the time. Is it just her or am I missing something?

  72. My dog marks constantly, 2 to four or five times daily, all over the house. What can I do?

  73. Do I need to treat my 3 dogs like they are each a new dog to the pack in order to fix my pack issues?

  74. Our 13 month, very dominate male GSD, has decided he doesn't like it when my husband or 17 year old son laugh. Do I need to be concerned about this? Please help.

  75. My dog is extremely skittish, we kept him isolated for the first 5 months of his life and he’s afraid of everything.  He has bitten some people and we can’t take him for walks because he’s so fearful.  What can we do?

  76. My doberman hovers and growls over anything she has in her crate. What should I do?

  77. My dog is a dream to be around except when she wants to meet another dog, what can I do? She lunges and has even knocked me down! She’s not being aggressive, just enthusiastic.

  78. My dog went missing for two weeks. Now that she is back, she seems afraid. What do I do?

  79. My young dog is trying to bite me if I block her from having something that she wants. She also is marker trained but won’t listen to me unless I have food.  I don’t use a long line anymore because she gets tangled in it, what should I do?

  80. During the day, while I'm at work, where should I put the dog?

  81. I just adopted a new 9 month old GSD, and I wonder if it’s too late to do the groundwork you have on your website?

  82. I like to believe that I have a basic understanding of pack structure. My 7 month old dog seems to be testing me a lot lately and I usually show him who's by boss by pinning him to the ground by the scruff near is muzzle as well as firm pinching. He took some turkey out of the garbage and then bit me when I tried to take it from him. I need specific advice on how to deal with this.

  83. We rescued a 2 year old male dachshund a couple of months ago. He adores me, but is afraid of my husband. He has obvious issues with men and we can tell he was abused. Do you have any advice for us?

  84. We’ve moved twice in the last several months and one of our dogs has gone awry. She’s exhibiting strange behavior and is lunging at our other dog when she tries to approach me. She only behaves strangely in the bedroom where I work on my computer.

  85. When we go to correct our dog, he backs into a corner, bares his teeth, and snarls at you while we are correcting him. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help my dog with this.

  86. We have two dogs, both dogs are still intact. The problem occurs when they are both in the house. They rough house to the point that they are becoming annoying and even destructive, ie, moving large floor rugs and heavy tables. They are playing, not fighting. We need to know how to best control them in the house without kenneling them one at a time.

  87. My 9 month old dog is marking everywhere and chews up my shoes. I’m thinking of neutering him to fix this, do you have any suggestions?

  88. Our dog is aggressive to other dogs and people. We enrolled her in obedience classes but it doesn’t help!

  89. Our boxers had puppies in an accidental breeding. We would like to keep one but are worried about adding a 3rd dog. Do you think the age differences will work?

  90. My dog is afraid to go out after dark ever since he heard gunshots and fireworks over the holidays.  When he hears a noise, I give him a correction to snap him out of it but he remains tense and nervous.  Please help.

  91. My boyfriend poked and kicked my dog when he was drunk. Now my dog is afraid of him. Could this affect his behavior towards other people? What do you think?

  92. We believe our 9 month old dog is dominant. What would you advice for his type of behavior?

Question:

Dear Ed,

I have your puppy video and your Basic obedience training videos.  They have been very helpful - since before these I was pretty clueless on how to train my dog on anything.  Crate training was a breeze with your advice we only had one accident, which was my misreading his whining - he had diarrhea - which I didn't expect and I mistook it for wanting attention and he had an accident in his crate.  But that is it.  He goes into his crate on command and now the only time he ever makes a sound is when there is company over - but that is getting less each time.  His crate is just too big to move around, so I have decided to put up with the noise during family gatherings until he gets over it - since the whole family has pets - it is no big deal, they understand he is in-training and I finally have all the family trained not to acknowledge him in anyway when he does bark or whine.

I am looking at buying a new prong collar for my dog (puppy) - he is only about 9 mos old, but he is large and strong - they believe he is part boxer and part mastiff. He seems to grow by the minute.  I realize that it may be a young age to have him in a training collar, but correcting him with a regular collar did NOTHING and he is so strong that my daughter couldn't stop him and if he caught me by surprise he could pull me right off my feet and did pull me off the porch step once, when I forgot that our cock-a-poo was outside and he spotted her and took off to play.  He is also a very HARD dog, I have never given a correction harsh enough to cow him.  He also is extremely motivated - treats work fine with him, during training - but I am trying to also get him to mind when I don't have a treat on me - that is a bit slower in coming. I have been working hard to train him, but he really only fully minds me when the prong collar is on.  Which wouldn't be a problem if it was easy to get on him, but it is a battle. I think the biggest problem is that I didn't have him trained enough on being handled in a sit stay before I had to resort to the prong due to his extreme pulling (to the point he was hard to stop). The prong solves the pulling problem, but it is WORK to get it on him and a couple of times my finger has came close to getting seriously injured, if he turns just right my finger gets torqued in the link while I am trying to get it fastened.  The one I have is very hard to squeeze the prongs in order to get them in the other link.  Once it is on, he is a different dog and I really don't have to issue much correction, if he pulls, he corrects himself and stops immediately -  I link it to both rings as the first attempt with only the dead ring wasn't working with him.  He is not aggressive, meaning he does not ever act like he is going to harm me, he is just really strong and willful.  I also, know that he is learning, he managed to get away from me once and my daughter once and both times when I called him to come, he did.  However, we live on a 55mph road - so I really worked hard on teaching this command from the beginning so that if he ever did get loose, he would be safe.  We are moving in a month or so, then I will live on a gravel road on 26 acres so that I can actually feel safe working with him outside off-leash. I will not do that here as we live on 7 unfenced acres and the highway (cars, etc) are visible and can be heard from anywhere in the yard and it is too risky.  So all potty trips, training, exercise, play etc is all done on leash for his safety and my piece of mind.

I looked at your quick release collar, but I don't think I get how it works, it looks like the clip would not open up the part that goes around his neck - so does it just make it larger so it can slip over his head or am I missing how it actually works.  I haven't tried slipping anything over his head - so I am not sure how that would work out either.  I also noticed your notes on the dominant dog collar - so I guess I should have one of those also, is this a collar that would be taken on and off also, each time he is on a leash or is a collar that can be on him in his crate too.  I have to keep a collar on him at all times, so that when I take him out of his crate I have something to grab hold of, until I have him on a leash - as I have also not yet gotten him to listen to me 100% when other people are around.  If it is just him and I home, I can let him out of the crate and he won't take off to the living room to see everyone else, because no one is there, so I don't have to worry about him knocking things over or running amuck - but my household (especially in the summer) is rarely just him and he definitely has a puppy mentality when it comes to other people - so I don't yet trust him off leash with anyone but myself and my daughter who took classes with me.

Also, I am two other problems which I haven't figured out how to correct. 

1.  Immediately when I put him on a leash - which I do every time he is out of his kennel - for bathroom, exercise or training - he grabs the leash and carries it in his mouth.  The only way I can get him to stop is by distraction - getting him interested in something else, but that is only a temporary fix.  The reason this is such a problem is because he will grab at it and if he scraps your leg or arm in the attempt - oh well.  The bigger his mouth gets the more frequently I get caught (scratched) by his teeth.  I know not to pull it from him, as this is just a tug of war game for him and does nothing to solve the problem, but I have not found an answer.  When he was younger and I took my daughter to puppy classes with him, the trainer there thought he would grow out of it as he got use to being on a leash - I have had him since late March and he has not grown out of it and it is a problem now.  I personally think it is a dominance issue - I think he does it to show me that HE is walking himself or at least that it is a 50/50 effort and I am not fully in charge.  From time to time it does create a correction problem, but I have solved that by just grabbing the leash between his collar and where he is holding it so that I can issue a correction for not sitting etc.  It is mainly a concern because he is pretty aggressive when he is trying to get hold of it and because I think it is a dominant trait that I have not trained out of him. 

2.  He gets in jumping up moods from time to time and I have tried pushing him back down and scolding him - to no avail, I have tried ignoring him until he stops, and I have tried giving him a correction (which is more difficult because the act of him jumping makes it hard to get all the slack out) but nothing has really stopped him from doing it, it just subsides it for that moment until the next time.  Is this just something that takes time?  I have even done the thing where I put him around the tree and stand at a perimeter - but again while it works at that moment - it doesn't the next time his is in the mood and does it on the leash.  I don't really know what makes him do it - it is not something that happens every time we are out and it only started about 2-3 months ago - he didn't do it when he was smaller, which would have probably been easier to correct. 

I haven't yet attempted to train him on everything in your videos yet - I am still working on the basics, until I can get him to sit, stay, down, walk with me without pulling or jumping, come, and wait (which is actually good about) 100% of the time, I have not tried to enter anything new, like place, heel, or being off-leash in the house.  But if there are other videos you feel I need at this point to handle the above concerns, please let me know or at what point I should be looking at another video to continue his training.  I just feel that I first have to get him to obey me on these simpler things fully and under any circumstance before we go much further - but if I am wrong on that please do advise.  I am really in uncharted waters here - this is the first time I have attempted to fully train a dog like this - our cock-a-poo was trained over time on an as needed basis, because she was laid back and small and other than kennel training and come, not much else was a priority.  Yogi is a different matter all together.  I have to get him trained so that I feel comfortable with him off-leash and when my children are working with him.  Plus the children wanted a dog that would make them feel safe - since we will be living in a more remote area.  They want him to be able to go outside and just be out with them or free in the house so that he could protect them if needed.  I really don't want him guard dog trained, just his normal protection of family instinct will be fine, once I can get him trained to be a behaved part of the family so he doesn't have to be in a crate or on a leash all the time.

Thanks for your time and assistance.

Bennette

Ed's Response:

I can tell you that if this dog lived in my home he would be in training with a remote collar. We introduce puppies to remote collars and low level stimulation at 4 months. I did a training DVD on this – Remote Collar Training for Pet Owners. I use a Dogtra 1900NCP on my personal dog.

Cindy (my other half) used Dogtra 200NCP on her dogs.  It’s a little smaller in size than the 1900.

There are less expensive collars on the market but I don’t believe there are better collars.

I prefer the 1900 because it has a digital read out on the transmitter that goes from 1 to 127. This allows very precise control. I am raising a GSD right now and he started wearing the collar at 4 months. I would never own a dog again without using a remote collar.

The remote collar is the great “size equalizer.” With this said I don’t know how old your daughter is but a child should never be responsible for a dog that’s this large.

During the conditions for the collar I would train it going on with MARKER TRAINING – the same goes for a prong collar – but I would not use a prong on this dog. It’s beyond that.

Your leash in the mouth issue is a pack structure issue. He does not respect you. The fact is all you need to do is teach the dog the YUCK command and when he grabs the leash he gets a YUCK. If he does not drop it he needs a correction that he remembers the next time he thinks about this. You can accomplish this with a remote collar.

The fact is, and possibly it's my fault, you have put the cart before the horse. Dogs require pack structure training before obedience training. This is where they learn to control themselves. I have a free eBook on establishing pack structure and I am editing a DVD on this exact subject right now. My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks.

It’s a misconception that dogs require obedience training to become a nice calm pet, what they need is pack structure first ands then obedience training.

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley

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Question:

Dear Mr Frawley,

I am extremely concerned about my dog as I have been told by our head Schutzhund trainer that my dog is a risk to my small children and people in general. He is 9 month old black and tan from very good show lines.

The problem is that for the past few months he has become extremely aggressive. When walking on the street he barks and has tried to bite a few people. I am trying to correct it and have been told that he is "high in the nerve" and I will only achieve limited success as it is genetic. I also know of another person who had a two year old from the same Breeder. This dog was great with his child who used to kiss it goodnight every night, until one night the dog bit his child in the face. I have 3 year old daughter and a baby on the way. At the moment he does not display any aggression towards her at all but I am concerned that the risk of him biting the kids one day is high. I use corrections but but he is not responding well. I have been told to use a pinch collar and cable. My fear is that even though I could maybe correct this when in my presence I cannot trust him when I am not around.

I do not want to take ANY chances when it comes to my kids.

Please advise me on whether I should keep the dog or not.

This would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,
Neil

Ed's Response:

Neil,

It sounds like the dog has short nerves. Short nerve dogs require almost all prey work if they are to be trained in Schutzhund.

They also require a stable pack structure in their home. They need and strive for harmony and leadership. When they don’t get it they can get neurotic.

The average person thinks that obedience training is all that’s need to establish pack structure – these people are 100% wrong. There is a ton more to it than that. I wrote a free eBook on this (and in fact at the moment I am editing a DVD on this exact subject) My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks.

If I owned your dog I would run it through this program. I would also strongly recommend that you read and follow the information in the articles I have written on dogs and kids and dogs and babies.

I have owned truly dangerous dogs in my life – dogs that have taken body parts off humans (I.E.  an entire calf muscle and a shoulder blade). I only had one bite on my kids and that was because my then 16 year old took my personal dog out while I was in Europe after I warned him to never take him out of the kennel. The point her is that if any dog you ever own bites your child – you f@#$%^ed up big time. It is not your dogs fault. Even the sweetest pooch that lacks pack structure can strike a child

I would also be training this dog with a remote collar (low level stimulation). I did a DVD on this called Remote Collar Training for Pet Owners. I use a Dogtra 1900NCP on my personal dog.

Cindy (my other half) used Dogtra 200NCP on her dogs.   It’s a little smaller in size than the 1900NCP.

There are less expensive collars on the market but I don’t believe there are better collars.

I prefer the 1900 because it has a digital read out on the transmitter that goes from 1 to 127. This allows very precise control. I am raising a GSD right now and he started wearing the collar at 4 months. I would never own a dog again without using a remote collar.

I hope this helps.

I will guarantee you that the man that owned the other dog had holes in the way HE CHOSE to live with his dog.

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley

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Question:
Some answers in red within the email.

Hi Ed,

I have written before and hoped you may be able to help me again. I have a 16 month old English Pointer bitch who has really come along well with her training. I had a problem with her recall which is loads better although I know I have to work with her more. I admit I have been a bit slack recently.

My problem is this. Myself and my partner are separating shortly and the dog is coming with me. She has been a bit spoilt recently and that’s down to all of us, (probably more me!!)  I am trying her on a natural diet but she seems to have gone off her food, things have been tense at home and I wondered whether she is picking up on it, or maybe just become fussy eater that I have encouraged. The other problem is she is really digging especially if she gets on the furniture. I tell her no and get her off.

I'm just feeling that I have let things slide with the pack structure. She is everything to me and I know I'm too soft! She is a lovely dog, very intelligent, lovely temperament and has a submissive nature with other dogs.

After all that my main problems are:

1) How will she react when I move, will she settle?

***Without knowing your dog, I can’t really answer that.  The more structure and leadership you give her, the better she will handle changes in her daily life.  Keep as consistent as you can and don’t feel sorry for her and let things slide.

2) I will be working everyday and she will be crated from 8-12 then I will be home for an hour then again from 1-3. Is this too long??

***As long as she gets adequate mental and physical exercise, this is fine.

3) Some days I wont finish until 5pm but on those days I will take her to my mother's or is that not necessary?

***That’s up to you, it may be better to leave her at home unless your mother can be consistent with your rules.

4) Can I regain control with the structure and start from the beginning?

***Yes, follow the groundwork article.

5) What can I do with regards to her fussy eating?

***I would make sure she is on a feeding schedule and preferably being fed a species appropriate diet. Since you seem to be feeding chicken as a base, I would rotate the meat sources to include beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, fish, etc. The veggies are not so important.

6) Should she ever be allowed on the furniture? She doesn't sleep with me she is crated.

***She should not be allowed on the furniture until you have re-established pack structure and then ONLY by invitation.

7) Will a walk in the morning and again in the evening be enough?

***That depends on how long of a walk you are talking about.  A Pointer is a high energy dog, with a high exercise need.  I would guess this dog needs a minimum of 2 hours of hard exercise a day to be content and mentally balanced.

Since she has been on a natural diet of vegetables and chicken etc her coat is superb, and I'm hoping it will help with her skin allergies she has had. I also give fish oil tablets and vitamin E plus natural yogurt.

I have read loads of your advice and taken it on but I know I need to sort myself out for when I go and that the anxiety of the situation hasn't helped as I get stressed which is no good for her.

I know you are a really busy man and would have posted on the forum however as it's quite lengthy I hope you don’t mind me contacting you directly. I just want a happy me and an obedient dog!!!

Many thanks for your time, I give out your web site address to all dog owners I meet because I feel it’s the best there is.

Lucy

Answer:

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader.

The first sentence in this article says it all: "You can feed water and love your dog and he will like you but he very well may not respect you."  99% of all behavioral problems are a result of dogs not respecting their owners.  This happens as a result of poor handling and/or poor training.

This article was written for people like yourself, people who have great intentions but not enough knowledge of pack structure. There are links within the article that will take you to other articles on my web site.

(Other answers in red above.)

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Question:

I recently adopted a 9mo. old female Dogo Argentino.  “Sol” was an owner surrender, the reason for this is complicated but I’ll try to explain as briefly as possible.  Sol’s former owner runs a dog rescue agency in West Va.  In addition to this the woman has four small children and a few animals (cats and dogs) that she keeps as pets – obviously over-extended!  One of her pets was a Dogo that she adopted.  She loved the breed so much that she thought it would be a good idea to breed them.  Thank goodness it didn’t work out for her because she DOES NOT have the time or resources to properly breed such a powerful and dominant breed.  Since she wasn’t going to breed and was already over-extended she decided to adopt out Sol.  I have always wanted a Dogo, love large athletic dogs and needed one for protection since I live by myself and run everyday – I need a dog that can keep up with me physically and that would visually be a deterrent to anyone with bad intentions.  There is a Schutzhund class that meets about 20 minutes from where I live (Athens, Ga) and I have every intention of starting her on this training.  She had very little “face time” with her former owner so I have started her on some basic commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “stay.”  She is a very quick study.  I have her eating in an un-used bedroom – after me, sitting and waiting at the door, steps, and before we cross the street, there is no food or toy aggression, she tries to get on the couch and bed but readily accepts correction when I tell her “off.”  She has a high prey drive which has my cat a little upset but again she is quickly learning that the cat is not prey and to more or less ignore her.  THE PROBLEM:  dog aggression towards another female dog. 

This appears to be her only flaw thus far and unfortunately I don’t know how much of this I can change.  Perhaps you will be able to tell me if there is something I can do to help this situation.

OTHER DOG BACKGROUND:  a completely untrained beagle mix that is allowed to do whatever she wants and get away with it from everyone but me.  This is my friends dog (she also has a 4mo male Bernese that Sol plays fine with) but I spend a lot of time with her because I have a fenced in yard so my friend drops them off to play everyday while she is at work.  I am close enough that I come home on my lunch breaks and during this time I have been working on some basic obedience for her dogs too.  Leila is out of control.  She gets in the garbage, destroys things out of spite, eats food (MY FOOD) off of the table, sits wherever the hell she wants, and has bone aggression.  The other day my dog tried to dominate Leila.  There was a lot of growling and posturing and a few nips before it was broken up.  Nothing major but an obvious cause for concern because my dog could easily eat her alive and though she is the most annoying dog ever I would never wish that on her.  Now of course her owner thinks that this is all my dog’s fault (and it might be that’s why I’m writing).  That my dog is overly aggressive/ dominant and that it’s a danger.  Please correct me if I’m wrong but I think the problem lies more with her dog than with mine.  I do think there are some problems with my interaction with both of them:  for instance I’m the only one that tries to be pack leader over Leila and in my family (Sol and I) Sol is next in line I think that Sol thinks she is entitled to be dominant over Leila.  This IS obviously dangerous because if Leila resists she is going to get her ass kicked or die.  What can I do about this, how much of this can I control, will Schutzhund help?  I love Sol and I hate for other people to look at her as a bully just because she is big and strong.

Carlina

Answer:

I wouldn’t let my dog around this other female.  I think it’s a no brainer!

Your friend needs to take responsibility for the untrained obnoxious dog, and you need to protect your dog from situations that get her in trouble.

It sounds like you are doing fine with Sol.

Tell your friend to read this article about becoming an effective pack leader.

The first sentence in this article says it all: "You can feed water and love your dog and he will like you but he very well may not respect you." 99% of all behavioral problems are a result of dogs not respecting their owners.  This happens as a result of poor handling and/or poor training.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

I have attended 2 different schools to become a dog trainer. Basic Obedience, behavior and scent work.

Somehow I got involved in schutzhund and I like it a lot.  I like challenge. So not knowing anything about the sport, my husband decided that we should buy a green dog from Slovakia and he would be my challenge and my project to achieve. My husband is from Slovakia. He found this gorgeous dog Donnie with an incredible pedigree. It cost me money. The entire time I knew I did not want a green dog to teach a sport that I knew nothing about. But my husband is the type that he knows it all and he is always right.

We brought the dog to USA. We came very close to losing the dog because of transportation problems with the airlines and customs.

Anyway we are here. I gave him several months to adjust. I had to learn the commands in Slovak. But that is all I was able to learn.

I tried to bond with the dog but it was not happening. I kept telling that to my husband but he kept saying that it was not true.

A year later I am still trying to bond with the dog. Finally I had to turn him over to my husband. He speaks the language and somehow Donnie responds to him much better.

The problem is that my husband does not know how to train, only from what he watches from us and others.

This coming August, Donnie will be with us for 3 years. I have spent so much money (my personal money) to find good trainers to help us, buying DVD's , traveling long distances to find someone to help us with the protection work and whatever I can do to make something out of this dog.

One of my desperate attempts was to board him with a trainer that supposedly was training for 25 years.

Donnie was suppose to stay with the trainer for 3 months in order to get his BH.

My husband did not like what he was seeing so he went and brought Donnie home after one month. What I learned later is that this trainer breaks the dogs down the first month using hard compulsion and then he rebuilds them again to listen to him. Since Donnie was pulled out after a month he was never rebuilt. I still do not know for sure if this is what is causing us to have all the problems we are having today with Donnie.

Donnie is extremely intelligent. Now he is to the point that he will do a couple of exercises and go and sit under a tree and watch. He will never fight for his rights. For example if the one of my other dogs takes the ball or the tag, Donnie will not go to try to get it.

Donnie does not listen. When called to come he will come when he is ready. When my husband raises his voice then Donnie goes into a panic mode. The only thing I personally do with Donnie is play with him and taking him tracking.

He does very good tracking.  I let my husband do the work but it is not looking good.

I wish I could bond with the dog and be able to work with him. I am consistent, I have a plan, I read, I research and not afraid to ask. I have another dog that he will not work for any one else other than me. I know I can train. 

There is a lot more to it than just what I wrote but I do not want take up all your time. I just wanted to give you a very small picture of what I am faced with every day. We have purchased several of Ed Frawley's DVD's. Great information.

I am just so lost and worried on how we will be able to make Donnie be happy, be exited to come out and work, have fun.

I can write in more detail if you think you need more information.

Thank you

Maria

Answer:

It sounds to me like a relationship problem, and the fact that this dog does not see you as a leader.  It also may be that the dog does not have the nerve, temperament or drive for the work you wish to do with him.  Not all GSD's have the ability to do all 3 phases of schutzhund.

The only thing I can suggest is that you need to make a fresh start with the dog, and if you wish to train him, have your husband turn the dog over to you and let the two of you bond.

The only way to do this is to re-structure Donnie’s life completely.  You need to become the focus of his day to day life.  The great thing about dogs is that you can start over with them at any time, dogs don’t live in the past.  They live in the here and now…

I would suggest you stop training and start working on a relationship with the dog and see where it takes you. 

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Question:

I had emailed not too long ago about having sent my Golden to training and it being the worst thing I could have done. Well, I did order the basic obedience video (coming in the mail soon), I got a prong collar, and an electric collar. I read the information in the web site and tried to do what it suggested. I used to just give him his food, but I started asking him to down-stay and wait until I release him and give him the okay to get his food.

The first day was almost a complete disaster because I had the bowl in my hand and I was trying to give him the commands and he was not paying attention to me. This went on for 5 to 10 minutes because I was not about to give him his food until he did what I ordered him to do. After several minutes he started jumping on me trying to get the food. In a gentle way, but still jumping. I could see the frustration in his eyes and could sense that this was going to take a turn for the worse, so I went back inside with his food. Placed the food in the deck area where he could not get to it and came back outside with the pronged collar. Because the basic choke collar had already been used with him, he hears the sound of the chain and he already knows what is going to happen. So he kept moving his head and laying down purposely trying to avoid getting this collar on. Once I got it on, I healed him to the spot I wanted, Sit and Down-Stay. He cooperated wonderfully, but when I went to get his food he got up. I told him No, I put the food away, went back to him and did the same thing. After I put his down I gave him a small tug and told him Stay. I went got his food and he did not move until I released him. Day two, I did not even bother going out without the collar. Everyday, he is getting more and more evasive and it is getting more difficult getting the collar on. When I try to heal with him he is trying to bite the leash turning him head to the right because it is on the side. Even with the prong collar on he is starting to try to jump on me. I can see a change in him. When the trainer came to drop him off I saw and thought that he was using excessive force with him, and after reading the materials in your web site, I KNOW he was using too much force for the mistakes he was making. I have this bad feeling that my once soft puppy has become a hard dog. He is not quite there yet, but I can sense the tide changing. Please help me. I do not want anyone to be hurt by him or have to give him up. Thanks.

Lupe

Answer:

I think you are rushing things too much. I would never ask for several minutes of a stay from a dog I was retraining. You are retraining this dog, and it takes longer than if it had been done correctly in the first place.

Have you followed the groundwork in the article? This is what you should be doing until the videos arrive.

I wouldn't be trying to heel or do so much, so soon.

Also, it's very normal for dogs to try what has worked for them in the past and when they find things are not working, they become more frustrated and hectic. Take the heeling out of the equation, always have his collar on when he is not in a crate, and reward him for very small steps in the right direction. If he will stay for 5 seconds reward, then the next time ask for 6 seconds, then the next time reward after 2 seconds, and so on. He needs to feel successful to want to try.

I would not be using the food bowl if it's causing so much excitement. Use his food as rewards, piece by piece for cooperation. Take the food bowl completely out of the picture for now.

Back up and restructure this dog's life, by using the steps outlined in the groundwork article and then study the video when it arrives.

Thanks:

I have so many questions that I have not found in the podcasts or articles, but I am going to wait for the training video and see if I can get my answers there. Right now I am just going to work on "mending fences" with Xenon and pray that we make it through successfully. I want you to know how much I appreciate your quick responses. Right now I am in a whirlwind of emotions and it feels so nice to know there is someone out there trying to help, because right now I am not feeling very strong, and feeling quite inept. Thank you SO much! Lupe.

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Question:

Hi Ed,

I so enjoyed listening to your nine free podcasts. You are a wise dog trainer, that is obvious. Good information, very balanced, and best of all free. Boy, I could have used your information so many times over the years - but at least I have it now. You are so insightful on so many dog issues. You have provided me many valuable lessons in just those few podcasts that I hate to now take issue with the one thing that we apparently don't agree on. However, I think it's a dangerous enough issue that I just have to at least tell you about it. You gotta do what you gotta do, and I have to do what I have to do - but I wish you'd think about it and possibly put another twist on it.

The only issue I have with any of the information you gave was your idea that when feeding a pup or dog, never take the food away, or bother him while he's eating. I think I heard that right. To do so is "bullying him" I believe you said. Contrary to that I always train my dogs not to be food possessive - having been bitten on the face when I was three years old. The adults that observed this incident did not blame the dog - a three year old boy, like me, with out any instruction should just know not to go near a dog when he's eating. They told me it was my fault. After all, three year old boys are very intelligent, everyone knows that. I'm 57 now and still have the scars of that incident. I think the adults that over saw that incident were idiots. I hope I heard you wrong on that issue.

Also, I happened to be watching a dog shelter program on TV one evening and the worker on the program was testing dogs for food possessiveness. They would not allow a dog to go out of their shelter with food, or toy possessiveness, for the same reason I was bitten as a three year old. It's plain dangerous. They could not keep all the dogs they had, and those that were food aggressive (i.e. dangerous to humans) were the ones euthanized.

I have always been a human first kind of person, and if one of my dogs ever bit a child on the face, I would not see it as the child's fault, or the dog's fault. It would be ALL my fault. So, I guess, I am a bully, but all my dogs over the years have let me slide on that one without much ado, and any kid or person can stick their face in my dogs bowls at any time without ever being bitten. That's my rule and I will always stand by it. I just think you overstated yourself on that issue. We don't all live in a perfect dog set-up where we can protect all wandering children - hell there were four adults in the room when this happened to me.

That's all. Think about it. I am sure you have effects on so many people with your web site that I'd hate to see another kid scarred for life for something you said. All said I was glad I did not lose my eye. I am well over it, but I have made it a point to never see a dog of mine do that to anyone.

Certainly, you and I are such responsible, knowledgeable, and proactive dog owners that that sort of thing would never happen around us - but wow - so many inept dog owners, dysfunctional residences, and so many children. It's still a concern of mine! Your comment on that one subject hit me like a Mac truck, or maybe more like a dog ripping at my face. Not fun. Yikes!

Hey, keep up the great work. I ordered your catalog and will be ordering more of your stuff. Love 99% of it so far.

Brian

Answer:

Brian,

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but the fact is your wrong. You don’t understand pack structure and/or how to obtain it without a fight. Screwing with a dog's food is not good leadership.

The VAST MAJORITY of dogs in shelters are there because they lack pack structure. Their old owners never established it and as such they have behavioral problems. The fact that they are aggressive to toys and food only confirms this.

I suggest that you spend some time reading my free eBooks on pack structure, motivation and corrections.

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley

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Question:

Ed,

I got your name from a woman Cynthia from Trinity Croft. She recommended you to me because I have an aggressive dog, who seems to be getting worse. 

When she was about 3 mos old I took her to a place called K-9 Guardian and we were asked to leave because she was so aggressive.  For a long time I thought I could handle her but she got worse. 

Last March I hired a dog trainer from “Who’s The Boss” and he worked with us until just recently and is still consulting over the phone.  She bit him 3 times and she bit me once. 

Now she seems to be taking her aggression out on the other dogs, she has become very pushy, more so than usual.  She even growled at me this morning.  I don’t know what to do, I know if I put her in a shelter she will be put to sleep and she is a very healthy 3 ½ year old dog.  Please, please, help me.

Thank-you,
Kathy

Answer:

Kathy

Most of the time handler aggression is a pack issue. The problems need to be solved by the owner and not some trainer. What good does it do for a trainer to establish himself or herself as your dogs pack leader? NONE !!

Not knowing your skill as a handler or your size or your dogs size I can only tell you what I do with aggressive dogs. I start out with Re-establishing Pack Structure -  I start from ground zero and do exactly what I explain in the free eBook on my web site on THE GROUNDWORK TO ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCTURE My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks.

I will have a DVD finished called ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCTURE WITH THE FAMILY PET. (I am working on it as we write here) that will be done is 3 or 4 weeks.

I would also do the work in my DVD on DEALING WITH DOMINAT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS.

I personally work aggression with remote collars but then I understand how to do this and when necessary I use a muzzle. We have a ton of different type and sizes.

I did a DVD titled REMOTE COLLAR TRAINING FOR THE PET OWNER. I use a Dogtra 1900NCP on my personal dog. Cindy (my other half) used Dogtra 200NCP on her dogs.  It’s a little smaller in size than the 1900.

There are less expensive collars on the market but I don’t believe there are better collars.

I prefer the 1900 because it has a digital read out on the transmitter that goes from 1 to 127. This allows very precise control. I am raising a GSD right now and he started wearing the collar at 4 months. I would never own a dog again without using a remote collar.

While it may seem like I am just trying to sell you DVD's here – the fact is this is not a simple issue to fix – you already found that out. It begins with handler education and this is beyond the scope of an email. My web site is over 10,000 pages but even then there is a lot of topics discussed there. These DVD’s are directed at the source of dog aggression.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

Hi there, I am writing this to you in a state of high distress. My doberman who is 2, we have had him 6 months, just bit my 5 year old son requiring many stitches. This is the 2nd incident and I believe it is a dominance pack issue thing as it only happens if he is alone with my kids, something I try desperately to not have happen. I don't know what my son may have done to provoke it but it would likely have been trying to hug the dog he said he had rolled onto his back and he went to pet his stomach when he jumped on him growling and obviously biting. Are the muzzles okay to leave him in for long periods. I am looking to muzzle him whenever my kids are home and not muzzle him other times I have been training him with a remote collar system and he has gone from out of control to being able to walk off leash no problem. Even with other dogs when he starts to lunge and growl I just click the dogtra collar and he comes or sits or whatever with no dog fights it just seems to be a family "pack " issue. When we first got him he growled and snapped at me several times in a very menacing way and I was told to pinch his lip really hard and force him into a down which he did and started to tremble and rolled into a submissive posture and I have never had that problem again he is definitely my husbands dog first and mine second as I am the one who takes him for 5 -10 walks or runs.

Any way long story short I now no longer trust him and my children are far more important so can I leave him in this muzzle for large periods through the day and should I put it on him when I go out even though his main issue seems to be in our house with my kids?

This is the only option I can think of as I love him to bits and can't bear the thought of re-homing him as we are the 4th or 5th place he has been in 2 years. I just don't know if we gave him to a home without kids if it would be better or if we would be screwing him up with dumping him into yet another home.

PLEASE answer this rather long winded email if you can thank you.
Lea

Answer:

You need more than a muzzle (although we have many styles and type). Keep in mind that a dog can seriously injury a human with a muzzle on. I used to train police service dog and did muzzle work with police dogs. They can break ribs and knock teeth out of adults with muzzles on.

You need a dog crate and some training DVDs and you need to change the way you live with this dog

I strongly suggest that you get several of my training DVD'S

This week I finished a DVD titled ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCUTRE WITH THE FAMILY DOG - this is where you need to start

Basic Dog Obedience

Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs

The pack structure DVD will not be back from being pressed until the Nov 9th. There is an abbreviated part of this program in a free eBook on my web site. My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks http://www.leerburg.com/dogtrainingebooks.htm

I also wrote a free eBook on how to prevent dog bites in children. You will find that on my web site.

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Question:

I read your comment about not having time for people who did not read the information provided already on your web site  So I read many postings before sending you this request for information but perhaps being both hopeful and confused I think I need a straight forward answer.

We had one female spayed doberman we have had since 10 weeks old who we have taken through beginning obedience training at 16 weeks old.  Several months later we rescued her litter mate, also female.  Due to her aggression we had her spayed right away but within the 6 month old time range.  OD (AKA Other Dog) is the rescue dog who was scarred, thin, and well bitten by other dogs when we got her. 

We trained OD with what we learned earlier in Molly's obedience training. Our main problem is occasional fighting that last time required stitches to Molly's ear.  We are concerned about the aggression and whether it can be solved or do we need to find yet another home for OD?

I read many postings were you indicated a new home was the only solution for some but then I read others where people were writing back to say with additional training they were able to keep both dogs.  Also we have been told that litter mates are impossible to keep together, especially female siblings and that it could lead to death for one animal.

OD is very passive with humans, both adult and children, but aggressive towards other animals.  Is there hope for her or should be begin a search for a new home for her?

Thank you for your time.  I also intend to follow up with purchases of your training materials even if only for one dog.  "COME" is not a strong point for either dog at this point.

Answer:

In reality this is a pack structure issue. IN a well established family pack the leader is the one who determines who fights and when to be aggressive. This is a clear rule that’s establishing in the ground work for pack structure. The lower ranking member of the pack instinctually understand this once the leader has been determined.

In your case this dog has had previous attacks – probably against her the first time and then after that she probably became dog aggressive. So this results in the leader needing to do a better job of STRUCTURE and ASSERTIVNESS in what is and is not tolerated. In other words in establishing rules.

Last week I finished a new DVD on ESTABLISHING PAC STRUCUTRE WITH THE FAMILY DOG.This lays out the program to follow for this work. In this DVD I took 4 of my dogs and put them together (2 at a time) and showed how they establish rank.

The vast majority of local obedience instructors don’t understand pack structure well enough to offer sound advice (oh they think they do but they lack experience)

So I recommend this DVD along with the my Basic Dog Obedience DVD. I say this because I question the obedience program you have been exposed top.

In the mean time spend some time reading the free eBooks on my web site – read my philosophy of dog training (or listen to it on a podcast on my web site) Also the theory of correction in dog training.

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Question:

I have 2 female red poodles (sisters) who are 10 months old. One is 6 pounds, the other 11 pounds. It's not just the larger one picking on her little sister, the little one is just as feisty. They recently have been getting into some pretty violent fights with each other - over a toy or food or jealousy. What's the safest way to break them apart and how can we keep them from fighting in the first place?

Thanks much,
Joe
Boca Raton, Fl.

Answer:

We have a directory for people with more than one dog. There are articles here which address your questions.

Pack structure and how to live with a dog in your home are the first issues to deal with whenever you have problems with an existing dog or dogs.  We are taking orders for a new DVD that extensively covers the way Ed and I live with dogs in our home. This video is called Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet.

I would also suggest obedience training these 2 dogs, once you have the pack structure worked out. Our basic obedience DVD has over 4 hours of information and if you purchase it at the same time as the pack structure DVD, you receive a discount on the total price.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

I have a 6 year old un-neutered male black lab.  He has started becoming very aggressive in the past year.  He has never liked me being around any man but my husband, and he would get very agitated at the unknown male, such as a repairman.  This past year he has bitten my cousin, not badly, just enough to make her scream and make the attack worse.  He also snapped at the vet, which in turn made the vet muzzle him and refuse to treat him unless he is restrained and doped up on medicine.  The vet will no longer board him either.  Is there any help for getting this dog to stop biting people?  I really love this dog, but I don't want him to hurt somebody or myself.  If I establish pack leader authority with this dog, will it help his aggressive tendencies to stop? 
 
Sincerely,
Amy

Answer:

You need to restructure your dog’s life.  It appears that he believes HE is in charge, instead of following your leadership.

With an adult dog that has been allowed to behave as he pleases, the process takes longer than if you had established yourself as a leader when he was much younger but it can be done.  All of his privileges need to be taken away and you will need to control every aspect of his life from now on in order for any training to make a difference.

First, read this article about becoming an effective pack leader. The first sentence in this article says it all: "You can feed water and love your dog and he will like you but he very well may not respect you." 99% of all behavioral problems are a result of dogs not respecting their owners.  This happens as a result of poor handling and/or poor training usually because of a lack of understanding of dog behavior..

We have just finished a 4 hour long DVD on pack structure. Pack structure and how to live with a dog in your home are the first issues to deal with whenever you have problems with an existing dog.  We are taking orders for a new DVD that extensively covers the way Ed and I live with dogs in our home. It is called Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet.

I would also recommend our Basic Obedience DVD and our DVD on how to handle Dominant and Aggressive dogs.

There is so much covered in the videos, that it is impossible to explain it all in an email.  You can read about each one on the web pages I have linked in this email.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

Dear Mr. Frawley:

I have a one-year old German Shepherd from pure German imported parents. He is very lovable and he is moderately friendly to people, but very hyperactive at home where he lives in our house with a 6-year old female German Shepherd and an 8-year old male. If you try to brush him, he tries to bite the brush. Whenever you put the leash on him he tries to bite the leash and he is very excitable about most things. When he is taken for a walk he is very quiet and docile unless he is walked with the female. If let loose on our property with the female, he and she will play fight vigorously, but not hurt each other. When I take him to the vet, he is very calm and behaves himself. He is afraid of strange dogs however, when he is off our property. I took him to a dog park and all he did was run from the other dogs to hide by me and by any other person who he thought would protect him. By the way that he followed me at the dog park, I am convinced that he regards me as his park leader. I am not too concerned about his fear of other dogs. I think with familiarity of the dog park and of the other dogs he will lose his fear, so long as I am there to protect him. I am more concerned about how to deal with his hyperactivity at home. By the way, did I forget to tell you that he is 100 pounds and almost impervious to pain? Do you have a DVD or magazine article that I can obtain that will help me. He is not a dominant-aggressive dog, so I don't see that that DVD will help, unless you say differently. Do you think that an electric collar will help calm him down when he gets hyperactive?

Thanks for your help.
George

Answer:

First of all, if your dog bites the brush when you try to use it on him or bites the leash when you snap it on he DOES NOT see you as the pack leader. The first thing you need to do is establish leadership to the dog in a clear and fair manner.

Pack structure and how to live with a dog in your home are the first issues to deal with whenever you add a new dog to your family or have problems with an existing dog. We are taking orders for a new DVD that extensively covers the way Ed and I live with dogs in our home. It is called Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet.

We do not recommend dog parks at all, for any dog. A good pack leader doesn't put his pack members in this situation.

Once you have the pack structure worked out (which can take weeks or months, depending on how consistent you are) then I would work on obedience on leash and then eventually the electric collar.

Basic Obedience

We produced a training DVD in the fall of 2005 titled ELECTRIC COLLAR TRAINING FOR THE PET OWNER. In this DVD Ed teaches people how to handle the foundation training and then how to use the collar.

Many trainers, especially hunting dog trainers and even some professional dog trainers use “escape training” when they train with remote collars. This is where they stimulate the dog, give it a command and then teach the dog how to turn the stimulation OFF by doing what’s told. I don’t agree with “escape training.” I don’t think it's fair to the dog. He is being stimulated before he is even asked to do something. In my opinion this is ass end backward. Rather I believe in using the collar to reinforce a voice correction. In other words, I always tell my dog “NO” before I correct him. I give him the opportunity to change his behavior. My goal is to always teach my dog to follow my voice command.

If you read the article titled THE THEORY OF CORRECTIONS IN DOG TRAINING you will understand how to approach corrections. In the DVD Ed simply applies that philosophy to remote collar training. The article explains how to determine the level of correction to use on each dog. This varies according to the temperament and drive of the dog along with the level of distraction it’s currently facing at that moment in time.

This DVD shows how to determine what level of stimulation to use on your dog. That’s important. In this DVD we never used a level higher than a medium and most of the time it was on the low settings for every dog we trained.

We use a Dogtra 1900 on our personal dogs. This is about a $300.00 (plus shipping collar). There are other good collars for less money. I recommend staying with DOGTRA, INNOTEK and TRI-TRONICS. Other companies sell cheaper collars but in the remote collar business you get what you pay for.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

Great Site.  Began buying equipment from you just recently.  Thanks.

1 year old male GSD.  Very good.  Very obedient.  Somewhat dog aggressive; but, we are working on that.

My partner plays "chase" with Kipp.  She tosses a toy.  He runs after it.  Waits.  She chases him.  (I searched your site for answers to this one and wasn't successful yet ... so I'm writing).

Seems to me that this is a back-asswards game.  Yes/NO?  Should I allow her to continue (and things are OK)?  Or, should I continue to ask her to stop this style of play.  Thanks in advance for the counsel.

Frank

Answer:

Thanks for the kind words and for your business.  We appreciate it.

I wouldn’t allow chase type games with any of my dogs.  The reason being is then the dog is controlling the game, and I am not.  From a leadership standpoint, it can cause some problems as the dog matures.

The toys I ALLOW my dog to play with are my toys, and we play by my rules. (which do not include me chasing the dog around)   I am sure many people do this without incident, but for me it’s just one more way to establish leadership with my dog in a way my dog understands and enjoys.  

Does that help at all?

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Question:

Hello,

I know that you are probably very very busy and don't have that much time answering personal emails but I thought I would give it a try. 

I have two male dogs, Ace who is 1yr and 2 months old and is a complete mutt (not sure what he is possibly puggle with something else that makes him a bit bigger), and Tyson who is 8 months old and is a pit bull/lab mix.  Ace is about 48 pounds and Tyson is probably around 50 and an inch taller than Ace.  I have read every book possible to make sure that I am training them well enough, we socialize them at dog parks, take them for walks, etc.  They are great with other people, they are decently trained. I say that because we still have much work to do with not jumping up on people and heel when we walk and listening when we are in an outside setting where they are distracted. But this email isn't about the basics of training, they have gotten into a few fights. I know, I know people say we shouldn't have gotten two male dogs and I know that most of their fights are about dominance right now but what do I do. I have established myself and my boyfriend as the pack leaders, they know that. Someone told me that I need to let them decide who is alpha between them, but shouldn't they both be followers because I am the pack leader. The last fight turned into Ace needing stitches, a $600 process that I would like never to happen again. 

Tyson is a grumpy dog when he is tired, he will snap at other dogs when he wants to be left alone to sleep. He will growl at Ace when he wants to be left alone. Ace likes to taunt him mainly because he wants to play. The last fight was when my boyfriend was throwing the ball and they both jumped up to get it, one of them landed on the other and a fight broke out. Sometimes it will be when we are eating, Tyson will show aggression if Ace gets to close. And lately (Ace has a cone on currently because of the stitches) Ace has been showing Tyson aggression and now Tyson won't go near Ace.

They don't show any aggression towards humans, with toys or with their food.  When they were both puppies they growled when they had a pigs ear but we took it away and never gave it back.  They haven't done that since. 

You can tell that they get along, they play with each other and sleep by each other.  But then they have these fights and it makes me nervous.  I love both of my dogs very much and don't regret getting them.  They are good dogs, I just need to know what I am doing wrong as an owner to help with their personal dominance issues between them.

Please help me, soon my boyfriend is leaving and it will just be me and I want to make sure I have a handle on the situation. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this and help me. 

Sincerely,
Melissa

Answer:

Dog parks are not a good idea, especially with dogs that show dominance issues with each other.  So many people mistakenly think their dogs need to play with other dogs, and without a very clear understanding of pack structure and canine body language this can actually cause more problems in the long run.

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader. This article was written for people like yourself, people who have great intentions but not enough knowledge of pack structure. There are links within the article that will take you to other articles on my web site.

You should not allow these 2 to work out their differences, YOU are the leader and they (as followers) are not allowed to fight.

I have several video recommendations for you.  You can go to the web pages to read what these cover.

Pack Structure DVD
Basic Obedience
Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs

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Question:

I have a Boxer that I rescued. The previous owner was terminally ill and had to give her up. Or that was what I was told. She seemed to be fine with all the other animals and then she got into a fight with one of my older dogs and that dog died from it.
Since then she has killed one of my baby goats and attacked an adult goat through the fence. I have been watching very closely and yesterday I saw him grab the male goat by the face and would not let go until I hit her with a stick. My daughters will not let my granddaughters come to my house until I get rid of this dog.

My question is:
Should I try to find a home for her or put her down?
This is a very hard decision for me.

Sharon

Answer:

This is far more of an owner problem than a dog problem.

The dog lacks pack structure, training and a controlled environment. After the dog did this to a goat - why in the world would you allow this dog to be loose outside and out of your control?

Find a new home for the dog - one where the people will take an interest in learning how to establish pack structure and training - here are the links to do it. I don't think you're the right person for this dog.

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet
Basic Dog Obedience
Remote Collar Training for Pet Owners

I don't think its fair to kill a dog because of your mistakes and lack of training.


Question:

I have a basic question for you, and your response will be so much appreciated. My parents have a White German Shepherd named Zeus.

Since Zeus was 9 weeks old, I have been a part of his life, visiting my parents 3-4 times a week and interacting with Zeus.

Zeus is 6 years old as of this past May.

When he was a puppy, I regularly picked him up, but he never wanted to stay in my arms for long, and would squirm and act restless. I'd end up putting him down sooner than I wanted. Other than that, he was always thrilled to see me when I came over.

At some point when Zeus was full-grown, I'd take to stooping over him, while he was standing, and gently proceeding to hug him around his chest/neck area, but as I proceeded to do so, he'd let out a subtle growl.

My mother has always insisted that this is a "purr" of affection. I'd tell her, "Dogs don't purr. Cats do." I know the sound of a low growl.

In addition to the growl, Zeus's tail would become rigid and horizontal  --  though curving up a bit, but always rigid, unmoving. Ironically, this very same dog would obey my every command. He'd come to me at the click of my fingers. I could put a piece of steak on his paw, while he was lying, and make him wait for my command to eat it. He'd get extremely excited when I gave him the signal for playing ball.

To overcome the growling problem, I began giving him a food morsel immediately following every hug I gave him. I'd hug him for about 15 seconds, hear him growl, then follow up with food. It didn't take long for Zeus to associate the hugs with food, so the growling eventually stopped.

I thought the problem was licked until he was at the kennel for nearly a week. Once he returned home, he was growling louder as I simply stooped over and barely embraced him ever so slightly. Once again, I had to retrain him to associate the hugs with something positive (food). The growling problem resurfaces when he comes home from staying at the kennel for several days.

My mother has all along insisted it was a "purr" of affection, though I think she is now convinced it is a growl.

Now get this: My brother moved to town when Zeus was maybe 4 years old, but sees the dog only once a week. The dog goes bananas when my brother comes over, and doesn't seem to know that I exist. My brother plays ball with him but is not as physically affectionate as I am  --  I touch the dog more than him or my parents as far as being affectionate and lovey dovey.

I don't know if Zeus would growl if my father stooped over to hug him because my father has never done this. But Zeus has growled about 50 percent of the time my mother has hugged him from overhead.

My brother says he does not growl when HE hugs him. My brother says this is all because Zeus instinctively submits more to males than females, since in the animal kingdom, the male is superior and will not submit to females. I countered this by saying that Zeus obeys my every command without hesitation. My brother then said that kind of submission is on a smaller scale, but something like leaning over close to the dog and hugging him can be perceived as a domination thing, and since Zeus recognizes me as being female, he feels his role as superior is being threatened.

What do you make of all this?

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Ellcee

Answer:

Your dog is basically telling you he doesn’t appreciate you leaning over him and hugging him.  This is a dominant gesture and sometimes a precursor to a fight if dogs do this between themselves.  You are pretty lucky you haven’t been bitten! 

A fair pack leader does not posture over his lower ranking members over and over again, and I imagine your actions are making this dog uneasy.  Kind of like someone who “gets in your face” or invades your personal space.  It’s not a nice feeling for a dog or for a person.

If you want to show this dog you care for him, be fair and consistent. 

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader.

This article was written for people like yourself, people who have great intentions but not enough knowledge of pack structure. There are links within the article that will take you to other articles on my web site.

I hope this helps.

Response to the answer:

Thanks for responding. It saddens me that my own dog doesn't want me to hug him; kind of like a parent trying to hug their child, but the child always pulls away. This is distressing, especially since Zeus's coat is so warm and luxurious to the touch. The confusing thing is that he DOES see me as above him in the pack structure (he obeys my every command), yet only for this one particular thing, he dares to growl at me.

Another Answer:

Dogs are not humans, and it’s obviously distressing to Zeus when you persist on repeating the same things over and over despite his attempts to communicate with you in the only way he knows how that he is uncomfortable.

Some of my dogs like to be hugged, and some hate it.  As a fair pack leader, I respect the individual bubble each dog has for his or her personal space. This leads to more trust and ultimately a better bond than I would have if I consistently impose MY wishes on the dog.

Thanks for writing, try thinking of this from Zeus’s point of view and see what happens.

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Question:

I read a little about dog fights because of an incident with my dog this afternoon. I have a 1 1/2 year old female Rott. .."Sunny"....she is very gentle with my three little boys. She has been a little aggressive on two occasions with repairmen that have come to the door....snapping and hair standing up on back, otherwise she has basically licked to death anyone who comes to the house. We live across the street from my brother who has two female Dobermans. Sunny plays very hard with the younger of the two and has a lot of fun, the older Doberman, Thunder, doesn't like to play and usually keeps her distance from the other two.

Today the younger ones were playing hard as usual, rolling in the snow, tackling each other, etc. and Thunder tried to get in between for some reason. Sunny, our Rott, turned on her and bit her ear and gave her a few small punctures around her neck area. The whole incident lasted only a few seconds, Thunder ran away quickly, unfortunately, bleeding a little. These dogs have been with each other every day for almost a year now and nothing like this has ever happened. If Sunny could snap on another dog, should I also be concerned about her snapping on one of my children? I also wonder if the dogs should be kept away from one another now? I don't know what to do with her and I don't understand why she could have turned on Thunder. Could you please give me a little insight into this situation and advice for trying to avoid it in the future.

Thank you.
Theresa

Answer:

Your dog is now becoming a young adult and trying to establish herself over the Doberman. When the Doberman resisted, Sunny tried harder and this is when dog fights happen. This is normal pack behavior.

We don't allow our dogs to interact in this manner, our dogs listen to us they don't wrestle around at their own discretion. If we want all of our dogs to spend time together we take them on walks where we are in charge.

If Sunny was my dog, I would not allow her to play with these dogs again. It's just a matter of time before it would happen again.

I believe that this recently finished DVD could really help you. It’s titled Pack Structure for the Family Pet. You can go to the web page and read the outline of what’s included on the video. My DVD's are not meant to be watched one time. The fact is anyone who needs this information needs to watch it many many times because every time they watch it they will pick up new ideas.

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader. This article was written for people like yourself, people who have great intentions but not enough knowledge of pack structure.. There are links within the article that will take you to other articles on my web site.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

I adopted a 3 yr old cocker from an animal rescue center.  I have learned that she has had 3 litters of puppies in two years.  She is very timid.  She walks on leash ok and can stay inside without being crated all day with no problems.  The issue is:   When we enter the home, she looks to see what the noise is and then runs to the opposite end of the home to hide.  When we enter the home from being on a walk, she runs to hide.  I have purchased toys that she will not play with during the day, but I have found them moved if we have been away.  She will not come, will not eat if we are in the same room, will only potty if we are on a walk ( no yard use)  She does not approach us, does not bark or whine. But will sleep in the bed with us, if I pick her up and put her in bed.  She will not voluntarily get in bed with us.  She is timid at some of the outside noise, but is getting better.  We walk twice a day.  Where do I start and what should I do?  Thanks for the info.

Answer:

You don't mention how long you have had this dog, but what she needs is structure and obedience training.  Dogs that are insecure thrive on this, because it makes them feel safe.

I would recommend our new DVD on Pack Structure for the Family Pet and Basic Obedience.

In the meantime read this article on Pack Structure and follow the guidelines in it to get started.


Question:

Hello Cindy/Ed, 

I hope you had a great holiday. 

Recall I have a 3 1/2 month old doberman puppy and a two year old female doberman. I listened to the DVD's and am following the instructions and tips the best I can as I found them most helpful. I'm the only handler to my dog, my wife only takes him outside to do his thing and places him back in the crate trying to be neutral as possible. I don't allow our older two year old female to play with him although she doesn't show any dominant tendencies as of yet. I of course will keep them separated anyway. 

I do have two follow up questions for you, I have several training sessions with the pup a day and late at night, when he is more tired than anything I sit on the floor and lay with him for a while before putting him in his crate for the evening.  He tries to bite my face or hands more than usual during this time trying to play but I was wondering if I should be actually on the ground with him or if I need to be sitting on a chair forcing him to lay by my feet? The reason I ask is I'm still trying to establish a bond with him besides my training. Do you think I should continue to lay with him on the floor with him on my lap?

I'm also training him to "target" or "place" train to have him go to his place which I have used a sheep skin bed very similar to the one you have in the video as my target.  The problem I'm encountering is he loves to chew on this bed actually putting holes in it and ripping the stuffing out of it. This occurred with my older female and now it is occurring with my pup and I was wondering how I can stop this?  The video mentioned for chewers to use that bitter apple cider and to take a cotton ball and force it into their mouths for a minute so they hate the taste and the smell resulting in them not chewing it anymore.  Problem is I can't do that with the target or place because I obviously want them to go to it and not avoid it.  Would you have any suggestions?

Thanks again,
Jason

Answer:

I wouldn’t lay on the floor with the puppy, you are putting yourself on his level and this causes many puppies confusion on where they fit into the pack structure.  You can bond with the dog in many ways, you don’t need to lay on the floor. You could try sitting on the floor with him next to you, but if he gets “in your face”  you may have to sit on the furniture.

Until you can teach him the YUCK command to not put his mouth on the bed, I would simply restrict his access to it.  Use something that doesn’t shred for his place training. Chewing on things and tearing them up are reinforcing for some dogs, so I would simply remove the items right now.  He is very young and this is normal behavior for many puppies.  Try a rubber or industrial carpet mat, that’s not as attractive to chew and see if that helps.

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Question:

Hello,

I just got your DVD about dominant and aggressive dogs. Let me tell you about my 8 months old puppy. She is jack Russell/beagle mix. She is very smart she listen very well. She is very aggressive towards me and just me since she was about 3-4 months old. She is very friendly. She starts showing her teeth and snipes for no reason. Mostly when I pet her or pick her up but not always. Since she was a baby we let her sleep in bed. I'm very strict with her now, but my boyfriend just spoiled her, eating food from his mouth in our bed and other stuff. She doesn't sleep in our bedroom, but any time I leave them alone home the dog can do what ever she wants and get away with it. I'm the one who takes her out, feeds her, run to classes with her and trains her. Why does the dog only attack me? I have started correcting her with a training collar but she just attacked back and got ever more aggressive and then she goes to her cage and 2 min later she is crying and being sorry. She cries for hours. Please could you help me somehow.

Thank you,
Lucie

Answer:

Your dog doesn't respect you as a leader, when she shows her teeth at you it's because she feels she is the boss, and you are the follower.

In addition to watching the Dominant and Aggressive Dog DVD, you need to learn and study pack structure and begin to apply it with your dog.

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader.

The first sentence in this article says it all: "You can feed water and love your dog and he will like you but he very well may not respect you." 99% of all behavioral problems are a result of dogs not respecting their owners. This happens as a result of poor handling and/or poor training.

This article was written for people like yourself, people who have great intentions but not enough knowledge of pack structure.. There are links within the article that will take you to other articles on my web site.

I am going to recommend a couple more DVD's to help you with your issues, the first one is Pack Structure for the Family Pet and it picks up where the groundwork article leaves off.

Once you have your leadership issues under control, then I would suggest obedience training.

Your dog is behaving like any normal adolescent dog, and like all dogs if you don't offer her the structure, leadership and exercise she needs then she will seek to take charge.

The material I have suggested to you will help you take the control back in your house.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

Hi Cindy

I have a training question to ask. I recently decided to back up my puppies training, back to square one starting with establishing pack structure. After watching the dvd on pack structure on the crate training I think I moved on to phase two to soon and would like to start again, because I don't think he views me as pack leader. He still cries a bit after I put him in before he settles down, sometimes a lot and even tries to bite me when putting him in. My question is, is he suppose to be calm and submissive going in and while in there and not cry at all before I move on to the second phase.

Thanks for you help I'm really trying make this work he's a very dominant puppy and has been since I got him at five weeks old and I not sure how much is puppy and how much is dominance.

Thanks,
Neil

Answer:

Some puppies take a long time to quit crying in the crate, it's your job to only let him out when he's calm and quiet. Have you covered his crate with a towel or blanket so he's not looking at things and getting stimulated?

If he's trying to bite you when you put him in the crate then I assume you are forcing him to go in? Use food and marker training to make going in something that isn't a struggle, but a fun thing to do.

I'd make sure he's being good in the crate 80% of the time before moving on to the next step.

Another Question:

HI again Cindy I had another question I forgot to ask. How do you know when he starts accepting you as pack leader? What kind of signs can I look for?

Thanks again,
Neil

Another Answer:

The biggest sign is compliance and calm, cooperative behavior.

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Question:

Dear Ed,

My wife and I recently rescued a two year old female pit bull. We have had her for two or three weeks, walk her for at least two hours a day, and she has shown no signs of aggression towards people, however, she does pull on her leash on the walks and wants to pull towards other dogs/people. It's obvious to us that we have a long way to go.

We want to make sure that we are providing the best possible situation for her and us.

I just ordered your Basic dog obedience and pack structure dvd's

Is it realistic that we can train her ourselves or would you recommend we find a professional in our area. If so, do you have suggestions for a trainer in Tucson, AZ.

Thanks for your time,
Joshua

Answer:

Joshua

First – thank you for your business.

You have to train this dog yourself. Sending a dog off for training never works and in many cases the people you send the dog to use WAY TOO MUCH FORCE because to them time is money. In the end it intimately does not work because your dog needs to establish you as a pack leader and sending the dog someplace else does not solve this problem. The dog learns to mind the trainer and it will always revert back to old problems when it comes home.

Listen to my podcast on MY PHILOSOPHY ON DOG TRAINING  - it is on my web site. I talk about this in that podcast

You are on the right path here with the two DVD’s. Study them – they are not meant to just be watched like a movie. You will see – there is a lot of information.

Pitts can be HARD DOGS - (as opposed to  soft dog in terms of corrections). This is discussed in the dvds your getting. You may find that you need to train this dog with a remote collar. Bottom line is I will never train a dog again without a remote collar and low level stimulation. I did a DVD on this REMOTE COLLAR TRAINING FOR THE PET OWNER I use a Dogtra 1900 on my personal dog.

Read the article I wrote titled THEORY OF CORRECTIONS IN DOG TRAINING. This may also help you.

I hope this helps clear some thing up for you.

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Question:

My boyfriend has a 2 yr old male (unaltered) Rottie named Bones. Recently, he bit me because I was trying to teach him not to get into my cats' toys. Now, I had only known him for less than a month, do you think that it was too soon for me to be correcting him? Also he has bit two other people after me for the same reason of trying to correct him. He also is constantly after my cats, not aggressively but very excitedly and it scares them. Will he ever get over this? The problem that I am having is getting through to my boyfriend. He absolutely refuses to neuter him and he thinks that his dog is the greatest dog in the world. And for the most part that is true, he is a very sweet dog, very loving and playful, he for the most part listens well to my boyfriend, but he really doesn’t like anybody other than my boyfriend telling him what to do. Do you think neutering would help?  And how do I get Bones to listen to me and realize that I am dominant over him?

Thank You,
Stephanie

Answer:

Trying to correct any dog without a bond or leadership established is dangerous (as you have found out). Neutering may or may not help, this isn’t an issue of hormones but an issue of pack structure.

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader. This article was written for people like yourself, people who have great intentions but not enough knowledge of pack structure. There are links within the article that will take you to other articles on my web site.

You will need to establish yourself as a leader for this dog and you will need your boyfriend’s cooperation.  He will need to allow you and Bones to work out a relationship between the 2 of you.

Pack structure and how to live with a dog in your home are the first issues to deal with whenever you add a new dog to your family or have problems with an existing dog.  We just finished a new DVD that extensively covers the way Ed and I live with dogs in our home, called Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet.

I would use the groundwork program and watch this dvd, and once that’s going well work on some basic obedience yourself with Bones.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

We are a family of 2 adults, and three children ages 7, 14, and 19. We bought a male German shepherd from experienced breeder about 8 months ago. He is developing pretty normal. However we have number of points of concern. He had been biting us from a very young age. We read that it may be normal in young puppies. But this behavior had been persisting occasionally until now. It looks like a game, no one gets hurt, but some times it’s pretty painful. He couldn’t be admitted to an obedience course when he was 5 months because the trainer told us that our puppy was aggressive.

He is barking at our neighbors and our relatives when they come to visit us. We live in a house in a quite suburb and probably that’s why he didn’t get much socializing. It looks like our dog has low self-esteem. Despite the fact that he has never had been hurt by other people and dogs, he is scared from strangers of all ages and other dogs. He expresses it like a fearful-aggressive behavior. He begins to bark and his fur stands up not only on strangers, but also on any unfamiliar moving objects.

Otherwise, we don’t have significant problems with him. He learned housebreaking really fast and he more or less obeys simple commands such as “sit,” “down,” “come,” and “stay.” However, two recent episodes in a veterinarian office, and when we tried to bring our puppy, Rex to a cannel were pretty fearful. Rex growled on the people and tried to attack them.

We watched your DVD “Establishing pack structure with the family pet.” We have started to establish pack structure as your recommended. During the last 3 days only one person contacted him, and Rex began to recognize this person as a leader. But our question is, how the other members of our family should behave with the dog? You mentioned that all members of the family may be pack leaders regarding the dog. But you didn’t recommend how to do it practically. Should Rex be in a COMPLETE isolation from everyone else except for one person for a week or longer? How should we introduce additional family members as pack leaders?

We think that our dog has softer and weaker personality, rather than dominant and strong one. As general rule should we allow him to escape from fearful objects, or should we force him to overcome his fears.

We hope to hear from you soon.

Best regards,
Natalya

Answer:

I think I would suggest that one person does the primary handling and pack structure with Rex.  Once he is in the routine and doing well (this can vary from dog to dog) then I would incorporate other family members.  The problem with letting too many people do this all at once is that it can be confusing to the dog if everyone does and says things differently.  Our main goal is to give this dog security and structure in his daily life.

I also would never try to force any dog to anything he is afraid of.  If you have any fears yourself, you know that if someone drags or forces you to be near something that you are really afraid of, it does NOTHING but make the fear worse.  Build this dogs confidence in himself and in you as a leader.  Leaders don’t terrorize their subordinates by forcing them into situations that they can not escape from.

I would use marker training to make your dog more confident in situations that scare him, we show that being used in the Pack Structure dvd for nail trimming or ear cleaning.  It can be used in just about any situation to make the dog more confident.

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Question:

Great web site! I have a 2 year old male shar pei who growls at me if I try to approach him while he is laying down/resting/sleeping. If I proceed to approach him when he growls, he will then bark viciously and snap at me. A few seconds after he does that, he seems out of sorts and remorseful, and comes right over to me to give me a kiss/lick. Although it is frightening when he snaps, is this acceptable? After all, I WAS interrupting his sleep and I  myself wouldn't be a happy camper if someone woke me up when I was resting. Or, is it unacceptable for a dog to snap at its owner at ANY given time?

Answer:

This is 100% a lack of pack structure problem. The dog ended up like this because of how you have been living with it.

If you want to fix it you can but it requires you changing the way you live with this dog along with you educating yourself on pack structure and obedience training. Here are the DVDs that will solve your problems with this dog (before it bites you)

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog
Basic Dog Obedience
Remote Collar Training for the Family Dog

You completely misunderstand what is going on here. This dog is not one bit remorseful – he is telling you “OK you backed down when I told you who the boss was and now time to pet me.”

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Question:

Ed, I have a 75 lb. airedale that growls at me, I have an e-collar and I ordered the "training with an e-collar" and " training an aggressive and dominant dog."Do I need the special collar also? (I have a strong leather leash).  

Thanks,
Mike

Answer:

To be safe before I would put a remote collar on a dog like this, or even a prong or dominant dog collar on him I would run them through the pack structure work in my DVD ESTABLISHING PACK STRCTURE WITH THE FAMILY DOG

I don’t know if this is a pack structure (dominance issue) or fear issue. When is doubt error on the side of reason. In other words – do the pack structure work.

If your going to train with a remote do the foundation correctly in obedience – you cant just put a collar on and correct the dog for growling. It will attack you – at that point it matters not if its dominance or fear  - the holes in your arm hurt as much from either.

I have dealt with more dangerous dogs than I care to remember. I always took is slowly and I never got bit. You have to establish fair leadership first and your dog must believe it. This is best not done with force – not if you want a relationship with this dog.

I don’t know your level of obedience you have but I always recommend people run their dogs through these 3 DVD’s:

1- The Pack Structure
2-  Basic dog obedience
3- Remote Collar for the Pet Owner

Am not trying to pedal tapes here but things like this can so south very quickly and many times it did not have to play like that.

Also use one of those CINCH-IT collar we sell on your remote – train it going on with Markers.

Good luck

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Question:

Ed,

I am hoping to get your opinion on a serious dominance problem we are having with our 2 year old male rottie, Fantom.  Fantom is of German working lineage (both parents have advance Schutzhund titles) and is what I would call a hard dog (when distracted, he ignores all but the most significant corrections).  He was neutered at 1 year.  My wife and I have tried to be diligent in our training since he was a puppy, using both positive reinforcement and corrections (most recently using a dominant dog collar) when necessary. He understands basic obedience commands well and will generally follow my instructions, but not when distracted, particularly by another dog.  He is a family pet and has been very good with me, my wife, our two girls and our bull mastiff (who was a year old when we got Fantom as a puppy).  He does, however, regularly attempt to chase (and perhaps attack) our two cats, which we have managed to keep away from him. 

Until last week, his biggest issue was dog aggression on walks.  While he has never actually attacked another dog, he regularly displays dominant behavior towards them, pulling on the leash, growling, etc. When he gets in this mode, he is very hard to snap out of it, sometimes letting me choke him so long that he throws up before he will break his focus on the other dog.  One time when we encountered another large dog on a walk, I corrected him so hard that the metal ring on his dominant dog collar broke (I think it must have been defective to begin with – it was not one of yours) and he ran up to the other dog but thankfully did not attack before I was able to get a hold of him.  At one point we hired a trainer, who used a prong collar, but this just infuriated Fantom to the point that he bit the trainer.  (After that we switched to a dominant dog collar).

Last week the problem escalated.  A friend was visiting from out of town, who Fantom had met before but had not seen in many months.  He was in our back yard with my wife, and playing fetch with Fantom.  When they stopped, Fantom sat on the patio next to my wife who was petting him.  Our friend was also petting Fantom and leaned in closely to, as he put it, admire Fantom’s large head.  Fantom licked his face and then suddenly, with no warning, bit him in the face, resulting in 47 stitches.  I can only assume that Fantom interpreted my friend “admiring his large head” as a challenge.  Regardless, we cannot take the risk that this situation could repeat itself.  Our vet has strongly advised us to put Fantom down, and I understand that may be the safest option.  I am reluctant to do so, however, as he is otherwise such a great dog and my kids absolutely love him. I also realize that all of this probably stems from the fact that Fantom does not respect me and my wife as his pack leaders. 

I asked Fantom’s breeder, who has extensive experience training rotties for both work and sport, whether he though training could correct these problems and his opinion was that it could not, at least not with any degree of certainty.  Basically, he agreed with our vet.

I guess I was just hoping to get another opinion before we reach a final decision and would appreciate your thoughts on the situation.  Thank you for your time,

Doug

Answer:

We are of the belief that these issues with dogs are usually caused by the way the owner has raised and handled the dog.  Certain dogs are more dominant and aggressive, but if the owners were attentive to the signals dogs sent out so many of these bite cases would never happen. Believe me, your dog gave plenty of warning, the problem is that most people don’t know how to read a dog’s body language.   I guess I look at it like this, if I was a dog and my pack leader (owner) didn’t keep strangers out of my face I would feel that it was my job to tell that person they need to back off.  How would you react if you were sitting there in your home and a stranger came up and put their face inches from your face.  Depending on the kind of person you were, would depend on how you reacted.  You may look away and hope the person goes away or you may haul off and punch that person if a stern look and a tensing of your body didn’t work to get him out of your space.

Now, with all that said I am not making excuses for your dog because he should not have bitten like this.  You created this problem with how you have handled this dog in the past.  It’s not uncommon, unfortunately.  Most vets and many breeders don’t truly understand how important pack structure and leadership is to all dogs, but a strong and assertive dog like a male Rott is a full time management project.

The problems you are seeing are the result of the way you live with your dog.  When dogs act like this they lack leadership from their owners. In other words their owners don’t understand how important pack drive is in how they raise their dogs.

Owners of dogs like yours underestimate the genetic power of  "PACK DRIVE"  Pack structure is not something new and it is not optional, and if you don’t provide the structure and leadership a dog NEEDS then he or she will behave as canines have for thousands of years and will structure your family and household their own way.  Your dog is not behaving badly out of spite or stubbornness; your dog is simply being a dog, a dog that needs some guidance and rules.

If you want to fix a problem like this you can but it takes some work.

Here is a 3 ½ hour DVD that I would recommend  titled Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

If you go to the link on this DVD you can read about what it covers. You will also see a detailed outline of what’s in the video.

I also recommend our video on Pack Structure and the Family Pet and the free article that gives you an outline of how to set yourself up for success with a new dog or how to rework an existing relationship with a dog

These materials are the first step in solving these problems, if you decide to try to work through it.  Usually vets and breeders will mention euthanasia because honestly they don’t want to have any lawsuits coming back on them if the dog does bite again and you followed their advice.  We see this over and over again.

This won’t be easy, no matter what you decide.

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Question:

Hi Mr. Frawley,

I’ve been on your site several hours because it’s the most informative and well written site on the internet.  Thank-you for taking the time to put this all together.

I have a 2 year old female English springer spaniel.  Smart, loving, companionable etc etc purchased from a show breeder.  In my ignorance, because the dog is so smart and follows me around all day, I never did obedience training with her, my son taught her “sit, paw.”  She always came when called... And rece’d plenty of exercise.  She bonded with me -  I have 3 teenagers.

Last month she grabbed something off a counter when I was gone.  When I picked up the paper plate it was on, even though it wasn’t near her, she lunged and repeatedly bit me at least 6x on both hands..... Infected – antibiotics needless to say.

I called a “behaviorist” who came twice – at $165 per hour he tested her for food aggression,,,, etc.  said the dog thinks it’s the boss.
I didn’t understand the importance or meaning of pack behavior and the fact that I didn’t have her respect.

Two weeks ago, I tried to get her to go in the house by pulling on her collar.  Again the same thing..... Lunging, repeated bites..... We brought her back to the breeder.  Last week, we thought we found a perfect home – no children, big yard, beach etc.  we explained that the dog needs training, thinks it dominant etc etc.  The woman bonded with the dog – and was doing everything “right.”

Last night we rec’d a frantic call, that the dog lunged at the woman because the dog refused not to go to an off limits room.  The woman also was bit and we took the dog back to the breeder where she remains........

I love the dog – she loves me but as you said in your web site, “there’s no respect.”

How would you handle this and what do you suggest?  I have a feeling what you will say... But I want every avenue to be explored.

In gratitude,
Ann

Answer:

You failed your responsibility of being a meaning full pack leader.

This dog can be saved if it goes through a pack leadership program – like the one in my dvd on Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet This is critical but its not the only thing to do – part way through the program the dog is introduced to effective obedience training.

When the obedience training is finished, REMOTE COLLAR TRAINING

Bottom line is you failed this dog. If you want to fix it you can but it requires that you learn how to do the work and then do it.

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Question:

Hello,

I want to thank you for the great info in your videos, podcasts, eBooks and forums. I've got an 18 month old female GSD who is doing SAR training. Specifically, we're doing trailing work and loving it. We just got one of your fabulous leather trailing harnesses. I'm a lifelong member of the 'explainers club' and really appreciate your explanations. It's a big help for me that you work with high drive dogs because I've got one myself. I loved the video of Dayma at 6 months because she was acting a lot like my dog did at that age. I also like a direct answer. And, I've got a question...

About a month ago, I made a decision (which I regret) to have my dog spend a day with a trainer with whom we've done several obedience classes. At the time, my thought was that a day with a trusted and known person in a place where we have had fun would be a good confidence builder.

My dog did great working with the trainer and was fine interacting with some other dogs out by the pond. Then she was left in a crate in an office while the trainer left the property for an hour to take one of her dogs to the vet. She was "screaming" in the crate when the trainer returned. My dog is crate trained and at ease in her crate at home and in my truck. She sleeps in her crate at night and is crated when we're not home (or when we don't want to supervise her) and is crated in the truck when we're out in the world (or at SAR training and she's not working).

This is what I heard about the incident: The trainer brought two dogs (or more? I don't really know) into the office which is a small closed space. She released my frenzied dog from the crate. My dog slammed into the dog just back from the vet who turned on her and growled, my dog growled back, the trainer grabbed my dog by the scruff from behind (she was wearing no collars) and she bit - one hard full bite and hold on the hand which resulted in deep puncture wounds.

My dog has never shown aggression to people before or after this incident -- and she has been out in the world quite a bit. We also regularly have visitors at the house. The trainer never felt that the dog was trying to get her but she didn't release quickly. The trainer didn't blame the dog and thought she was completely panicked. My dog was somewhat dog aggressive during a false pregnancy in May and June of this year. But otherwise she is OK with other dogs -- we are still working toward neutrality to other dogs. She is not a dominant dog and we consistently enforce the pack hierarchy.

I have told members of my search unit about the incident and some feel that this incident makes my dog inappropriate for the unpredictable world of wilderness search. Of course, I would never want to field an unsafe dog and am willing to do everything possible to make her dependable. We have about a year of search training until we're ready to certify. So I have some time to work on this and, of course, she will mature during that time as well.

What do you think? Is this type of incident a sign of bad things to come or a perfect storm of bad decisions on the part of the trainer and a mistake by the dog? What kind of training should I do to make sure this never happens again?

I have obtained and watched your DVD on dominant and aggressive dogs. I am doing training to help her become more responsive when aroused (we've recently done some herding). We're making her work a little harder for everything (in her 'nothing in life is free' program).

Any words of advice welcome and thanks again for the great products and information.

Morgan

Answer:

This whole incident was just BAD handling and management of your dog (and the other dogs).

I would NEVER leave my dog with anyone else for training, especially if they were going to let my dog out to be in contact with strange dogs.

Your dog was probably stressed without the leadership from you and was put in a position of trying to defend herself. I am not surprised at all by what happened, as many dogs would have done the exact same thing in that situation.

I think you are doing fine with your dog, and I just would not ever let her be put in the position of feeling that she was without leadership from you. I don't care how good of a trainer someone is, I will not leave my dog with them and I most certainly would not allow them to let my dog out of a crate in an area (big or small) with other loose dogs. This was a mistake of the human, not the dog. Why would anyone let a frantic dog loose out of a crate into a room with dogs it didn't know? I think your trainer is lucky she wasn't bit worse because she made a big mistake.

Thanks for the kind words and for your business, we really appreciate it.

Cindy

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Question:

Mr Frawley,

I understand you get lots of emails with questions on dog training. I admit I need help. Here is my story. We adopted a puppy from a rescue almost 2 years ago. Our older dog is of unknown breed, we where told collie/hound mix (female), but I do not think this is true. I have worked very hard with this dog, and she is truly a wonderful dog, but from reading most of your articles I think we need to revisit some training. which I will do gladly.

we have adopted another dog, 2 months ago, a German shepard, border collie female. She was 8-10 weeks old when we got her (she is 5 months old now). Things were going smoothly until about 3 weeks ago. From what I am reading on your site, I introduced them in the totally wrong way.

We did introduce them a few times outside the home before we brought her home. Our older dog loves other dogs. So she played happily , we brought the puppy home. She did behave but did regress and pee on the floor a couple of times. We have never had any problems with food, toys, sleep areas. We have never crated our older dog, but the puppy most definitely is. She (they) is not left alone without someone in the house. They do not play outside alone (together), they are on a runner when they need to go to the bathroom.

Our puppy, in the past few weeks has had some nipping issues, I was thinking it was her being a puppy and mouthing. I (the family) will give her a stern NO and all playing will stop. I also have my dogs sit, before anything, go outside, eat, food only gets put our for the allotted 15 minutes. Another problem is she nips ALOT at our older dogs paws and ears. I'm sitting her wondering if she's having a herding instinct? I don't want my older dog stressed out. Although if she is doing this and they start a tussle as soon as they see me it all stops, I don't even have to say a word.

Well 3 nights ago, I was patting her (the puppy) and it seemed as if she was going to bite me. So now I am here wondering if I have a aggressive dog. She went done into down position. Some of my problem is my husband. I know its an excuse, but I work and he's with the dogs the other half of the time. He just keep telling me "she needs to know your boss" what the heck does that mean. He doesn't try to much in the training dept.
Someone has pointed me in your direction.


So I'm wondering what videos would be best for me. They all seem very similar.

Thank you for your time,
Kristen

Answer:

Your right – you are making mistakes that will lead to other problems.

You need to revisit the article on how to introduce a new dog into a home – yes you have made mistakes here but you also need to start all over. These dogs should NOT PLAY TOGETER – you need two crates not one. The you dog needs to go through pack structure training - Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog. If you do this the so called aggression will more than likely go away – BTW this is how leadership is developed.

If your husband does not buy into this program though you may as well forget it – in fact you had better read the article I wrote titled HOW TO BREAK UP A DOG FIGHT WITHOUT GETTING HURT - I recommend you visit my list of 300 dog training articles. You will find additional information that will help you.

When I get emails like this (and I get a lot) there are three DVD's I recommend people get:

1- The pack structure one I mentioned above
2- Basic Dog Obedience
3- Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner

If your prepared to educate yourself and change the way you have been living with these dogs these issues all go away.

BTW – people always ask when can the dogs be together again? The answer is when your obedience is good enough on the young dog that you can call it away from the other dog when they are really playing hard together. If you can’t do that then the dog really is not trained – and this is no such thing as an ALMOST TRAINED DOG. That’s like saying a women is ALMOST PREGNANT.

Kind Regards,
Ed

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Question:

Hello,

My name is Leon and I have a 1yr old GSD that is becoming increasingly afraid of meeting friendly strangers. I take him on walks daily and he has attended obedience class since he was five months old.

Walking through the park or a crowd of people he behaves normal. The problems occur when I decide to walk up to someone for him to meet, he begins to bark and growl. In obedience class he is fine with anyone petting him even volunteers from audience. I am at a complete loss and was hoping that you could provide me with some things to try or some of your items that you sell. Thanks

Leon

Answer:

I get emails about this very thing every day. Many dogs don’t have an interest in meeting people outside their family pack especially one on one. In a class setting or at the park your dog has learned what to expect and is comfortable with that.

I would recommend no longer asking your dog to meet strangers on the street, and I would tell the people you meet to IGNORE your dog. No talking or smiling at the dog, no LOOKING at the dog. Don’t try having the people feed treats or touch him. You walk your dog by these people like they are furniture. Many times puppies go through phases of unsureness as they mature, and it will pass if you don’t make it an issue. You want your dog to focus on you and pay attention to you and not worry about people. Personally I don’t see any reason for anyone to “meet” my dogs at all.

Your dog needs you to be a pack leader and keep him out of situations that make him feel uneasy. I think if you follow my advice you will see your dog start to relax around people on the street. He will realize you aren’t going to put him in any situation that makes him feel unconfident.

You may want to read our article on pack structure, http://leerburg.com/groundwork.htm There is a section on letting non family members pet my dogs. I would say that for your particular dog I would not give a correction for barking/growling at this point. It will probably only make your dog more worried about the strangers, so for now I would just try to keep the dog engaged on you with food or a toy, if you can.

Cindy

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Question:

I have two pit bulls, 1 male, 1 female, both three years old. They are great dogs and my life. Single military guy, not much else to do. They dogs are great in the home and have never been aggressive towards me in any way. But are aggressive towards other dogs and will do anything to get to a cat and kill it. Major prey aggression. The dogs and I have established the master of the pack situation, but I am having trouble controlling them off the leash. I am trying to retrain them (previous military owners never discouraged the aggression) to be more calm towards others since I'm from atlanta, to prove pits are not killers and are great dogs to have. Which products other than the dealing with aggressive dogs dvd and remote collar training dvd, and which collars, remote or aggressive dominant would you recommend. I am trying to turn these dogs around to prove to my family and friends they are not a dangerous breed or animal. They are ignorant and won't do the research to learn otherwise. I am currently moving to Washington and am trying to deal with this issue before I get there so I can more options for living arrangements. I am also dealing with the option that I may have to give them away. Thank you for you time and help.

Answer:

Your email reflects a conflict of terms. While you say “The dogs and I have established the master of the pack situation” when in fact your email in fact confirms this not to be the case.

Pack leaders have rules – pack leader rules. Lower ranking member of a pack follow those rules out of respect for the pack leader.

Now you either have not established your rule of not being aggressive to other dogs, or your have not properly enforced that rule or your dogs don’t respect you as a strong pack leader. I am not in the position to tell you which of these statements is true – but for sure one of them is.

For dogs to become calm submissive obedience pets they need to accept and understand the dynamics of your family pack. I personally don’t think they have or they would mind off leash and they would not have unwarranted aggression.

So the solution to this problem means you need to educate yourself (and your dogs) on pack structure. The dogs already know everything they need to know about pack structure. They were born knowing. You don’t know. Don’t feel bad about this. A great many people “THINK THEY KNOW WHAT A PACK LEADER IS” and how to get to be one. When in fact most people don’t know or understand the dynamics of pack behavior.

I would point you to my DVD Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog.

In regards to this dog aggression issue.

This behavior needs to be extinguished. Chasing other dogs, showing aggression to other dogs is in and of itself - self satisfying. In other words you’re not going to redirect these dogs to a different behavior by offering them the option of doing something else. The act of aggression means more to dogs with these problems than chasing a ball or playing with a tug toy.

The quickest and easiest way to extinguish this behavior is with a remote collar. But that doesn’t mean you simply put a collar on a dog and start pushing buttons. You need to learn how to use one. Once this happens you will not only stop the behavior you will gain off leash control. Get my dvd titled Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner to help you get started. Read the threads on my web board about remote collar training.

Cindy and I both use a Dogtra 280ncp remote collar when we train our dogs. This collar has a very small receiver (on the dogs neck) in addition to a digital readout on the transmitter. This is critical in fine tuning the low level stimulation we use in the training.

A point to mention here is that “off leash obedience” and “extinguishing a behavior” require opposite methods of remote collar work. With obedience work we use low level stimulation. The level is adjusted to fit the temperament of each dog. Many times the final level is so low that you would not even feel it. While extinguishing a behavior is started at the highest level the collar can offer. I can compare it to learning not to touch a hot stove. You only touch one once and you understand the point.

The concept on dog aggression is to use the collar to stimulate the dog the INSTANT he looks at another dog and not when he is all wound up. When your dogs understand this work you will find that your dogs will not want to look at another dog. And when they do a slick low level nick is all that required to get them to look away.

With this said these dogs should never go out without a collar on. You may take 25 walks and never touch the buttons when the dogs are trained but you ALWAYS have the option and this is where control comes from.

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley

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Question:

Hi Cindy/Ed -

First of all, let me say that your products are fantastic. We have purchased your quick release prong collar, the dominant dog collar, and three videos (establishing pack structure, dealing with dominant and aggressive dogs, and Basic Dog Obedience), and have read many of your
e-articles on your web site. Zippy (a 12 1/2 pound neutered male
Havanese) is now almost 11 months old now and is getting better and better with each passing day. We find your no-nonsense approach works.

I do have a question. Can you please explain where Prey Drive fits into the dominance & aggression behavior spectrum. I see that Zippy does seem to have a fairly strong prey drive, and I wonder if this is a negative behavior that needs to be corrected (like aggression), or if it's natural and neutral to be controlled by avoiding circumstances that would invoke his prey drive.

To use a specific example: he has a stuffed toy that looks like a furry fox. When he plays with it, he puts it in his mouth, shakes his head like crazy, growls and bites it and pulls the fur out. I'm thinking that we should NOT encourage this behavior, and should throw the toy out.

- Holli

Answer:

Hi Holli

Prey drive is something all dogs possess to some degree. It’s the reason they will chase a ball or a Frisbee or a rabbit. We like dogs with prey drive because we can use this to train our dogs, by using their prey item of choice as a reward. Many pet owners get into trouble with prey drive because when something stimulates a dog (like a rabbit or neighbor kid running by) all the obedience control they had over the dog in the backyard with no distractions goes out the window. You are doing the right thing by establishing rules and leadership, combined with structured obedience training. Dogs can have very high prey drive but low dominance or aggression OR low prey drive and high dominance or a blend of all of these traits. Every dog is an individual.

With all that said, what your dog is doing with this toy is normal play behavior but I don’t allow my dogs to have toys that they can tear apart. I feel that it encourages destructive behavior. Also remember that all toys are YOURS and you allow the dog to play with them on your terms. This is all part of pack leadership.

Cindy

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Question:

Thank you so much for all your help. I wish I had known about you sooner.

We are doing the Pack Structure DVD. We have a 3 year old male and a 5 month old. Is this going to set them back in any way on the things we have worked with them on? Do I need to do this with my 5 month old also? I have started, I hope I have not messed up. How do I know when they are crate submissive? I trust what you say and am doing things the way you say, but it sure is hard not to talk and to love on your dogs. This will not hurt my relationship with my dogs will it?

Thanks for all you do and for putting up with folks like me.

Chris

Answer:

Pack structure training should be done with all your dogs, to be most effective.  You will know when your dogs are becoming calm and submissive by the change in their behavior.  There isn’t any one thing I can explain to you in an email, but you will know.  Every dog is different, and accepts the training at different rates dependant on their temperament and how consistent you are.

This training will only help the relationship with your dogs, not hurt it.

Cindy

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Question:

I've spent the last several hours reviewing your web site and the articles you've posted. Before I make any more mistakes with my dog I have specific issues I was hoping you might give some direction including the videos you recommend. After reading your articles I realize the mistakes I've made and that I can't take them back - all I can do is go from here, hopefully I can stop this and it's not too late.

I have a German Short hair pointer (no other dogs): Male turns 4 years old in November neutered at 6 months. I also have a wife and two kids (11 and 7). I got the dog to hunt pheasants and also as a family pet.

My first dog at age 30 was a lab, aggressiveness was never a problem - he lived until he was 14 years old. In retrospect he was a great starter dog for a neophyte like me. At 8 weeks I chose this new dog because he was the boldest of the bunch - and that's just what I got. At first, my biggest concern with my new dog was hunting and obedience. I read books, bought videos all about handling and hunting - not to be gun shy, hunting close, come when called, and keeping his confidence up. He's a great hunting dog but issues are developing around the house. Dominance problems never really entered my mind.

Problems/Incidents
I socialized him early. When we go out of town I take him to a "doggy day camp" where he plays with about 20 other dogs. I've been taking him there about three years off and on and he hasn't had a problem. Their reports to me are that he plays happily with the other dogs and the staff and he's always welcome back.

That changes when there's pheasants - we put the pheasants we get in the back of the pickup - dog jumps in back too. It was obvious from the start he considers the birds his and the first time another dog went to check out the birds my dog snarled and snapped at him. He got a quick correction from me but he did that at 11 months old. What I've done: Now I'm aware of the problem I hold his collar when we're in the truck so he can't go after other dogs and grab his muzzle and a strong NO when he starts to growl. He's better than the first time but not happy about it still. If there aren't any birds in the truck there isn't a problem.

I have an e-collar for hunting but I haven't used it for in-home training, yet.
Barking at the neighbor has been a problem in the back yard so I bought a Tri-Tronics bark collar - it has limited his barking but now that I look at it, it hasn't fixed the REASON he barks. Our neighbors' deck overlooks part of our back yard and it drives the dog nuts - he'll bark constantly at the neighbor if he's not wearing his bark collar. He also growls at people and dogs through the front window. Although he doesn't bark with his bark collar on he growls under his breath so as not to set it off. The neighbor on the other side has two little dogs that bark at ours through the fence and he'll run up and down the fence barking back. I've decided to stop using the bark collar. If he starts getting agitated in the back yard I've asked my wife to put him in his kennel in the basement during the day (I'm at work) - where he sleeps. Hopefully that will keep him calmer. I think it stresses him out to get zapped for barking.

HUGE: He's growled and 'nipped' at two kids (not mine - incidents separated by a year) while he was laying on the sofa and they went to pet him. He's never bitten anyone but I can't keep a dog that does that. I REALIZE NOW ALLOWING HIM ON THE SOFA IS BAD and only recently stopped this so he's still getting used to the new rule. He's never slept in our bed (always in his crate) but when on hunting trips I've allowed him on the bed after a long day at hotels - a practice I won't continue.

Obviously, this concerns me the most. Last year I sought help from a recommended in-home trainer about the growling, she wanted me to use a "clicker." I'm thinking - this isn't a damn Yorkie - after reading your articles I think I was right. I also know first hand of dogs in our area basically ruined by "trainers" who come into the house and try to "fix" someone else's dog. Whatever the reason this needs to be corrected and I need help.

He's just been to the vet and no medial issues.

The latest was last night my daughter opened the front door and he took off up the street to "greet" this unsuspecting pedestrian walking their dog with barks and growls - he came running back but not until after he finished - that was the last straw. I'm apologizing to these people and feel like an idiot. That's never happened before and surprised me (although I'm sure you see it was inevitable) Exercise - I don't let him run in the park anymore but I run him (leashed) on my bicycle daily about 2-3 miles As an experienced trainer I know you're shaking your head but I'm just telling it like it is - as hard as it is to say. Like many before me I assumed it was a phase and he's grow out of his teenage years - which it won't. I can't undo what I didn't do earlier but hopefully it can be straightened out. I feel the dog clearly recognizes me as the leader but believes his place is somewhere in the middle - maybe why he feels the need to protect the house. Example: If he has picked up an item (a shoe) I can call him over and he puts in my hand. My wife has to go over and hold the top of his mouth to pull it out. There's no aggression he just doesn't want to give it up. I'm down enough about this so no need to point the finger - I already know. I'm concerned about his reaction as I set a new pecking order in the house - will he react at the kids for his sudden "demotion"? I don't know.

Thanks,
Paul

Answer:

You are projecting human reactions and emotions on the dog when you think that he will react negatively to your kids at being "demoted" in the pack.
First of all, when restructuring his daily life and freedom, he won't have unsupervised contact with the kids or anyone else. He will be on a leash, or in a crate at all times.

Here are my recommendations

Read the article on ground work first.

Pack Structure for the Family Pet DVD
Please click in this link for a description of what is covered in this DVD.

Dominant and Aggressive Dogs DVD I would also be re-establishing obedience training on a daily basis on leash and eventually with the remote collar.

Since you already have the collar, and the dog is used to it this will make it a bit easier. I would recommend our Electric Collar DVD for learning to use the collar around the house.

Dominant behaviors can escalate in a very gradual way, and most people don't see the small things that they are doing that allow the dog to continue to become more dominant and confident. It usually takes a bite or aggressive incident for owners to realize they have not been an effective leader for their dog.

The good thing is that it's never too late to start over. I hope this helps.

Cindy

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Question:

Cindy,

(1). I have imported a Staffordshire Bull Terrier from South Africa for confirmation purposes. However, being a family dog is the most important reason we have purchased our pup.

My wife and I have (2) small children, our son who is 5 and our daughter who is 18 months old. (We NEVER let the dog around the children unless we are about an arm’s length away from the dog and our children). I really enjoyed your article regarding the dog bites and children. Even though the SBT is re-known for a stable temperament and the AKC ranked them 2nd with children out of all the recognized breeds, we still know he is a dog and a very strong dog that could inflict tremendous damage if he attacked. I have tried to make sure the dog knows I’m the Pack leader and he submits to my commands. Such as sitting, waiting and going through doors last. He rolls over and allows my children to rub his belly and seems to be very relaxed and calm with them. However, we are always there supervising the children and dog. If you have any tips for me to change or introduce, please let me know, as I want to make sure my wife and I are doing all we can to enforce that we are the pack leader and to make sure the dog knows we and the kids are over him. I have also just purchased the other day, some of your videos, such as Establishing pack structure.

(2). Our puppy is 8 months of age now and really is a strong chewer. We have a large plastic crate (airline approved crate) and have always tried to place towels in the bottom for him to lay on, as the crate sits on our hardwood floors. He simply rips/shreds right through them. Basically we start with a towel and end up with pieces of one. He has some play toys in his crate such as the fire house plug and kong’s with treats inside.
Do you sale or recommend any type of crate bedding/mat to place inside his crate that he can’t shred/swallow and is easy to clean? As the bottom of the crate (especially sitting on hard wood floor is very hard).

Thanks for such a great web site and online store. I also purchased your Amish leather collar and leash set. As the pictures and article on your web site, regarding how the Amish make the collars and leashes was amazing.

God bless,
Daniel

Answer:

For dogs that shred bedding, we recommend our rubber kennel mats. We use these in our home and in our kennel and we have had dogs chew on them, but they are nearly impossible to destroy.

The Pack Structure video will help you a lot, and make sure you read the groundwork article and set your dog up according to the information in the article.

I hope this helps.

Cindy

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Question:

Cindy,

I have an 8 year old GSD who I can no longer socialize with any new people or animals. He had good basic training, grew up in our sub-rural property and was always friendly. He was the dog who broke down stereotypes about GSDs. The exception was towards the young boy across the street who was afraid of him. When I foolishly did try to introduce him I was shocked when my dog "nipped" the top of his hand (I shouldn't have been). Five years, one divorce and two house moves later...I'm afraid my GSD is less secure. He seems happy in my new home over the past two years but I'm now in a suburban neighborhood and I cannot have a fence. From inside, he often barks or growls at passing bikes, people and dogs. He got away and bit a neighbor when my father had him outside and on a leash. Another time he nipped a new puppy's fur that my boyfriend tried to introduce to him. I barely kept him from biting a woman when my son opened the front door prematurely. After each instance he retreats immediately and looks guilty and sad. He knows the "leave it" command and is always well behaved when I take him for walks. But sometimes he will whimper when I'm forcing him to "leave it" as the dog and owner on the other side of the street (or passing bike) goes by. My boyfriend and I are only ones that handle him now. I did buy an Innotek shock collar some time ago, but want to make sure I am implementing any training with it properly and have been told it shouldn't be use to try to control aggression? My vet indicated that older GSDs can become more protective. I'm simply convinced that the instability in our household has brought us here. At any rate I'm looking for whatever advice you can give to help me understand what if anything I should do to correct this, or keep from getting worse. If he is "ruined" socially, than I at least want to be sure that I'm doing the right thing by being resolute in not introducing him to any new people or animals.

Thank you,
Sandy

Answer:

You are correct in considering the changes in stability as a piece of the puzzle when working on aggression. I would create predictable structure in this dog's everyday life.

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader.

I would also NOT project human feelings and emotions on him, because by doing this you are not helping him. He needs for you to see him as a dog, not a human like animal that looks "guilty and sad." This may not seem consequential to you but by feeling like this about your dog you are showing him weakness. He needs for you to be a strong, firm and fair leader.

I would recommend you start working him with the groundwork program I linked above, and then I would train him in obedience with the electric collar.

You already have the collar but I would suggest the following videos.
Pack Structure for the Family Pet (this picks up where the article leaves off)
Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs
Basic Obedience
Electric Collar Training for the Pet Owner

I hope this helps.

Cindy

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Question:

Dear Cindy,

I want to thank you first of all for answering my questions a few weeks ago. I received the puppy training video and Establishing pack structure one and am nearly through the puppy one but not very far on the other one. We have a 4 month old puppy and a 4 year old mutt who looks and acts like a Jack Russell. Your information has been so helpful. I have several questions concerning how these two dogs may/should interact. 1. Can you direct me to an article that would tell me how to teach then how to walk on a leash? We have a fenced in back yard and never took the older dog out but now I want to teach her to walk on a leash and train her, and of course the puppy also. The puppy has a collar and I started letting her drag the leash around. I will get a lightweight collar for the older dog this week but just wanted to know if I'm doing things right before I start the older dog.
2. Should we not let them play with toys together? They usually don't play with the same toy and if they do they seem to know when to back off. We never leave them alone together but if this is a bad idea we will stop it. 3. How much 'play/fighting' should we allow? The puppy is pretty feisty and reads the older dog (who can also be feisty) pretty well also usually knowing when to stop. They will also stop when I tell them to. 4.We have a large, fenced in back yard--when would it be alright to leave them outside together as Sunday's we're gone most of the day. We do have a fenced in kennel in the yard where we could put the puppy--would that be the better idea?
Hope this isn't too long and I thank you for your great information. I feel like a sponge but can't quite absorb it all!

Warmly,
Julie
Timisoara, Romania

Answer:

You can use the information on the puppy dvd to teach the older dog to walk on a leash. I might also recommend Basic Obedience for both of them.

I would not let both of your dogs play with toys together at all , it's asking for a fight in the future. I would also not let them wrestle or play UNTIL you can call either one of them and they will IMMEDIATLEY stop what they are doing and come to you. Until this time, I would keep them separated.

Same thing when you are not home put one dog in the kennel and the other in the yard. You can't supervise their interaction when you are not home so keep them apart. Successful dog ownership is all about management, and it's for the lifetime of the dog in some form or another.

Cindy

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Question:

Mr. Frawley,

I have a question regarding my 2 year old mixed breed dog. I adopted him 4 months ago from a shelter in another state. He seemed well socialized, loved playing with other dogs and children. However, he has begun to develop aggression. He is sometimes dog aggressive with other dogs, not usually, but the problem is getting worse. And he has also started growling at my boyfriend when he comes home late at night, if I'm in bed. Tonight was the worst episode the dog has ever had, and I'm left wondering how to solve it. My boyfriend took the dog for a short walk to go to the bathroom, then they came upstairs to go to bed. The dog usually sleeps in a chair in my bedroom. When my boyfriend tried to get into bed, the dog growled several times, and when my boyfriend tried to pass him, he was bitten by my dog.

He is in obedience classes right now with a trainer who has given me methods of controlling his dominance, such as walking through him, eating before he does, etc. Clearly though, they are having little effect, he does not listen unless he is receiving a treat. When I tell him to lay down, 60% of the time he just sits there and stares at me. He is enrolled in more classes with a different trainer who uses different that start in 2 weeks. Is there anything else that I can do to ensure that this never happens again. Will crating him downstairs help the problem, or just eliminate the opportunity?

Thank you,
Alicia

Answer:

The reason this dog is doing this is because the longer the dog lives with you the more his pack drives kick in.  Combine that with an owner who is not doing a good job establishing leadership and you have a problem.

I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way – it’s simple the truth – your description of what's going on confirms it. The person who told you what to do does not understand pack structure. Not if they thing these couple of things are going to cure a dominant dog. The fact is the vast majority of local dog trainers don’t understand pack structure and the ramifications of not properly establishing it.

If you want to fix this dog here are the 3 or 4 DVD’s to get. STUDY THEM – then employ the work.  Don’t go see these other trainers. My guess is that it is a waste of time and money.

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog
Basic Dog Obedience
Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner
Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs

You may not need the last one – time will tell.

Crate this dog all the time right now – follow the pack structure program. If the dog is not crated its on leash. There are no acceptations for this. Dogs like this need to learn that their lives are micro-managed.  Read my free ebooks.

Kind Regards,
Ed

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Question:

Ed:

Let me start off by saying that I have purchased a large number of your videos (11 total) and products- and I think they are all great. We have tried to train our puppy following the training steps you teach in your videos.

Frankly, we have a problem that may even blow YOUR mind- and I know that with your extensive experience in the dog training field you have likely heard of every type of dog behavior problem by now.

My puppy is almost 11 months old. He is a neutered Presa Canario and currently weighs 128 pounds.

During the daytime he listens to commands from both my wife and I. He listens to everything I say and promptly abides the commands I give him. And during the daytime he listens to my wife, but he is slower to react when she gives him a command.

Our problem may seem strange to you. Our dog is a "different" dog at night. What I mean by that is during the day he is a happy/great dog. He loves to play and interact with the family. And he is friendly with people we introduce to him inside our home.

However, at night (anytime after 10:00pm) he turns into a grumpy old man.

This is not a new problem, even when he was 4 months old if he was lying on the floor at night and I told him to go into his crate he would get up slowly and go into his crate. At times after getting up he would give a little growl as he walked into his crate. If I addressed him with a "correction" the situation would only get worse- he would growl even more.

So a few times after he growled I pinned him to the floor on his back in the hope of forcing him to submit, but he would STILL continue to growl. One time I held him down for 42 minutes, and he still would not give up and submit. I didn't hit him, I just held him down. As I held him down he would continue to growl.

The problem wasn't that he disliked going into his crate, because he actually likes his crate, instead he just did not want us bothering him at all anytime after 10:00pm. The "growling" problem isn't isolated to him going into his crate at night. Instead he would growl whenever we bothered him for ANY reason after 10:00pm. Strange.

However, if I told him to go into his crate (or do anything else) during the daytime he would immediately do so without growling. Strange how he would react differently between night and day.

Most nights he generally sleeps at the foot of our bed on his Leerburg rug.

Last night I went to pet him on his Leerburg rug around 11:00pm. As I went to pet him on the top of his head he gave out a low growl. I told him NO and he continued to growl. This went on for a few minutes, as I continued to tell him NO he continued to growl.

At that point I then decided I would try to pin him down, as he didn't have a leash or electric collar on him- we also use the electric collar for training. When I went to grab him he went to bite me. He snapped at my hand. He didn't get to bite me as I pulled back my hand. When I pulled back he continued to growl. However, one minute later he came over to me and "submitted" and lied at my feet.

I don't know what to make of this situation, and I don't know what to do. I don't want to have to lock him in his crate every night, as we bought him to be a guard dog, so we would like him to be out of his crate at night.

We have a newborn baby, our son was born 2 weeks ago, so obviously we want to correct this problem immediately. We have read your articles on babies and dogs, so we don't let him anywhere near the baby.

I would hate to have to get rid of the dog- we love him.

How do I correct this problem????

Thank you for your assistance!

-Brian

Answer:

Unfortunately with this kind of dog you have 2 choices. You can rehome the dog or you can use the crate. I have had experience in the past with dogs like this and by punishing this dog, pinning him down and correcting him you are only throwing fuel on the fire. As he gets older and more mature, I am afraid the response from your dog is going to become more aggressive. What this dog needs is structure in a clear and fair way that doesn’t put him on the defensive.

I normally wouldn’t advise rehoming in the first sentence of an email, but with a new baby in the house if you don’t use a crate you are asking for a big problem. I’d be putting him in his crate every night long before he has the opportunity to start the unacceptable behaviors. At
11 months he is becoming an adolescent and this behavior is only going to get worse as he matures. I would go back to do our groundwork program with him also, and keep him on privilege restriction for the foreseeable future. http://leerburg.com/groundwork.htm

I would read some of the info here http://leerburg.com/articles.htm#kids
I hope this helps

Cindy

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Question:

Good morning,

I'm unaware of the route this e-mail would take but it's worth the chance to get sound advice. I've been around dogs my whole life and trained three dogs thru obedience, force fetch and hunting utility type levels. I regularly read your articles and listen to your pod cast, the knowledge is incredible and unbelievably free! Thank You! I own a German imported 5 month old very inbred Short Hair Pointer with a ton of ability, prey drive and energy. I have been following your logic of sit at doorway, stairs and prior to being fed. Her obedience training is coming along, she understands down, come, sit, stay and we are starting on standing in place. She is exercised regularly 3 to 5 times per week which includes work in the field mostly on line, swimming, play retrieve on line and track training every 10 days give or take. She spends time alone in her vari kennel and outside kennel but is unhappy about the outside. I live alone and strive to have an excellent working dog. She tries my patience and I'll admit losing my temper on occasion. I'm working on this specifically because I don't want to damage the handler dog relationship. My question is pertaining to defiance when loose, possessive retrieve and growling around the feed pan.

She is very smart and learns quickly but is independent and distracted very easily. My attempts to be pack leader are going well, so-so. She has growled at her feed pan now three times(two or three weeks between incidents). I quickly snatch her by her neck and pin her on the ground.

I've been following your advice about not messing with a dog around the feed pan and sparingly light stroke her and place my hand in the feed pan. What other approaches can I use to better become the pack leader? She is loaded with natural ability and appears to be what we strive for. I want to make the necessary changes now and have a great dog. Willing to work and change.

Thank You,
Gabriel

Answer:

Growling is a sign of insecurity, she's unsure of your motives around her when she's eating. By snatching her up and pinning her, you are making her unsure and until you establish yourself as a fair and predictable leader, she will probably become more aggressive around her food. I wouldn't be touching her at all while she's eating. A pack leader gives the food and then doesn't mess around, they give the food and allow the dog to eat without being bothered.

Please read this article about becoming an effective pack leader.

We have a dvd on Pack Structure that I think you will find helpful as well.

I also don't think your dog is getting enough exercise. All dogs need daily exercise but your breed has extra high energy requirements. Exercise doesn't mean putting a dog in a fenced yard or a kennel. It means walks, swimming and age appropriate play every single day. I have Malinois and they have a similar exercise requirement. If I skip a day my dogs become much less focused during training and become a bit more difficult to deal with. They know the routine and remind me every day if I am running late.
:)

I would also teach her to engage with you more by training with markers.
Read the article titled Training With Markers. Getting a young dog mentally engaged in learning goes a long way to building up a trusting relationship.

I hope this helps.

Cindy

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Question:

Hi Cindy & Ed,

I ordered two dog training DVDs (puppy & pack structure) from you guys and they are fantastic!  Both really opened my eyes to what I've been doing wrongly.

I have a 4 month old female Boston terrier/pug mix, who has quite a personality to match.

She recognizes my husband as leader of the pack but not me.  I admit it is my fault as I babied her so she only listens to me at times and even growls at me

when I tell her to stop doing something like jumping on the couch or letting go of a shoe.  She also pulls on walks. Clearly I've not done much to earn her respect.

How do I reclaim my status as another pack leader?  Do I crate her as in the pack structure DVD, only letting her out for walks and meals?  We plan to start a family and I want to correct my mistake and get her under control or else I'm in trouble.  Please help, what would you advise?

Thank you so much,
Joanna

Answer:

I think you should back up to the beginning and start over with your pack structure training.  It’s not unusual for a dog to need a ‘refresher’ course and your dog is only 4 months old so she’s still a youngster.

I would definitely go back and revisit the Pack Structure video as well.

Don’t be afraid to use the crate a lot, and try not to baby her because dogs don’t see that as you being nice… they see this as you showing weakness.  Dogs need structure and to know their place in the family.  When you try to treat them like little humans or feel bad for treating them like dogs they pick up on that right away and try to make their move up the ladder to gain a higher rank.

I hope this helps.

Cindy

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Question:

Hi Cindy,

I called and was told that you may be able to help.

I have 3 dogs, Sadie a 10 year old rottie, Sophie a 4 year old lab mix and Emma a 1 year old yellow lab.

I have had Sadie since she was 6 weeks old. She has been a very friendly dog.  But was unsure of strangers.

I rescued Sophie from the pound when she was 2.  She is a very shy dog who cowers easily.

I rescued Emma from the pound when she was 6 months old.  She is a dominate overly friendly dog who had no training or attention until I got her.

Since I got Emma, Sadie sometimes attacks Sophie and I need to pull her off as she grabs Sophie by the neck and won’t let go.  Sophie tries to bite her back.  I now keep Sadie in different rooms and a separated yard.  This weekend, someone left the door open and Sophie came in to see me.  Sadie immediately attacked her. 

Since this aggressive behavior began, I have taken Sadie to the vet.  She does have arthritis and we put her on rhymidol, so she is feeling better.   Everything else checked out fine.   My vet and 2 behavioralists have told me to put Sadie down as aggressive behavior in an older dog usually indicates dementia. I am thinking that I should try and see if I can fix this before putting her down.

Before I buy muzzles, and training DVDs, what do you think?

Also, I purchased a shock collar for Emma as the trainer I used for her said because of her dominant personality she needs one.  I have discovered though that I need some help using it as a training aid.  I saw you had a DVD for training.  Will it help me with training her to not jump on people when she meets them?  That is my biggest problem with her.  The trainer wanted $700 to help me train her which I just don’t have.  So, suggestions as to which training aids I could use would be greatly appreciated.

As background, I have had big dogs my entire life and have always been able to train them so I don’t expect to have problems training Emma.  My problem now is I have M. S. so my strength is less than it used to be and that is why the shock collar was recommended.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

Linda

Answer:

The problems you are seeing are the result of the way you live with your dogs.  When dogs act like this they lack leadership from their owners. In other words their owners don’t understand how important pack drive is in how they raise their dogs.

Owners of dogs like yours underestimate the genetic power of  "PACK DRIVE"  Pack structure is not something new and it is not optional, and if you don’t provide the structure and leadership a dog NEEDS then he or she will behave as canines have for thousands of years and will structure your family and household their own way.  Your dog is not behaving badly out of spite or stubbornness; your dog is simply being a dog, a dog that needs some guidance and rules.  Adding a 3rd dog to a family can be much more challenging than having 2, and requires a much higher level of leadership.

If you want to fix a problem like this you can but it takes some work.

Here is a DVD that I would recommend  titled Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs. If you go to the link on this DVD you can read about what it covers. You will also see a detailed outline of what’s in the video.

I also recommend our video on Pack Structure and the Family Pet and the free article that gives you an outline of how to set yourself up for success with a new dog or how to rework an existing relationship with a dog. I would suggest reading the article first.

I think the Electric Collar video would help you understand how to correctly use the collar.  Once you know how to determine your dog’s working level you can then use the collar for many different issues, from coming when called to jumping up.

As a side note, I hope your vet ran blood work to test for liver function BEFORE he prescribed the Rimadyl.  This is a dangerous drug if not used carefully, I would not use it in my own dogs unless it was their last hope.  Vets these days prescribe this drug for everything including post surgical pain and this is just wrong.  I believe there are other much safer things we can do for our arthritic friends with one of the easiest things being changing their diet to remove all grains and using Salmon Oil & Vitamin E (a natural anti-inflammatory) and possibly one of the many joint supplements that are available. You can see the supplements we have available.

Read this article on feeding a raw diet.  It’s a work in progress but there is a lot of good information there. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

I'm finding your web site very informative. I have a 4yr old mixed breed that I brought home when he was about 6-8 weeks old. His living conditions weren't very desirable, 12 pups in the bed of a old pickup truck with kibble just dumped in at feeding time. The mother looked to be a Husky mix & the assumed father a retriever mix.  Ozzy (my dog) , has always had a behavior problem, but was never really aggressive until a year ago. I have 2 cats that he has attacked, one just got roughed up a bit, the other was rushed to the vet for treatment & now stays totally away from him. January of 2008, Ozzy bit my husband in his face for no apparent reason while laying on the couch, this required stitches & a visit from the local animal control. Since then I've been snapped at about 3 times. Once was just walking past him while he was sleeping in the floor, he got my foot pretty good. Second time, I was giving him a treat & he bit my hand. Third time, Ozzy was lying on the bed & when I reached for a blanket he bit my hand again. All of these bites caused bleeding. He doesn't like strangers, doesn't matter, outside, inside or when he's in the car. I'm becoming afraid of my own dog. I've had dogs my entire life & never experienced anything like this. After looking at your site, I'm assuming he is a pack leader & I've tried some training techniques, but he also seems to be a nervous dog also. He always needs to be muzzled during a visit to the vet. Yesterday, he went around the house with his hair hunched up and seemed to be on guard for no apparent reason, he acted like he did something bad & would go lay in his crate. People are suggesting that I put him down, but I love him & I feel like I've failed as his owner. I have made a few mistakes, feeding him from the table & letting him sleep in my bed. What can I do to change this? I'm at desperate need for advice. Any info would be much appreciated.

Thank You,
Kelly
Ohio

Answer:

The problems you are seeing are the result of the way you live with your dog.  When dogs act like this they lack leadership from their owners. In other words their owners don’t understand how important pack drive is in how they raise their dogs.

Owners of dogs like yours underestimate the genetic power of  "PACK DRIVE "  Pack structure is not something new and it is not optional, and if you don’t provide the structure and leadership a dog NEEDS then he or she will behave as canines have for thousands of years and will structure your family and household their own way.  Your dog is not behaving badly out of spite or stubbornness; your dog is simply being a dog, a dog that needs some guidance and rules.

If you want to fix a problem like this you can but it takes some work.

Here is a 3 ½ hour DVD that I would recommend  titled Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

If you go to the link on this DVD you can read about what it covers. You will also see a detailed outline of what’s in the video.

I also recommend our video on Pack Structure and the Family Pet and the free article that gives you an outline of how to set yourself up for success with a new dog or how to rework an existing relationship with a dog. 

Getting the dog off the furniture and into a structured daily routine will help immensely.  The videos and article will guide you through how to deal with him and help him become a happy and balanced dog.

I also noticed that you explained his horrible start to life.  Many of the people who email me about their dogs do the same thing BUT you need to understand that dogs do not think about the past and by feeling sorry for his horrible puppy hood you are projecting weakness to your dog.  So many people feel bad about what their dog had to deal with in the past so they let them on the furniture and allow them all kinds of freedom because they think this will “make up” for the past.  Dogs don’t ever feel sorry for each other; they live in the moment 100%.  Do your dog a favor and treat him like a dog that needs lots of structure and leadership and don’t feel sorry for his past life.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi Cindy,

The no bark collar worked immediately, in some way, until I got the level adjusted.  But by the next two days, it’s been so quiet and calm here. I wish I had this knowledge 3 ½ years ago when I first got the dog.

AND, the “no contact” in establishing pack rule has made our living so much better for me and Brody. Brody seems to understand without me saying anything. And, the difference was almost immediate!

The dog is a lot smarter than we give credit for. We, humans, are a bit slower in learning, especially when we have been misguided.  I don’t want to rush into it but, eventually, how will I know the dog has understood the pack rule and I can advance to Obedience Training?

Thank you.  Ed’s work is making sense more and more.  It makes me sad and mad at the same time that our understanding of dogs is so wrong in our society.

Michiko

Answer:

You will know when it’s time to progress your training because you won’t need to manage the dog for every little thing.  The dog will be respectful and compliant and will go along with your routine on his own without constant reminders.  If you still need to enforce every little rule then it’s not time yet.

Cindy


Question:

Good Morning – and thank you for sharing your philosophy and training methods so readily through web articles and DVDs. We have purchased 3 of your videos – instituting the Pack Structure method at present with our 6 mo old Papillion/Pomeranian. From 3 mo (age we brought him to our home) we put him in a crate at night, which he accepted quickly. We are into Day Two of all day crate confinement and he is showing improvement in that he is screaming less and less. Our Q is: Where do we keep the crate? We began his life with us with the crate in our bedroom at night, then in the foyer during the day while we were at work. (He was confined to the foyer, but not to the crate – although the crate was available for him to go into. Don’t know if he did or not) We are wondering if we are confusing him by moving the crate from room to room during the beginning phase of the crate/pack structure training?

Thank you for your time – tried to find the answer on other areas of your web site, but didn’t come across this minor? detail.

Cindy

Answer:

We have crates in several locations throughout our home. I have found that it actually helps the dog to have a consistent place to go no matter where in the house we are. The crate becomes a constant for them and it seems to help them relax.

I think moving your crate around your house is just fine.

Cindy


Question:

I've been watching your video on establishing pack order in the family and I recall you mentioned when a dog raises its front paw and places it on you;  I forget the meaning.  This seems like a statement of superiority to me, but I think you mentioned it is actually one of submission. Should I allow my dog to do this?  Please explain...

Thanks ...
Christine

Answer:

When a dog raises it’s paw when you approach or lean down to pet them or put a collar on, it’s a sign of submission.  When a dog comes up to you and puts a paw on you, it is a pushy or dominant behavior. I do not allow my dogs to paw at me and I advise people to not allow this behavior.

Cindy


Question:

Hi,

I recently added a third dog to my household. I wanted to ask a few questions about pack leaders. I will be purchasing your video for additional help. I watched your video on the web with the puppies. I was amazed at how such young dogs try to establish rank. Now that I have three dogs I really want to continue to maintain my position as pack leader. I know the importance of it. I think I am doing a decent job, but there are things I can improve on. So my first question is, my two dogs that I already have in the household seems to be competing for rank. The new third dog is very submission and does not engage in any such activity, will not get into it with the other dogs in fact will run the other way. He was a rescue and I dont think he was around or lived with any dogs - this behavior is new to him. But that's not to say it wont come out down the line. I've had issue where these two dogs have fought over a toy, bone or food. I am always able to take the item away and break up the fight, but how do I handle this? I obviously don't want these two dogs fighting over stuff, is it something they have to workout themselves? do I not give them toys or feed them together? I only offer "my" toys to them, they don't have toys available to them. Not sure the best approach.

With regard to the new dog, he was basic obedience trained, but is very rusty. I need to work with him. He is a pug/boston terrier mix. The previous owners apparently walked him using a harness, which I don't really like, but he walks well on a leash. But for training purposes I think a collar is better. Problem is that due to his mix breed he basically has no neck, so collar easily slips off him. What collar is best to to ensure it wont slip off his head? I've heard that a martingale might work. You have several available on your web site what would you recommend. thanks

Joan

Answer:

Whenever you add a third dog it shakes up the existing dynamics of your family “pack.” I’d start with our Groundwork program with ALL the dogs. Pack Structure for the Family Pet is the DVD that picks up where the article leaves off.

I would not allow the dogs to have anything they feel the need to guard when they are out together. If you want to play with them, take them out individually until you have pack structure firmly established.

I see that you have already purchased DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS. I would suggest reviewing this for more ideas on how to handle your dogs..

For obedience training with the new dog, I would recommend a prong collar. You can read more about them on this page. A martingale is fine for a flat collar but if you need to use it for training they are not really that effective.

I hope this helps.

Cindy

Another Question:

Thanks Cindy this helps. I have used prong collars with the other two dogs, so I will purchase one for my new fellow. Look forward to the pack structure video. How will I know when I have pack structure firmly established? Will the more dominant dogs work this out or is it something I will need to establish with them over time? Thanks again.

Answer:

All dogs need this work, but dominant dogs especially.

I get this question a lot “How will I know pack structure is established?” Your dog will show you by the change in his/her behaviors. With that said, this training is not something you do and then stop. It’s a lifelong effort, the training of dogs (if done correctly) never ends. It may change in intensity as the relationships improve but being a leader is an attitude that you adopt for the life of the dog.

Cindy


Question:

Good Morning,

I love your site. It is both comprehensive and straight forward. That said, please don't post me on Dumb and Dumber.

I have a Maltese x Japanese Chin who is 8 months. I have worked very hard to be the pack leader from day one. As he is not a working breed (and his only job is to make me happy by obeying and following my rules), I do not expect the things as one would expect of a large working breed. He is "spoiled" in that he comes to work with me everyday, is walked twice daily, and we spend 20 minutes each evening snuggling (while I check every inch of him for ticks). He is a clever dog, and after extensive research before purchasing (I have ruined dogs in the past), I was able to housebreak him and teach basic commands.
And I can correct bad behavior with a low "hmm-hmm" hum or a louder "eh-eh" for greater offenses.

I have a few questions.
First, he is not overly aggressive. And he has "friends" with whom he plays fairly often. I watch their play time carefully and it is unclear who is the leader. They jump, wrestle, share the water bowl, and toys, and have yet to growl. When treats are given, they do not interfere with each other (not even the crumbs that fall from each others mouths).
Are there any subtle signs I should watch for with either dog, that may hint that a change in perception of each other may be brewing?

**Note: His friends are neutered or spayed, and the few dogs that he interacts with that are "unfriendly," once corrected by them, he walks away and will simply ignore the dog.**

Second, I am not satisfied with his level of response with the command "come." My office, where we are at least 8 hours, 7 days a week, is a sprawling shopping area with restaurants and several large grassy areas and of course no cars. And recently, he has taken to running off (directly to the store where his buddy Titus "works.") And also pulling at the leash. When he runs to the pet store, how should I correct this? I usually give him a little pop, take a few steps away and say "come" which he responds to, and then make him walk with me back to our office.

As far as pulling on the leash, regardless of how close I hold it, he pulls (as of the last month). Should I begin to fix this by examining any pitfalls I may be exhibiting as pack leader? Am I not being a strong enough leader at home or is the correction of the issue on the leash fixable with the leash?

Lastly, I have a friend with whom I now spend quite a bit of time with. He has two large (by comparison) dogs. He refers to them as his friends. They are very friendly dogs and he does correct and discipline them and I have yet to see or hear growling towards him but I am not convinced that he is in charge. While I feel as safe as I can feel around a dog that I do not own, I am worried about having my dog around his older dog. The younger dog and mine play very nicely together, but the older one is a jerk. In this situation where I am not a member of the household, is it worth my time to attempt to introduce the dogs?

Should I become an accepted member of the pack who outranks both dogs first? Is it even possible to join this pack if I do not live in the house? If so, in what order should I watch/read and implement your videos/ebooks?
I would find any advise helpful.

Thank you,
Amber

Answer:

I’d recommend some of our videos and articles. At 8 months old he is going to be entering his ‘adolescence’ and I think you will need to tighten up the rules for your dog. This always starts with leadership in all areas of his daily life, followed by obedience training.

Here are my suggestions.

I’d start with our Groundwork program.

Pack Structure for the Family Pet is the DVD that picks up where the article leaves off.

Marker Training is a great article, this is how I work with all my dogs (and actually my horses and bird too!) We just completed a DVD on The Power of Training Dogs with Markers.

Basic Obedience

As for the playing with other dogs, I am not a fan of this if they are not members of your family pack. The problem lies in that dogs don’t work on the principle of equality, there must be a dominant one and a submissive one. Since your dog is not yet mature, he will most likely begin to push the boundaries he has with other dogs as he grows up. This is where people get into issues with dog parks and dog day cares. My advice is NO playing with other dogs. I want my dog to be safe and neutral around other dogs, not looking to play or behave aggressively.

I would also direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the web site If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A's and posts on our forum.

This may turn up some other info that you find helpful.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

I purchased "Your Puppy 8 Weeks" DVD. Very informative. During our life time my 4 children and myself have had an assortment of dogs. I just purchased a Doberman puppy in June of this year.  This is the first Doberman that we have ever owned. I have had German Shepherds, Labradors, Great Danes, Rotts, also little dogs.  My question to you is that my Doberman has, (I call it respect for "my" space, we raise and train horses.  This is a must with horses.)  If I am walking, she is right there. On top of you. I know that I shouldn't do this but, I do.  When she lays on the couch with me, she has to lay on top of like my leg or something. Is this an issue? My daughter owns her sister. Which she is also just like this.  We have found out, that even when we are outside sitting on the grass, hay bales, it is a must to them to be "touching" you.  Two sisters, in completely different house holds, they both have this characteristic.  One is an house hold with small children and mine is just with myself and my teenage daughter. She does this to anyone, or should I say to myself and my teenage daughter. I call it "hormonal," wanting to "launch." Is this the case?  I have never had this issue with any other dog that I have owned.  All, which were allowed in the house and to sit on the couch with me.

Thank you also for being a gift to dog lovers and the dogs they own!

Thank you,
Julie

Answer:

Having owned Dobermans for a good part of my life I will say that this is more of a breed tendency than anything. They aren’t called ‘velcro dogs’ for nothing. They want to be touching their people all the time.

It can be an issue though, because dogs like this can become a bit too dependant on their owners being close all the time.  I teach my dogs to go lay down away from me when I ask.  They can’t come up and touch me, lean on me or solicit petting without being invited.  This is just part of being a good pack leader.

You can read more about being a good leader for your dog

Pack Structure for the Family Pet is the video that picks up where the article leaves off.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the web site for any additional questions you may have. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

I have a problem that I'm not sure what direction I should go in here. I have a 4 year old GSD that I brought into our home at 10 weeks old.  We placed him in a new home a few months ago, at the time his new owner picked him up he was extremely obedient, and very responsive, and had an excellent temperament. The person that took him, took on a new job and no longer had the time to spend with him.  So "Jackson" is now back in my home with my family. I have 4 children, 11, 8, 7, and 18 months.  Before he left he did excellent with the kids and my other dog. Now he is being aggressive with my other dog,  and he has a nasty attitude with my 18 month old. His obedience is awful,  his response is terrible, and I don't like his temperament at all!!! He has made a complete turn for the worse. I've kept him separated from my other dog, and the little one since I noticed this.  Is this an issue that can be corrected? Or is my best bet to find him another home as a "only pet" with no children before its to late? Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you, 
Dustin

Answer:

I would guess that Jackson was allowed to do as he pleased and wasn’t given the proper structure.  I would take charge of his life in a big way, and manage him like he’s a new puppy in your home.  All his privileges and free time would be 100% controlled from now on.  This may take a while, depending on how consistent you can be.

I’d start with our Groundwork program.

Pack Structure for the Family Pet

Some dogs have a real problem switching homes and they feel unsettled and “lost”.   See if giving him some structure and clear leadership doesn’t help him come back to the dog you knew before.  I most certainly wouldn’t pass him on to a new home, it would probably make his behavior even worse.

Cindy


Question:

Hi,

Sorry to bother you, but I have one question. How do I find out if my 2 german shepherds see me as the pack leader? I've had them for 4 years now since they were 5 weeks old and immediately started training when they were old enough; Schutzhund, search. I sometimes get a feeling that they don't see me as the pack leader. I saw your sample video on pack leadership with the puppies and the bone. They are not aggressive towards people taking they're food away, but sometimes they don't listen when I tell them a command. It is like they're ignoring me and when I speak up loudly, they pull the ears back and come to me. Now and then this happens, but I just want to know How does someone tell when they see you as the leader? Thank you for your help and sorry for bothering you sir.

Answer:

If your dogs don’t listen to you, then you aren’t viewed as a leader.

Think about how you behave when you are around someone who you respect and want to follow as a leader.  That’s how our dogs act when they see US as the leader.  They are respectful, attentive and compliant.

I’d advise you read our Groundwork program. This article will get you started on re-establishing the leadership that all dogs need.

Cindy


Question:

I am the proud owner of an eight month old black and tan doberman, He is one of my own puppies. I have raised him from day one and that is the problem. I chose to keep him and to sell the other pups along with the mother. Well that was the first problem. I have babied him entirely too much. He has great drive with no understanding of punishment. His drive is to get to me. He has separation anxiety, jumps up, climbs fences, gobbles food, and has no manners. I have no patience with an unruly dog. So I am looking for an excellent training school I can send him to. I have been looking at xxxx school in xxx but am looking for the best available. I want on and off leash commands. Please help me. I didn't know whether your kennel still offered in kennel training.

Answer:

We never recommend sending a dog out for training. Ed wrote an article on this.

I would follow the recommendations he makes in the article.

We don't and never have taken in other people's dogs for training. We don't believe that it's in the best interest of the dog or the owner to do this.

Cindy


Question:

Dear Ed and Cindy,

Thank you for providing such a large amount of information regarding dog training on your web site It is a wonderful resource that is much appreciated. I have also watched your Puppy Training video, and my husband and I are trying to follow the techniques you presented. I’m writing because I’m a little confused about the advice you have given regarding dogs who are timid with strangers on your web site and in your video. In some cases, your advice is to work with the dog and have strangers give the dog treats while in other cases, you advise keeping the dog away from others. Can you explain the specifics of when each type of training is appropriate? My husband and I have a 5 month old GSD female and a 9 year old Lab. The GSD is one of the best-behaved puppies I have ever met in many ways and gets along very well with our Lab, who completely ignores her at all times, which only seems to make her more fond of him. We do always, always, always supervise the two when they are together, but so far, no issues have emerged and we’re pleased with the relationship between the two dogs. The puppy was easily house-trained and crate-trained, and she is very good about not chewing on things she is not supposed to chew on.

One quality that we are trying to improve is her shyness around new people. Socialization has been our primary method for dealing with this issue so far. She currently goes to daycare 3 days a week and has exhibited no aggression or fear of the people or dogs at the daycare. The daycare staff temperament test every dog for fear and aggression before allowing it into the daycare and at least one staff member is always supervising the dogs, which are grouped by size/temperament. I can also check in on the dogs at any time via a web cam, so I feel comfortable that the environment is as safe as possible. We also took her to my parents’ house for the first time a couple of weeks ago. She did not show any fear or aggression toward my parents, my brother, or their 17 month old GSD. In fact, she ate out of my mom’s hand and let my dad feed her and let her out without a problem. She played with my parents’ dog and at no time appeared frightened or aggressive.

However, when we take her walking (which we do at least twice a day every day she is not in daycare), she seems quite concerned about other people and dogs. She expresses her concern by barking and moving away. My practice is that as soon as I notice the other person, I move to the side of the path away from the stranger and ask her and our other dog to sit and wait until the person/dog have passed and then we continue our walk. I correct her for barking by popping the leash and saying “hush” and stay between her and the stranger because I think that is what a pack leader would do. Her behavior does not seem to have improved or worsened since I started this practice about 6 weeks ago, so I think either the method is not appropriate or I am not doing something correctly.

We are also enrolled in a Puppy Obedience class at our local pet store. The trainer seems to have many of the same views you do about positive reinforcement for puppy training and the importance of being the puppy’s pack leader. We are currently working on “sit” and “wait” at the door before going out and coming back in. The puppy has already learned “leave it,” “drop it,” and “give” (for giving a toy rather than something the puppy isn’t supposed to have) commands as well as “watch me” and “down.” We try to incorporate these commands into our daily routine and try to use them frequently throughout the day rather than just using them during a training session. Also, as part of the class, we traded dogs with another owner (there are only 3 puppies in the class), and practiced giving commands to another person’s dog. Our puppy did take treats from and obey commands given by another couple without too much difficulty. She was a little hesitant at first, but once she figured out what was expected, she obeyed and went into the “down” and “settle” command and let the couple stroke her while she was lying on the floor without fear or aggression. Our trainer has advised us to ask strangers to give the puppy treats when we are out walking to help overcome her shyness, but the first time my husband tried, the puppy wouldn’t go anywhere near the stranger. He did not reward her for that behavior nor did he correct her for it, but we’re not sure if we should continue the practice.

I’m concerned about how to handle this issue because I know that the puppy’s shyness now could develop into fear biting or aggression later, and I am determined to do everything possible to help her become a well-behaved animal. So, back to my question, what is the appropriate method for dealing with this puppy’s shyness? I know we need to continue working on pack behavior and make sure that she understands she is at the bottom of the pack and that we are supposed to protect her (not the other way around), but her nature seems to be quite submissive already – she requires low levels of corrections, is rarely disobedient, and when she greets dogs she feels comfortable with, she licks their mouths. But, should we continue to try to have strangers feed her treats or should we just focus on keeping her away from them? If the current solution is to keep her away from strangers, how and when should we transition her so that at some point, she can calmly greet others? I'd like to get her obedience to a level good enough to pass the Canine Good Citizen test. On the other hand, if we should continue to have strangers try to feed her treats, do you have any recommendations for overcoming the puppy’s reluctance to approach the stranger? Is it possible that we haven't done a good enough job of convincing her that we are her pack leaders and so her reluctance is based on her discomfort with our leadership? I don’t expect her to ever be as people-loving as our Lab, but my goal is to get her to a point where she doesn’t feel threatened by strange people and dogs.

Sorry for the long length of the message, but I figured you would get a better picture of the situation.

Thanks for your help,
Gail

Answer:

I’d probably take the no treat route with your dog. Let her know that you aren’t going to put her in a position to make her worried and uncomfortable. At 5 months old she’s still a youngster and very impressionable.

I’m not a fan of dog day cares, but especially discourage them for puppies. Too many ways that a problem can occur and you really have no way of knowing what happened. Growing dogs, like growing kids, go through phases where they start to behave differently and that’s typically when you see problems between dogs that previously got along.

In my experience, there really is no reason for my dog to be getting from other people and dogs what I am supposed to provide. Those things are exercise, leadership and attention. I don’t want another dog dominating my dog, I don’t want another person disciplining my dog, and in many cases the people who work at these places (I’m not saying it’s the case at your facility, but in general) aren’t well versed in dog body language and signals. Doggie day cares and dog parks were invented for people, and while the idea is nice we get emails every single day from people who have been taking their dogs to these places and then get into a situation that they never expected.

I’d recommend our groundwork article and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

We recommend this work for EVERY dog, but shy dogs or dominant dogs especially benefit.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the web site for any additional questions you may have.. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi --

I just watched your DVD on Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet -- and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have 3 collies - two were raised to be guide dogs, and many of their training methods were very similar to yours. Both collies "flunked out" and I was able to adopt them. The third is a rescue dog that I adopted last year. She is now 11.

I have been doing collie rescue for a few years and actually bought your DVD to learn methods for my foster homes to help them when they add a foster dog. But your methods take weeks of training with the new dog before it is introduced to the family dogs.

Do you have any suggestions on significantly streamlining this when you bring a foster dog into your home? I initially keep the foster dog isolated in a sunroom where I can observe them and be sure they do not come down with anything contagious as most come from shelters. This does limit their interaction with me only. this normally lasts about 2 weeks. then they are brought into the house with the 3 resident dogs.

These foster dogs are normally here for two weeks to three months - sometimes longer. I do crate train the foster dogs and do not leave them with my dogs unsupervised. I do try and do some obedience training with the fosters, but actually do not have a lot of time for
this. I treat my dogs as top dogs - eat first, get pet first, out the door before foster, etc. Any advice and suggestions you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Faith

Answer:

I really don't advise streamlining the pack structure program. It's less about obedience training and more about how you handle dogs every single day of their life (no matter where they live).

Most problems people have with their dogs are because they get lax and quit being a leader to the dog. They think that you do this for a couple of weeks or so and then it's done. While many of the handling exercises we recommend can be eliminated or relaxed a LITTLE bit, these rules need to be in place for the life of the dog to the degree that particular dog needs them.

I would think that a foster being brought into a home would need beefed up leadership, not the other way around.

Cindy


Question:

I have a 3 year old male GSD. Great, obedient, family pet. Most of the training I put him through was prior to coming across your fantastic web site and knowledge base. With that said, I'm happy and he seems happy with how everything has turned out. He is, however, overly friendly with strangers. I have read some of your training on different subjects and was wondering if you can guide me to one of your DVDs or articles on how to keep him from being so overly friendly with strangers. Basically, if anyone calls him over he's happy to run over, If I were to let him, and just jump for joy. At this point, is it realistic for me to change this behavior and, if so, how? I am a member of your message board and thank you for your hard work in sharing your experience.

Sincerely,
B

Answer:

As the leader for my dog, I don't allow him to go up to anyone unless I give him permission. With an overly friendly dog, it becomes an obedience exercise.

I say who my dog approaches, and who he doesn't. I don't leave it up to him and I tell people to ignore my dog.

The goal for my own dogs is indifference to people, unless I say otherwise.
At 3 years old, you may never change his core behavior but you can control his interactions with strangers.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi,

I am confused about how to handle this. I have a 2 yr old GSD (90lbs). He has very very high prey drive and is very dominant. There is no question that I am pack leader. (He waits for me on stairs, in and out of doors, waits for food, he is obedience trained, etc). When I am home he tries to follow me everywhere and always wants to be with me. When I am NOT home he will sit at the top of the stairs in front of my room and wait. During this time, he WILL listen to everyone in the family BUT when I get home, he starts to test everyone. He will walk up behind them and nip (in a herding way), barks and lunges at them if they don't play or give him what he wants (sometimes there is no apparent reason for his behavior) - he does not back down. If I walk into the room to help he automatically lays down and stops. Why is he doing this and how do I get him to stop if he is not behaving this way around me? This is a new behavior - nothing has changed in his environment or schedule.  I have your have pack structure and basic obedience DVDs and have read a lot of your articles. (the family members that he is doing this to have also read the articles & watched the DVDs) I am at a loss. How can I step in? I need to stop this before he accidentally hurts someone. His behavior is not aggressive - it is more prey/dominant?

Thanks for your help!

Dina

Answer:

If you are the pack leader then why are you allowing this behavior? Why don’t you put him on a leash or in a crate? Whether it’s prey or dominance or something else, it makes no difference. Since he doesn’t do it when you are not home, my guess is that he sees himself as higher ranking than you may think.  

I'd go back to basics with both your dogs, and reestablish groundwork with them.  He would not be out of my sight unless he was in a crate.

The Groundwork program, all members of the family need to practice this work with both dogs, even if you think the problem is only one of them.

Dog training is simple. Don’t let dogs rehearse behaviors you don’t like, reinforce behaviors you do like.  If we don’t give them guidance, they make up their own rules.

Cindy


Question:

Hi! I so enjoy reading your newsletters and have found much help from your web site, both the articles and the DVDs! I have the Basic Obedience Training Video as well as the Dealing with Dominant Aggressive dogs (they have been very helpful, thank you!). I have tried to figure out what is going on between two of my threes dogs but can not figure out if I am causing the issue and thought you might be able to give me a few ideas and point me in the right direction?

Background- 3 dogs; 160lbs male fixed Cane Corso 6yo raised as a puppy, 40lb male fixed Yorkie/Australian Cattle Dog 5yo adopted at 11months, 15lb female fixed wire hair Dachs/mini schnauzer 10yo adopted at 6 months (puppy mill dog/ retired Nursing Home Therapy Dog). The Female came 1st, then the Cane Corso about 4 years later, then the yorkie/cattle dog about 1 year after that if I remember right.

They all play well together, eat well together. We all exercise about 30 minutes a day or so and they all walk very well on leashes at the same time, as well as I work form home and they play in the back yard several times a day. We have many rules, I eat 1st, they eat after all food is set down after I release them, not running out the front door or back door etc. They also have several stupid tricks they each do at play time or treat time.

Here is the problem; it is between the Cane Corso (CC) and the yorkie/cattledog (YC) The YC is very dominant, the CC will not walk past him when the YC is sleeping near the back door. The CC will stand about 3 feet away and whine because he wants to go outside. The YC will jump up and bark/snarl at him (right up in his face) if he attempts to walk by him or stands to close. The CC will not do anything - meaning he has no reaction to it, just stands there with his head held a bit higher until the episode passes (about 2-5 seconds at most). Same issue happens can also happen when we are all going to bed. They each have their own bed but if the YC goes to bed 1st the CC has to walk by and the same instant aggression happens. This can also happen in the back yard or any other place in the house. Other times it does not happen as all, even if the day before the same scenario played out. This behavior was occasional in the begriming but over the past year it happens more and more often and now is a daily habit. Also, If I pet the CC the YC will come over and bark at us. He will not do this if I pet the Female.

What I am starting to see now is the YC is doing this much more often and now my little girl is starting in on the same behavior. The only time I see it right now is when the CC is outside and wants to come in, she will rush the door and jump up on her back legs barking at his face (same 2-4 seconds), most times he pays her no attention but other times play will start (very funny to watch them play because she is so small compared to him, he typically will roll to the ground and she will run around him pulling ears, jumping on and around him, they both love this game and it is about the only way they play together). He is not aggressive towards her as he came in when he was a puppy and she put him in his place several times as a puppy. We had one instance about 3 years ago where he got overly excited seeing another dog through the window, he snapped at her. This put me on guard but unsure if this was due to his excitement, so I monitor them closely. The CC has a strong tendency to be dog aggressive with larger dogs and can not be trusted around them.

Knowing that CC has done this once (snapped at my little dog) I want to be extra safe and sort through what type of mixed message I am sending them. Do you have any idea what might be going between the CC and the YC? Is the female seeing the YC in action and now starting to doing the same thing?

I should have handle this quite some time ago but I really did not/do not know what to do. They seem to be a a great grouping of dogs and do very well together, play together and sleep in close proximity to each other on their own. Do you have any words of wisdom you can impart to me on how to deal with this issue?

Thank you in advance for any help you can suggest,
Christie

Answer:

Usually people ARE causing the issues between their dogs, unknowingly.
Do you do anything to correct the dogs when they become aggressive with each other? If not, why? You are supposed to be the pack leader, and this means you say who does what in your house and yard. If these dogs lived here, they would be in crates while I reworked the pack structure with all of them (not just the 2 that you feel are the problem) You allow them to posture with each other and this sends the message that they are in charge, not you.

It’s just going to be a matter of time before you have a full blown fight unless you restructure things. I’d start with our Groundwork program with all the dogs and the video that picks up where the article leaves off is Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

You have the Dominant Dog DVD, I’d review that as well.

Obedience training is good, but managing the dogs in and around your house is the most important “training” they can have.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the web site for any additional questions you may have.. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Good morning. I have read at least 20 articles that you have written and I finally got fed up when I read the ones on introducing a new dog.... Although what you say "can happen" I think you fail to realize that 80% of all dog owners do not have the time, knowledge or inclination to follow your very restrictive training rules. I have personally had 7 dogs in my career and I have always brought a second puppy into the home without any incident. I am also a member of a lot of dog owners groups and I don't recall this being a primary problem with any of them either. Just a suggestion but maybe your training and dog experiences are with breeds that tend to be aggressive to begin with? Even your email examples seem to involve shepherds, rotties, pit bulls and mixes of the same. I have always been very protective of my dogs around these breeds because I have found many of them to be really dog aggressive. Maybe you should temper your "scary" articles with some breed or temperament discussions because I think this has more to do with bad new dog introductions than it does with techniques of the owners. If people followed your training advice regarding introducing new dogs, they would never get a second dog!! This is not meant to be a flaming email it is just a suggestion about reality. Very few of us are going to: keep other family members from petting and loving on "our dog" or keep new dogs totally separate and in crates for weeks at a time. This is just not realistic. When I bring a new pup into my home I get it used to and happy in its crate so I can give the other dog a break, I make sure I give first attention to the older dog whenever possible, I do not feed at the same time or place, I do not allow them to share or have bones in the same space, I use rewards to immediately begin teaching my pup sit, stay, wait, down etc. I give them both lots of exercise separately and together (once the pup is vaccinated and old enough), and I am constantly "managing" the situation. Even other people I know who are not as anal as I am about training don't have dog fights when bringing in a second dog... All your articles have done is reduce your credibility with me. Even though you have trained for 45 years, I (and many others) have successfully owned and trained 2 dogs at a time for over 30 years without incident. I currently own a 3 year old Labradoodle who has her CGC and TDI certification. I plan on bringing a new goldendoodle pup into our home in 1 month and I have no doubt that it will be fine. Granted, these are typically mellow breeds and for the most part they are easy to train. I have owned golden retrievers in the past, I have even always had 2 females at a time and I have never had a dog incident or fight between them. Is this chance or is it breed and temperament selection?? Your articles of warning can be used but maybe you should tone them down a bit for those of us who don't own aggressive dog types to begin with. There are many ways to "skin a cat." I guess I believe that sound foundation training, lots of love and respect between me and my canine friends, and regular consistent exercise helps to make them great for my family and content with each other. Just some thoughts....

Julie

Answer:

Hi Julie,

Thanks for writing. I think you are in the minority of dog owners that write to us for the first time, most are looking for advice with a problem they haven’t been able to fix. If you spend some time looking over the q & a section on aggression, dogs biting kids and other pack structure problems I think you will understand why we have set up our articles and this web site Between Ed and me I would say we receive 50 or more emails EVERY DAY from people that need this advice. Dog aggression and dominance is not breed specific, it’s temperament specific and also is very much influenced by the upbringing the dog receives. I get as many emails from owners of problem Labs, Lhasa Apsos and Beagles as I do Rottweilers and German Shepherds.

I appreciate your input, but in reality this information we are offering free of charge is very needed by many people. We have offered it on the web site, and you are welcome to take what applies to your situation and leave the rest. In our vast experience, many people shouldn’t get a second or third dog, because they have huge issues with their first dog that they think getting a second dog will solve.

There are a lot of great, really responsible dog owners out there and there are a lot of people who just aren’t educated yet. We hope to help people make the right choices with their own situation should they need our help.

Cindy

Customer Reaction to Julie's Email:

Cindy,

This email is a comment on the letter you received from 'Julie' (in the last newsletter) saying that she thought the breed of dog is the reason for problems, when introducing a second dog to your first. WRONG If you NEVER experienced a set of dogs that just DO NOT LIKE EACH OTHER or an aggressive high drive dog, then why comment on what you think about the subject. What is wrong with that woman? She should thank her lucky stars that she has the knowledge to be able to handle the introduction, some people don't. Thank god you are here to help them. I have to admit, until about 2 yrs ago, I thought anyone who could not control their puppy and raise it to a well behaved dog was an idiot. BECAUSE I HAD ALWAYS HAD EASY DOGS, and Dobermans were included in them. I thought anyone that needed to use a pinch collar was stupid, and shouldn't have a dog, because the pinch is barbaric. And I can't repeat what I thought of ecollars...... But finally I got a dog that was high energy, high prey drive and just out of control. I have NOW realized I had NO RIGHT to assume I knew what someone else's problem was, without seeing and working with their dog. I hope for Julie's sake, the NEW Golden is not like my friend's last golden (a supposed well bred, show girl from a reputable breeder). HE had goldens all his life, but Meggie was a HORROR. It was not the person it was the dog. If you have never had the problem, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I hope her dog is easy to introduce, wouldn't it be funny if.....

-Susan

Customer Reaction to Julie's Email:

Hi Cindy,

I always read your featured articles and newsletters – and this week I simply couldn’t resist congratulating you on the article from “julie,” so often its a ‘breed issue’ that causes all the world's dog problems – anyone with any dog experience other than their own would be able to recognize the guy with the lab being dragged down the street has an issue or the aggro small white fluffy going berserk in the owner's arms!

Leerburg is an invaluable resource for the dog training world and I thank you for making so much information available free to the public.

I have some of your training DVDs and equipment and continue to strive for more time to work on my dogs.

However I have found it a major problem with uneducated ‘obedience’ schools who will only let you work a dog by shoving food down its throat – they are completely dismissive of anyone who challenges their technique of bribery and will not allow themselves to be educated about potentially better methods of training. Let alone the fact that I get raised eyebrows or questioned about simply joining a club with my 2 very placid Akitas, a small group of us continue to talk about setting up our own training school but lack of time seems to always prevail.

It continues to be this attitude of particular breeds having ‘issues’ that infuriates me, no end. When you ask an ‘instructor’ at these clubs if they have ever handled a dog that is not primarily food driven they have no idea what you are talking about, and proudly state that their retrievers or labs have various obedience titles.

So I just wanted to CONGRATULATE you on your poise and response to these uneducated people!

Regards,
Bridget
Sydney, Australia

Customer Reaction to Julie's Email:

Cindy,

I just cannot help but respond to Julie’s comments on dog fights, etc. All breeds will fight if given the right environment, ie.: females in season, etc. We have one of the sweetest breeds around but two of our females can never be left out together as they fought when in season. We ignored the head over neck symptom for years before the big fight occurred.  However, no one would know this since when these females are out together at dog shows, with the children in 4-H, or other training situations off our property you will never see their animosity. Dog fights are a taboo subject among many breeders and pet owners. One of my original trainers who is a top notch breeder said every breeder deals with dog fights but you will never meet a breeder who will discuss them.

My husband interacts with many different people in his business, just over the past year  he has met several bandaged hands that clients do not want to comment on. When he asked directly if it is dog fight related they all say yes and that their dog is so sweet they could not believe it happened. He then has referred them to Leerburg’s site. They don’t want to talk about the dog fight but really are interested in your web address! I personally will not sell a pet to a home that has the same gender of dog. Even when neutered, dog fights are too common among same gendered dogs and again I am talking about the sweetest breed around!

Keep telling the truth about dog fights, Cindy. People need to know before they happen so they can prevent them.

Jane


Question:

Mr. Frawley,

I recently found your web site and would like to ask you a question for some help. I have a Boxer and an American Bull Dog that occasionally fight and I'm not sure why. My Bull Dog is the aggressor and has caused damage to my Boxer, nothing serious but I feel like it may get worse. Of course I love both my dogs and don't want to get rid of one or the other, but what can I do for these dogs?

Thank you very much,
Rick

Answer:

Rick,

When this happens it’s always a rank – pack structure issue. They give off signals in their daily life but unless your trained to recognize them (and they are often subtle) you miss them.

Once dogs start to fight like this they need to go through a pack structure program – this is outlined and detailed in my DVD.  Part of that program is explained in my free eBook – in essence you need to reestablish your leadership and your pack rules. This begins by micromanaging every second of these dogs lives for a long long time – in some cases forever.

We balance the work with marker training and The Power of Training Dogs with Markers DVD. This is finished with remote collar work. Don’t misunderstand what I mean by remote collar work. You don’t establish pack issues with a collar. You tighten off leash obedience with it.

You can fix this problem if you educate yourself and make the effort to change – if not you could end up with a seriously injured dog. I have a folder on people who have dogs that have killed one of their family pack. They are not pretty – I will use them in a book I am writing on dog aggression.

Ed Frawley


Question:

Cindy,

Thanks for doing this Q&A in the newsletter, it's a great adjunct to the web site, where I've learned a lot. There's always more to learn about working with dogs.

We have a pack, consisting of my husband Brian and me and four dogs: Golden Retriever Spenser (9, neutered M); and three European show-line GSDs: Bonnie (9, F spayed at 7), Kaja (19 months, F intact so far), and 'Pollo (19 weeks, M intact). Brian and I were already doing most of your 'pack structure' program even before we got the dvd (which was before the Kaja-'Pollo incident below); both of us are experienced with dogs, with working dogs, and with GSDs, and neither of us has trouble figuring out who is in charge, us or the dogs. (I say: there's only *one* alpha bitch in this pack, and she doesn't have four feet.)

The problem dog is Kaja: highly excitable, and somewhat insecure around other dogs. These traits are a bad combination. Around dogs not in her pack, her natural tendency is to try to dominate through lunge-snarl-snap, which worked when she last got to try it at 3 months old (she is not let to do this anymore) -- she dominated like 20 dogs in one day at a local fair, and leash corrections were ineffective. Even then she was quite 'hard.'

If allowed to get overexcited, Kaja escalates to inappropriate dog aggression. In our own pack it's not fear or insecurity, it doesn't even seem to be dominance, I think it's excitability. It doesn't have to be excitement about dogs -- when we had guests over the holidays, she loved the people but whenever they arrived and came into the house, if allowed to she would trot laps around the house at top speed, vocalize (we call her "Shriekie"), and sometimes, the excitement spilled out as aggressive rushes and snarls toward the other dogs. Never has she shown aggression toward people. Kept on a leash and not allowed to escalate, she's no problem.

The older dogs will still put her down from time to time, and she still does submission displays to the older GSD (lead dog, under us). Kaja and the pup *love* to play together, and it was mostly gentle and fun even if the puppy does sound like a snarl-machine. But after weeks of appropriate play, Kaja got carried away one night and went after the pup and drew blood (small slash on the snout) on the then-4-month-old pup.

WELL. Back to pack structure basics! The crate and the leash, one or the other, and never loose together unsupervised. Kaja *is* obedient -- I can call her out of a play session, and she comes right away. We do not let Kaja and 'Pollo play with each other so much anymore as let them play near each other. I am teaching both dogs the new command "settle"-- that is: disengage, separate, and lay down.

Too bad I don't need a protection dog; Kaja would do well, since she is very hard, has strong prey and defense drives (if she feels threatened by, say, a lawn mower on the other side of a gate, where the other dogs all retreat and bark, she moves forward and tries to attack and bite the threat), is very smart and loves to play.

What made me write is the question in the last newsletter from the person with a dog-aggressive Lab. Like Kaja, he's well trained obedience-wise and no problem with people. We had already embarked on the enhanced-control-and-pack-structure regimen when I saw this person's question, and wanted say how well your answer has been working for us. Like the Lab, the key for our dog is that we must not let her control her own excitement - she must know that she has to look to us first. I wanted to thank you for so clearly laying out the issues and solutions. It's working for us.

Sara

Answer:

Hi Sara,

Thank you so much for writing. I try to put a lot of thought into answering the emails I get each day (and I get many every day) and it’s really nice to hear that my advice is helping someone.

I appreciate you taking the time to let me know, thanks again. On days like today where I am literally answering emails for hours at a time receiving one like yours makes my day.

Cindy


Question:

Dear Cindy,

Thanks so much for all your good answers for me concerning my adult dog and puppy who is now 8 months old. I have just finished for the first time the Dominant Dog DVD and it was so helpful--especially differentiating between corrections; for disobedience and also for inappropriate pack behavior (that was/is most of my puppy's problem).

My main question right now is; last week she was spayed and is doing really well not bothering her stitches. Next Thursday we go to have them out. When we went in to the vet (he is very nice and loves her though we hadn't been there for several months) she sat in her carrier and trembled. What should I do for her? How can I comfort her and let her know I'll take care of her without seeming like I'm condoning and giving her reason to fear. She wanted to nip at the vet's hand when he offered it to her--what should I do about that? Thanks again for answering me.

Julie
Timisoara, Romania

Answer:

Many dogs are nervous about the vet. I would keep the dog under your control and not allow her to have access to biting anyone. Tell the vet to do his job and not try to pet her or be buddies with her, if she's afraid this will only make her more nervous.

This is all about being a calm and in control pack leader. Don't baby her or sit there and pet her and baby talk her. Be matter of fact and act like it's not a big deal to be there. Comforting her will come in the form of being calm and reliable. Don't put her in a position where she feels cornered or like she needs to defend herself.

Cindy


Question:

Cindy,

My 12 month old female, German Shepherd, Bella, does not seem to like to be pet. In fact, she does not seem to like to be touched at all--this includes grooming. As a puppy, whenever I tried to pet her she would turn and nip at my hands. I would always tell her no and thought that she would grow out of it. She hasn't. I have found that after a good walk she will allow me to brush her without it turning into a wrestling match although I still have to use a lot of treats.

I found out that I was pregnant a month after I got Bella and so she did not get the attention I would have liked in the beginning. I have recently watched the following videos and have tried to implement as much as I can. However, as a mother of two small children (a two year old and a 2 month old) I feel limited in what I can do with my dog especially in the winter when I can't put the kids in the stroller and go for a walk. Bella spends much of her time in the back yard.

Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months
Basic Dog Obedience
Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet
Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs

Is this petting issue abnormal? I thought the grooming segment in one of the videos with you and your dog (where you are teaching the dog to allow you to touch his paws and muzzle) was helpful, but I'm finding Bella is getting somewhat mouthy at trying to get treats from my hand or will jump on me. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Courtney

Answer:

Some just simply don’t enjoy being touched, it’s not uncommon. 

It may be that your dog just doesn’t enjoy body contact or it may be a bit of a leadership issue where she sees herself as being in charge.  For a dog like this I would make sure she’s being handled according to the Groundwork program on our web site and since you already have the pack structure video, I’d review that and make sure to implement the techniques shown.   The mouthiness is a respect issue, so beefing up the structure and rules will help.

I’m afraid there is no easy or quick fix for this, it’s about putting the time in with the dog and I know with 2 small kids this is not easy.  Your dog is also what I would consider an adolescent and that can be a challenging time in a dog’s life, they are always wanting to test boundaries (much like teenage kids).

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi I have a question, I have a 3 year old pure bred Intact female German Shepherd that I just got in December 2008 well at first she seen calm and easy to train. She is pretty smart with learning but then later on I notice she has prey drive. Well her prey drives got stronger I don't want to re home her into a family home or people who just don't know what to do or how to handle her. She was $XXXX and now I feel like I can't rehome her with that price. I am waiting on her registered papers to come from Texas. I would like to rehome her for $XXXX but only to experience handlers like K9 trainers or Police Officers who have the long term experience... I can train her to my best aknowledge but when it comes to dogs she is after everything sometimes she sees the arms as prey. It would cost thousands just to train her and I don't have that kind of money.... I am just left without words or thoughts to say anymore I love her she is a good dog when it comes to me I taught her to sit, stay, down, come, I was teaching her to find (search) leave it (where she isn't allowed to touch it) still in basic training.. I can let her loose in my yard but sometimes she will disobey me but she can't run with other dogs. In our house hold all dogs have to be able to run with eachother I have a purebred male German Shepherd that I was going to breed her too but with her prey drives I didnt want her to be mated with him and two mix female dogs But they all get along and they tried to get along with her but I can already tell she will bite even with a muzzle on...

Please if you know someone who can take her and train her for $XXXX because I would like to get a calmer no prey drive  dog or puppy... Or would like to trade for a female 2 years intact & good with other dogs & kids... Can you please let me know... I know you have many years of experience and I am just a  24 yr old with no man strength or help since my dad has been injured on the job... But if I had a good paying job I would of been done have her into a highly professional training...

Answer:

I’m sorry but we aren’t in the business of helping people sell their dogs. Prey drive is a GOOD quality for a GSD, it makes them easy to train if you know the right techniques.

Is there a reason you won’t take on the training yourself? We offer many videos to teach you how to incorporate new dogs into your home for a fraction of what professional trainers would cost. Anyone who tells you it would cost thousands to train her is either a rip off artist or misinformed.  You haven’t had the dog long, and it’s not too late to start over and “reintroduce” her into the house and family just like she’s brand new.  I think it’s just a matter of leadership. Letting her off leash when she isn’t trained is YOU making the mistake, not her. Dogs don’t come to us knowing what we want them to do, we need to show them.

I’d start with our Groundwork program and the video that picks up where the article leaves off -  Pack Structure for the Family Pet.  

Basic Dog Obedience

Electric collar Training for the Pet Owner

This will give you a good start, should you choose to try working with her.  If you still want to rehome her, there are plenty of websites out there that advertise dogs for sale.

Cindy


Question:

Good Morning, I have been reading information on your web site. Thank you, it is very informational.  We have a puppy, not by choice, but we love him just the same. He is a bull terrier, miniature as the vet said he will only be another 10 lbs. He has become the flying monkey from hell!!  My older pit bull mix (9 yrs) has mothered him since he was 6 weeks. So we have adjusted to him.  We kennel at night and when we are away from home. We muzzle for biting and rough bite playing. This has worked very well. He is now 6 months. He has been neutered.  He is house broken, sits, shakes, plays ball and lets it go. We are working on the leash and stay at this time. BUT!! He has become a flying monkey!!!  He will run up the recliner when you fall asleep, he runs up the couch when he thinks he can get away with indoor play. We are in Las Vegas and it is still 98 degrees. So we do have some indoor activity we allow, but not this. The trainers here recommended the point collar. That only works on a leash, which we do not always use indoors. I am thinking the electronic collar would be best used. The question is if u agree, then which do I buy? His neck measures 14 cm behind the ears.  We do not need something real strong.  He learns by repetition, repetition, repetition!! Also the 2 seem to play too rough at times and we are thinking this could also be used then. We say “back off” and usually the 2 know what that means and they separate. Clutch tends to keep trying to come back to play again and we realize that is some puppy, but he also needs to learn. Cleo will mind and stop, but if he keeps it up she starts again also. Can u recommend which book of yours to cover such things. We went thru a personnel trainer with Cleo as she is 70 lbs. We are doing the same training with Clutch and it is working, except he can run soooo fast and jump soooo high!! The trainer we used for Cleo has left town. The others here do not seem to know how to handle these dogs very well. We need guidance basically.

Thank you,
Elaine

Answer:

I would recommend more rules, training and structure for both of your dogs.

First read this article

I would then recommend these DVDs

Pack Structure for the Family Pet
Basic Obedience
Electric Collar Training for the Pet Owner (this is half price right now, if you purchase a collar at the same time).

For collars, I would recommend the Dogtra 200NCP.  They actually make a 2 dog model, so you could use the collars on both dogs (which I would recommend) the 2 dog model is the Dogtra 202 NCP. 

All of your training questions will be addressed on the videos, and I think once you go through the electric collar training with your dogs it will work very well for your issues.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi Cindy,

I hope you can help me with an issue. I have a 4 year old American Staffordshire Terrier who has her TDI and CGC. She is a rescue that I got at 10 months old and when I got her I was advised the rescue group used to let her play with the young dogs and puppies, because she was soft with them.

My brother and his girlfriend brought home a male pup from the HSUS about 8 months ago. The pup (Harvey) was about 4 weeks old  and already neutered when they brought him home, so he definitely did not get enough time with his mother. He is a pit bull and (If his paws are any indication) mastiff mix (possibly Cano Corso). At 9 months of age Harvey is a good natured hyper pup that weighs in at 70 pounds.

My Am Staff, Diva, loves him and enjoys his company, except for one issue. Diva had surgery for a torn CCL in July of last year and Harvery goes for that leg, bites and holds on. He is almost impossible to pry loose once he gets a grip, true to his breed. (I advised Anna, my brothers girl friend to use the wheel barrow technique you suggested for breaking up dog fights which works relatively well with him).

He seems to have a problem with all bite inhibition, something which I understand is not uncommon with pups who aren't with the mother for the appropriate amount of time. When they have been separated for any amount of time he will charge Diva, jump on her, then grab her  between the shoulder blades or any other convenient body part and sink his teeth in. He will draw blood at times, or at the very least (Diva is mostly white) leave nasty claw and bite marks on her.  He also will mouth or bite us when we grab his collar to correct him or lead him.

Obviously he is going to be way too large a dog to be so out of control.

He is going to puppy classes and is going to start agility soon, (He just passed his CGC tonight.), so hopefully that will help to drain some of his energy, but as first time dog owners, my brother and his girl friend are at their wits end.

Diva has no problem making it very clear to Harvey that his attention is usually unwanted, and she will lay him down and make him stay- but sometimes his puppy energy is more than she can take so she retreats to her crate. He is also absolutely crazed when there is food around. They will both get the same treat and Harvey will lay his aside and immediately try to steal Divas. If she she wont give it to him, he will bark and sneak around behind her, then grab her back leg so that she lets go of her bully stick, then he runs away with it. (There are times she will not let him in the same room, because she wants to chew her treat in peace.)

Where do you think they should start? Would you suggest any specific videos or training equipment?

Thanks!
Dawn

Answer:

I’d start with our Groundwork program for BOTH dogs and the video that picks up where the article leaves off - Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Both dogs need to know the rules, and even though the older dog doesn’t seem to be the problem I always recommend doing the groundwork with all dogs in the house. This shows her that you will protect her and her space. Having a CGC is great, but the real problems that dogs and owners have are due to how they live together in the house.   Obedience training is necessary, but is only a part of the solution to behavioral issues.

The younger dog shouldn’t have access to any other dogs off leash, period.  Dogs don’t know what we expect from them, we need to show them.  This means control the environment 100% of the time.

I believe that this DVD could really help you. It’s titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS and was a 5 year project.

Harvey is already showing dominance and aggression and he’s only 9 months old.  Simply knowing how to break up a fight isn’t what I recommend, you need to learn how to interrupt his behavior before he even knows that he’s thinking about misbehaving.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hey There:

I have a 9 month old neutered GSD, who already weighs 85 lbs (he is not over weight, still see contour and vet says he's just big). We have used your videos about pack structure and basic obedience. We try to follow all the rules all the time. He waits before going through door ways or gates, waits for his food at at sit. He knows sit, stay, come, down. Just when I think we can let him off leash (using prong collar) in the house, he turns in to an absolute beast. He jumps on all members of the family. If we turn our backs, he jumps on our backs. If we don't pay attention to him, he walks up and grabs a hand or foot or whatever limb he can get his teeth on. When I try to take him by the collar to kennel him, he rolls on his back and goes completely wild and deaf.

He has freedom in a very large back yard. We tried kenneling him most of the day, but he is better behaved when he has some exercise in the yard. If I don't take him on a good walk each day, he is barely manageable. He is improving with age but geez. I'm aging with his improvement. Would love to exercise him more but he has dysplasia (a freak in his line according to the breeder - oh well, we love the beast). He's beautiful, strong and very smart. What kind of job can we give him?

Advice or do we need more patience? Thanks for your help and all that you do.

Rachel

Answer:

First of all, your dog is far from ready to be off leash. I would quit testing him and just keep him on the leash until you have gone a REALLY LONG time without having to use it. So many people get in a hurry to take the dog off leash and all you succeed in doing is teaching the dog that when you take the leash off, the dog can run wild.

A dog can't jump on you if you are keeping him on leash and your eyes on him. Don't turn your back on him. If you can't keep your eyes on him, then he needs to be in the crate. He's playing you. This dog isn't even close to mentally mature, but when he is you are going to have more serious issues if you don't get his respect now.

I know you said that he can't exercise because of hip dysplasia. How severe is it? Have you had him evaluated by an orthopedic specialist? I'd spend some time researching safe exercise for him, swimming or hill walking.

I'd also try to engage his mind. I've found no better way to do this than with marker training. The Power of Training Dogs with Markers DVD

I believe that this DVD could really help you. It's titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS and was a 5 year project. I don't believe your dog is being "aggressive" at this point, but he is definitely showing dominance. You may want to take a look at what this DVD covers.

I'd beef up the structure and leadership with this dog. He'd have to look to me for everything. He'd eat in his crate, etc.....

I can't stress enough, keep him on the leash. You have accidentally been training him to behave this way by teaching him that leash off means NO Rules.

Cindy


Question:

Hi Cindy,

I have a 9 month old female Norfolk Terrier.  I am working with a trainer now but he is out of town and I need to understand what is going on.  Here is the scenario.  A little background. 

I have behavioral problems with my pup.  She will bark at the TV relentlessly, sometimes she does it when there are loud noises but sometimes just because.  She will lunge and bark at bikes and cars etc. SHE DOES NOT DO THESE THINGS WHEN MY TRAINER IS OVER FOR A LESSON - She is a perfect little angel.  When he leaves it is a different story.  My trainer says she does this because she does not respect me as a leader.

Here is the problem.  She spent the last 4 days at my trainers house because I was out of town.  He tried to get her to bark and show these traits.  No luck-he says that she hardly said a word the entire time, even though she was out in public around cars etc. and in the house with the TV on while both inside and outside of the crate.  He said she looked at the TV but never barked and carried on.  He suggested that I let her spend more time in the crate over the next few days so that she becomes more dependent on me for her play time, eating etc.  Now she is peeing in her crate.  Something that she has not done in 6 months.  She is not peeing over night but when I put her in her crate for a couple of hours she will.  Oh yeah-as soon as my trainer left (when he dropped her off-he was here for an hour) she went back to barking at the TV within minutes of him leaving.

I cannot make her stop.  Is she peeing in her crate to try to tell me something?  She does not show these things when my trainer is here-what can I do?

Can you help.

Amy

Answer:

I agree with your trainer on the increased crate time, he is thinking like we do that this dog needs her free time controlled so you can become more of a leadership figure. This is most likely an issue of the dog not respecting you.  I would make sure I was taking her outside on leash to go to the bathroom on a set schedule. As a matter of fact, this dog should not be off leash at all whether in the house or outside. The article I’ve linked below will tell you how to deal with her, step by step. We also have a follow up dvd, but the work in the article can be started immediately.

I’d start with our Groundwork program and the video that picks up where the article leaves off - Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Your dog is responding to your trainer’s attitude and authority, which is why she won’t do the problem behaviors when the trainer is there. You not only need to handle your dog differently, you need to adopt a new attitude.

I think if you spend some time reading the material on our website, you’ll find out that your issues are very common and the first and most important step is changing your thinking. Your dog isn’t trying to be bad, she is only behaving as she has been allowed.  I feel that she’s peeing in her crate out of anxiety from having her "routine" changed and having her freedom taken away. Don’t give in and let her out, just stick with the system.  It will most likely get worse, before it gets better as she tries all kinds of things to get her way.  She will come around, if you are firm, fair and consistent.

Cindy


Question:

Hello,

I'm hoping you can answer what I hope to be a very easy question. I have been searching the internet for weeks trying to find a good training video. I happened on your site and feel that the answer is on here but I am so totally confused at this point from all the information and opinions I have read it is all becoming a jumble.

First a little about my dog. She is an 18 month old pit bull we just got about a month ago from a couple who was splitting up and neither one of them could take the dog with them. She is an absolute sweetheart, not a hint of aggression. She constantly wants to play with our cats (but they are not all that wild about the idea hehehehe) is friendly to any animal she meets and loves all the humans. She is extremely easy goiing, maybe to the point of being skittish as she can be startled easily. So what I am looking for is what would be the best training method.

Primarily I want to teach her basic obedience. She walks fairly well on a leash with the problem more of lagging behind than pulling ahead.

She is very slow to come when called. She will sit or down stay fairly well but needs some work. I really just want to be able to take her for a well behaved walk and have her obey basic commands.
I know you have a basic obedience DVD but in reading how much Ed is sold on the marker method I just am not sure what I need. In watching the marker video I was totally impressed but wasn't sure if that is the method you use for basic obedience. From the information I've given here can you figure what would work the best?

Thanks for your time. I do appreciate it.

Greg

Answer:

The key to having a well adjusted family dog is pack structure, leadership and then obedience training.

I don't believe there is one video that encompasses all of the information you need so I'll list them in the order I feel they would do you the most good.

I’d start with our Groundwork program. This is a free article that gives you the foundation of pack structure, especially important to a new dog.

Pack Structure for the Family Pet
The Power of Training Dogs with Markers
Basic Dog Obedience

You may want to join our discussion forum too, it's a great resource.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hello:

Let me give you some background first:

  • 11 mo. 3 week old intact male, Belgian Tervuren
  • Has been in training (mostly obedience; now starting rally) since 12 weeks old.
  • Training at a local all-volunteer - established - training club
  • This is my first dog - and I'm wanting to try many sports with him following conformation finishing.
  • "Wyatt" has extreme prey drive and is VERY food driven.

My continuing problem is the collar situation in conjunction with training my 'alpha' male. Each instructor (I've had 4 now) has had their own 'take' on what type of collar to use and how to fit it - as well as dealing with his dominance. I put off using the prong collar until he was simply unresponsive to correction in walking and training. I've used all sorts of instructed techniques as well as collars in trying to get a decent heel at my side seam. I was told a few weeks ago by a Terv owner/friend that the prong collar was fitted wrong... so I've had it fitted much like your video instructed for a few weeks now. Wyatt's responses are still inconsistent. However, I've not tried buckling the lead onto BOTH of the rings as you instructed yet. That said, I really don't like the prong collar... I think it more extreme than what I'd like to use - AND it seems be harsh on his hair - which is a detriment to conformation.

I understand that male Tervs can be very slow to mature. However, I would think that by nearly 1 year that he would "get" who the pack leader is. He still tries to mount me/my leg - at which point I put him in a sit/stay/ or completely pick him up until he goes limp/ or put him on the ground on his back until he goes limp. I've tried and tried working on a recall. It is nearly non existent. He also has a car fixation (not convinced that its strictly his herding instinct/I detect some fear issue involved - when he hears a car approaching while on a walk, he continually turns his head around -wanting to run after it - even at a sit or down stay). When inside the enclosed fence he will redirect his car chasing frustration at me by growling and lunging at my legs - at which point I grab the long line and toss a toy to redirect his aggression - or put him in a sit/stay. In the show ring, he is uncomfortable and takes it out on me by tugging at my left leg - be it pants or skirt! From outside the ring, it is perceived as 'puppy antics' - but I hear his voice - its an odd frustration growling and takes a moment for me to redirect him with baiting.

Mr. Frawley, this is a high drive, and mostly loving dog. He just has some bad 'moments'. As a new owner/trainer, I feel like I'm missing some tools to optimize my 'boy's' behavior - tools that perhaps my trainers have not recognized that I need.

I think beginning with the proper collar and fit is a primary tool. Next, the proper instruction that will be the best fit for my dog's temperament. I'm not working. I have no children. Wyatt is everything to me. And I keep trying to find the answers that will work for us.

Can you help me with him? 

I tried measuring his neck as you instructed - I got 5 measurements... 1) 14" 2) 13.5" (twice) 3) then I got 13" twice... so I'm thinking that 13" is most accurate... considering his puppy fluff... I tried moving that away as much as possible to get close to the skin.

Wyatt is such a smart dog and could progress far and be a completely well mannered dog, if I could only find the right angle for training him...

Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Best Regards,
Sarah

Answer:

For pulling on walks, I’d use a prong. I use the small prong collar on my Malinois and years ago when I had a Terv that’s what I used as well. If my dog needs a specific tool, I am of the mindset that I should use it (regardless of the issues with his coat). Really, what good is a beautiful coat if the dog isn’t a balanced and compliant companion?

For the other issues I’d use a dominant dog collar. I’d calmly interrupt the behaviors you are describing. Without seeing your dog it’s impossible for me to say if it’s his nerves, his prey drive or dominance causing the issues you are having but it’s most likely a combination of both.

I think you are getting the cart before the horse with this dog. If he isn’t respecting you as the pack leader you need to sort all that out before you move on to other training.

I’d start with our Groundwork program and the video that picks up where the article leaves off - Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

If you haven’t tried marker training with him, I’d HIGHLY recommend it. We also recently released a video that follows up that article called The Power of Training Dogs with Markers.

I believe that this DVD could really help you. It’s titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS and was a 5 year project. While I don’t believe your dog is YET a true dom/aggressive dog he’s showing a lot of tendencies that need to be nipped in the bud now.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum. 

If you need help choosing a collar size, you can call our office 715.235.6502.  Any of the staff can help you out.  

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Kind of a silly question since we have had several litters of gs dogs but our 4 year female puzzles me. Likes people, other dogs no problems in particular. She has been to the vet, has had one small litter, gorgeous pups, wrestles with the male, good appetite-but she whines all the time. Vet check ok whines when you are outside, whines when you bring her in, it's like there is something wrong and I don't see it or something in her personality I just don't understand. Is it just her or am I missing something?? 

Thanks,
Donna

Answer:

Typically dogs like this are anxious. Many times dogs like this are being accidentally reinforced by their owners for the whining. People say things like "what’s wrong?"  "what do you want?" etc… and this just reinforces the behavior.

The best thing you can do for a dog like this is to give very clear and firm leadership.  Whining gets NO attention, no eye contact, nothing.  If your dog knows obedience, give her something else to do instead (like go lay on her bed).

You may want to try our groundwork program with her. Sometimes giving dogs like this structure and giving them a reason to be calm will change their demeanor.  I have a dog much like yours only she doesn’t whine, she pants and paces. Giving her structure and a place to relax (crate) has made a lot of difference.

Cindy


Question:

Help! My wife is ready to kick myself and my 8yr old Schnauzer out. He marks constantly, 2 to four or five times daily, all over the house. We have 2 females in the house, one spayed one not.

What can I do???

Larry

Answer:

I’d start with our Groundwork program and the video that picks up where the article leaves off - Pack Structure for the Family Pet DVD.

If your dog doesn’t have the run of the house, it’s not possible for him to mark. I would NEVER let a dog like this off leash or out of a crate in the house until he was re-house trained.

We have intact males and females in our house, and none of the males mark. It’s a respect issue. If you have allowed him to do this for an extended period of time then it will be much harder to correct. If it’s a recent problem, you may want to have him checked over by a vet just to make sure he doesn’t have a medical issue going on.

Cindy

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