How to Train Your Dog to Not Play Aggressively

Medium
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve just settled down to watch this week’s episode of your favorite show, but your dog is demanding attention. He’s had had his walk for the day, but still wants to play! Perhaps he’s a puppy or just particularly energetic, but whatever it is, he won’t take no for an answer. But their idea of playing can often lead to aggression, such as growling, nibbling and even full on biting. Everyone wants to be able to play with their dog, but a dog that displays aggressive behavior when playing could potentially be a risk not just to you, but children, strangers and other dogs too.

Training your dog to NOT play aggressively could save you from a world of future problems. Not to mention it means you can play with him without the risk of losing a finger. Thankfully, with patience and a proactive attitude, you can nip displays of playful but aggressive behavior in the bud relatively quickly.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to be aggressive can be done through a variety of methods. You can try and encourage them to play with toys instead of your body, you can ensure they have a cool off period when they start to show signs of aggression, plus you can let them know when you are dissatisfied with their behavior.

The key to training aggressive behavior out of your dog is consistency. You need to keep up the training until all displays of aggression have gone. Combating aggressive play is seriously important, otherwise, their aggression could manifest itself outside of play and could lead to serious injury. It is not a straightforward and easy road to tackling aggression, but with persistence, in several weeks or months you could have a transformed dog. While training aggression out of puppies may be easier, even graying dogs can respond to this sort of training too.

Getting Started

Before you begin tackling aggressive behavior, you’ll need to get a few things together. It is firstly worth getting a toy for your dog that will be used instead of your hands and arms. You may also want to get some treats to reward your dog for playing gently. These could be actual dog treats, or their favorite food, be it cheese or some lean meat. The only other thing you need is patience and a proactive attitude.

You’re now equipped with the knowledge and some tasty treats, it’s time to get to work!

The Toy Substitute Method

Most Recommended
7 Votes
Toy Substitute method for Not Play Aggressively
Step
1
Begin playing with your dog gently
Try to keep play gentle, soft and strictly friendly. You don’t want to get them too worked up, but if they do...
Step
2
Introduce a toy into the mix
Encourage your dog to chew and play with the toy instead of your hands, arms and legs. Try to keep your hands away from his mouth and on the toy only.
Step
3
Tug of war
Encourage the dog to pull the toy with its mouth while you pull at it too. But always let your dog win so they feel encouraged and want to play again in future.
Step
4
Stop when a line is crossed
If your dog gets too aggressive and starts growling, barking or biting, then it’s time for a cool down period. Leave or ignore your dog until he has calmed down.
Step
5
Praise your dog for gentle play
If your dog has behaved well during play, be sure to praise him or give him a treat – he will then associate gentle play with rewards in the future.
Recommend training method?

The Distract & Discourage Method

Effective
6 Votes
Distract & Discourage method for Not Play Aggressively
Step
1
Exercise, exercise, and more exercise
If he is well and truly tired out, your dog won’t have the energy for aggressive play. If you can’t walk him anymore than you already do, throw a ball for him regularly while walking to tire him out.
Step
2
Teach tricks and obedience commands
Teaching your dog to ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stay’ and ‘roll over’, will all help you control your dog’s behavior. It will help him respond to your commands promptly, making it much easier to stop aggressive behavior quickly when they start to exhibit signs of it in play.
Step
3
Use positive reinforcements only
Never punish your dog when he is aggressive, it may work your dog up even more. Instead, focus on praising your dog with words or treats when he is gentle and well-behaved. This will encourage him to repeat that good behavior again.
Step
4
Discourage aggressive attention-seeking
If your dog does get too excited and starts to growl or bite, move your arms behind your back, lean away, and look away to show him you will not engage with them if he is going to be aggressive.
Step
5
Stay off the floor with an excitable puppy
Puppies can get overly excited very quickly if you’re down at their level. Instead, stay above them, this will help them to see you are the pack leader and prevent them exhibiting signs of aggression.
Recommend training method?

The React to Behavior Method

Least Recommended
5 Votes
React to Behavior method for Not Play Aggressively
Step
1
React
Say ‘NO’ in a firm voice if your dog displays aggressive behavior and bites you. Also ensure you relay that you are unhappy by walking away and ignoring him until he has calmed down.
Step
2
Use taste deterrents
Dogs that have a habit of biting when playing can be deterred with unpleasant tastes. These deterrents can be bought online and from pet shops and once your dog associates biting with a horrible taste, they should soon stop biting.
Step
3
Keep your hand away from his mouth
If your dog has a habit of trying to bite when you playing, then stick to stroking their body and handling their toys only, don’t play with their mouth or head. This will reduce biting and direct their attention to the toy instead.
Step
4
Never play roughly
It sounds obvious, but if your dog has a habit of aggressive play, then don’t allow him to get worked up by also roughhousing with them. Remain quiet and soft so he can’t get overly excited and aggressive.
Step
5
Don’t be afraid to use a muzzle
If your dog consistently bites and you cannot stop him getting aggressive, then it might be time to consider a muzzle. This will prevent him biting, and when he plays gently you can remove the muzzle to signal to them they have behaved well and should continue to play in the same manner.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Paxi
American bully
1 Year
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Question
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Paxi
American bully
1 Year

My bully started playing aggressive recently. She is Not an aggressive dog; she is friendly with dogs and people alike. When she plays with our other dog, a border collie mix, she will go for the legs and sometimes ears. She started to bite and sometimes she will pull. Mostly she will nibble. Her breed is very strong and may not be aware if it. Our other pup is starting to pick up the same behavior. Do you have any tips on how to modify this behavior?

p.s. I'm not sure if this information is relevant, but the bully was attacked by a dog 3 times her size about 2-3 months ago

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maria, When the two dogs start telling rough, you can help them learn to keep their play calmer by teaching them both an "Out" command. "Out" means: get out of the area. It's a bit like telling two human boxers to go to their corners for a minute. First, teach each dog the meaning of "out" individually: by calling that dog over to you, tossing a large treat a few feet behind her (so that she moves away from you), while you say "Out" and point to where you toss with your treat-tossing hand. When she goes over to the treat, praise her. After she eats it, tell her "okay" and encourage her to come back. Repeat this exercise until the dog will move away from you when you say "Out" and point, before you have tossed the treat. Once she starts moving to where you are pointing then toss the treat to her as a reward for obedience. Practice this, until she can do this consistently too. Once the dogs both understand what "Out" means, use it in other areas of life, like when you want them to leave the kitchen or not bother a person. If the dog obeys, give her a treat. If she disobeys, get between her and whatever she is supposed to leave alone and walk toward her until she backs out of the area and goes where you pointed to. Once she is out of the area, block her from coming back in until she gives up trying to go back. Once she gives up, go back into the area yourself. If she follows you back, repeat walking toward her to get her out of the area again. Imagine yourself as a linebacker, soccer goalie, or brick wall. You should be calm, but very firm and business-like when you do this. Now, once the dogs understand the "Out" command and have learned that you will enforce it, use it when they start playing too roughly. If they disobey, grab a pillow, put it in front of your body at the dog's level, and block the rough-house instigator and walk her out of the area, like you practiced at other times. Only do this if there is no true aggression, but just excitement. If there is real aggression during the fights, this needs to be handled differently, with more preventative measures to keep everyone safe. Your description sounds like normal dog rough play. Give the dogs a few minutes to calm down, practice some obedience like sit and down, and when both dogs are focused on you and calm, if you want to let them continue playing, you can tell the less excitable dog (usually your Border Collie) "Okay" first -- to see if she still wants to play. If she does, tell the second dog "okay" also. I also suggest teaching both dogs a "Place" command or "bed" command and really working on their obedience with that. You can use that command when they just need to leave each other alone. They do not need to be wrestling all the time, but since they are young they are going to want to without other constructive things to do. Teach a "Place" command and give each dog a fun chew toy on her bed -- one that won't cause fights and jealousy if that's ever an issue for them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Charlie
beagle pug
5 Months
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Charlie
beagle pug
5 Months

We have a 4 year old cat and adopted a rescue puppy in October. I think that our puppy believes that the cat is a moving play toy. But my concern is that he always tries to jump on the cat and nip or chew on his ears. The cat will tolerate this up to a point and then get to higher ground. I would like to know how to stop this behavior so that they can play gently and become friends and companions to each other. Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carolyn, Don't expect the animals to play together, instead teach the puppy to respect the cat's space, then if the cat decides she wants to play, she can initiate it when the puppy is more mature and calmer - but very few cats ever initiate play with dogs so don't expect it. If it happens it will be a pleasant surprise. A more realistic goal for the animals is for them to be able to calmly hang out in the same room and simply get along without getting rough or scared. Just because they do not play, that does not mean that they will not enjoy each others company though. Our cat growing up simply liked to lay near our cat-friendly dog - even though they didn't play or touch usually. When Charlie starts getting rough with the cat, get between the animals, tell Charlie "Out" (which means leave the area) while you point to where he should go to (away from the cat), and walk toward Charlie until he moves to where you have pointed to - away from the cat. Pretend that you are a goalie or a herding dog, trying to herd him away from the cat using your body. Be calm but firm when you do this. You don't want to add even more excitement to the scenario by being excited or angry. When Charlie is "Out", then stand in front of him and block him from going back to the cat until he stops trying to get back. When he stops trying to get around you or fixating on the cat, or leaves completely, then walk back toward the cat yourself. If he tries to follow you back, then tell him "Ah-Ah" and repeat walking toward him to get him out of the area again. Practice walking him out of the area, standing in front of him to block him from returning to the cat, going back over to the cat yourself, and walking him out of the area again if he tries to follow you back. When you are ready to let him come back, tell him "Okay!" in a cheerful tone of voice and encourage him back over - he does not have to come back over though. Be consistent and don't let him go back over to where the cat is unless you have told its "Okay". Expect to have to repeat walking toward him and blocking his way a lot at first. He will not understand what you are doing at first, so needs to practice this. He also will likely not want to obey, but should learn to obey if you are consistent and show him through your consistency and insistence that obeying that command isn't optional. Also, when he is calmly hanging out by the cat, laying down while the cat moves around nearby, or obeys your "Out" command when first told - without you having to walk him out of the area, then reward him with treats and praise. By doing that, you are teaching him to continue to love the cat but also to be respectful toward her and calm around her. Your cat will probably appreciate Charlie's new manners and might choose to be closer to him if she feels as if she can trust him more. I also recommend teaching a "Leave It" command, so that you can tell Charlie to leave the cat alone when you know that he is thinking about bothering her but hasn't yet. Check out the article that I have linked below and use the "Leave It" method. When Charlie can do the "Leave It" training with food and objects, then practice with moving things, like yourself, other people and the cat walking by. Block him from getting to the cat if he disobeys - by getting between him and the cat like you did with the "Out" command. When he stops trying to get to the cat, then you can reward him for leaving her alone. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
10 Months
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Question
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Lucky
Labrador Retriever
10 Months

My family isn't cooperating with the advice you've given me so far. Since I can't find a wag article about family cooperation for dog training, and I've tried by best to train Lucky on my own (he's not tall, he is a Jack Russel mixed with Labrador and maybe some boxer), he only listens to me and only me, and he also "fears" me as well.

Since cooperation is basically non-existent, Lucky will not listen to anyone in the house, and even so, he barely even listens to me at all. He's older now, and he learned that if I'm there, he'll listen, but if I'm not there, and no one does a thing.

He'll misbehave to everyone else, and he also runs from me, knowing if he has the chance, he can escape me to go to wherever he wants in the house and misbehave. If I do catch him though, I have to drag him by the collar otherwise he'll bite (not playfully) my hand to try to make me let go of him and make his escape.

If all my family members train him (4 members, including me), will Lucky learn to behave aorund everyone, or just with us?

How do I get my family to cooperate with the advice you've given me?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, If everyone is consistent, with time, practice, and a bit more maturity age-wise Lucky should improve. It can be hard to be the middle-man and reiterate advice you have been told. I suggest hiring a trainer to come to your home and work with Lucky while the entire family is present. If your family can hear the advice directly from a professional instead of through you that may help. If they can try the training for themselves and see improvement in Lucky's behavior, that might also help. As a trainer, human cooperation is often the hardest part of the job. People have to believe it will work and choose to do it for themselves. At the end of the day you cannot force a person to do something. It's their choice. Look into local obedience clubs to see if there are dicounted classes you can attend together or see if there is a local trainer who will come to your house and give your family one-on-one attention. A well qualified trainer with a good reputation for success and teaching that comes to your home will probably be the most effective but a class will be cheaper. In the end the family members have to choose to participate. Neither you nor a trainer can force that, but a good trainer might be easier for them to listen to. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Norman
Labrador x Greyhound
7 Months
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Question
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Norman
Labrador x Greyhound
7 Months

Our dog Norman has become quite aggressive whenever it is outside of play time. We've defined play time in the respect that he plays when we are ready, but there are instances in which he will almost bow down as if he is about to be chased or he is in a playful mood, he will then bark continuously until one of us either gets up and leaves (which only stops him barking sometimes, definitely not foolproof), or we've had enough and we will ask him to go outside (he will rarely come willingly).

We are busy professionals but we do find time to take him to the dog park every other day, where he gets to run around and expel some of that extreme puppy energy. However with a child who has just started school, we find it hard to be able to accommodate Norman's insane amount of energy every single morning and afternoon.

Even when he does go to the park, there will be an attempt to be playful when he gets his energy back up, which includes the barking.

I've looked up everywhere and I can't get a consistent message on how to deal with a dog who barks not only for attention (even though you're looking right at him) but also to goad you into play time. We can only walk, throw and tug with him so much!

Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lachlan, Dog parks are fun but they do not teach a dog how to be calm. It sounds like Norman is trying to play with you the way he would with the other dogs. I suggest working on structure and boundaries with him, spending time teaching him commands like Place, crate training, and Stay. It is normal for him to have a lot of energy at this age, and he definitely needs exercise, but he also needs mental stimulation - which tires a dog out twice as much as physical exercise alone. Practicing commands, new things, and working on current obedience at a challenging level can stimulate him mentally. Some games are also mentally stimulating. Check out the video below for addressing boundaries with him and helping him to calm down and focus better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn5HTiryZN8 When he is in the crate, you can also give him food stuffed toys - which will stimulate him a bit mentally and give him something to do. You can feed him his meals this way so that he has to work for food. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Maggie
Australian Shepherd
8 Years
3 found helpful
Question
3 found helpful
Maggie
Australian Shepherd
8 Years

I need help with my parent's older dog being overly aggressive with our two year old female Austrailian Shepherd. Initially, Maggie will play well with Ruby. However, after she gets tired from chasing a dog that's 6 years younger she will begin getting snippy and noticeably aggressive. Can you provide any thoughts on how we might be able to avoid this from happening?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tyler, It is fairly common for older dogs and younger dogs to disagree because of the differences in energy levels. Maggie is probably getting tired and feeling overwhelmed after playing for a bit because Ruby does not let up when Maggie is giving her signals that she is ready to stop. Maggie may be resorting to aggression because she feels like she has to to get Ruby to give her space. You will need to do a couple of things. The first is supervise their play and be Maggie's advocate. When you see that she is getting tired and not having fun anymore distract Ruby away from Maggie. Perhaps have Ruby do something with you, or go lie down with a toy, or even have some quiet time in her crate, if she is use to being crated, with a fun toy, like a Kong chew toy stuffed with her kibble and a little peanut butter. If you separate the two dogs before Maggie feels overwhelmed she will begin to feel like you are handling the situation and that she does not have to be the one to control things. The second thing that you can do is to reward Maggie with something she loves, such as treats or a favorite toy, whenever Ruby comes near her. When Ruby is away keep things boring for Maggie and when Ruby comes close give Maggie something special so that she will associate Ruby's presence with good things and begin to want Ruby around. I would suggest doing both of those two things, as well as rewarding Ruby for leaving Maggie alone when you interrupt their play. Teaching a "come" or an "out" command can be great for Ruby. An out command is simply a command that means get out of the space you are currently in, that space being wherever Maggie is. Best of luck with your dogs, your girl is beautiful in the photo. Thank you, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tucker
Australian Shepherd
9 Months
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Question
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Tucker
Australian Shepherd
9 Months

Tucker likes to play with my 2 year old cat. The problem is he is playing too rough with her and has pulled out her fur and will grab her and pull her down on the floor. Kitty refuses to take her claws out to hit him. She will even initiate chases with him by walking by very slowly and swishing her trail to get him to run after her. I enjoy that they like to play with each other but I want him to stop biting her so hard and pulling her down. The last time she started bleeding. I'm at a loss of how to fix it and was hoping that there was a way to use the clicker to teach him to not do those things. (We've clicker trained Tucker since we got him).

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, I suggest teaching Tucker the "Out" command (which means get away from where you are). Use the out command to make Tucker leave the area any time that he starts roughhousing with your cat. Gently play and snuggling is fine but watch for him getting aroused and interrupt him at the first sign of arousal and over-excitement. If you give the animals consistent boundaries he should also calm down a bit with age. Out command - check out the how to teach the out command section, and also the how to use out to deal with pushy behavior section. I suggest at least quickly reading over the entire article though. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bella
Border Collie lab mix
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Bella
Border Collie lab mix
4 Months

How do I get her to actually respect me? All she does is want to play and when I try to be firm she will not listen. She will listen to my parents but when I come home she will not listen to anyone. I am having a hard time training her not to bite and jump. I’ve tried treats and smacking on the nose but nothings worked.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hannah, Respect is generally earned by putting in extra time and effort ahead of time. First, spend time training her in general - it doesn't matter as much what you teach but being the one to teach her commands can help build respect. Down, Heel, Watch Me, Sit, Place, and Come are all good commands to help with calmness or focus. Second, when you give a command, insist on it, helping her be able to do it if it isn't something she knows yet (don't assume she knows what you want because at this age she probably doesn't most of the time - she just knows you are mad for some reason or want SOMETHIING). For example, if you tell her to Come, and she normally doesn't, keep a drag leash on her around the house, and when you call her and she doesn't come, calmly go over to her, pick up her leash and walk her back to where you called her from. When she focuses on you and stops trying to get away (or sits), then praise her and tell her "Okay", then let her go. Only tell her to Come for pleasant things and emergencies while she is still learning to come around distractions and in general so that she will want to come more often. - If you need her for something unpleasant, keep the drag leash on her, go over to her and calmly bring her to where you need her to go. If you tell her to Sit and she has learned that command before and isn't doing it, hold her leash tight enough that she can't leave and wait until she gets tired and finally sits - this can take up to 30 minutes the first time! It's all about being calm and persistent though - so that she learns that you mean what you say but she isn't too afraid to listen. You can also gently pull up on your puppy's leash and at the same time press two fingers on either side of where her tailbone meets her back - touching that sensitive area will cause most puppies to tuck their bottoms under into a sit. Do this only for puppies that already know the Sit command from methods like lure reward training - using treats and fun to teach it. Think about the people in authority who you respect the most - they are probably calm but when they say something they actually mean it. People who yell a lot or are inconsistent often don't earn respect, only fear. For the biting, she probably thinks you are roughhousing right now. Check out the article linked below and follow the "Leave It method".This will take practice for her to learn it so practice regularly. You can use the bite Inhibition method in the meantime, but the Leave It method should be your end goal to teach at her age. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite For the jumping, check out the Step Towards method from the article linked below. When you practice this, you should be very calm and business-like. She will likely try jumping even more at first to test out how you will respond. Simply stay calm and step toward her again with your arms behind your back until she decides this isn't fun anymore and calms down. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Plato
Labrador Retriever
1 Year
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Plato
Labrador Retriever
1 Year

WE adopted Plato when he was 11 months old. He is house trained and has had four accidents in the past month. He understands sit, thats it. How do I train him in other simple commands?
He is very energetic, I take him for AM and PM walks, I and my boys play with him. But, There are days when he seems low on his energy levels and rests/sleeps a lot, that is my first concern.
Second: He thinks of running away with a shoe and one of us running after him to retrieve it as a game. I have tried scolding him, saying no and being firm with him about this but he continues to display this behavior. I have to grab his upper jaw and make him let go of the shoe. What do I do about this behavior? How do I train him?
Third: How do I introduce him to my neighbor's dogs so they can play? I do not have a dog park nearby.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chhavi, For the obedience I suggest either joining a Basic Obedience class with him in your area, or finding how to videos or articles on for each command you want to teach, such as: How to teach Sit https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-sit How to teach Down https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ How to teach Come https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall How to teach Drop It https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it How to teach Heel https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel How to teach Leave It - follow the "Leave It" method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite How to teach Fetch https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ For the running away, keep an 8 foot leash on him while you are home to supervise. When he gets a shoe, calmly walk over to the end of the leash and pick it up, take the slack out of it (so he won't pull you over), and tell him to "Drop It". Since you will have the other end of the leash he won't be able to run away with it. Practice Drop It with his toys at other times so that he becomes good at that command when he isn't excited about a shoe and can then perform the command when you tell him to. To introduce him to another dog, first make sure that that dog is someone he should be playing with and is not aggressive. It's better not to play with any dogs than meet an aggressive dog. If the other dog does well with dogs, then follow the Walking Together method from the article linked below, to gradually introduce them in a calm way on a walk before letting them play in the yard. If they are super excited, then you can use the Passing Approach method, then the Walking together method, then introduce them up close. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs While playing, pay attention to their energy and if both dogs are still having fun. If one starts to get overwhelmed or the play starts getting too intense, have the dogs pause the play and calm down. When both are calmer, let the most timid dog go first and if they want to play, you can let the other dog go play as well. By giving them a break you are keeping them from getting as aroused (lots of arousal is more likely to lead to fighting), letting both catch their breath, and keeping the game fun and not overwhelming for the more timid or tired of the two dogs. For the general tiredness on certain days, I would ask you vet. That could just be his personality and normal for him since he is getting a bit older, but it could also be something medical and I am not a Vet so can't give medical advice. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Walter
black mouth cur
7 Months
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Question
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Walter
black mouth cur
7 Months

My pup is semi-trained - meaning he is completely housetrained and can sit, leave it and stay and come but only does these when he wants to -- nothing consistent. We have gone to a summer home now and he has completely regressed. The only thing consistent is his biting and jumping from 7-10pm every single night; this is mostly when company is arriving and staying. This past weekend I was constantly taking him "out for a walk" every half hour so he would not bite the company. Please help me - I am at my wits end! I run and walk him 4-5 times per day but his energy level is super high still. At home is he calmer and used to a back yard and roaming; at this house there is no yard or safe place for off leash running. A little background, we had hired an inhouse trainer in the Spring that did not work out at all; the methods were to bark or growl back at the dog in order to "have him understand us" - apparently this method states dogs cannot understand words just dog sounds -- so much money and time wasted there
Any advice would be helpful.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Karen, I am so sorry for your experience with the other trainer. I suggest teaching the following commands to teach him calmness. Even though he has tons of energy he should be able to learn how to be calm inside but it is a skill that needs to be taught and you will need to find ways to stimulate him mentally and physically also - but the stimulation times should be when you decide and he should be more relaxed at other times...this takes practice to teach so try not to get discouraged and stay consistent. To help build calmness I suggest teaching the commands from the videos and articles linked below: Place - he should practice being on Place a lot. Work up to 1-2 hours. You can give a food stuffed chew toy for him to work on while on Place. He can stand up, sit down, and lie down while on it but he cannot get off it until he is told "Okay", "Free", or whatever release word you use. Place is a great command for teaching him self-control and how to simply BE instead while inside. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo For the jumping and biting: Out command - which means leave the area you are in. Also be sure to read the sections on teaching the Out command and using Out to deal with pushy behavior: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It command from Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Jumping - Step Toward method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Spending time training every day can actually help with the energy too. It you are teaching things that are a bit challenging for him - and self-control is very challenging at this age for him, then it can help wear him out mentally. Mental exercise being combined with physical exercise has been proven to tire a dog out more than physical exercise alone. To cope with my own high drive dog's energy when he was young we would have 30 minute training sessions every day in addition to regular walks or games of fetch. Without the training sessions he tended to get into mischief. You also may want to invest in a 30 foot leash and padded back clip harness to work on some off-leash work such as Come using the Reel In method from the article linked below, or teach a structured game of fetch using a long leash, and incorporate sit, down, and wait commands into the game to make him work harder to tire him out sooner. You want him to be working for you to help him calm down and get tired. Reel In method for Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Fetch: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-to-fetch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Dexter
Labrador Retriever
5 Years
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Dexter
Labrador Retriever
5 Years

We've had Dexter for the last five year, he was adopted from a shelter at 12 weeks old. He know basic commands (sit, stay, down, etc.) and has had positive interactions with dogs at the dog park and in other homes. We just adopted another dog this week from a local rescue-she's a two year old German Shepherd/Husky mix named Sienna. Dexter is displaying a lot of jealous behaviors ranging from shoving her out of the way or squeezing in next to her any time she is receiving attention from me or my boyfriend. He's also growled at her when she tries to play with him with certain toys-they'll play tug with a rope toy and then he quickly begins to growl. They've done some playing and can be alone together, but he's not sharing attention or toys very well. Are there any strategies I can try to help Dexter more comfortable with living and playing with his new housemate? At what point does it make sense to seek professional help?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jenny, If you feel overwhelmed, things are getting worse, or there is a bite, then I would seek professional help. Aggression is something best addressed immediately or it can get worse, so if you feel good about working through it yourself you can try the below suggestions, but if you are not seeing improvement or feel overwhelmed by it, then you may want to hire someone who is very experienced with aggression to come to your home and help one-on-one with you (obedience classes aren't enough - you need someone who has a lot of experience with behavior issues to address it with the dogs and teach you how to manage it in real time). The growling during tug play could actually be a sign of play - if both dogs are tugging on the rope and their body language is otherwise fine - happy and relaxed, most dogs will growl while playing tug - but it's the rest of the body language that tells whether the intent is aggressive or play-mock-fighting. For the jealous behavior, pushiness, and resource guarding, work on taking the pressure off of both dogs to be in charge and in control by mediating situations for them, work on commands that improve calmness and self-control, and make and enforce the rules so that the dogs are not working it out themselves - you are telling them how to react and behavior in a calm but firm way. I suggest teaching both dogs Out (which means leave the area) and Place - which is similar to Stay but on a certain spot and they can sit, stand, or lie down but can't get off the spot. Practicing Place with both dogs in the same room on separate place beds can help facilitate calmness around each other and respect for you. Out is great for giving direction and giving a consequence of leaving the room when there is pushiness or mild resource guarding. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo I also suggest crate training both dogs so that they can have a calm place to chew on a chew toy away from each other when things are tense, or one dog is pestering the other, or you are not home to supervise while they are still getting to know each other. Crate training is an important potty training and safety measure for a young pup also. An open crate while you are home can also serve as an additional Place to practice, and feeding both dogs in separate locked crates can prevent food resource guarding and remove stress around mealtimes! Crate Manners - great calmness and gentle respect building exercise : https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Surprise method - for introducing crate for first time: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Decide what your house rules are for both dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. No aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem, you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if pup comes over to your other dog when he is trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If he obeys, praise and reward him. If he disobeys, stand in front of your other dog, blocking the pup from getting to him, and walk toward pup calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your other dog. If Dexter pushes pup or gets between you and pup uninvited, tell Dexter Out and enforce him leaving. When he is waiting for his turn patiently, then send pup to place and invite Dexter over - no demanding of attention right now from either dog. Make them wait or do a command first to work for your attention if pushiness is an issue, and make them leave if being pushy or aggressive. If Dexter growls at pup, make him leave the room while also carefully disciplining pup if pup antagonized him. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your dogs - you want them to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and for them to learn respect for each other because you have taught it to them and not because they have used aggression. When pup first enters the room, give Dexter a treat without pup seeing so pup is associated with good things for Dexter - treats stop when pup leaves. When Dexter is being calm, tolerant, and friendly without acting matcho and pushy toward pup, you can also calmly give a treat. Keep the energy calm when interacting with the dogs. Don't feel sorry for either dog, but give clear boundaries instead. Don't expect them to be best friends right now - the goal is calm co-existence. When puppy matures and they have learned good manners around each other, they may decide to be friends as adults, but calmness, tolerance, and co-existence comes first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Jude
English Bulldog
2 Years
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Jude
English Bulldog
2 Years

Jude is very stubborn. He knows commands like sit, come and to go to his spot when told, but only when he wants to. We have had him in training and have a buzz collar that helps when he is not listening, but it is not feasible to have it on him, or the clicker on us all the time as we have an infant child as well. At home he can be a bit much, but the real problem is at his daycare. He goes to daycare 2-4 days a week and recently they have had to pull him from group play and keep him isolated due to aggressive play. He charges the other dogs to get them to play but obviously this is not okay as the other dogs may not like this and then get aggressive themselves. Is there anything we can do to get him to play nicer so he doesn't have to be alone at daycare? Thanks!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ryan, You can teach him the out command - which means leave the area, and use it to tell him to give the other dogs' space when needed. If the issue was happening during doggie play dates with friends and you were present this is something you could work on. Since it's happening at the daycare and the workers likely can't be training him while there, you may not be able to do anything about the situation because it would require someone who knows how to work with him being willing and able to work with him in real time around the other dogs - daycare workers are supervising so many dogs that they can't give that much attention to a single dog, all they can do is manage by separating. A trainer at a group obedience facility, who specializes in aggression (even though this isn't exactly aggression but those skills are similar) and behavior issues and has access to well behaved dogs to practice the training around is what you need. This will be a private training session at their facility most likely - even though it would involve other dogs your dog would be the only one being trained. Not all places are set up for this so you would have to ask facilities a lot of questions to see if they could accommodate your needs. If a group training facility where they can work on this isn't an option, then I suggest spending the daycare money on something like a structured walk with a dog walker, possibly walking with other well-behaved dogs for the social experience - but in a calm, structured way to help with behavior around other dogs. You want low-arousal activities around other dogs, opposed to things like wrestling and unstructured play to improve interactions. Finding a daycare that has activities like hiking, agility, treat finding, swimming, doggie massage, ect...and choosing activities that are safe for his breed would be another good option if such a place exists in your city. He would be somewhere having fun and being mentally and physically stimulated, plus around other dogs, but the environment wouldn't involve rough play and high arousal - but more mentally stimulating activities instead. This is actually better for a dog in general. Teaching Out - After Out is taught it can be enforced with the remote training collar using a long leash. You would give the command - which he knows and has practiced at that point, wait two seconds. If he starts to move away from the area he is in, praise and toss a treat to him. If he disobeys and doesn't move away, buzz the collar while saying "Ah Ah" and reeling him in with the long leash. As soon as he starts to move away from the area because you are reeling him in, stop buzzing the collar - this is to help him connect that moving away is what stops the correction, so he will learn to move away on his own when told to. Using both corrections AND rewards, instead of just one of the other, can help him learn faster. It's super important that you show him what to do with the long leash when you start using correction - you don't want to just buzz him without also showing him at first where to go with the long leash, even though he should know Out before beginning. The verbal "Ah Ah" or "No" is also important because he will learn to associate that with the correction so that he will respond to just "Ah Ah" later and not need the correction as often. Out: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ You mentioned that you don't always have a clicker with you, teaching pup a verbal "Ah Ah" and a verbal positive marker (a clicker is a marker) like "Yes" or "Good!" can also be useful. This is done just like a with a clicker. Say Yes and reward, or Good and quickly reward, practicing over and over until pup associates that word with a reward, then the "Yes" or "Good" can be used as a marker. Right when he does something good, without having to carry a clicker around. The main thing is just to try to have good timing with your Yes or Good so that you say it right when pup is doing the thing you want to help him learn, then follow up with a treat for new commands. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Max
Whippet
3 Years
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Max
Whippet
3 Years

Hi there,

my dog max is a 3 year old whippet and he is very playful - he just loves other dogs, other people and definitely children. He has always been a loud dog, he whines when unhappy, barks when excited and when he plays he sounds so aggressive. He really isn't - I have watched him do the play bow, he takes in turns, he backs off when needed and I can almost always call him back- he is cheeky and always wants to be chased so he does tease a little, but he doesn't and hasn't ever harmed another dog.

My issue is that other dog owners, who don't have a whippet, don't understand that just because he SOUNDS aggressive, doesn't mean he IS aggressive. When our dogs start to play, I will warn them that Max SOUNDS aggressive, but he isn't going to harm their dog. they then start playing, and after not too long the other owners tell me that I'm wrong, and that my dog is aggressive. we call the dogs off (which is easily done, because they aren't fighting), and their dog is actually often coming back for more because they were having fun! but the owner remains insistent that is was bad.

I would like to know if there is a way to get Max to SOUND less aggressive when he plays. I know he isn't being aggressive, but I do come away from all of these instances feeling bad about myself when actually nothing happened!! So I think if I can train the 'noise' out of the interaction, then everyone will be much happier? cause as it stands, I don't like to let max off and meet other dogs if they don't seem understanding.

Thank you for your help
Stacey

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stacey, Check out the article linked below and follow the Quiet method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark At first, this method will teach no barking. After pup has learned Quiet means stop barking, to teach pup to also stop growling when you say "Quiet," practice Quiet in scenarios where pup play growls too - like while playing tug of war. Whenever he growls while playing, tell him "Quiet". Reward him when he gets quiet when you say "Quiet" and stop the game if he doesn't stop growling - until he calms down, then resume playing again. Practice this on/off, red light/green light type training during play with just you and him until he can control his growling better. Honestly, for the next part of training you may need to pair the quiet command with a remote vibration collar and teach him that the tone from the collar means Quiet, and the vibration is used as a mild form of correction - to interrupt him enough to "snap him out of it" when needed - rewarding him well when he responds correctly so that this is a pleasant exercise for him when he chooses to obey. I believe E-collar technologies has a vibration collar with a tone setting, that might be a good place to look for a high quality one first. Once he has learned to become quiet when he hears the vibration collar tone, and understands that the vibration is a correction for disobeying Quiet - so it's not a scary thing just a reminder, practice playing one-on-one with a friends' well mannered, obedient dog. Remind him verbally or with the tone to be quiet when he starts growling, reward with continued play or treats (call the dogs apart and reward separately so there is no competition for food), and use the Out command (which means move away from something) or his recall to separate them when they are so aroused pup is really struggling to obey quiet. Once they are calmer again, you can continue the play and training. Pay attention to their overall energy and arousal level and end the play and training for the day when they are starting to get rougher and rougher and have less control as they get tired. Have regular training/play practices until pup is doing really well playing quietly with that dog, then you can recruit other friends with dogs to practice with, and finally let pup play with other, well socialized dogs in general. For this behavior pup may always need a little bit of a reminder occasionally to stay quiet however...but once pup has learned the lesson well, it should just be a reminder needed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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