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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Dealing with Dominance Problems in Dogs

Dealing with Dominance Problems in Dog

Dealing with Dominance Problems in Dog

Read our Article on   Electric Collars / Remote Collars & Dog Aggression

I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as 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.

Below is a long list of Q&As on dominance. If you really want to solve your dominant dog problems, get the 3 1/2 hour DVD I produced titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS It's not a lot of money and is based on my 45 years of experience in training dogs.

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  1. I have written articles on dominant dogs.

  2. I was severely attacked by my 2 year old dominate GSD. Can you tell where I made the mistake in handling this dog?

  3. One of the most common questions I get is, “Our puppy is very mouthy, is always chewing on us or the kids. What should I do?” For this reason I have answered this question in several places on my website.

  4. I have a neutered 4 year old Miniature American Eskimo that is aggressive to visitors. She bites at their pant legs, what should I do?

  5. I have a Giant Schnauzer who I basically rescued at 2 years of age. He is overly aggressive and dominant. What should I do?

  6. My dog has recently taken a disliking to my husband. What should I do?

  7. I have a 10 month old Rot that always grabs the leash and acts threatening when I try to stop it. What should I do?

  8. My dog, (who used to be friendly to everyone), has been teased by a co-worker. Now he is very protective. What can I do to make him friendly again?

  9. Should I Alpha Roll my 20 month old Rot who is snapping at me when I correct him?

  10. My friend has a new baby and a 9 month old dog. The dog is getting nippy, what should she do?

  11. I have created a monster. Is it too late to change him?

  12. We have a dominant bitch who has recently started attacking other dogs while on our daily walks. Can this be corrected?

  13. Our Scottish Terrier pees on my husband’s leg. What should I do?

  14. Why are you against allowing dogs to live together in a pack situation?

  15. My 6 year old lab/chow mix attacked my son today when I tried to put him in the crate. What can I do?

  16. We have 2 Jack Russell Terriers who almost killed each other. What can I do?

  17. Our 7 year old female attacked our new GS puppy and broke it’s jaw. What should we do?

  18. Our 7 year old Rot won’t mind me and growled at my 2 year old. What should I do?

  19. My girlfriend has a rescue dog that has bit her twice. Her trainer advised her to Alpha Roll the dog to correct it’s aggressive tendencies. What do you recommend?

  20. My male Jack Russell Terrier almost killed our new female puppy. What should we do?

  21. My 2-year old chow challenged me last night. We are considering starting a family and I am concerned about this dog. What can we do?

  22. My Beagle growls at me when he gets up on the SETTEE. What can I do?

  23. My rescue Greyhound snaps at me. What can I do?

  24. I own a dominant Rot. He responds well to me because I ENFORCE my commands and he knows it. My girlfriend does not believe in strict obedience and lets him get by with what he wants. What can I do to get through her thick head? This dog has serious MONSTER POTENTIAL.

  25. I adopted a 5 year old poodle who was allowed to sleep in bed with the previous owner. We want to stop this. When we put her in a crate she howls all night. What can we do?

  26. My new golden retriever is aggressive toward children, runs away when it gets outside and lunges at anyone who tries to take her from my bed. What should I do?

  27. I have a rescue male Rott. It attacked me yesterday when I was peeling scabs off his muzzle. I was bit in the arm and chest. Can I train this out of him?

  28. My chow-mix would not let me out of the back door of my home yesterday. What should I do to fix this?

  29. I have a 5 month old dominant Malamute that I have been training with a prong collar. The local trainers want me to Alpha Roll the pup to establish my Alpha Position. I am not sure I should do this. Can you give me your opinion?

  30. Our 11 year old Laso bites everyone. The groomer will not groom him, the Vet insists that he be knocked out when he comes in, he has bitten my husband 2 times in the last 2 weeks (once causing punctures). Should I kill this dog?

  31. We hired an expert behaviorist on aggressive dogs who could not deal with
    our adopted dog, George. The behaviorist and our Vet recommended putting the
    dog to sleep. We are not sure this is the right decision. What do you think?


  32. My dog has bit me 2 times in 2 days. I think the lord has sent me a message. What can I do?

  33. My 4 year old GSD bit me when I tried to take garbage away from him. I ran away. What should I do now?

  34. Here is a person who is doing almost everything wrong and is going to get bit.

  35. My 9 month old GSD is starting to nip at us when she comes and pushes our
    hand to get pet. She is also starting to bark when she is in the crate. What
    can we do?


  36. My dog attacks me, my family, and anyone else it sees. What can I do?

  37. Our 17 month old GSD is in quarantine for biting our son. My husband is going to kill this dog when the 10 day quarantine is up. Is there something we can do to save this dog?

  38. I have acquired a 1 year old female that is very dominant. Can you tell me what I need to control her?

  39. We have a half long haired Chihuahua, half Poodle that has bitten everyone in our home. Can you tell me how much shaving the dog's teeth off would cost? We really want to stop this dog from hurting people when it bites.

  40. I am 13 and my 6 year old GSD has recently started growling at me. What should I do?

  41. My trainer thinks that we should put our 2 1/2 year old GSD to sleep because he has bitten me. What do you think?

  42. My 5 month old American Bulldog is constantly challenging the 3 year old Bulldog. How do I stop this?

  43. My wife and I have created a dominant dog by how we raised him. We are now afraid that he might hurt our 1 year old daughter. Can he be saved if my wife and I are willing to change? Will he be safe with our daughter?

  44. My cousin's Westy jumped on my pillow and bit my face the other night. Do you have any advice?

  45. My Rhodesian Ridge Back pup picks fights with my 9 year old Lab. I am afraid that the baby that I care for will get hurt. What can I do?

  46. My 18 month old GSD has started to growl at my husband and I. Is it too late to obedience train him? Will it even help?

  47. My 4 year old dog bit me this morning. Would training classes or getting him fixed help? I don't want to put him to sleep.

  48. My dog growls at my sons and sometimes other people when they pet him. I don't want this behavior to continue but don't want to be too aggressive in correction and break our bond. Any suggestion?

  49. I'm having problems with my dog and using the electric collar to help control and he has even bit me. What am I doing wrong and what DVD's do you suggest to help with this?

  50. Is it common for a daughter of 18 months want to take over her dam's alpha position who is 4 yrs old?

  51. I have an 8 month old Boxer who has a very dominant personality. How do I teach my dog that my son and boyfriend  are higher up in the pack? Is it possible for an 8 month old Boxer to be aggressive?

PRONG COLLAR WARNING:

When you use your Prong Collar, we strongly suggest you use a Leerburg Dominant Dog Collar as a safety backup.

Prong Collars can come apart when not not put on properly. If a leash is clipped to a Leerburg Dominant Dog Collar along with the Prong Collar, you will have control of the dogs in the rare occurrence that the Prong Collar fails.

To learn how to correctly fit a Prong Collar, go to http://www.leerburg.com/fit-prong.htm or purchase our Basic Dog Obedience DVD.

Dog Training is NEVER without risk of injury. Do NOT attempt these training techniques yourself without consulting a professional. Leerburg Enterprises, Inc. can not be responsible for accidents or injuries to humans and/or animals.


QUESTION:

Have you written articles on dominance and aggression?

ANSWER:

Here is an article I just wrote that will help a lot of dog owners understand their dogs and training. The Theory Of Corrections in Dog Trainin.

This subject is a very complicated issue. It's not that easy to understand because there are so many things that come into play. Dogs will become dominant because of genetic and or environmental conditions. For example:

  • If several dogs are allowed to live together in your back yard and not kenneled separately, they will "pack up." When this happens the dogs develop a pecking order and dominance becomes a major part of their life. This can have tragic results as in the Sabina Davidson Rot Murder Case.
  • Many dogs can live a normal life and never become dominant no matter what living condition they are put in. On the other hand a family dog that is genetically disposed can live in a one-dog family and become dominant if it is allowed to sleep in the same bed with the owner and is fed from the table.

To understand dominance, one needs to study pack behavior. To anticipate dominance one needs to recognize pack behavior. No matter what, when it all boils down to the bottom of the pot our 4 legged friends are pack animals. They inherited pack instincts and live by pack rules.

If you go to the article section of my web site you will find over 200 training articles. There is an article titled Dealing With the Dominant Dog and Dealing With the Overly Aggressive Dog. You will also find articles on The Drives of Protection Training.

To fully understand what is going on with a dominant dog, there are a lot of things you need to know. Reading these articles is a good start.

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QUESTION:

I have some questions, which have been nagging me for some time, concerning an incident that I had with a GSD a couple of years ago. A local GSD breeder who asked me if I was interested in adopting a 3-year-old GSD male, who had been returned to them by the owner because of aggression, contacted me. The male had a very strong working dog pedigree (Bitch was German Sch. I/Sire was current police patrol/narcotic dog with an excellent reputation). The breeder said that the dog was territorial, possessive over the ball and had bitten a person whom had entered its fenced yard. The GSD had prior obedience training, no prior bite or protection training and was very intelligent. I had, and still have, an adult female Rott that I raised from a pup and felt confident that I could handle this dog and possibly use him in obedience trials. I had the dog for about five months, worked in obedience with it daily, groomed it regularly, could crate the dog, eventually was able to retrieve the ball from him without incident and believed that I had bonded with the dog. I believed that he was a dominate male but not overly sharp (carried a high tail, would lean against me when on lead, initiated previous fights with litter mates, was not fearful of gun fire or easily threatened). I treated him as a dominate male by only petting as a reward and on my terms, kenneled outside, never permitted in the house, continued obedience training, used the "down" frequently, utilized a prong collar and corrected the dog when necessary.

At no time did the dog ever display any type aggression toward me. Occasionally, the dog would hesitate to go to the down position, but once corrected he would stay there until released. On the last training day I had with the dog, I had got him out of his kennel and began doing our normal obedience training and using the ball as a reward. As usual, I would throw the ball, the dog would retrieve, circle around me, lie down on my left side and drop the ball in which I would pick it up and move onto the next training task. On the third retrieve, I bent over as usual to pick up the ball and the dog went into a full attack on me. During the attack, the dog bit me on the right hand, which I was using to pick up the ball. I had a prong collar on the dog and immediately attempted to deliver a level 10 correction with my left had. As I was delivering the correction, the dog spun around on me, bit and held me by the left hand. Out of instinct, I struck the dog in the face with my right hand in which he let go of my hand and immediately attacked again by taking a full bite and hold on my left forearm and began thrashing. I then kicked the dog, in which he released my arm and transferred his bite to my right leg and held. In an attempt to "de-escalate" the situation, I stopped fighting the dog and stopped looking directly at him. After a few seconds, this appeared to have no effect on his attack, so I dragged him to the gate (a heavy wooden gate made from 4x4 timbers) of the yard and proceeded to close the gate on the dog's muzzle with great force. The dog immediately released his bite and yelped as if the experience with the gate had hurt. I left the training area and inspected my injuries, which resulted in about 20 stitches to my hands and arm. Before leaving to the hospital, I retrieved a firearm and proceeded back to the yard to kennel the dog. When I went back into the yard, the dog's attitude completely threw me for a loop. Foolishly and mostly out of anger, I walked up to the dog, gripped the lead firmly, delivered a level 10 correction and intentionally stared into the dog's eyes. The dog basically cowered, went into the kennel without incident and even whined when as I was leaving the area. Not knowing why the attack occurred, I consulted an experienced Police K-9 Handler and a Police K-9 Trainer. I later found out from the trainer that the breeder from whom I had received the dog from had attempted to give it to him, which he refused. He said he was familiar with this dog and attributed the attack to the dog being poorly socialized, dominate, being teased by one of the owner's children as a pup and to a possible hormonal imbalance. His explanation of the hormonal imbalance was that the dog was approaching full maturity, that male GSDs receive one final "burst" of testosterone and that unstable male may experience temperament problems from this. Needless to say, both the trainer and the handler both said that the dog was unpredictable and recommended that I have the dog put down, which I did. I have had several working dogs in the past (Dobermans, Rottweilers and Boxers) and have never experienced this problem or even heard of it before.

The questions that I have are: Is there such a thing as a hormonal imbalance? What is your "diagnosis" of this dog? Did I do anything wrong with this dog? If so, what did I do and what should have I done?

Thanks,
Dave

ANSWER:

I chose to answer this email in detail because you sound like you know what you are doing and you did almost everything right, but you were still badly attacked because of your own mistakes. I will put this answer on my web site.

This dog was beyond your skill level as a trainer and you obviously found this out. Dogs like this require a very experienced professional handler who understands drives and pack behavior to a “T.” These kinds of dogs have a zero tolerance for handler errors.

The description you were given by the police trainers is 100% accurate. Not many police K9 trainers are qualified to make this kind of evaluation. K9 officer are almost always better handlers than trainers and very few are instructors. But these people that you talked to hit it right on the head. This was a dominant dog and you screwed up, not a lot just a little but with dogs like this there is very little room for error.

This dog was a real rank dog, he saw himself as the pack leader. You knew that and did almost everything right, except in how you handle the toys. This dog had intense prey drive along with dominance mixed in which made it a very dangerous dog around his toy. You made the mistake of using the toy in obedience as a reward and added force in taking the toy away. Your small mistake resulted in you being attacked.

When using toys with dogs like this you must use more motivation to get the dog to release the toy, rather than force. When I say force I mean either as a voice command or with a prong collar.

When working a dog like this with toys it is always better to use the two-toy method to the get the dog to drop the first toy and then throw the second toy. By throwing a second toy for him to chase (after he drops the first toy) the dog is never near you when you pick up the toy he dropped, so there is no danger. Also using an electric collar (at a mid level stimulation) to reinforce the OUT is the proper way to get the dog to drop the toy – preferable not when he is standing next to you but rather when he is about 10 feet from you on the way back to you.

The real mistake was using toys at all in training these types of dogs. Their prey drive and dominance are so high that it is better to use food or praise as a reward in training and not toys. Toys become a distraction because they want them so bad they become more concerned about losing them than they are about going out to get them. Then their fight drive kicks in and they attack.

My gut feeling is that the police made a mistake in not taking the dog, but there may have been other issues in his temperament that caused them to say no. Usually dogs like this can do respectable police service work, but again require an experienced handler. They do not make good obedience dogs because their dominance is too strong. The most someone can hope to accomplish with them is to make them obedient.

Once you were attacked you also made a mistake (which you found out). You should have froze and used your voice and screamed as loud as you could in a strong firm voice to OUT – or NO or LEAVE IT – whatever words that you use. If this did not work you need to be very careful in how you escalate the fight. These dogs have fight drive (as you found out). The more you fight the harder they fight. So at this point you need to disable the dog, this means he has to be rendered unconscious. This is either done by choking him off you or killing the dog with a weapon. If you choke the dog it needs to be done until he is OUT COLD and by that I really mean OUT COLD. If you release his throat to soon he will wake right back up and attack you again. During the process of attack-choking process there is a fine line between saving yourself and hoping to settle this problem once and for all. If you can remain calm and still choke the dog you will give off the air of superiority. This will often (not always) re-establish your pack leader position. The idea is that this dog (if he is to live after this encounter) must understand that biting you is not an option; he must understand that you have the power to kill him at any time. Once a dog understands this, then they submit.

OK – now that I have half the dog world (mostly clicker people and Brits – they don’t even allow prong collars in their country) pissing and moaning about what a brute I am and how disgusted they are that I could treat animals like this, I would ask them to walk in your shoes and then see if they paid attention to every single word I said.

The general public has never seen a dog like this and never will. This is not your normal little phoo phoo who growls over a toy, they are not the 12 month old puppies that are chewy with their mouth (because that’s what puppies do – use their mouth to play), they are not the dominant dog who has been allowed to sleep in someone’s bed and now growls over getting his butt kicked out of bed. These are true rank dogs with good nerves and intense drives.

I also do not care to have people respond to this and ask me what I think of their dog’s temperament because it growled at them or their neighbor or their brother who teases it. There is enough information on my web site about overly aggressive dogs that they need to go there and read the articles and Q&A sections. The solution to most people’s problems is a sound obedience program. That was not the solution to this dog. Most dogs’ temperaments allow handler errors; this dog’s temperament did not allow any.

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QUESTION:

My puppy is very mouthy. It grabs my kids, my arms, my pants. What should I do to stop this?

ANSWER:

Many puppies younger than 4 or 5 months (especially in working breeds) are very mouthy. They bite pant legs, arms, rags, kids etc. They are not doing this because they are mean. The fact is that 99.9% of them probably have a pretty sound temperament. When a pup does this it is displaying prey drive. If you would like to read more about prey drive go to the articles I have written on my web site on the Drives of Protection Training. Even if you have no interest in protection training you will learn what prey drive is from this article.

This mouthyness goes away on its own when most dogs are 4 to 5 months old. But if you have a little 10-week-old alligator that can seem like an eternity. Puppies can be taught not to bite the handler or family members by simply saying "NO or PHOE" and then grabbing them by the scruff of the neck and shaking them. You usually have to shake them until they scream. Often a light shake only makes them think you are playing with them and they growl and try grabbing you. So if this happens you are not being forceful enough. It normally only takes 3 to 5 times of doing this properly to teach the pup that when you say "NO or PHOE" it means stop biting. Doing this also helps establish you as the pack leader. Dogs are instinctively pack animals. By using your head and a very limited amount of force or pressure you become the unquestionable pack leader. This helps control any later dominance problems with the dog.

People who plan on doing protection training with their dogs are often concerned that shaking to stop ankle and hand biting will diminish the dog’s protection work. This does not happen. As long as the handler is doing the things we show in our video Bite Training Puppies, there will be no problem. Basically a puppy needs to learn what is and what is not a "prey item." Even in the wild a mother wolf will only put up with this rough play against her for only so long. Then she stops it by shaking the pup by the neck. So what I tell people is that after they have corrected the dog, give it a minute and get the ball on a string out, (see my article on why playing with a ball on a string is so important for a puppy), or get the hand towel out and play tug. Let the pup win the tug and drag it off. This teaches him what is prey and what is not prey.

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QUESTION:

I have a neutered female 4 yr-old Miniature American Eskimo. My husband and I both work during the day, and she is alone all day. A very small amount of obedience training has been done with her, but she pretty much runs our house. The problem: She has become aggressive with most people who approach our home or us. She seems mostly aggressive with men, and has grabbed three or four by the pant leg. I need a video to help train her with this problem. What video would you recommend? (I took my two previous Eskimos to Dog Obedience classes and found them not to be very successful with this problem.) HELP!

Dena

ANSWER:

This can be stopped but it takes a commitment on your part and your husband’s part. 99.9% of the times that this problem can not be stopped it's a handler problem and not a problem with the dog.

The solution begins with the correct obedience training. Everything to do with problem solving begins with obedience training of one sort or another. I strongly recommend you read what I have to say in the description of my tape on Basic Dog Obedience.

You need to take your dog through this program. You may need a prong training collar depending on the temperament of the dog. Some people think little dogs do not need training collars, when in fact I have seen a lot of very hard little dogs. If you do not understand what I mean by a hard dog you can refer to my article on the subject - click here.

Your dog needs to go through the learning phase (explained in detail in my tape) on the long down. The dog needs to understand that you are prepared to follow through with corrections in the correction phase. These corrections need to be firm or they mean nothing to a dog like this. This is where a lot of novice dog trainers have problems. They think little "pho pho" does not need to be treated like that. Most of the time this is the root of the problem. Unless a pet owner is prepared to establish himself (or herself) as the pack leader there will never be a positive solution to any problem they face with the dog. There are very few firm and constant rules in dog training but one is this, "if a dog is at the correct stage of training to receive a correction, one good correction is worth 50 nagging corrections." That philosophy needs to be seated in the handler's mind.

I need to temper this by saying that this does not mean you go out and beat up on your dog. What it means is that if the temperament of your dog requires a level six correction (on a scale of one to ten) to be effective, you do not try and get by with a level 2 correction.

Now you need to make some place in the house the dogs spot. This can be his dog crate or a special throw rug or something like this. The dog is taught to go to his spot. He is rewarded with food (or a toy etc.) when he goes there. You need to be able to send him there when you want from anywhere in the house. This starts from a very short distance (severe feet) and ends up with you being able to send him there from a back bedroom. Make a game of this. Always reward the dog with a treat.

Once the dog knows the command, should it refuse to comply it must be corrected and dragged to the spot with a lot of praise when it gets there. Have the dog wear a 2-foot line in the house so you can easily grab it.

Up to this point the dog has not been made to stay on his spot very long. Now its time to teach him that he must stay there until you release him. Start with a few seconds and build to 30 minutes.

When that's done its time to introduce distractions. Your husband in the living room, or send him to his spot just after your husband returns home from work. Let the dog greet him and then send him to his spot after a quick pet. Again, firm corrections for non-compliance.

The ultimate distraction for this dog seems to be visitors. The procedure for handling a dog when you have a guest is to allow the person to come into the house. The dog can go up and smell the guest if there is no aggression or growling. The guest should not try and pet the dog, nor should he move away from the dog. He (or she) just stands there and talks to you ignoring the dog. Once the dog has smelled the guest you command the dog to his spot and it must stay there the entire time the visitor is in the house. You need to reinforce this with strong corrections, which may be distracting for the guest.

The important thing is that the dog is not sent to the spot without having a chance to greet the person who comes to the house. If there is any growling or nipping at this point the dog is corrected with a level 10 correction by the 2 foot drag line and taken to his spot.

You may find that after following this procedure 2 or 3 times the dog can be allowed to be around visitors. But always be prepared to reinforce any signs of aggression with a correction and sending the dog to the spot.

This entire procedure is re-establishing your position as pack leader. No matter what we think our pets are pack animals. The key to dog training is to realize this and then establish yourself as the respected pack leader. Dogs become territorial because of pack behavior, but the bottom line is that the pack leader is the one who determines when to enforce territorial lines and the pack leader determines who will fight first.

I hope that you are able to deal with the correction phase. That's the part that most people seem to have trouble with. It really all comes down to consistency, correction and praise.

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QUESTION:

I am a 40-year-old woman who has always had dogs - all kinds of dog. I particularly like dominant dogs in that I want protection (I live alone). My experience has been with Dobermans (females - love that breed). Recently I rescued/adopted an almost 2 year old Giant Schnauzer who was apparently left to his resources for 20 months. He did not have proper human bonding, was belligerent and arrogant when first here but has come around somewhat. I have worked him daily with obedience; I practice "we live an obedient life."

He is a VERY dominant dog. I walk him every morning for about 90 minutes, it is an excellent exercise period and we practice obedience. This morning as we were coming off a steep mountainside we hike up Aries (the dog) became very aggressive towards a hiker. I had him on a very short lead, as I rein him in when I see someone (mostly because I'm worried about dog aggression, which he has been regularly demonstrating ... he was fine for his first month with me, friendly with other dogs, then suddenly he turned to berserk boy). Anyway, he just lost it with this man. I had him on a flat lead and choked all the way down and told him no, no, no. The usual. What bothers me is that this dog will display aggression out of the blue. He's fine for days or a week and then BOOM he flips out. Before flipping out with the hiker, as we were coming off the top of the mountain he grabbed his lead and tried to pull me down. Now, I'm a pretty athletic woman but this dog is one strong SOB. I shortened up the lead tried to get him under control and kept walking. This on again off again behavior makes me leery. I had him on "choke"; no lead available for the rest of our walk home (a good 30 minutes) and immediately put him in his crate. I have realized in our short tenure that this is not a dog to take on - he just gets more committed to his dominance. He'll definitely take the challenge.

I think he's got a good temperament and he's very smart, but he's definitely got aggression issues with dogs and now people - and out of the blue (this is what bothers me the most the Schizo behavior). The breeder is going to be prejudiced in this matter but I like my face and want to keep it. Please write me or give me your phone number so I can call and talk with you. I need expert advice early in the game, I've only had him two months. We've been to one group obedience class and it was good socialization but he needs a lot of private work and attention. I think he can come around but I have moments where he worries me. He flips out. He loses his focus. Because he had NO training from his previous owners he gets lost in the moment and fails to respond properly to commands. I want a dog I can enjoy not one that I'm worrying is going to attack the dog, the person or God forbid me. Please give me some thoughts or let me speak with you.

Best regards and thanks for your time,
Lisa

ANSWER:

I assume you have read my articles on Dealing with the Dominant Dog and Dealing with the Overly Aggressive Dog and that you are doing these things.

To begin with, this dog needs serious obedience training. This must include “prong collar work.” I call a prong collar "power steering for dogs." If you are concerned for your safety then you must invest in a good muzzle and take the time to put it on him and let him adjust to it before obedience training with it on. It must become second nature for him to have it on or he will expect a fight every time it goes on and we do not want that. This can take a couple of weeks and means every walk is in a muzzle - there is nothing wrong with this - its done all the time in Europe. I would recommend the Police style muzzle we sell - not cheap but very secure and safe.

If it were my dog I would take him through my Basic Dog Obedience video (and muzzle if necessary). I would not take him to obedience classes until I was through with the training and then only in muzzle. Why risk a dogfight before you have control - you are putting the cart before the horse by introducing him to all of the distractions of other dogs before he is trained to mind you.

You need to read the Q&A sections on my web site.

I would then get one of the Tri Tronics Electric collars and work "LOW LEVEL" stimulation training on the dog. I use these methods on my police dogs - which are about 100 times tougher than anything you have in a Schnauzer. Make sure to get the right model - there are a lot of them but you need the ones that offer multi-level stimulation from the transmitter. Do not do the collar work before you do the normal obedience.

If you follow what I say you can probably work this dog. It will take a lot of work and attention to detail.

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QUESTION:

My 6-month-old Australian Shepherd is an extremely smart, responsive dog but has no use for my husband. I walk him everyday and I used to feed him. Since we noticed this problem my husband has begun to do all the feeding, and though the dog is nicer to him he won't leave the house with him or play with him. Thanks for any help you can give us.

Kathleen

ANSWER:

Maybe your dog is trying to tell you something about your choice of partners. Just kidding.

Have your husband turn into a hot dog machine. Go out and buy these cheap hot dogs and cut them into small pieces. Your husband should give the dog treats every time he can think of it. When you go for walks, let your husband call him and give him a piece of hot dog when he comes. Have your husband brush and groom him. This also helps.

In addition, your dog should never sleep in your bedroom. Sometimes a dog will get attached to the female in the family and be allowed to sleep in the bedroom. When the husband sleeps with the wife, this triggers a dominant response from the dog. Make the dog sleep in a dog crate or another room.

If these things don't work - either get a new dog or a new husband.

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QUESTION:

We have a male Rott that is ten months old, he has one annoying habit. When on the leash he will periodically bite at the leash and we have tried everything to try him to break this habit, he seems to do it to get something going and then he gets feisty and argumentative. If you try to use force, it gets worse. The Alpha roll does not seem to get it. He is better with my wife, he really tries to get something going with me. Looking for help, we would like to break him from this and we do not want it to grow into something more serious. Do you send videos to Canada?

Thanks ......concerned L.S.

ANSWER:

There are a couple things to talk about here:

  • Stop this “Alpha Roll” stuff right now before you or your wife are seriously hurt. You SHOULD NEVER alpha roll a dog without a muzzle on. More people are bitten on the face because they jump on top of a dog because the dog slips the grip and bites the face. I shake my head at so-called knowledgeable trainers who tell new people to alpha roll the dog to teach him who the boss is. Read the article on my web site called Dealing with the Dominant Dog.

  • When a Rot is 10 months old it’s not a small animal. It needs to know the meaning of the word “no.” This should have been done at a young age. I also have a training article on this. I would get an inexpensive muzzle, (like the plastic ones I sell), and a prong collar. The dog needs to learn that this is in appropriate behavior and these 2 items will allow you to correct the dog without being hurt. When you correct him, do it with a level 10 correction. I always feel that in cases like this, 1 good correction is better than 1,000 nagging ones, (and you have been nagging him so far).

  • Something like this also requires obedience training that is balanced with proper praise. We can’t just take our dogs out and beat them up all the time. We need to use motivational training that is balanced with praise, (and corrections). You can learn how to do this with my video Basic Dog Obedience.

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QUESTION:

I have a two-year-old Australian cattle dog that was given to me as an adult at one and a half years of age. He was such a loving dog when I got him, he liked everyone. I am a construction worker and took him to work with me to socialize him. He stayed in the back of the truck all day long and never got out as long as he could see me. He was a dog for everyone. Children use to play with him all day long.

This guy at work started teasing him because he said he looks like he would bite. I didn't know he was teasing him, but guys would tell me he was. I confronted him about it and he denied it. I brushed it off, but I took the guys statements more seriously when I saw Zeke's attitude changing.

Now he no longer let's people come up to the truck. I could not ride him and the fellows in the truck together anymore. He will not even let them get in. He has turned into a biter, and I want my original dog back. I think he is a very good dog, but I am no expert. Zeke use to ride on the backhoe with me and would stay right beside me lying down on the tractor floor while I would dig holes and ditches, and he would never move unless someone came near the tractor. He will also retrieve all that I throw for him. He does some agility work and a lot of other things. Now he is so aggressive that I leave him at home or when I take him out in public I have to put a muzzle on him, and he hates it the whole time out he fights the muzzle trying to get it off. I want my love all people dog back. Can you help me to get him back? Also he has turned into a dog fighter and would like to know how to stop this behavior also.

Thank you so very much for any information that I can use or try to solve my problem, Sal

ANSWER:

I would get the dog neutered. This may work, it may not - but it must be done to see if it helps mellow him out. Most of the time on an adult dog it does not have a lot of effect.

Then you need to do a lot of obedience work with the dog. Do what I show in my Basic Dog Obedience video. The more obedience you have on a dog the safer it is, it also makes the dog look at the handler as his pack leader - often this takes some of the fight out of a dog. In a true pack, the pack leader is the one who determines who fights and when.

Then I would go out and buy cheap hot dogs. I would get friends to walk by the truck and toss the dog pieces of hot dogs. Make people into hot dog machines. Over time see if the dog will allow them to approach and pet for a hot dog. Do this every where.

I would also resist the urge to have the dog become protective of your home by barking at the door etc etc. He sounds like a dog that will be there if needed without any training.

The bottom line is that all of these things may not work. But they are your best hope.

Maybe you would also want your dog to meet this guy that did the teasing after work some day before getting neutered and the transformation begins. Sounds like he needs an attitude adjustment right along with the dog.

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QUESTION:

I have a 20-month-old male Rott. Over the past few months he has been displaying aggressive behavior when corrected. What I mean by aggressive is growling, bearing of teeth, and just last night, he actually snapped at my hand as a warning, in my opinion. He is getting to where even a stern tone makes him pin his ears, and become defensive. Even growl. He listens to commands when growling though. I can put him in a down position, and he obeys. We have 2 children 3 and 8. Also when he is permitted to lay on the bed, when he is prompted to move, he disobeys, and if I touch him to move him off the bed, he growls and bears teeth. I have been considering the Alpha roll, with the muzzle of course.

ANSWER:

I get emails like this and shake my head and wonder how lucky people have been and how foolish they have been. You need to read the article on my website titled How to Deal with the Dominant Dog.

To begin with, your male is coming into maturity and is becoming a dominant dog. Unless you get a grip on this right away both you and your family are at risk. This dog should NEVER be allowed in the bedroom. This is crazy!!! Much less on your bed. He should not be allowed in the dining area during mealtime and he should never be fed before the family is fed. I am not going to go into what I describe in detail in this article.

You should get a Jafco muzzle and a prong collar for this dog, and our Basic Obedience tape. When you work the dog at this point he needs the muzzle to make sure that he doesn't bite you.

If you value your face and neck - DO NOT DO AN ALPHA ROLL. Trainers that tell people about this should be shot. More innocent, un-educated people (like yourself) are badly bitten in the face when trying to do alpha rolls on big dogs that I can count. You have no idea how powerful a 20-month old Rott can be when he is really pissed off. If you try and take him down on his back and hold him there when he is thinking that he is the boss, you will find out.

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QUESTION:

I'm writing on behalf of my friend Candace. She has a nine-month-old neutered male GSD named Canaan. Canaan comes from a line of even-tempered shepherds and was raised with children. Candace did some obedience work with him, though he tends to not always listen to her as well as others. Candace had a baby five weeks ago. Although she did all the appropriate things to prepare Canaan for the baby, he has not adjust well. he is fine with the baby, but takes it out on Candace. He has grabbed at her hands and nipped (not breaking skin) and when she is nursing the baby he gets into things and is destructive. He is clearly getting her negative attention, and she has been spending lots of time with him. The situation is fairly stressful and she is concerned that the adjustment might never work. Any tips?

ANSWER:

Here are the options:

  1. Buy a dog crate and crate train this dog.
  2. Read my articles on my web site on Dealing with the Dominant Dog, while this dog may not be dominant at this time he is beginning to mature and these issues need to be addressed.
  3. Obedience train this dog - DVD 302 - Basic Dog Obedience.
  4. The dog should not be allowed near the baby. It must never be allowed in the baby's bedroom. It must never be allowed in their bedroom - not for any reason. It eats after they eat, etc.
  5. Get rid of the dog, find a new home if they are not prepared to do what’s necessary for the baby and the dog.

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QUESTION:

I have recently acquired a Dachshund. He was one year old when I got him, he is now 14 months. The people who had him before me kept him alone in the back yard. They could no longer keep him because of a barking problem. I felt that a barking problem would not be to hard to break I was wrong. He still has that problem to a degree. The bigger problem is he has become EXTREMELY aggressive the longer we have him the worse it gets. He is fine with our family, but when other people come over they are in danger of being bit. There have been a few people who come over who Rufus seems to take an instant liking to. He is a very loving dog with our family. After reading your articles I can see we have been doing a lot of the wrong things. Like letting him sleeps in my bed, eats at our table, and has a toy box of his own loaded with toys. My questions is this now that I have created the Dachshund from hell in only 3 months can I reverse the situation by dethroning him using the suggestion in your articles, Dealing with the Overly Aggressive Dog. I just don't know what to do.

ANSWER:

Yes you can change this dog. It will take a little work, but if he is to ever have a chance at being a normal dog you must make the effort or put him to sleep. My advice would be to try helping him first.

You need to do everything in the articles on Dealing with the Overly Aggressive Dog and Dealing with the Dominant Dog. I would also recommend a Tri Tronics No Bark Limiter.

Then start the dog on a serious obedience program. Read what I have to say about Basic Dog Obedience. This is a key issue. The dog needs to learn to mind, and this can only be accomplished through a sound foundation of proper training.

During this training I would create a spot for him in the house (on a specific rug for example.) He should learn to do a long down on this rug, with the long term goals to have him go to the rug and stay there for 1/2 hour or more. Then when visitors come the dog is allowed to greet them and is then sent to the rug. This eliminates the threat of a bite (if he does not mind he is corrected, use a prong collar if necessary). The key point here is the dog must have an opportunity to see who comes and greets them BEFORE being sent to the rug. If you do not do this you will only raise the frustration level and make things worse rather than better.

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QUESTION:

My husband and I acquired a Gordon setter from a breeder who told us that Indy was a dominant bitch and couldn't get along with other bitches. We have another older dog, which is a big friendly kind of guy.

We had some problems with Indy immediately, but we did get her to get along with our older dog. Four months ago, Indy began snapping at other dogs while out on walks. In one instance, my husband was bitten as he tried to pull her off another dog. These incidents are escalating quickly. Indy recently grabbed the neighbor's dog, a small thing, and tried to shake it to death. We literally had to pry her jaws off the other dog. She also goes after big dogs.

After the most recent attack (while on leash in our front yard and against a meek Dalmatian whom we know), Indy acted weird for several days, sort of slinking around the house.

We have not yet contacted a behaviorist, but my husband wants to consider putting her down. I'm heartbroken. She is very sweet toward the two of us. Is this behavior correctable?

Mary

ANSWER:

Dog aggression is a real pain. It can be difficult to eliminate, but it can be controlled. I would begin by assuming that this dog is 100% obedience trained. She obviously has distraction problems with other dogs.

I would work her on a prong collar on all walks. If needed I would sharpen them. I call prong collars "power steering on dogs."

Some people do not have the personality to properly correct a dog when it needs a stiff hard correction. Only you can answer this.

I would also recommend getting one of the cheap Jafco Muzzles.

I would also have an electric collar on the dog on walks. It needs to get a strong stimulation for even looking at another dog. You can not shock a dog once the fight is on, it thinks the other dog is causing the pain. The shock must come when you say "NO" and turn to move away. If the dog does not immediately respond and go with you it gets shocked.

This dog should not be walked where there are other dogs without a muzzle on. It's not fair to the other dogs.

Unless you are prepared to make the changes to correct this problem, you should follow your husband's advice and put the dog down.

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QUESTION:

I am wondering if you can help us or tell us where to look for more information.

Our Scottish Terrier, Angus, is 11 months old. He is a male and we also have two female Labrador Retrievers, one 6 years old and one 12 years old.

Angus of late has urinated on his master twice now once when he was in his rubber boots and once when he was in moccasins. Needless to say my husband is not pleased. Is this a dominance issue or is he marking my husband. My husband does most of the feeding and the dog has bonded with him extremely well. We have not had a male dog before so this is a unique experience for us. He is a Scottish Terrier and seems to be quite independent.

We would appreciate any advice you could give us on this as we do not want to see this action continue.

Karen

ANSWER:

My gut feeling is that this is a dominance issue. I would direct you to my article on Dealing with the Dominant Dog.

The dog needs to go through a serious regimented obedience program - Basic Dog Obedience. I would work the dog with a prong collar (you can find them on my web site if you can not get them locally).

When the dog does this he needs to be corrected - really corrected. But that is not the end solution. The solution is in the article. Follow every single step of that article it works. If I can get a grip on experienced police dogs who have bitten the crap out of a lot of bad guys by using these methods you can certainly control a small terrier (who has the heart of a police dog).

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QUESTION:

I read a few of the pages on your sight about the case of the Rottweilers who killed the boy waiting for his school bus. I find it interesting that you are generally against a pack living situation for dogs. I'd like to hear your reasoning on this.

Many thanks,
Kristina

ANSWER:

The general public does not understand how much pack drive their little Fido has in his genes. Increased pack drive means an increase in dominance in some of the dogs in the pack, and it means the dogs become more territorial than they already are.

When dogs are kept separated, the pack drive is still there, but it's not on the surface of the dog's temperament. When people allow dogs to live together (unsupervised) as a unit the pack instincts become predominant.

That’s part of what happened with the Rotts in Kansas (that plus the fact that this woman is one the most irresponsible pet owners I have ever seen).

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QUESTION:

I have a 6-year-old lab/chow mix. He has always been a good dog, but not very obedient. Because of his behavior lately (eating food off counter, sleeping on couch) I locked him into my bedroom while at work. He destroyed my carpet trying to get out.

So I went to the garage to retrieve the crate we used years ago for him. He refused to get into it, and when I tried to physically put him into the crate. He attacked me! It was much more than a snap, he grabbed hold of my arm, and started shaking when I finally got him off, and pushed him, he came back at me. I stood up, and directed him outside. After about 20 minutes I allowed him back in, but he wouldn't let me near him. Out he went again. With the help of several other adults, he did go into the crate.

I have a 10 year old son, and I probably don't need to tell you that... they are best friends. I have noticed that he plays rougher with him lately, but never has been "mean" to him. I have recently read about the "alpaha" order, and realize I have allowed my dog to become the head of this household. He has always shown aggressive behavior, he has always growled or snapped when backed into a corner... We are prepared to work to save this dog, but will he ever be able to be trusted around the children?

Angie
Seattle, WA

ANSWER:

This is 100% your fault. Problems like this are usually the owners fault. You have not established yourself as the pack leader and now that you need to be you have to fight him and this is not an easy matter, as you already know.

If you want to salvage this, you have to get a muzzle and get the dog used to wearing it. The plastic Jafco muzzles that we sell are not a lot of money and work well. The muzzle must become something he lives in for a long time. It comes off to eat and drink and then goes back on.

You also need to get a prong collar and my Basic Dog Obedience video. You need to take this dog through the obedience programs in this video. This is the only way to start to regain your authority. With a muzzle he cannot attack you.

Read the article I have written on Dealing With the Dominant Dog - it's in my list of training articles. Unless you do these things, you will be attacked again. Your son is probably not in danger as long as he does not try and make the dog do something he does not want to do. If he tries to force him into the dog crate he will be attacked too. The bottom line is that you need to become a responsible pet owner. A lot of people make mistakes like you have made because they don't know any better. Now that you know there are no more excuses.

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QUESTION:

I found the information on your website to be very helpful-particularly about dog fights. I have two male (neutered) Jack Russell Terriers. They have been together since one was 12 and the other was 8 weeks old. We initially questioned having two males-we had always heard that JRT's of the same sex would fight to the death if given the chance. But when we introduced the younger dog to the older one they immediately took to one another-the older one allowed the younger one to sleep in his bed, share his food and toys, etc. We felt comfortable with the situation and our vet said it should not present a problem.

We have had them about 1 year and a half and during that time they have had their share of normal-what I would consider-sibling skirmishes but on Friday it all changed. I should mentioned two things before I tell you the situation-We have recently moved. I have also started working from home. I am not sure how significant these changes are but feel that they are worth mentioning.

On Friday morning I was in my office when they started growling and "squaring off" at one another. I was on the phone so I shoved them out the door-well I am not sure what happened but 10 minutes later they were still fighting and there was so much blood (floor to ceiling) that my house looked like a murder scene. I know that if I had not managed to break them up they would have killed one another. I am not a big woman by any means but I managed to separate them-only after I was bitten though. They each had to be rushed to the vet but the larger and what I have considered to be the more dominant dog was the most severely injured. He had 14 stitches and a broken foot.

We are devastated. I do not want to have to give one of my dogs' away-I don't think I could. It would be like "Sophie's Choice." They are like my children. I have also struggled because I witnessed something that I never thought my "little angels" could possibly be capable of. My husband and I are scared to leave them alone unattended now. We are going to seek the advice of a professional behavioral dog trainer but she is so busy that it may be months before we can get started.

ANSWER:

This was a wake up call. These dogs can NEVER be left alone again. They will always fight and one will kill the other. It's not a matter of "maybe," it's simply a given fact. You have passed the point of no return when a fight like this occurs. Especially with this breed.

You cannot expect 2 males like this to live together. The only way this is going to happen is if they are kept separated. Use a dog crate - one is in the crate and the other is out. That's the only way. If someone tells you differently they are giving you bad advice.

The only way they could ever be out together is if they are both muzzled and can not hurt each other - but even then they will go at it until one is able to hurt the other.

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QUESTION:

I have a problem I hope you can help me with. I have a 7-year old female GSD and a 14 week old male GSD. About 4 weeks ago my 7-year old attacked the pup over a rawhide and broke his jaw. I normally don’t give my animals rawhide, but the pup has a biting/mouthing problem and this helped. (He was taken away from the mother at 3 weeks of age by the breeder with a bad injury and left at an emergency vet. That is where I adopted him). My female showed no signs of bite inhibitors during this incident. My husband had to pull her off him. Prior to this the 7 year old would play with the pup and tolerated him. Since this episode we have separated both dogs behind gates and by using crates. I read your article on bringing home a new dog to a house that already has a dog prior to writing you. Do you believe we can get these 2 dogs to get along and live together?

My 7-year old was raised with a male dog and they got along well. She was the obvious alpha to the two. She does show aggression towards other dogs, but not all dogs. Since I have separated them there has been no signs of aggression from her, but the stress in this house is beyond belief! Can you please help me? Thanks for listening!!!

Sincerely,
Barbara

ANSWER:

The issue was over food. The dogs can never be fed together or you will have a dog fight. This same thing could happen over a toy. I would be very careful.

If the dogs must come into contact then get one of the Jafco Muzzles that we sell, they are very inexpensive. Make the bitch wear it all the time they are together. If she shows aggression then you need to do some serious training with both dogs. I would recommend that you read what I have to say about Basic Obedience. This work establishes the pack leader. You would need to work the bitch in a prong collar and leave it on when it’s around the pup. If it shows aggression (even in a muzzle) then correct it so hard that it thinks it's going to die. It must learn that this behavior is unacceptable.

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QUESTION:

We have two dogs, a 7 1/2 year old female rottweiler mix (neutered) and a 7 year old male rottweiler (not neutered). We have had both since they were puppies and both were raised as outside dogs. The male is very dominating toward the female and will push her out of the way any time we try to pet her. He is also very aggressive towards our neighbor's dog (a toy poodle) and rushes the fence when it barks at him. He refuses to mind anyone but my husband and is therefore very difficult for me to control.

The dogs live exclusively outside and are restricted to half the yard by a three foot high fence. We spend quite a bit of time outside, but since the birth of our son (who is now almost two) the dogs spend more time on their side of the yard.

My son likes to look at the dogs, but recently the male has lunged at him rom behind the fence. I am very concerned by this and am now afraid to be in the back yard with my son with out being right next to him since either of the dogs could easily jump the fence. Recently, when the dogs were on our side of the yard, the male attacked and bit our cat. He had never shown any aggression toward him before and we're not sure what caused this attack. I suspect that the male is becoming jealous of our child and that explains him jumping at the fence.

My question is, do you think we should keep the dogs or give them away? Would it do any good to have the male neutered? I am very concerned for our son but am not sure who would take our dogs since they are middle aged and we would like them to stay together. Since they are not extremely aggressive (especially the female who is very gentle) we don't feel that they should be put down, but we feel they may not be suited for a home with small children. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks,
Nancy

ANSWER:

Find a new home for the male and keep the female.

  1. You cannot control the dog so how can you protect your child if the dog does attack which it has already tried to do?
  2. This is not worth the risk to your child; neutering at this age is not going to make one bit of a difference.

The female should be OK, but I would run her through an obedience program like I explain on my website.

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QUESTION:

My girlfriend is sharing a house with 2 other girls. One of the girls owns the house, and she also owns a Vizla (a 3-year-old dog from a rescue). I understand the dog was abused by a prior owner. The dog has bitten the owner twice, once in the hand (about two weeks ago) and on both her cheeks (two days ago). After the first bite on the hand, the owner sought advice from a dog trainer that advised her to assert an alpha roll by ignoring the dog, not feeding it for a couple days, and then having a physical confrontation with the dog. It seems that ever since the trainer's advise, the dog has been very aggressive towards the owner by growling at the owner, ignoring the owner, and acting quite depressed. The dog owner also owns a cat, and the dog has had the cat in its mouth and was seemingly attempting to toss the cat until my girlfriend directed the dog to put the cat down. The dog hasn't acted hostile towards my girlfriend or the other roommate, but that may change soon because the owner has requested (under the trainer's advise) that my girlfriend and the other girl ignore the dog as well. Is the dog trainer giving the dog owner good advise? Is this a proper Alpha Roll? What should the owner be doing?

Bob

ANSWER:

I plan on putting this email on my web site as an example of idiots giving stupid advice. We have here a self proclaimed expert not only giving bad advise but very, very dangerous advice. This is a perfect example of people who own problem dogs not knowing who to listen to and in the end, listening to the wrong person.

So here is what needs to happen:

  1. Give this lady a copy of this email. Tell her to go to my web site and read what I have written. She needs to believe that what I am telling her is correct. So she can read anything she likes on my website.

  2. Do not do any "Alpha Rolls," this is the best way in the world to get your face bit off. Any trainer who recommends an Alpha Roll on any adult dog is a danger to society and should be banned from all dog training. They take computers away from hackers, they need to take dogs away from incompetent trainers like this.

  3. Tell your friend to read what I have written about these kind of dominant dogs. I have a great deal of information on my web site that deals with issues of dominance and overly aggressive dogs. There are many reasons for both of these behaviors. I would suggest that you spend some time reading the follow things on my website:

    • My List of training articles
    • Read my article titled Dealing with the Dominant Dog
    • Read the Questions & Answers
    • Specifically spend time reading Q&A on sharp, dominant, and aggressive dogs
    • This dog either needs serious obedience training with a prong collar or it needs to be put to sleep. If you would like to learn something 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 dog training.
    • This dog is more likely a product of poor breeding than being beaten. The most common statement I hear from people is that they "got a dog from a humane society and it has so many problems because it was beaten by the previous owner." The fact is that 99% of these dogs have poor temperament because of their genes. They were given up because their temperament was so bad the previous owner could not stand them either.
    • Last but not least, give a copy of this email to the idiot that gave her this advise. With a little bit of luck this person will have a brain in their head and realize they have been giving stupid, dangerous advise and change their ways. Somehow I doubt this will happen.

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QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Ed Frawley:

I found your website on the Internet, and I was hoping you would be willing to help with some advice or maybe a referral to someone who would be able to help us.

I am sorry to say that we are having a problem with our Jack Russell Terriers. We have a 5-month-old male Jack Russell Terrier who we bought from a friend who bought him from a pet store called "Just Puppies."

We have had our male dog for about 1.5 months. My husband bought me a 12-week-old female JRT for mother's day. He bought the female from a JRTCA breeder who was home raised - she is the best, we have had for a little over a week.

Our male "Rusty" is not a very happy dog, he hardly ever wags his tail (he was 5 months old on May 14th - he is 13.5 inches at the withers and approximately 13 to maybe 14 lbs.) Our female "Molly" is very happy - she wags her tail everywhere she goes, great with our child, we already love her very much, (Molly is now about 13 weeks and only 5 lbs.).

We have tried letting them duke it out and we have tried keeping them apart for a few days, because Rusty bites her and pulls on her ears. Rusty is always growling, baring his teeth, and biting (Molly at first was taking the abuse, but now her fur stands up and she is growling also). The first night they were home together he pinned her down by the neck and she was gasping for air (she couldn't even yipe in pain). Molly can be walking across the yard and Rusty will go over to her and bite her legs, neck, or back - sometimes he will start dragging her. He is not playing with her - she could be sleeping or using the bathroom and he will do those things to her. She is not allowed to play with toys or anything else without him lifting his lips and baring his teeth and starting a fight over it. He doesn't allow her to eat or drink without pushing her out of the way. She will wait for him to stop eating or drinking and will take her turn, but Rusty just comes back over and pushes her out and tries to eat all the food he can Molly's ribs are starting to show). Molly on the other hand is playful - she has the best temperament, but she is getting sick of Rusty - it is very apparent that she dislikes him and does not want to play with him - and she is starting to act aggressive like him.

What can we do? Will this problem change? Rusty will kill Molly if left unattended there is no doubt in my mind about that. We want to help the situation, but we are worried that nothing will ever change. Please help me with some advice or a referral if possible.

Thank you,
Rashel

P.S. We already spoke with the breeder of the female and she referred us to a trainer. She said that we should not break up the fights, but we tried doing that and Rusty got Molly by the throat and once again she was gasping for air and he would not let go, when we finally got him to let go - Molly sat up and puked. We have watched the dogs and Molly has been very submissive with Rusty, but Rusty seems to be looking for a lot more than alpha status. The trainer that we spoke with seems to give dogs higher precedence over children, and we thought since you have children you would have better advice. Rusty has snapped, nipped, or bit (whichever word you would prefer to use) our child at least twice and has tried several times, but luckily they are always supervised. The trainer said that we should not allow our child to be around the dog when he has a toy, food, or bone - but that seems virtually impossible considering he always has one of those things. Our child is NEVER left unsupervised with either dog, but when our child is just trying to be nice (by petting or hand feeding - never hitting, teasing, or playing), what can you do?

I left out one thing: Rusty is a coward is scared of certain balls in our yard, loud noises, and you can not pick him up by the scruff of his neck because he starts yelping so loudly that you would think someone is killing him. No one has ever done anything to him at our house, except for when he bit our child he was picked up by the scruff of his neck and told "NO!" and put in his carrier. I don't know what ever happened to him, but my guess is someone has mistreated him to the point of nervousness. The first few days we had him he wouldn't even come to us - he seemed scared of us, but yet curious about the things we were doing. We are scared that our child is the one who will end up hurt. Please help.

ANSWER:

Let me begin by saying this breeder is wrong. I cannot stand stupidity and this breeder exudes it.

Let me say that the puppy looks to the pack leader (YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND) for protection. You are doing 100% the wrong thing in not protecting this poor puppy. Put yourself in this pup's position. If you come into a new home and someone comes around and try's to kill you, what would you do? When you have a good answer for this you will begin to understand the poor female puppy.

I am not sure why peoples common sense seems to go down the toilet and out the door when it comes to dogs, but it often does. This is a perfect example. Unfortunately people are given the tiles of BREEDER and TRAINER and because of this they become experts. Too often they are long on advice and short of common sense.

Your male needs his butt kicked. He needs to learn some manners or suffer the consequences of not minding. He needs to learn that YOU and YOUR HUSBAND are the pack leaders and you will not tolerate this.

If you would like to learn something 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. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes.

You have to spend some time on my web site reading the Dominant Dogs article and Q&A sections.

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QUESTION:

Dear Ed,

I just finished reading some letters on your website and liked your answers. I have two dogs...one a chow/lab mix and one full blooded chow. The full blooded, Pride, lunged at me the other night and darn near scared me to death. We got him when he was six months old. We've had him for 1 1/2 years and he has never done this before. He growls a lot, but my husband says that is his way of talking. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't. Anyway, my other dog had jumped up and taken a bag off of the kitchen table and they were both trying to get into it. Pride did not like to be corrected I guess because that's when it happened. Our other dog, the mix, can just get a look from me and the tail goes down between her legs. She rarely has to be corrected and it takes little for her to know she's done wrong. She's been that way since the day we got her. My husband and I are planning to start a family next year and I'm afraid this will happen again. After the incident, I put him outside for a while and when I let him back in, all he wanted to do was give me kisses. Do you think we should put him to sleep? I've heard chows are one family or one person dogs and I know anyone who would be interested in him would have to be told the reason for us giving him away and then they probably wouldn't take him. As we were originally planning to breed him he has not been fixed. Do you think this will mellow him out any or is he exhibiting one of those aggression behaviors you were talking about?

Thanks,
Tania

ANSWER:

This dog has a dominance problem. It will not go away without you doing something about it. The dog is challenging your position in the pack. That's what happened and you did not recognize it for what it was - a challenge. Putting him outside did not really accomplish anything. It will happen again.

This behavior can only be controlled by you establishing your pack position. This is done through obedience training. If there is any question about the dog challenging you in this work he should wear a muzzle so you cannot be injured. So there are a number of things that need to happen here:

  • Get the dog neutered. You should not breed the dog. Go to an outside stud dog to breed. People that think they want to breed mistakenly think they should keep males for their breeding. That is a big mistake. New breeders should keep females and pay stud fees to a top stud dog. That's how the breed is improved - not by breeding the family pet because they think it is cute.
  • Get one of the wire muzzles that I sell, or one of the Jafco muzzles and make the dog wear it a lot. He has to wear it enough that he doesn't even think about it when he has it on.
  • Get a prong collar and learn how to train this dog. Unless you can establish your pack position you will never cure this problem. Some people simply do not have the temperament and cannot or will not learn to give an effective correction. If you are one of these people, put this dog to sleep.
  • If you do not understand obedience training (and I do not think you do) get my Basic Dog Obedience training video. Read the description of this tape and you will see how little you know.
  • Get dog crates and use them in your home.

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QUESTION:

We have a lovely 7 month old Beagle who is a great dog who loves other people and dogs and will willingly shares her toys and food. She is not allowed on the bed or settee but when she does get on there and we go to lift her off she growls quite badly her tail is underneath her and she has snapped. The only other time she does this is when she has something she shouldn't have i.e. a sweet wrapper, lolly stick or sock etc. We do have a young child and are not used to this sort of behavior (our previous dog was very placid) we are very worried and concerned and need some expert advise as to handle this problem.

ANSWER:

First I have to ask what a "SETTEE" is? Is it one of those women things that rich people have in their bathrooms?

Well there are a couple of solutions to this problem. You could hire a dog behaviorist and spend a few hundred dollars - or you could pick the dog up and bounce it off the wall behind the SETTEE when it growls at you. I will guarantee you that one trip off the wall will cure the problem.

I have written an article on Dealing with the Dominant Dog on my website. Obviously you have not found it. Go there and read what else you have to do.

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QUESTION:

I hope you don't mind questions. I have a dominant female Greyhound X. She is very dog aggressive and will bark and nip friends that visit on a hit and miss basis. We have done obedience classes and she is about 70% on sits and downs. Her stays are 20% and only with treats. I have no idea how to convince her. We got her from the pound a year ago and she is 6 years old.

We let her sleep in the bed and she is less then 4 feet away when we eat. I like her sleeping with us. What should we do? Can we reduce her dominance and still let her sleep with us?

If I'm playing with her and I grab her in some way that gives her mild discomfort she barks and snaps at me like I've ripped her leg off. On the other hand I can play with her face or push her over and even when I am really bugging her she wouldn't dream of snapping at me.

In short she shows all the signs of dominance but only some of the time and even when she is aggressive with us she is self restrained. It seems like we are members of her pack and she cares for us but does not always accept that I'm in charge.

I have a great relationship with her and would have a hard time going all draconian with her. Some friends have suggested drugs. What should I do?

Doug

ANSWER:

Read my article on Dealing with the Dominant Dog. I stop reading every email I get like this - when I get to the point where people tell me they let their dog sleep in their bed. This is drop dead stupid. READ MY ARTICLE. I don't care what else is going on or what you are doing - this is self induced.

Your dog is not trained and unless you make an effort to train then you will continue to have problems. You need to make an effort to understand pack behavior and obedience training. Maybe your search of the Internet is an indication that you too have come to this conclusion.

If you would like to learn something 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.

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QUESTION:

The issue at hand is my roommate and I have 2 different views of dog training. I see it like "the dog does what I say or deal with the consequences" and I can be rough. I don't mean to be rough but it has always produced good dogs in the past. His view is "let the dog do what it wants without consequences" when it involves others. He views it as good socializing and the dog will get better in time. We don't listen to each other re:dog training because we differ at the very basic philosophy of dog training. I emailed you so he could hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Any ideas how I might get through his thick head that he could make a better dog than he has now? And that he has a dog that has serious monster potential even though it doesn't show any signs of it right now.....?

Thanks again, frustrated
Brandon, Boise

ANSWER:

Dog training is not rocket science it's common sense. Let him read the section on Dominant Dogs on my web site. If he cannot see the common sense in it then "get a new roommate." I don't have patience with people who are stubborn and do not have common sense. You certainly don't want to live your whole life with someone like that. I am surprised anyone would want to room with someone like that.

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QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Frawley,

I just adopted a 5 year old toy poodle. Her previous owner was an elderly single woman who kept her on her lap and had her sleep on her bed.

She's a good dog. She gets along well with my 1 1/2 year old miniature poodle.

My only problem is, how to get her to sleep in a crate and out of my bedroom. She connected with my husband and would love nothing more then to sleep in our bed. I managed to get her off my bed and onto a day bed but I rather she spent the night with my other dog in the kitchen.

The first evening she arrived we placed her in the kitchen she spent the entire night howling. My other dog began to whine too. The following evening I put her in the kitchen alone, she howled.

Generally she's a quiet dog, she rarely barks (both dogs aren't big barkers).

This is the question - can I get her to spend the night with another dog or in another room away from the family with out the racket?

ANSWER:

This is an issue of nerves. Your nerves.

Crate train this dog. The more it howls the more time it spends in the crate. It needs to be in the crate during the day and at night until it accepts the crate. If you give in the dog wins. Put the crate in the garage where you cannot hear it. This dog does not need to be in the house if it acts like a dink.

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QUESTION:

Hi, I'm a "new dog owner"(My dad had a dog while I was alive and she eventually became my dog, but she didn't need any training.) We put her to sleep and I bought a Golden Retriever puppy. She's approximatly 6 months old. She's pretty good most of the time. She took a beginner’s obedience class and is pretty well potty-trained. The major problem is that she is aggressive. I was hoping I could tell you about it and you could give me a suggestion. When I give her a pig’s ear, or some other special treat, I, or any other adult can take it away no problem. But when anyone younger than 14 tries to take it away, she viciously lunges at them. My sister had to get stitches in her forehead. The other problem is that she lunges and growls at anyone who tries to remove her from my bed or punish her. (We normally grab her collar and put her muzzle on.) The other problem is when she knows she is being bad she bolts away when you even flinch in her direction. When she gets outside by accident she doesn't come to you no matter what. She just runs away. I tried treats, toys, soft voice, and many other things. The problem lies in the children. They can't punish for biting because they're too scared to even touch her. What are your suggestions? Thanks. Respond quickly as you can.

Blake

ANSWER:

Read the articles on website about Dealing With a Dominant Dog. Your dog is not obedience trained. 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.

Most of these problems are correctable - most of these problems occur as a result of the mistakes made in raising this dog.

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My five month old cane corso growled at me:

My five month old cane corso growled at me when he broke place and I was correcting him. I was wondering if this would be considered normal challenging or is this something I should be concerned about. He does not challenge my husband and he doesn't challenge me when my husband is home. He has done this three times. We are training him very strictly with him being in the crate, elimination area, or place in the house only unless we are working with him and he is always on the leash if he is out of the crate. I don't know if this form of training is too extreme. I have a two year temperament guarantee and don't know what I should do. Thank you for your time in answering my questions.

Ed's Answer on Cane Corso growling at owner:

It needs to be a concern. This is the beginning of dominant behavior. With these dogs it can be a bad thing unless you deal with it right now.

Its time for serious training here. I recommend the following DVDs

Basic Dog Obedience

Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs

If it were my dog I would be planning on using a remote collar on the dog - after I did the foundation training. I did a DVD on this last year - Electric Collar Training for the Pet Owner. I personally use a Dogtra 1700 on my own dog.

Here is a directory of information on my web site for dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

Good luck and don’t ignore this behavior.

Regards,
Ed Frawley



The Dog Tank at Leerburg in Menomonie, WI Closed