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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Dog Bites and Overly Aggressive Dogs Q&A

Dog Bites and Overly Aggressive Dogs Q&A

Dog Bites and Overly Aggressive Dogs Q&A

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dog bite

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. Our dog bit the newspaper carrier - what should I do?

  2. Our 4 year old dog bit a friend’s child last week at our home. What can I do?

  3. Our 3 year old Pom bit my son in the lip last week. My wife wants to get rid of the dog, I do not. What should we do?

  4. Our neighbor has a mature male Rott who growls at my husband. This neighbor baby sits for our 2 and 3 year old children and lets the Rott run loose. What should I do?

  5. Our 10 month old Great Dane has bit our son and neighbor’s child when they came near him when while he was chewing his bone. My husband wants to get rid of the dog. What can we do to solve this problem?

  6. Our 2 year old GSD has bitten 4 people, one was my daughter’s friend. He is also dog aggressive. Our breeder has offered to replace the dog with a puppy. We love this dog and wonder if there is something else we can do before we send it back.

  7. Our 2 year old short-haired pointer has begun to get aggressive. I do not want to put him down, what can we do?

  8. My 5-year-old neutered Rot has killed 10 cats and other dogs; he has bit my nephew in the face. What can I do?

  9. My Chow mix has tried to bite several children. Today he almost got a small child on our walk. What should I do?

  10. What should I do when I am walking my dogs in the early morning and we are threatened by other dogs that are running loose?

  11. I read your advice on hitting a Shit-Zu that had bit a child in the lip. I assume that you do not really mean that someone should hit their dog?

  12. Our 18 month old rescue dog has bit my wife three times. What should we do?

  13. I would like to buy a wire muzzle that my dog can pant in and get food treats through.

  14. My dog killed two sheep today. He has killed cats. We originally thought he was just playing rough – it seems he has a taste for this.

  15. A week ago my dog attacked another dog (he did $618.00 in damage). Is it
    true that he will be more aggressive now that he has tasted blood?

  16. We have an Old English Sheep dog that is becoming very very aggressive. What can we do?

  17. My dog bit our neighbor and caused 17 stitches. Our vet recommended filing the dogs teeth and neutering. Should we put the dog to sleep?

  18. 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.

  19. I have 2 young basset hound/golden retriever mix dogs, which are brother
    and sister from the same litter...

  20. I have a 1 year old German Shepherd that seems to be aggressive towards little kids. I don’t feel comfortable putting the dog in another room when kids come over. What can I do?

  21. I want to teach my 2 year old GSD to baby-sit my twins. I want the dog to learn to keep the kids in the yard. Do you have any advice on this?

  22. I have a 2 year old adopted dog who has just started growling at some people. Will he really bite someone?

  23. My 5 month old Mini-Dachsund has started snapping at my children and husband. What can I do before this escalates?

  24. My 7 month Lab X still mouths my daughter when they play. I want a reliable protection dog, but also want my dog to be safe with kids. What do you think?

  25. Our recently adopted 10 month old Dachshund jumps up and snaps at my 19 month old sun. What can I do?

  26. My 3 year old neutered Rott has attacked 2 children and my puppy. He is the love of my life-- what can I do?

  27. About 10 years ago we adopted a male dog from a shelter. He has always shown aggressiveness, but lately I have become concerned about my 3 1/2 year old child. What do yo think I should do?

  28. My Pembroke Welsh Corgi has been snapping and growling lately. What can I do to get this aggression to stop?

  29. We adopted a 2 year old Aussie 8 weeks ago. He has been biting people and I just don't know what to do. Do you have any advice?

  30. One month ago, I moved into a home with a pit bull mastiff, who is completely blind. I've embarked on becoming the pack leader. How do I correct him, as I am quite afraid of him when he growls? Is yelling "NO" enough?

  31. Does your DVD “Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet” cover a situation like ours where we need two dogs to learn their place?  What other videos would you suggest to us in our current situation?

  32. My dog has bitten 48 people. Do you have any suggestions on how I can handle him?

  33. Our dog bit a 3 year old child.

  34. Our 10 year old dog is aggressive.  We never noticed this until our son was born 6 years ago. She’s been barking and growling and kids and goes crazy at the door when someone knocks or rings the bell.  Is she too old to train?

  35. My typically non aggressive lab has bitten since we bred her and she had puppies.  What advice can you give us?

  36. I have a problem with a friend's dog and I don't know what to do about it. I am wondering if you could give me advice or direction on what to do.


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

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

To learn how to correctly fit a Prong Collar, go to 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.



I have a little Westie mix, 1 1/2 years old, 20 lbs, neutered male.

He is of course territorial. He is up to date on his shots, has a microchip, and we have an underground electric fence around our property. We live in town. He's a good little dog, but barks when anyone comes to the door or near the yard.

He's hadn't bitten anyone until today. He was in our front yard barking this evening and I could tell he was barking at someone or something in particular - usually its just a squirrel in a tree across the street. I went out to the front porch to investigate and a female newspaper carrier was walking on the sidewalk in front of our house. My dog was barking at her.

I called him to come in, he continued to bark furiously at her, and to my astonishment the woman then walked right into our yard, onto my property despite the barking dog and approached me with the newspaper. I walked out to meet her partway, and my dog jumped up behind her and bit her on the butt. I wasn't sure he'd actually bit her, I thought perhaps he'd just lunged, but she said 'well, he got me'. I apologized, put him inside the house and she left. An hour or so later she called to say my dog had actually broken the skin, and she wanted to be sure he was 'up to date' as she put it.

I don't think it's much of a bite, because she referred to it at first as a 'welt' until I asked specifically if it had broken the skin and she said it had. I assured her he was up to date on his shots, I apologized again, but she had worked herself up into a state by this time and apparently didn't feel I was apologetic enough, especially when I expressed my surprise that she had come onto my property when the dog was so obviously barking at her.

No more has been said, but if she does decide to turn this into an issue, will my dog be at risk? Will I be liable for whatever claim she might decide to bring?




You are at risk from a legal standpoint. If she chooses to get an attorney it will be an automatic law suit that you will lose. When you lose it you will also lose your current home owners insurance because they will drop you.

If you want to keep this dog you need to change the way you live with this dog. It needs serious training - run him through my Basic Obedience DVD and use a dominant dog collar.

The problem is your dog is a dominant dog and obedience is only a small small part of the solution. A necessary part but only a part.

This dog needs pack behavior modification and control. Plus you need to completely control his environment. He can never come into contact with non-pack members. This is not an issue for me as I NEVER allow people to touch my dogs - never and not for any reason. Dogs are pack animals and strangers are not part of their family pack.

I would recommend that you also get the DVD I just finished titled Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs. This was a 5 year project that took hundreds of hours to produce. You NEED this information.

I hope this helps.

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I have a 4 year old dog (Buster) who has always showed aggression over food, mainly anyone besides myself and my husband who enters the kitchen when I am in there. I have no problem taking away his food or holding his bowl when he is eating.

Last week my friend came over to visit and her girls stayed overnight. I was in the kitchen when one of the girls who is eleven came in, I immediately knew by the look on his face he was going to growl so I said NO!!!! He then jumped at her and nipped her, breaking the skin. I then dragged him and put him in a room alone.

I am very worried about this. I don't want to have him put to sleep if there is a way to correct this behavior. I would appreciate any help on this matter.

Thank you,


Read my article on Dealing with a Dominant Dog. If the dog were fully trained you would have been able to stop him with a voice command - therefore he is only partially trained.

If you would like to learn something about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my video, Basic Dog Obedience. 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 a prong collar and the video - train this dog. Read the Q&A sections on my web site. I have answered more questions like this than I care to think about. Get a dog crate and use it in the house. When people come over - put the dog in the crate. It is a dangerous dog - it has already proven this to you. You are lucky it was not a face bite or you may have been dealing with lawyers this week. This problem is solvable but not without you taking the bull by the horns and making the changes needed to save this dog’s life.

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I have a 3 year old Shit-zu and a 1 1/2 year old little girl. The dog bit her upper lip yesterday when she hugged him. My wife now wants to get rid of the dog and I don’t. I will if I have to but I don’t want this to happen. Will neutering the dog correct his aggression? What does neutering the dog do, slow him down? Please help!



Neutering will mellow some dogs, (not all). I would recommend that the dog have some serious obedience training with a prong collar.

If you would like to learn something about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my video Basic Dog Obedience. 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 should also read my article on Dealing with a Dominant Dog.

I would also get a dog crate and keep this dog crated when the baby is down. Keep the two of them separated for awhile and if the dog even growls at the baby it needs to have its butt corrected so hard that it thinks it is going to die. It MUST UNDERSTAND that it is the lowest pack member in the family.

The odds are that the baby did learn a little lesson (which it should not have had to learn) and will stay away from the dog. But I would also scold the baby for going near the dog. When the child is older they can be friends, now you must keep them separated.

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I REALLY need some advice. Our babysitter and neighbor whom we dearly love is the owner of a Rott by the name of "Baby." The dog is actually her husband's pet & has been fairly well behaved around me and my children so far, they have lived beside us for approximately 1.5 years. However, the dog has shown some aggressive territorial behavior to my husband. For instance when he was putting mail in our box which border's their yard, he has growled, or has come up in the drive when Lambert was getting in his truck.

When our neighbor first started to baby-sit for us, the dog was always kept in the kennel while the children were outside. I've been finding the dog loose in the yard when I pick up the children. This is a very big dog and my children are ages 2 & 3. So this dog is face to face with my little boy, whom he has licked in the face. No harm there yet, but I've heard so many stories in regard to these types of dogs, I want to know your opinion of this situation. Is this an accident waiting to happen? One of my concerns has been the territorial aspect of this breed, our sitter also has 2 children, if all 4 children are at play in the yard and one child gets hurt, would this dog assume that their child needed to be protected from the other children? Is this something I should be concerned about?

We have already said something to our neighbor, asking them to please keep the dog locked up when the children are playing in the yard, but I'm not sure they didn't take offense. I don't like to hurt anyone's feelings or cause hardships over pets, but I'm a 100% committed to protecting her children parent.

Any thoughts and advice you can give me would be appreciated.



Have your husband give the dog treats every time he sees the dog - get cheap turkey legs.

The bottom line is that I always think people should error on the side of caution when it comes to large dogs and kids. The fact that it is growling at your husband should be a concern. If they will not keep the dog in a pen - find a new baby sitter. Why gamble with your kids just because you do not want to hurt a neighbors feelings.

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We have a male intact Dane 7 months old that up until about 2 months ago was NEVER aggressive. What has happened in the last few months:

We got Junior in April of this year, the start of my breeding program he was 7 weeks old. In July we got Tesh, she was 9 weeks old and we already had a female Boston Terrier Nina (spayed) that Junior got along great with (still does), he and Tesh hit it off great and we had a perfect family..:) In Sept. We got another female, Jenny she is 1 month older than Junior and we did the intro's on neutral territory just in case! They had a few words back and forth, teeth showing and such, then they calmed down and Jenny submitted to Junior.

Once home there was a couple more confrontations but all has been peaceful since and all dogs know their place in the pack.

A month ago Junior was under our kitchen table with a bone, my son and his little friend were in there and my son came in and said Junior growled at him (Junior is fine with everyone around his food) we corrected Junior and the little girl went up to him and rubbed his cheeks and told him what a good boy he was, as she turned he snapped at her and just barely got her ear, she had a good scratch, my hubby dragged him off yelling and screaming and in his crate he went, bones were put away or thrown away and all was fine again. We later found out our 6 year old had squeezed Juniors cheeks real hard before this happened, so had a feeling Junior was afraid the little girl was going to do the same, that's why he snapped.

Today I got each of them a rawhide, Junior was on the kitchen floor in front of the gate eating his, my son went around him and went to go through the gate and Junior jumped up and bit him in the face, now our son says's he didn't do anything to Junior (We had that talk about being good to the puppies!) he said he just walked by him and was going to go over the gate and Junior jumped up and got him.

I grabbed Junior’s scruff and dragged him down the hall telling him no and shame on him and it wasn't expectable, my hubby came in and grabbed Junior so I could tend to our Son and he put Junior in his crate and pounded on the crate telling him NO you don't bite!

LUCKILY our son is ok, has a scratch next to his nose by his eye.

We DO NOT allow any of them on the furniture or on our bed, they are allowed to sleep on the floor in our room or Junior sleeps in his crate in our son's room.

My question is this, IF I just NOT give Junior any more bones (as they make him aggressive) and realize that it was my fault for not thinking, if we just keep on top of him, will this go away?? He is NEVER aggressive otherwise! If he get's into the garbage or food or toy's he shouldn't have any one of us can go take it away from him without a growl. It's just Bones he is so possessive of!!

Any help would be greatly appreciated and ASAP as hubby is ready to get rid of Junior and I KNOW he is NOT a bad dog!! He is coming of age I think and just want's something to be HIS and only HIS (bones). So by taking him out of that situation NO BONES, then things should be fine.

Thank you so much for your help!!


This is not going to get better with you doing the few things that you mentioned. You have a problem, part of which you have created by allowing this dog to do things he should never be allowed to do. My advice is to find a new home for this dog unless you are prepared to make changes:

  1. The dog can not ever go in a bedroom. Not for any reason or any time of day. He sleeps in a dog crate in the basement or garage. Read the article I wrote titled Dealing with the Dominant Dog.

  2. He needs to be restricted from spending much time with the other dogs - his pack drive needs to be brought into check You have created a dog pack and this means there are going to be rank issues for all of the dogs to deal with because you do not keep them separated. People with dog packs (which is what you have) find out very quickly that their dogs will determine a pecking order. Sometimes this is settled subtly, sometimes with knock down drag out dogfights. Sometimes the dogs decide that the human family is part of the pack and this means they have to determine the pecking order of the humans as well. This is where kids have a problem - which is what you have going on in your home right now. This dog is teaching the kids that he is a higher member in the pack.

  3. He needs to have serious obedience training with 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.

  4. If he even growls at a child you need to correct him so hard he thinks his life has ended. YOU need to become a crazy lady and chase him around and hit him with anything you can get your hands on. Making excuses for this dog - which you are doing is just plain stupid. If the truth hurts then so be it. There is NO EXCUSE for a dog biting and growling at kids. Dogs get up and move away from kids that bother them and parent correct kids for doing stupid things around dog. This is a two way street and 100% of the time parents are the supervisors and parents bear the responsibility 99% of the time for their own dogs biting their kid or other people's kids.

  5. Putting the dog in the crate and telling him NO for biting your son was a totally inadequate response. You should have kicked the snot out of this dog for doing this, He must understand that doing what he did will bring the wrath of God down upon his head. So by doing what you did you have now trained him that he can still intimidate a child by growling or grabbing and nothing too bad happens as a result.

  6. Common sense should tell you that if you have children and the dog is aggressive around bones - he should never see another bone. Just eliminate them from his life. Then that problem is solved. This dog will probably also become aggressive around his food. So feed him one time per day, leave the food down for 20 minutes and pick it up. The kids are told to stay away from the food bowls.

  7. If you can not do these things then find a new home for this dog because he will become too dangerous as he matures into and adult.

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I have a two-year-old German Shepherd that is of 100% German descent. I bought him when he was 11 months old and he was obedience trained and had all the basics down. I planned on taking him to advance obedience training but he was very dog aggressive and attacked my friends dog in the park when we were trying to acclimate them and attacked another dog at the groomers while we were waiting for our turn. Both of the attacks resulted in only minor injuries but in both I was not able to get him off so I was fearful to take him into a situation with many dogs so we didn't attend class. He has also bitten people three times, two were accidental and one (the most recent) was unprovoked and on purpose. He bit my husband when they were playing ball and both were going for the ball at the same time but Evan (my dog) missed. He also bit my sister when she was holding her dog (he had gotten out of the room he was penned in) and he went for the dog and missed. Both of those bites resulted in broken skin. The latest bite occurred when my oldest daughter though she would be funny and let him out of his kennel in the garage when my other daughters friend was over. Neither the dog nor the child knew the other was there. Evan bit her thigh and then backed up and held her until my husband came out of the house and threw him in the back yard. Evan didn't break the skin but she was in a definite hold and had she moved I'm quite sure he would have gone at her again. His obedience works has been hit and miss lately and he spends a lot of time out in his run that is attached to the garage. Could this be the cause? I have three children ages 10, 12, and 2. Do I need to be concerned that he will continue to escalate despite training and bite them as well? I read your articles on dominance and the only areas that I have been wrong in were allowing him to be in the kitchen while we ate and allowing him to sleep in the bedroom not on the bed but he was in the room. I should mention that two of his brothers are K 9 dogs. I've contacted the breeder to give him the opportunity to take Evan back versus me putting him down (which was my first reaction) and he has offered to give me a puppy (from a different breeding) and place Evan. Now I'm wondering if I should work with Evan first and try to solve this before giving him up. I have changed my mind back and forth on this 4 times so far so any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You!


Give this dog back to the breeder and take a puppy. It is evident that you are in way over your head. If you have not fixed the problem so far the odds are against you figuring it out now. At this point his dog needs an experienced handler (which you are not).

Take a new pup and do it right this time. 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.

Make sure that this time around you follow the information in my article on Dealing with the Dominant Dog (no sleeping in bedrooms). People who do not start training dogs at an early age (as puppies) often have to pay the price of their errors as the dogs enter maturity (2 years of age).

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Our two-year-old German Short Haired Pointer has begun to get aggressive. We brought him home from the breeder at 8 weeks. He has been a wonderful gentle loving dog to me my wife and 10 and 13-year-old sons. At 6 months we put him on an electric invisible fence, which has worked perfectly. He has been a wonderful family pet. If we had any problems it was his “over-friendliness” - jumping on and licking all guests.

A few months ago we noticed he was barking at joggers running by the house. He would even bark at people when we passed them and he was in the car. Then he started barking at the doorbell or knock on the door.

A few weeks ago when a friend entered through a side door (as many, including us do) he barked then growled and showed his teeth.

Last week we had company and one couple brought their 6-month infant. We crated and leashed Norton all day but when brought into the living room he was fine until he saw the baby. They stared at each other until he started to growl and show teeth. Had I not had him on the leash I don't know what would have happened.

Today the meter reader entered the property and our dog (Norton) was in the back running around. My wife happened to be with him but when seeing the meter reader he bolted after him. First barking then growling and then biting at his boot.

It was not that long ago that ANYONE could come to our home and all they needed to worry about was getting licked by a lovable dog.

HELP!!! Any suggestions. Is this behavior reversible? Or are we looking at a muzzle or WORSE?


If you are inclined to make an effort this behavior is controllable. I do not think it is irreversible. It has developed as a result of the genetics of the dog and has manifested itself because the dog is going through maturity.

The only way to control it is to establish yourself and your wife as the undisputed pack leaders. This is done through strict obedience. By that I do not mean you go out and kick your dog's butt for not minding, but it does mean that you train your dog so that when a command is given he will follow your direction every time under every circumstance without question. Until you have that kind of control you have a dangerous dog. It should not be allowed around small children and you should have a dog crate for the dog to go in when strangers are at your house.

The dog must also learn what inappropriate behavior is. This is accomplished by you telling him NO. Until he has reached the level of obedience that I explain above, telling him NO will not have a great effect on him. But once he is trained and he shows aggression after he is told NO - then he gets corrected and corrected really kicked hard. I follow the theory of one good correction is worth a million nagging ones. Most people are "naggers" - they hag their dogs to death.

But when it comes to unwanted aggression there is no situation where a middle ground is acceptable. The dog either minds or it is dangerous. It's just that simple. So when people have dogs like this it requires a new mind set for them. Both spouses have to agree to train the dog, both have to understand the correct steps to training and both have to be willing to be consistent and follow through with corrections when they are required. If that is not the case in your home then put the dog down because someone is going to get bit. If you would like to learn something about the principles of obedience training a dog, get my Basic Dog Obedience video and a prong collar.

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Hi, I have a 5 yr old neutered rottie with a strong prey drive and or dominant behavior. I had him trained when he was 2 since he was showing aggressive behavior towards people. Now he is very obedient, I can stop him from a full charge attack (on people or other animals) BUT when left alone he kills. To date he has killed about 10 cats and dogs, numerous snakes, rats, birds and he even tried to take down my horse when I first got her.

I have three kids 6,5,3 and he is absolutely great with them. He even takes commands (sit, stay, quiet) from my 3 yr old. One day, though, he severely bit my nephew who was visiting. The kids went into the dog room alone and when the baby yelled the dog bit my nephew in the face. As for other people, when I am there I can have people in my yard and he will go after them but then will sit-stay when told and leaves them alone.

As for other animals entering my yard though, can I train him to not kill? I’m afraid someone is going to bring suit against me. I think he knows its wrong. When he does it he will come to me with his head down in a submissive behavior and wants to lick me a lot. Please give me some advice as I'm not sure why such a sweet passive dog one minute can become a killer in another.

Thank you


This is more dog that you are prepared to handle. Find another home for the dog. Owning a dog like this requires someone who demonstrates more responsibility that you have shown. There is NO EXCUSE for a dog being allowed near strange children. I don't accept the excuse that it was an accident. It was not an accident; it was irresponsible for you to allow a situation like this to happen.

Get a Poodle - God put them on this earth for people like you.

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Dear Mr. Frawley,

I adopted my dog about 2 years ago from a no kill shelter when he was about 8 months old. They told me he was found laying in the street with a bad wound leg from a knife or fence. He is a chow, yellow lab and Shepard or rottie mix. He is neutered.

I took him to obedience training from the very beginning but he would get aggressive towards the other dogs in class and the teacher suggested I put him to sleep or go to private classes. I have gone to private classes with him and he responds well and is not aggressive to the trainer or me. He is not totally trained to come on command but is very well behaved at home.

Walking him is a hassle because he is very aggressive to dogs that come up to him or walk by him while he is on leash and there are many stray dogs in my neighborhood. He bit a greyhound once in the park as I talked to a friend and the dogs walked by us. The dog ended up needing some stitches even though the incident was stopped fairly quickly.

My dog plays well with most dogs off leash but once attacked a dog in my sisters back yard for no reason except we let him out to play with the dog. He used to be very shy around men and other strange people in the house but has become much more accepting of people coming into the house and welcomes them unless they are a stranger to me as well.

I am mostly concerned with him attacking other dogs on leash but today when I was walking him we went passed a young child and his father walking to school. As we passed the boy and his dad my dog aggressively snapped and growled at the child. I am glad I had a good hold on the leash or I feel he would have attacked the kid. Maybe my dog was afraid because the child had a hooded jacket on but the reaction my dog had seemed more than just a warning bark. He also snapped at some little girls who were playing in my front yard and put their faces to my front window. I have since told them not to come into my yard and I put a screen in front of the window so my dog can't see out.

Do you think if I spent more time training him if he would not act out this way. I also feel that he might have some genetic problems that I can not fix. He is very loving to me and I am having a hard time deciding which direction to take.

Please write me back with your suggestions.



In my opinion the Chow mix dogs are some of the most dangerous dogs out there. Far more dangerous than Pit Bulls. I cannot tell you how many emails I get from people who own Chows or Chow mixes that have unacceptable aggression problems with their dogs. If you choose to keep this dog (and not put it to sleep) you need to change the way you handle him.

  1. He should NEVER be in public without a muzzle on - NOT ONCE!

  2. This dog needs some very serious obedience training with a prong collar. It needs to know that if it shows unwanted aggression to other dogs or ANY PEOPLE it will be corrected so severely that it thinks it's life is going to end. If you do not feel that you can do this (because this is what it is going to take to become the respected pack leader for this dog) then you need to put it to sleep. This training has to be done with a prong or an electric collar. But in either case you need to make the effort to understand the principles of correction and praise, and the use of electric collar training. You cannot just put a collar on a dog an shock it. I have videos on both of these training aides.

You own a very dangerous dog. You have been very very lucky so far - luck runs out. It's time to step to the line and become a responsible pet owner. You have taken the right step in asking for advice. Now you have to follow through because if this dog attacks (not bites) a child, you are to blame and not the dog.

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Dear Mr. Frawley,

I have an older (humane society dog, do not know his exact age) cross-breed, he is at least eight years old. He is part Husky and possibly GSD. I also have a two year old GS female. I go for walks often, I try to go early in the morning so I do not run across other loose dogs. Mine are ALWAYS on a lead. My dogs have been attacked several times by other dogs running loose. My male (he is neutered) is an Alpha male (or least I thing he is), he was dog aggressive until I took him to obedience class. I had to learn how to show him I am the leader of the pack. Once I understood this concept and applied the proper stance of letting him know I was the leader and I would not put up with this behavior, it stopped. He will not back down if another dog shows any sign of aggression toward him, me or my other dog, as it should be. My female has a strong play drive and I am training her for search and rescue. She has a wonderful temperament, typical for GSD's. She is not aggressive, in fact she is very friendly when I introduce her to someone. She does read me of course, I have not the slightest doubt that in a situation where she feels I am nervous, or frightened, she would react accordingly. Both of these dogs are 70+ lbs. When another dog approaches us, I have my hands full with keeping both of my animals under control with their leads, while at the same time trying to get the loose dog to leave us alone. What do you suggest I do in these situations? Stand my ground and try to fend off the other dog, or try to leave the area, dragging my two dogs away? I usually try to walk in residential areas, and often I can walk in the middle of the street because of no traffic during the early morning hours. (Thanks for giving us so much information on being responsible dog handlers.)



Get some pepper spray and spray it right in the face of these other dogs. They are threatening you (if the police ask) and not your dog. You are perfectly legal in doing this if they threaten you. Besides these other dogs should be on leash or in a yard or under control.

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While researching the effects that neutering may have on my 6 month old ACD, I came upon your page. In your response to a question regarding a Shit-zu that bit a 1.5 year old girl on the lip, you said, "...if the dog even growls at the baby it needs to have its but corrected so hard that it thinks it is going to die."

I fully understand that a dog must know it is absolutely the lowest member of the pack. But your response seems to suggest hitting the dog. Why would you EVER tell someone to do this? If an owner were to "correct" (beat) their dog "So hard it thinks it's going to die," it would do far more to destroy the trust the dog has in the owner than it would to correct the dogs action!

I hope that it was only a poor use of wording on your part, and that you weren't implying the owner hit the dog. If this is the case you have to be more careful dispensing information to people who may take it quite literally.



So are you asking me if I would hit a dog? The answer is I would beat it like a wet rag if it bit a child in my presence. This dog would remember that moment of that day for the rest of its life (kind of like how I remember where I was the day Kennedy got shot), and with a little luck it would never bite another child.

So when your head clears- which I doubt will ever happen - you should go to see some photos of kids that have been bit in the face by a dog. In fact I would ask the people who read this response to send me photos of kids that have been dog bit - so people like you know how serious this issue is.

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We have an 18-month-old girl lab mix named "Lily" that we rescued six months ago. She was a loud barker right from the start, but seemed to make herself at home with us. Neither my wife or I had much experience as dog owners, so we naively hoped that a loving & comfortable home life would be enough to calm her down. She is very smart and did in fact learn to mind us and show us a lot of affection after a while, but she was still difficult to manage on walks and showed territorial aggression around the house with friends and meter readers, etc. We took her to a professional trainer who helped make a difference, but he confirmed that she was one of the most stubborn dogs he had ever worked with.

I am writing to you now because she just bit my wife for the third time. The first time occurred when Lily was sick with an upset stomach and bit my wife's face as she was leaning over her to try to comfort her. Not too much later Lily bit my wife on the finger when she was trying to control her at a car dealership. Tonight my wife was again bending over her to kiss her, and Lily lashed out. Each occasion was a quick strike without any provoked attack or growling; after each attack, we tried to correct her by shouting NO and by flipping her on her back and holding her down for a minute or so. She responds by being submissive for awhile, but we feel like we can't trust her anymore and now realize that our social life is being affected by our fears about her with people coming to our house.

We've read the letters from other owners on your site and wonder whether anything can be done or whether we are up to making the changes required. She has been sleeping on our bed at night, so we'd have a long way to go. What do you think?



I think you have a couple levels of decisions to make here. The first is do you want to continue to try and save this dog or in reality is it time to send her back to the shelter - where she will be put down? If you want to try then you need to work at it in a better way. Here is what needs to be done:

  1. NO MORE BEDROOM - read my articles on this. This is the most foolish mistake that dog owners make. Get a dog crate and the dog should learn to live in it. Feed her in there. Put her in it when people come, and she always sleeps in it.

  2. Train this dog with 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.

  3. Do not kiss this dog. DO NOT ALPHA ROLL any dog - read my web site. I have talked about how foolish this is. A great way to lose your face.

  4. If there is any concern about the safety of the dog, get a muzzle (the Jafco muzzles we have are inexpensive and work well). When the dog goes out for walks or rides it wears the muzzle.

This dog needs strict obedience. If you keep it you need to become a responsible pet owner. You inadvertently have not been one.

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I am looking for a wire muzzle for my female German Shepherd. She is a rescue dog and has turned out to be a biter. I want a muzzle that I can give food rewards through easily and allows her to pant. The wire muzzles in the pet stores either don’t allow her to pant or have wires too close together to put rewards through. She is 4 1/4 in on her nose and 10 1/2 in circ. (about 1" below eyes). She is about 65#. The German wire muzzles look ok but I can't see the front. Can you help me?


I have a wire muzzle on my web site. You can take a look at it.

You do not understand obedience training if you think you should be using food treats with a muzzled dog. You have a lot to learn.

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My name is Lisa. I have a 3 1/2 year old Shepard male named Bud. I found him when he was a few months old and so I'm not sure about his temperaments in blood lines. We recently had some sheep on the property and he got loose and killed two. He has killed cats before but we thought he was playing too hard. Today he went after a calf, but luckily I was there to stop it. I punished him but it doesn't seem to do anything. I don't want to put him down. Is there any thing to do to get him to stop? He isn't aggressive towards other people unless he feels I'm at threat and he isn't aggressive towards other dogs, just plays hard. Please, if you have any advice, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Lisa & Bud


Keep the dog in a chain link kennel when you are not out with him. No exceptions.

I would never allow the dog out of the kennel without an electric collar on – a very good one – like the Dogtra 2000 (read about them on my web site)

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About two years ago I rescued a large mix-breed dog from a veterinarian. The dog had been abused and tossed out the back of a pick up truck and left to die, until it was brought in to the veterinarian's for care. Since the rescue, my dog has demonstrated mild aggressive behaviors and has displayed few dominance problems. He has occasionally nipped at certain people, but never broke skin . He had responded well to correction. He shows similar behaviors when playing with other dogs, and again has done well when corrected. But, all of a sudden, out of no where, about two weeks ago my dog jumped out of the car to attack an older dog which was walking by my home. He took this dog by the neck and punctured a blood vessel. The event is costing me $618.00 in bills. Ever since this has happened I can not expose him to other dogs, while on or off leash. He attacks without warning. I find this disturbing. I want to put the dog since the behaviors are unacceptable and are increasing in frequency. The dog has recently reached the point of growling at me when trying to correct him. My fiancee loves this dog and wants to keep him. Although my fiance has declined to help me pay the vet bills and has declined the offer to take obedience classes with him. Do you think there is hope? If a dog tastes blood does he ever recover?

Thank you,


The taste of blood has nothing to do with anything. That is an old wives tale.

I have never heard of a dog jumping out the window of a car. Interesting. But then when I travel with my dogs they are in dog crates. I guess you need to leash the dog (if you cannot put a crate in your vehicle) and then close the door on the leash so the dog is secure when riding.

Dog aggression is not going to be cured. It can only be controlled. This control begins with obedience training - with a prong collar.

This is not rocket science. Here is the concept that EVERY DOG understands. The level of aggression that the handler uses to correct the dog when the dog becomes aggressive needs to be higher than the level of aggression that the dog shows. If you do not or cannot do this then the dog learns nothing and it wins.

The dog should NEVER come in contact with other dogs. You should also use a dog crate in your home and not allow anyone other than your family to pet the dog.

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I have a 1 year old Old English Sheepdog. We originally wanted to get one because of how they are supposed to be good with children and other pets.

All was well until he was 10 weeks old and was attacked by a Boxer adult in the town. He was dog shy for quite a while after this. At 5 months we took him to "Super dog" recall training classes, as with all other training (sit, tricks) he would listen, but not come or stay when called. This class took 6 weeks, once a week, and we continued the training at home. He was fixed at 7 months, due in part to the non-stop humping problems he did, especially with our son.

Our children are: daughter 15 and son 12.

Even after the training he still does not listen unless there is a treat involved. We have tried to wean him off the "treat training" but it does not work. But now the worst is yet to come.

He has over the last 2 months been displaying attack aggression towards our daughter. She comes home for lunch and he jumps on her like he is totally happy to see her. But when she goes to leave he will jump on her and growl viciously and try to bite her. One day we were on the couch/sofa and he jumped up beside her. He is not allowed on the furniture and so she pushed his bottom as always and told him "off". He turned on her like lightening and tried to bite her face... I was home and ran over to subdue him...he then turned on me. He was crated for the rest of the afternoon...and once released he acted like the usual Old English Sheepdog.

He has been jumping on everyone lately and is biting and nipping. The only way to subdue him is with a body tackle...if you do very firm voice command he will not listen...even with a treat. If and when he listens with a treat he will get the treat... listen until he thinks the treats are gone and then proceed to act unreasonable again.

The trainer as deemed that my husband is the alpha, yet I have been home for 5 months and my children are at school. I have been in the eyes of trainers the alpha. I am very strict. He is mellow all day but when the kids come home he becomes nuts, when my husband is home he is in charge of the dogs behavior too. But that is primarily since that is when he is out of control.

He usually sleeps on the floor of our room at night and if we are in a different "situation", he is out of the room. We have always been told that dogs have to "be with you at night" so that is what we have always done.

When my son tries to have friends come over he barks at them horribly. If they run in the house he goes crazy and barks and growls and tries to get them...if we have people over at all we have to have him on a leash or crate him or we think he will hurt someone.

Any stranger that come around is barked at viciously and it takes about 30 minutes to get him under control, but if the "stranger" moves quickly he is at them again. An example: We had Xmas dinner with 15 people and some of which had been over before...he acted mean to them too. We had to crate him. Later when we though he calmed down we let him out, but had to keep him on a leash. He would constantly bump into everyone and if any man would get up quickly or enter and leave the house (smoke break), he would go crazy again.

We are extremely upset since one of the main reasons we got an OES is because they are not supposed to display this type of behavior. We are trying to sell him now, but what else do you recommend? Should he be put down?

Alberta Canada


Here are my thoughts:

  1. You need to read my web site on dominant dogs – articles and Q&A – you have not done this. I can tell from your email. Look in the list of training articles on my web site.

  2. You need to crate this dog a lot – he should not be allowed in a bedroom. He needs to be crated when there are stranger over – EVERY TIME ALL THE TIME.

  3. He needs to be properly obedience trained. He is not now. 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.

  4. Cut the hair around his eyes so he can see – my personal feeling is these dogs have temperament problems and some of it is genetic some of it is because they cannot see through the hair. With a genetic weak nerve they over-react to things that startle them because they do not see things well.

  5. He probably needs a new home. This dog is beyond your skill level. It also very much sounds like it is beyond your trainers skill level too.

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I have a 5 year old male German Shepard that bit my neighbor last week severely enough to need 17 stitches and will need some plastic surgery. The dog has never been a problem before and always has been very friendly with our family friends.

We were visiting at home with my wife and another couple at our lake house when the next door neighbor came over as he usually does when we are at the lake. We welcome him to come over any time and enjoy his company. He and my dog have never gotten along like the dog does with other people. My neighbor has two dogs of his own and I always thought my dog did not take to him as well as others because of the scent of his dogs on him.

My wife had our dog on a leash with the dog between her and our neighbor. He had been over for at least an hour and the dog acted no different with the neighbor than with anyone else. I told the neighbor to pet the dog on his breast, that he very much liked that. He did so and the dog responded as he always does by putting his paw on the neighbor's let. When he quit petting and removed his arm the dog suddenly, without warning bit the neighbor on the arm causing the injuries described above.

Our dilemma now is what to do with the dog. Our vet has suggested filing teeth and neutering the dog as a solution. My first reaction is to put the dog to sleep. I would very much like some advice.

Can you help me?


I hesitate to offer advice on a dog when I cannot see it.

The mistake made was asking the man to pet the dog. I cannot say that this was anyone’s fault considering you and your wife are not dog experts.

If you choose to keep this dog you should not have the dog around strangers. A stranger is described as anyone other than your wife and yourself. A stranger is someone the dog has seen before and has accepted before. You should get a dog crate and put the dog in the crate any time someone is in the home. No one should be petting this dog.

You also need to put the dog through some serious obedience training. This should not be in a class environment. That may be too dangerous at the moment. Get a prong collar and run the training I show in my Basic Dog Obedience video. This training establishes rank and pack leadership.

When the dog is out in public have the dog wear a wire muzzle (we sell them) these muzzles allow excellent air flow and the dog can drink with them on.

I would also put up an outside dog kennel, or if you have a fenced yard I would install an in ground fencer (Innotek not Invisible Fence) to have a double barrier.

Any vet that recommends filing dogs teeth is showing a lack of understanding of dog behavior and training. Neutering of an adult dog has no effect on aggression. It is a waste of time to do this and it will not modify his behavior.

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Hello, 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 least 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 Ridge, Long Island, New York. Thanks in advance for any possible guidance you can provide me with.



Sometimes people need to find new homes for dogs. This sounds like the case here. This dog is beyond your skill level. There are things that can be done, but I doubt you are the person to do this. 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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I have 2 young basset hound/golden retriever mix dogs, which are brother and sister from the same litter (They will be 2 March 20, 2002), and they have begun fighting with each other. This has been going on for about a week. One is male (BG); one is female (Penny). They have a large lot in which to run. I bought each one a chew toy (a green one and a blue one of identical shape & size) and it seems that the fighting started after that. The male is shorter, looking like a basset hound, and the female looks like a short-haired golden retriever. When we first got the male, he had parvo and was in the hospital 3 days; in the meantime, we got his sister so that he would have a companion. We had to keep them in separate locations, though, until she had had her shots to prevent parvo. We put them together in the location where the male was living. At first, he was afraid of her, but then they started getting along beautifully and would usually nap together and would run and play together.

This recent behavior has me baffled. My husband separated them this morning and put BG in the large lot and left Penny in the kennel part of the lot. I don't know what to do to let them be together without fighting. They had never shown aggressive behavior before. BG has blood on his neck and Penny has a skinned nose.

BG seems the most dominant, but I'm not sure that this is the case. They have been neutered and spayed. Please help. Thank you,



Your husband did the right thing. These dogs are going to have to be kept separated all the time. Just because you want them to get along does not mean that this will every happen. In fact it will not.

The reason it is happening now is because this is the age that dogs mature and want to settle their rank within a pack - dogs are pack animals.

If you want more information than that go to my web site and read the Q&A
sections on this issue. There are also articles on it.

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I have a year old German Shepherd, and seems to be aggressive towards little kids. I have had him since he was 7 months old. There are no children in the house, just 3 adults. He has not been professionally trained, just basic trained.. like "No," "sit," "shake" etc....He has never showed any aggression towards adults, just kids. He will bark and try to bite kids. I hate locking him in a room while little kids are around. I think it might be the voices of the kids, that he doesn't like. He is real weird when it comes to noises, for example we were measuring a room and I had the tape measure out and the snapping noise of it he didn't like and he started barking/mounting at me and nipping my leg telling me to stop. It was a weird reaction of him. What should I do?

Thank you,


This is a people problem. You need to train this dog. It has weak nerves and will develop into a fear biter if you don’t make some changes.

The dog does not need a separate room it needs a dog crate. This dog is going to bite a child and you are going to be faced with some serious legal problems. Saying that you wont lock the dog in a room is like saying you don’t believe in putting a loaded gun away when kids come over. It is the same thing.

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My wife & I are having twins. Our German Shepherd is now 2 years old and for the most part well behaved. We have been told many different ways of presenting our Lola to the babies for the first time. Also my goal is to have Lola baby sit as much as possible in the future. Lola is rarely on a leash in the front or back yard. Already knowing her boundaries, I would like to teach her to keep the kids in their own front yard & out of the street. Of course this is in the future & I will always be there as well. Do you have any advice on this at all or any article to read?

Thank You,

Bill & Pam


Read the article I wrote on how to introduce babies to your dog. You can find this on the article page on my web site.

Your expectation is 100% unreasonable. NO dog can be expected to herd children. You are asking for a problem – either in the form of a dog bite because the dog grabs the child to hard or a child going into the street. Bottom line is dogs are not baby sitters.

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First off, I was reading about the prong collar and if I decide to try this I just know that if I were to go to PetSmart who probably sells it they will tell me how cruel it is. They always do that which makes me wonder why they sell the stuff if they want to make their customers feel bad about buying it.

Ok, I adopted a dog about a year ago. He was then 1.5 years old. Now he's 2. He typically is a real sweetie, and he is neutered. A few months ago in my house the little brat girl from next door happened to be visiting in my house. She was playing with my dog's toy chew bone. At first he acted kind of playful but she decided to keep raising it higher so he could not get it. The dog then let out a very aggressive mauling growl and did not bite her but brushed his teeth against her skin slightly to ward her off. So I was dumb back then. Now I now not to allow the little brat anywhere near my dog or my house. Whenever my daughter's friends come over, though, I ask them not to tease the dog. One girl tried growling at the dog and he ended up doing the same thing - a mauling growl at them and brushing his teeth against their skin but no biting. So I asked her what part of no teasing does she not understand because she also tried teasing him with his chew toy and not letting him have it. We are talking about a 14 year old who ought to be able to understand such things.

Now when the meter reader wants to jump over my fence I hold this dog because the dog obviously thinks it an intruder with hair standing even on the back of the dog's rear end. Does not help that the meter reader pokes umbrellas at the dogs before jumping over the fence, of course.

Just yesterday there was a strange incident. One of my daughter's friends walked through my front door and did not acknowledge the dog at all. The dog acted the same way - mauling growl and acting like he wanted to bite. Would he really do that because someone did not acknowledge him and so he therefore thought it an intruder? I did read your answer to someone else about training them to have a spot in the home so I apparently will have to do that especially since when anyone comes here is usually is so excited to have someone pay attention to him he is bouncing off the ground.

Thanks !



You have some serious problems here.

1- You are making some serious mistakes in how you live with this dog

2- You need to read all of the articles and Q&A section on aggression on my web site.

3- You should get on my web board and read the archives. It has 5800 registered members

4- Acknowledging a dog when entering the home has nothing to do with triggering aggression.

5- Its NEVER to late to fix a SCREW UP (WHICH YOU HAVE) Read the article on GROUND WORK BEFORE OBEDIENCE TRAINING If you don’t think you need this - you are wrong. In fact so wrong you should take this dog to a shelter before it seriously attacks someone because its going to happen. Make sure your homeowners insurance is paid up. If they knew you have a dog like this they would cancel you.

6- Petsmart is not the place to look for dog training advice. They are an insult to serious
professional dog trainers. The majority of their employees are incompetent and should NEVER be offering dog training advice. Getting hired by Petsmart does not qualify you to be a dog trainer.

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QUESTION on Dog Bites:


Thank you for offering advise. I have looked through your articles and information but still feel the need to email you.

We have just gotten a 5 month old female miniature Dachshund. We have had her 2 weeks. She has been very sweet and easy going. She has been friendly with strangers. We have a 4 and a 7 year old. children.

She has suddenly started snapping. First she snapped at my son who is 7 years old. He approached her from behind while she was chewing on her chew toy. She also growled at him when he came to pat her while she was asleep on my lap. Today, she growled at my husband when he took her off his lap (she was asleep) in order to get up and do some chores.

She adores me and I assume thinks I am the leader of the pack. She is completely submissive to me. I am concerned that this behavior will escalate with my children. Do you have any specific advise?

Thank you very much for your time



You need to be using a dog crate. You also need to 110% supervise your children. They are too young to be allowed unsupervised access to a puppy – especially this breed because they can have their back hurt so easily.

I also recommend that you go to my web site and read the article I wrote on my philosophy of dog training. I think you will get some good ideas there.

I would recommend you purchase the DVD I produced titled Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months.

I have owned and trained German Shepherds for 40 years. In the past 30 years I have bred over 340 litters of working bloodline German Shepherds. 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. Dog training is not rocket science its simple common sense ideas on how to handle and train a dog, The DVD has 2 ½ hours of training information along with 15 puppy training articles that I have written.

You should also consider my 4 hour DVD on Basic Dog Obedience - The fact is you have way more to learn than your dog. I always recommend the handlers start studying this DVD right away even though you wont train a lot of the work until the pup is 4 to 6 months old.

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QUESTION on Dog Mouthing Child:

Hi Ed,

I have a 7 mo. old Lab/Redheeler (and possibly German Shepard) mix. She was a stray that we took in when she was approximately 3 mo. old. We have a great vet for her and an appointment this week for her to be spayed. I would like to have a well trained family pet and also reliable protection (We live in a very shady part of town). I am a college student and stay-at-home with my 2 1/2 year old. We are also on a very tight budget and cannot afford professional training. I have done quite a bit of research on how to properly train my dog (in which I have been successful, so far) but i know I am not a professional. I have explored most of your web site. and I am aware that most accidents involving dogs are do to ignorant trainers. I don't want to contribute to that statistic due to my lack of funds, so I am asking for your help and advice. Your site has taught me a lot but I still lack the fundamentals of training. I have used what I have learned from books and other free sites combined, to get where I am now. My dog had shown a little dominance but I feel I have corrected that behavior even before I happened upon your site. She respects me as leader and my husband as well. She knows many commands (and tricks) and I am still working with her on coming (all the time), staying and focusing . I struggle with my daughter on how to properly treat animals (in which I have received great advice from your site and am working with her on that). My dog has a pretty good prey instinct and is eager to please. She also barks at sounds she hears outside of the house. She is extremely patient with my daughter and her abuse. I have had my daughter assist with feedings, baths, brushings and giving commands since we've had her, but I am unaware if I should be doing this. My dog listens to my daughters commands but mainly when she has treats. The things that worry me is that she still mouths my daughter when they play and she tackles her when she gets excited. I do correct this and it has lessened with age but I need to know if this is something that is going to be a problem. My dog is growing fast and unfortunately my daughter isn't. I am requesting your services, hoping you will teach me what I want and need to learn, knowing I have no way of repaying you financially. Please help, I feel that the only thing that could become of my ignorance is tragedy alone.


It is unrealistic to expect this dog to be a protection dog. The most you can expect is a dog that will bark. The fact is that any criminal that comes through a barking dog needs to be shot.

If you want to learn to obedience train your dog yourself – get my Basic Dog Obedience DVD.

The issue with your daughter is an obedience issue. The dog will probably outgrow it but it also needs better training.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Pup:


I have a concern about our 10 month old dachshund we adopted from a dachshund rescue web-site in Nebraska. He is a intact male, but just recently had him neutered. We have only had him for 3 weeks now, we love him and enjoy him very much, he is so far very good with our oldest child, my husband, myself and our other little dachshund. He doesn't get along well with our 19 month old son. I think he is a fear bitter, and I really have to defend the dog on this part because my son is so naughty and tends to bother him a lot. We do discipline our son and do try to keep them separated, but sometimes being in the same household it gets hard to all of the time. Anyway, he tends to snap or bite at our youngest son even when he enters the room, especially if he is on my lap at the time, he starts growling then gets off my lap and jumps up and bites him. Even if he isn't doing anything at all. He also does this to our Female 7 year old German Shepherd. She does stay outside most of the time anyway, so we do keep them separate and she never has bitten back yet, she will just leave him alone or walk away when he does this. But I am worried about my younger son. I haven't disciplined the dog yet, because I just assume he was maybe abused or is just scared of him. Anyway, I would like some advise as to where to start or just wait and give some time with the dog??? I am mostly just concerned about our youngest son. He doesn't mind our 4 year old at all, he will even sit on his lab without any problems, it is just our 19 month old and our German Shepherd. I would love it if someone could give my any suggestions on what to do, if anything at all at this point. Thanks so much for your time!



This is a people problem not a dog problem

Here are some articles and Q&As to read so that you can see where you screwed up.

1- Read the article I wrote on how to introduce a new dog into a home with other dogs. BIG MISTAKE ON YOU PART (but if you are not a pro I can't blame you).

2- Read the article I wrote on how to prevent dog bites in children – more big mistakes on you part.

4- Read the article I wrote on DEALING WITH THE DOMINANT DOG – more mistakes on your part.

5- Read the article I wrote on GROUND WORK to becoming a pack leader.

By the time you are through with these articles you will have a clear understanding on how to fix your problems.

If you care to learn how to properly train a dog – get my Basic Dog Obedience DVD it's 4 hours long.

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QUESTION on Aggressive Dog:

Hi Ed,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience and advice on and through this web site. I am hoping you can help me and perhaps lead me in the right direction. I am interested in several of your videos and was wondering which you would recommend for my circumstances.

I have an 8 year old neutered Basset Hound, a 3 year old neutered Rottweiler mix whom we rescued, and a 14 week old Newfoundland girl. My problems are with the rottie mix and I would really appreciate any advice. His name is Solomon and we rescued him at about 2 weeks old from a shelter that was going to put him down. He immediately became the love of my life and I treated him as such. Little did I know I was doing more harm than good.

Once I realized that our rottie had aggression issues I took him to obedience classes. The instructor worked with us and in the end suggested that he be put to sleep. I wasn't very happy with this and decided to try to find another trainer. She worked with us using a Tri-Tronics sport 50 e-collar...we had amazing results...or so I thought.

Within two months of working with the e-collar and making changes at home (no sleeping on the bed) our rottie took and passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. We had such a great time training that we continued and he earned his CD Title with the UKC under a limited privilege status (because he is a mixed breed). We even took first place on our first leg. I really thought we had turned a corner.

We continued our training and started working toward the UCD title. Then one day my 9 year old had a friend over and our rottie ran up to him and started biting him. Although this boy didn't do anything on this particular occasion to initiate the bite this little boy was teasing the dog through a fence a few days earlier. We immediately told this boy that he couldn't treat our dog like that. But we thought that the attack was brought on by this incident. We continued our training as usual. Then a month later I had friend over who has a 12 year old boy and once again our rottie attacked him. This boy had never been to our house before and the dog had no previous interactions with him. Five weeks ago we adopted a little Newfie girl whom we have been waiting for (on a list for 2 years). The rottie attacked her right away...she had staples in her back and on her ears.

Is there any hope for my rottie boy? I am not afraid of training and working hard and I love him with all of my heart. I also want to mention that I have Lymphoma and am pretty sick sometimes and he is my greatest comfort and friend. He is a very sweet to me.

Any thoughts or advice? I am interested in buying a few of your DVDs...which would you recommend for this situation? Please help.


ANSWER on Aggressive Dog:

I have owned dangerous dogs my entire life and never had this kind of problem. The reason is because I anticipate the worst and then plan for it. This translates down to your problem is with you and not the dog. The dog is what it is – a dominant territorial animal. It’s your job to control the environment he has access to. This means you need to use a dog crate or dog kennel and the dog should NEVER come in contact with strangers or strange dogs. Not ever and not for any reason.

You don’t train this kind of dominance out of a dog you can only control it – which you have not done. Control means obedience training and respect. Your dog does not respect you if it's doing these kinds of things in your presence. Dogs can love you and still not respect you.

I recommend that you visit my web site and read a training article I recently wrote titled THE THEORY OF CORRECTIONS IN DOG TRAINING.

The reason I wrote this article was to help people understand how to motivate their dogs in training. Most people either use the wrong kind of correction or over correct dogs in training.

Your emphasis should be on learning pack structure and control. I have written extensively on this.

QUESTION on Aggressive Dog and Young Child:


I would really like your opinion on the following situation:

Almost 10 years ago we decided to adopt a dog from a shelter. The dog was healthy, and we guessed he was somewhere between 4 and 6 months of age - he was loosing baby teeth. The shelter noted him as a stray and there were no other details.We visited him on two occasions at the shelter prior to adopting him. He had a lot of energy, like to play ball and seemed to be a generally happy dog. We could only guess at the breed, thought he was a cross between a husky and chow - he had a blue patch on his tongue, a beautiful thick, 2 inch orange and cream colored coat and a curled tail (looks like a large Shiba Inu - at maturity about 65 lbs).

As we got to know each other better, the dog showed signs of aggression when playing, nipping and growling, always vocalizing. We scolded the dog when this happened - withdrew attention. Anyway, at around 6 to 8 months we had him neutered. Then we took him for basic training. The trainer said we had to be very strict with him since he showed very aggressive tendencies. The dog needed to know his place in the pecking order. At one point, this trainer held him by the leash (choke collar) in the air to stop him from his viscous behavior. Unfortunately, since the trainer did this, other people in the class complained and he was fired. My husband and I thought the trainer was acting appropriately under the circumstances. The next trainer mostly supported teaching how sit, stay and shake a paw.

Both my husband and I worked during the day so we kept him in his crate ( 3 X 4 X 4). He did not like being in his crate, he would bang his nose against it until he would cut himself. Anyway, as time moved on, we decided to let him be free in the house during the day, while we were away. We had no issues with property damage and he was contained.

When he was about a year old, we decided to purchase another dog - an 8 week old female Rottweiler. We thought that he would be happier with a companion since we were away at work. He seemed to resent her from the get go. When we gave them each treats, he would walk over to her and take hers from her. She just let it be, we told him not to do that, but this continued to happen as time went by. The rottweiler had a great disposition and just went with the flow. Anyway, I don't think he ever got over her being added to the family. They lived together, were company for each other, but I do not think they were ever great friends. (FYI - when she was about 3 years old, I gave them each a chew - they were about 15 feet apart, she laying down, he playing with it - she looked over at him, booffed at him, he dropped his chew and walked away - in the end he did not intimidate her anymore).

Anyway, time passed and we had a baby, who is now 3 1/2 years old. When the baby was born, we decided to place a baby gate as a barrier at the upstairs landing from the basement (a resting area on the main floor for them). This kept the dogs apart from the baby, but still around the family. I have kept both dogs behind the gate from our son but on occasion the female has been out and around our son. The female dog follows child's commands but the male complains under his breath when being directed. I do not trust that my child would be safe with the male dog if he were free to roam about the house. I worry that other children visiting could be harmed by him.

My concern relates to aggression and unpredictability of the male dog and my son's safety.Over the years, he has repeatedly shown aggression to myself and son, occasionally to my husband, and with everyone he fluctuates between I love you, I hate you. You never really know where you stand with him, he snarls, curls lips, growls and snaps and wags tail. The female tends to stand between me and him when we are together and he is aggressive. I have been nipped twice by him (no blood) and in each case I dragged him by the collar into the kennel - withdrew attention - I did not allow him to think he had the upper hand ever. To be clear, he has been mean to the Rottweiler on many occasions, he snaps and bites her, piercing her skin (draws blood). She likes to play and is gentle about it. I have petted both of them and she always has cuts on her nose and neck and he never does - he plays VERY rough.The dog favors my husband and tends to listen to him more than others but does not even always listen.

At this point, I think he needs to be put to sleep before he hurts someone. I do not think anyone else could handle him. Since we have had him so many years, I am struggling with the decision (how do you kill a member of the family). It is me after all pushing for this, my son is afraid of him, my husband thinks we can contain him, however the dog has managed to run away two times and each time I worry about what he will do.

I really would appreciate any advice, recommendation or affirmation you could make.

Thank you.



This is far more of an owner education and training (or lack of training) problem than a dog problem.

I recommend that you go to my web site and read the article I wrote on my philosophy of dog training. I think you will get some good ideas there.

I don’t blame you for this, its common. People get dogs and then when dominance issues come up they don’t know what to do. Thinking that obedience training is the solution they go to classes. When in fact the majority of obedience instructors are unqualified to deal with dominance and aggression problems. I tell people that in my opinion obedience training is 25% of the solution – but its 25% that must be there to solve the problem. The rest is dealing with pack structure in the family.

I recommend that you get the DVD I recently finished (it was a 5 year project) titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS.

This DVD is 3 ½ hours long and does not cost a lot of money. If you go to the web page you can read the outline of what I included.

My gut feel is you also need the BASIC DOG OBEDIENCE DVD.

If this were my dog I would also be training with a remote collar. I use a Dogtra 1700 on my personal dog.

So the bottom line is this issue can be solved but it involves work and changing the way you live with your dog.

Read the article I wrote titled PREVENTING DOG BITES IN CHILDREN.


Hi Ed,

I adopted a 2 year old australian shepherd about 8 weeks ago. He is a 40 pound red merle named Casey. Casey belonged to an 18 year old girl until she had a baby and could no longer take care of Casey...I was told. >From there he went to a foster family and then to an aussie rescue foster family. It was from the aussie rescue family that I adopted him from. I also have a 2 year old german shepherd. I had a 12 year old shepherd that I had to have put to sleep. The hip displaysia and arthritis were just too painful for her and she kept falling on her hind end. She was a wonderful dog for 12 years. My 2 year old shepherd is also a great dog. She has been trained and is very social around people. Casey the Australian shepherd I adopted gets along great with my 2 year old shepherd. I'm taking him to obedience training and he is doing exceptionally well in that area. He will be ironically earning his canine good citizens certificate this week. Casey is a very loving and affectionate dog. he's very smart and listens well. however I don't think he was socialized or trained as a puppy  very well. My problem is Casey  will attack people coming in and going out the front door. One of my daughters friends had been in the house one evening. Casey had even gone up to her and let her pet him. As she was standing by the front door to leave Casey came up from behind and clamped down on her elbow. She had one small puncture wound about the size of a pencil head.The rest were scratches. It didn't bleed at all. But the girl went to the emergency room and it cost us $1200.00 . Another night he lunged out the door at my daughter whom he knows very well. But because she came in through the front door he jumped out and bit her on the upper leg and bruised it. Then he bit the back of my sons pants  the other friday because he was giving me a kiss and hug before he left to go away for the weekend. Just last night Casey bit my sons girlfriend on the hand as she was wheeling through the kitchen door. Chrissey had been in the house for about 20 minutes before I had let Casey out of the cage. I put him in the cage as people come in and out because I don't trust him. Casey knows Chrissey. She is here almost every weekend. He didn't break the skin but left teeth marks that went away after about 20 minutes. It seems his problem is when people come in and out the front door or if they are in the house and get up to walk to another room or across the room I have to watch him carefully for movements towards that person as if he is going to bite them. He's an absolutely wonderfully behaved dog except for this one problem biting and its a big problem. I have been trying positive behavior training by giving him treats as people come in and out the door but It doesn't seem to be helping. I don't want anyone else to get bit. Do you think this is a behavior that can be changed? I'm leaning more towards returning him to aussie rescue. I think Casey needs to be with someone who lives by themselves and doesn't get much company. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.



This dog has pack behavior issues and if you plan on keeping it you need to jack your obedience up about 50 notches.

You may want to read the article I wrote on GROUND WORK BEFORE OBEDIENCE TRAINING.The dog should NEVER be off leash in the house.

The dog does not respect you as a pack leader – if it did it would not be doing this. If it were my dog the slightest attempt to bite would bring down the wrath of the gods. This dog would think it’s life was about to end. On a scale of 1 to 10 the dog would and should get a level 12 correction.

I guarantee you that the reason this dog changed homes was because he did this in other homes. With this said – you have empowered the dog by allowing this behavior to continue.

While you may be getting a CGC award the level of training for this is minimal. Absolutely minimal. I tell people that the vast majority of dominant dogs come out of obedience classes just as dominant as when then went in. That’s because pack behavior issues were not dealt with. OB training is only part of a solution with a dog like this.

You need my DVD on Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

Fact is if this were my dog I would run it through my OB program and when that was done it would be trained with an electric collar . Then I would teach it to wear a muzzle and I would set up scenarios to test the dog. If the dog even looked cross at anyone I would give it an avoidance level of correction. With all that said – I would NEVER allow the dog to be loose around guests. Not ever. Why risk it?

QUESTION on Aggressive Corgi:

I got a pembroke welsh corgi last year at about this time, he never acted this way before but...anyway

Whenever we go off for a drive, when I try to pick him up [or anyone for that matter] he will snarl, bite, so on. I'm only trying to help him into the car, he use to let me do it, but now...

Then, just recently, he started this, I tried to pet him just this morning and his ears go back and he snaps at me and backs up. I scolded him and he gave me a deep deep growl and wandered off, note, his body was low to the ground and the fur on his back was raised high.

He's got troubles with letting people trim his nails as well, he made my mother bleed when she was grooming him because he didn't want his nails cut, I suppose.

I would like to know what I can do to get this aggression to stop, I'm unwilling to get rid of him because I truly believe I can fix this, with help, of course. But he can't keep biting, that's for sure.

In need of help,



We have 2 Welsh Corgis in our home so I am very familiar with this breed.

Many don’t like being picked up.

If I had your dog I would back up and start this dog again. I would run him through the work in the article I wrote titled THE GROUND WORK TO BECOMING YOUR PUPPY'S PACK LEADER.

I would strongly recommend getting a dog crate and do crate training with this dog.

I would run it through my Basic Dog Obedience program. Use a prong collar and a dominant dog collar.

Run the dog through my marker training program. But this is explained and demonstrated in the DVD.

You also need to know the work in my DVD Dealing with DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS.

I would also use a muzzle on this dog when it needs to go in the car or have its nails trimmed.

The fact is I may have a groomer clip the nails. It reduces the fight.

I would also train the dog to jump in the car. I would use a leash and pieces of MEAT. Toss them on the floor in the front and see if he will jump in. Use markers for this.

I know this seems to be a sales pitch but you have a problem and the information I am offering will solve your problem. You need to be careful about who you listen to on this issue. I have a great deal of experience with dog aggression – everyone has opinions but most lack experience.


Thank you for your site. I've spent hours pouring over the material, and plan on purchasing some of your DVD's. First however, I wanted to contact you because my situation really is different from anything I've read.

One month ago, I moved into a home with a 120 pit bull mastiff, who is completely blind. The dog is a foster dog and has been living with my two roommates for 6 months. He's very poorly trained, dominant, and shows aggressive tendencies (such as growling).

After reading your advice, I've embarked on becoming the pack leader.
It's only been a couple weeks but I am making progress. He will now sit and wait before coming outside.

My problem is how to correct or deal with his aggressive behavior. Mostly this happens when I want to take him for a walk, and he doesn't want to go. As I approach him with the leash, he will jump back and growl at me. This frightens me as he could kill me if he wanted to! It just happened right now, and I yelled "NO!" and went in my room and closed the door. But is that letting him win, as he doesn't have to go for a walk? He sat outside my door and whined. There is no way that I am going to approach him when he is growling at me and force a leash on to him...he's too scary!

THis happens also if you try to take something from him that he wants to keep. Should I simply yell no and let him keep it, because I'm too scared to really yank it from his powerful jaws!

Your web site. says to correct aggressive behavior and not allow it, but I can't find anywhere exactly HOW you should do that. Is simply yelling NO enough?

Thank you so much for your time - dealing with this dog is taking over my life!



Yelling at dogs rarely does anything to help. It can actually make things worse, because usually when we are yelling we are behaving emotionally. This is not what a dog like this needs. Everything should be calm and matter of fact.

If you are worried about being bitten then I would suggest a muzzle. In order to be a pack leader you need to project confidence and if you are being intimidated by this dog, it’s pretty difficult to be confident.

In my opinion, a no brainer for this dog is to have him leashed all the time and tethered to you or in a crate. This will make a huge difference in this dog’s behavior. Blind dogs do just fine, as long as you treat them like dogs and don’t feel bad or sorry for their disability. This will interfere with the training process on many levels.

I would recommend our DVD on Pack Structure.

I believe that this recently finished DVD could really help you also.
It’s titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS and was a 5 year project.

You can go to the web page and read the outline of what’s included on the video.

These 2 DVD's. along with the groundwork article will help you with these issues.

I hope this helps.



Hello Mr. Frawley,

My name is Mark Wright.  My wife, Cassie, and I have two dogs… and a newborn (our daughter Anna was born a week ago).  Our dogs are Lacey, an 11-year-old pure bred Cocker Spaniel and Gidgit, an 11-month old Beagle/Collie mix. 

Prior to Gidgit’s arrival, Lacey was fine and understood that we are the masters.  I believe that is still understood today.  I can approach Lacey and pull a bone or other toy away from her without her becoming aggressive towards me. 

We introduced Gidgit to our home when she was about 8-weeks old, before we were aware that Anna was on the way.  Lacey has generally tolerated Gidgit.  Gidgit tries to play with Lacey, but the senior citizen is more into laying around or occasionally playing with her humans or chewing a bone.  Gidgit also understands that we are the masters and allows us to take things away from her without adverse action.  Our problem is between the dogs.  I admit, that we went into the two dog situation without fully understanding anything about a two-dog household.  We simply believed that other people do it, so we should be able to as well.  This email is me waving the white flag admitting defeat.  We have failed miserably at teaching these dogs how to get along with each other.

While we had no fights for many months, over the past two months, we have begun to see Lacey and Gidgit increasingly at odds.  The picture attached to this email shows the outcome of a fight tonight.  I was lucky to get away with just this – and I realize that!  We are not always certain what triggers the fights, but a few things we know for sure.  When Gidgit is laying under my desk and Lacey walks by, Gidgit attacks.  Also, when Gidgit is laying on the couch and Lacey walks near her, Gidgit attacks.  We sometimes see when this is going to happen from Gidgit’s body language.  However, we rarely see Lacey do anything to provoke it.  We always try to break the fights up.  Cassie and I have both been bitten by Lacey, each resulting in just a small, minor cut.  Gidgit has nipped me before, but has always released quickly before causing even minor pain.  Tonight, however, Gidgit latched onto my arm and would not let go, causing the wound in the picture.  The baby was asleep in the nursery at the time – thankfully!  But this causes obvious fear for us.

Both dogs alone are wonderful pets and we do not wish to get rid of either of them.  We have baby gates installed that allow us to divide the house into as many as four parts.  Right now, we have the dogs separated, but we cannot continue to do this and I’m not even sure it is the best thing to do.

Does your DVD “Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet” cover a situation like ours where we need two dogs to learn their place?  What other videos would you suggest to us in our current situation?

Thank you for your time and help!


dog bite


I’d start with our Groundwork program. This will need to be done with both dogs, and I would suggest crates instead of baby gates. This way you can control the dogs free time 100%. Pack Structure for the Family Pet picks up where the article leaves off.

I believe that this DVD could really help you. It’s titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS and was a 5 year project. You can go to the web page and read the outline of what’s included on the video. These DVD's are not meant to be watched one time. The fact is anyone who needs this information needs to watch it many times because every time they watch it they will pick up new ideas.

If your dogs need a refresher on obedience training, I would also recommend Basic Dog Obedience.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum. 

I hope this helps.  


Where do I start. Maxx is a Black Cocker Spaniel that I rescued when he was 6 months (now he is 23 months). I rescued him from being put down. Maxx is very aggressive and I don't know what to do. It seems like he doesn't want to be around anyone by me. He is very selfish and doesn't even want anyone or another dog to touch him. Examples: When I put Maxx out to go to the bathroom (he is very Obsessive Compulsive) he always goes to the bathroom in the same place in the yard which is a good thing.  But when he is done he will walk very close to the fence all the way back down to the back door. As though the ground is nasty. He is a very clean and disciplined dog meaning he wants to go out the same time everyday and as I said earlier goes to the exact same spot. We are staying with my daughter and she has an  American Bull Terrier (3 months old) but the same size as Maxx. One day they both were laying side by side on the floor next to the heater and whenever Bo's paw would touch Maxx's foot or something Maxx would jump and pull his paw back quickly and the look he would give Bo would be a "Don't you touch me EVER'' look. Bo tries to pull his blanket out of his cage and Maxx goes crazy. Growling and pulling it back. As I said earlier Maxx was about to be put down.  He is a ''snapper.'' 

At the time that I received him he had snapped (lightly bitten but never broke skin) at approximately 14 people or 14 times. He is up to 48 times. He seems to have some sort of fear that he has to protect himself. I'm not sure what it is. Maxx bit a young boy in the face. He had to get 1 stitch. I have told the young boy never to touch Maxx (the kids always wanted to run up and pet Maxx when I was walking him) but I never let them. This 1 time my daughter put Maxx on the front porch on his leash and the young boy came from across the street and was sitting on the porch petting Maxx.  Maxx got a piece of tissue in his mouth and the little boy was trying to take it away from him and that is when Maxx bite him. I keep Maxx crated and muzzled if company comes into the house. 

My grown children think that I should have him put down but I love him and he loves me.  I'm all he has.  And its to the point that I just won't let anyone come into my home if they feel that way. I WILL NOT PUT HIM DOWN!!! Do you have any suggestions on how I can handle him? He has been to obedient training before I got him. I will do whatever I can. I have to move out of my daughters home because they said its Maxx or Me and Maxx........BYE.

Anything that you can suggest would be great!




Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this is 100% an owner problem and not a dog problem. I know that cockers can be nasty little critters, but with that said when they are introduced to pack structure and meaningful obedience training they learn to control themselves because the respect the consequences of inappropriate aggression. That has not happened in your home and these dog bites are the result.

Anyone who owns a dog who has bit 48 people either needs to NOT OWN A DOG or they need to face reality. You have been living in denial and “anthropomorphized" this dog (treated it like a human).

I have several dog training DVD's that will educate you on what needs to be done. I have listed them below. But if you’re not willing to change the way you live with this dog then don’t waste your money. If you really like this dog then you need to step up to the line and admit you have been the problem.

Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog

Basic Dog Obedience

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley


We currently own a 120 lb 9 month old Boerboel we got in South Africa. Over the last month he has been showing signs of aggression towards children (growling). We just had him neutered this past week to hopefully help eliminate the aggression. We also were looking into obedience training. However, while we were out at the park this weekend our dog bit a 3 year old boy. The attack was completely unprovoked and happened very quickly. Luckily the boy is fine and while the dog did break skin I don’t think he required any stitches.  I am very concerned about the dog now and I am extremely nervous of the dog around our 2 children (2 year and 6 year old). Since the dog is so young I would imagine through proper training we could probably eliminate the aggression. However I still have a hard time trusting the dog around my children. 

We have 3 options for the dog:

We could put the dog through ongoing professional training
We could look for a good home for the dog preferable with someone that is familiar with the breed. 
I don’t want to have to put the dog to sleep, but it is an option. 

I take 100% accountability for the dogs actions. We have been wrapped up in too many other things to focus on getting the dog and us properly trained.  We did a lot of research on this breed and picked this breed because it is known to be very good with children. My gut tells me to get rid of the dog. However, I would be willing to take the appropriate actions to get the dog trained. Do you feel that this could be a potential option and if so do you recommend a trainer in the DC area? My fear is that until the dog is trained I am putting my children at unnecessary risk.




You have not listed the most important  option. Which is you need to establish pack structure with this dog. Once that's done YOU need to train him – not someone else. Read the eBook I wrote titled MY PHILOSOPHY ON DOG TRAINING.

This dog bite  happened because of the way you chose to live with this dog and what you have allowed the dog to get by with.

Obedience training is not going to solve this problem. It a normal thing for people to think that it will but your problem requires a lot more than this. You need to run the dog through a pack structure program. By that I mean a strict pack structure program – not something where you just make the dog sit before you let him eat or where you go through the door first. Those are very very small parts of a program this dog needs.

When a dog bites a child his life (as he knows it) is over. The owner needs to micro-manage every minute of the dogs life. The owner needs to micro-manage every single environment this dog is allowed to be in ( allowing a dog like this in a park is insane) When the dog is out in public it should wear a muzzle. With that said – there is no reason to take the dog out in public until you have 150% control over the dog and it respect your pack leader rules. Right now the dog doesn’t respect your rules.

Part of the pack structure program is in an ebook on my web site. The detailed portion is in the DVD I did on this:  Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog.

You also need Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs.

I have also written an article (and eBook) titled HOW TO PREVENT DOG BITES IN CHILDREN – you will see some of your mistakes in this article.

The obedience is covered in Basic Dog Obedience but this work needs to be finished with a remote collar - Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner.

So the bottom line is you can fix this problem if you’re willing to educate yourself and make the effort to do the training yourself. There are a lot of so called professional dog trainers out there that will have opinions on how to solve this problem. They will be more than willing to take your money. The vast majority of them lack experience on how to deal with a seriously dominant dog. I’ll tell you one thing. If you don’t deal with this, the next time it could be much much worse.

Look at the photos on this web page on dog bites.

Ed Frawley


I'm hoping you can give me some advice on our dog. We own a 10 year old Chow/German Shepherd mix dog. She went through puppy training at Petsmart and we had a personal trainer come to our home for basic commands. We are having problems with aggression. We never noticed any aggression until our son was born 6 years ago. She is very protective of our children and house. If a person rings our doorbell or knocks on the door she goes crazy. She literally lunges at the door trying to get to the person on the other side.  We have NEVER had a problem with her biting someone but I'm afraid it's only a matter of time. We recently moved, so we now have a lot of children coming to our house. If a child comes into our house she may bark/growl at them and then go lay down. Other times she'll bark, lay down and then later she will start barking and growling at the child even though he's been in the house for an hour or the fact that she's seem him 50 times in our house. I've recently caught her chasing and growling at a kid in our yard when they were playing. She is very temperamental and unpredictable. She seems to be this way with adults and children. Basically anyone that comes to our home other than immediate family. I have started putting her in her cage when kids come over. My concern is if a child/adult comes into my yard if I'm not outside or one of my children opens the door so she can get at that person. We do have an electric fence but we've never had a problem with either dog getting out of the yard. It has been a very stressful summer. What would be your suggestion? Is she too old to train? Would it be best to get a muzzle for the times she is out in the yard? Thank you for any advice you can give me.




My suggestion would be to stop letting this dog have freedom in the yard and in the house. She should be under your control at all times. This means she should be in a crate, in a real fence (not an electric fence) or on a leash with you 100% of the time. If you can’t control her movements in and around the home, then you can’t correct the aggression.

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I’d also recommend Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.

You’ve been letting this behavior go on for years, so don’t expect a quick fix. This will be a process that may take a while and she will likely always need to be managed.  Dealing with problems like this is not something you do for a few weeks or a month and then it’s done.  It’s changing the way you live with the dog permanently, for the life of the dog.

I’d also recommend a dominant dog collar and a muzzle. The muzzle isn’t for use when she’s loose, because she SHOULD NOT be loose at all, ever. The muzzle is for use during the training process so no one gets hurt.

We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


I tried to find the answer to my question on your web site, but couldn't quite find the right fit from the previous questions.  I'm really hoping you can help because I don't know what to do.

We have a lab that we've had since she was a puppy. She's always been an inside dog and has gotten along great with EVERYONE up until now. She's not been to formal obedience training, but we don't like unruly dogs, so we've got her pretty well trained.  She's always had ear problems and, as a result, she's pretty much deaf, so we've got her trained to hand signals now. She hunts so it's important that she behaves, so she'll sit, stay, retrieve, lay down, etc. She doesn't have free reign of the house so we built her a kennel indoors for when we've got a lot of company or aren't home, etc. 

Anyway, she's now almost 6 and we decided we'd breed her, since she's been so great and we wanted a puppy.  Well, since probably her late pregnancy she's shown a few instances of aggressiveness, but nothing serious.  She sort of showed her teeth and barked at a lady that was at the house for a party, but was in her kennel so there was no incident really and I didn't get alarmed.  I was really surprised more than anything because that was a first for her. 

When the puppies came she was a really terrible mother.  (She had 9 puppies and only 4 survived her.)  My son, who she just loves and slept with most nights for the past year or so, was trying to help her tend to them so she wouldn't kill any more and she sort of attacked him.  I'd say she bit him, but she bit both of his hands so I know there were at least two bites.  (I feel that's kind of like an attack, verses just a bite.)  During this encounter she never barked or growled or anything.  There was no warning that she would become aggressive.  My son was in the birthing box/kennel with her when it happened and it was at night so we wrote it off to the new motherhood and the confined space/dark, etc... The next day she sort of snapped at me from inside the kennel, so we just kind of left her alone figuring it was a "mother dog" thing and that it would get better.

Well, the reason for my question is this; it's now 9 weeks after puppies and they've been separated from her for about 2 weeks.  The puppies are outside and she's still inside.  Last night she bit the neighbor boy when he put his hand in her kennel.  Again, she never growled, barked, nothing.  I can't say that this is just "mother dog" behavior any longer.  I've never owned a dog that's ever bitten anyone and I don't really know what to do.  We love her and don't want to put her down, but I cannot have a dog that I can't trust either. 

Can you offer me any advice of a logical next step?  The whole family is very upset because she's been such a great pet up until this point.  I've even thought about extracting her canine teeth to at least make her less dangerous if she would ever bite again.  I'm just so stunned that these events have even taken place that I don't know where to turn.  We've always had her socialized to whoever comes to the house and have never had a problem.  Now I'm concerned that she might hurt someone else. 

Thank you in advance for your time.
Have a great day! :0)


Even non aggressive dogs may bite when you put your hand inside their kennel or over a fence. I’m not making excuses for the dog but the first responsibility of ownership is making sure that your dog can’t be put in a situation where they feel like they need to bite. Dogs should not be kenneled where people (especially kids) have access to them.

Many pregnant dogs and dogs with puppies will show aggression, it’s what we refer to as maternal aggression.  It usually fades with time as the puppies get older and leave to go to their new homes.  

My advice would be to re-establish rules and pack structure with her and correct any aggression appropriately. Extracting the canine teeth is NOT the answer. 

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I’d also recommend Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs. You will need a dominant dog collar and possibly a muzzle. We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


Dear Mr. Frawley,

I have a problem with a friend's dog and I don't know what to do about it. I am wondering if you could give me advice or direction on what to do.

This may be a little long, so I apologize now if it is. I have been with my boyfriend for almost three years and have known him for five. His family has a Springer Spaniel. I have never liked that dog. The first time I walked through that door, his dog showed his teeth and growled the whole time. Nobody did anything. He greets me at the door now but I can't touch him, his toys, or sit on the couch when he is in the room. Sitting next to my boyfriend, or anyone else, is also out of the question as far as the dog is concerned. He came from an abused past. When they got him at the age of 3 (shortly before I met the family) he bit everybody in the family, even drawing blood. Why they kept him is beyond me. I have been bitten three times, just by walking by, and snapped/lunged at several times. I would tell myself "If I get snapped at today, I'll smack him" but when it happens, I'm too shaken up and scared to even want to attempt that. The family doesn't punish or correct the dog when he displays aggressive behavior. They yell "Lay down!" or "No!" but ten minutes later, the dog is being petted and let on the couch. I don't think they realize how dominant or aggressive this dog really is. If he wants a treat, all he has to do is bark at somebody or put his legs up on them. They think it's cute when he does this. I don't. This summer, I said hi to the dog as I walked by and he snapped at me. What did my boyfriend's sister do? She asked if the DOG was okay. Didn't say a WORD about me. Didn't say ANYTHING to correct the dog. In fact, she tried to comfort him. My boyfriend is starting to wonder why I don't go over to his house anymore. NO ONE corrects the dog. NO ONE defends me from the dog except my boyfriend, but all he does is yell at him and is done with it. What do I do? They aren't doing anything about this dog's problems and they have had him for six years! None of them have put him on his back because "he doesn't like it."

Note: I can not "alpha roll" this dog no matter how many people tell me I should do this. I am only 5' tall with a small body structure. The dog weighs a little less than half of what I weigh. If I "alpha roll" this dog, I will get bit and will more than likely end up in the hospital. I love my boyfriend and I love his family, I really do. But I am so tired of the dog and nobody dealing with the problem. Is there anything I could do? It's not just my safety I'm worried about, it's anybody that doesn't know the dog that decides to pet him when they walk by the house (they don't have a fence and they don't tie the dog up when he's outside). I am hoping that someone can give me an answer on what to do. I hope to hear back from you.



We get a lot of emails from people about neighbors’ dogs, friends’ dogs and family members’ dogs.  Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about this except direct them to our website and hope they wake up! (if for no other reason than the fact that their dog is a legal risk, they could be sued if this dog harms someone)

Show them our section on dominant dogs and dog bites. WARNING: it’s graphic!

We don’t recommend alpha rolls anyway, They are dangerous and unnecessary. I’d suggest watching this video.

I personally would refuse to visit anyone (no matter who much I liked them) if they allow their dog to behave like this and I was at risk of being bitten, it’s ridiculous. I can help with dog training problems, but this is a people problem.

Cindy Rhodes

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