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January 27, 2014
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Aggressive Shelter Dog

Aggressive Shelter Dog

In this question and answer, Ed Frawley helps out a Leerburg customer who adopted a "dog selective" dog from the Humane Society. This customer wants to do what is best for the dog, to provide a good life, and fit into her home. However, she got some bad advice on what to do with the dog. In this short video, Ed will give a few other options to try to control or manage the dog aggression.

Leerburg Q&A
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Question: My dog wanted to play with another dog a lady was holding at the dog park. My dog eventually got the other dog's tail. The woman became angry and said I was unable to control my dog. What do I do in a situation like this?


I have a 6 month old Akita Inu. She's a really friendly dog but today there was an incident. A lady came into the park holding her little dog up in her arms like a baby. My dog wanted to play with that other little dog and kept leaping up to the lady to play with her dog. Eventually she got hold of that puppy's tail and held on causing the woman to lose her mind and accusing me of being unable to control my dog.

What do I do in a situation like this?

Ed's Response:

I am probably going to offend you, but sweet talking this issue is not going to change the facts.

The lady who had this other dog is DROP DEAD CORRECT. Either you chose to ignore the facts or you truly don’t understand dog training and dog behavior.

Now, I do give you credit for searching the internet and finding my web site. If you are looking for information on what you need to do to fix this problem I can offer that. But if you’re looking for someone to support your disillusions you came to the wrong place.

Your dog is not trained. If it were you, would be able to call your dog back from a distraction (like this small dog being held in its owners arms)? A dog that is not under control in the face of any distraction is UNTRAINED. A dog that bites another dog while it is ignoring the handler is not trying to play. Jumping up and trying to drag another dog out of the arms of a handler is not PLAY BEHAVIOR.

So what to do?

You stop taking your dog to dog parks or parks where there are other off leash dogs. Read the article I wrote on dog parks.

You keep your dog on leash ALL THE TIME until it is trained. From the gist of your email, that could be it’s entire life. Fixing a good deal of your issues comes down to proper management. I recently produced a short video on Management for one of our recent newsletters. It’s free to watch if you can watch streaming video on your computer. I suggest you watch it. Good management is just as important as good obedience training when it comes to living with a dog.

You need to train this dog with a balanced dog training system. Simply put that means you train behaviors with motivational methods followed by training that shows the dog that there are consequences for refusing to follow commands that it fully understands.

Many people can’t bring themselves to correct a dog for bad behavior. They think a correction is punishment when in fact the purpose of a correction is to change bad behavior. Those people need to wake the hell up.

I obviously don’t know you, so I can’t say which of those people you are.

Ed Frawley

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Dog Parks.

We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this week's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Search Engine. This search engine was written specifically for Leerburg by our in house IT manager. Our search engine is specific to Leerburg and only searches and the Leerburg web forum. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!

Customer Comments

On Leerburg's Pack Structure

Dear Ed, 

I had frantically contacted you 2 years ago regarding my English Bulldog. You & I emailed a couple times. I was asking questions and beside myself as this was the most intelligent, beautiful animal I have known, but he was being what I thought was aggessive. I realized from your articles it was a question of dominance and we clearly needed to implement pack behavior. He had become quite aggressive with my husband and tried to take him down one day. One of your comments, haha, was that I needed a new husband. :) 

In my last email to you, my husband had decided to put him down, our vet recommended it. I was devastated, crying trying to find him a home, thinking how I had failed this dog. 

I have been meaning to let you know that I didn't allow him to be put down. I had him neutered, told my husband to give me 30 days of pack behavior training. He's now 3 years & has turned into the most amazing dog I have had. I thank you for your work and for sharing your knowledge. 

The Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers
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