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Aggressive Dogs Q&A

Aggressive Dogs Q&A


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dominant dog


I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across a little on the blunt side, (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense.



Question on Aggressive Dog:

I am the owner of an 11-year old female Springer spaniel who we have had since she was 6 weeks. Approximately 2 years ago we bought another Springer male. Although the older Spaniel has always nipped, she has now become more aggressive. My daughter who is 24 was just hospitalized for an infected bite and I myself was out of work last year for a week from a bite from the older Spaniel. There have been several other bites in the last few years. We have been to a doggy psychiatrist and have learned on how to deal with some issues, but sometimes it just happens too fast. Do you think pulling her teeth or removing the canine's is more humane than euthanasia?

Thank you.
Lorraine

Answer:

Put the dog to sleep.

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Question on Aggressive Dog:

I am a Police Dog Handler and have recently picked up a new, black haired German Shepherd.

He (Sam) came from a handler that recently left the dog section and is already trained in all aspects of Police work. He is a very hard and dominant dog.

I have had him for 6 weeks and in this time I have been bitten by him on 2 occasions.

The first was putting on the tracking harness, which got caught in his mouth. The bite put me off work for 10 days.

The second time was treating him for a wound to the nose. I was wiping away the blood and he decided to bite me on the hand; luckily I had gloves on and the resulting injury was only minor.

On both occasions I have not strung him up and once he has released his bite he has become very submissive.

On both of these times I feel that the bite was caused by me and Sam was only defending himself.

Should I be lifting Sam off the ground with the lead each time he bites me or should I just let it go and realize that it is an occupational hazard.

Regards,
Andrew

Answer:

You need to solve this problem before he really bites you badly. These bites have nothing to do with anything but dominance. You need to read my articles and Q&A on dominant dogs.

You need to hang this dog until he passes out when he does this. Its not that simple though. There is a program here.

1- You need to do EVERYTHING I say on the dominant dog article. This needs to be done for several weeks longer if there are things you have been doing wrong.
2- You should pick your fights - the time and place.
3- Get a good hidden sleeve.
4- Get one of the dominant dog collars they are collars designed for hanging a dog that bites the handler). Using the right collar is VERY, VERY important in this process.
5- You need a second person to help here.
6- Have a line over a tree limb or something like that. Heel the dog up to it and sit him. Connect the line over the tree limb to the dogs hanging collar.
7- With the hidden sleeve on - reach under that arm and flank the dog -hard so the dog will turn and bite the hidden sleeve.
8- When he bites your back up hangs the dog. You raises the dog off the ground but only with the feet about 2 inches off the ground. He does this until the dog passes out or just starts to pass out (more than likely the dog will shit or piss).
9- The most important part here is for you to remain totally calm - no screaming, no jerking, no loud commands. Very calmly tell him "No, No, No You Will Not Bite Me. Remaining clam is the most important part of this entire process. If you scream and fight the dog the dog will pass out and wake up and want to continue fighting
10- Do this three times on the first day. Do it three times the second day. Then skip a day and try it again. You are looking for the point where he will not bite you.
11- When he will not bite you in the back yard - then set him up and do it in other locations (you pick the spots).
12- When you can't set him up in other locations - then test him around items - i.e. his food dish - taking his ball away - when you do this - let him drag a leash - posture yourself - act like you are trying to sneak up and take it - act hesitant - try and bring out the dominant problem - then when he tries to bite - hang him with his leash.

If you do this properly you will solve this problem. The important thing to understand about hanging is that it is not painful for the dog. It just takes the dogs air away. When this is done properly it makes the handlers seem very powerful to the dog. The dog learns that the handler virtually holds his life in his hands. All dogs have a very strong pack drive - they understand the position of PACK LEADER - when you do this you are very firmly establishing your position as pack leader.

By the way it would not surprise me that you also have an OUT problem - the OUT is 100% a RANK ISSUE. Its and obedience issue. When the handler gives the OUT command the dog must OUT. If you use an electric collar the dog must ALWAYS know its you that is shocking him. So if your OUT the dog and he does not Out - they you always say NO OUT !!! before you shock him. Of course there are other issues here to - the helper should be immediately fighting the dog to reward a good out - that's an entire different issue).

Let me know how this works for you. It is important that your understand that your statement of "I feel that the bite was caused by me and Sam was only defending himself" Is 110% wrong. This is an attitude of someone who is going to get badly bit. It is not the attitude of a pack leader. Get the collar and hidden sleeve and read all of the articles and Q&A sections on my web site about this.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

I know you probably don't hear a lot about these dogs, but here goes:

I purchased him from a private breeder (mother very sweet, siblings all looked fine-clean home, etc - husband and wife stays home with dogs. We brought him home and everything was fine. He would play bite was the only major thing I noticed in like the first month. About a month after we got him, some relatives came to stay for 6 weeks temporarily with us. They have 2 children, ages 2 and a half and 6. Both of the children were afraid of Bailey and used to scream away from him. They by no means ever hurt the dog. My son is 4 years old. I admit that he occasionally would pull dog's tail, play rough, etc. I am presently working with him on this. My worry started when my son bent down next to dog with his face near dogs behind. Bailey turned around and bit him over eye, leaving like a bite mark that luckily went away in a few days. This is when the worry began. It seems like every time my son goes go even pet Bailey he growls and nips at him. I keep them on CONSTANT supervision at all times. We are currently in obedience classes at Pet Smart, and Bailey is learning a lot. I admit that he is very intelligent, and his breed is not known for being temperamental. A visit to the groomer almost had me in tears. She told me that Bailey was worse than before, and that someday I might have to put him to sleep!!! She upset me so much I don't think I'll go back. Bailey was also just neutered, along with having hot spot shaven. He had to stay at pet hospital for 2 days, and he was very irritable for about 4 days. He is better now. He has licked hair off one paw that they put anesthetic in. The vet says this is obsessive/compulsive thing. (is this genetic?). By breeder has told me that I can bring Bailey back if it doesn't work out and she will give me $ back, which I think is nice. I even called then to express my concerns. He told me that none of their other pups ever had aggression problems, and breed is not known for this. I am trying to decide whether or not to take Bailey back. I spent $600 on him, and I want a puppy with good temperament. If we caused this, then so be it, but if not, then I want what I paid for if you know what I mean.

My main question here is do you think Bailey's problems were inherited by his parents, or did environmental factors cause this? I am meeting with animal behaviorist on Thursday, and she will evaluate Bailey with my son. Also, if we train Bailey to behave, will he stay like that, or will he revert back at some point? Help me, I need to make this decision. Thanks!

Dana

ANSWER:

I have a very good German friend who comes to this country to give Schutzhund seminars. When he has very direct things to say he starts by saying “I am not here to bring honey to your face.” That applies to this email. You asked and I will tell you what I think. You may not like the answer but I am right.

You caused part of this and genetics caused part of it.

1- Why would you allow these other kids near your dog? That makes no sense. You should have been using a dog crate and keeping the dog in it when you saw the STUID reaction from the strange kids. Even people have bad genetics.

2- Pet Smart is not known for good obedience classes, They promote gentle leaders and halite’s. This is STUPID, STUPID, STUPID training for a dog like yours. Actually it is stupid for any dog. They are not interested in training dogs they are interested in appealing to the PATSY dog owners out there that don’t have a clue how to train a dog and cringe at the sight of a prong collar (which 80% of the dogs need to be trained with).

3- You are allowed this dog to become a dominant dog. I have no idea if you can fix it. Probably not- simply because of what you have done so far with this dog. It all comes down to wanting to fix it. READ WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN on dominance – the articles and Q&A section.

4- I would assume you are using a crate. If not – shame on you. That’s a huge mistake. Read my article on preventing dog bites in kids.

If you would like to learn more about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video.You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes. I think if you read the testimonials on that tape you will see that my customers feel the same way.

Get this tape and a prong collar and train this dog. Make changes in the way you treat and house him.

What’s a dog behaviorist? I never heard of a school for this. My experience with people who call themselves by that name are self appointed or subscribe to such goofy ideas that they are not worth a nickel. One in 20 has common sense and experience to back up their ideas. One thing about the dog business. EVERYONE has an opinion on your problem – but the fact is very very few people have any experience to back up their opinions.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

I am a novice dog trainer (3yrs.) and have a client that has a dog who is very territorial and overprotective of her. Obviously, like in many other cases, the owner cannot give the dog the correction it needs to extinguish the behavior. I suggested an electric collar and she got one. My concern is this: I know that if the dog is at the height of its frenzy and gets a big correction, it will probably redirect at her. The dog cannot be muzzled at all times and I don't want them to get hurt but the dog is strong. He weighs 85 lbs. and is a freak mix from a shelter. His obedience is poor but again I cannot get them to follow through with the proper corrections when I am not around. He has redirected at me on muzzle and gets into attack mode with me at least once a session. I want this dog at least to show some improvement. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I want to be a better trainer and this case is deteriorating my confidence.

L.

ANSWER:

I can train almost any dog - I cannot train every person. That's the part of your job you need to come to terms with. Let her go.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

My husband and I just had to have our 3 yr old English Springer Spaniel put to sleep. This was one of the hardest things that we have ever had to do, but for the safely of our grandchildren and other family members it was necessary.

Our dog was purchased at 8 weeks old and was a loved member of our family. As a young puppy he displayed a fear of the dark that we could not comprehend. I have never had a dog that was afraid of the dark. He also would aggressively attack the vacuum cleaner and my mop. This I thought was due to puppy play.

When he was 6 months old we had him neutered. He was our pet and we did not plan to breed him. As he got older he started to become a problem for dog groomers and required muzzling. He also required muzzling when at the vets for treatment.

We were concerned about his object guarding, therefore toys, bones etc. were taken away and we hired a professional trainer to help us take him out of the alpha dog position.

Our dog did not improve. Whenever something was bothering or disturbing to him his eyes would become dilated, no visible brown only black pupil. Last week he bit my 6 yr old grandson who was feeding him a dog biscuit. (Something the child always has done). He nipped his forefinger and thumb, but did lunge for him growling. The next day he bit my son-in-law who reached down to take hold of his collar, again something he has done in the past. Again the dog lunged and growled while attacking. My son-in-law received a more aggressive serious bit, fortunately no stitches were required. My husband and I decided that we would take the dog to our vet Monday morning for assessment. We determined that we would either need to put our dog to sleep or have him assessed for more intensive training. My sister came to visit me on Sunday she was going to accompany me to the vets as my moral support should I need to have the dog put down. My sister gave our dog a biscuit with peanut butter and then was going to let him lick the peanut butter off her finger. My dog who has always loved my sister lunged, growing and bit her fingers while trying to drag her under the dining room table. He would not let go until my husband grabbed his collar, twisted and lifted him up to break the bite. My sister said that during his bite his eyes were completely dilated. My sister required stitches. I did not ask our vet for an assessment, I had the dog put to sleep. Our vet said he appeared to have something called Springer Rage and it is a genetic problem. Have you ever heard of Springer Rage? I do not regret putting the dog down, I believe it was the only responsible thing we could do. However it does not make it any easier. I want another dog, but will not purchase a Springer again even though We have had several without problems who were good gentle loving pets. This experience has made me fearful of the breed.

Georgette

ANSWER:

You did the right thing in putting this dog to sleep.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

I am desperate for some advice and found your web site very interesting and I am hoping you can give some guidance....

We got our dog at 8 weeks of age from a reputable local breeder. He is now 15 months old. He was socialized very well - loves kids and people in general. We were first time dog owners so at the vet's suggestions attended obedience school at 6 months (6 weeks). He was friendly with all participants in the class - both dogs and owners. The instructor of these classes was adamant that no dog should ever be slapped or hit as a means of punishing bad behavior.

The dog sleeps in a crate at night and has been restricted to the kitchen when we are out of the house (with crate available and he usually sleeps in it when we're gone). He house trained very easily and caught onto the obedience commands quickly. Although we had what we considered some minor obedience problems we needed to work on - an uncontrollable liking of kleenex from the garbage and taking toys the kids left on the floor, we were very pleased with his progress. This dog was extremely affectionate, never growled or nipped at anyone - even when toys or treats taken right out from under him. Overall, a wonderful pet who fit our family perfectly.

Incidents of aggression began in the Spring, when we were outside more in the daylight (after our long cold Canadian winter). While walking him on leash, he started lunging and barking at people - we thought it was just getting used to being around strangers and new territory - but corrected him by jerking his leash and firmly telling him "NO", then progressed to putting him in a SIT/STAY position as people/dogs passed by. We were seeing improvement. However, we were now experiencing problems with him when people came to the door. He got very excited, and if it was someone he knew we let him greet them although we needed to remind him to stay OFF. With strangers at the door, we began removing him from the entry area to avoid his over exuberant welcomes until we could get him trained properly.

We then encountered a number of escalating incidents which finally led to our present situation. He began randomly nipping people who approached him - on the street, at the door (yes, we started letting him greet people as he was becoming less excited and now knew not to jump up on them). We attempted to reprimand him ("NO", shaking him, removing him from the situation), while at the same time apologizing to the people involved. Following his nipping (or attempt at it), he typically would be friendly toward the same person. I immediately contacted the breeder and the obedience trainer who expressed disbelief since they both had experience with the dog and he always behaved so appropriately when they saw him. Neither of them offered much advice, although we did attend another session of obedience training (at 10 months) to expose him to more people.

This situation escalated to the point where he bit someone - again, totally unpredictably - but always strange people entering the home or those approaching him on the street (we felt perhaps it was). We consulted another trainer in the City who stated the dog could never again be trusted, it was only a matter of time until he bit one of the family and he needed strict "military training" - always on a leash, always in a DOWN/STAY position when strangers approached. We attempted this however let our guard down once, with our neighbor whom he'd seen numerous times - he bit him and the man required stitches. This incident led to consultations with the vet who felt the only alternative was putting him down - though there was a 10 day waiting period after a dog bites someone. We were extremely upset by this incident and removed the dog from our home and the breeder was good enough to take him during that period. However, she phoned before the 10 days was up to say he'd been wonderful, she'd had no problems and was willing to keep him until a suitable home could be found.

This was a month ago, we still miss the dog terribly and have been to see him and can't seem to let go. The breeder has only seen one incidence of aggression when a stranger came to the door at which time she physically reprimanded him.

My question is this - is it possible that we could take the dog back and correct this behavior without having to be on guard the rest of his life. I can't help but feel this problem is our fault and not the dog's - I feel we let him down by not training him properly. I am willing to use a muzzle or any other means for overcoming this behavior but not as a permanent solution.

I would appreciate any advice you can give. I apologize for the length of this e-mail. Thank you for your time.

Sheri

ANSWER:

The problems you describe are not uncommon. Dog aggression and showing aggression at the door are very common. The solution is almost always the same - TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING. This means that you dropped the ball.

Can you fix this? I don't know - you did not do the right thing in the past 13 months that you had the dog.

Usually dogs like this have nerve problems - that's where the aggression comes from. They are not self confident dogs. When they show aggression of any kind it needs to be met with a firm "NO" command followed by very, very hard corrections with a prong collar. The dog needs to respect the potential for a correction more than its concern over his perceived threat.

The issue is that many people do not have it within themselves to administer a strong enough correction to impress the dog.

Bottom line is your dog is, and was, not trained. If you cannot send your dog to his dog crate when someone is knocking at the door - it's not trained. If you cannot tell your dog to lay down when someone comes near you - well then your dog needs a lot more training.

You may be better off with a different dog - probably a female. Unless this is one of the first litters your breeder has had - I seriously doubt that they have not seen this before.

If you want to learn more - read the articles and Q&A's on my web site on fear biters and overly aggressive dogs. You can find the information in my list of training articles.

If you want to try with her dog - get a prong collar and my Basic Dog Obedience video.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

I have a two year old mix -German shepard - terrier (we think) he was rescued from a garage at the age of about 3 months. We was somewhat malnourished, but was very friendly. My problem with this dog is aggression. He has attacked three times. First was by a friend who took his treasured stick from him. The friend was told not to take anything from this dog. Second was another friend who took a piece of pizza from the dog. He also was told not to. I have been working with a training school that trains police canines. I do have faith in these trainers. He has only been in school one month. (We tried another training class that used halties, I wasn't impressed). Last night was my first time with the dog in class. (He has been going everyday to work with a trainer first.) They have had no problems with aggression, in fact they were very impressed by his intelligence. Last night in class he was doing every command great! He decided he was not going to do a down command. The trainer came over to correct him more harshly, she did and he attacked. After the attack she had me correct him harshly and he did go into the command and was again great for the rest of the class. This dog is very friendly except that he is possessive and will attack if he feels threatened. He does well with other dogs and lets anyone into the house and is very friendly with strangers and children. He was severely attacked by two rottweilers about 9 months ago. We were walking and they came out of nowhere. I love this dog and will do anything to solve this problem. The vet suggested prozac, it was his first day on the med and he was somewhat out of it at class. At first the trainer did not want him on it but does suggest keeping him on it after seeing the attack. Would you please give me your opinion?

ANSWER:

You are surrounded by incompetent people.

I always tell people who have similar situations that your problem reminds me “Everyone has an opinion on how to train your dog – just ask your mailman – the problem is that very few people have the experience to back up their opinions which results in a lot of bad information being handed out.”

This obedience trainer needs more training. She did not recognize the dominance problems with this dog. No one should take a dominant dog away from the handler and try and force it into a DOWN position. You found out why last night. The DOWN command is the last command to train a dominant dog - I like training it motivationally. I don’t have time to
go into how this is done in this email.

I suggest that you begin by reading the article I wrote titled Dealing with the Dominant Dog. You can find the articles (and Q&A sections related to this) on my web site in the list of training articles at http://leerburg.com/articles.htm

Train this dog with a prong collar. Do the training yourself at home. Get my Basic Dog Obedience video and do this yourself. Read the description of this video.

You need to have a dog crate in your house. These dog bites would not have happened had you been using a dog crate. No one should be around this dog - when people come over the dog goes into a crate.

You also need to read what I have written about dog fights. This dog is going to be dog aggressive (it's only a matter of time). Once a dog is attacked it will always be dog aggressive. You may not see it right away but it is there. Read the article on how to break up a dog fight without getting bit.

Halties are not training tools for anything but the softest meekest of dogs.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

I've enjoyed your web site immensely. It's an education. If I ever think about getting another dog, I'm going to read every book you recommend and then wait a year to make sure it's not temporary insanity. Perhaps you have a moment to answer a question.

We have a 4 1/2 yr old male Lab/chow from the pound. We let a lot of people handle him when he was a puppy. Nonetheless, he is an ill-bred, fearful dog. He bites people and we think it's time to put him down. We've called two vets about doing that and they have suggested training him or giving him to a rescue group. They assume that we are careless dog owners who want to kill our dog at the first sign of trouble or inconvenience. We have been told that we don't "understand" dominant dogs and that with a little training we
can keep from killing our beloved family pet. I think they are soft in the head. We love this dog and he loves us but he's biting everyone else. The vets have made me second guess myself. I need a little clear thinking.

To safeguard our houseguests, we penned him and kept him on a line but he chewed through the plastic-coated wire rope, climbed the fence (electric), and escaped. He has bitten four people when we were not with him (caregivers, emergency vet tech., etc.). In hopes of controlling his access to other humans we brought him inside. He recently bit an overnight houseguest while I was out of the room.

Other behavior: attacks the door; freaks out during storms; cries if walks are even ten minutes late; bends the bars on the dog crate; works self into frenzy in a muzzle; whines/barks/cries when confined to laundry room (10'x6' room with water, a window, and another dog for company). It is not possible for us to always be with him or take three hours a day to train him. We don't have the money to put up a stockade fence and an electric fence doesn't keep him in. We love our dog, but our lives can not be dominated by
him--our toddler does that well enough.

What do you think?

--Ana

ps--we also own Sam's brother, Norm. Norm is confident and good natured.
Trustworthy. No biting. No escaping. Ever. Go figure.

ANSWER:

If this dog has truly bitten 4 people and you cannot keep him contained then it’s a law suit waiting to happen. Sounds like a handler problem not a dog problem.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Hello Mr. Frawley,

I am a college student that got a chihuahua puppy about 7 months ago for a companion. I live in a 1 bedroom condo in San Francisco. He's almost 9 months old now and lately he's been showing a lot of aggression towards me (growling and showing some teeth) when I pick him up or hold him. I've been at a loss of what to do and I heard to alpha roll him and so I have been but it's only seems to make things worse. He's very stubborn and persistent and I don't want to make him submit if it means hurting him. I've tried yelling and squirting him with water but that only makes him hide. I looked at your site and realized that he acts the way he does because I've let him get away with too much -- he sleeps with me, he leads the way out of doors and down stairs, I feed him scraps from the table... I feel even worse now knowing that it's my fault. What is the best thing I can do at this point? Since I looked at your site I've been putting him in his crate and ignoring him for a little bit to show I have control over him and his environment. I also completely stopped all the things that made him think he was the alpha male. He also barks at new people he meets and is very timid of other dogs and people. How can I help him socialize and be a friendly dog?

Thanks for your time, I greatly appreciate it.

John

ANSWER:

Simply doing the things in my article Dealing with the Dominant Dog is how to correct this. Not sleeping with you and using the crate are all good but unless you train this dog with a prong collar you are not going to solve the problem.

I am about to release a new version of my BASIC DOG OBEDIENCE VIDEO (I did the old version in 1990). This new version has a section on training small dogs.

We are also just adding "very, very small prong collars" for dogs under 5 pounds. This is going to be a must for a dog like this. They will be on our web site as soon as they arrive. We ordered them from the manufacturer last week.

Keep an eye on my table of contents for the new release of the Obedience DVD.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

My eight year old female springer has just seriously bitten a neighborhood 12 year boy on the hand after darting past my teenage son who was putting his bike away in the garage. The incident was unprovoked. The dog seems much more territorial lately growling and showing teeth when the mail carrier arrives and had growled at my daughter a few weeks ago, when she pulled on her paw while the dog was sitting on her place. My daughter is 8. My vet has suggested we put the dog down citing the escalation of incidents and belief the dog is aggressive, as he has to muzzle her when she receives care. He had also explained rage syndrome in springers and does not suggest owning this breed with children. I'm sure you can sense my devastation, however, the well being of my children and neighborhood children is my primary concern. I would appreciate your feedback and respect your advise. Any suggestions of breeds suitable for families with children. The dog has brought much joy into our lives.

Thank you.
Karen

ANSWER:

Read the article I wrote titled Dealing with the Dominant Dog. Also read the Q&A on this subject. This article contains a number of the reasons your dog is acting the way he is acting.

The only way you can keep this dog is if you cut the access to your children out of the dogs life – this means only you control its environment. It means adding a secure dog kennel (with a lock on the gate so the kids cannot access the dog and let it out).

The dog needs to be 120% trained to distraction. Use an electric collar every time it comes out of the kennel. It should be on a leash EVERY time it comes out of the back yard. Use a prong collar in training. If you would like to learn more about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video. You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes. I think if you read the testimonials on that tape you will see that my customers feel the same way.

It needs to be kept away from your daughter.

If you are not willing to do this – then put the dog down.


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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Hi,

I just wanted to let you know I read almost all of your site. I was trying like mad to find out what to do after our dog nipped our neighbor. Our dog was a 2 1/2 year old cattle dog. She was a humane society dog and took to us right away. We extensively researched the breed before adopting and were prepared for all possible problems. I'm a decent runner and jogged the dog about 12-15 miles a week. We have a fenced yard and did a stint of organized training. She has never been good with other dogs so we have always limited her contact with dogs. We did our absolute best to be consistent with behavior conditioning and agreeing that my wife and I were acting the same way with the dog. We were aware she had some submissive-aggressive tendencies and never did head pats or tummy rubs but putting her in a sit and rubbing her chest to instill confidence. Our dog was a separate room kennel dog. She was excellently trained I felt. (i.e. I could successfully call her to stop and sit off leash in mid-throw of a tennis ball.) Well yesterday my neighbor came over and came in the gate. We had her by the collar and out of the blue she lunged and bit him on the thigh breaking skin. We looked all over the internet for hours and searched for information on how to deal with what to do after this kind of thing happens and it's not addressed at all. Even our vet wouldn't advise us in any direction. We ended up euthanizing her about 2 hours ago. I want everyone to know that I can't think how we could have been better owners but this kind of thing still happened. I feel like I'm the worst person in the world for doing this to a loyal, trusting, young, fine, healthy and intelligent dog that had the wrong thing at the wrong time happen.

Andrew

ANSWER:

Yep – you screwed up. His did not have to happen. But with that said – you also did not have any training. So what comes first the chicken or the egg?

Bottom line is training would have made the difference. I have owned aggressive dogs all my adult life – over 40 years. When things like this happen they are handler mistakes and not dog mistakes.

My web site is 3500 pages. The answers are there.


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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog :

Hi Ed,

We are having a serious problem with our lab mix. First we were told when we bought her as a puppy she was not mixed with pitt, but even the vet now believes she is. She's always been hard to train, strong prey drive, hard to break with puppy biting etc...but that was all in the past. However now that she's about a year and a half old things have gotten bad. When ever we put Misty into her crate or touch her collar she bites us. Not enough to break skin, but enough to scare you to death. If that were not bad enough, she now bit our 7 year old son today. She wouldn't let him up the stairs. Each time he tried she'd jump on him. When he commanded her "NO!" and walked by her she bit his arm. Again not drawing blood, but it hurt him. My husband saw her and yelled no, and she did stop. He doesn't think she would if he were not there. I also have an infant and a 3 year old. We don't want our kids to end up like the poor boy on your site. We think it's time to put her down. What do you think? Is there any hope?

ANSWER:

This problem did not evolve because of the dog's genetics. It evolved because of the lack of proper training and the way you handle the dog. In other words it's an owner problem not a dog problem.

This dog should have received serious corrections for every incident of unwarranted aggression. It should have had a solid foundation of obedience training - with a prong collar. If after that it showed signs of aggression it should not be loose in the home (out of the crate) unless an adult was present.

With this said - if you have allowed this to get this bad I doubt you will be able to handle the changes to correct the problem. So, you should probably find a new home for this dog.


QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Hello Mr. Frawley,

Thank you for all the advice you provided a few months back. We did get the dog back from the pound after the biting incident and got a crate, a prong collar, your training video and one of the books on your web site We have been training him, but my husband feels the prong collar is cruel and makes the training sessions with it difficult because he says 'I use excessive force on the poor bastard," I think not. He behaves a lot better after a training session with the prong collar. Now, since he bit my nephew, this dog bit a solicitor who opened our gate and came to the door (that gate now has a padlock), the man walked in even though I have a big 'Beware of Dog' red sign. I thought this was bad, but this man did trespass on the property.

This was about 4 months ago and there had been no other incidents since then until last night. My husband likes to put on roller blades and run with the dog (the dog on a leash, of course) even though I've told him this seems negligent to me (I feel like he has no control over the dog and he could fall and get hurt). There is a couple on the path where we normally walk/roller blade with a mean cocker spaniel who always barks and launches at our dog and he is ALWAYS OFF a leash. When I've seen this, I scare the little dog away, but last night my husband went out with the dog by himself. Per my husbands account, the spaniel ran about a 100 ft at full throttle at our dog and the little dog try to bite our dog on one of his front legs. Our dog grabbed the spaniel by the neck and started shaking him like a rag doll. My husband had to him on the head to make him let go of the dog. The owners didn't try to do ANYTHING, they just stood there watching and hugging each other. My husband fell down trying to separate them (because he was on roller blades). After the whole thing was over, the spaniels owners picked up their dog, said it was OK and walked away carrying him in their arms.

I am concerned about 1) possible legal repercussions to us because of this; 2) the repeated aggressive behavior of our dog; 3) getting in serious trouble further down the line. My husband thinks the dog just did what was natural to him and defended himself. I've told him many times he (my husband) has to make sure no dogs get near our dog, but he doesn't seem to get it. Should this dog be put down? I'm worried about future attacks. Can you please provide any advise?

ANSWER:

Your problem is your husband. He is a dumb ass. Find a new one that has a little more common sense.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Hi there,

I read through a lot of your Q&A articles, but did not find anything that fit to my situation. I have a 3 yr old black lab that I found at a Lab Rescue organization. He is a wonderful dog and is very smart. He has trained well and is very obedient. When we first got him, he had separation anxiety. We have been working with him on this for about 7 months. He was on a 3 month course of Clomocalm which has seemed to really help along with the training that goes with it. We can now leave him for 4-5 hours by himself in our house without him doing too much damage. (He seems to be less concerned with us leaving now, which gives him more time to think about getting into the garbage can, etc.). He seems to be getting much better with us leaving him.

The real reason for the e-mail is his strange and kind of unpredictable behavior when he growls at certain people. I am lucky enough to have a 'dog friendly' office that I work at and bring Riley to work almost every day. For the most part he does great and is friendly to everyone. He is also always friendly to strangers when we invite them into the house or strangers we meet on our walks. However, sometimes if I am in my office and he is lying beside my desk and a stranger to the office or 1 person in particular (a sales person that comes in occasionally) starts coming into my office, he jumps up and starts growling. He gets into a stooped position and actually approaches them, but is growling and showing teeth. I always quickly call him sternly and tell him 'no'. and he responds, but is clearly uncomfortable and upset. As soon as I get up out of my seat and approach the person, he stops the growling and then turns friendly. He has never done this anywhere other than at work with the exception of one time recently at my Mother's house recently. I was sitting at a dinner table with by back to a wall and the table in front of me. A similar look and feel of my office. My 8 yr old niece started approaching my side of the table and he let out a few low growls. We quickly reprimanded him and he stopped. He came and lied down next to me and was fine.

He does not bark ferociously, but more of a scared growl. If the person stops at the door way and calls his name, he becomes confused and growls and wags his tail at the same time. It does not happen with all strangers that come into my office, just some. It always happens with that one particular sales person. I am not sure why he does this and am not sure how to correct the problem. Any ideas?

Thanks so much,
Van

ANSWER:

Dogs are pack animals – the average person does not realize how strong the pack instinct is in the dog. In a wolf pack if a strange wolf comes into their territory they kill it. Some dogs have stronger pack drive than others, some dogs have weak nerved and can't tolerate strange situations and noises. Weak nerve dogs can become fear biters if they get bad enough and ARE NOT TRAINED PROPERLY.

I never allow people to pet my dogs – not anyone not for any reason. Why should I? It does not make the dog feel any better. A dog that goes to a stranger for petting is exhibiting a dominance behavior – it thinks “PET ME – I AM MORE IMPORTANT THAT YOU REALIZE” This has nothing to do with breed, age, size or sex. It’s a pack thing.

With this said, I also train my dogs that unwarranted aggression brings the wrath of GOD DOWN ON THEIR HEAD. They learn that this is inappropriate behavior and they control themselves because they know that I am not going to allow anyone to pet them – hence I NEVER have the problems you describe. The reality is that this is a handler problem and not a dog problem.

Change the way you handle the dog and get a prong collar and train this dog. My Basic Dog Obedience DVD will cover these issues and is an excellent tape.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Ed:

First off I'd like to say that I am writing this on behalf of the dog's owner because she does not care enough to handle this matter herself. I will first describe the situation: The household consists of a human (sorry I felt I had to make the distinction) mother and a daughter (the daughter is an adult) and a 3 yr old Australian Cattle Dog male and a 2 yr old Border Collie female. I am the boyfriend of the daughter. Anyhow, on to the question. The male Cattle Dog is out of control. Just from researching your site I would say he is beyond dominant. The dog has bitten and attacked several people in the family including me and the owners. There are several problems that I have noticed. The dog is quiet when the mother is not around and does not make much commotion. However, he still challenges me if I as much as make eye contact with him. But when the mother, (or it seems as if there is more than one person around him) he is out of control. He barks constantly at nothing and cannot be quieted. But by far, the main problem is his aggression. On almost a daily basis, he will for what seems to be no apparent reason put his tail down give you a look, and bark and ferociously lunge back and forth at you. Also, you cannot move too fast in the house or he runs after you aggressively. It is impossible to put collars on him or muzzle him without being attacked (this goes for the owner too). Is there anything that can be done?!! When the dog attacks the owner simply just leads the dog away and 10 minutes later starts feeding him table scraps! I don't live there so I can't do much and honestly both of the girls that live in the house are afraid to correct the dog. Is this dog too far gone for training? They took him to a trainer that , when the dog tried to attack him he hung the cattle dog from a choker collar and the dog, although not being able to breath, continued to try to attack. He said at that point to get rid of the dog. The owner will not listen to anyone on this matter, and I am afraid that the dog will hurt someone (he has escaped in the neighborhood several times). One last question, (I know this is getting long, I apologize). When the dog attacks me, on one occasion I hit him very hard and he whimpered and stayed away from me for several days. This is going to sound very ignorant and I apologize, but since the dog seems to attack me often, if I were to issue firm physical punishments (the women of the house are afraid to touch him when he is in attack mode and even often let him back them into corners) every time he attempted attack on me .....would the attacks eventually stop since I have showed him dominance by not letting him get away with this every time? Please help in someway. Thanks so much,

Phil

ANSWER:

Some people are so drop dead stupid that they are not worth dealing with. These people seem to fall into this category. You need to step back and look at who you are involved with. If you want some good advice I would recommend that you find another girlfriend – have you ever heard the saying “like mother like daughter.”

As far as this dog goes – I call it “DEAD DOG WALKING” because its only a matter of time before it seriously hurts someone. The sad thing is that the problems are with these stupid women. They have created a monster in how they live with the dog and how they have allowed the dog to act.

I am not going to waste a minute of my time in analyzing how many mistakes have been made and what is needed to correct the problem. If they are too lazy to recognize the problem and try and fix it then I have no interest in helping.

I can say I wish I had the dog here. I am doing a training video on how to deal with dominant dogs. He would be a movie star and in the end he would be a dog that can live a normal controlled life.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Hi,

I'm from Bogotá, Colombia. I have a 6 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback. We hired a dog trainer for him 2 months ago, it was working great. But 5 weeks ago as the trainer was walking back to our house with my dog and another puppy, a Rottweiler which was off leash jumped towards him. The trainer released the leashes, my dog was scared and ran like crazy... At the end, he was hit by a car... He was seriously injured: his right leg was broken in three pieces (he required surgery), his lungs where slightly damaged by the hit, so his thorax were filled with air and he trouble breathing. He was badly hurt, but i'm just happy he is alive. He wasn't allowed to move for a month, he had to be kept in his dog crate for all this time. In this time he began turning aggressive towards strangers that came into our house, we thought it was because he was in pain and felt vulnerable. He is now almost completely recovered (well he isn't in pain anymore), and he is still showing aggression when people come into our house... he barks all the time, when he hears someone is approaching to our door. When we are outside walking he is really calmed and doesn't pay attention to strangers! He is also really nice to other dogs. I realized today that he is only aggressive towards men. Can I expect this behavior to go away with time when he gets use to strangers in our house again? Do you have any advise for this?

Thanks a lot!!!
Rodrigo

ANSWER:

I am not a fan of sending a dog away with a trainer. This is just another reason why.

It sounds like fear aggression. Hard to say without seeing the dog. The solution to ALL behavioral problems begins with obedience training.

You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog. Your dog must go through training steps before it can be considered fully trained.

You will read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes. No professional dog trainer would ever take his dog to an obedience class with 15 or 20 untrained dogs and try and train it there. It is crazy. The dogs cannot concentrate with the distractions.

I think if you read the testimonials on my DVD you will see that my customers feel the same way.

If you make the decision to learn to train - get a prong collar. You can read about it on my web site. There is an article I wrote (with a number of excellent photos) on how to fit a prong collar, you can also read about the different types of prongs.

Dogs with fear aggression react well to training.

With this said ALL and EVERY incident of unwarranted aggression require a correction with a prong collar. You can read about it on my web site.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

My best friend owns a six year old spayed female mixed breed beagle. This dog has always been very friendly until two weeks ago. She has snapped at the faces of four people recently and the last attack resulted in her four year old grandson being bitten on the face. This behavior was not provoked, each incident happened when someone was only petting the dog, my first advice to my friend is to have her checked by the vet to see if their is an underlying medical problem which has caused this sudden behavior towards people. My friend is quite upset as she loves her dog but is fearful of the consequences. Do you have any further suggestions?

ANSWER:

Sounds to me like a dominance issue and not medical (I could be wrong but I doubt it).

1- Now that this happened she has to change her thinking on how she lives with the dog. Her current thinking is what got her into this problem – so she either changes or finds a new home for the dog or put it down – and putting a dog down for this is a lame excuse.

2- Read the articles I wrote titled PREVENTING DOG BITES IN CHILDREN You can find these if you go to the list of training articles and scroll down.

3- Read the article I wrote titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS – also the Q&A on this issue

4- Get a dog crate and use it. You may want to read the article I wrote on GROUND WORK BEFORE OBEDIENCE TRAINING.

5- One of the first steps in solving EVERY behavioral problems is to run the dog through a sound obedience training program (one that uses a distraction, correction and maintenance phase) - get a prong collar or one of my dominant dog collars and my 4 hour DVD on Basic Dog Obedience.

In a month or so I will be releasing a DVD and an e-book on Dominant and Aggressive dogs – it will be announced on my table of contents.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Dear Mr. Frawley,

After reading most of your articles and email answers, I did not find anything on point that would help with my dog's behavior. I have a 15 month old spayed Black Lab named Lexi. My husband specifically picked her out of the litter because she was a very confident dog. We knew she was going to be a dominant dog and immediately crate trained her and joined the local dog obedience club. She was the star pupil in every puppy class and is the most well behaved dog when we have her prong collar on. Lexi also, from the time she was a pup, would accompany me to the Farm where I board my two horses. Lexi grew up playing with the resident Border Collie and any other dog that would roam onto the property. Lexi has always been dominant towards other dogs but never showed signs of aggression. Lexi also NEVER shows signs of aggression in her home or towards people. She does not have food/toy/space dominance issues. However, about two months ago, Lexi was diagnosed with hormone related urinary incontinence. I found her asleep in a pool of urine twice and extensive blood work, urinary analysis, and physical exam showed no signs of any physical abnormality. My vet gave her an estrogen shot and sent me home. Three weeks after the first shot, Lexi had another accident so the vet gave her a second estrogen shot and put her on PPA. I was warned with both shots that she might come into a false heat or show signs of heat.

Last week, Lexi attacked her Border Collie friend and another stray female dog with pups that showed up at the Farm. We do not know what set Lexi off during the attacks although we suspect it had something to do with Lexi's overly protective behavior around me. She doesn't like any other dogs around me at the Farm. Lexi did not physically hurt any of these dogs, there was mostly slobber everywhere, but she did scare everyone in the process. Lexi now has been banned by the Farm owner because the owner believes that Lexi's behavior is unpredictable and she is going to start hurting other animals and/or people. She based her knowledge on that fact that her family used to breed and show the top Great Danes and Rottweilers in the country. She even mentioned that Lexi may have a "mental problem" and I may need to euthanize my dog.

Personally, my husband and I feel that Lexi's behavior is not that unusual. Lexi and this Border Collie have grown up together as puppies and they both feel like the Farm is their territory. They play together, hunt together (they are quite the bird catchers), and "explore" together. It would seem natural, as both dogs reach maturity, that there will be some "spats" along the way. I do not agree that all of the sudden my Lab is going to rip the faces off of small children or start killing the other dogs/cats/goats, etc... I also am not sure if the Estrogen shots are responsible for her increased aggression towards the dogs. My husband and I enrolled Lexi in a refresher obedience course after this incident and like always, she is the star pupil and completely ignores the room full of dogs as we work on preparing her for the Canine Good Citizen exam. I also took her to Petsmart the next day where two mothers with toddlers laughed and played with Lexi as she licked the children's faces and wagged her tail so hard that she knocked everything off of the shelf. Mr. Frawley, am I one of those "Stupid Dog Owners" that you mention and is my dog going to start down a path of destructive dominant-aggressive behavior? Should she be permanently separated from her Border Collie friend and from other dogs? Do you think that the Estrogen shots are responsible?

Thank You,
Christiana

ANSWER:

Yep – I hate to have to give you the bad news but you are ONE OF THOSE STUPID DOG OWNERS that I write about. Maybe not at the top of the list but certainly in the middle of the pack.

1- Your dog is not obedience trained well enough. If it were, you would have had better control over the dog when these fights started.

2- You know there is a problem yet you put your dog in a position at Petsmart where it could have (lucky for you it did not) attack other dogs.

3- This could be aggression as a result of a medical problem or hormonal problem or it could be dominance. I can't tell from your email. But whatever the source of the problem you own a dog that is going to be a dangerous dog in certain instances. I would doubt that the dog will be dangerous to people – I can't say it will not. With this said – I NEVER allow my dogs near strangers. Strangers are not part of the family pack. To allow a dog with any form of aggression problem to be around children like you did when you don’t yet know the cause of the problem is irresponsible. You can't TEST your dog on a small child – what happens if you are wrong and your dog attacks the child?

4- You need my DVD entitled Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

5- I would be training with a dominant dog collar or a prong collar and I would be focusing on complete off leash control in an environment with distractions.

6- You may want to read the article I wrote on GROUND WORK BEFORE OBEDIENCE TRAINING.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Hello!

I just happened to stumble across your website and I have to say it's pretty great. I just need an opinion regarding my three year old Sharplaninac (Yugoslavian shepherd). They are rare in the States. As a breed they are large, intelligent, stubborn and protective. We got him as a puppy and he immediately was very lively and loud, and stubborn stubborn stubborn. I wasn't there when he was growing up since I was away at college, and lets just say my parents don't have time for dogs and think dogs will raise and train themselves. There are about 10 people in this world he knows and loves and they are the only ones allowed to enter our property. Otherwise he gets very territorial and dangerous looking and barks his head off to stop people from coming in. But last year we had a boy visiting us who Joe has never seen. Joe was behind a fence in "his part of the yard" when the cocky 13 year old walked up to him without saying a word. Joe immediately jumped up on the fence and bit him on the arm without drawing blood. It was a shock because he is such a baby with the family and neighbors. Even our vet said he was just guarding his territory from strangers and that it only happened because his owners weren't in eye sight. When I walk him he's completely dominant pulling me left and right, but never aggressive towards dozens of stray dogs we met and who bark at us or act nervous. He wants to play with them. He never ever displays aggression towards people on our walks, and people have
been known to walk up to us trying to pet him. He lets them and I freak out out of fear he might do it again. I know he's dominant and we missed out on a lot of his required training, but does he really qualify as a dangerous dog?

Thank you and continue the good work!

Romina

ANSWER:

This dog may be stubborn but that's no excuse for not being trained -dogs that pull you down the street are not trained - which it is not. Therefore this is an owner problem far more than a dog problem.

The bottom line is this is a behavioral problem that has developed as a result of mistakes you have made in how you live with your dog. Don't feel bad, many people make the exact same mistakes.

One of the first steps in solving EVERY behavioral problems is to first admit the problem. You have done that. The second step is to run the dog through a sound obedience training program (one that uses a distraction, correction and maintenance phase) - get a prong collar or one of my dominant dog collars and my 4 hour DVD on Basic Dog Obedience (read about these products on my web site.)

BTW - dog training is not breed specific - it does not matter if you are training a toy poodle or a Yugoslavian Shepherd - dog training is temperament and drive specific. I have trained police service dogs for almost 30 years- the worst dog bite I ever had was from my parents' toy Poodle. So don't use the breed as an excuse for the behavior.

I also recommend that you go to my web site and read the article I wrote on my philosophy of dog training. I think you will get some good ideas there.

You also need my DVD entitled Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

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QUESTION:

I just read your article. I found it comforting since I am in the process of coming to terms of having to put my dog down. Jack is aggressive and has bitten people. Fortunately none of the bites broke the skin ............until this last one. And while everyone was always very understanding (honestly) I know I no longer can control him and now live in an area where there are children. However, I can not locate anyone who will put him down - his vet says because he isn't sick he won't do it. There isn't a shelter in new england that will take him. and I understand that. But I love my dog. We found him running lose in Manhattan when he was about 6 months old - moved him to new england so he would have a yard to run in.

My kids are devastated. My sister thinks I am horrible. It wouldn't be such a difficult decision if only my vet would help here.

Is there anything you can think of that will help me change his mind. At least i know jack wouldn't be with strangers. I couldn't be there. No I couldn't bear that. But he likes our vet.

Thank you for any help you can offer.

Pamela

ANSWER:

I have owned dogs that bite people my whole life. I don’t have problems with them because I train then, I make an effort to understand their temperaments and I control their environment.

If you truly like this dog there is no reason to kill him. Just control who he comes in contact with and TRAIN HIM.

I NEVER allow my dogs to be around other people. I NEVER allow my dogs to be petted by other people. I use dog crates and dog kennels. If it is a dog that will bit he wears a muzzle EVERY time he is out of the crate.

How can a dog bite someone if your control these things? The answer is he cannot.

So you need to ask yourself if you are willing to make the changes needed to keep this dog alive. My articles explain what needs to be done. If you are not then this is a people problem and not a dog problem

Get the DVD titled Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs. Do the work in the video.

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QUESTION:

My husband and I have a 3 year old pitbull-sheppard mix.  He is our baby.  We adopted him about a year & a half ago.  When we first got him, he was not all that aggressive, but now he is getting worse and over protective of me.  We have researched both breeds and they say that protective/aggressive behavior is normal for these breeds.  He is fine with dogs that are smaller than him, but not with dogs his size: he attacked my brothers dog in my fathers house.  He also has snipped at friends that don't understand that they need to leave my dog alone and not keep trying to pet him.  Anyway, my question is:  is it too late to try and correct this behavior? 

Diane

ANSWER:

It is never too late for good training. If you don’t step to the line and fix this problem now you are going to lose this dog after one of these attacks because the attacks will get worse and more intense.

Get the 3 ½ hour DVD titled DEALING WITH DOMINAT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS Also get a dominant dog collar and study the DVD on exactly how to use it.

I do not know the level of obedience training this dog has. If it's good then that’s fine – if it's not too good you will also need my 4 hr Basic Dog Obedience DVD

Then also get kicking bag and practice kicking the snot out of it. This is to prepare you to kick your friends in the butt when they don’t listen to you about not petting the dog. I guarantee you that these same people will sue you if they are badly bitten.

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QUESTION:

Mr. Frawley,

I'm thinking of getting your DVD on Aggressive Dog training.  In the beginning I checked his pedigree on both sides and his Fear Aggression as well as the all the other aggressions are quite Genetic. He certainly wasn't bred for good temperament. When we couldn't get near his Mother because of her barking and we were told she had recently bit someone I should have left.

 He's had basic training, which I'm sure my Adult Daughter has not followed thru completely and I am sure He thinks he's the Alpha, in fact, I know he thinks he's the Alpha.  Just reading your articles on using NO and a correction and Yes with the Markers make a lot of sense to me. We are using your Dominant Dog collar. He's very good in his Agility Class which he has been in for over a year and loves the dog owners and the dogs.  However, I cannot get my own family, Son & Grand kids, in the house or anyone else for that matter. 

Do you feel that following your video will be able to over come some of these behaviors based on a great deal of it being Genetic? I've got my daughter trying to get out and in the house first and it's a battle who gets in first. I'd enjoy hearing from you.

Beverly

ANSWER:

It does not really matter if this is genetic or not at this point. When a dog is this aggressive you have to act.

If it were my dog I would do the following things (you may have done them):

  1. I would be using a dog crate

  2. I would run the dog through my Basic Dog Obedience Program 

  3. I would then run the dog through the Dominant and Aggressive Dog Program

  4. Once that was done I would finish the training with a remote collar – I use a Dogtra 1700 on my personal dog.

This may seem like a lot but in the end the dog would be trained and controllable in all situations. I would control the environment the dog is allowed to be in by using the dog crate and I would NEVER take the dog outside without a remote collar on.

In the end the dog will be more relaxed because it will understand EXACTLY what is expected and it will accept that.

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Question:

First let me say thank you for putting together such an amazing web site. I also purchased your video on dog aggression and have learned a tremendous amount. I have two Dobermans, male and female littermates, now 8 months old. They have had few nasty fights, but through tips from your video and training and working with them separately, we have made amazing progress.

I am still stuck on one issue... Ruger, the male, is the sweetest boy. However, he awakens from a dead sleep snarling, baring teeth and barking. The other dog isn't even near him, so it's not her. He is gentle as can be, but when he awakens he is disoriented and it takes me a few minutes to calm him. Today he came towards me, which he has NEVER done. Once he realized he was awake, he was totally fine again.

HELP! Have you ever heard of this? Do you have any ideas? He does it in his crate too. I just don't want to worry about a sleeping dog at my feet. Please let me know if you have any ideas.

Thank you so much.
Lisa

Answer:

A couple thoughts come to mind.  It could be a type of ‘seizure’.  There are dogs that show strange behaviors like biting at imaginary flies or just staring vacantly into space.  It can be a symptom of a neurological disorder of some sort.

I would also wonder about a rabies miasm.  Has he been vaccinated for rabies?  If so, it could be a reaction to this vaccine.  One of the symptoms of rabies is unexplained aggression and many times the vaccines that are given to our dogs actually cause them to behave like they have a mild form of the disease that you have vaccinated them against.

Both of these problems would fall under the heading of vaccinosis.  For information on vaccinations and the problems they cause please read our vaccinosis article.

I would also recommend these 2 books,  Shock to the System and Vaccine Guide for Dogs & Cats

For more information on natural health care and homeopathic treatment of your dogs (and cats), I highly recommend Homeopathic Care for Cats & Dogs  and Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.

A regular vet is probably not going to be much help with vaccinosis, I have included a link of holistic and homeopathic vets in the US.  I think a homeopath is your best bet.

http://leerburg.com/holisticvets.htm


Question:

I am in the beginning phases of using remote collar. I purchased your dvd months ago and have been studying it and I am in the conditional phase with my 3 year old bitch.

I have an issue and I am not sure how to deal with it. I have gotten my GSD to accept our cats as part of her pack to the point where they coexist with no issues, other then my GSD's food bowl.

So fine, not willing of taking the chance of one of the cats getting bit I feed her in her cage. The problem is when I go to take her out of her cage after she eats. She stays protective of the food bowl for some time and if you go and to open the cage up she growls bad, I have tried my deepest calmest voice in saying "No", "Phooey" She just gets louder when I talk, so I don't talk. I stare her down with the cage partially open so if need be I could close it or tap her with it. When she settles down from the growling I tell her to go to her place, she goes immediately, tell her down, stay, she complies immediately. I take her food bowl out of the cage and then everything is fine.

I want to stop this challenging of hers, I haven't done anything yet. I am in the beginning phases of remote collar training. The only other thing I thought of was to place her in the cage while feeding, take the leash with a dominant dog collar up through the top of the cage and when she growls use this technique and tell her no. I am not sure if this would be better or using the remote collar would be better? She is not people aggressive, just food bowl guarding.

Or any other suggestions you would have? I want to do the right thing, without doing the wrong thing!

When I have fed her out of the cage this wasn't an issue, she eats, she walks away, then I pick the food bowl up. The issues now just lie within the cage environment.

Thanks for any advice, suggestions, always much appreciated.

Joe

Answer:

I would set myself up for success in your situation. I would not cause more conflict by correcting the dog for showing aggression, I would instead have a leash on the dog and the remote. I would make sure I have a lot of leash hanging out of the crate so I can have it in my hand before I get too close to the crate. I would then approach the crate with NO eye contact, because I think the problem now is that your dog is anticipating a conflict. Fair pack leaders do not bully their members over things like this. You have to be firm but almost disinterested in this. You don't want this to be an emotionally charged area. Open the crate and walk away, you've got the leash so when you get several feet away call her out. I would then give her a reward, something high value like a piece of cheese or something.

I think your dog is more insecure than challenging, so I would make this whole scenario a non issue. If she is relaxed and confident that you aren't going make a big deal about this I have a feeling the behavior will fade away.

You can always go to more severe methods if this doesn't work, but I would try it first.

We also demonstrate some relationship building exercises using a crate in our new video Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Let me know how it goes!


Question:

Ed,

I have a 2 1/2 yr. old male rott. that has been neutered, and I adopted him from a humane society.  He had toy aggression, food aggression, and just overall dominance.  He had bitten me several times (a couple over toys, and a couple because I touched a sore spot on him that hurt him).  I then bought your dom. dog collar, which worked like a charm, and some of your training vids.  I believe that that is why he is still alive today.  Anyway, he has done very well in the past 6 months (I've had him a year), and I can now take things from his mouth.  He's not possessive over his toys (I keep one toy out and the rest up)anymore or his food.  I feed him in his crate and give him a treat after I grab the food bowl (I couldn't grab the food bowl in the past right after feeding), and he does not growl when I stand in front of his crate while he is eating anymore.  Recently I've run into a problem though.  When I put him in his crate after I usually take something out of his mouth that he's not supposed to have (I only do this if he is constantly getting into things) he will take an aggressive stance inside his crate and stare at me with his head high.  He will stomp his front paws as if he is trying to intimidate me (almost like a fake lunge).  When I close the crate door he sometimes will let out this ferocious bark and show his teeth.  I feel like I've taken a back slide!  I've made so much improvement with this dog, and now it seems to be getting worse!  I got him a huge bone yesterday for x-mas, and he is very possessive over it, unlike the other toys!  He growled at me while he was in his cage and I was standing in front of the cage.  He was bearing all of his teeth as well.  I was able to take the bone from him, and then of course he barked and took his aggressive stance again.  I have your dvd on dom. dogs, I've watched it, but I just don't know what to do at this point!  If this dog is beyond my control he will be put down since I don't want anyone else getting bitten, and I believe that this dog could fall back into his dominant behavior if he did not go to the correct person.  He is a dominant dog, in my opinion. Thanks for your time and any help you may provide.

Loyal customer,
Stephen

Answer:

Stephen,

I know exactly what you are facing as I have owner dogs who are far worse.  There are some things you can fix here and some that are not worth fighting over.

I would run this dog through my pack structure program. This program was developed because I owned dogs like yours. It’s detailed in my new DVD ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCTURE WITH THE FAMILY PET. There is a very small of overlap in the DVD you have but not much and you need the information.

I have not looked but you should know the information in my Basic Dog Obedience DVD and then train this dog with a remote collar. (Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner - shows how to do this.) I use a Dogtra 1700 on my personal dog. This dog needs to be worked with a remote.

If I owned the dog there would be no more toys. NONE !!! Why set yourself up to fail? Once you know how to train with a remote you can train with tugs, but not until then.

Don’t ever give this dog a bone again. He doesn’t need them.

Move the crate into a room where he is isolated. I don’t fight over how a dog reacts in the crate. In fact I would start marker training with the dog. Just today I finished a new article on marker training - It is excellent. You can use markers to get the dog to go into the crate. In fact I am working on a DVD titled LEERBURG RELATIONSHIP GAMES and the crate game will be part of it. Basically teach the dog that going into the crate (and getting his food reward from the back of the crate is a good thing. There are a million steps to this but that’s the concept.

Also stop standing in front of the dog while the dog is in it. You're not in a position to do anything about him growling and when you turn and leave him alone he looks at it like he just won. If you choose to train with a remote you can give a correction for it – I would use markers to put the remote collar on the dog. It is all non-confrontational.

Bottom line if you need to control every second of this dog's life and he needs to work for even the slightest liberty. If there is ever a doubt of him attacking you he needs to have a muzzle on during training. At least the wire muzzle we sell allow the dog to take food rewards during the work.

Good luck. This can be fixed with time, handler education and work.


Question:

Hi,

I hope you can answer this question for me.  A little background about the situation....  I have a 4 and half year old pit/boxer/shepard neutered male (his name is Spencer).  In the last month I left my abusive husband and have moved in with my parents (he never hurt Spencer).  My parents have two chihuahuas.  My dog and the chichis have met before and have gotten along fine, my dog and the chichis have never been left alone together.  Also, my dog has been around cats and I have a five month kitten who spencer just adores.  Well, anyway last night my mom had locked up one of the chichis in the kitchen with some food in a bowl for him, then my dad went into the kitchen and left the door open and spencer went in the kitchen.  A couple minutes later I went into the kitchen and spencer had killed the chichi.  I am assuming over the dogfood since there was dogfood spilled all over the floor.  I feel so terrible about this situation.  Will this cause Spencer to be more dog/cat aggressive or was this dogs fighting over food? Please let me know your thoughts on this issue because I feel so bad about the everything. 

Jen

Answer:

I suggest that you read the free eBook on my web site titled Introducing a new dog into a home with other dogs. My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks.

I also recommend Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog.

Be very careful here. You are in a situation that can easily lead to another  dead dog and that will add a great deal of stress to your life – something you don’t need right now.


Question:

Hi,

I was reading your article on-line about aggressive dog behavior and was hoping you could give me some advice regarding my dog.  She is a 3-year-old Chinese Shar Pei Mix, who is most likely inbred.  As a puppy she growled at strangers and has never really liked being pet.  She was definitely a hand licker and still doesn't like her paws being touched.  I took her to obedience training and socialized her at the local dog park where she gets along great with other dogs, but never lets any of the strangers pet her.  When a stranger at the park tries to pet her she lowers her head, backs up and sometimes even growls.  Recently she has started showing aggression towards anyone, even myself, over new toys that she really likes, like a rawhide bone.  She growls and shows her teeth at anyone who comes near her when she has that new toy, but once you put that new toy away and out of sight she is back to herself.  I'd like to be able to give her new toys, but don't know which ones will trigger this aggressive behavior.  Is this aggressive behavior correctable?  Other people have suggested I use the spray bottle technique and spray her face if she shows signs of aggression.  Do you feel that this technique would be effective?  Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Regards,
Virginia

Answer:

I am going to suggest several DVDs and articles.  A spray bottle is not the method we would suggest for showing aggression. We might use it to keep our cats off the counter but that’s about it.

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.  She sees herself as the leader, and you and everyone else as followers.

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 recently finished a new DVD that covers this called Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet.

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

You can go to the web page and read the outline of what’s included on the video. My DVDs 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.

Once you have the pack structure straightened out then I would work her through the obedience exercises in our Basic Dog Obedience DVD.

Working through these issues won’t happen overnight, but they can be improved with a restructuring of her freedom and giving her rules and boundaries.

I hope this helps.


Question:

Ed,

First I would like to thank you for your website.  I found it informative, and extremely helpful. Let me get right to the point, My family has a 4 YO female black lab/golden mix, and had her spayed at about 6 months.  Angel, has always been food aggressive, especially with our oldest daughter who is now six.  Angel also will try and push her way between me and my six year old when I am spending time with the six year old.  I have never allowed this to happen, and promptly give the command for Angel to Lie Down in her spot.  More often recently Angel will give a low short growl often when the 6 YO will approach her, and will not listen to any commands the 6 YO gives her, but will listen to the 2 YO. She will act extremely aggressive toward anyone that she does not know that comes into the house, unless we have her locked up first while the company arrives, then let her out about 1/2 hour later, after she is done barking in the other room.

We have always just left her to eat alone, we have another little girl who is now two, and the dog shows no aggression towards her, she only shows aggression towards the 6 year old and strangers. We have a command of no Growl that we use in any situation where she is barking or growling.

Overall she is a good dog, and I have been a poor owner, I allowed her to sleep in bed with me, keep her toys, etc... But have made all of the necessary changes since reading your site. My question is, what kind of activities do you suggest I do with my 6 year old daughter and Angel to stop this aggression? I know we need to reestablish the pack order where Angel is lower then the 6 Year old, but I am not sure what the best course of action is. Do you have a video you can suggest that would address my specific situation?

I know you are busy, so thank you in advance for any help you can provide. I love this dog almost as I would love one of my children, and would hate to give her away, but if I can not stop the signs of aggression this is what I must do.

Thank you,
Jeremy & Jennifer

Answer:

You are playing with fire here and I am afraid you don’t know it.

This dog needs serious training before it bites your daughter – and at this age this will be a face bite.

I wrote a free eBook on my web site titled PREVENTING DOG BITES IN CHILDREN – you need to read this and do what it says. My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks.

While you can get a ton of good information from my web site – in cases like this its not enough. Here are the DVDs you should consider. I hope you take this seriously and can afford them.

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog
Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs
Basic Dog Obedience

You have made the right steps in researching your problem (and you do have a serious problem) I hope you follow the advice.


Question:

Hi Mr. Frawley,

I came across the Leeburg.com website while searching for information about what to do when you own an aggressive dog.

I have a 3 year old male neutered Corgi who looks like a cuddly teddy bear and nobody would ever expect him to be aggressive.

He had extensive training for 3 months when he was 6-8 months old. He failed socialization with other dogs and would hide as if he were fearful of them. He always loved human contact.

By the time he was 1 year old, he had become very aggressive and continues to become more aggressive all the time.  He has bitten my husband and I several times simply because we get closer than 2 feet from each other.  Whenever any two people get that close he immediate attacks. He has torn clothing, broken skin and drawn blood.

He has never had a threatening experience from a human and my husband and I never yell or hit him.  Sometimes he can be laying down calmly and I will be petting him and he will start to snarl and try to bite.  He can be perfectly happy and friendly one second and then turn very aggressive with the blink of an eye. I cannot take him to the vet, groomer or for a walk without being muzzled.  Even when muzzled, if he encounters another dog, he thrashes about and still tries to attack the other dog.

I love him dearly and he is more than just a dog to me, he is a member of my family.  However, I have become very fearful of him, I feel that I cannot control his behavior, and I am afraid that he may attack and seriously hurt someone else.

I am wondering if it is time to put him down or if there is any chance to remedy his aggressive behavior.

I know that you must receive countless numbers of emails seeking help, so I don't necessarily expect an answer, but I would appreciate some advise if possible.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.

Vera

Answer:

Vera

This is 100% a human problem – an owner problem – not a dog problem.

This dog is the way he is because of the way you chose to live with him. You have not established pack structure and you have not done maintenance training on this dog.  To say that you had 3 months of training when the dog was a puppy is like telling me that you bought a car and filled it with gas the day you bought it and now – a year later you don’t understand why it doesn’t run.

If you want to fix this problem you can but its up to you to educate yourself and make changes. Only you and your husband can do this.

Here are the DVDs that will teach you:

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

You need them all. I also suggest that you spend some time reading the free ebooks on my web site – and listen to the free podcasts.


Question:

Mr. Frawley,

I was introduced to your website by a member of an ACD forum when I posted a question about my own ACDs dog aggression. I find it refreshing to see someone who advocates something other than just "playing nice" (or so I like to call it), and am willing and ready to try something new to correct the dog aggression I am seeing in my 8-month old male ACD, Tex.

To give you some background: We got Tex at 12 weeks old. My husband and I have an 8-year old son and a 4 yr old male Lab. In the research that I did on the breed before getting an ACD, I knew that they are known for being dominant - so, from day 1, I worked on obedience training with him (involving my son in it too) as well as NILIF - he sits, shakes, or goes down before he gets his food, he's not allowed up on the furniture, I make a concerted effort to go through doors and entryways first, I decide when to play, etc. From an early age, I also tried to bring him out amongst other dogs (in controlled, on-leash situations - I see no need to take him to a dog park, and he has never been, nor will he ever go). Tex and my Lab play pretty well together - the Lab is pretty good about "telling" Tex when he's had enough, and I've really only had to separate them a few times when either Tex doesn't listen or I feel that their play has gotten too rough. Tex seemed to pick up on things quickly, and I thought I was doing good, up until he reached about 5 months old......

At 5 months, I began to notice that Tex became upset when he saw other dogs when we were out for a walk in our neighborhood. The behavior has progressively gotten worse. In the absence of other dogs, he heels and minds well; but once he catches sight of another dog, it seems like that is all he can focus on. I notice the ears perk up and go forward and him getting a more forward body posture, it proceeds into growling and hackles going up, and finally into barking, lunging and - honestly - making an all-out fool out of me. Tex is not overly friendly with strange people (he's not a Lab!), but he is accepting of them and has never showed any aggression towards them. Tex has not bitten anyone or anything - yet. And I certainly don't want it to get to that point!

As soon as I began noticing these behaviors, I talked with the vet and he recommended a trainer that I could start with soon. It was a group of about 4 or 5 dogs, and this lady's method was to have him sit and "Watch Me" every time he'd start this behavior. After over a month of this with very little improvement (if any at all), she recommended that I get him on a Gentle Leader. So, I tried that - but, as you might imagine, it only made him madder and more frustrated. While the GL made it physically easier to manage him, the spinning and thrashing were just too much.

At another's recommendation, I moved onto a prong. I tried to continue the Watch-me's (even throwing a squeaker in there to help attract his attention - which does work for a split second) and using the prong as a physical correction when he didn't mind. I have found that his dislike for other dogs far outweighs the amount of correction I am giving with the prong. I have read about the use of e-collars and wonder if that is the next step to take, or whether that would just make him worse. I have also done some reading on your site about the dominant-dog collar, and wonder the same.

My goal is not that he become best friends with every dog he meets, but just being able to ignore or be non-reactive to other dogs. My goal when I got Tex was to eventually do agility or herding with him. I honestly do not feel comfortable trying any of this (much less take him on a walk through the neighborhood, anymore) until I can get him to that point. I don't even know whether that is possible, but am willing to give it all I've got to a dog that I made a commitment to be responsible for.

Please help me determine the next step I need to take to make Tex a "peaceful" member of society!


Thanks,
Laura

Answer:

This work needs to be done with a remote collar. Not a prong. The dog needs to get high level stimulation the instant he looks at another dog
- not after he blows up. This behavior needs to be extinguished and that’s how it’s done.

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.

While you start high – you will eventually be able to lower the level used. People who start low and go high on this often have dogs whose drive carries them through the stimulation. Once a dog learns to do this they really have problems- basically that’s what's happening with the prong now.

You should also learn the low level work - Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner. But remember this is not the work for dog aggression


Kind Regards,
Ed


Question:

I have a 6 month old lab mix rescue named Abby. She is very stubborn and strong willed. After purchasing your great videos about establishing pack order and basic obedience and working on dominance with her she has improved on most things and follows most commands, but one thing seems to be getting worse. Out of nowhere she will jump and lunge for me and my husband while we sit on the couch. If we are standing, she'll jump and lunge at us as well. She shows her teeth and bites down hard, not like normal puppy mouthing. Lately she even gives a bark or growl-like noise as she does it. We tried correcting her with a choker on a long line however, her tail wags the whole time and our commands of "no bite" with a strong pull correction do nothing to stop her. We are now considering an electric collar, which I am not sure is the best solution. Can you suggest any other techniques? Is this a sign of a more serious aggression problem? Like I said, I am a fan of yours and would love to hear your ideas.
Thanks,
Janine

Answer:

This is not aggression - its puppy play - with that said it needs to be nipped in the bud.

The dog should be on leash in the house. If it does this it needs to immediately be put in the dog crate.

I would probably point you to a remote collar and my dvd on low level stimulation training - Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner. We start our pups at 4 to 5 months old with this low level work. We also are training the dog with makers. This work is as important as the work in correcting the dog.

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.

Kind Regards,
Ed


Question:

Hi my name is Tyler, My family and I have a 7month old Cane Corso. We have completed puppy and his first obedience class with the intention to continue with his training classes. Let me get down to the point, my son went to pet him one night on his head and he decided to growl at my son. As I tried to correct the problem like I was taught in B.O.C I assumed I was making matters worse by making him think when my son came near him he was getting corrected for that and that alone. I contacted my trainer, he told me to give the dog back that he growled and a child of mine and not worth or safe to fix problem. He came and gave an evaluation and explained to have my son feed him about 4-5 pieces of kibble form his bowl while I have him on leash for about 7 days with out any incident, of course on 7th day he growled again. My breeder is very willing to accommodate me in any way, however says one of my biggest problems is he believes my son to be below him in the pack. He also explained having our dog sleep in our room gives him higher ranking then my children, along with the fact that he has no outside kennel he is in all day long and has too much energy. I agree with my breeder but at the same time children's safety comes first. My question is this with all of your experience do think this is something I can fix at this point of course willing to do anything either cut my unfortunate loss like my trainer said or need to give the dog a job and have him sleep in garage while I commit hours a day to exercise and training dog. I hope this all makes sense I could really use some professional help. Thanks.

Answer:

I cannot tell you what you should do. I don’t know your skills or willingness to learn.

I can tell you that you are dealing with a trainer who lacks experience and is in over his or her head. Don’t feel bad – when it comes to aggression this is more often the case than not.

First of all you have a breed of dog that demands pack structure or things like this happen. So you have created this situation by the way you have lived with this dog. Dogs like this need a very regimented controlled life – this is accomplished by running the dog through the pack structure program that is outlined in my DVD Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet.

This dog needs a dog crate if it’s to be left in the house. It does not need a garage – it will become territorial of the garage if you just keep him out there.

It also needs serious obedience training

Basic Dog Obedience
And
Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner

You should also refer to the article I have written on my web site – or the free ebooks on Preventing Dog Bites in Children. This sill highlight a lot to think about.

In the end only you can make the decision on this dog. Stops using the trainer and learn to do this yourself. Your breeder seems to understand some of what needs to be done.

Kind Regards,
Ed


Question:

Hi,

I've enjoyed reading the newsletters and have learned quite a bit from them.  I have three dogs who play together and keep each other company quite well.  They follow me like shadows and look to me for everything.  My male Westie is 11, my male Cairn is 6 and I have a 3 year female (American) German Shepherd.  The little ones look at everyone as another opportunity to be petted and played with.  But with the Shepherd I learned very quickly about fear aggression.  She used to bark and jump and act like she wanted to attack everyone she saw, even neighbors on the other side of the fence or on the street.  She weighs 75 lbs. and I have her on 75 mg. Clomipramine daily.  Now she's stopped barking at the neighbors and she's okay if one person approaches her, but still snarls a warning as if she feels overwhelmed by two or more.  (When she's in the yard, neighborhood kids want to pet her and sometimes approach before I can stop them.)  When we're walking, she knows to ignore any one who passes us: other dogs, kids, people on bikes, etc.  As long as I keep her on her meds, she is not a threat to anyone.  Originally, after several months of medication, when she became much more calm, I was hoping she'd realized there was nothing to be afraid of.  But when I discontinued the pills, she became more aggressive again within a few weeks, so she's now back on them.  As long as she's medicated, she's okay with my friends.  But I'm sure if I would discontinue them, I could depend on her as a watchdog to strongly defend me and my home against strangers.  And even now I'm fairly sure that if I were to act afraid of someone, she would take care of them.  As I am getting older, I feel safer with her around, and thinking of controlling her level of aggression to fit my needs by adjusting her meds.   What do you think of this situation?

On the other hand, my Cairn is a terrier terror, and has gotten much worse since we got the larger dog.  It's like he knows he's small and makes up for it with attitude.  He has gotten less responsive to commands -  when I call to them, he is the last and slowest to come.  He'll walk around the house with a toy in his mouth, shaking his head and growling, as if warning everyone that it is his and no one better challenge him for it.  Although he was neutered when he was only a few months old, and knows when and where he's supposed to "go" he still marks everything and it seems to have gotten worse.  I've tried the scented repellent, but that only discourages him a little.  The last time I took him there, my groomer said she had to follow him around with a mop whenever she let him out of the crate.  Once I was walking the three of them and a woman with a large, older female (I don't recall the breed) asked if she could approach us from about 25 feet away.  The Westie and Shepherd sat beside me nicely.  As soon as she took a step, this Cairn was ready to attack.  He started pulling, jumping and barking with his tail straight up.  I've heard it's unusual for a young male to be aggressive toward an older female.  The woman acted surprised at his behavior and turned and walked the other way.  He and the Shepherd wrestle.  She'll put his whole head in her mouth, not bite down, just cover his fur with slobber.  He'll run around and try to bite one of her back legs, and would probably break the skin if she didn't move fast enough.  If I sit or step too close to the others, they'll simply move over.  He'll try to attack.  Brushing him and trimming his nails is a nightmare.  When they get tired of it, the Westie will wiggle away from me; the Shepherd will try to mouth me, but will stop when I tell her to; this 14 pound Cairn will kick and scratch and bite and I always end up bleeding.  Our vet gave me some Acepromazine tablets to use, especially when I try to trim his nails.  Last time I gave him 25 mg and he still fought and bit me to the point I had to muzzle him, then he kept fighting until I just gave up.  The other two know I'm alpha, but this one doesn't seem to want to any person or animal to be "bigger" than he is.  My husband thinks he's just plain mean and we should have him put down.  He can be a sweet lap dog when he wants to, so I'm looking for an alternative.  Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Mother of three

Answer:

I will say right away that I am not at all in agreement with medicating dogs to control their behavior unless it’s been diagnosed that they have dementia (in the case of a very old dog) or a dog with a brain tumor or something of that nature. I don’t believe in using meds when training and structure of the dog’s daily life is the correct and fair way to handle problems.  I don’t know if it was the vets idea to use drugs, I think many people use these drugs instead of putting in the time and work to train the dog properly.

Tranquilizers and antidepressants are not substitutes for leadership and training.

I would guess that all of your dogs would benefit from pack structure training and being handled in a way that makes sense to them.

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

If you want to fix problems 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.

I hope this helps your dogs.

Cindy


Question:

Dear Cindy & Ed

A friend of mine has an 21 month old Male GSD- They have had GSD's previously.

Her husband is the pack leader and she has not had any issues with the dog since they acquired him at 10 weeks old. This past June, while her husband was dozing watching tv, she reached over to take the tv remote off of his chest, the dog bit her on the breast. She said that her husband reprimanded the dog and put him away. A second incident occurred just the other day when she was watching tv with her husband and the blanket she was using was partially being layed on by the dog. When she moved to remove the blanket, the dog bit her hand. I was wondering whether these acts by the dog were an effort to protect her husband, or a combination of the dog asserting himself over her in the pack order or both. Can you give me some insight as to how to correct this aggressive behavior. I was thinking of "baiting" him and if he reacts again to give a severe correction. She says that the dog is not dog aggressive, gets along very well with other dogs and people, but she does not trust the dog and I am sure she has become apprehensive of her own dog.

Thank you for any insight you can suggest

Tony

Answer:

It sounds to me more like an issue of pack leadership, and this dog not respecting the lady of the house. It sounds almost like the dog is guarding resources from the wife (with the resources being a blanket, and the husband) In my opinion, the dog should be getting more structure from both the husband and the wife. This dog should be reprimanded by the husband for showing aggression inappropriately and I would be making the dog spend some more crate time. I don’t know if he is allowed on the furniture but if so, that needs to stop right away.

Baiting the dog into biting and then correcting wouldn’t be what I would recommend at this point. The dog needs to gain respect of the wife and he won’t do that by being corrected by another person.

Have her 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 would recommend Pack Structure for the family pet and Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

First let me thank you for opening our eyes to a whole new way of looking at our dogs, training and leadership. After a lot of work we still have a problem I would like your advice on.

We have two Portuguese Water Dog males (10 and 3yo) We have had aggression problems with the young male (Pete)since he was about 1 1/2yo. These include fights with the older dog, aborted attacks while on leash on walks and biting us (mainly my wife). Things are MUCH better after buying and applying your great training knowledge CDs in Basic Obedience, Dominant Dog, E Collar and Pack Structure. Pete has an E collar on most of the day, every day. Dog/dog aggression on walks has gone down from 2-3 times every walk to maybe 1 time every 3-4 months! We stop it before it happens. I almost never nick him on walks.

However, the problem that worries me is Pete started showing aggression to my wife about 8 months ago. He bit her on 4 occasions, once in the face making a small cut. None serious but very scary and disturbing. I bought a muzzle from you after the face bite. We decided that my wife was not showing good pack leadership and Pete was changing his rank to #2 after me. Several of the bites occurred in the kitchen when the dog was in "his spot." These happened when she was being affectionate with him. Both my wife and I rededicated ourselves to your training methods and it seems to have paid off. Its been hard to get my wife to change her behavior and be less soft but to her credit she has been working on it and things seem much better and we have not had an incident for a couple months.

The problem is we don't really trust him. Yet. I believe he is far less likely to try any aggression with me because he respects me and I will correct him immediately if he tried. Yet I am nervous about him around my wife even though he seems to be respecting her leadership more. I guess my question is what can we do to cement his submission to my wife and be more certain of his behavior? Can we test him? When can we be certain of him?

I am afraid we can never really be affectionate with this dog as we are with our other dog. But we would like to be. Will we ever be able to fully trust Pete?

Thanks for all your information and support.

Best regards,
Matt & Cheryl

Answer:

With dogs like Pete, this is a tricky question. If you appear nervous or tense around dogs like this, then they sense it and the likelihood of an incident increases. If you try to be too friendly and affectionate, these dogs see it as weakness and will challenge.

I think it's a healthy idea to not completely trust a dog like this, because with dominant dogs it's always a balancing act of leadership and being the boss in a clear and calm way. Usually the whole affection thing is more for our benefit, and with a dog like Pete is not what he needs. Every dog is different and some dogs can be cuddled and hugged and played with and there will not be any reason to think the dog will challenge you. Since you know that Pete is a dominant type personality, it will just mean that you'll spend your time doing what is BEST for Pete and that is by giving him clear, fair rule and structure. What you want and what is best for this particular dog may be 2 very different things. Realize that dogs don't see affection as the same thing that we do.

I don't recommend the typical pet owner test a dog like this, because you run the risk of getting in a situation you would rather not be in. If you were a professional dog trainer and you had a lot of experience with aggression it may be a different story. Why push it and risk losing any ground you have recovered? The other side to this is that the dog needs to feel comfortable and accepting of your leadership, and if you feel the need to 'test' him it will undermine that.

I have horses and while I love them very much I never forget to have a healthy respect for their power and ability to hurt me. I deal with them very much as I do our dogs, I establish leadership in a way that doesn't damage the relationship that I hope to have with them but I don't get sucked into wanted to be too cuddly with them or do something that will put them in a position to feel they need to defend themselves or to try to assert their dominance over me. Like our dogs, all of our 5 horses have very different temperaments so I handle each one according to what is best for the individual, even if I would really like to behave otherwise.

We owe it to our animals to give them what they need, and I think you have been doing great so far. Keep up the good work.

Cindy


Question:

I have read through some of your articles and feedback to relative questions by your audience, yet I still have no idea what to do. I had been with my boyfriend for approximately a year when he came home with a 13 month old shelter pup (German Sheppard mix) which he named Shadow. From the get go it was obvious that this dog had some behavioral problems (he growled & tried to bite the vet at his first check up). [**A little of my history, I have NEVER been fearful of dogs. I have had extremely well trained and well behaved dogs of different breeds throughout my life (Rotti, Golden Retrievers, Newfie)...was even attacked as an adolescent by a relatives Rottweiler & a neighbor's mastiff.]

Since the beginning of Shadow entering our relationship, I have struggled to make my place known in the pack. If I sit or lie down on the floor, Shadow will try to sit on me or completely stand over me. Each and every time I try to correct him verbally or forcefully, he'll try to bite me. I warned my boyfriend that this animal needs more than just training because he will never see me as being higher in the pack than he is.

During August of this year, while on vacation, Shadow bit my boyfriend's youngest nephew and nearly took his eye out (just days after I confronted my boyfriend yet again that this dog is dangerous to have around). When I tried to remove the dog from the situation, he went for my hands twice. My boyfriend then paid for a "dog whisperer" to do an assessment on the dog. He must have behaved that day, because the diagnosis was that he was just a sweet animal that could do no harm.

I continued to ask my boyfriend to get rid of the animal. Shadow is extremely willful and 75% of the time will not listen to commands from the pack leader and chooses almost never to listen to me. I find that the dog tries to bite me every time that I try and correct his behavior. For example, the other night, he stood next to me while I was playing cards. When I told him to sit he stared at me. I've been instructed by my boyfriend to force him to sit. Once I did that and tried to return to my original position Shadow bit my hand. Instinctively trying to protect myself, I pulled the injured hand back and swatted him on the nose for biting me. He then went for my hand again...he didn't stop going after me until my boyfriend stepped in.

I have been bitten & nipped at on countless occasions since Shadow first entered my life in March. I again asked that he get rid of the dog, because the first time in my life I am fearful for my safety. He however, refuses. He thinks that the failed training will work this time...I'm sure it will be the same argument 3 months down the road when the dog gets a hold of me again.

Is this dog even capable of training?

Daphne

Answer:

This dog needs every aspect of his daily life controlled. NO more freedom for Shadow.  He needs to understand that he doesn’t call the shots and the only way this is going to happen is through strict management of his life all the time. This will mean that the way you and your boyfriend have been living with him will be changed dramatically.

It will take a lot of patience and dedication on both of your parts. Obedience training is part of the solution, but how the dog lives with you and how you interact with him are the most important points. For example, DON’T sit on the floor with him.  Don’t let him off leash or out of a crate unless he’s on a leash. Don’t let him interact with kids or non family members. He now needs to look to you for everything he wants which includes walks, going outside to go to the bathroom, food, water and attention. The reason Shadow doesn’t listen to the “pack leader” is because Shadow doesn’t see anyone in your house as a leader. It’s as much an attitude as anything which is probably why when you had the dog whisperer there he behaved.  He sensed the energy of this person and behaved as a follower. 

I’d start with our Groundwork program. I would follow it exactly. Pack Structure for the Family Pet is the DVD that picks up where the article leaves off.

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

You can go to the web page and read the outline of what’s included on the video. These DVDs are not meant to be watched one time. The fact is anyone who needs this information needs to watch it many times because every time they watch it they will pick up new ideas. You may need a muzzle for some of the work, so you won’t worry about being bitten and Shadow learns that using his mouth doesn’t get him his way.

Once Shadow is following the new rules and is becoming more compliant, it’s time to begin structured obedience training. Basic Dog Obedience.

The groundwork article along with the dvds will give you the tools you need to take the control back. It won’t be easy but if you are firm, fair and consistent this dog can be worked with. The level of success will depend on how closely you can stick to the program. 

Good luck.

Cindy


Question:

Hello all,

I was cruising around your website and I must say, VERY IMPRESSIVE!! You folks really know your dogs! While I don't presently own a dog ( we had a beagle when I was young ) I like to ride my bicycle -- a lot. Which is why I'm writing.

My problem is: One of my favorite stomping grounds, and where I will live when I retire is Door County. The problem here is when riding on Door County's many farm roads, every now and then some idiot's aggressive unrestrained dog comes running out growling, barking, etc. Last time I checked the road is public property, and everyone has a right to drive, bike, jog, walk, crawl, etc on said public road. I know that most of the time the dog is merely protecting it's (erroneously) perceived territory. I have never gone uninvited onto private property with my bike or otherwise. I also know that running away encourages the dog's chase behavior, but sometimes it's just easier to accelerate to 35 - 37 mph or so and outrun it rather than get off, put the bike between me and the dog, etc. I've done this several times and to be honest I'm really getting tired of it. I also realize this is dangerous because, some day, my luck could run out (the dog may be a really fast Doberman, I could hit a pothole, I could have a 20 mph headwind, etc). Plus sometimes I just don't feel like sprinting around on my bike. My biggest fear is colliding with the dog which will take me down faster than Lance Armstrong descending the French Alps.

I do carry a pepper spray fogger, but it's difficult to spray accurately while riding a racing bike, and VERY dangerous to attempt. Also the times I have stopped and gotten off, etc the dog seems to know to stay about 20 feet away - just outside the effective range of most pepper sprays. Plus I'd then have to maneuver the dog down wind of me -- also difficult. For the most part I try to learn where the dog problems are and avoid those areas, but I shouldn't have to do that either. I've found that reporting this to the police doesn't accomplish much, until someone gets bitten, and I don’t want to go there! Any ideas you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much,
Dave

Answer:

I don’t really have any earth shattering advice, I was going to recommend bear spray. I’m not sure if it’s got a longer range than the pepper spray you already have.

About the only other thing I can think of it to carry water balloons :-) and pelt the dogs with those as you ride by. Most dogs are going to be absolutely shocked that you actually fight back while you are moving.
If you are really coordinated, maybe a walking stick or trekking pole that you can smack them with as you ride by?

I’d probably go on a “dog training ride” on some of your favorite routes and actually sucker the dog in, and whack him a good one. Those dogs WILL remember you and steer clear if you get a good lick in. I love dogs but as a biker myself I value my safety more.

Sorry I’m not more help.

(I guess you could always try talking to the owners, a slim chance that will do much but I guess it’s worth a try. Most people who let their dogs run loose on the road don’t have the same mind set as responsible dog owners.)

Cindy


Question:

Ed,

I am the owner of a 7yr old neutered English Bulldog. I have had him since he was 8 weeks old. Tank used to be a very friendly, social dog. He loved attention from people. Over the past year his behavior has progressively gotten worse. I have talked to many trainers in the past, all of which told me that since dominance training does not work (in fact disciplining makes him more aggressive), that it is a medical issue. I am a veterinary technician, and he has always gotten the best medical treatment. Recent full panel blood work and x-rays revealed no abnormalities at all. He is the only dog of the household, has never been dog aggressive, however he is people aggressive. Not just strangers, but myself also. It has gotten to the point where I can not even touch him without him trying to snap. He has seriously injured me lately, a few months ago he bit through my left hand. And about a month ago he bit through my left forearm to the bone, and I received stitches, and have some residual nerve damage. He has also attempted to bite my girlfriend, and others when they have gone to pet him on several occasions. The last straw as I call it, started this evening. I took him to work like usual, while he was sitting on the floor, another technician came behind him, brushed up against him, and Tank turned around and snapped. When I disciplined him, he lunged at me and attempted to bite my face/neck. It was very scary to see his behavior. After leaving work, I stopped at the bank. While I was sitting in the car filing out a deposit slip, a little girl came up to his window. She started talking to him, he began growling and snapping, and lunged at the window. Thankfully it was rolled up. I am very scared that he will one day seriously injure someone other than myself, I live in an apartment complex with lots of children. I can't take him anywhere. Living with him is just horrible. I no longer feel that he is my companion. I am genuinely considering euthanasia as an option for him.

Answer:

All I can do is guess at a situation like this. Without seeing the dog, without knowing how you truly live with an interact with the dog makes it impossible to tell you what to do.

My first gut feel is that this is a result of Vaccinosis. On many occasions I have heard examples of dogs becoming more aggressive months after vaccination. With that said - that's water over the dam and if it is Vaccinosis it's probably not fixable. Do a google search on rabies miasm.

I guess if this were my dog I would run him through a strict pack structure program (Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog). Life as this dog knows it would change - no going to work - no off leash (not even in the house) He would loose every minute of freedom.

After about 3 weeks of this I would start him on marker training (The Power of Training Dog with Markers).

You also need to read the free eBook on my web site title WHO PETS MY DOG. Frankly it sounds like you have been a tad out of touch with reality here. You may not like hearing this but it's a fact. You know this dog is dangerous and yet you allow others near the dog. That's irresponsible and foolish.

If the aggression continued I would use our dominant dog collar on this dog. Read how this is used on dominant dogs on my web site. Since the option of failure if killing the dog I would use to collar until he passed out. Dogs that are not crazy quickly learn to respect someone who has the potential of taking their air away. When this is done it usually needs to be done 2 or 4 times on the first day - then the dog is set up to act aggressive again on day two and day three. If the dog is still acting aggressive after 4 or 5 days the odds are it's a brain tumor. This is pretty drastic and not pretty work - but it does work on most dogs and is better than killing the dog.

Some of this work is highlighted in my DVD Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

Regards,
Ed Frawley


Question:

I have a 5-year old male German Shepherd that is very aggressive towards the others shepherds when my female is in heat.  She is almost 10 and cannot be spayed due to congestive heart failure.  I keep her in another part of the yard during heat but even during this time, my male shepherd will try to about kill my other males/females.  I have 5 dogs total and do not breed them anymore.  I am having him neutered next week but I was wondering if they made any kind of muzzle that he could wear during the day that would allow him to still eat and drink.  Actually eating is done in the evening while I’m home so I guess I mainly need one where he could still drink water.  We have a large yard with a 5 foot chain link fence with a hot wire at the bottom.  I’ve actually thought about finding him another home but I know that wouldn’t work and he’s very loyal, protective and a great pet other than these times.  Any suggestions would help.

Janet

Answer:

The wire basket muzzles will work fine here.

With this said neutering is probably not going to change this behavior, it will probably result in him living a longer and healthier life.

You may find that you have to back the muzzle up with a remote collar. Use markers to teach him to get the collar on, then the DVD I did on training with remote collar. ‘’Good luck.”

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley


Question:

Dear Sir:

First, let me say that I appreciate your site very much. I have found it to be very helpful and informative. I also enjoy looking at your beautiful dogs! They are wonderful.

I know you are terribly busy, but I hope you can help me with a puzzle.

We adopted a lab mix puppy last year.  He will be 2 years old in April. He is a great dog and very smart. He learned the general obedience commands easily and has several other tricks we taught him. However, he has taken to exhibiting some aggression that had us puzzled for a while. I finally figured out that it was territorial aggression because he spends so much time in the den with us and not in other parts of the house that he thought he owned the den.  This translates to growling at my husband when he enters the den and growling at my daughter when she tried to get him to leave his bed in the den.

We use the “No, 1 ½ second pause, correction.” We removed his bed from the den. This was just a comfy spot for him, he has a kennel he sleeps in at night and when we aren’t home.  Now I am working on spending more time in other areas of the house with him. However, now when we try to play with him in other areas of the house we have submissive urination, trembling, and slinking away; refusing to heel.  I repeat in a calm voice “no” as I go towards him until I can get the lead, pause and correct gently. This works and he then does what he is supposed to do. I am keeping a short handle lead on him in the house at all times.

I also changed his prong collar to a nylon choke today. This seemed to make him much happier and calmer, so I think it was overexciting him. There has been no growling for a couple of days now. 

I am just concerned that we are handling this correctly. Our last dog was a beautiful 170 lb. rottie that was almost perfect, so I am not used to dealing with this type of problem.  I would appreciate any suggestions you might add and some reassurance if we are doing the right thing to correct the problem and just need to give it time.

I thank you in advance for any help you can offer me.  Again, I understand that you are very busy.

Sincerely,
Serena

Answer:

Your dog is now becoming mature and trying to move up in the ranks to a leader position.  I don’t believe that he is understanding what is happening, and while you have some good ideas it’s not clear to him. I’m happy to hear you’ve taken his bed away and are keeping him on leash all the time. This is perfect. Here is what I would recommend.

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

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

You already have the obedience commands under control, but like many people you are finding out that normal dogs (even obedience trained dogs) will try to take over the family if they aren’t given clear and consistent leadership.

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 are new to our website, you may be interested in taking a look at our weekly newsletter.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi,

I hope that you can give me some advise how to handle this situation. I have 16 months old Bullmastiff Baron, and 18-month-old Bullmastiff Cesar. Sweet dogs, I raised them from puppies. I keep them separate in outdoor kennels most of the day, and take them inside over the night. I also take them for a walk twice a day and they both behave well, sit, down and heel. I was feeding them in the kennel twice a day, and everything was o.k., until now, when Baron the younger one, when he finished his meal started barking at his brother, and then they start to fight over the fence. After this incident, I decided to feed them separate in the crates at home. Everything was o.k. again for about couple of weeks, then yesterday, when I wanted to open Baron’s crate to take his empty bowl, he aggressively attacked the door of the crate with loud barking and crawling. I quickly took my hands out of the crate. I told him to stop, but he got even more aggressive, keep guarding his empty bowl. He is not a hard dog, he was never aggressive before, he is maybe more like soft dog. He always gives me any toy or tennis ball with no problem, and he is not even guarding when someone walks around, like Cesar does. However, this behavior, to try to bite his own master was big surprise for me.

I do have some dog training experience, and I think I know how to handle dominant dog, but I don’t know what would be the best to do in this situation. In meanwhile, when I was writing this e-mail, I experienced new problem. When I wanted to give Baron food, and tried to open his crate, he started aggressive barking again. I was afraid to give him the food, and I don’t know what to do now. Maybe Baron and Cesar have some for me unknown communication, and because Cesar got his food first, he might told Baron: “looser”? Or something to provoke him, I don’t know. But, I need to feed him somehow. Should I use electric collar to correct his behavior, or would it make him that even more angry?

Steve

Answer:

You have 2 dogs that are now reaching young adulthood, the time where they begin to become more mature and start to try to re-establish themselves in the family pack.  Many dogs start trying to push the envelope and use aggression to move up the rank into a more dominant position.

The fact that your dogs are so close in age and the same sex is going to make your job much harder than if you had only one dog or two dogs of much different ages or  a male female pair.  Same sex pairs are much more likely to fight and have issues.

I think I’d start reestablishing myself as the leader in ever aspect of both dogs’ lives.  I would just concentrate on one, because I guarantee you the problem is the changing dynamics between both dogs.

I’d start with our Groundwork program and the video that picks up where the article leaves off - Pack Structure for the Family Pet. I’d start all over like the dogs were new to your house.

I believe that this DVD could really help you. It’s titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS and was a 5 year project. You can go to the web page and read the outline of what’s included on the video. These DVDs are not meant to be watched one time. The fact is anyone who needs this information needs to watch it many times because every time they watch it they will pick up new ideas.

I would hold off on the ecollar for now.  Giving corrections may aggravate things at this point.  Calm, clear and consistent leadership are going to be the key to regaining your control over these guys.

Don’t put yourself in the position to let him guard the bowl.  Take the dog out of the crate first and then remove the bowl, leave a leash on him in there if you need to.  I’d also make sure the crates aren’t side by side, or close to each other.  I’d put them in separate rooms if you can or only crate one dog and leave the other outside in a kennel and switch them during this groundwork progress.

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:

Cindy,

First I must say job well done for the all DVD produced. I have purchased many DVDs from Leerburg. 

I have a very foundation question if I bring my dog out, although I tried to avoid meeting other stranger dogs but somehow somewhere we tend to meet. If the other dog is approach to my dog about 10, 15 meter before I have time to turn away and this stranger dog is showing aggression and barking at us, then I dog reacts and barks back. Should I stop my dog from barking and walk away or let it barks and walk pass the dog? In general, my dog is not dog aggression and he will ignore other dog if he is not being challenged. My concern is any mis-handled may change the behavior of the dog for schuntzhund sport. Please kindly advise.

Thanks.

Regards,
Stanley

Answer:

I always avoid putting my dog in contact with strange dogs if I can, especially if the other dog is showing aggression. I will move in a direction to avoid contact with the other dog and if the dog still approaches I will verbally or physically chase it away. I do not allow my dog to bark at other dogs when they are on leash with me. Whether I am training my dog for Schutzhund sport or not it makes no difference. I expect my dog to behave indifferently to other dogs.

Ed has written an article about what he would do if a strange dog came after him.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Although I've come across it about two years too late, I wanted to let you know that your website has been very informative. The streaming videos of dog products and training exercises are wonderful, but your articles and Q&A on aggression issues are outstanding and truly enlightening.

Maybe your advice would have helped, and maybe it wouldn't. I had done many of the things you recommended, but the one thing that you mentioned that no one else had was the "correction" stage of training. I did the learning phase, the distraction phase, and established the pack structure, but while they helped with general behavior, they did not alleviate the main problem, which was territorial aggression. I doubt I would have been able to complete the "correction" phase, since at the time I was living with my parents and it was difficult enough getting everyone in the family to be consistent with the pack structure(or as I learned it, "Nothing in life is free"), but I think if I had the chance to do things over again now that I have my own place(and more knowledge), I may not have needed to euthanize my dog, Griffin.

A couple of lessons that I learned that I didn't see mentioned on your website...

Sometimes stupid "outside" people contribute to the problem. Crating your dog isn't always enough. When we had company over, Griffin would be crated in a separate room and I would tell guests not to go in there. This works very well so long as you trust your guests. In hindsight, I should have locked the door(to the room), because one of our guests went into the room and tried to pet Griffin through the crate, reasoning that, "Oh, dogs always like me!" and was subsequently bitten.

Veterinary behaviorists aren't always the be-all, end-all of answers to behavior problems. I saved up my money so that I could take Griffin to an apparently well-respected veterinary behaviorist(Debra Horwitz), only to be given information that I had already implemented. A good trainer is a much better investment of time and money(although finding an appropriate trainer for aggression problems is damn hard, if not impossible in some areas).

I regret the loss of my companion, but I do not regret the decision to euthanize him, because at the time I had done everything that I possibly could and that has given me some peace of mind. And since Griffin was a pit-mix, I fervently did not want him to become another statistic or contribute to the bad reputation that those dogs receive, especially shelter rescues such as him. I learned a great deal about dogs and training from my time working with Griffin and even though we were only together for four years, I doubt that I will have that close a bond with another animal.

Thanks again for your time and the fantastic website.

Sincerely,
Carrie

Response:

Thanks for writing, I’m sorry to hear that you had to euthanize Griffin.  I know that the “idiot factor” causes a lot of trouble. I’ve had people do stupid things to my dogs as well. 

Hopefully at some point you can get another dog, but either way I appreciate your email.  Thanks for the kind words.  I wish you the best.

Cindy


Question:

Hello Mr. frawley,

I recently found a 4 year old female samoyed at our local pound - She's a great dog, house trained, no furniture climbing - wonderful with people, and kids.  My issue with this dog is dog aggression:

She is not dominant, She isn't aggressive to people.  she iS aggressive to any other dog she meets, bigger or smaller than her.  She met my mother's chajaujau, over the weekend and of course a fight ensued.  The dogs were separated for a day.  We reintroduced the dogs a day later, the samoyed was calm, the other dog was stressed and baring teeth.  The same thing happened with a cocker spaniel this evening. I don't know the back round of this dog, other than that someone took very good care of her, and trained her well. 

What can I do to get passed this aggressive behavior toward other dogs?

Thanks in advance.

John

Answer:

John,

This is 110% an owner problem and not a dog problem.

You and your family do not understand pack structure and what drives it.

In the case of your mothers dog, you are lucky not to have a dead dog. I have a folder full of emails from people who were not as lucky at you – their dogs ended up killing their other dogs.

There is a specific way to introduce a dog into a home with other dogs. You will learn something from the free eBook I wrote on this.

Your dog is probably dog aggressive because it was attacked by another dog before you got it. Once that happens a dog will almost always become dog aggressive for life. So putting a dog like this with another dog and expecting it to get along is a mistake.

Eliminating dog aggression is a factor or establishing pack structure  (Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog) and a full program of obedience training followed by remote collar work.

Basic Dog Obedience
Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner

I suggest you use our web site search function located on the top left corner of every page on our web site (the site is 16,200 pages). There is a great deal of information here on this subject.

Bottom line is you have way more to learn than your dog. It can be fixed if you make the effort and change the way you live with this dog.

Regards,
Ed Frawley


Question:

Hi-

We have a 5 year chocolate lab. We bought her from a breeder. About three years ago she started showing signs of aggression. I can't really pin point when it began. Anyway, we have had dog trainers, animal behaviorists, dog walkers (which we still have).

She is food aggressive, has dog aggression and it aggressive towards my husband and me. It isn't ALL the time, but I am ready to get rid of her. I don't want to, I love her, but I am afraid of her. I just took her for a walk and she found a stick so I sat down next to her and let her chew it. She started growling and showing her teeth to me so I distracted her and threw the stick. When I got home and went to take her leash off, she tried to bite me. She has bitten my husband already and attacked my Dad's Westie.

We have a dog walker that comes everyday for 30 mins while we are at work. I walk her for 20 mins every morning before I leave for work and we walk her again for another 30 mins when we get home from work so I know that she is getting enough exercise??

My husband is ready to have her put down. We have talked to the vet they did blood work and could find nothing wrong with her. She is GREAT with children and other people (as long as they are not going near her when she is eating) but I just don't know what to do. I know that Lab Rescue places will not take her and I can't think of the idea of her sitting at the pound. We do not have children yet, but this is a concern of mine....

Any suggestions would be great.

Answer:

I hate to tell you this but this do is the way it is because of the way you have chosen to live with it.

This dog has dominance issues that have been allowed to grow and continue. The vast majority of the time these problems are fixable if the owners are willing to educate themselves and change the way they have lived with this dog.

Here are the DVDs that will show you what your mistakes have been and how to fix them:

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog
Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs

Once you have established control and pack structure the type of training to do is marker training. This is non-confrontational and when its followed up with corrections it’s the best way to train aggressive dogs.

I would also recommend that you use my web site search function. It’s on the top left of every page on my site (which is 16,200 pages long) Type in your KEY WORDS (dog aggression)  and you will find a great deal of information.

Regards,
Ed Frawley


Question:

Hello,

My name is Tiffany. I have a 20 month male GSD. I have recently ordered the video Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs along with the Dominant dog collar. Much of the video has helped us, but I am still having problems with food aggression. When I feed him in his kennel (a kennel we made in our garage so it's bigger than a crate) he shies away and sometimes tries to bite us. This morning I was giving him some water and he went for my hand; as soon as I jerked away he urinated. He only acts this way over his food and water. I have no idea why he acts this way. Other then this major issue, he is very loving, smart, always wants to be with us. We use to have major dominate issues but we have slowly worked out most of these problems except for the food issues.


Could you please help me. I have spoke to several trainers and I have found really no help when it comes to food aggression. 

Thank You,
Tiffany

Answer:

If this was my dog I’d make him come out of the kennel, and either sit-stay or down-stay while I placed his food and water inside.  I would not give him the opportunity to make a mistake. After I placed his stuff inside the kennel, then I’d let him go in.  have one person handle the dog and one place the food inside if necessary.

This way you are never in a position to be bitten and both you and the dog can become comfortable with each other in this situation.

It sounds like he’s fearful or apprehensive about the food/water in the kennel so giving him a predictable routine would be beneficial.

Make sure you are calm and not jumpy or aggressive with him, as this will only make him more reactive.

Cindy


Question:

Hello,

My name is scott and I have a question. I have a 1/2 german 1/2 black lab. About 4 months ago we moved from New Hampshire to Maine ever since we moved, RAMSEY has been showing aggression towards people he has seen before we committed to moving to Maine. We find it odd that when he barks and growls he is wagging his tail. So far it has happened to three people. We don't want to put him down because he is a good dog, especially with our 2 year old son. We are expecting our second child and we don't want the dog to get jealous of the new baby and have something happen.

When we lived in New Hampshire we never experienced any thing like this. He minds good but where the meter guy comes and jumps out of the truck. We don't want it to get ugly or any lawsuits. We have signs saying beware of dog we have been thinking of a muzzle, so he can get use to people coming over and where hunting season is coming in November, a lot of people come to stay and having a dog like this these people most likely won't want to come and stay.What can we do?

THANK YOU

SCOTT

Answer:

First of all, a wagging tail doesn’t mean the dog is friendly or not aggressive.  Dogs do wag their tails as they go in for a bite.  Your dog likely became unsure during your move, and you haven’t provided him the structure and leadership he needs. 

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.  I’d start out with our groundwork program. I’d also recommend the video that picks up where the groundwork article leaves off.  Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Here is a 3 ½ hour DVD that I would also 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’d also suggest you read our section on dogs and babies.

I’d also direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website.  It will find posts, articles and Q & A’s that deal with your search terms.

Cindy


Question:

Dearest Cindy,

Thank you for providing an excellent resource such as your web site. All of the training tools that you have for sale on it make life very easy. Speaking for thousands of your viewers, we really appreciate you and Ed imparting all of your wisdom onto us. We are truly blessed!

My husband and I own a 15 month old, 80lb, un neutered rottweiler named Sigma. He is a wonderful dog!...as per many peoples remarks. In addition to being very loving, he is very low in the pack structure, very social and extremely submissive with other dogs….all by his own natural nature. He is taken on two 45-60 min walks per day, with an additional third one that is short.

The only time that he displays aggression is as follows: during the day when we are at home Sigma, on occasion, is tied up in the front of our house. He is absolutely fine when people walk by; however, when a dog walks by…he rushes to the end of the cable and starts barking like mad. For a correction, we run outside each time it occurs (usually 2-3 times per day) and sternly tell him ‘no’ or wheel him in by the cable. But by the time we run to the front of the house, more than 1.5 seconds has passed.

Could you please advise whether we need a bark collar, or to set up the situation with dogs walking by and administer an ‘avoidance correction’?....

Thank you so much for your continued assistance and support with dog care and training.

Sincerely,
Jennifer
Toronto, Canada

Answer:

You could probably use an ecollar and correct him because as you noted, by the time you get outside to correct him it's way too late to make a difference.  I'm not a big fan of tying dogs out as it tends to build up this type of frustration and aggression but if you have no choice then I would probably go with the ecollar.  IF you can't supervise him outside, then the bark collar would be what I would use as it will correct him every time he barks even if you aren't present. 

I'd probably also recommend Dealing w/ Dominant & Aggressive Dogs to give you insight into how to handle any other types of dog aggression should they occur.  the fact that he's showing aggression only on when tied out doesn't mean that as he matures this won't become an issue in other areas of your lives as well.  typically Rotts are slow maturing and as they grow up you can expect this to surface in other areas.  this is normal, but you should know how to handle it.

Cindy Rhodes

Another Question:

Dearest Cindy,

Thank you very much for the quick reply. I am extremely pleased to hear from you.

Sorry if this sounds silly; I was feeling bad for keeping Sigma inside the house during the day. That is why we began to tie him up.  Is that an irrational human feeling? Should he be fine inside? When my husband is working from home, which is the majority of days, he is outside the crate and behaves very well. When we leave the home, Sigma goes inside his crate.

Thank you for sharing the wisdom of Rotties maturing late. We will order the DVD to be educated on possible signs of aggression.

Have a wonderful day!

Answer:

Your dog will be fine inside; he’ll actually probably be a happier and more balanced dog.  Dogs want to be with us.  Good dog training is as much about controlling the dog’s environment as it is anything else and by tying him outside alone you are setting him up to have issues.

Since your husband works from home frequently, I’d let Sigma be inside with him or in his crate.

I hope this helps. Cindy


Question:

Dear Mr. Frawley,

I have a small (29 lb) Border Collie who has nipped several people when she's been off leash, and I obviously have to do something about it. I bought a shock collar for her, but that doesn't work beyond about eight feet. I assume I need a muzzle for her, but I don't know if that's the right way to go, or simply to keep her on a long leash. We have a nylon muzzle that we've tried, but she simply tugs and squirms until it's off. It's kind of like trying to muzzle a porpoise. The muzzle is mostly needed so that she can go off leash on dog walks and get some running time in. The only exercise she ever gets is when she runs after other dogs (and their owners).

Do you think a muzzle is an appropriate tool, and if so, can you recommend a particular muzzle for her?

Thank you so much for reading this.

Steve

Answer:

A muzzle is a tool to help keep bites from occurring but it’s also important to not allow those situations to keep happening.  This dog has no business being off leash at this point. 

A remote collar is a great tool if the dog is correctly trained first and a quality collar has a range of more than 8 feet. I use the Dogtra collars with my own dogs. We have an excellent video on how to use the collar, Electric Collar Training for the Pet Owner, if you decide to try the ecollar again at some point. I can also recommend a suitable collar for your dog when the time comes.

You need to spend some time establishing rules for this dog, and showing her that aggression is not an option. Start with our groundwork program.

Until she will listen to you 100% of the time and you have the aggression issues under control, then she is not ready to be off leash. I’d recommend Pack Structure for the Family Pet and Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.  

I would NOT let this dog run after other dogs for exercise. Will she play with you? This is a much healthier outlet for her exercise needs. Try playing fetch with a chuck it.

For muzzles, we have a large selection as well as directions on how to measure your dog for proper fit. Until you have accurate measurements I can’t recommend a specific muzzle.  You can also call our office for personal assistance one you have the measurements. 715-235-6502

I want to add that using a muzzle without training is like putting boxing gloves on a rebellious out of control teenage kid that hits his parents. It makes it less damaging but it doesn’t address the underlying behavior. Muzzling aggressive dogs and letting them continue their same behaviors can even make them more dangerous in the long run, they feel frustration become even more aggressive as time goes on. Muzzling dogs and letting them attack is actually an exercise used for police dogs to teach them to be more aggressive. Use the muzzle to keep people and dogs safe WHILE the dog is being trained.  Control her environment and her actions with a leash.

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions. It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

Cindy


Question:

I have a 7 mos old giant schnauzer female, my third giant -- so I'm familiar with the breed.  My problem is that she has suddenly started barking and growling at people (who aren't accompanied by dogs). But it's unpredictable. In a large crowd, she accepts strangers and tolerates the attention. It's typically when only one person approaches, or passes by even at some distance, that she will bark or growl. Also, it is unpredictable: first she'll let three people pet her, and then suddenly come to my side and start growling at the people who were petting her. This unpredictability is trying. I've been correcting her strongly, and now jerk her up so that her front paws are off the ground -- which seems to have some effect.  She also is easily frightened at times, and is jumpy at night -- so I wonder if her barking and growling is fear-prompted. The breeder didn't socialize the puppies. 

I understand that this is a reserved and protective breed, but this is not acceptable. I would appreciate any suggestions.

Thank you,
Susan

Answer:

I would not let people pet her, at all. You are taking a nervous and unconfident young dog and then putting her in situations that she’s trying to tell you she’s unsure of. This will only serve to stress her more and be MORE likely to bite someone. Adding corrections just confirms in her mind that this is a bad situation. She gets worried and then gets punished for being worried which only amplifies the response. She’ll learn to NOT growl or warn of her worries because she’ll fear correction. This won’t change her state of mind, but will cause her to shut down the warning system she’s using right now (growling/barking) Dogs like this are often classified as “biting without warning” because the owner has unknowingly taught the dog to NOT use a warning.

There is really no reason I can see to have strangers touch any of my dogs, and honestly most people don’t know how to behave correctly around a dog that doesn’t have issues. I’d do her a favor and teach her to be neutral by first keeping people out of her “bubble.” I’ve helped a number of people with dogs like yours teach the dog that they don’t have to like people they don’t know and that they can remain neutral because YOU will protect her from being put in a situation she isn’t comfortable with.  This in itself serves to build confidence. 

I’d recommend Pack Structure for the Family Pet. You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions. It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

Here’s one example of a question similar to yours http://leerburg.com/packstructure.htm#1

I hope this helps. Cindy


Question:

Ed,

You are a wealth of knowledge and we are "lucky," yes lucky to have you... Thank You.

I am asking for your knowledge and wisdom today...

Here's my problem...  2 days ago I was in Emergency with my 18 yr. old son getting his faced stitched up after Dragon bit him.  Dragon was lying on my bed (don't even say it... I know about the bed).  Jeff was walking into the room, at about a foot away from the bed he lunged up at his face and did a full mouth bite to his face. My son never had a chance, he is very lucky that he only ended up with stitches in a few places, it just missed one eye and close to tearing  lip.

1 year ago while playing with Dragon on the bed (I know, I know) my son sort of curled his neck over Dragon's shoulder blades and Dragon bit him twice quickly in the back of the head, he did break the skin and there was bleeding but no stitches. Shame on me, I knew better, I am knowledgeable on dog behavior and I absolutely should not have gotten comfortable just because he never again showed any signs of dominance with anyone.

My Doberman is 3 3/4 yrs old,

* neutered 7 mos ago (not due to dominance issues). 
* German import as a pup, working line - 'Edertal' line
* Purchased with Shutzhund training in mind for him.
* Excellent obedience and tracking.
* "Started" bite work with decoy at 2 1/2yrs - tugs, few sleeve bites, less than 10.   I noticed during a session he seemed to slip into defense rather than working in prey drive. I immediately called off the session and chose instead to stop all protection sessions to let him mentally mature  a little more.

Life changed somewhat and I have not continued any formal training.  Obedience is used daily and he loves it. He is still exercised regularly.

* Stable temperament,  he is not sharp, assumes everyone is friendly first, will show dominance with other males if given the chance but it is controlled through obedience (I don't let him).

* Never a problem with absolutely anyone regarding dominance/aggression apart from my son.

My dilemma... I don't live alone, therefore this problem is not just for me to handle.

- Husband - not very knowledgeable, also dominant, difficult to teach him anything

- Son - Jeff, got bit - now wants nothing to do with dog - doesn't care whether we keep or get rid of Dragon - but won't buy into any formal training to establish his order in our pack.

- 11 year old daughter - more dog knowledge and understanding than any of them, no problem correcting dog.

In your opinion is this a completely manageable situation that even if my husband and my daughter slip up on there commitment from time to time (which is what I'm afraid of)  I do work full time shift work and I don't want my dog crated continually. unless I am there to supervise. Slipping up of dog on furniture or bed is NOT an option, but other commitments to always know what the dog is doing at all times, weather they are on computer or watching TV etc. I always know where my dogs are and what they are doing when I am in the house. I want my dog to still interact with family while I am away from the home.

I will be ordering your Dominant dog video - but need your input right now.....

I thank you for your time Ed.

Tanya
Ontario, Canada

Answer:

I’m not sure what to say, because in order for your family and dog to be safe then you are going to need to keep your dog in a secure location when you can’t supervise him.  

I’m going to quote you here “Jeff was walking into the room, at about a foot away from the bed he lunged up at his face and did a full mouth bite to his face.  My son never had a chance, he is very lucky that he only ended up with stitches in a few places, it just missed one eye and close to tearing  lip.” 

What more needs to happen for you to realize that this dog can NOT be loose and interacting with people in your home when you aren’t supervising?  You WERE home and looked what happened!! I’m sorry but unless you are willing to completely re-structure your dog’s life in and around the house and unless your family will honor and uphold this handling of the dog, I can’t help you.

If you want to do what needs to be done then this situation can be managed, but if not then I’m afraid my advice would be to rehome the dog.  It’s just a tragedy waiting to happen.

As the mother of a teenager and the owner of several dogs who are strong working line dogs, I can’t imagine not being willing to protect my family and my dog from another situation. 

The dominant dog DVD is great, but this dog needs to be under complete ON LEASH supervision with you at all times unless he’s in a kennel.  Dominance aggression has nothing to do with obedience training or schuthzund training, it’s the temperament and genetics of the dog paired with irresponsible handling in the home environment.

I'd recommend reading our section on kids and dogs. You can see some of the damage that other dogs, less powerful than yours, have done to kids.

This is a serious situation and needs to be handled as such.

Cindy


Question:

Dear Mr. Frawley,

We have been watching your videos on training puppies and dominate dogs. we had a question for you about a male pure bred boxer that is about 13 months old. He has been owned in six different homes before we had brought him into our home and lifes about 2 months ago. We know for a fact that he was beaten as a puppy and it shows even when you try to pet him or even make any fast movements close to him. He will either flinch or move his head back. we know that in your video you say that when they growl that they are uncomfortable.My girlfriend and I are trying to work on that with him.

We just dont know if we need to take any other important actions into trying to turn our boxer around to be a good well mannered dog. We both feel that he has the potential to becoming a better dog!

We have just purchased the dominate dog collar at your website and are hoping that this collar will work?

It is very difficult for us to introduce him to new people in our families because we feel that he is uncomfortable, he will growl, bark, and even try to jump up and even nip at someone's face.This is uncalled for and we know this. He sometimes tries to nip at my hands when I have tried to give him a command and has gotten a hold of me, but not enough to really hurt but if it was a child there could be problems, and this all relates back to him being beaten in his other homes. we both feel that being beaten has made him into a stubborn dog, we just dont know where to start?    

We just would like some advice from a trainer who knows animals and knows what to do in our situation. It would be a great help and would be very appreciated if you could get back to us. We appreciate your time and concern

Troy

Answer:

An insecure dog can be very dangerous.  A big misconception is that fearful dogs have suffered some form of abuse. This is usually not the case. Don’t make excuses for his behavior because of what you think may have happened to him in the past; it won’t help him become a better dog. Temperament is a genetic trait, and many fearful dogs are that way simply because that’s how they are programmed. Dogs like this need rules that make sense to them and lots of structure. They need to feel safe and protected by YOU, their pack leader.  Dogs like this do not want to make decisions, they want to be followers and so we need to be strong leaders for them. The fact that he’s been bounced from home to home will also be a factor in his behavior, so you need to be a very reliable source of rules and leadership.

Many times fearful dogs just want their owners to protect them and keep non pack members away from them. In my experience these dogs can learn to be neutral to strangers, if handled correctly. Having a stranger or person that makes your dog uncomfortable get close to your dog goes against everything your dog needs from you as a pack leader.

Also letting your dog interact with strangers, and then correcting him or putting him outside when he breaks your rules (which he probably doesn’t understand) will do nothing except make him more worried when strangers are present. Dogs don’t understand what we expect of them automatically, they need to be shown with clear and consistent handling. By doing this, you may actually be making him worse and more worried.

I will make some recommendations for articles and videos that I feel could help you out.

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

I feel that the way dogs are handled on a daily basis are the most important factors to consider when dealing with insecure, nervous or aggressive dogs. Obedience training only plays a small role in this, actually. How you live with the dog has the most impact.

I believe that this DVD could really help you also. It’s titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS and was a 5 year project. You can go to the web page and read the outline of what’s included on the video. These DVDs are not meant to be watched one time. The fact is anyone who needs this information needs to watch it many times because every time they watch it they will pick up new ideas.

I hope this helps.


Question:

Dear Ed,

I have a 10.5 year old German SHepherd. I got her when she was 6 weeks old. She was diagnosed as fear aggressive very early on. I have had two trainers and a behaviorist. To make this as short as possible, I will give you the readers digest version. She does not like strangers or other dogs. We have had her on Prozac and propanol since she was 3 years old. We can walk her outside without trouble but we do not let her near others on the street. We have a fenced in large yard.  when company comes over we put her in another room. There are people she is familiar with and she is allowed around them without any trouble. She is loving to all members of our family.  Recently, my daughters has started dating a new man.  Due to the fact that is in our house often, we have tried to introduce them. We leashed her at first and let them get to know each other. We finally felt comfortable enough to let her off the leash and all seemed fine. That was 6 days ago. Two days ago he came over and se was in the yard. She came in with a toy in her mouth and she seemed ok.  My daughter got a little nervous and gave her boyfriend a piece of roast beef to give her. He told the dog to sit and she did and she went to give him her par. When he bent down, she started to bark and yelp.  He pulled back and she jumped up and nipped his arm. He had a jacket on. There was no bite, just saliva.  We intervened and told her down. She layed down and was calm.  we were in the kitchen and he stayed on the other side on the Island.  We then let her come around to him and he gave her the roast beef by throwing it on the floor. They left and went up stairs.  When he was leaving, she barked again and we stood between them.  We told her stay and she did and he left. I don't know what to do know. I want to get her comfortable with him since he will be coming by frequently. Should I go back to putting her on the leash and try again from there.  I should say that I have asked him to ignore her and not make eye contact but he does not follow it so much. She really is very gentle once you get to know her.  It is just getting over that hump. She has not met any new in quite a few years.  She is a member of our family and we will not put her down. Should we muzzle her During training? Please help.

Donna

Answer:

What happened with your daughter, boyfriend and the dog is a common occurrence with fearful dogs.  A large number of people out there with fearful dogs think if they have the dog fed around the person or thing they are afraid of it will diffuse the situation but as you found out it rarely does.  In the case of the dog that is uncomfortable around strangers it typically goes like this.  The humans in the equation think that if the “scary” person gives the food to the dog it will help. What typically happens is that the dog comes over, eats the food and realizes that they are way too close to something or someone that terrifies them and they react with a bite. 

Dogs like this would rather stay away from people they don’t know, and this is the approach I would take with her especially at her age. Do your dog a favor and teach her that you will NOT put her in a position that she feels the need to defend herself.  She needs to know that strangers will not come into her bubble, but she also needs to follow some rules. Control the dog’s actions (keep her on a leash)  but tell visitors in your home that they are to ignore the dog completely.  No talking to her, no looking at her, no trying to give treats.  Pretend the dog isn’t there.  If the boyfriend won’t follow the rules then that’s a whole different problem.  I will say that my dogs are also members of my family and if a guest in my home won’t follow my rules with the dogs, they aren’t welcome to visit.  You can let him read this if that would help.

If you would feel better with a muzzle on her, then that is certainly something that should be incorporated into her training.

This kind of dog doesn’t want to make decisions, she really would feel much happier and be more relaxed if she knew you would control all situations like this in the future.

You may want to read our groundwork article and check our DVD Pack Structure for the Family Pet and Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.

We also have a number of free eBooks that may interest you. 

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions.  It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

Cindy


Question:

We adopted a 4 yr old GSD female about 1 1/2 yr ago. (She is def. an Alpha female). We immediately enrolled her in a beginners and then intermediate obedience class. My son (28) started taking her to a local Schutzhund club weekly. She does well, but the comment was always "she's a rescue"- as an excuse for the possibility she would not do well. Now they exclaim "And she's a rescue" because she does well. (I purchased a GSD puppy for my son).

The problem is with me... She is the love of my life. But she has decided that it is her duty to protect me... I do not want protection. At club, my son noticed that she would place herself between me and another dog. Just after acquiring her, at a family gathering as I went to hug each person as I left, she followed me and again placed herself between us. When my older son visits, as he hugs me, she barks...she used to jump and bark. We put her in a submissive down position.

We taught her to bark at front door when bell was rung. I encouraged this on 2 occasions and now she thinks it is her job to protect front door. My son and I tried the leash thing. Still a problem.

I realize this is a pack leader problem and have tried the suggested responses... going out door first, sitting/working for food, long downs... etc.. but she still thinks she has to protect me. I no longer take her for walks myself, because if she decides an approaching dog is a problem, I would not be able to control her... I am 68 and have orthopedic problems. So I am missing out on lovely walks with my very affectionate friend. She behaves differently with my son. I have had GSDs before, and did not have a problem.

Answer:

My feeling is that the dog is not so much protecting you but is more "claiming you" as she would a possession. Many dogs guard things they believe they "own," like food, toys, furniture and sometimes owners. Unfortunately people who don't fully understand dog behavior often think the dog is protecting them from potential harm, when they are actually just being possessive. This shows the dog's lack of respect for you, so you are the one who has to change the way she is allowed to behave.

There are really no shortcuts to fixing this, it takes work and training and a change in the way you live with her in and around the house. You say you "tried the leash thing" but I'm not sure what you mean by that and how long you tried. Using a leash once or twice isn't going to undo 1 1/2 years of behaviors that have been allowed to go on.

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

You may want to consider going to the electric collar if you don't have the physical strength to walk her, but only after the preliminary re-training has been done on leash. We have an excellent video on how to use the collar, Electric Collar Training for the Pet Owner.

We also have a number of free eBooks that may interest you.

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions. It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

I hope this helps. Cindy


Question:

Dear Ed,

I have spent a LOT of time searching and perusing your website. It has excellent articles and advice. Of course, we all think that our question is just a little different and we should ask it... I didn't find exactly what I was looking for so I thought I would ask you directly. I totally understand if you don't have time to answer but I would appreciate your advice.

My husband and I brought home our new golden retriever puppy, a female, and the obvious leader of the litter in August, 2009. She is now 8 months old. She is a white golden retriever and we were able to meet both of her parents. Echo is warm and loving but has a tremendous amount of energy. We make sure she gets as much exercise as she wants and needs. We love her and treat her with all the love in the world.

From the beginning, when Echo starts to chew on a toy -- whether it's a stuffed toy or some type of hard chew, she becomes obsessed with it ... it doesn't happen with all toys though. When we try and get her attention or call her, if we start to walk toward her, she bares her teeth and growls. This morning I walked near her and she raised her head, bared her teeth and growled at me.  

This is so upsetting and disturbing.  I've never had a golden retriever behave this way -- but, I must admit, I've never had the leader of the litter either.

Having her have a "time out" doesn't work. Yelling at her doesn't work. It's too scary to try and pull the toy or chew away... I've already been bitten in the hand once when she was just 4 months old.

I will not do anything drastic (putting her to sleep) until we've tried everything to correct this behavior -- but I don't want to do things that an experienced trainer such as yourself know to be incorrect.

Could you please give me some very much needed and sincerely appreciated advice? We love Echo so very much.

Thank you,
Mary

Answer:

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. Whether it’s a Golden Retriever, Chihuahua, German Shepherd or Beagle the advice is going to the same.

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 this way to be mean or spiteful; 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. I’d start out with our groundwork program.  I’d also recommend the video that picks up where the groundwork article leaves off, Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Here is a DVD that I would also 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.

The biggest problem you are going to have is changing your attitude towards your dog. Love is great, but dogs need structure and leadership. You can’t love a dog into behaving the way you want; they just see your love and kindness as weakness unless it’s accompanied by rules and structure. She is running your house. She growls and shows teeth, you leave her alone. You have effectively trained your dog that she is in charge. This is how she would behave to have her way in a group of other dogs, unless you show her now she is allowed to behave she will continue to do this and it will escalate as she gets older.

You will get results if you follow the advice given in the articles and videos.  

Cindy


Question:

Good evening. I am writing you to tell you about my chocolate lab, Taz. We took him home when he was 6 weeks olds. After obtaining Taz we realized that the breeder was essentially running a puppy mill. Taz is now one and a half years old and his mother has already has 3 other litters.

Taz was a well socialized puppy. Playing with other dogs and meeting all kinds of people. He was never abused or mistreated by us. When he was about 9-10 months old he changed. People that he knew he would bark and bark at for no reason. He barks at people on the street walking by. He goes for car rides whenever we go out and will ferociously bark at anyone who walks near the vehicle. He has "nipped" at 2 little children - we have an 11 and 13 year old - although never bitten per say.

When people he knows come to the house he gets anxious as well. His hair stands up and he barks until we calm him down or he realizes that he knows them.

We are at the point of trying to figure out what to do. I am seeing him as a liability. I am fearful that if he were to get out he would attack someone. For example, if he sees the neighbors out who do not even acknowledge them he barks ferociously at them as well. I think that he is the outcome of poor breeding and I am just trying to weigh all my options. We do have a no kill shelter where we live but I don't know if I want to subject anyone to his behavior. He is not safe around small children any way, shape, or form. Just recently he is now going after our cats who he has never bothered before. And when I say going after I mean going after. Very mean bark/growl as if he would kill them if he catches them.

What, in your professional opinion, are our options? I can provide more details if need be.

Thanks for any help you can give

Answer:

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 now a young adult and is taking the leadership role in your house. You need to start from scratch and take the role back from him. Part of it may be his breeding but the biggest part of his behavior is lack of guidance on your part. It will escalate if you don't do something now.

If you want to fix a problem like this you can but it takes some work. I’d start out with our groundwork program. I’d also recommend the video that picks up where the groundwork article leaves off, Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Here is a DVD that I would also 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.

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions. It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

Cindy


Question:

My name is Paula and I am writing in regards to our 13 month old Rottweiler, Roco. Roco has been displaying traits of Dominance/Aggression. We were not very good at all with pact training him, so we fully know it is our fault. We allow him to get on the couch, our bed and pretty much spoil him. Well now it is not fun spoiling him anymore. He is still a really good, well mannered dog, but now sometimes when we go to hug him or pet him in a place he doesn't like very well, he does growl, snarl and a couple times has lunged at my husband and I. He is fine with the kids and he enjoys other dogs. We want to try and stop this Dominance/Aggression. about him before it gets worse. My husband want's to get rid of him because he is afraid that he may hurt our kids or someone else. I told him that I think we should try to work with him and see if he changes before we get rid of him. He is still intact and I have an appointment on Wednesday, 3/3 to have him neutered. He hates the vet and does not like getting a muzzle put on or anyone fooling around with his ears, he really freaks out and runs away and then if challenged to have the muzzle put on he will bite. Another wrong thing that my husband did, because he tried to force the cloth muzzle on him about 5 times, punched him and I probably would have bit my husband also. Anyhow, I know we really need to do some pact training with him and went onto your website and downloaded some suggestions on Pact Training, but one thing that I have questions about is, that you talk about Pact Training new Dogs that you acquire and puppies, that you breed. I was wondering if all of the same rules would apply to our dog since he has been living with us? We do not let him sleep in our room anymore and do not let him on the furniture, we also either put him outside or in another room while we are eating meals. We do not let him go out a door until we tell him it is all right with us. Should we still crate him if he does something wrong in the house and if we start the play time is it all right to do so in our house or only take him outside for playing? I mentioned that he does like playing with other dogs but when we take him for walks and there is another dog coming or across the street, we make him sit and sometimes struggle to hold him back and he screams and hollers. I walk him with the prong collar and my husband walks him with just a regular choker chain. I don't like the way he is constantly have to jerk pull him with the choker chain, but he does not listen to me when it comes to training the dog, because the dog is my baby. Sounds like my husband is also pully the Dominant thing with me also. I know that the Dominance/Aggression. thing is scary and it is scary to me to, but I know it is not Roco's fault and now with proper training he can be a better well mannered dog. He has a wonderful background of highly titled family members.

Hopefully you will be able to help with our Baby Boy.

Thank you,
Paula

Answer:

The rules apply to your dog, even though you have had him all along. You need to completely start over and restructure his life. You also need to change your mind set and not treat him like a baby. This is only going to cause more problems in the long run. If you think your issues are scary now, wait until your dog is 3 years old. If you don’t change the way you live with him and change your attitude about the relationship you want to have with him, then he will continue to escalate his aggressive behavior. He’s not mature yet, and he will push the envelope more and more as he gets older. When we think of dogs as our "babies" we project a weakness to them that enables them to be in control. Dog mothers don’t "baby" their puppies, they are firm and fair with them to teach them how to behave.

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.

I would start by running your dog through our groundwork program and the video that picks up where the article leaves off; Pack Structure for the Family Pet. Follow this work at exactly as you can!

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’d recommend a dominant dog collar and a proper muzzle.

I would recommend learning to use our SEARCH function, which is located in the top left corner of every page of the website. If you type in your key words or question it will find you articles, Q & A’s, free streaming video and links to threads on our discussion forum.

Your problems are common, I receive a dozen or more emails every day with almost identical stories to yours.

Cindy


Question:

I have a 2 1/2  and a 10 month shih Tzu. I have had the 2 1/2 since she was 1 year and the 10 month since 8 weeks old, both shelter rescues. My problem is that they socialize a lot with people and dogs. They're fine with people, but for some reason when they see other dogs they go ballistic. If I take them close to the other dogs they just want to play. It is very embarrassing because if I am in the house and they see another dog passing the window they try and knock the window out trying to get the dogs. I don't know what kind of training I need.

If we are camping and I am inside the RV and they are in there makeshift kennel for out doors, they go absolutely nuts when dogs are just walking by the streets not even close to where they are. Please help!

I have called some trainers in my area but they want to start from scratch like sit/stay/down etc then progress to another level which would be a waste of my money they known those commands. They love people and kids.

Answer:

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.  In my home, I am the one who calls the shots in and around the house. My dogs look to me for guidance, and without this guidance I’m sure they would act like heathens at the door and window also.  You will need to start over with how you allow these dogs to live in your house first.  This has NOTHING to do with basic obedience commands, this has to do with your leadership in your dogs’ daily lives.  You can’t recreate this stuff in a class setting, it has to be done by you and in the dogs daily environment.

If you want to fix a problem like this you can but it takes some work.  I’d start out with our groundwork program.  

I’d also recommend the video that picks up where the groundwork article leaves off; Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Here is a DVD that I would also 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’d also direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website.  It will find posts, articles and Q & A’s that deal with your search terms.

I hope this helps. Cindy


Question:

Dearest Cindy,

Thank you for providing an excellent resource such as your web site. All of the training tools that you have for sale on it make life very easy. Speaking for thousands of your viewers, we really appreciate you and Ed imparting all of your wisdom onto us. We are truly blessed!

My husband and I own a 15 month old, 80 lb, un neutered rottweiler named Sigma. He is a wonderful dog!... as per many peoples remarks. In addition to being very loving, he is very low in the pack structure, very social and extremely submissive with other dogs…. all by his own natural nature. He is taken on two 45-60 minute walks per day, with an additional third one that is short.

The only time that he displays aggression is as follows: during the day when we are at home Sigma, on occasion, is tied up in the front of our house. He is absolutely fine when people walk by; however, when a dog walks by… he rushes to the end of the cable and starts barking like mad. For a correction, we run outside each time it occurs (usually 2-3 times per day) and sternly tell him ‘no’ or wheel him in by the cable. But by the time we run to the front of the house, more than 1.5 seconds has passed.

Could you please advise whether we need a bark collar, or to set up the situation with dogs walking by and administer an ‘avoidance correction’?....

Thank you so much for your continued assistance and support with dog care and training.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Answer:

You could probably use an ecollar and correct him because as you noted, by the time you get outside to correct him it's way too late to make a difference.  I'm not a big fan of tying dogs out as it tends to build up this type of frustration and aggression but if you have no choice then I would probably go with the ecollar.  IF you can't supervise him outside, then the bark collar would be what I would use as it will correct him every time he barks even if you aren't present.

I'd probably also recommend Dealing w/ Dominant & Aggressive Dogs to give you insight into how to handle any other types of dog aggression should they occur.  the fact that he's showing aggression only on when tied out doesn't mean that as he matures this won't become an issue in other areas of your lives as well.  typically Rotts are slow maturing and as they grow up you can expect this to surface in other areas.  this is normal, but you should know how to handle it.

Cindy

Another Question:

Dearest Cindy,

Thank you very much for the quick reply. I am extremely pleased to hear from you.

Sorry if this sounds silly; I was feeling bad for keeping Sigma inside the house during the day. That is why we began to tie him up. Is that an irrational human feeling? Should he be fine inside? When my husband is working from home, which is the majority of days, he is outside the crate and behaves very well. When we leave the home, Sigma goes inside his crate.

Thank you for sharing the wisdom of Rotties maturing late. We will order the DVD to be educated on possible signs of aggression.

Have a wonderful day!

Answer:

Your dog will be fine inside; he’ll actually probably be a happier and more balanced dog.  Dogs want to be with us. Good dog training is as much about controlling the dog’s environment as it is anything else and by tying him outside alone you are setting him up to have issues.

Since your husband works from home frequently, I’d let Sigma be inside with him or in his crate.

I hope this helps. Cindy


Question:

Greetings Mr. Frawley,

I've just spent an hour or so going over many of your articles and have learned quite a bit regarding my dominant female dog. She (Mia) is a rescue dog, boarder collie mix, 35lbs. When we first got her, she was incredibly passive. To this day she won't allow a stranger without a dog to pet her. However, in the year that we've had her she's opened up a lot and now plays energetically with several larger dogs in the neighborhood, mostly chasing but also some wrestling. The problem we're having is that within the last 4 or 5 months she has become very aggressive towards other female dogs of her same size. On leash or off, if she senses a dog is scared of her or timid, she exploits this and attacks. If a female dog seems very playful, and in no way scared of her, then she merely plays with it happily. Additionally, she gets along just fine with much smaller dogs or substantially larger ones. 

After reading a few of your articles I realized that this all might have started when she was attacked by another dog. However, the attacking dog was a male. When she attacks another female dog, I respond dominantly by forcing her to the ground and yelling very loudly. I know you aren't a fan of alpha rolling but she's fairly tiny and has never displayed any dominance or aggression towards humans. unfortunately, while significantly more obedient after the dominance, she doesn't seem phased by the scolding no matter how rough I am with her. How can I break her of this habit? Is it strange that she is only aggressive toward other females? 

It seems like she knows her place within our family's "pack." She doesn't sleep in our bed, she sits before passing through every door. She sits on street corners before we allow her to cross them when on walks. She isn't remotely toy aggressive, food aggressive, or territorial.... just against females of roughly her same size. 

Thank you for your time and consideration,
John

Answer:

The way you are correcting your dog for aggression may actually be making her more worried and anxious. We want our dogs to be indifferent to other dogs, but not worried about us forcing them down and yelling. This only breaks down the relationship between you and the dog. At this point it doesn’t matter why she is aggressive. Humans want to spend too much time on the past. The reality is that she IS aggressive in some situations and she needs to know what you expect and that you will enforce your rules. 

I’d start by giving her clear pack rules and structure. Even if you think your dog knows you are the leader, do this anyway. Let her know the rules are now going to be your way, all the time and then be consistent and fair. This means no alpha rolling and no yelling. If you expect her to not be aggressive, then start by being calm yourself.

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I would also recommend Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs. This video will show you how to properly correct her aggressive behavior without damaging the repoir you want to have with her.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi Ed.

My name is Matt and I own a 5 year old male shepherd who has become progressively more dominant towards dogs, and towards my girlfriend, Sue. I have purchased your dominant aggressive dog, basic dog obedience and  building pack structure DVDs as well as downloading and reading much of your eBook content regarding your philosophy, technique and tactics. Right now we are at the aloof stage and are getting ready to neuter him to better our chances for success. We have also found a behaviorist who we are very confident in, most importantly because he is 95% using your philosophy in his methods. So my question is: Is the belief that if a dog has bitten a person before and gotten the taste (for blood or whatever) that it is in some way a "point of no return," true to any extent? Thanks a lot Ed and we really appreciate what you do for dog owners in a tough situation, you improve lives. 

Answer:

A dog biting someone can be a situational thing, that may or may not have been the dog’s fault.  It may have been incorrect handling or putting the dog in a situation that he didn’t see any alternative but to bite. In my experience, a great number of accidental bites could have been avoided by training the dog and controlling the environment better.

There are some dogs that do get to the point of no return, but one bite (depending again on what the situation is) is not too late, in my experience. Realize that you may (and most likely WILL) have to manage this dog to a high degree for the rest of his life. A truly dominant dog needs structure, rules and management all the time, forever. It’s not something you do for a month or two and then stop.

Cindy Rhodes


Question:

Cindy,

I think I done been challenged by my GSD pup.

Dog--13 month old German working line GSD, intact male. Generally good natured and obedient when not distracted.

Situation--I gave Otis a meat bone, which I do often. This time, he marched off with it and took it out of the room with purpose. He covered it with his paws when I went to check on him and growled seriously when I tried to take it away, then picked it up in his mouth and growled again when I told him "aus" and tried to take it. Usually, he just gives it up.

He was wearing his pinch collar, so I picked him up by the collar and walked him back into the kitchen with his bone and held him off the ground until he dropped the bone. I then picked it up.

So far, I've only had to do this once--I gave him the bone back later and have been able to get back without problem since.  Was this a good way to handle this?

Helen

Answer:

A couple things, if I give one of my dogs a bone then I give it to them in a crate & I do NOT bother them or try to take it away OR I keep them on a leash with a dominant dog collar. I wouldn't allow this dog to have a bone and be loose in the house. Picking the dog up by the prong could backfire on you because if the dog was feeling like he really needed to guard the bone, using the prong could actually stimulate more aggression.

Personally, once I give a bone it's the dog's. Pack leaders don't mess with food or bones once they give it. I take the dog away from the bone, not the other way around.

If I want to get the bone, I pick up the dog's leash and say "Come On, Let's go!" and lead him away. If he carries the bone, I just say Out and then we continue along. I don't reach under a dog to take a bone unless I am ready to control him with a leash and collar.

Now that I've said that, I can take a bone from any of my dogs because over the years they realize I'm fair and not going to battle them for things but there have been dogs in the past that I acquired as adults that I never would test. :) I use my larger brain and thumbs to outsmart them and avoid a fight that could ruin the relationship of trust I hope to have. I'd rather never have to go to war over something like that. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


Question:

Hi.

I have two female dogs who have lived in harmony for three years that now want to kill each other. One dog is a shepherd/huskey (possibly part timber wolf. I was told this when I got her, but did not believe the owner until I saw a timber wolf that looked exactly like my dog); the other is a beagle mix with I don't know what (could be pit bull, boxer...?). Both have been very gentle, but the shepherd/huskey has always been territorial. She won't let anyone near her food or she will give a warning. The other dog is a very submissive dog. The Shepherd/huskey is 14 years old and has cataracts, so getting a little nervous since she cannot see. She gave a warning to the other dog one night two weeks ago when it got too close to her food bowl and they got into a fight to the death. My daughter got bit and I did the wheelbarrow pull to get them apart. I slowly tried to re-introduce them and they were fine for a  week and then someone knocked at the door where the shepherd was standing and when the beagle came running and barking at the door, the shepherd snapped which caused the beagle to tear into her. We once again got them apart and keep them in separate rooms. We have a steel gate between the rooms and the beagle mix tried to go through the gate to get to the shepherd. It has been very stressful to keep them apart and I thought a muzzle for them would help. When I measure them, they are both 2-1/2" long and their nose circumference is 9-1/2" for one and 8-1/2" for the other one. I don't see an appropriate size on your guide. What do you suggest? Do you think they will ever be able to co-exist again? 

Thanks,
Elaine

Answer:

I do not want to insult you or make you mad but I don’t have a lot of time and I must be blunt.

This is 100% an owner problem more than a dog problem. These problems are happening because of the mistakes your making in how you chose to live with these dogs.

The worst dogs fights are among females. I have a folder on people who have had dogs kill their other dogs.

The biggest triggers to dog fights are toys and food. You should have two dog crates and you should be using them. The dogs should be put in the crate and fed in the crate. These dogs need to go through pack structure. Right now they seriously lack pack structure – that is where the growling at you comes from

Run these dogs through the work in Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog. Read the description on the web page for this DVD. This is the beginning trying to fix this dogs issues. If your not prepared to do this you wont fix your problems.

Baby gates are never going to work. You are already finding that out.

Even though I will lose sales muzzles are not the answer spend the money on dog crates. Buy them locally. Dogs can still fight with muzzles on and the fight can be self satisfying. I did a training video for police officer on MUZZEL FIGHTING FOR POLICE SERVCE DOGS. I know what I am talking about here.

So run them through the pack structure and then obedience train these dogs. In this case I would be inclined to do the work in our Basic Dog obedience DVD.

Good luck with your dog. I have added your name to our newsletter.

Regards,
Ed Frawley


Question:

We have a Welsh Springer Spaniel who is three years old  We are the dog’s third owners. 

Cooper is basically a sweet loving dog, but definitely has some very defined aggressive characteristics.

1) He will growl and show his teeth if I ask him to get off something or move.  If I continue, he will lunge at me until I walk away.

2) He will growl and show his teeth if he is sitting on a chair and my husband comes and tells him to move (same behavior as above).

3) He do the same when  a good friend of mine came over to help me when I was sick, he wouldn’t let her in the room.

4) He barks when people get near the car and shows his teeth, he actually tries to get at them (even if we are in the car and tell him to stop. 

5) He hates people that wear a hood or a cap. 

6) He will stand against my daughter if she tries to correct him, she is no longer at home and wasn’t since we had Cooper but he has tried nipping her.

7) He is very very aggressive if we  try to correct him while we are eating.

When I read your article, I was at wits end with him.  After an incident with my husband, who totally uses a kind approach throughtout, he peed on the floor.  The rest of the night he was very passive like he knew we were done.

A couple things I noted:

He sleep with me on my bed.  I allow the dogs (have a little Westie also) to do this, my husband will not sleep with them.  I will now kennel him.

We found t hat putting him behind a gate worked very well while we were eating, he just lays down.

Please let me know how you feel.  I now understand the pack issue and it is very obvious Cooper wants to the be the pack leader.  He goes on walks and is wonderful.  He goes out and retrieves a ball with my husband all the time.  He is terrified of the night.  If he is let out he will just stay next to the house.  Of course we have an outside kennel he normally is in without us being with him.

Thank you,
Barbara

Answer:

You need to change the way you live with this dog.  He would get NO privileges to be on furniture or to even be in a room off leash.  He would wear a leash and dominant dog collar when he was not kenneled and if I couldn’t watch him then he would be in a crate. No more freedom for him.  If you are worried about being bitten, then I would suggest a muzzle, we have directions on how to measure the dog on this page.

Make sure to get him a crate, not a baby gate. 

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet. I’d also recommend the DVD Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.

We also have a number of ebooks, which include topics that may help you. 

For future questions, you might benefit from learning to use our SEARCH function, which is located in the top left corner of every page of the website. If you type in your key words or question it will find you articles, Q & A’s, free streaming video and links to threads on our discussion forum. Our website has over 16,000 pages and it’s very likely you’ll find the information you are looking for. I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

Thank You and More Info:

Thank you Cindy. We have a large crate for him and he sleeps in it at night and is absolutely fine.  When we eat he is put behind the gate in the front room where his crate is. I can’t do no more freedom, I just can’t. He has been changing right now. Cooper and Snickers are home during the day and have their favorite room to get up and look out the window. I will read and keep reading and thank you for answering me. I also do not allow him to go in front of me down the stairs and that too is working. He is not a bag dog just mixed up as far as leading the pact. 

I do want the newsletter and the articles. Thank you again for answering me.

Barb

Answer:

After reading your initial email again I believe that you are kidding yourself if you think crating him at night and using a baby gate when you eat is going to address this.  You have a serious issue with this dog and someone is going to be hurt unless you actually take our advice seriously. 

No one said he is a bad dog, but the attitude of the human pack leader should be much more clear.  I can tell you feel sorry for this dog and your attitude is actually a big part of the problem.  Letting this dog get up on furniture to look out the window is like giving a disrespectful teenager no consequences when he should have been grounded. Feeling sorry about taking away a privilege from a dog is projecting weakness to the dog, which only reinforces his status as dominant. 

If what you are doing is working then that’s great, but in my experience you are not making enough of a difference to change his behavior long term.

I wish you the best. Every day we have emails from people who have been bitten by their own dogs, many times with photos. I’m merely trying to save you the pain and heartache of being one of those people.

Cindy Rhodes


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