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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Aggressive Dogs Q&A

Aggressive Dogs Q&A

Aggressive Dogs Q&A

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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.

  1. Have you written an article on aggression?

  2. My Rot isn’t aggressive to any of the stray dogs that approach us when we are on walks. He just stands there and looks at them. Is there anything I can do to make him more aggressive towards them?

  3. A neighbor has an 8 month old Rot that is terrorizing the neighborhood. What should I do?

  4. My 18 month old Rot is very aggressive to strangers and other dogs. What should I do?

  5. Last night while on a walk I was charged by a territorial Rot that got out of his fenced back yard. What should I have done?

  6. I have an older dog who has the attitude, “Attack first before I’m attacked” towards other dogs. What should I do?

  7. Our rescue dog aggressively nips at our visitors and strange kids. What should we do?

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

  9. I have a rescue dog who is either very aggressive or very timid around tall men. Should I protection train him?

  10. Our dog chases children on bikes and is overly protective of myself and my husband. Is this a concern?

  11. How do you stop aggression in a dog?

  12. I have a problem with my dog barking at children..

  13. How do you introduce a female into a home with an adult male who is a little territorial?

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

  15. My dog attacks other dogs that she sees when we are on walks. What can I do?

  16. How do I get my Mastiff who can be dog aggressive, to learn to live with a roommate’s old shepherd?

  17. We have a very aggressive Pit Bull. We are concerned about our 12 year old daughter. What should we do?

  18. Our son brought a new “rescue” dog into our home. It’s very aggressive with our existing house dog whenever we show the old house dog any affection. What can we do?

  19. Our family GSD just bit the father of our son’s friend. My wife feels that we have a vicious dog and is concerned. Should we be?

  20. My dogs only act aggressive to people who seem afraid of them. What do you think the problem is?

  21. Your solution for a lot of people who have aggressive dogs is to put the dog to sleep. I think this is poor advise.

  22. My 4 year old black lab suddenly began to act aggressive to our gardener. Should I be concerned?

  23. Our 15 month Springer Spaniel continues to dig under the back yard fence and chase squirrels. In addition, he has started to growl and try to bite us when we approach him in his bed with a bone. What can we do?

  24. Our Rhodesian Ridgeback has bit two people. We are at our wits end as what to do. What would you suggest?

  25. Our 2 year old Golden Retriever has just developed serious aggression problems with our family. She is almost ready for her CD and has had a lot of training. These aggression problems came on very suddenly. What can I do?

  26. Our 1 1/2 year old dog has just started to act aggressive to our 9 year old dog and our children. What can we do?

  27. My 11 year old lab is dog aggressive. It was attacked as a young dog and hates other dogs. What can I do?

  28. My 8-month old dog will chase and kill cats. What should I do?

  29. My Bull Terrier has bitten my father and tries to bite me. I have hung him until he passes out and he sometimes still tries to bite me. What should I do?

  30. Are there puppy tests to use to see if a pup is going to be dog aggressive as an adult?

  31. In the past years my 3 year old GSD-Rot mix has attacked my wife 4 times. Last night it attacked me for no reason. What should I do?

  32. My neighbor’s Husky has bitten my dog and 3 others, and the attacks seem unprovoked. Am I being paranoid by keeping my family away and being afraid?

  33. We have a therapy dog in our 50 bed nursing home that I work at. It's a Golden Retriever that lays around most of the time. There is one patient (with an emotional problem) that the dog growls at. Can you give me an idea why the dog does this?

  34. I have a 2 year old dog that is extremely aggressive. The dog is very nervous of everything and everyone. What can I do different?

  35. We have a 5 year old GSD and a 5 year old Rat Terrier. Both are aggressive to visitors. Should I put an electric collar on these dogs?

  36. Our neighbor has 5 dogs who roam the neighborhood freely. One bit my 10 year old and charged me when I went to help. When my children are outside, the neighbor’s dog charges our fence. What should I do?

  37. My neighbor has a protection trained dog that I am worried will kill our dog. What should I do?

  38. I want my dog to be able to protect itself, but not be a fighter, aggressive or dominant. Is this possible?

  39. My husband’s dog Gus is very aggressive to me. I am a prisoner in my own house, and am expecting a baby soon. My husband knows Gus doesn’t like children, but won’t get rid of the dog. What should I do?

  40. Our Chow-mix has bitten three people. We are going to put the dog to sleep but a trainer said there was medication that could help. What do you think?

  41. Our 3 yr. Old male Bassett Hound is very aggressive to strangers. We have been told that removing the front 14 canine teeth is the way to correct this problem. What do you think about this?

  42. I have 7 dogs in the house and I am having problems with the chow-mix. What would you advice?

  43. I have a one year old female Germ. Shepherd. She appears perfectly calm around my girlfriend and myself. However, she raises her hair and growls at almost any dog she sees no matter the size. Other dogs cause her to tear into a frenzy. What can we do?

  44. While on a walk to baseball with my daughter we were attacked by two labs while were running loose. I killed one with my baseball bat. The police are threatening to charge me. What can I do?

  45. My brother and his wife have allowed their two dogs to fight numerous times to settle the rank issue. Now they are going to have a baby. What should I do?

  46. I am 7 months pregnant and my dog is snapping at me, what should I do?

  47. My friend’s cocker spaniel has bitten a number of people. He is a loving dog most of the time but will bite without provocation. What should we do?

  48. My 18 month old female is so dog aggressive I cannot control her with a prong collar or a shock collar. What can I do?

  49. My 2.5 year old male growls or snaps at people when they approach him while he is laying in bed or resting. He is growling more and more often. Can he be corrected?

  50. I need to know what products to buy to help with my Springer Spaniel. I cannot get a muzzle on him so I can take him to the vet to be neutered. He tries to bite me.

  51. We have an 11 year old springer who has attacked my daughter and me. This happens out of the blue. Do you think we should pull her teeth to deal with this?

  52. I'm a police dog handler that recently got a new GSD. The dog has bitten me two times. I feel that the bites were caused by me. What do you think?

  53. My Bichon Frise shows aggression to children. I am taking him to obedience classes at Pet Smart. This is not helping. What can I do?

  54. I have been a dog trainer for 3 years. I have a client who has a very aggressive shelter dog. She cannot seem to give the kind of correction that is necessary to control this dog when he becomes aggressive. What can I do?

  55. We had to put our dog down due to "Springer Rage". Have you ever heard of this?

  56. Our 15 month old dog has progressively gotten more aggressive on the street and at the door of our house. We had to give him back to the breeder. Is there something we can do to fix this dog?

  57. We have an 11 year old springer who has attacked my daughter and me. This happens out of the blue. Do you think we should pull her teeth to deal with this?

  58. Our dog has attacked three people. When the instructor in the obedience class tried to force him into a DOWN position last night he attacked her too. What should we do?

  59. Our dog has bitten 4 people. We are thinking of putting him dow. What should we do?

  60. I am a college student that lives in a one bedroom condo. I have a 9 month old Chihuahua puppy who recently became aggressive towards me. I know that the cause of most of his behavior is my own fault. What can I do to correct this?

  61. My Springer has just bitten a neighbor boy. The dog was not provoked at all. My vet said to put the dog down. Do you have any suggestions?

  62. I just put down my 2 1/2 year old cattle dog after it bit a neighbor? What could I have done differently?

  63. Our lab-mix bit our 7 year old son today. What should we do?

  64. I have received advice from you in the past. I purchased a prong collar and one of your videos and everything was going well but now my dog bit another dog (again) and I am worried about future attacks. Can you give me any new advice?

  65. I take my dog to work. He lays by my desk during the day and gets along OK with most people. He has one person who he will not tolerate. He stands up and growls at this sales person. What’s going on?

  66. My girlfriend's mother has a dog that attacks people (including the owners) on a daily basis. Is there anything that can be done?

  67. My Rhodesian Ridgeback was injured and is now showing aggression when people come to our house. Do you have any advise?

  68. My friend's Beagle has recently started snapping ar people. Do you think it could be a medical issue? She was fine until about 2 weeks ago.

  69. My 15 month old spayed female Lab has gotten estrogen shots, and now is being aggressive to a dog she has known a long time. Could the shots have caused the aggression?

  70. My Yugoslavian Shepherd is very territorial and has bitten before. Does this qualify him as a "Dangerous Dog?"

  71. I am seriously thinking of putting my dog down but can't find a vet to do it. The dog has bitten several people. What do you recommend?

  72. My 3 year old PB/Shepherd cross attacked my father's dog and also snips at friends. Is it too late to correct this behavior?

  73. My dog awakens from a dead sleep snarling, baring teeth and barking when no one is around him, in or out of his crate. What do you think could be wrong with him?

  74. My GSD is very possessive of the food bowl. She growls at me when I go to let her out after she has eaten. What is a good way to fix this problem?

  75. My dog is very dominant and aggressive. He has made a lot of progress over the past 6 months, but recently he seems to be going backwards again. Do you have any suggestions on how to fix my new problems?

  76. Last night my dog killed one of my parents' dogs presumably over food, I'm worried that this might create more dog or cat aggression. What can I do to prevent this from happening again?

  77. My dog has toy aggression and towards strangers that try to pet her. We were told that we should spray her with a spray bottle of water every time she displays this behavior. Do you think this will work or should we try something else?

  78. My corgi is being aggressive and I'm not sure how to handle it. What do you suggest?

  79. We had an incident where my dog lunged and barked at a man. I'm wondering if this is a sign of problems to come or something provoked when I wasn't listening.

  80. I have three dogs who play together and keep each other company quite well.  I would like to be able to control the level of one of my dogs for protection and get rid of the aggression in another.

  81. My friend's husband is the pack leader. She has been bitten a couple time. Can you give me some insight as to how to correct this aggressive behavior. I was thinking of "baiting" him and if he reacts again to give a severe correction.

  82. We have two Portuguese Water Dog males. We have had aggression problems with the young male, these include fights with the older dog, aborted attacks while on leash on walks and biting us (mainly my wife). What can we do to cement his submission to my wife and be more certain of his behavior?

  83. My boyfriend's dog is awful - he doesn't listen and bites me. What should I do? Is this dog even capable of training?

  84. Do you have any advice for fending off aggressive dogs while riding a motorcycle?

  85. Over the past year my dog's behavior has progressively gotten worse. I have talked to many trainers in the past, all of which told me that since dominance training does not work, that it is a medical issue. I am genuinely considering euthanasia as an option for him. Any suggestions?

  86. I have a 5-year old male German Shepherd that is very aggressive towards the others shepherds when my female is in heat.  Any suggestions would help.

  87. We adopted a lab mix puppy last year. He has taken to exhibiting some aggression that had us puzzled for a while. I am just concerned that we are handling this correctly. I would appreciate any suggestions you might add and some reassurance if we are doing the right thing.

  88. I have two dogs. I keep them separate in outdoor kennels most of the day, and take them inside over the night. When the younger one finished his meal, he started barking at his brother, and then they start to fight over the fence. Should I use electric collar to correct his behavior, or would it make him that even more angry?

  89. I try to avoid meeting other stranger dogs. If another dog is approaching my dog before I have time to turn away and this stranger dog is showing aggression and barking at us, then my dog reacts and barks back. Should I stop my dog from barking and walk away or let it barks and walk pass the dog?

  90. My lab has become aggressive over the past couple years. What do we do?

  91. My dog only shows aggression when we tie him up outside, how should I correct this?

  92. I need a muzzle for my small border collie that has nipped several people when she’s off leash, what do you recommend?

  93. My 7 month old Giant Schnauzer has started unpredictably growling and barking at people, do you have any suggestions?

  94. My dog lunged from my bed and did a full mouth bite to my son’s face.  I don’t want to keep him in a crate when I’m not home; I want him to interact with my family when I’m at work.  I need your advice.

  95. We just adopted a 13 month old boxer that had been in 6 different homes before we took him in.  We feel that he was beaten in his other homes because he flinches and moves his head when you make a fast movement. He will bite us if we try to give him a command and we think because he was beaten it has made him a stubborn dog. When we try to introduce him to new people he growls, barks and jumps up and tries to nip the people in the face. Will a dominant dog collar help?

  96. Our fear aggressive dog does not like strangers or other dogs.  My daughter has a new boyfriend and 6 days ago we had an incident where the dog nipped him after he gave her some food. I don’t know what to do now.

  97. My female GSD thinks it's her job to protect me, she places herself between me and other people. I no longer take her for walks because I can't control her if she were to decide an approaching dog was a problem.

  98. Our warm and loving Golden retriever puppy becomes obsessed with certain toys and then she will growl, show her teeth and bite us if we even walk towards her.  I don’t want to do anything drastic like put her to sleep until we’ve tried everything. Time outs and yelling at her don’t work and it’s too scary to try to take the toy away from her. Can you please give me some advice?

  99. My chocolate lab has becoming increasingly aggressive since he turned about 9 months old, I see him as a liability. What can I do?

  100. Our 13 month old Rottweiler is our baby and we’ve allowed him to get on the bed and couch and spoiled him. Now sometimes when we hug or pet him, he growls at us and a couple times he’s lunged at me and my husband. Hopefully you can help us with our baby boy.

  101. My dogs go crazy when they see other dogs through the window. What can I do?

  102. My dog only shows aggression when we tie him up outside, how should I correct this?

  103. How can I break my female Border collie mix of attacking other dogs?

  104. My 13 month old dog challenged me by not giving up his bone.  I picked him up by the pinch collar & held him off the ground til he dropped it.  Was this the best way to handle it?

  105. My dogs have lived in harmony for three years and now want to kill each other. What do you suggest? Do you think they will every be able to co-exist again?

  106. My dog is a sweet and loving dog but he growls and shows his teeth if we ask him to move, he lunges at me until I walk away.  He gets aggressive if we try to correct him when we are eating, he hates people who wear caps or hoods and I am at my wit’s end.


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, 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 on Aggression:

Have you written an article on aggression?


I have written an article on corrections - You may want to read it The Theory Of Corrections in Dog Training

This subject is very complicated. It isn’t that easy to understand because there are many things that come into play. Dogs will become dominant because of genetic and/or environmental issues. For example:

  • If several dogs are allowed to live together and not kenneled separately, they will “pack up.” When this happens the dogs develop a packing order and dominance becomes a major part of their life. This can have tragic results, such as in the Sabina Davidson Rottweiler 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 are 2 articles, titled Dealing With the Dominant Dog and Dealing With the Overly Aggressive Dog. You can 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 on Aggression:

Mr Frawley,

I constantly visit your web site. I find the articles informative and very blunt. I have a 15-month male rottweiler. He has begun obedience and is excelling in it to the point where I am going to put an obedience title on him. I have not entered bite work with him but he has been worked on some tracking.

My question is this: I walk my dog in the neighborhood and the other neighborhood (strays) dogs run up to him and stay about 10-15 feet away. They bark and growl at him, but they never come any closer. My rottweiler in turn stands his ground and just stares at them. As he does this they seem to retreat. Why doesn't he bark at them? Should he need to bark at them?

Thank you,


You are very lucky, you have a nice dog. Take it from someone who knows. You have a real jewel in a non-dog aggressive animal. Do not reward any sign of aggression. Carry a can of pepper gas and use it on EVERY dog that comes up to you (make sure the wind is blowing in the right direction). I am very serious about this. Pepper gas will teach every stray dog in the neighborhood that you are the biggest bad ass that walks through the valley of death and they all will leave you alone. Trust me on this - it is far better for you to fight these fights for your dog with pepper gas than to try and control a very powerful Rott who decides he hates everything on 4 legs. The first time that one of these dogs attacks your dog things will change forever. Your dog will go from standing there to trying to attack every dog he sees. That then becomes a problem with no end in sight.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a situation with a neighbor and a rottweiler. They got the dog when it was about 8 weeks old, and from the very beginning, it has shown aggression towards first other dogs, and then people.

At approximately 2 months old, this puppy would growl and show it's teeth and lunge at other dogs, even dogs that were quite large. This happened EVERY time the dog came in contact with another dog or person.

The owner didn't seem to see a problem with this. Next, the puppy started doing the same thing with people. With the dog on a leash, even walking by it, the dog would show it's teeth, growl and lunge towards the person.

These people sometimes let the dog out without a leash, and the dog has several times went to attack other dogs, until the owner was able to grab the dog.

I am afraid that the dog will attack a child and will seriously injure or kill the child. The dog is now about 8 months old, and also is abused by the owner. The police have been called to their house several times because neighbors have heard/seen the man beating the dog.

The dog has been like this from the very beginning and it just seems to be getting worse. The owners are very defensive, and think there is nothing wrong with their dog. They have small children. I realize the chance of their children getting mauled is very high, or worse yet someone else's child. Is there anything I can do?

The police say because this dog has not actually bit someone, they cannot do anything. We live in an apartment, and there is no yard or anything to keep the dog in. Just a few days ago, the dog got loose and chased a small boy. The owner is obviously afraid of the dog, because of his actions when he tried to stop the dog from chasing the boy. The dog was caught before any damage was done to the child that I am aware of.

I realize this dog is going to maul someone, its just a matter of time. What can I do in the meantime?


Training could probably fix this problem, as could a fenced yard and the owner becoming a responsible pet owner. Obviously none of that is going to happen with a person like this. So the only solution is to convince him to get rid of the dog or in the worst case scenario, see to it that he is prosecuted if the dog attacks a child.

For this to happen it is important to establish a history with the police on this dog. You must organize with other neighbors about this concern. When you see it off leash you must call the police. When they come you must detail what the problem is and ask for their incident number. This is important. They must pull an incident number on the call. If they will not give it to you, call and ask to talk to the supervisor. If he will not cooperate, then call the Chief or the District Attorney.

The reason an incident number is important is because in most police departments the officers then have to write a report. This establishes a history of problems with the dog. Then when you see the dog act aggressively to people (even on leash) you call the police. Sooner or later either the owner will find a new home for the dog or when an accident happens you will have established a paper trail to prosecute the owner.

You may want to print out the articles from my web site on the Sabina Davidson case and give them to the owner. If you don't want to get in a fight with him, just mail them to him.

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QUESTION on Dominance:

Ed, your web site is GREAT! I have read many of your articles and enjoy them very much. I own a dog that was 8 months old when I got him. He is 18 months old now. I spend a lot of time with him trying to teach him basic obedience. He is very dominant, aggressive and was not socialized at a young age. He follows me around like I'm his mother. We go for lots of walks, play in the yard, go for drives in the van, and do many other things together. When I'm in my wood shop, he's right at the door protecting me from anyone who is foolish enough to enter my yard. I am concerned about his aggressiveness toward other people and other dogs. What can I do to help him. Please let me know what I can do to help him. By the way, he is a Rottweiler.


Dogs can act aggressive towards people for a couple of reasons:

1. If they were not socialized as a young dog, this results in a temperament problem, which effect their nerves. A dog with weak nerves is a dog that is quick to show aggression to strangers. The dog's display of aggression is often just an act to cover up weakness in the dog. They learn that by acting aggressive people that make them nervous leave them alone. So while the inexperienced owner thinks he has a tiger by the tail, in reality the dog is weak. Usually dogs that act like this will get their hair up on their back and show a lot of teeth. They tend to growl a lot and will carry their tail in a tucked fashion (hard to tell on a rot). The bark on these dogs is more of a hectic neurotic bark.

2. Some dogs that do not have the above problems are aggressive because they are very territorial to their property and handler. These dogs will carry their tail high and when they bark at people they don't get their hair up so much. The bark on these dogs is a deeper more confident bark.

The solution to this issue always begins at home. It starts with establishing the owner as a stronger pack leader. This is done through formal obedience training. The work that goes into obedience training forces the dog to look at the owner as a stronger pack leader. No matter what, we need to realize that the domesticated dog is a pack animal with instincts. They do not think logically the way people do, they just react to their environment according to the instincts that their genetic background have provided them with. So if you put yourself in a position of controlling the dog through obedience exercises it is going to look at you as a better and stronger pack leader. The pack leader is the one who decides when and where to fight.

If you are a novice, you need to take a look at my tape titled Basic Dog Obedience.

What often happens to people who have dogs like this is that they put their dogs away when visitors come over to the house. They do not allow the dog to have contact with people who come into the home. This is a mistake, it simply raises the dog’s suspicion level.

What works better is to be 100% sure that the dog is obedience trained, then when strangers come over, the dog is allowed to greet the people (after you let the people in the house). If this means putting the dog in a down position back away from the door then do that first. Once the people are in, the dog is allowed to come up and smell and greet the company. This does not mean the people need to pet the dog (if they are afraid). But during the training of this, have your friends bring along a hot dog or a treat that the dog likes. This teaches the dog that the people that come are friends. Once in the house the dog is then told to go to his spot. If the dog growls or shows any sign of aggression towards the people, the handler corrects the dog with a level 10 correction. This does not mean you simply say PHOOIE - it means you go after the dog so hard he thinks his life is about to end. He has to understand that when the pack leader says its OK to come into the house, that means he has no business trying to interfere with the pack leaders wishes.

A dog should always have a spot in the house that he is made to believe is his spot. This is where he goes when you want to train the “down stays.” This can be in his crate or simply on a particular rug in the kitchen or hall. When a dog is put there he is never allowed to get up on his own. The only way he gets off the spot is when the handler gives the “release command - OK.”

Once a visitor comes, the dog is then put on his spot and told to stay there. This procedure will often soften a dog that was overly aggressive.

As far as dog aggression goes, that's a real pain in the butt. Once a dog becomes dog aggressive it is hard to break. Once again the solution begins with obedience training. If you tell the dog "NO," that means “NO.” If the dog breaks the command and will not listen, then its time for a harder corrections and possibly a prong collar. Some dogs need to have electric collar training (but this is a topic for a completely different article.

If the dog is at all handler aggressive or if the handler is concerned about being able to control a big dog, then the dog should be wearing a muzzle (even one of the plastic style muzzles that I sell). Nothing could be worse than a big Rot grabbing a small poodle when you are out walking.

With a lot of dogs I do no think that you will ever take the dog aggression out of them. All you can hope to do it control them when they are in a position to become aggressive.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Mr. Frawley,

I emailed you last week about my 4-year-old bitch out of one of your Orfey litters. I want your opinion on the following matter:

My wife and I walk in our neighborhood several times a week. We usually have Nicki, our Leerburg shepherd with us. We have on more than one instance had a dog loose in the neighborhood, some people I guess just do not have the knowledge to realize what can happen if a dog gets loose. I have always had the fear of what would happen if we met a 50+ pound dog loose with him feeling we are in his territory. Well Sunday night on our normal route it happened.

At one corner house there is a Rot, probably about 100 - 110 pounds in size, behind about a 3 foot chain link fence. He always runs the fence and really makes a lot of noise growling, huffing and barking. Needless to say this is not a dog I would walk up and open the gate and say lets see if he really means what he is saying to us. Well on his usual run up and down the fence the gate came open, I think his shoulder hit it and it just opened. He came out of the backyard like a bullet, I don't think my Golden Retriever runs after a ball as hard as he came out of that fence. My first reaction was to let Nicki meet him with the full 6 foot of leash I had, but realizing that in a dogfight even the winner will probably need several stitches I kept her within about 2 feet in front of me. When the Rot was charging Nicki was ready, and even tried to head him off, but could not get very far with me holding her leash tight. When the Rot got within about 6 feet he slowed and then slowly walked up, he seemed to not be sure he wanted to get very close to us; Nicki had not made a sound yet. I figured he was charging because of our dog but he does not act any different even if we walk without one of our dogs, so it's really hard to say why he charged. Nicki was not intimidated at all, she was at the end of all the leash I had given and never said a word, however, the hair was up on her back and she never took one step backward except for where I pulled her back if she got close enough to get bit.

I told my wife to get the people in the house and we circled so we were between the Rot and his own house so if he decided he did not like her approaching his house I could let Nicki occupy him a little. He did run in on Nicki once and they got together once, Nicki jumped and grabbed him by the neck from the side and although I don't think she actually bit him he did back off and would then not get within about 3 - 4 feet of us. At this point a kid ran around the corner and grabbed the dog. As soon as he started pulling him back the dog began acting like he was the toughest thing on the planet again. The kid’s father came out and about the only thing he said was how did he get out, not I'm sorry or anything.

I feel we were lucky to get out without a pretty good dog fight and my wife and I are going to start walking a different route through the area to avoid that house. My wife asked me why I did not kick the dog when he got close enough because I am a 3rd degree Black Belt and can really put a lot of force in my kicks. I told her that I did not kick at him because I did not want to miss, slip and end up on the ground, if I knew anything it was that. I checked Nicki to see if she had any cuts or marks, I found none and did not feel that I needed to take her to the vet so we just came home.

My question is this: What is your advice in a situation like this?

I did not want to let him and Nicki just fight because I knew he had probably 50+ pounds on her, and even if she won I would have had to most likely get her some stitches. However, I would have totally turned her loose before I let that dog get very close to my wife or me. I have seen Nicki get after my 90 pound Golden and have no doubt that the Rot, even at 100+ pounds would have had his hands full with her and she never once tried to hide behind me. It was me that was pulling her back so that they did not fight, except for the one time he got a little closer than I wanted him with his attitude, and he did not seem to want to get that close again.

I am really glad that we had Nicki that night and did not have to deal with that dog without her as protection. She never did even bark the whole time, she only growled when she jumped and grabbed him by the neck. When he backed off she only did that deep in the chest growl. I was a little surprised because when they were pulling the Rot back he was making all kinds of verbal threats, and Nicki was just watching him not making a sound. My feeling were that this dog was not near as mean up close as he was at a distance, because the way he charged out of the yard I thought we had a REAL PROBLEM. My wife says thanks for breeding such a tough dog that was not intimidated at all. We’re both glad we had her with us.



Lets begin by stating the obvious - you were very, very lucky. Until someone has seen or been involved in a full blown attack they will never fully understand how scary this is or how dangerous it is for someone who does not know how to deal with the situation.

The first thing that needs to happen is you need to call the police and insist that a police incident be written and put on file. The reason is that this needs to be documented so if it continues to happen the police can take action. One only needs to read about the case in which I testified against the owner of 3 Rots that killed a young boy. If the police refuse, then contact the District Attorney’s office. The fact is, contact was made no matter how minor.

You did the right thing in freezing and facing the dog - never turn and run, this only triggers the attacker’s prey drive to attack. Keeping your dog close to you was also the right thing to do. It would have been a mistake to let your female go or even let it out to the end of the leash - that would probably have started a dog fight. I would have probably screamed “NO” at the dog and told it to go home in as deep and rough of a voice as possible.

I would suggest carrying a can of pepper gas with you during your walks. If you have to use it, try and get the spray right into the nose and eyes of the dog, even if it means that you are going to have to spray your dog along with the attacker. When you spray, empty the can on the dog - don't just give it a little puff.

The best solution is doing what you are going to do, walk on a different street in the future.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have an older dog who has the “attack first before I'm attacked” attitude toward other dogs. If I were to take her to a behaviorist, what kinds of things should I expect the behaviorists to do? I don't want to pay good money for a “quack” but feel that my dog would benefit from behavior training.

Thank you in advance for your input,


Normally this behavior is because another dog has attacked the dog in the past. It's a very difficult thing to stop once it's had a chance to get established as an effective behavior for the dog.

The first thing that needs to be done is the dog needs a lot of basic obedience (similar to what I show in my training video, Basic Dog Obedience.) The emphasis really needs to be put on the distraction training. Another dog is a very big distraction for this dog and it must learn that under any circumstance, it must mind. If this means putting a prong collar on the dog and giving it a level 10 correction then that’s what has to be done.

Obedience training does not eliminate the urge for your dog to attack other dogs, it only forces the dog to mind and control itself when told to.

If it were my dog I would be using a Tri Tronics electric collar on the dog after the basic obedience. I would condition the dog to low level stimulation the way the training videos we sell show. This is going to be the most effective way to control this behavior. I would never take the dog for a walk without the collar on; it simply becomes a part of the dog’s life. This is really not a big deal. When I take my patrol dog out to work he always gets his collar on. He knows this and is happy to get it because he knows he is going somewhere.

If I were you I would not waist my money on “dog behaviorists” or whatever they want to call themselves. In 99% of the dogs that have this problem no amount of socializing or playing games with friendly dogs is going to eliminate this behavior. You would be better advised to spend your money on a collar and obedience training. Do not buy a collar other than Tri Tronics. They are the best and this is a tool that you will need to last the life of your dog.

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QUESTION on Aggression:


I just read your article regarding dominant dogs. I have a question, and I hope you might be able to provide some advice. I adopted a female German Shepherd from a rescue group. The rescue group was at capacity and this particular woman was going through a bitter divorce at the time and wanted to place her dog. I adopted the dog (female GSD about 2 1/2 years old) directly from the owner. I was only told that she has a “mischievous streak.” When I got the dog, things started out okay.

However, that mischievous streak turned out to be aggressive behavior towards any guest I try to bring into my house; towards other dogs while walking her; aggression towards other dogs at the local dog run; and towards children at the dog run. At the dog run, she sometimes charges toward other dogs and nips at them before sniffing them, and then walking off. She also has a habit (that I am very concerned about) of nipping at smaller kids as she was herding sheep. There have been no injuries yet as she has only nipped thicker jackets of kids, but winter has now passed. As far as guests go, she will generally bark and assume an aggressive position towards guests even if I am escorting them by hand into my apartment. She then moves around, and will approach the guest, often from the side or back, and then aggressively nip them. I have not seen her attempt an aggressive, bone-clenching, bite on anyone, but I don't want to see that. In addition, she does bark at dogs walking in front of the place, or if she sees people outdoors through a window.

What is confusing, is that if I take her to a groomer or to the kennel (if I am out of town), she is very behaved. The groomers wish all dogs behaved as she does when they are being bathed. She is generally behaved at the vet, although she will squirm (which probably is understandable when your ears are being poked and cleaned). The kennel has seen her for up to two weeks at a time (usually only 2-3 days at a time, about once a month), and they have not had any problems with her.

I have tried to contact the original owner, but have been unable to. I can tell you that by the time she was 2 years old, she already had at least 2 litters of pups, according to my vet. There are some signs of abuse. This leads me to believe that she was abused and/or neglected. I did track down the breeder, and he seems to be a higher class puppy mill at best.

I have been told to either give her up or put her to sleep. However, I just love this petite little shepherd too much to put her to sleep, and I am uncomfortable with just placing her in another home. Could you provide with some advice, or is putting her to sleep the best option? If she doesn't necessarily get huggie-kissie with family members or guests, that's fine. I just don't want to worry about her attacking or scaring family members or guests. Any advice is greatly appreciated.



The description you have given me is a classic FEAR BITER. The reason for this behavior is that the dog has weak nerves. Normal things seem to cause it to be concerned. It has learned that showing aggression will cause the people that make it nervous to leave it alone.

Many times people will adopt dogs like this and think, “This poor dog was abused by the previous owner.” Most of the time this is not true at all. The reason the dog ended up in the pound was because it displayed the kind of temperament you are describing. The dog was born with the problem. Bad genetics produce bad nerves.

The fact is that a dog like this should be put down. In my opinion this is a dangerous dog. It's usually only a matter of time before it bites a child or a friend. This is not an easy thing to do, but the fact is there is little that you can do to change the behavior.

If you do not want to do this, your only option is to obedience train the dog. By this I do not mean normal obedience where it really isn't important if the dog only minds some of the time. This dog needs a lot of training so that it minds in every circumstance and under every distraction. You can learn how to do this from my tape titled Basic Dog Obedience.

The 2 commands to stress with the dog are the “recall” and the “down.” You want to be able to recall your dog under every circumstance. You will also want to be able to drop the dog into a down no matter what is going on. This is going to require some compulsion on your part in later training. When it finds itself in a situation that it fears it's going to want to revert back to its old ways. You are going to have to teach it that it has more to fear from you than from the demons in it’s mind.

I guess the way I look at it is that this dog still needs to go through a learning phase, a correction phase and a distraction phase of training, just like every dog we work with. But you need to add another level - I will call it “a do it or die phase.” My point here is that you don't go out and beat up the dog from day one of training. This would be wrong. You need to bring the dog along the way we show in the tape. Once the dog has gone through normal distraction training it must then be exposed to the things it shows aggression to. At this point the corrections are severe for not minding.

My personal feeling is that most of these dogs have such weak nerves that they cannot handle this training. Their nerves are so weak they will fold under the pressure and turn the aggression towards the handler. It worked for them before so they will try it again here.

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QUESTION on Dominance:

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 own 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, I assume you have read my articles, 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 - it’s 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 it through my Basic Dog Obedience video, in muzzle if necessary. I would not take him to obedience classes until I was through with the training, and then with a 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 on Aggression:

I have a one and a half year old male GSD. He was a rescue dog and hadn't been socialized at all when I got him (almost a year ago). He is very smart and learns everything I teach him right away. I've been wanting to start him on some protection training, my problem is that he is very dog aggressive and tends to be either intimidated or overly defensive around tall men, although he has been slowly improving in both areas. I don't want to encourage any uncalled for aggression. Would protection training at this point just mess him up or would it make him more confident and less intimidated around men? Would using only women agitators make a difference?


My feeling is that it would be a mistake to try and protection train this dog. The odds of getting a dog coming from a dog pound with the genetics that allow him to do protection training is about 1 in 100,000. Your dog is already showing signs of bad nerves (shying away). This means he is stressed from just the sight of a tall man. To add the stress of a man (or woman) putting pressure on him in bite work would send him over the edge and make him neurotic.

In my opinion the only dogs that should be protection trained are dogs with good temperament to start with. These dogs have good nerves and can handle the stress of bite work.

You would be better advised to work on calming your dog down around tall men. Do this by trying to keep a small bag of treats with you when you are out for walks (hot dogs work well). When the dog shows signs of avoidance or aggression toward tall men, ask them if they would mind tossing your dog a treat. Make tall men “hot dog machines” to your dog. This will often change the dog’s attitude towards them.

If you try and solve your problem with protection training you will end up with a dog that is so sharp (aggressive) that he is a danger for people to be around. Dogs that are like this can only be used as security dogs behind a fence where they never come in contact with people. I don't think that is what your goal is.

You would be better off to concentrate on obedience training. I recommend my Basic Dog Obedience video.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Hello. I was wondering if you may be able to help with a few questions. My husband and I have had a German Shepherd for the past two years. His name is Sargent. We picked him out when he was six months old. He has gone to puppy training and adult training and passed very well. My husband was the one who took him, so he is much better behaved for him then myself. He is very good and listens most of the time, except when it comes to children. When he sees them running and riding the bikes, he likes to chase them. Is there anything or anyway he will grow out of doing it? The second thing is that he is very, very protective of my husband and me sometimes almost too much!!! Could that be worth worrying about? Do you have any suggestions or any information you can send me?

Thank you for your time,


Realizing that you and your husband are probably very, very attached to this dog, I offer my opinions as a word of warning. You sound like you have the beginning of a real problem here. Unless you recognize it for what it is and deal with it, you may have an accident waiting to happen.

The dog chases the children on bikes because they stimulate his prey drive. He sees them going and he goes. The problem is going to come when he combines the protective aspect with the prey drive problem. It could easily result in a dog bite. If you have questions about the drives a dog uses in bite work, I suggest that you refer to my article called The Drives of Protection Training.

Correcting the dog for chasing kids on bikes goes right along with normal obedience training. The fact is that this dog needs to learn to come under distraction. This means that he needs to come every time you call him and even when he sees a kid on a bike. If he will not respond then his “come” training is lacking. You have not done your job properly and you need to back up your obedience training and he should be on a long line and preferably with a prong collar. If you have questions on obedience training you should refer to my tape titled Basic Dog Obedience.

The dog also needs to learn that chasing kids on bikes is the worst thing that can happen to him. This can either be done with very strong leash corrections (probably with a prong collar) or with a long line and an electric collar. If an electric collar is used it is critical (in my opinion) that the dog be attached to a long line in the initial stages of training. A situation could develop where the dog would think that the stimulation (shocking) from the collar actually came from the child and this could trigger aggression. So you have to have him under control so that if this happens he cannot get to the child.

The bottom line is that most dogs will respond to strong leash corrections, or long line corrections if they are strong enough. Remember that one good correction is worth 1000 nagging mid-level corrections on a deal like this.

If the dog does not respond to obedience training and corrections you need to consider putting the dog down. No dog is worth taking a chance on a child being hurt.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I would like to know how to stop aggression. Also I would like to know if my two males, one 6 months and one 18 months old, will fight for dominance. Both are neutered. In first letter I gave you the background of their attack on the goat. I would very much like to buy your video.

Thank you,


While obedience training is going to help control the dogs, it's not going to stop this aggression that is basically a pack behavior. The dogs have developed a “pack behavior” because you allow them to run together. This is not a good idea.

The fact is that you could try and stop it through the use of obedience and an electric collar - but it still comes down to allowing the dogs to run loose together. Put up some kennels, the dogs should not be in the same run together, they should only be allowed to run together under your direct supervision and only if you can control them with voice commands when off leash. If they will not listen - they are not trained - it’s that simple.

This problem is more of an issue of you the handler not understanding dog behavior and training than it is a problem of aggression. The dogs are simply doing what their instincts direct them to do under the conditions in which they live.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a three year old German Shepard, Rudy, with whom I have spent hundreds of hours training. I would classify him as obedient (hand signals, basic commands, etc.). I have never given him any form of defense training. In fact, I gave him training to not bite when playing or otherwise.

There is one problem I have never been able to successfully address. While he is friendly and outgoing with adults, he barks at children and little people. I am afraid he would bite someone. I, therefore, keep him on a tight lease whenever in public. My sister-in-law is pregnant so the problem is now too close to home.

Comments and suggestions on books or videos is appreciated.



This does not sound like a dominant dog issue. If he is fine with you and not with kids it's more of a temperament problem. You have done what you should in the obedience area. This dog should be under control at all times. According to your email he is.

What I would do is make this dog think his life is over every time he barks at a child. You should come down on him with a level 10 correction, (where corrections range from 1 to 10).

I would set up situations where the dog is crated and kids become hot dog machines. Let them feed him through the crate. If he is snappy at taking food, have them put the hot dogs on a tooth pick and stick it through the crate.

This behavior is usually related to a problem with the dog’s nerves. My guess would be that it’s a genetic thing and not an environmental thing.

I would also consider getting a Jafco muzzle (we sell them and they are cheap). Get the dog used to wearing it, to the point where it’s second nature to have it on. Then he can be loose when kids are around and you can test his reaction. The worst that could happen is that the child would get scratched by nails if the dog jumps on him. This will allow you to determine if the dog is salvageable.

The bottom line is that a dog that is not safe with kids should either be put to sleep or be put in an environment where it never sees a child.

You can review my article on dealing with the overly aggressive dog - you can find it on my web site in the list of articles.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I just adopted a female rottweiler, approximately 1 year from the pound the day before getting put to sleep. She is loving, gentle and responds to some commands. I arranged for my boyfriend to bring my male rott, 2 years to the park to meet her. Both dogs were on leashes with pinch collars. They were equally aggressive, with my male dog more out of control than I had anticipated. He has gone through 2 obedience courses. He has been the only Housedog for the past 3 months. He was raised from 10weeks with a female alpha rott, who regretfully was killed by a car in sept 98. Anyway, the dogs were taken to my home and separated after a few hours of a shaky introduction. The female does wiggle her tail while getting closer, but turns aggressive when he does. It is still the first night of meeting as I write to you. I need some help figuring tactics to introduce them. They currently are in separate areas of the house. I am willing to muzzle them both, but am fearful of allowing them to be off leash in the same proximity of each other.


This is not a difficult situation.

  1. Both dogs need a crate. If you can’t do this, at least one needs to be in a crate while the other is loose in the house. This must go on for several weeks. In this way the dogs learn that the other dog is now part of the family pack and not an intruder into their territory - which is going on right now. You are trying to rush the process - don't do this.

  2. When they are introduced I would do it with the cheap jafco muzzles that we sell - they are not much money and they are way better than cloth ones.

  3. The dogs need a regimented obedience program. This cements the pack leader, or leadership roll of the handler. Get my tape called Basic Dog Obedience and read what I have to say about this

If you do these things it will work out. If you cut corners you will have problems.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

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.


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 Dealing With the Overly Aggressive Dog and Dealing With the Dominant Dog. I would also try 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 goal being 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 greet 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 on Aggression:

My three and a half year old German Shepherd spayed bitch has a problem with charging other dogs. She is fairly well trained and comes to call immediately if I call her as soon as I see another dog. But if I am not quick enough she completely focuses on the dog and charges, if the other dog does nothing she will do nothing when she gets there. If the other dog starts to run or is an excitable bouncy type of dog she has to stop it and will chase it and grab it to pull it down and then she does no more unless the other dog does not take too kindly to this and starts a fight but she will only fight back as a last resort. She is not aggressive and is an excellent pet and friendly with everyone but she cannot handle excitable bouncy dogs and has to stop them and understandably most owners think that she is going to attack their dog. I now keep her on leash at all times as her behavior is not acceptable and I do not know how to correct it. Do you have any suggestions? I am wary about using an electric collar because we have an electric fence in our garden and Heidi is terrified of it and will not go outside when she is wearing the collar and she is also scared of anything that bleeps and resembles the warning bleep of the electric fence.

Many thanks,


The solution is not that difficult. You are already doing what needs to be done, keep the dog on leash.

If it were my dog I would never let it off leash unless it has an electric collar on. Not many GSD's are going to be able run around and be friendly with a lot of other dogs. It's not in their nature.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Really respect your views on dogs so I am trusting you with an important question. A friend has a 1-year-old female Neapolitan Mastiff that is somewhat dominant in character and can be quite intimidating to strange people and other dogs. She's moving for the first time since she got the dog, to a house where the present tenants in the basement have a 12-year-old female Shepherd mix. The Shepherd is apparently quite sweet natured and has been bitten a few times by aggressive dogs so probably is wary. Owners of both dogs are worried about whether they will get along. Question is: how exactly should they be properly introduced to avoid any initial problems and get them started on the right foot. Eventually, they would like to leave them together in the yard while owners at work.


This is a difficult task.

  1. The dogs should not be allowed to be together for some time. During this period of time they will find each other’s smell in and around the house.

  2. I would introduce the dogs on leash and put the Mastiff in a muzzle after a couple of weeks. This should take place in a park and not at the home. A level 10 prong collar correction should deal with any aggression. The dog must think that it is going to die for becoming aggressive against the older dog.

  3. I would not allow them to be together unsupervised for a long time and only with the Mastiff having a muzzle on. Get one of the cheap Jafco plastic basket muzzles we sell.

  4. If the dogs are to be allowed to be together then the tenant in the basement must be able to give commands and correct the Mastiff. This should be done in the form of obedience training. Even though the dog may know obedience, it must learn that it must mind the person in the basement and this can only be accomplished by taking it through the paces of training Basic Dog Obedience.

  5. The dogs should not be left alone without a muzzle.

  6. There should never be a situation where the Mastiff and the older dog are out together when the owner is playing with toys. This is going to encourage rank problems that can lead to fights.

  7. The two owners should take a lot walks together with their dogs on leash. Let these dogs understand that they are part of a pack. What they must learn is that the humans are the pack leaders who do not accept or allow “pecking” (fights) by the dogs to raise the pack order.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I been reading your articles on aggressive dogs and I was hoping you can give me some advice on my situation. We own have a pure bred American Pit Bull Terrier, bambi (who just turned 2 years old this week). We purchased her from a breeder and both parents were on site (and were very nice and loving). She is UKC and ADBA registered. The breeder has since moved w/o leaving a forwarding address.

She has always been aggressive when the doorbell rings and has trouble calming down. She is very stand offish around strangers. When people come over she sometimes growls at them even after they have been there awhile. She is very dog aggressive, as well. She went to the basic obedience class and had to stay by herself (away from the other dogs) due to her aggression.

Recently she bit a friend of mine (who she has known for about 1 year) on the hand. This occurred as he was entering the house and I released her to sniff him. The skin was slightly broken.

After this occurred we had a trainer come over. This trainer feels she is a very shy dog and cannot be trusted around people. The first bite was a 'warning bite' and the next one will be more serious. She recommend we either keep her away from all people/dogs or put her to sleep.

We have a 12 year old daughter and her friends come to the door all the time. Bambi barks/growls at them like they were gangsters or something. We keep her in the crate when the door bell rings. My fear is that one day she will get by my daughter and attack her friends. She also has growled and gone after children in the park (but the leash restrained her). She can only be walked on a pinch collar. If we walk her when other people are around, she growls at them (even if the are across the street).

However, she is a perfect lovebird with the 3 of us (and always has been) She is not dominant in the home and my daughter can do just about anything to her. They sleep together and have never growled at one of us.

We are reluctant to put her to sleep due to our love for her but I am getting more concerned everyday about her attacking someone. The local pit bull rescue group says she is not a dog they would recommend for re-homing.



This is a no-brainer for me as an outsider. Either put the dog to sleep or build an outside kennel that is 100% safe and keep the dog there when you are not home. This dog has weak nerves, similar to a fear biter. It sounds like you got good advise. I would not risk children's’ safety over a dog. Put the dog down or find it a home where it can be a guard dog behind a fence. Maybe you want to contact some local security companies and offer them the dog.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have question I hope you can answer for me. Our college-aged son adopted from a shelter a 2-year-old Kelpie and Australian Shepherd mix (I think). Anyway it is very evident the previous owners abused this dog. It hides from the newspaper when it is rolled up and it will run away from any balls etc. The problem is the dog is now living with us because our son is in an apartment in a large city with a new job that requires him to be gone 10 hours or so. The dog is well behaved except for the fact that he is very jealous of our dog. He does not like us to even acknowledge our dog. Finally, the question id how can we change his behavior without causing any trauma to him since he has had previous bad experiences?

Thank you for any help.


You can solve this problem with training. Read what I have written about the proper steps of Basic Dog Obedience. Do not think you are going to solve this problem without going through a correction phase - this is simply not going to happen. Corrections are never given with a rolled up newspaper so you will not be causing a similar problem. You need to work with a prong collar and sound dog training principles. The dog should wear the prong collar in the house with an 18 inch street leash to drag around (this allows you a handle for a correction). You can see these items on my web site.

The dog needs to learn that it is 100% inappropriate to show any kind of aggression towards your other dog. The dog needs to respect your commands more than it wants to fight with your other dog. Dogs are pack animals and always find comfort in settling their pecking order in the pack. In this case you are settling it for the dogs.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I'm an avid reader of your web site and would appreciate your input on this question. I have a 10-month-old male GSD (neutered at age 6 months). 48 hours ago while I was away at my sons' hockey tournament, my wife heard him barking very aggressively on our front porch. My wife was expecting a playmate for my other son to be dropped off and went to the door the check out the barking. My sons' 12-year-old friend was decked out in full ski apparel including ski hat and goggles scared to come up on our porch due to the dogs barking. My wife went out (the dog is on a rope) and held the rope while the boy entered our home. He then immediately shifted his attention on the boys father who left the parked car and came to the bottom of the porch steps. This man is very terrified of dogs, as he has been bit 3-4 times before as a child. My dog greatly intensified his barking as the man approached and spoke very briefly with my wife who was restraining the dog. As the man turned to return to his car, our dog broke away from my wife and bit him in the rear end. He then backed up to the bottom of the stairs and stared and growled until the man left. This is from a dog I can take into Pet Food Ware house 3 times a week to practice heeling with all the distractions without one bit of a problem. My wife feels we have a vicious dog on our hands and I feel the combination of the strange appearance of the son in the ski outfit and the restraining of the dog without my wife attempting to calm him down lead to this very unfortunate situation. Your opinion/advise would be greatly appreciated.



I seriously doubt that you have a vicious dog on your hands. What you do have sounds like a nice dog that is not properly trained. If it had better obedience training your wife would have been able to control the dog. The dog did what you would have expected the dog to do had the person at the front door been a burglar. In fact, had it been a burglar you would have been doing “high fives” with your friends and neighbors and your wife would have been giving the dog additional treats.

But the fact is your dog is not properly obedience trained. The situation that happened triggered the dog’s territorial drive. He was trying to protect his family pack. From an obedience standpoint, this individual that was at the house was a “distraction.” The man was more of a “distraction” than your dog was trained to deal with.

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.

So as much as you do not like to hear about it, this case falls under the category of ”handler mistakes and errors” and not a bad dog. If the necessary training is beyond your means, you owe this dog a debt of gratitude for what he thought he was doing to protect your family. Find him a home where he will get the proper training.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have two dogs and both seem to show signs of aggression to people who are afraid of them. I do my best to question people to whether or not they are afraid before they approach. For some reason they always tell me no yet I can see it in their eyes. I know if I can see it my dogs can see it. It is at this point they begin to growl as the person approaches. I correct it at the time but is there anything I can do long term. Is this a sign of weak nerves or dominance? Can it be permanently removed from the dog and how? It is something that bothers me because whether adult or children it doesn't matter. They are fine, actually friendly with all other people, it is just those who are afraid.

Thank you in advance,


This only has something to do with genetics (bad breeding) nothing else. Your dogs are not tough they are sharp. They are not strong dogs in temperament they are weak dogs and what you see is a lesser degree of dogs that are fear biters. You can not change what the dogs are, (because it is a genetic issue) all you can hope to do is control it through serious obedience training.

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.

You also have not read all of the Q&A sections on my web site because I address this in more than one way.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I came to your web site hoping to find some answers concerning my aggressive German shepherd. I was very upset to see your answer for almost all of the concerned people are to putting their dog to sleep. This is a member of the family. We've had our dog for almost 5 years now, and a lot of the behavior some of these people described relates to our dog (Baldwin). His behavior upsets me, and concerns me whenever anybody new visits our home. But I don't think putting a dog down is the answer. Especially giving advice like that without even meeting the dog.

I'm sure you love animals very much, and you mean to do well. But telling families to kill their dogs just like that is horrible. I feel sorry for the people who came to you for simple advice, and came away with the thought in their head that there pet is some kind of monster. I hope for their sake, as well as the dog's sake, that they found another way of dealing with their pets problem.


I suggest that you go to the table of contents and read the article on Preventing Dog Bites in Children. When you see the photos in that article you will see why some people should not own dogs.

Not all dogs need to be put to sleep, many can be trained. But many behavioral problem dogs have owners who are incapable of training a dog, much less a dog with a serious behavioral problem. I will always choose to error on the side of a child and not on the side of a dog.

People are similar to dogs. Some people have hard-temperaments and some people have soft-temperaments. Soft people should not own hard aggressive dogs or dogs with serious nerve problems (If you are confused about what I mean about HARD and SOFT dogs refer to my article about this in the list of training articles.) Soft people do not have the temperament to give hard enough corrections to modify negative behavior in a hard dog. These people should either find new homes for their dogs or put them to sleep.

I suggest that you readjust your point of view and get a little experience about what you are talking about. I don't have patience for foolishness. You have a problem with your dog that has lingered for 5 years. You have still not corrected your problem. This does not say much about your ability to train dogs; your interest in solving the problems of your dog; or about you being a responsible dog owner. So don't lecture me on theory of dog training!

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QUESTION on Aggression:

We have a four-year-old lab that in general is a very likable dog. She has developed an aggressive behavior that is quite odd. On her background, she came from a very reputable breeder of field Retrievers and has had solid obedience training. She is quite active and strong. She is friendly to strangers and children in our yard.

About twelve months ago, I noticed one day after the gardeners had been to our house, she was acting odd. I inspected her and immediately noticed that she had an injured tail. I took her to our vet who confirmed that she had probably had something Heavy fall or drop on her tail while we were not there. I then noticed that whenever the gardeners came, she stayed well away and suddenly would bark or growl at them if I went near them. I asked them if something had fallen on her or if perhaps one of the younger fellows had been frightened and struck her in the tail. The gardener, who speaks mainly Spanish, was very evasive and I think fearful of telling the truth.

Clara now barks or growls at men that are Hispanic with dark pants on. She always ran leashless with me on the bike path and behaved beautifully with dogs and people alike. Now I have her on a leash so she won't frighten this particular type of person. I truly believe she is a good dog that is developing an aggressive behavior.



I think you are wrong about your dog and the aggression. Not everyone likes dogs like you and I. In fact, there are a lot of people out there who, for one reason or another, do not like dogs.

From what you describe, this dog was hit very hard, probably with a shovel, by one of your gardeners. Things do not accidentally drop on dogs' tails. Dogs are not fools, they have very good memories and your dog is not doing anything any other dog would not do if hit hard enough to injure it that bad.

My advice is to get a new gardener or at the very least have a very serious talk with the headman. Don't worry about your dog, just put her away when these guys are there. In reality it's your job to protect your dog.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a 15-month-old male (not neutered yet) English Springer spaniel. This dog has been a sweet lovable member of our family since he was 8 weeks old. He gets a lot of exercise, love and kisses and attention and discipline. The last 3 days or so, we notice his intense need to get at the many squirrels in our yard, so much so that he has dug under the yard and escaped chasing the Squirrels down the street. He has done this several times in the last days or so. He doesn't seem interested in birds, kids, cars, anything except the Squirrels. He barks incessantly at them in such frustration. He has never dug under the fence before this week. Now he won't stop. We yell at him to “stop barking,” it doesn't help. Yesterday after a particularly annoying day of him escaping (we're repairing the fence, but not fast enough) and barking and us yelling at him, he laid down on the bed and began chewing on a new bone I bought him. He seemed quite content to chew. My teenage daughter and her friend went over to pet him on his head and he growled a long, deep growl. When my husband saw this (the dog LOVES and respects my husband) he went over to yell at him "no" for growling. The dog growled at him the same way and then went to attack my husband , he did not bite him but tried to. This is a behavior we have never ever seen in this dog. He is friendly to all, we can handle his food, his mouth, his paws, anything. This time he was afraid we were going to take the bone away. A combination of the intense squirrel chasing and this deep scary growling all in the last week, has left us all very worried. Any ideas from you as to what is going on with him?

Thank you,


This is a perfect example of dog owners who don't understand dog behavior and not having the experience to solve the problem. There are several things going on at one time:

  1. This dog is reaching maturity. In the past he would have accepted correction from your husband because he saw him as a pack leader. This is changing (because of a lack of obedience training). Now the dog is prepared to challenge the authority of the family members and is willing to fight to do so.

  2. You have a hunting dog. Good hunting dogs have a lot of prey drive and this dog has focused his prey on the squirrels. The fact that he has figured out how to dig under the fence and you haven’t figured out how to stop him is a handler problem and not a dog problem. This is only compounded by the fact that you do not have the dog obedience-trained. If you did, telling him “NO” would have stopped him.

  3. You can stop the digging by getting an Innotek Fence and attaching it to your existing fence. This will keep the dog back away from the fence and in the yard. The wire is attached to your fence (rather than being buried). The only place it's buried is at the gate. You can read about these fences on my web site.

The dog needs some serious obedience training. Read what I have written about the correct steps to this on my web in the description of Basic Dog Obedience. Also get a prong collar and train this dog. Read the article on my web site called Dealing With the Dominant Dog. You can find it in the list of training articles.

Unless you do the things I have listed your problems will only continue and it will only be a matter of time before this dog bites someone. When that happens it will not be because of the dog but because the owners did not take the proper steps to correct a behavior problem.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

My husband and I have a 5 yr. old Rhodesian Ridgeback that we got at 6 weeks of age. He has been a wonderful pet and friend to us but we are now faced with a difficult decision. For 5 yrs. it has only been the three of us.

Both my husband and I have loved and treated Maxwell (the dog) as our child, a person more so than a dog. The only training that Maxwell has received was puppy training, but he has always been very well behaved for my husband and myself, though he definitely has shown signs of aggression: he has always barked at the mailman, neighborhood cats and any strange car that doesn't belong in the neighborhood. He has been allowed to sleep with us in our bed and be on the sofa with us, so I have always thought of him as a very protective dog. Almost 2 yrs. ago, Maxwell bit my husband's grandfather. The grandfather who had never met Max, reached over the gate to pet Max's head, and got bit. I immediately reported this to the vet they said he was guarding his territory, “nothing to be too concerned about.” Well last week, while being on a tie out in our front yard he bit my neighbor. My neighbor (she'd never been to our house before) came over to congratulate us on the birth of our son. As she was leaving, Max came out of the garage, and acted as if he would jump on her, so my husband held him, my neighbor stood and looked over the dog, but as she went to leave he got away from my husband and bit her lower arm. My husband and I immediately knew of Maxwell's outcome, being put to sleep, but I am writing you as one last resort to see if there is ANYTHING that I can do to save my dog. I have just recently wondered is there a perfect place to send him to be trained or live other than being put to sleep? One last comment, since you have not met this dog, but only hear my story .....I had a dog behaviorist/trainer come to our home after the baby came home, he gave us training advise and commented “that we have a great dog.” Please help with our difficult decision.



This problem is a result of the way that you have raised this dog. While the root problem lies in genetics, the core of the problem is handler mistakes in raising and handling this dog. In other words, you and your husband caused this by allowing it to happen - from the sound of it you did not know you were making mistakes.

Read my article titled Dealing With the Dominant Dog. If you want to keep this dog you need to start doing everything I talk about in this article, without any exceptions. You also need to decide that you have a dangerous dog. This means getting control of this animal, which you do not have at this point. It needs strict obedience (on and off leash) with the use of a prong collar.

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.

You need to get a 6-foot chain link dog kennel and a wire muzzle. When the dog is out in the public, it needs to wear the muzzle.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have been reading your web site and everything else that I can find on aggressive dogs. Sassy just turned 2 and is a golden from very good show lines and also according to the breeder from good temperament lines. She has had some food aggression problems in the past that I have worked on with her since we had her. I thought we had it pretty much fixed. I took her to training at 10 weeks old because of this and we have enjoyed it and been in training ever since. She has passed her therapy dog test and is close to getting her CD. Just a little more work on heeling. I am just telling you this so you know that we have worked A LOT with her.

For the last month she has been having some serious aggression problems for no apparent reason. One morning I came down and was talking to her. Her tail was thumping and I went to rub her tummy. Now in the past, she could never get enough petting, but that morning she growled. I said NO GROWL to her and in a heartbeat she was up on all fours and growling and snarling and walking slowly towards me. I told her to sit and stay and thank goodness she did but she continued to snarl and growl. I put her in a down stay for a while until she started looking normal again. This type of thing happened several times. Once she put her head on my lap and I petted her and all of a sudden she growled. That time I said her name mostly out of shock, and she was instantly all wiggly and happy again. It is very strange.

We have gone to 3 vets now. One thinks it is hormones. She is getting spayed today. Another one said he had no clue and no training for this kind of dog. The third at least did some tests and is doing some research on this. She just called me and said she thinks from what she has been reading that our dog is owner Aggressive. But it seemed to come on so fast! We have an appointment at a behaviorist next week. But in the meantime I am at a loss as to what to do. How did she become owner aggressive? I have always known she was rather a dominant dog, so I took precautions. We eat first, she doesn't sleep with us, (although not in a kennel any longer), and I go through doorways first. She does now like to sleep in doorways or pathways. We tell her to move when we go through and she does. HELP! I love this dog, but we can't live like this. She has bitten me and almost gotten all the rest of the family. I also wonder what the expectations are for her becoming a nice dog again. If it were owner aggression would she do better in a home where the owner is a better trainer? Is it our fault? I know you probably can't answer all of these questions, but I am grasping at straws here.

Thank you for your time!


My guess is that this dog is mentally ill. Who knows the reason, but she is, maybe it's a brain chemical thing or a brain tumor. From what you have written you are doing everything right and still have these problems on a breed of dog that should not be aggressive to anything or anyone. The bottom line is that the dog has become a dangerous dog for no apparent reason. She has already bitten you and the only question is whom will she bite next?

Put this dog to sleep if neutering does not solve the problem. I am not a fan of putting dogs down as a solution to a problem; I always feel that solid training (on dogs and handlers - with handlers needing more than dogs) is the first step to solving problems. But from what you describe, training is not going to fix the problem. You also need to respect the vet who said they don't know the problem for this. That's an honest vet.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

My name is Amanda. I have a very serious problem. I have a 9-year-old lab mix named Harley and a 1 1/2 year old Rott/lab named Jake and two children. I brought Jake home when he was 8 weeks in May of 99. We felt Harley needed a new companion after our Husky passed away the previous November. They had been together for almost 8 years.

Well, Harley took Jake in right away with no incidents ever, until Harley stole a dog bone out of Jake's dish, when he was standing right there watching. Ever since, Jake will start growling when they come in and get fed. Jake starts it most of the time. Usually Harley will just leave his food and come back for it after Jake is somewhere else. They will also start when one comes into a room that the other is already in. It is happening too often.

Tonight, he started in and I took his food away. After Harley ate, I gave Jake his food. One of the kids walked into the room and he growled at her. I scolded him so much that he wouldn't eat his food for a while. Jake is a very passive and gentle dog. When it comes to the kids, he loves them. Before he lays down to sleep, he goes into their rooms and checks on them. I love this dog very much, but I can't handle the growling. Thankfully, they get along great in our kennel. We have only had one incident where they attacked. It was in the living room. I had to jump in and pull them apart because the kids were very close to them when it happened. I just need some advice on ways to get them to get over their jealousy. If I separate them it will only get worse. They need to stay together. Please help.



There are a few things that are pretty obvious here:

  1. You have not done much reading on my web site, on the dominant dog. The answers are there.
  2. You don't have a clue about dog training - but at least you are making an effort.
  3. You are 100% wrong about not separating these dogs.
  4. Quit feeding these dogs where they can have access to each other’s food.
  5. Never allow a dog in any bedroom (it's a prescription for disaster) - read my article.
  6. Jake is just now maturing, hence the new problems. He is doing what he does to establish pack rank, i.e. fight with the old dog, take his food, growl at the kids.

You have one and only one chance. Train this dog with a prong collar. You need to take steps at establishing this dog’s position in your pack before he starts to bite.

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 on Aggression:

I've read all the articles of yours that I can find and I was wondering if you could help me. We have an 11-year-old golden Labrador whom we inherited from some friends who could no longer look after him.

He has been in Labrador rescue where an elderly couple took him on but due to his size, had to give him up again. He was also looked after by a man who used to beat him. As a pup he was attacked by two Stafford shire bull terriers and it took two men to get the dogs off of him. By the time our friends got him he'd already had quite a life (he was less than two years old).

My friends had him until he was 9 and during that time he has always been aggressive towards other dogs but perfect with everyone else (including kids).

He doesn't run up and attack them or anything like that but if another dog approaches him he is on his guard and if they try to sniff his back end then he will flare up. He is mostly fine with bitches (he is entire).

For all those years, his previous owners let him sleep on the bed, settee, etc. etc. - all the things he shouldn't have been doing but when we got him we put a stop to all of that and he is now clear on who is the boss - i.e. not him. He was also always on the lead and they gripped his collar like mad if another dog came by.

Because he can be aggressive we have to keep him on a lead unless we can see the coast is clear. I particularly do this when I'm out with him on my own. I know that grabbing the dog is making him worse but I don't know what else to do. If another dog approaches I put him on a slack collar (as opposed to pulling him away like before). But even then he goes alert as if I'm sending him a signal to be careful. If I don't put a collar on him and he flares up I will be at fault. Have you any suggestions at all please. I have spoken to a number of behaviorists and have been told a number of strategies i.e. distraction technique, which works to a degree not pulling him away. He is a lot better letting him know who is number one - i.e. not him - works fine. I was told before that I shouldn't have waited until this age but for the first year we had him we thought that was just the way he was and the second year has been getting this far.

Help - I want to take my dog for lovely long walks but it really is not a joy at the moment. I believe that he was not socialized because his previous owners thought that after the attack they were frightened it would happen again.

I really want to help him and he is beautiful in every other way - any words you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I have recently moved and at present do not have a source of income so I cannot really afford a behaviorist at the moment. Any tips as a stop gap?


Once other dogs have attacked a dog it will always be dog aggressive. I compare this to a women being raped when she walks by a dark alley at night. She will always have problems with dark alleys - nothing will ever change this. You can either accept this or try and change it. This poor dog will always have a dog aggression problem that can be controlled with force. That's the only thing that will solve the problem. The dog must learn that YOU will not allow other dogs to attack it. It must learn that you will protect it from other dogs - if you will not accept this responsibility than you are not a good pack leader.

I do NOT allow other dogs near my dog - I do not understand people who do allow this. IT IS STUPID! It makes no sense to me and it makes no sense to your dog! It goes against common sense, it goes against sound pack behavior.

I suggest you step to the line and take responsibility for this animal. It sounds like this dog deserves to have the end of it's life be a safe place.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Hello from Michigan.

I am hoping you can answer a question for me. I have researched a lot of German shepherd information and recently purchased a female. I did not find your site until afterwards though, and I am hoping I am not sorry. I am so amazed and impressed with the information you make available. I will be ordering a video shortly. My question is, my female Sire: Addi von der Gundorfer Hohe and Bitch: Gini vom Merlin, is a very intelligent dog. But we do have a slight problem...Sasha LOVES to kill cats. She seems to take great pleasure in it in fact. Is this normal? My obedience instructor says that is aggression. Do I have a problem? I really don't see it anywhere else. She is 8 months old, 65 lbs, and 23" at withers. I know you are very busy, but I'm looking for help.

Thanks so much for your time.


Your obedience instructor needs to go back to school. Feel free to tell her I said this. Your dog kills cats because of prey drive, not aggression. Aggression has to do with protecting one’s self. Prey drive has to do with chasing and killing things that run away.

You correct this by teaching the dog that cats are no longer prey items. This is done with a shock collar and obedience training. When you use a shock collar for this the intensity of the shock is as high as it can go. This falls under the category of one or two good corrections are better than 1000 nagging corrections.

Take the dog out on a long line in an area where there are cats. Watch the dog closely. The instant the dog goes for a cat, shock it. It's not necessary to say anything, in fact it's better not to. The dog must learn on it's own that cats are no longer fun to chase. We do not want the dog to think that you are part of this process. If it thinks that then it may think that it can get away with chasing a cat when you are not present. Whereas if you do this work without saying a word, it does not matter if you are there or not. I would also recommend a Tri Tronics Collar for this work.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Hi, my name is Alexandre and I´m from Brazil. I have a 3 year old Bull Terrier called Brutus. Brutus is a very nice dog. He is smart, friendly, funny, loves to play with his toys, BUT... (this terrible word!!!) it has been doing some strange things.

It’s kind of stubborn, and when I do something that it doesn’t agree with, it becomes aggressive. So, I have to be hard with it. For three times I had to hang his neck until it stopped growling and trying to bite me, but this aggressive problem has been usually happening. I’m worried about it, because Brutus bit my father’s hand last month while he was playing with the dog.

I have to do something with it, because I can’t live with a strange aggressive dog, that can seriously bite my wife, but I like it and I’d like to do something to help him. I’d like to trust Brutus again. Do you think that I can reverse this problem without violence? I had to kick him a lot of times (I didn’t have another alternative) to avoid serious consequences, but I hate to do it.

A shock collar could be efficient in this case? When he growls at me I “BZZZ” him until he stops? What can I do? I don’t want to have to hang him again. I could kill him doing this! If his brain misses oxygen, the dog dies. Is it possible that the only way is to maltreat an animal that I choose to be my partner?

Thank you. (sorry about my English)


There is a good possibility that this dog can learn to be polite but it will require you to change the way you live with the dog.

To begin with it needs to learn that you control every second of his life. This is done with leashes (HE IS NEVER OFF LEASH - NOT EVEN IN THE HOUSE) and dog crates. I produced a DVD titled ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCUTRE WITH YOUR DOG. This DVD details how to handle a dog like this.

The biggest mistake new dog owners make is they give up on the program too soon. It has often taken years for a dog like yours to develop the behavior problem it now has. You are not going to change it in a few days, maybe not even in a few weeks. It could take months.

During this period, usually after a week or two you can begin to retrain the dog in obedience. The best way to do this is with 'MARKERS" . Marker training is 100% motivational and is non-confrontational. It works well with dominant aggressive dogs. I have a free 85 page eBook on my web site and I have done training dvds explaining this system.

In the end this dog will probably have to learn that there are consequences to not following directions. This may involve a remote collar but that's a long time down the road and requires handler training. Again I have produced a dvd on learning to use a remote collar with low level stimulation. It's titled REMTOE COLLAR TRAINING FOR THE PET OWNER.

I hope this helps.


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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have had German Shepherds all my life. My dogs are my companions and I take them almost everywhere with me. I would like to find a GS that is less likely to show male dominance. I travel the California coast with windsurfing and other dogs are on the beach (mostly labs) and I have to keep my dog away from the other dogs. Is it possible to choose a dog as a pup and it be less likely to show this tendency and yet not be a timid animal?

Thank you,


It’s not possible to pick a puppy and know that it will not be dog aggressive - no matter what dog therapists say or vets say or dog psychologists say. It cannot be done. I think that some dogs are genetically predisposed to dog aggression. But for every one of those, I think there are 10 to 15 animals that are dog aggressive because they have had ONE BAD EXPERIENCE. It only takes having the shit scared out of a dog one time (by another dog) for it to become dog aggressive. As crummy as this comparison is, it is an accurate one. If a woman is raped she is permanently scarred for life. It is exactly the same with puppies or young adults that are attacked by other dogs. These pups will forever be dog aggressive.

I also think the flip side to this coin is if handlers would put there foot down (FIRMLY) from day one on pups that become aggressive to other dogs, they would be able to eliminate or at least control the problem. The dog must know that if I am aggressive to other dogs my owner is going to get 20 times more aggressive with me because HE DOES NOT LIKE IT. The problem is that most people cannot correct a dog hard enough to make their dog think like this.

So in my opinion dog aggression is 99% a handler problem. This means handlers propagate it by not correcting their dogs firmly enough. The fact is that one good correction is worth 1000 nagging corrections - most owners are naggers.

I have owned some nasty dogs in my life. I own a male right now that is as bad as anything I have ever seen - probably worse than anything most people will ever see in their life (I bought him when he was 5 years old). This dog will viscously try and attack another dog through a fence when I let him out of the kennel. This is going to blow the minds of the Goody-two-shoes and the phooo phooo Halty and Clicker people that read my web site - but I have stopped this dog’s fence fighting. It took three 30 second training sessions. I simply told him “NO” and hit him over the head with a kennel shovel. The reason it took three sessions was because I did not know how thick this dog’s head was - I really had to whack him hard on the third session to get his attention. Now he knows that there are consequences to fence fighting.

I will also say that I took a chance when I hit this dog with a shovel that he would turn that aggression towards me and attack me. I know that no dog is ever going to get me when I have a shovel in my hands - that is probably not the case with most people. But then most people would never own this dog.

The next step on the this dog would be to muzzle him, put him on a leash, get the shovel out so he could see it and let him out with a bitch that is not dog aggressive. This may take a few sessions with different dogs.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I just spent about 2 hours reading your site, helpful but I still need some input if you have time. I have a 3 yr old German Shepherd of which has Rott mix. In the last year or so she has become VERY aggressive. In this last year there have been approximately 4-5 full fledged attacks. Four of them being towards my wife, and a few minors towards myself. The dog weighs about 80lbs and is female, spayed.

She has not been obedience trained. She is, however, fairly obedient of me. You CANNOT go near her when she is eating or has one of her toys or she WILL attack. She also will snatch up ANYTHING you drop on the floor and chew it and will attack if you try and get it away. Just two weeks ago she attacked and injured my 11 yr old Great Pyrenees for NO reason. I can control her in most instances but when she attacked the Great it required a scrap of 2x4 to get her off of him....her intent was to kill I assume judging by her body language and stances. My guess is she is senses the Great is old and she is next in line for top dog.

I am requesting your opinions and options of what to do with this animal. My wife is scared to death of her for good reason. I have told her (wife) DO NOT let the animal know you are afraid of her or she will act on your vulnerability, I may be wrong. I am 26 and have owned 6 dogs and have NEVER had one like this. I have been told she has a chemical imbalance and may be bred to close with the Rott.

Is it too late in the maturity of the this animal to correct or sideline this behavior? I ask this because to night (3-6-01) she turned on me for NO freaking reason at. She was sitting in our dining room ...I walked around the table and asked her "What are you doing"? She then proceeded to "slink" around the other side of the table ....paused upon reaching me... then attacked. And I mean ATTACKED. She lunged up on her hind legs and snapped at my neck, I pushed her down and she came back for more this time getting my right arm fully in her mouth of which has VERY large sharp teeth. Once the confrontation was over...she went over and laid down like nothing happened. I was a little shaken to say the least. Once I regained my composure I scolded her and pointed towards the basement and said "GET downstairs." She followed orders and did so quick like, tail between legs.

So, at this point my only thought, however a tough decision, is to put her down before she really hurts someone. I always ask myself, what would Angela (my wife) do in this situation? If you can help me in any way, or point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated. I have located a behavioral specialist in my area of which I am going to contact in the morning 3-7-01 to see what they can tell me. PLEASE get back to me at your earliest convenience.

The other problem with the dog is she licks concrete. Yep...licks concrete. She will do this for HOURS on end just going in circles licking the basement floor, back porch, anything concrete. Any idea what THIS may be?



Put this dog to sleep before it really hurts your wife. Are there things you can do? Yes, there are things that MAY work but they also MAY NOT work, and if they don’t you still have a very dangerous dog living in your house. What if this dog accidentally comes in contact with a child? You will now be liable because you know how dangerous this animal is and you did not take appropriate actions to deal with or contain the dog. I testified against a lady who is spending 11 years in prison for murder. She had dogs like this that killed an 11 year old boy.

If this dog does not have some kind of a brain tumor, the problem may have been corrected with proper obedience training at a young age. But I seriously doubt either you or your wife have the skill to deal with it now. I also doubt that, even with training, it will ever be safe to be around other people (or your wife). So do yourself, your wife and your old dog a favor – take this dog to the vet and have it put down. Then if you get another animal, become a responsible pet owner. At this point you do not fit into that category because you have allowed this situation to happen and you have not trained this dog. It’s a walking time bomb. So if you get another dog, train it. Get a dog crate and keep it in the crate and do not allow it to try and dominate the older dog.

To get off on the right foot, if you get a pup I would recommend the video I have produced titled Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months. I give this video to all of my puppy customers and never get questions on how to raise a pup. Read the description of the tape on my web site. It has 2 hours of solid information and does not cost a lot of money.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a question regarding a neighbor's dog. We have three hounds (one blue tick and two bassets) who are wonderful animals. Yes, I am biased. My concern is with one of my neighbor's Huskies.

Yesterday she bit my oldest dog. This is the forth dog she has bit to my knowledge. She also bit my husband when he foolishly tried to break up a dog fight. The attacks seem unprovoked. When I approach the husky she lays her ears back, crouches low to the ground and growls. Needless to say I stay away.

My neighbor says his dog knows the difference between dogs and people and would never attack a person. Am I being paranoid by keeping my family away from this dog and being afraid?

A side note - it is my humble opinion that this dog spends too much time chained up on a 15' chain. Any opportunity she gets to escape she takes off. This is generally when the attacks occur.



Call the police when she comes into your yard. Call the police when she bites your dog. Call the police when she bites your husband. What part of this don’t you understand? I am sorry I don’t have patience for people who don’t show good common sense.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a question I was unable to find already answered in the FAQs. I work at a skilled nursing facility with approximately 50 residents. The facility has a beautiful (slightly overweight) golden retriever that is very calm, gentle and even tempered. She loves to be the object of your attention and returns affection appropriately and never becomes over excited. In a word, this dog is perfect.

The dog was lying in the sun rays on my office floor snoozing, when one particular resident walked by my door. The dog's response was surprising. She lifted her head, stiffened her entire body, bared all teeth and growled viciously. The resident walking by my door was looking straight ahead and didn't respond to the dog's behavior at all.

Upon investigation, I learned the dog ONLY growls at this particular person and has done so since the resident first stepped into the facility.. AND does so for no particular reason. The resident likes dogs, isn't afraid of her, or dogs in particular, and has not been mean to our dog in any way, shape or form. The only thing I've come up with is kind of strange to even mention, but the resident the dog responds to in this particular fashion has a mental disorder and presents an extremely flat affect. I've understood for some time dogs (and other animals) can sense much more than humans.

So, the question is: Why do you suppose this mild-mannered dog responds this way to only ONE person out of at least 80-90 people she interacts with per day?


This patient has done something to this dog. Do not even kid yourself - the patient did it when no one was looking and whatever he did hurt the dog. That's why the patient will not look at the dog when he walks by. So the issue here is that the patient needs to be kept away from the dog. You cannot expect a dog to put up with abuse.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a 5 acre farm and I wanted to adopt a dog to patrol it and keep the deer off. A good friend of mine who runs K-9 in central NJ let me know that he had a dog who was from Germany that belonged to a woman who paid $4000 for the dog, and when it was 2 years old it mauled her husband. When we went to pick the dog up we met the lady at a rest area. My friend said a neutral site would be best. He was muzzled and extremely aggressive. After 3 days of talking and walking the dog he seemed nervous but less hostile so I took the muzzle off. He walked well and did not want to bite, but when I try to get his leash off, he shows his teeth. Every morning when I get to the shop the dog is very aggressive, then I talk him down and he mellows. He seems very nervous of everything and everyone and the person who holds the leash is the only one that can pet him. It’s been 3 weeks and I had a friend of mine hold the leash yesterday and I went to pet him and he almost ripped my arm off. He shows signs of being spooked often - ears back, slouched and tail between legs, and sometimes rolling his teeth when you approach him. Then if you bend down to his level and call him, he will come after awhile with his head down. The local health dept. where the man was mauled keeps calling me and saying that they want the dog put to sleep before someone else gets hurt. He is a beautiful animal and I would hate to see him put down. I have used the electric collar and that stops him from attacking but also makes him spooked.



This dog has really bad temperament - it's a genetic issue (or lack of genetics). Put the dog to sleep before it hurts someone. You are out of your league in this problem.

Using an electric collar on this dog is stupid. He acts like this because he is nervous - the collar is only going to make him more nervous and crazy. This morning they talked on the Today show about the two lawyers in California who are facing 10 to 15 years in prison because their dog killed that lady in the apartment. Do you want this to happen to you? It easily could because you know that you have a very dangerous and unstable dog but you are not taking the correct steps to protect the public from this animal.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

We have a 5 yr old Rat terrier and we recently adopted a 5 yr old German Shepherd male which we immediately neutered. The dogs get along ok and they are very good with my 2yr old son. The GS has been obedience trained although I bought your video so I would know how to properly handle him. When people come to the door or drive down the driveway they bark and they get VERY aggressive. I try to correct them but I'm not sure if that's what I should be doing or maybe I should get the visitors to throw them bones. (I'm not sure if that's rewarding their behavior). The GS has a low confident bark - his tail is high and his hair on his back is down. I just purchased a remote trainer for the GS because I felt bad correcting him in front of my son (unless I correct him hard he just ignores it). On the other hand the RT shakes if you correct her, (and makes you feel bad). I feel the dogs are trying to be protective and we have never had the problem before with the RT. We were absolutely shocked when the RT bit my friend today in the leg (fear bite). He was not antagonizing the dog, he just went to pet her, she moved away then he turned to walk towards me then she bit him! She has never shown any signs of aggression. Will it help if I get barking collars for both dogs as well to control the barking? I was thinking that they might stop being aggressive if they didn't hear each other barking. After the person has entered our house all is forgiven and the dogs are back to normal. Both dogs are trained and very obedient except the RT tends to get babied by my wife. Should we treat both dogs exactly the same? The GS sleeps in the cellar and the RT sleeps on the bed. The GS is not allowed on the furniture and the RT can sleep on the couch. Neither dog is fed at the table, and both dogs are allowed to go outside unleashed (we have 5 acres in the woods, they never leave our yard and it's never been a problem until now, they follow us around the property and keep us company). I've read a lot of books on dog training and nothing makes more sense than your methods.


Your email indicated that you need to rethink what you are doing. There are too many mistakes being made. Here are the issues:

    1. It's OK to bark when strangers come. But when a dog is told to be quiet and lay down - then IT MUST DO IT. Your dogs ARE NOT obedience trained unless they will do this. If they will not (and after reading what you wrote I am sure that they will not), then you have a bad situation. It is a total mistake to have the visitors give the dogs bones. This accomplishes nothing. The dogs are going to bark harder at the next person that comes. This is an obedience issue and not a reward issue.

    2. You are doing everything wrong with the Rat Terrier. It should not be in bed with you, it should not be on the furniture. This is foolishness. The dog needs a dog crate, even if it does not like it - tough!

    3. When the Rat Terrier bit your friend it should have been corrected (by you). This means a really strong correction. It must learn that this behavior will NEVER be tolerated. So not only is the dog not trained, it is not corrected for very bad behavior.

    4. The GSD sounds like a very nice dog. It sounds like it has good nerves and a good temperament. Just train it. Your comment about not correcting the dog in front of your child is foolish. It makes ZERO sense. If for some bizarre reason you do not want to correct the dog in front of your child (and I have no idea why this would be) then put your child away when you train your dog. Do not use an electric collar in this scenario. You will only be causing problems with your dog. Focus on proper control and training - not on punishment. If you plan to train with an electric collar (and I do all the time) then get a training tape and learn how to do it properly. We have several good ones from Tri Tronics.

    5. Putting No Bark collars on the dog is not going to accomplish anything. Yes, one may get the other excited, but this does not change the fact that the dogs are not trained (contrary to your statement that they are well trained - they are not).

    6. I would get prong collars on both dogs and work them separately. They need to learn to mind under distraction.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Hello. I am having a problem with a neighbor's dog. We moved to this new home 5 months ago and have no pets. Our children are 10, 3, almost 2, and 7 months. Our yard has a chain-link fence around it. Our neighbors, who are the only people we have met so far, have five dogs. One is a shep mix. For approximately six weeks the dog was allowed to roam the neighborhood. One of its owners was out of town for that period of time. The dog roamed with another neighbor’s dog... The dog, whose owner said had never bit anyone, bit our 10 year old on the back of his leg. When I went to try to help him, the dog charged me, growling, with its back hair standing up. My first response was to scream as loud as I could. She backed off just before reaching me. My son and I sat on top of a car while we waited for the police. The owner was not home. The dog did not puncture the skin, but left tooth mark bruises on his calf.

The absent owner came back from her trip with another dog, a Rot mix. Here is
my frustration.. My babies love to be outdoors. But I can't let them out when the shep mix dog is out. She charges at our fence at the babies, growling and showing teeth. The owner was talking to me today when this happened, and said that the dog just wants to play ball with my kids. I am terrified of the dog and have told them this. They do not see it as a problem. They say the dog jumps the fence because it wants to play with the “neighborhood roaming dog.” The roaming dog has jumped into their yard to play with their dogs in the past. Canine Control told them to buy a harness that will prevent the dogs from jumping over their fence. But they have not bought one yet. I am having a tough time with this, worrying about the babies getting bitten. Is there anything I can spray along my fence to deter the dog from coming near it? I can't sit back here. I feel that this is an accident waiting to happen.

Sorry this is so long ...Please give me any insight you may have.
Thank you, Maureen


This is an accident waiting to happen. Here are some things that I would recommend doing:

1 - Your neighbor’s dog is not trying to play with your kids, it is territorial and part of a dog pack and it will bite them. The dog views your yard as his territory.

2 - Print out the article from my web site on Sabina Davidson - where the Rot killed the 11 year old boy. Give it to your neighbor and the police chief (not an officer).

3 - Ask the neighbor if he has home owners insurance and who it is with. Sucker this information out of him - be sweet - con the guy. Tell him you just want to be sure that there will be medical coverage in case your child is bitten. Be nice until you get the information. Then write the insurance company and they will cancel his insurance in a heartbeat.

4 - After doing this, go to the county courthouse and see who has financial liens against this guy’s house. Once you know who his banker is you can let them know what is going on and that you are working to let his insurance company know that he is keeping dangerous dogs that have already bitten. The bank will know that he is going to lose his insurance and they will demand that he carry insurance or they will default his loan.

5 - Go to your police chief and demand to see a copy of the police report on the incident that you mentioned. This is PUBLIC INFORMATION and he has to give it to you, (they may charge you a small fee). If there was not a police report, demand to know why. Get mad and demand answers on why there was no report written. This is a serious matter and it should have had a report - the chief will already know this. If the police chief does not show appropriate concern then tell him that you are going to go to the District Attorney, the mayor and the newspaper. Tell him that you will write an article to the newspaper about his lack of concern and lack of professionalism. Tell him that his officer should have written a police report and if there was not one written then this also shows a lack of professionalism in his department. Make him aware that you see this as a very dangerous situation for your children.

Then go to the mayor’s office and do the same thing. If he does not give you a satisfactory answer then tell him you are going to write an article for the newspaper and put his name in it. Then DO IT! Give the police chief and the mayor copies of this email if you wish. In my opinion they are both open to civil liability if they refuse to do something and your children are bitten again.

6 - Sue the neighbor in small claims court. Show him that you take this seriously. You may lose (because you cannot show damages if the child never went to the doctor).

7 - There is no reason to try and maintain a relationship with the neighbor. You have tried to deal with them in a friendly manner and they refused to recognize the problem and fix it. So now they need to learn what their risk exposure is. Send the neighbor a certified letter explaining everything that you are going to do. Tell him about the insurance, the bank, the police chief, the district attorney, the mayor and the newspaper. Let him see that you are serious. Give him 3 or 4 days to respond to you before going out to do these things. Then it really is his decision to let this go on.

8 - The neighbor has to build a fence or enclosure that will keep his dogs in. This means a 6 foot fence or dog kennels or getting an invisible in-ground fence that keeps the dogs back away from the existing fence (which has already proven to be useless). If he will not do that then he needs to get rid of the dogs. It's pretty simple, because he has so many dogs he has created a DOG PACK. This elevates the seriousness of the situation and elevates the pack drive in his animals. This ALWAYS happens when there are more than 3 dogs.

9 - You are facing a very dangerous situation. Your children are at risk here.


Thank you so much for your reply. I called our local Police Department today and will be picking up the police report tomorrow, (from the 3/18/01) incident when our 10 year old son was bitten. I called Canine Control today too, and asked for any and all paperwork regarding the dog in question. I told them about the dog charging at our fence at the babies and was told since it was contained in their yard, there was nothing they could do. They recommended getting pepper spray to have handy, and going to PETCO to purchase sprays that would deter the dogs from the fence. PETCO told us they have nothing that will deter a dog from that kind of behavior near a fence.

Twice today, the rot mix jumped the fence and was put back over the fence by neighbor kids. The family left her chained out for around four hours while they were out.

Thank you for your insight and information. I plan to contact the owner this weekend, to try to come up with an agreement and understanding regarding their dog that has already bitten. I did not bring John, (10) to the Doctor after the attack.My husband is a Paramedic and took all precautions with the bite. I did take pictures though, and John still has scars from the bite.

Sincerely appreciate the time you took for me.
Thank you Mr. Frawley,


You now need to call the police every time the dog gets over the fence - EVERY SINGLE TIME - you need to build a police case file on this dog. Even if it’s put back in by the owner - you need to call the police to complain. They then need to write a police report. Tell the officer that you want a copy of the report. If he gives you a negative response then tell him thanks but you will be calling the police chief. You can play your cards right and get rid of these dogs (or get them secured).

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a neighbor that has an attack trained GS. The dog only responds to German commands. Two years ago the dog attacked a neighbor’s dog and almost killed it. Since then the owners have put up a fence. When this dog is out in the yard it growls and barks at all people and other dogs. My dog will run over to the fence wanting to play and the GS will urinate on him. I have planted bushes on that side of the fence to keep children in my yard from approaching the fence. The neighbor has bad dog signs hung on the fence. My question is this: I walk my dog every evening. On several occasions I have seen the neighbor out in the front yard with the dog on a leash not holding on to it. Her dog will approach my dog and start to circle him. I now go across the street to avoid this behavior. I am afraid that one time her dog will attack mine and kill him. Since I am not on speaking terms with this person I am not sure how to make them understand the potential of their dog and how dangerous he is. The owner is under the impression that a guard dog is necessary for their protection. We live in suburbia, in a low crime area. We have also had several children in our city killed lately from dangerous dogs. How can I protect myself and my dog?



It sounds to me like this is not as big of a problem as you have made it out to be. The neighbor has his dog confined and he has put up signs warning people of the dog. This is not something I would do but then this is his decision.

Yes, it would be better if he did not let the dog run in the yard when he is out there - but if the dog were going to attack your dog he would have already done so. You walking in the other direction is a good idea. The dog has already indicated what he thinks of your dog by pissing on him, he does not need to kill him to show that he is dominant over your dog. That's why he has not attacked your dog when he was loose.

The risk of dog attacks on humans is worse with untrained dogs than trained dogs. So the fact that this dog is allegedly trained is not an issue for an increased danger to you or your kids.

I understand your concern but you happen to be worrying too much and the neighbor is within his rights to have a trained dog. In fact he has as much right to having this dog as you do to having your dog.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a German Shorthaired Pointer that is extremely well behaved. He is very submissive with the family. As a pup and even now he submits to family members readily. He was never dominant. I have never known him to fight viciously. I am defiantly a dominant owner and am a strict disciplinarian. I make him wait to eat, walk through doors, etc. He is extremely well behaved and obedient. At home, he barks when strangers and dogs go by. He growls at the door. He does not like when too many strangers (work men) are in the house alone with my fiance. He barks and growls at them the whole time. She will have to put him in a separate room.

Historically, I would describe his temperament as confident with other dogs. I have seen him growl at other dogs and make them submit when playing. At around 1.5 to 4yrs. of age, when he encountered other dogs and was even a little aggressive (mildly growling), I would reprimand him. I even made him lay down if he was playing roughly with other dogs and puppies. Again, he was never very aggressive, and I never saw him really bite another dog. Once, I did see him chase a large German Shepherd off my front yard. He never really bit it, but he nipped it and chased it down the block.

Up until September of this year he played with my Uncle's Dog every month or so. They played together sometimes roughly barking and growling. My dog is named Buck and my Uncle's dog is Scar. They would play and wrestle barking and growling. Buck would usually win. He always grabbed the ball first and would take things from Scar. I would GENTLY reprimand Buck for taking things from Scar or growling at him. Last summer, Buck would wrestle with Scar and win. Even though he was winning he'd role on his back with Scar over him. He'd hit Scar in the face with his paws. Then he'd jump up and continue wrestling usually fighting and winning the contest. In September 2000, the dogs showed a little more tension. They had not been together in several months. They were outside playing and everything was fine, but again there was a little more tension. After being together for about 12 hours, they came into the house together and both seemed a little stiff legged. They both seemed annoyed at each other. I think Scar growled at Buck and I went over to break the tension. I said hello to Scar and tried to play with him. He playfully jumped up on me to say hello. At that second, my dog Buck growled and jumped at him. I think he was being protective or possessive of me. They both reared up on their back legs and were growling and barking, and it seemed like they were fighting. I yelled at Buck and called him off. As he turned to walk away Scar jumped on his back. Buck got into a submissive stance with Scar on him. I called for my Uncle, because Scar is not obedient at all. In the seconds I was waiting for my Uncle, Scar stood over him growling. As my Uncle approached, Scar bit him and my Uncle had to literally punch Scar to get him off. Buck came to me very submissively and rolled over on his back. I said "good boy, it's ok." He was not hurt. I petted him and comforted him. Later that day we went hunting and when Buck retrieved several downed pheasants, he growled at Scar if he approached the downed birds Buck was retrieving. So he was still showing dominance.

Buck has not been to the cabin since that day in September. Scar has been up there on several occasions. We went up together this past weekend. Since last September, Scar has viciously attacked several other dogs over the past few months. Most of the dogs he has gone after have been male. Once he attacked a female that had attacked a second female. Buck as I mentioned, has never really attacked another dog. He does bark and growl when people or dogs go by our house at home. When we got to the cabin, we tried to reacquaint the dogs. Scar was there first. Within two minutes, Scar went after Buck. Buck just backed off. Scar was on a leash. A little later, Buck and my fiance went for a walk. A large golden retriever, I know is aggressive with other males, approached Buck. Buck tried to walk away and the Golden jumped on his back growling and threatening to bite. She came to get me. I ran down the road and found the golden standing over and behind Buck being aggressive. Buck was in a crouching submissive posture. I called Buck and he came to me with the other dog being aggressive and growling at him and following closely. Later Buck was playing with two neighbor's female dogs when the golden showed up again. Buck tried to walk away and the golden did it again. He did not bite though. I showed up and Buck came to stand behind me with the dog barking and growling in front of me trying to get to Buck. Later Scar had a muzzle on and went after Buck trying to bite him, but he could not really sink in. Buck just stood there being very submissive with Scar just barely nipping his neck. The muzzle was a little loose, so he could just about pinch some skin and hair.

Later Scar ran into the golden retriever. The golden was on its own property and Scar just walked up to it. The both stood there for a while posturing. Then Scar slowly and nonchalantly backed off. The golden slowly "escorted" Scar of its property with its fangs bared. Scar was not submissive, but he did not really growl back. This all took place within about 3 hours. When Buck encountered the golden it was on common ground. Can you help me make sense of what happened?

I do not want Buck to be a fighter, or be overly aggressive with other dogs. But, I do not want him to stand there while another dog bites his neck. I want him to protect himself. I do not like how he just stood there while this other dog, barked and growled. Especially considering the Dog felt threatening. I have seen the golden the same day and it was friendly to me after he had the second run in with Buck. But, I was alone. I hunt Buck and up at the cabin he runs free. I now worry about his safety. How can I restore his confidence? What could have caused him to be so submissive suddenly? He still seems protective at home. It seemed so out of character. What if he runs into a bobcat or coyote will he defend him self? Over his whole life I've seen him attack and kill feral cats, skunks, and possums. I just want him to be able to protect me and my family. I do not want him to leave his neck exposed like he did, Scar could have killed him if nobody was there and he was not muzzled. If you need any additional info, please let me know. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for any help you can offer.



If you choose to put your dog in an environment where it is exposed to other dogs then it’s your job to protect your dog from a dog fight. You are the pack leader and you are also supposed to be a responsible pet owner. I don’t allow my dogs to be around dogs that I personally don’t know are not dog aggressive. When I meet a person with a new dog I assume that their dog is dog aggressive until I know differently.

If a dog is dog aggressive to my dog I go on the attack. I become as aggressive as I have to be to show the new dog that being an idiot is not going to fly with me.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Hi my name is Lisa and I live in Brooklyn. I have an intense situation that I would like your feedback on. I currently living in a household with a dog that I am fearful of. Let me give you some history.

About 9 years ago my then boyfriend (Joe) purchased a male/American pit bull terrier (Gus). For 11 months before he matured I would walk Gus, feed him to help Joe out and even bring Gus up to my house where he socialized with other people. One day my grandmother approached Gus as he was sitting next to Joe while Joe was eating and he pinned down my grandmother. After that he was not allowed in my house and Joe took him to obedience training. I still interacted with Gus (walking, feeding, spending time w/ him). The type of training Gus got was very strict, in an environment where he was kenneled there for about 3 weeks or so (don't remember exactly), and then Joe and I came in for sessions on working with the dog. This made the dog very nervous and untrusting. Now at this point Gus had matured and would show signs of aggression towards me (growling). For example, when he was in the room w/ Joe I couldn't enter, if Joe was sitting and Gus was next to him and I tried to come close, I couldn't. He even growled at me when I entered a car one time. Joe did not correct him at these times, nor did I and after that I was too scared to try the situation again to correct him. I went for about 3 or 4 sessions with the dog trainer and Gus for basic obedience (heel, sit, stay), then one day Gus challenged me and I corrected him with his choke collar, we pretty much struggled but he eventually stopped growling and then I took him outside for a walk to ease the tension. Then one day Joe and I were in the park w/ Gus and I went to roller blade. When I came back Joe was lying down with Gus beside him, Gus greeted me and then all of a sudden turned and went after me, I of course ran with my roller blades on grass and Gus chased me. Luckily the dog was chained to a stake in the ground so I was able to get out of his reach. After that day I wanted nothing to do with Gus. With Joe's persuasion I tried to interact with the dog for about another 2 weeks. Then one day again, I was taking a ball out of the mouth of another dog (Precious) Joe had and Gus went after me and cornered me. That was it. I washed my hands of Gus, which now brings me to this dilemma. (Please bear with me). Joe and I bought a house and got married. It was agreed that Gus would not live with us and like I said, I wanted no interaction with him because of my fear. So for 6 years Gus stayed in his parents house and we went about our business - until last year where I agreed to let the dog live with us as long as I had nothing to do with him. He needed to stay in the basement or the yard. That was the plan. I own two of his daughters (Precious & Ariel). They all get along well. They are actually the only dogs he can interact with. Eventually Joe would keep him in the living room while we were in the TV room as long as there was a barricade up, or the dog is kept in a room on the 2nd floor (our baby's room - who is due in July) where I can't enter for a small time frame to avoid him being stuck in the basement or yard. Now I am a prisoner in my house, I have to ring the bell, I can't walk around at my own free will and with a child coming you could just imagine what I would have to go through. Gus does not like kids and Joe knows that. If the baby was ever around Gus it would be under Joe's supervision. Anyway, that's the background:

Dilemma: Joe would like for me to start some interaction with the dog under a trainers guidance so I can walk freely around the house and give the dog a command and get respect in order to avoid a situation that may come up if I am ever faced with the dog - or basically just to live normally in my own house. I on the other hand want nothing to do w/ Gus, I want him out of the picture. But because Joe feels he is not going to give up on his responsibility I am forced to either live like a prisoner due to my fear, give in and conquer a situation I see unconquerable because I don't see the dog as stable, or leave. Do you have insight? Thank you!



Joe is a fool.
This is a dangerous dog – a very dangerous dog. You have only two options:

  1. Try and get the dog into a car and to a vet so it can be put to sleep – without telling your husband (because he is too much of a fool to allow you to do this.

  2. Tell your husband that either the dog leaves or you leave – then if he says no – LEAVE.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have a 5 year old chow/sharpei-mix male dog. My wife and I enrolled him in a obedience school when he was 2 years because he bit someone in the hand. Since then he has bitten three people in the arm or the hand. These people have always been over at the house. He is now serving his third quarantine. We have decided to put him down, even though it is very hard. The trainer told us that maybe we can medicate the dog to eliminate the aggression. Have you heard of this med. and what do you think?


It won’t work. The issue is with you just as much as with the dog. You knew that you had a dog that bites. It should never have been around people. I own dangerous dogs that are trained to attack and have never had this problem. Sorry, but you fall under the category of an irresponsible pet owner. You should have had a dog crate or a dog pen and a muzzle and used them.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have read your web site carefully but I am still at a loss. My 3 yr. old male basset has been with us since he was 11-12 weeks old. His mother died giving birth and he and his litter mates were bottle fed. He was neutered at about 5 months. He is a wonderful, affectionate dog most of the time, but under certain circumstances he will attack. Usually the attack occurs when he is with me, is relaxing, and someone comes into the room. This could be any member of our family... he will growl, chase and bite, he has drawn blood, ripped clothes, etc. (He has also attacked when when my son removed a toy from his mouth). We have had a professional trainer and a dog psychiatrist work with him. Basically, as long as no one enters a room when he is comfortably relaxing with me, he is fine. After an attack the dog calms down and seems to be very embarrassed. It is as if he is in an altered state. The problem with our household for this dog is that we have grandchildren and quests who could easily open a door at the "wrong" time. We have been unable to give him away and have been told to put him down or to remove his canine teeth (14 front teeth). Is this ladder option something that you can discuss? My husband and I are really having a hard time with the idea of killing the dog, but I'm not sure if removing his teeth would be even more cruel.


I agree that taking any dogs teeth out because it has a behavioral problem is not a solution. In fact, it is drop dead stupid. My advise would be to ignore any and all future advice from the person that told you this because he/she is IDIOT!

You need to make a decision here and that is if you want to save this dog or is the risk too high. That's the first decision. If you choose to try and make it work you need to make some changes and work at what needs to be done.

The first thing you need is a dog crate. The dog needs to be crated whenever strangers come to the house. If the dog is aggressive to people who actually live in the house then you need to be the only one who handles the dog.

This dog is not obedience trained. This is obvious from your email. If it were trained you would only need to call him back when he shows aggression and he would stop and come back. Since you cannot do this - then he is not trained.

You need to get a prong collar and train the dog. 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.

This is a serious issue and training is the first part of the solution. The problem with a lot of people who are not in the dog business is that they do not know how to train a dog. They may think they do but in fact they do not. In addition, many people do not have the temperament to administer the kind of corrections that are necessary to make a dog like this mind. Once he understands a command he needs to learn that he will be corrected if he does not mind. These corrections need to be strong enough that the dog respects them. If his aggression carries through the correction - then the correction was not hard enough. You will know the correction was hard enough when the dog minds you when you call him back, (before he reaches the point where he will bite someone), and he does come back because he is more concerned about the results of not minding than he is concerned about biting the person he is going after.

Many people do not have a temperament that allows them to correct a dog to this level. These people should put the dog to sleep or find another home for him. With a dog like you have it is almost impossible to find a new home for the dog. Obedience training combined with confinement when strangers are around should stop the problem.

Good luck.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have 7 dogs. Two chows both females & 5 Keeshonden 1 is a female. The youngest Keeshond, 1.5 yrs. old, is going after the 2.5 yr. old male all the time. He goes after him if he picks up a toy, a treat or just for the heck of it. He does it going down the stairs & in & out the doors also.

Last week he sat on the edge of the bed & stared at me with scary eyes. I wasn't quite sure how to handle this. I did the wrong thing I'm told to stare him down. He jumped off the bed & came to my side & licked my hand. Then he repeated the whole thing over right away. He is not dominant with the other dogs, just this one male Keeshond. I understand they establish their own pack order. But, is it right to allow him to do this to the other Keeshond? I'm seriously thinking of placing him somewhere else. I don't want to because I am attached to him & he can be very lovable. Is there a way to handle a situation like this with a large pack?

The female chow also dominates the younger female chow. Not usually aggressively. I had another female chow foster dog here & they had a few fights. I had to keep them apart. Since then she seems to be more aggressive with the younger female chow. Two being bossy one is male & one female. Only with one particular dog each. Any help will be very much appreciated. Five have had obedience training & 2 have not. The younger Keeshond & another Keeshond have not. This young guy barks a lot also I believe for attention.

No apparent reason.

Thank you,
Best Dianne


You have a dog pack and cannot expect these dogs to act as pets. The best advice I can give is to find homes for a bunch of these dogs. Either that or build kennels and separate them. This mess is only going to get worse.

Allowing dogs in your bedroom and on your bed is at the top of the list for foolish things to do. This only brings out the pack behavior.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have just perused your web site for the article on dog aggression and have a few questions that I wonder if you could answer. Some of the previously answered questions were close to mine, but they just did not seem to fit the situation exactly. I have a one year old female Germ. Shepherd. She appears perfectly calm around my girlfriend and myself. However, she raises her hair and growls at almost any dog she sees no matter the size. Other dogs cause her to tear into a frenzy. Also, she shows aggression towards some people but with no discernable pattern. We bought her when she was three months old and enrolled her in obedience classes for months on end. When she graduated to the group session of the lessons, she initially had severe problems with the other dogs. However, as time progressed, the aggressiveness at the lessons diminished almost completely. The bad part of this was that none of this new behavior transferred to when we would walk in public outside of the lessons. I am totally at a loss for what to do with my girl. Should I send her away to training, put her to sleep, or get her on drugs? I could really use your advice. I do not want to give her up, but I cannot have her act this way. Please tell me what I might be doing wrong. I will be happy to provide you with anything more that you need. Thank you for your time.



The dog has a nerve problem – weak nerves. Use my site search engine to read about this. The issue is a training issue. Your dog learned that there was nothing to fear in training classes. That is why the behavior went away. She needs to learn that the behavior will NOT BE TOLERATED by you outside of the class. In other words you need to severely correct her (with a prong collar) when she shows aggression. Dogs like this will learn. Sometimes their owners cannot learn to effectively correct their dogs and they have to give up their pets. This dog falls into the category of temperament that Fear Biters have (only she really doesn’t have much of a human problem). This behavior will always be there but the dog must learn to control it. This can only be done with the owner becoming a strong pack leader.

The pack leader tells the pack members when it is OK to fight and show aggression. When the dog clearly understands what is and is not tolerated it will not do this. If and when the dog does show aggression the dog needs to hear a command to stop (i.e. LEAVE IT) and then get a correction that is strong enough that the dog goes into complete avoidance. The correction needs to make the dog scream with concern. It must be so strong that the next time it sees a dog and hears LEAVE IT – the only thing that comes to its mind is that OH NO – I MUST NOT BECOME AGGRESSIVE WITH THIS DOG OR I WILL LOSE MY HEAD AGAIN. Every time you do this kind of correction or every time that you see the dog make the decision to not be aggressive you need to put your happy face on and tell the dog how happy you are with it. It is important to be able to switch emotions with the dog in a very very short period of time (seconds). The praise and happy face must come right after the correction too – because this is when the behavior stops. There must be clear differences in feeling from you when the dog is acting aggressive and when it is being good in the presence of another animal.

The bottom line is the dog does this because of fear – you need to show it that there is more to fear from the pack leader than the other animals. Sending dogs like this to professional trainers is a waste of time and money. The solution to this lies in the relationship with the owner and his pet. Having the professional correct the problem only solves the problem when the pro is handling the dog. As soon as the dog knows the trainer is out of the picture the behavior will return. Of course a good trainer may work with you and the dog to show you how hard to correct the dog and how to praise the dog. But the fact is that not a lot of trainers understand fear and aggression. They try and PHOO PHOO the dogs and the owners with talk of halties and medication and pansy ass methods of training that do not work.

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. Get that tape and a prong collar and fix your problem.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

A situation happened to me and my family a couple of weeks ago that has me puzzled about law enforcement. It started with my wife my, two children, and myself walking our 2 GSDs.We live in a small town and about 1 block from our house our neighbors 2 labs rushed us. They were both snarling with their hair raised up on their backs. We were on a public sidewalk and I grabbed my kids and put them behind myself and my big male GSD. My male did not growl or snarl and the hair never did raise up but he would not budge. Finally the owner of the dogs came running out and grabbed their dogs. I told them that we were going to have to come back by to get home and please tie them up. They called me a few choice names and it really made me mad. Cussing at me in front of my children who are only 4 and 6 and who were also scared to tears. I decided to call the law and make a report in case something like this ever happened again.

I spoke to our county police station who pretty much blew me off, telling me that it would be handled by the county dog catcher. 2 days ago my 6 year old was riding her bike past the house when the dogs went after her. I was about 10 steps behind her and told her to stop as I thought that she had put them in prey drive, and then I started to whistle to get them away from her without trying to get them in a frenzy. Here they came and CRACK, I hit the first on with the aluminum ball bat that I had been carrying. { She was on her way to T-Ball practice}.Anyway the dog never moved again, and the other one ran off. The owners of the dog had been watching the whole thing from their house, and came running out to see about their dead dog. I was very upset that they had witnessed the whole thing and had not come out to help me and my daughter, and I told them so .Now I am a dog lover but if a dog acts aggressive I am not going to wait around and see if it is going to bite my family or not.

Anyway we went to practice and while we were there the cops showed up. They wanted to ask me a couple of questions about what had happened. Here I am coaching 12 little girls and now they want to know about the dog.

It turns out that the owner of the dogs had been issued 5 tickets for their dogs running loose. Also the dogs had bitten their own son and they still kept them and did not tie them up. I am being sued by the owners and might also have to face charges of cruelty to animals, since the dogs did not actually bite my daughter. The county dog catcher said that the dogs were overly playful and that they would not bite but were just trying to play.

Is it this way all over the United States or am I just being screwed? I forgot to mention that the owner of the dogs just happens to be on the county board, which writes the checks for the police dept. What would you have done?



I would begin by contacting you District attorney. I would write a detailed report explaining the history of the situation. Write how you knew these dogs were dangerous, that you had already been attacked once. Write in detail how you were in fear of your daughters life and your life when you hit the dog. You stress this issue. You also stress the total lack of interest by the police officers that you complained to on the first attack – go and see if you can locate the person you talked to and name them.

See what the DA’s attitude is. If it’s not good then you tell the DA that you are going to go to the newspaper and the Mayor. If the dogs owner thinks they are going to sue you – then you sue him. The best defense is a well laid out offense.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I really hope you can answer my question, as I am very concerned about a potentially injurious situation involving my brother and wife's newborn baby and an alpha female German Shepherd (age 6). I've read through your site but didn't find anything that COMBINES dog aggression with people aggression. Does a dog aggressive dog imply a people aggressive dog? Do they distinguish between the two? Could there be a problem if a new baby is seen as a threat? What would make this happen? Please help!

Two female spayed dogs, Comet, a shepherd mix from the pound (she was adopted first) and Cupid, a German Shepherd (who was purchased about 3 years later.) The two dogs often fought for the dominant position and even though Comet was physically weaker she would never back down and would fight to the death. She was injured very badly on at least 3 occasions and required surgery. The vet said Comet had permanent nerve damage to her shoulder area.

Both dogs were raised to be treated equally (from what I read this was part of the problem since no pack leader was clearly defined) and they were routinely fed at the same time, given treats together and taken for walks together. Cupid always had to be in front of Comet. On walks, both dogs would pull on their leash hoping to charge at other dogs. While walking Cupid once, she suddenly had a small dog's head lodged in her mouth (the attack was unprovoked) and she swung it around at the neck---she seemed very calm and methodical as she did this. In general, Comet would growl and have a "let me at 'em" tough guy exterior while Cupid would exhibit a calm queenly type of silence. (Outside the house Comet would provoke other dogs and Cupid would be passive and then would "show who's boss.") After going through MANY bloody fights between the two of them (usually involving food or being left in the house alone together) it was decided that it would be best to separate the two and Comet was given away to another family.

Problem: My brother and his wife are expecting a baby soon and given Cupid's jealous disposition (that usually offers no early warning detection) can she safely be kept in the same house as the new baby? She was never socialized with other dogs---she was raised in an apartment with the other dog and now lives in a house with a yard. She routinely jumps on your chest and squeals/whines for the first 20 seconds or so after you enter and I imagine she'll continue to do this with a baby in arms.


Some people should never own dogs. These people fit that mold. It is my opinion that nothing that I tell you will make any difference. Your brother and wife fit the image of irresponsible pet owners to a "T." Those dogs should have been separated after the first fight. To allow them to continue to live together and to fight is terrible.

I have a lot of information on my web site about dogs that are overly aggressive to people (there is an article on it and a Q&A section on it - there is also an article on Dealing with the Dominant Dog). Go there and read them. Get a dog crate and keep the dog away from the baby.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

We have a Lab dog around 18 months old. We had a problem with her being aggressive around her food dish so we contacted a trainer. He told us to put a pinch collar on the dog and correct her hard. The situation got worse. We then contacted another trainer who told us that we must take an obedience course (one on one) and teach the dog what we expect from it. He also stated that the first trainer should not be training dogs because the dog must know what no means first before we give a hard correction like that. He also said that the correction when given must be very hard. After we started this training, the dog did a 100% turn around. However, the training ended and it has been 4 months since the last lesson. She was socialized in class, distractions during stays, and she did great. The problem is this, sometimes she acts aggressive. The other day I went to pet her on the head and she bit me. The next day the same thing happened. I am 7 months pregnant and I am so scared. Can you please help me. I am afraid she might snap at the baby.



Find a new home for the dog – you are out of your league dealing with amateurs.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

A friend of mine has a 2 year old cocker. He is a smart dog, but you can’t trust him. He growls and barks when someone comes to the office, has bitten the owner quite a few times and she has always been so good to him. He was never hit, so there hasn’t always been a lack of discipline. The dog hates other dogs and can't be trusted with kids - takes 4 sedatives and also wears a muzzle in order to be groomed by a groomer. Is there good training to shape this dog up with? He is a lovable dog most times, but like I said, he can turn to a mean dog and can't be trusted. If the owner tries to comb him, he gets mad and sometimes bites! Would love to hear from you - Linda


Hard decision.

Dogs like this can be handled but they need experience. It's a sad situation. The dog is afraid. That's why he acts like he does. Fear aggression. I wish there was an easy thing that I could tell you to do. But the odds are that the rules have been established between the dog and handler. To change those ground rules would require more strength than the handler is capable of offering. Bottom line is the dog should wear a muzzle. I hate to tell people to put dogs to sleep.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Below I have put my thoughts in email after reading your section on dominant dogs. I would appreciate your thoughts and ideas. I broke my comments into sections. My dominant dog:

1. bedroom: My dog slept in the bedroom for first 6 months She is now 18 months and has been sleeping kenneled for the last 12 months downstairs away from master bedroom. She is not allowed to be in our bedroom.

2. toys: she will 'drop' a toy if i command her to. she used to fight for it. This seems to be better.

3. food: She eats with other dog and is extremely aggressive with him should he get near her bowl. feeding together - good/bad idea? Interesting behavior: these two dogs were separated for six weeks this summer. she is a good eater. This summer she would not finish her food. showed little interest?

4. petting my dog: petting is on her terms, (not good). She wants pets when I am petting the other dog. She does not come for pets like most dogs. She does not wag her tail and enjoy pets. She seems to 'take' them. My other dog, wags tail, wiggles, & seems to enjoy pets.

5. aggression with family and friends: Jumps on and sometimes snaps at visitors. She is reprimanded. I usually keep her on a leash when visitors are expected so I can control her. But I do not see hackles, and stiffened tail. She barks when doorbell rings. (learned from other dog)

6. doors and stairways: I am teaching her about this daily. It will take me 5 minutes to get down a flight of stairs as I work her and tell her 'get back'. We get to bottom of stairwell and she is put in a sit. I struggle to keep her there. Finally I get out the door and then she follows. This is a battle but I am CONSISTENT now and she gets it.

7. adult dog aggressive: Incredibly dog aggressive. I am not strong enough to alpha roll without getting bitten. I do not do this. I have a prong collar and I have a shock collar I use with her. I can string her up, but not strong enough to hold her there & mean it.

Most notably is her aggressive reaction to other dogs:
1. My dog sees another dog.(other dog can be on other side of busy street)
2. My dog becomes visibly agitated. (hackles go up, tail curls, accompanied by whimpers)
3. If other dog is near, she begins barking and 'shrieking' for lack of better word. I cannot control her with prong collar or shock collar. She has literally gone 'over the edge' as her reaction has moved beyond my controls. This reaction will literally stop anyone within earshot. When I correct this behavior publicly I cannot tell you how many times i have been approached and reprimanded by someone who tells me I am abusive to my dog. In their eyes, a sharp pull on the prong collar is ‘abusive.’

This dog is female. She is not spayed. She is one year, 8 months old. She is australian cattle dog. What can I do with her? Have I made too many mistakes to correct?

R. Cooper


You have not made enough hard corrections. If you had, your dog would listen to you. This is not rocket science. The dog either respects your position as pack leader or it does not. If it does not mind you when you tell it NO - then it does not respect the consequences.

Your dog has learned to work through your corrections. It is going to be very difficult for you to solve this problem.

Disregard the people who come up to you. Ask them if they would like to take the leash and walk the bitch over near another dog. You have not read my web site on overly aggressive dogs. An ALPHA roll is dangerous and foolish. I explain this on my web site.

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QUESTION on Aggression:

Brutus, our 2 ½ year old male mixed breed dog (he weighs about 30 lbs and looks somewhat like a coonhound) is quickly becoming a problem with his growling and snapping. He is neutered. If he is in bed or resting and someone comes up to pet him he may growl or snap. He has growled at me while I was sleeping with him for moving and or petting him. He is growling at my husband frequently for petting him while he is resting. Last night my husband walked into the bedroom where Brutus was sleeping on the bed and said “hey, what are you doing on the bed” (not meanly but a little loud). The dog jumped down like he was afraid and when my husband tried to pet him as he ran by, the dog snapped at him. He has never bitten me or my husband. He has bitten my 9 year old daughter lightly while snapping at her. The other day frequently when I came up to him during the day his ears went flat and back and he was actually raising his fur! After consulting with the family regarding his behavior he had growled or snapped about 8 to 10 times that day. Usually it is my daughter he is snapping at and my husband second most. It is only recently he has started with me.

This really did start slowly, but it is suddenly really increasing A LOT in how often he is reacting. I can also tell that there are 2 little girls in the neighborhood who come to our house that he doesn’t like. He has not snapped at them. He did once snap at the baby sitter.

He was kind of scary when he was a puppy but then he outgrew it and was so happy and loving. Now besides this I don’t think he seems as happy as he should be. He is happy when we come home if we have been away for awhile, or if someone plays with him or walks him. Otherwise he just doesn’t wag his tail or look happy. Perhaps that is normal for a dog his age.

He is our 1st dog and I am very embarrassed and afraid we have caused him to act like this. Do you think he can be corrected?



Keep this dog away from children or he will bite them in the face. Either train the dog or put it to sleep – there is no middle ground. The odds are that you are out of your league.

Read the articles and Q&A on my web site about dominant and overly aggressive dogs. I will not retype what I have already written. If this dog bites a child – it is 100% your fault. You know he is dangerous and have not taken the correct steps to deal with it. (THAT IS WHAT A LAWYER IS GOING TO TELL YOU IN A LAW SUIT).

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QUESTION on Aggression:

I have visited your web site, and found some very interesting book/videos/equipment, but I am not sure what knowledge/equipment I need to make my dog behave. Can you recommend some training equipment for me ? Here is my story.........

My problem is this- I have a Male Springer Spaniel who is NOT neutered, I am unable to muzzle him or clean his ears, or pick him up. He will bite if this is attempted. I want to get the dog neutered, but

I am unable to get the muzzle on him in fear of being bitten. I have contacted a dog behaviorist in the area, but he never showed up.......

I even went to the vet and got some tranquilizers, gave him three, but they had little effect, was still unable to muzzle him. The dog is extremely intelligent and I believe this works to my disadvantage.

When I try to attach the leash to the dogs collar, he runs away, growls and tries to bite me. What should I do with my dog ? He is mostly a loving animal most of the time, it's just when you want him to do things he doesn't want to do is when he becomes a beast. He is trained, he sits, lies down, speaks, gives paw etc..... I don't think he has Rage Syndrome, because he attacks only when he feels threatened. Do you have ANY ideas on how I can improve my situation ?

I live in Long Island, New York.



Sometimes people need to find new homes for dogs. This sounds like the case here. Training this dog is beyond your skill level. There are things that can be done, but I doubt you are the person to do them. The dog has learned that he can beat you when you want him to do something that he does not want to do.

I will make a comment here. You say the dog is obedience trained. You are wrong. This dog is not even close to being obedience trained. If it were you would be able to tell him to sit and you would be able to put a muzzle on.

Neutering is not going to solve this problem on an older dog. I will guarantee this. Maybe if the dog has been neutered at 5 or 6 months – but its too late for that.

I think you should find a new home for this dog and go the humane society and find a nice older dog that is house trained and needs a new home. I would like to sell you a bunch of videos and products and tell you to do this or do that and your problems are solved. The fact is I do not get the feeling you can do what is necessary.

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Hi Ed,

I have a 22 month old intact GSD (German blood line) that I am training for schutzhund. I have most of your DVD's and read all your articles. Thank you for the incredible amount of info both in your web site and your DVD's. I had an episode of unprovoked aggression and I would like your opinion on what happened.

Let me start by stating that my dog is very well socialized and has never shown aggression towards strangers both at home and outside. He has a very balanced temperament and is very well behaved. I am very well aware of pack structure and have been my dog’s pack leader since he was a puppy. In training He is one of the few dogs that won’t bark in their crate when people walk by the car.

The other day I was at the park working on his obedience (my wife was with us). I decided to work on his retrieve and went back to my bag to get the dumbbell. I had him on a platz next to me and I was on my knees trying to get the dumbbell when a family of four approached us (husband, wife and two little girls). They struck a conversation with me and were there for about 30 seconds when suddenly my dog broke his platz and lunged at the man while barking just inches away from his face. The man must have been standing three feet away when this happened. My instinct was to yell “NO, Platz” to which he responded by dropping to a down on the spot. Frankly I screamed the command as his behavior took me completely by surprise. The verbal correction “NO” did the trick as he platzed and had a completely submissive body posture. I didn’t go for a harder correction as my first instinct was to make sure the man was OK which he was.

I felt really bad and apologized to the family who proceeded to leave.
Frankly if I was on the receiving side of what happened I wouldn’t believe them if they told me that this never ever happened before with their dog.

Now when this happened I wasn’t looking at my dog to see if there were any warning signs. My wife said that she saw him simply turn his head, see the man and lunge at him.

I am struggling to understand what happened. Please tell me if I am wrong but I do not think he wanted to bite him as if this was the case he wouldn’t have barked. He lunged and barked three or four quick barks. Then again I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t order him to platz and his bark was clearly serious as it was nothing like the prey bark he normally has in training.

My wife and I take our dog everywhere we go and he is always at his best behavior. After what happened yesterday, I am starting to wonder if this is the first sign of other problems to come. I haven’t stopped replaying the incident in my head and for the life of me I can’t figure out how my dog could go form completely relaxed on a platz position to a behavior I had never ever seen before.

I would greatly appreciate your opinion on what happened and thank you for your time.



Since I was not there, I can only make an educated guess as to why your dog did this. First of all, at 22 months your dog is becoming mentally mature. I can’t tell you how many emails we get from people who own a dog that at 2 years old starts to display the type of behavior you describe. I will bet the man was making direct eye contact with your dog and he felt it as a challenge. Had you been looking at your dog, you would have seen a momentary stiffening of his body and if he had been panting, his mouth would have closed a bit.

This is the reason that when I do let strangers approach my dogs, I tell them to NOT make direct eye contact. In a strong and confident dog, direct unbroken eye contact is a challenge. In a weak or nervous dog, it causes more nervousness.

Your dog is becoming a mature adult and this is normal behavior. Now that you know this, you will need to be more vigilant on your enforcement of obedience and leadership.


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