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Categories: Fear Aggression

Q. My dog has either become protective of the house or scared about people coming into the house and barks at them. Do you have any suggestions for additional training to help?
My dog, which is now 4 years old, is a lab mix whom we adopted from a shelter. Since she was a puppy (Mattie) she has exhibited signs of weak nerves. We always attributed her aggression toward people as acts based out of fear or lack of trust. She has also exhibited problems wanting to dominate relationships with other dogs and, in doing so, displayed signs of aggression.

As far as we were concerned, we had raised and trained our dog very well. She follows all commands with the occasional exception of the Come command when she is distracted by other dogs or people (usually during this time she is exhibiting aggressive behavior). For this, I worked with her on a 100 foot rope and tried to introduce distractions. Additionally, we introduced a radio controlled electric collar. This tool has worked well and has all but eliminated that problem. However, the aggression is still there.

During her four years, she has bitten someone unprovoked, has chased roller-blader?s, snapped at people that have visited our house, and has gotten very aggressive with other dogs. In all these instances, we have blamed ourselves for lack of command or training and her background (as a shelter dog ? we adopted her at four months old). As such, we focused on correcting our actions and our control over her versus getting to the root of her problem (the aggression).

With the latest incident, it has prompted me to investigate aggressive behavior in dogs. The latest incident has involved our dog acting aggressive toward another dog (my in-law?s) that she has been very accepting of for the past several years. Our house has been under construction / renovation for the past few months and I am trying to blame my dog?s recent behavior on her unrest about the construction. My dog weighs about 60 pounds and the dog that it attacked weighs 15. The dog suffered a nick on the ear, head, and under the eye where it seemed apparent that my dog had clamped down on it. This happened again at my in-law?s house over the weekend. This time there wasn?t any blood drawn but the behavior has all of us on edge.

I have a nephew that is 1 year old and I don?t trust our dog around him. To this point she has not acted aggressive to him as we have tried to introduce them in a happy setting with lots of praise. However, I am concerned that something could happen out of our supervision, especially as the child grows older.

Based on the information that you have been provided, I would like to know what things we can do to correct her behavior. We have found her aggressiveness / mistrust toward people has almost been exclusively geared toward men. Our goal is to be able introduce her to children, adults (particularly males), and other dogs with confidence that she will act appropriately. We love her dearly and I don?t want to put her to sleep but, the more I research, the more I fear this action is not correctable. Can you please advise?

Kindest Regards,

A. Your goals with this dog are 100% unrealistic. These goals set you up for failure. When one trains a dog they have to be realistic in any goals they set. You have not done that.

This dog is weak nerved, dog aggressive and a fear biter. Your goal should be “to establish a plan to live with this dog and learn to control its environment so that it does not hurt anyone or anything.”

Before I get into what I think you need to do I will say that a professional dog trainer may be able to accomplish what you want, but it will take a great deal of force and pressure on the dog. So much so that it could also cause health problems with the dog. Stress causes dogs to get sick - often their pancreas fails. So with that said I do not think that the force needed to do what you want is worth the problems it would create for the dog.

I NEVER allow my dog to come into contact with other dogs unless I know the other dog and unless I am 110% sure the dogs will get along. Your dog should NEVER be around other dogs. I also NEVER allow a dog to come in contact with another dog unless my dog is 100% solid in obedience under extreme distraction (i.e. another dog is extreme distraction).

Also I NEVER allow people to pet my dog. Why should I? Why should someone touch my dog? I have never come up with a reason to allow people to pet my dog. As far as I am concerned I want my dogs to think I am the center of their universe. I don’t want them to think that they can go to strangers or other people to be petted. Besides that when a dog goes to another person and expects to be petted it is often exhibiting a sign of dominance. (telling the stranger to pet it)

Read the article I wrote on dog parks. Read the Q&A on fear biters. You can go to my articles at

You need to get a dog crate and crate this dog when strange people or dogs visit. You need to keep the dog in the crate when children are around. When you take the dog outside you need to take it to places where there are not people or you need to make it wear a muzzle (we sell inexpensive plastic muzzles - but the wire basket muzzles we sell are the best). It should not be out without the electric collar on.

Dogs like this do not need to be put to sleep if the owners are responsible and understand what they are dealing with. I compare it to police officers with very very aggressive tough dogs. They seldom have accidents with their dogs because they train their dogs to mind under distraction. They also control the environment where they allow their dogs to be off leash or loose.

So with this said – this is more of a people issue than a dog issue. If you like this dog – control where it goes and whom it comes in contact with. Then continue to train it. Training NEVER stops.

Ed Frawley
Recommended Products
Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs
Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs
3 Hours, 30 Minutes
In my DVD, I provide 3 1/2 hours of information to help people solve their problems with dominant dogs and aggressive dogs. This information is based on 45 years of experience training dogs. For the last 30 years I have studied the art of protection training dogs. I was a police K9 handler for 10 years, and was chairman of the training committee for the WI police dog association for a number of those years. I have bred German Shepherds for police service work for 28 years. During this time I have bred over 350 litters of working dogs. I have dogs from my kennel working in law enforcement, Search and Rescue and competing in Schutzhund all over this country. No one I know in the United States can make these claims.

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet
Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet
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The goal of our pack structure training program is to produce a dog that is calm and submissive and a dog that follows the rules of the pack leader. This DVD teaches people how to become a pack leader that their dog respects and loves. Most people are not born pack leaders. In fact, far from it. The majority of dog owners (many who have owned dogs their entire life) simply do not know anything about the instincts that control our dogs or how strong these instincts are in the domestic dog. Oh people may have heard that they need to be a pack leader or they may have heard they need to be an ALPHA with their dog but they do not understand what this really means or how to accomplish it.

Dominant Dog Collar
Dominant Dog Collar
This collar is not intended to give a painful correction. It is intended to take the air away from a dominant aggressive dog. More dogs are put to sleep everyday for aggression problems than they are properly trained. Killing a dog must ALWAYS be the last resort. Learning how to use a dominant dog collar can and will often make the difference between having a dog put down or ending up as a pack leader and a dog the you can live with. Some dogs will often get over-stimulated by a prong collar resulting in a more hectic and aggressive dog. The Dominant Dog Collar is designed to be used on handler aggressive or dog aggressive dogs. Using a Dominant Dog collar correctly on the takes the drive and fight out of the dog. Leerburg's Dominant Dog Collars If you have a problem with dog aggression or a dominant dogs, we recommend that you get the Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs DVD. We also have an extensive collection of articles pertaining to dominant and aggressive dogs We recommend you read the article on Dealing with the Dominant Dog written by Ed Frawley. Individuals who use this collar for handler aggression should have their dog undergo through a solid pack structure program. For adult dogs, we recommend the Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet DVD. For puppies, we recommend the Living with Your Puppy - Establishing Pack Structure DVD. Due to government restrictions, countries such as Australia and a few in Europe do not allow the use of remote or electric collars. These dominant dog collars are a viable alternative.

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