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  June 27, 2013
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How to Break up a Dog Fight

How to Break up a Dog Fight

This video was featured in our newsletter about a year ago. Since then we have continued to receive several e-mails from people who have seen the video and were able to use the information, as well as people who attempted to break up a dog fight with unfortunate results. Every one of those people wished they had seen this video before it happened. Just remember Its always okay until its not. So go ahead and take a few minutes to watch this short video. That way if something does happen, you will have a better understanding of how to handle the situation.

June 27, 2013   |   7 Minutes, 28 Seconds

Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question

Question: Our young dog was scared by a person who charged at her during a family gathering and now she reacts aggressively in other situations. Do I have a problem?

Hi Cindy, 

I have a 16mo GSD. A month ago, someone charged my dog for "fun" at a family party. Initially, my dog cowered, and everyone got a pathetic laugh. That same person who charged my dog, could not stand up from a sitting position without my dog jumping up on all fours and barking aggressively at the previous perpetrator. My dog could not relax while that person was present. This person told me that I had a serious problem with my dog. I laughed. 

Today I took my GSD to the vet. The assistant entered the room unannounced, and stated: "I'm going to take your dog now for its shots." As she approached my dog, the dog barked aggressively at her. I want to blame the staff's poor approach: entering a room without announcing, approaching the dog and owner without repore first established. 

Am I rationalizing or DO I HAVE A PROBLEM? 

No aggression in other social settings. (Neighborhood walks: Loves people and other dogs) Working on mild separation anxiety. 

To be concerned or not??

Cindy's Response:

Your dog is lacking confidence, probably in part due to the core temperament paired with the experience of being charged.  If anyone did that to my dog it would have not ended well for the person who thought that would be funny.  Young dogs are impressionable and look to us (as a leadership figure) to protect them from outsiders or scary situations.

The vet's office is another place that most dogs lack confidence, and I’m guessing that your dog felt vulnerable and scared and used the aggressive bark to try to “make the scary person go away” For what it’s worth, I also NEVER allow my dog to be taken into another room when I have reason to take them to the vet.  Anything they need to do with my dog can be done with me present.  I do agree that the staff member of the vet could have approached the situation more sensitively.

I’d work on being more of an authority figure to your dog, by controlling the environment when you can. (i.e. if you need to take your dog to family gatherings, keep him leashed and on a down right next to you). Part of this is educating the people around you, “please don’t approach my dog, he’s in training, etc..”

You may benefit from Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I recommend this 3 part video series on fear periods in dogs, it explains how to condition the dog to things that make it nervous. It’s geared towards pups but contains some excellent info.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Pack Structure.

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 Q&A Search. 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!!!

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I want to thank you wife of 43 years and I have always love and had German Shepherds, this is our first time of seriously trying to train our 2, two year old puppies. (Because we both are retired, the only excuse I can think You guys make it so exciting, to try new commands, like marking and treats. 
I guess what I'm trying say is, you make it fun for our puppies and two old kids to be together. 
Thank You.....

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