When you’ve taken your dog for a quick stroll in the evening and you see a loud and slightly intimidating group across the road, having your protective dog at your side can certainly put you at ease. As soon as someone comes within 10 feet of you he starts to growl and stares menacingly. He’s also the same when someone comes to the door. The postman must dread having to approach the steps, knowing there’s a fierce guard dog on the other side of the door.
Whilst this protective nature can come in handy at times, it also prevents you being able to embrace friends and family. If you can train your dog to stop being so protective you’ll no longer be known as the ‘neighbor with the terrifying dog.’ You also won’t have to worry about him going too far one day and biting somebody.
Training will be a gradual process where you socialize your dog with other people and pets. You’ll need to gradually bring his guard down and show him that it isn’t his responsibility to protect you. You will need to alter his position in the perceived pack so he won’t always leap to your defense. If he’s a puppy and the protective nature is only a recent development then it may take just a couple of weeks to tackle. If this protective aggression has been going on for years then you may need up to 6 weeks to stamp it out entirely.
Getting this training right is essential if you want to avoid an accident one day. All it takes is a one-off when somebody accidentally gets too close and your dog bites them in a panic. That could result in serious injury or even a court order to have him put down.
Before you can get going, you’ll need to gather a few things. A secure leash and a body harness will be needed to ensure you retain control and to reduce strain on his neck. A muzzle will also be needed during training to prevent any accidents.
His favorite food or some tasty treats will also play a vital role. These will be used to motivate and reward him throughout training. You’ll also need to set aside 10 minutes each day for training in a quiet space, away from distractions.
Once you’ve got all of that, you’re ready to get to work!
My girl Nita is very timid around people and dogs, especially when it comes to people coming to our front door. She gets very anxious and protective. She has nipped at both me and my son while trying to open the door. What can I do to get her more comfortable around people and other dogs?
Hello Sierra, First, the nipping is probably fear based but is also a sign of a lack of trust and respect for you - she is probably less protective and more anxious and possessive of you and her home (wanting to keep strangers away from you possessively). By nipping you she is trying to control your behavior, instead of respecting your leadership in the situation and trusting you to handle scary situations for her. I suggest working on increasing her trust and respect for you so that she can depend on you as her confidence in situations that make her nervous and learn what is and is not acceptable behavior and respect that, while at the same time being desensitized to strangers. Check out the following commands and articles I have linked below to work on laying a foundation of trust and respect for you with her first. It can seem counter-intuitive to add structure and be a bit firmer with pup in daily life when dealing with fears, but increasing respect is really important so that the dog respects your leadership and feels like they can trust you to be able to handle situations and tell them what is and is not alright behavior in situations. Once you have interrupted unwanted behavior, the dog is in a position where you can then teach them a better, calmer, more tolerant behavior instead, and they can learn that the fearful things is alright through calm exposures to the fearful thing while in a better mindset - with less stress hormones. 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 Consistency and Working methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Second, you need to calmly and carefully discipline any aggressive behavior, while rewarding calmness and tolerance around the fear. This should be done very calmly and confidently, with safety measures in place to avoid anyone (including you) being bitten - like back tie leashes, e-collars, or basket muzzle, and the right measure of pressure to make the training just hard enough to challenge the dog's mind to learn something new but not so overwhelming that learning decreases. Once pup is calmer after the less fun gentle discipline side of things, there will be a lot more emphasis on rewarding good behavior in the presence of the fearful thing (strangers) and less need for discipline as training progresses, so that experiences with people because pleasant, normal, and calm in the long run. This takes a lot of repetition with streams of new people. There are several different practical ways to go about this. Because of the resources needed (calm, willing participants - like a large training group with multiple trainers who can work with the dog correctly), safety concerns with being bitten, and specifics of how to train I generally suggest hiring a trainer who is part of a larger group of trainers and specializes in behavior issues, with lots of successful experience working with a variety of types of aggression. Most of these trainers are called "balanced trainers" but the more important thing is to ask the trainer questions about their experience and how they train, than just depending on titles. Here are some examples of working with aggression - all of these dogs have also gone through the respect and trust building training and commands I linked above as well - to make the aggression specific training more productive. People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Desensitizing to a person's foot (a dog who bites feet) showing how to stop the behavior first, then praise for better behavior (you could reward with treats once the dog is truly comfortable also, but not while the dog is still on edge). This training will be followed up with more desensitizing and rewards as the dog improves even more, until the dog can truly relax. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hi8Op3A-bvc Kid-fear-biting dog after initial correcting of behavior - the follow up more positive desensitization process (rewards are only being given while the dog is doing well and not when the dog tenses up or acts aggressive - you don't even want to reward a dog while they are in the aggressive state, reward the calm instead - this trainer uses a little language at the end of this video, sorry about that - he specializes in aggression and is extremely experienced with it: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E&t=1802s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello, my puppy turns 7 months next week. She has started this barking behavior. She barks at anything in the yard even if she hears the slightest noise. If we see people while walking she will bark, I can get her to calm down eventually. She also barks at scooters, skateboards, strollers. It is hard to calm her down when she sees those objects.
Apart from that she is a great dog. I feel like she is trying to protect me from everything.
I take her for walks and dog parks. She does very well with other dogs and people inside the dog park. But if she sees somebody outside the park or walking around she goes nuts.
We are enrolling her in an obidenamce class next month. I am hoping maybe that will help her.
Hello Jennifer, It sounds like Stella is in need of a lot of socialization. She is likely barking at things because she feels suspicious and insecure about those things. If it is happening when things are at a distance and when you are not right beside her, then it is likely not protectiveness but insecurity. To help her, load up your pockets with treats and take her everywhere with you. If she is over-reacting and barking and growling whenever she sees people and you cannot get close, then start this exercise at a distance from people and whenever she sees a person, have her "Heel" very attentively. Move quickly and turn very frequently so that she does not have time to focus on anything other than staying with you. When she is focused on you and not reacting to the people or dogs, then reward her. As she improves, then get closer to the people and dogs and reward her for focusing on you and remaining calm. Be firm and work on her respect toward you in general, so that she will depend on you to handle situations instead of trying to handle them for herself. Check out this Wag! article to teach respect. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you When she can get close to other people and dogs in the environments where she tends to struggle, then recruit lots of friends to pose as strangers, and when they approach tell her to "Say Hi", and have them toss her treats. At first when they toss her treats, have them ignore her afterwards. When she begins to want to go say hi, then have them feed her the treats directly out of their hands. If he reacts aggressively toward them, then correct her. She needs to learn what is not acceptable behavior but she also needs the root fear behind the behavior addressed with socialization and rewards for her calm behavior. If you feel unsure about how to deal with any of this on your own, then look into hiring a Private Trainer to help you. If you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, that type of class for reactive dogs would be very helpful for her too. A class environment with the right trainer would be great for her in general if the class is setup to accommodate her reactions. Some classes will be and some will not be. You will simply need to ask the trainer to find out. She may also have protective tendencies that need to be addressed also, but the current issues sound mostly like fear aggression. Throughout the first eighteen months of their lives dogs go through multiple fear periods, where they are learning new things and are extra insecure and suspicious of things. This period helps them to learn what is safe and what is not safe among other things, and many need help learning what to accept as normal. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Sometimes when my daughters and I come into an area and get near my husband, Ari will growl and bark at us. This just started about 2 weeks ago and is frightening because we are never sure when Ari will do this.
Hello Beth, I suggest hiring a professional trainer to work with you at your home right away. It sounds like Ari is actually being possessive of your husband and not protective. Ari likely views herself as above you, your daughter, and possibly your husband too, and she thinks she is in charge and she needs to be given a lot of structure and boundaries to address the issue. She also needs to work on doing her obedience for you and your daughter, and interaction with your husband needs to be changed, so that she is not allowed to be demanding of his attention, space, or time, unless he initiates the interactions. Essentially she needs a doggie bootcamp at home, to safely give her an attitude adjustment in a way that does not put you in harms way. One to two years of age is typically when more serious temperament issues crop up. Dog's mature mentally, hormones change, even in sprayed and neutered dogs, and instincts get stronger. All of these things can lead to strong personality traits causing issues when your dog does not understand the rules of his environment or lacks something like boundaries or socialization. She likely had less obvious indicators when younger but is more confident about displaying it now. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Miz is fine on a leash, meeting people, she is an AKC Champion, CGC, RN, where the problem is she believes she is the protector of our property at home, when she is at out property in the California delta, as soon as she knows the people are ok, she’s fine. But she does not want strangers on our home property, she fine once she meets them but not as they leave mail or walk up the steps to the porch, we have the porch gated off but a barking dog rushing you is scary to people, she has nipped, no blood 2 people that have come to close to the porch and fenced odd area. I am aware these dogs protected the fisherman’s boats, she is my 2nd Porty, any suggestions.
Hello Suzanne, Since your front porch has a gate to protect visitors I suggest recruiting as many of your friends and neighbors as you can to come to your porch, one at a time, to pretend to be strangers or mailmen. When he or she gets close enough for Mizzen to notice him, and before she begins to act aggressively if the person can get that close first, then have the person toss her treats over and over until she quiets down, and then have the person leave while she is being quiet. If she reacts while the person is still coming up the yard, before he or she has approached the porch, then have him toss her the treats when he gets about five feet from where she is in the gate, and then leave when she becomes quiet again. Have as many people as you can do this, one at a time on different days. When the person comes, do what you normally do when mailmen come during this time. You want her to associate the treats with the strange person and not just your response in this case. If you normally stay inside, then stay inside and watch through the window, or hide somewhere out of sight outside. Leave treats somewhere outside for the visitor to grab when he arrives without you having to go out to the person to give him the treats. Do this so that your dog does not think that your visitors are people you know before they approach the porch. If you wish to visit with the person after, then after Miz has been given treats, quieted down, and the person has walked away, then have the person come back and you tell Miz to "Say hi" and do what you normally do to indicate to her that the person is someone acceptable, since you said she is fine by that point. Have that be a separate part of the training though, so that you are not present when the person first approaches. You want to convince her that all strangers coming to your home are wonderful and might be treat bearing so that she will relax more around visitors. This should not decrease her guard dog abilities. If someone were to attack you or break through a window she should still recognize that that is not normal behavior, even though she is more comfortable with strangers approaching your home in general at that point. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi, this is Java and she is very overprotective. I can’t even bring people to the house without her scaring them . I’m wondering If there’s anything I can do to help her become more friendly but protective when she needs to be ?
Hello Alex, First, don't worry about loosing the protectiveness. A dog that is genetically prone to be protective and alert isn't going to loose that when its needed. What you are dealing with now is probably a form of resource guarding - which is more related to a lack of respect for you and a need for socialization. I would highly suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you with this in person. Look for someone who specializes in behavior issues and aggression. Who has a training staff who can practice being "strangers", who comes well recommended by their previous clients who have dealt with similar issues with their pups, and who uses a lot of structure and boundaries, positive reinforcement and also fair corrections. The combination of all the above will be important. Check out Thomas from the Canine Educator and Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training on YouTube to learn more. I don't suggest working on this on your own because of the complexities and danger to other people and even yourself though. You need someone experienced. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I have two boxers. One has always been protective of her food and they will fight if they get close during eating. I just separate them for meals and they are fine. But they have started fighting now around my son. He is 16m old. My son or either of the dogs never get hurt but it has to be stopped. I'm afraid it's because they are being possessive of my son. Like he's mine! But other then that they are great with him. My son can tug on them for hours and they will let him. I don't want to get rid of my dogs. They are family! But I'm afraid my husband will put his foot down if it doesn't stop. Help!
Hello Trista, This is a very dangerous situation and is not something that can be safely addressed over text. I highly suggest hiring a location profession trainer or behaviorist, with a solid reputation for dealing with aggression, to help you. Your dogs need to learn to respect you better, so that they will not via for the most dominant position. A trainer needs to show you how to "Claim" your son, teaching the dogs that they are not allowed to claim him. He belongs to you. They need to learn tolerance for one another. This is a dangerous situation and you need professional help right away, so that your son does not get caught in the middle of one of their fights. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Wren has never acted out towards people until two weeks ago. She quietly growled when a friend (whom she has met many times) scratched her face, and has barked at two strangers after they've come into the house. Both times this happened, we corrected her and she immediately stopped and treated them normally afterwards. We are having someone stay in our house while we are on vacation next month, and are worried she might be overprotective of her house when the housesitter enters the home without us there (after meeting the sitter once before, with us present). How can we train our dog not to growl or bark at strangers once they are inside the house?
Hello Maddy, If at all possible I suggest hiring that person to take Wren on a structured, heeling walk or do thirty-minute training session with him at least twice a week leading up to your vacation, more is even better. If you can gently establish Wren's respect and trust for the person through structured walks or training sessions, where he practices his obedience like "Heel", "Down", and "sit", then that will decrease the chances of him reacting poorly toward that person when you are gone. You can also recruit as many friends as you can to come over to your home one at a time. Have each visitor grab lots of small, soft treats that you have left for her on your porch before she enters your home. When she gets inside, tell your dog to "Say Hi!" in a cheerful tone of voice, then have the person toss your dog several treats on the floor. After your dog finishes eating the treats, then have the person instruct him to "Sit" and reward him with more treats from her hand. Do this with as many different people as you can. When Wren acts happy and relaxed whenever a new person comes to your door, in anticipation of rewards and fun, then hide somewhere in your home, leave the door unlocked, and have the person let himself in after knocking and doing the usual routine. As soon as the person steps inside have him toss out lots of treats toward your dog before your dog reaches him. The first time that you test this after Wren has learned to like people coming to your home, have Wren wear a soft silicone basket muzzle to ensure the person's safety, since you will not know for sure how he will react the first time that you are out of sight. If he does well, then you can enter the room right after, take the muzzle off him, let him eat the treats off the floor, and then finish the visit with the person. Have him wear the muzzle around briefly during the day for several days in general before doing this visit with the visitor. Do this so that he will not associate the muzzle with the visitor and get tense. You can get him used to wearing a muzzle by feeding him a treat every time that you show it to him. As he gets more comfortable around it, then feed him a treat every time that he touches it, then every time that you hold it against him briefly, then every time that you put it on him while feeding him treats through the muzzle's holes. Go slow enough over a period of days for him to remain relax and happy about the treats during the training sessions. Even though you will not need the muzzle immediately I suggest starting that training as soon as you start the training with guests coming while you are present, to make sure that he is completely comfortable by the time that you need it. You can also use his entire meal kibble, one piece at a time, to teach this with. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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She was found by a neighbor at 3 months old with scratches and cigarette burns on her head. Only 7 lbs when she shouldve been about 20. She hates men and most dogs. When we leave her at trainers/border shes great. When we bring her to vet, shes great, as long as my wife or I arent with her. In any situation that we are with her, she is very aggressive towards people and dogs. We have tried the natural and e collar way to no avail??
Hello William, You need to work with a trainer who will do private sessions with you, teaching you how to deal with his behavior instead of the trainer simply handling it himself. You need a trainer who works with a staff of other trainers so that you have people to practice 'strangers' approaching with. Essentially, you need to be working with the dog at training sessions because the issue is primarily related to you, sending him off to board and train it's what's needed here. The exact details of what needs to happen will depend a lot on what your body language is, his tolerance level, and being able to adjust things in the moment with a trainer's guidance who is experienced enough with aggression to walk you through that. In addition to training around people, respect and structure needs to be build with you and at home. His confidence in you needs to increase and he needs to learn to let you handle situations instead of him taking control. A firm heel where his face is behind your leg and he is following you is a must. He needs to work on a Place command and staying in Place even when you walk into the other room. The general control of things in your home need to shift from him trying to lead to you leading. This can be done without fear, with calmness and consistency and structure. Check out Sean O'Shay from the Good Dog and Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training and their multiple videos on what structure exercises look like. Always take the proper safety precautions to keep others safe around your dog. He likely would bite if pushed too far. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Kiba is an absolute sweetheart and well behaved at home, but as soon as we take him out, he’s like a totally different dog. When he encounters strangers, he begins barking at them but if anyone comes close he will go berserk by barking/some howling/ and nipping. He will become hyperfocused on other dogs and as I try to redirect (regardless of the treat in hand) it’s like I’m not even there. I will distance myself from the trigger but what ends up happening is either the trigger removes themselves from his sight or I have to walk far enough away that it’s gone before I can get his focus. In either scenario, I’m worried he’s gettting reinforcement because he essentially gets what he wants before he calms down. With any person or dog he met prior to about 3-4months, he is exactly the way a dog should be, calm and playful. After that point, forget about it. Even if it’s the same dog, he continues this unwanted behavior. Kiba is 50 pounds and very strong. In these scenarios, it usually takes everything I have to pull him away or go in a different direction. During this time, I stay calm and internally I’m not nervous just incredibly frustrated. I’m looking for guidance on how to proceed next because I’ve never had this happen before with a pup.
Hello Jenny, Kiba needs to be taken to a training facility that specializes in aggressive, reactive, and fearful dogs. He needs a combination of management and careful correction to interrupt his unwanted behavior and positive reinforcement to teach him a different response to people and dogs but also deal with his underlying fear or suspiciousness. He is probably a dog that needs a lot of structure and boundaries and needs very clear communication. I suggest private sessions at such a training facility rather than just one trainer coming to your home or joining a class (except perhaps a G.R.O.W.L. class later after he can handle being around people, to help his reactions around dogs). At the training facility they need to be set up to be able to have a variety of trainers work with him, one or a couple at a time, so that he will view them as strangers and practice around strangers. They need to be set up to be able to control the situations and not reward him for his bad behavior. Such a facility that also has trainers' own dogs or other client dogs can also work on controlled exposure to other dogs. Without a lot of boundaries and structure in his every day life, a safe environment where you can work through his aggression and manage it while getting to the root issue, and a large variety of people and dogs that you can instruct to work through the training with him and have good timing, without leaving or getting too close at the wrong time, it will be a lot harder to deal with his issues. A training facility is set up much closer to what he needs. Check out the video below for one example of an exercise people can do with Kiba. Notice that the rewards are only during times of calmness, the calm way that they use corrections, the safety measures that have been taken, and other structure that they talk about working with the dog on in general: Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We adopted bigsbe one year ago, and he has been a dream dog! Everything we ever wanted. He loves people and all animals he meets. But a few months ago, he started becoming protective of our property and of my son (6 years old) and I. He has ran at and barked aggressively at the mail man, and a passerby. And today he tried to bite a man that tried to pet him while we were out for a walk. Thankfully he was wearing a halti and I was able to pull his face away fast. And thankfully the man was very nice and didn’t get upset at us. And he’s very leary of all strangers now, when he used to be friendly with strangers. I make him wait for treats, wait to come out of his kennel after I’ve opened to door, and wait to go outside the door when leaving for a walk until I give him the OK. What else can I do? Thanks!
Hello Marissa, Check out the video linked below. Notice the safety precautions taken and the timing of corrections and rewards. I suggest only doing this with the help of a qualified trainer who is experienced with these tools and very experienced with aggression, with good reviews and recommendations from other previous clients. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A I suggest hiring a trainer to help you in person. Without evaluating him in person it is a bit hard to guage why he is acting aggressively now. Think over the past year, did he have any negative experiences with people? Is the aggression happening when you are not present or in public locations - essentially is the aggression general and related to new people or only when there is something to guard. Protective aggression requires teaching the dog to depend on you to handle situations, which is usually very structured and about changing the dog's entire attitude and teaching him to trust and not claim you. Fear aggression - such as suspiciousness of new people needs to be managed with structure also to build confidence but it also needs to address the fear by teaching the dog to trust strangers and changing how they emotionally feel about people - usually through careful counter conditioning and reward timed right. Dominance based aggression also needs a lot of structure and to deal with the attitude while also teaching a greater level of control through obedience for better management. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog doesn't like my grandpa and I dont know what to do I praise her everytime he comes near us and shes not barking but it doesn't always work
Hello, If the issue is aggression related, I suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you desensitize him to your grandpa. Because people related aggression can be dangerous, it is safer to hire a trainer to help you do this safely and take the proper measures to keep everyone safe. If the issue is timidity and fear based, you can very carefully follow the desensitizing advice from the article that I have linked below, but do not force Elsa to get close to him, and if you feel like Elsa may bite your grandpa hire a trainer to help you with this as well. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ For aggression, check out the video linked below for an example of one of the things to do to treat aggression. Notice the safety precautions like the line to not cross on the floor and the leash tying the dog back. I suggest working on this type of training with the help of a trainer though. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello, thank you for all the great tips on this website. I have read through many of the posts about possessiveness/protectiveness, which has been helpful, but I have a few differences in my situation that I wanted to ask about, to see if any of the advice would be different.
For the duration we have had him, Des has been a sweet happy boy, and happy to meet and greet anyone on a walk. For the most part he didn't really care about people, but when approaching other dogs he would put his ears back, tail down and wagging, and approach them submissively to say hello. About a month ago, that changed. (I do not recall any negative experience or situation). Now when we see dogs on walks, he goes nuts - growling, barking, lunging. I've watched a lot of training videos online about leash aggressive/over-excitement and have tried some of these techniques (threshold work, pronged collar, etc...) but it hasn't been much of a success. In part the problem is, he is fine at the dog park. Friendly as can be. People come over with dogs, friendly as can be. It's just on a walk. I tried to see if it was just in our neighborhood (i.e. his territory) and he was a BIT better further from our house, but not great. Probably related, he can be quite "protective" when at home - i.e., barking out the window at passers-by, etc... I'm trying some of the techniques related to only rewarding him when he is calm, but today he went crazy towards a walker with a dog, as he was tied up outside with me while I worked in the garage. Thank you in advance for any advice.
Hello Ryan, When he used to approach dogs wagging was the wag a stiff-tailed tense wag or a more relaxed flowy wag? The body language you described him having when meeting other dogs before seems very tense and nervous too. A stiff wag can actually be an aggressive - tense signal, unlike the relaxed wag you normally see. It can be quite confusing. His issue might be something he built overtime until he got to the point where he started having outburst defensively to keep other dogs away. It sounds like his aggression might be fear based and related to tension. See if you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area. A G.R.O.W.L. class would be good for a dog that feels unsure around other dogs on leash. Without seeing his body language it is hard to say exactly what's going on though. I also suggest working on implementing a lot of structure with him in general. Structure is usually great for aggressive, possessive/protective dogs, and nervous dogs - which he likely has a bit of each. The outbursts during walks might be due to fear or possessiveness of you, opposed to protectiveness. It's hard to say without evaluating. Many dogs who bark at home are more territorial or possessive than a true protectiveness related to people. The instincts are different. Either way work on commands like Heel, Place, not rushing out of the crate or through doors, long down-stay, having him work for what he gets like pets, walks, and food by doing a command first, and general obedience. Work on building his confidence around other dogs by practicing training drills, running through the commands hr knows, at places like the park where other dogs are in the background. Work on heeling especially - but keep other dogs further away at first. It's key to have things pretty structured, with your body language calm and confident, so that he has to focus on you and not other dogs. Reward him with treats or favorite toy games for ignoring other dogs, obedience, calmness, and focus on you - these rewards serve to help him feel happy around the presence of other dogs in the background. Keep rewards happy but not too hyped up. It's alright to correct an outburst (always be careful when correcting an aggressive dog though and if you think he might bite you in that moment use a muzzle during walks for now). The goal overall is to work on those obedience exercises with rewards for correct behavior with dogs at a distance though to change his emotional state around dogs. Corrects help him manage his out burst but we also want to focus on the root of the problem by building tolerance, addressing potential fear, and building his respect and trust for you, then there will be less need to correct also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog is a rescue and he’s terrified of men. He’s finally warmed up to my dad and it seemed like he had warmed up to my boyfriend. Yesterday, he was playing with me and my boyfriend and sat on the couch between us, then randomly started barking and growling at my boyfriend. This morning, he was sitting outside my bedroom and growled at my dad — also out of the blue because he loves my dad. How do I get him to stop being so protective/scared out of the blue when he had shown so many signs of comfort with the men in my life before?
Hello Priya, Check out the article linked below and the section under the header "How Do You Socialize a Dog with a Human?" https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ I suggest having your dad and boyfriend practice the treat tossing with her (but only when she is calm and not when she is acting aggressively) I also suggest working on structure and boundaries with her to build her confidence in you and her trust and respect for you. Many fearful dogs benefit from dependable leadership and structure in their daily routine. If she is actually being possessive of you and not just fearful, firm, consistent leadership with structure and boundaries can also help that. Once the men have practiced with treats and she is comfortable enough to get close to them, have them practice things that build her trust and respect for them, such as taking her on walks where she has to heel and focus on them and teaching her commands and tricks. If she is food motivated, they can use treats to teach her new things to make the training less confrontational. Building her respect for them in a gentle way can help her feel more trusting of them though. If she is being possessive of you, learning to respect and trust them more can also help decrease that behavior. If you do not see gradual improvement after 1-2 months, I suggest hiring a private trainer who comes well recommended and is experienced with aggression, reactivity, and fearfulness, to help you and see if there is anything else possibly going on that needs to be addressed to make progress. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My puppy, Niko, is overprotective to the point of aggression. She’s been well socialized (I work at a dog daycare place, she behaves really well there). It’s gotten to the point where she will run across our yard’s electric fence to attack pedestrians walking by. Please help.
Hello SJ, First of all put in an physical fence your dog cannot get through, such as a wooden fence. Dogs with aggressive issues should not use an electrical fence, even if the behavior improves later. It can increase the aggression and is very dangerous for pedestrians!! You could be sued and the dog euthenized. If he escapes wooden fences, you can bury the electrical fence wire inside your wooden fence, one foot in front of the wooden fence to prevent him from getting close to the fence to climb or dig. Second, you need to hire a professional dog trainer who is very experienced with aggression to help you. Look for someone who will come to your home at least part of the time to work on territorial behavior. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. He specializes in aggression. I highly suggest hiring a trainer to help you with this. Be sure that your trainer is fully aware of his bite history so that he can take precautions when he comes not to get bitten. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello! My name is Makahla, I’m 14(almost 15) and I have several chronic illnesses, last year they started getting harder to manage so Saint Patrick’s day last year we decided to get a pup to start training to be my service dog, when we first met Hershey he was extremely loveable, kind and no signs of protectiveness but as he’s gotten older he’s gained what seems to be protectiveness, we’ve tried to socialize him since he was a few months old but we held back a lot because we didn’t know what to do at the time about the growling but we still tried yet nothing seemed to help, we did some research and learned that he was going through his stages as a dog and felt more at ease that that was probably why he was so growly at people and not that he was a protective, aggressive dog who would be a washout and never be able to be my service dog. We started looking for trainers and such for Hershey because we needed some extra help and after a few months we met someone at a meeting for one of my chronic illnesses who works at this place near us and trains dogs in general as well as service dogs and she has helped us a great deal on our journey with Hershey, he even went for about a month to train with her and everyone else that works with her and she said he did excellent and little to no growling, which he does fine with her and others most of the time, it’s with me and my momma but mainly me he starts growling, he had no contact with us during that month and we didn’t go over and do any training with him so he didn’t really have time to be protective, I guess. But even then, he does fine most of the time just walking out in public and working like he’s supposed to but it’s when people try to pet him, get to close, talk to him, walk by us pretty close, look at him, etc he starts to growl and get what we assume is protective. We have tried correcting him by popping on his leash because he has a pinch collar, using his E-Collar, grabbing his muzzle(not in a hurtful way) and saying no in a firm tone, giving him commands to try and get him to focus, letting people greet him with treats at his own pace, etc but he still will not stop the growling. Right now he’s going through his teenager funk years so it’s gotten worse but we don’t know how to nip it in the butt and get him to stop.
We’re petrified he may end up being a wash out because of this but we’re trying to research ways to help and reach out for help and this is the first website I’ve seen that looks hopeful for this situation. Do you have any tips, ideas on what we should and shouldn’t do or regular ideas on this situation? If so, we could REALLY use it.
And I apologize if this is poor worded, hard to read, unprofessional, whatever. I’m not great at this because of my cognitive functioning issues and just not great at explaining myself in general but thank you for taking time and reading and responding to this if you do. Means a lot (: - Makahla and Hershey.
Hello Makahla, I wish I could help more. Without being able to evaluate the dog in person my recommendations will be limited. With that said, how was he socialized as a puppy? If he was not thoroughly socialized with a lot of different people, having positive experiences with people while young, then his general distrust might be due to a lack of socialization. If this is the case, working with him with a lot of positive reinforcement, giving him tons of positive experiences with people is what I would recommend. This does involve disciplining the growling when it happens, but the correction is for the purpose of interrupting the bad behavior long enough to show him what to do instead. Ideally the training is done in a way that minimizes his growling, so that the encounters can stay positive. Check out the video linked below for an example of this. These types of encounter will need to happen with a lot of people, not just a small handful. Working with a large training group, whose trainers can pretend to be strangers approaching is one of the most practical ways to do this. Practice with and without you near him, since his response will probably be different with both, but if his issue is fear, you not being there will probably still make him feel nervous and be good for him to practice, but he will likely not react poorly then. Always take precautions to avoid you or anyone else being bitten. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A If socialization and being suspicious of people due to that is the issue, then he probably does better with the trainer because he feels more confident with her leadership. The key here would be to work on his confidence around you, increasing his view of you as a trustworthy leader, as well as socialize him positively around others. If he is being protective or possessive of you, then correcting the behavior, rewarding his tolerance, but also building his respect for you are important. If he thinks you are in charge and can handle situations, he is less likely to feel the need to take control. This can be difficult I know since he is there to help support you and not you to support him as much. He likely picks up on your vulnerability and thinks he needs to take charge. Instead, he needs to defer to your judgement about situations and learn to let you handle things. Teaching him commands and using those commands in situations to let him know how he SHOULD behave instead of just how he shouldn't behave can sometimes help. This might include teaching him a settle command - which means relax and lay down. This is different than a down command where the dog expects to get up again soon. A settle is more of a lay on your side, swing your hips out, lay your head down, relax sort of command. The dog should not expect to get up right away. For him it will be important to reward his calm body language and not just the position - so that he is learning to be calm when you tell him settle and not simply lay down. This command is taught with positive reinforcement by catching the dog when he relaxes on his own, telling him settle, and rewarding him calmly with a treat placed between his paws without a lot of extra attention - to avoid over-excitement. As he improves when you catch him settling in public places, practice rewarding that while telling him "Settle". You can also teach "Say Hi", "Quiet", "Watch Me", and "Leave It" commands. This will not solve the aggression on its own, but it's important to teach a dog something good to do in place of the bad behavior you disciplined, so that they can choose that good behavior instead in those same situations. Ideally, he would eventually choose the good behaviors on his own after enough practice if you also address the underlying issue (fear or a lack of following you). At this point in the training, if you are not already doing so, be the one to work with him yourself during sessions while your trainer guides you, or even watches you from a video camera from the other room while you wear a blue-tooth type headset she can talk to you through, so that Hershey is not just responding to the trainer in the room but to you and your body language. You can also practice things in public while the trainer watches without your dog aware she is there, while she talks you through what to do through a headset; that way Hershey is learning to respond to you and your body language and she is teaching you how to replicate what she does with him and handles him. When he is home with you, give him structure and boundaries. Make him work for the things he wants, like food, toys and walks by having him do a command like sit first. Don't let him be pushy. If he is, make him leave the room. When you give him a command, ensure that he complies by being persistent and insisting until he listens. The way you interact with him day to day when not working will effect his confidence in you and his trust that you are in control of things. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Hello! Thank you so much for this, I’m for sure it’ll help greatly.
And to answer your question about him being socialized, let me give you backstory- After a week or so of us having him it had snowed and I was outside with him and my siblings playing, my brothers friend who is our neighbor came down to say hello and meet Hershey because he was our new dog and it was exciting, as he got closer Hershey started barking, growling and trying to back away, I admit he may(or may not have, I don’t know) have picked up on how I was feeling because I do not like this friend of my brothers, he isn’t a good person a lot of the time so I was uneasy and upset about him coming over to pet Hershey.
But after that experience we sort of stopped socializing as much because we had no idea how to approach this as I had said, then after a while we took him to our homeschool co-op group and tried to get him socialized there because he was a few months old and adorable so people would want to come say hello, when that happened though he would throw a fit, run behind me/to my arms, growl and bark at the person, at the time we had 0 idea on what we should and shouldn’t do so we did a bad thing and made it an unpositive experience and did not let him get comfortable because we would make him say hi, we learned soon that was is an awful thing to put him through and it could damage his experiences with people further so we cut off doing that as soon as we learned that information and started letting him go at his own pace but it still didn’t get better and we stopped socializing again for a long time until we met his trainer and started going to his puppy obedience training classes, private one on one lessons with me and the trainer and then eventually him staying with them for about a month. Since then he has definitely gotten more socialization granted we failed on doing it yet again for a while when he got back because he got kennel cough(I think that’s correct) and then after he got through that, was exposed to it again, then after he got cleared with that and after a few weeks we were able to start training and get back up with it again(we could have taken him out for public access during that time but we didn’t wanna risk exposing other pets to kennel cough) but just our luck, 2-3 weeks later he played, drank after, sniffed and was overall exposed to a pup with parvovirus so we once again did little to no training to keep an eye on him, once that got cleared all was well for a while until last week when we found a worm in Hershey’s poop, then we kept him from the outdoors to be safe that he didn’t poop out in public because we normally take him to dog friendly areas and even though it’s unlikely getting another dog exposed to the worms, he finished his treatment today and he has his puppy obedience class tomorrow because everyone we asked said he should be fine to go, I also took him to the same co-op thing after about a year yesterday to get him out and socialized and he did okay, one of our friends there isn’t afraid of dogs in the slightest and as he growled at her she continued to wait with us until he got comfortable and stopped growling at her because she didn’t want to walk away and give him the satisfaction and reward of him growling and scaring her off like he wanted to, he had more growling fits during co-op and he heard a lot of kids running around while he was sleeping suddenly and it spooked him so he barked but other than that he did well- but towards the end more people came up and petted him and two or three of the people that petted him he didn’t growl at but then the others he did- he is not really aggressive in the slightest and hasn’t tried to bite anyone out in public that’s tried to pet him before. He’s all bark and no bite but we just don’t know how to make sure he’s no bark and no bite, but fingers crossed 🤞 your suggestions work. Thank you so much again, it really, truly means a lot.
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Aggressive when loose in fenced back yard if another dog is introduced. Today I put my one of my female dogs in the yard with a neighbors dog. It worked fine, then I out the other female in alone and was fine. When I put both in the mother attacked the the pup attacked. I know I screwed but what do I do now? I think I know how to handle it when walking on a leash when meeting another dog. I walk them one at a time.
Hello Bob, How old is the pup? If the pup is still under a year old, and especially if she is under six months the aggression was likely due to the mother's protectiveness of her pup around the other dog, and the puppy simply following her mother's lead and joining in on the attack (pup will learn to initiate it too if she continues to do this though). To work with the mom with the pup present around other dogs you need professional help from a trainer. That will be hard to tackle without the right safe environment and controlled access to other dogs and the guidance of a trainer to interpret canine body language in the moment to anticipate the dog's intentions around dogs. I also suggest spending time learning about canine body language. It is possible that mom and pup were not really fine around the neighbor's dog one on one, and were giving off signals warning the other dog away or tensing up and when all three were together the mom and pup felt the confidence to attack (when one dog attacks others often automatically join in on the attack - this is called pack mentality). If you discover basic on body language that one of the dogs has an issue around other dogs then you can address that dog's aggressiveness and the underlying cause. When evaluating the dogs around other dogs be sure to take safety precautions like a see through fence, leash or muzzle. Do not let another dog be attacked. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi there, I raised my dog Atlas from a couple of hours old, and for the first 3-4 years of his life, he was sociable and friendly to other animals/people. When I moved back into my mother's house he was around 3/4 small dogs who were super protective of my Mum and her property. With them, and losing my older dog who had been the leader of my personal pack of 3 bigger dogs over the past couple of years he has become less and less social.
I've been able to move out of home again now but he is super protective of the house. He will bark at anyone that walks past unless I tell him to go back inside, and will be especially protective if there is a stray dog or dog walker going past. He has nipped at a couple of people who try to push past him without addressing him first. He is especially anxious about older people coming into our home.
My roommate moved in with her very high energy puppy, and I now have a kitten and while he is okay with them, he has since shown signs of food aggression and has snapped twice at them. He used to be able to be fed with others. He won't eat unless I'm sitting down in my room where he can see me, and will just guard food if other animals are in the room.
Over the past couple of years, he has also taken to sucking on his fluffy blankets, usually, after any kind of excitement he will run to my room to suck on them and I am wondering if it's a way of calming his anxiety. I used to take him everywhere with me until I had to start studying, now when I take him for walks down our local CBD he shows signs of anxiousness and tries to run to either the park or back home if there are too many people, loud noises, or dogs barking.
I really want to know what I can do to help him back to his more relaxed self. He has grown anxious and scared and developed protective and sometimes aggressive behaviours because of this and I'm not sure where to start the process.
Hello Destanie, I suggest combining a few things since it seems that his aggression stems partially from anxiety and insecurity. First, work on boundaries, structure and obedience commands to build his respect for you and help him feel more secure (anxious dogs tend to need a lot of structure and the ability to depend on someone else for leadership). 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 Quiet command from the "Quiet Method": https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, work on building his confidence in general. In addition to structured commands, practice things like agility hurdles and setups that challenge him but he can also be successful at. He does not have to necessarily join an agility class but you can set up platforms, A frames, tunnels, or other things that are new and require him to get out of his comfort zone a bit. The goal here is to help him overcome something he feels uncertain about so that he will learn to depend on you, gain confidence from succeeding, and face his fears in a safe way. You are generally increasing his adaptability to new things and trying to make it fun in the process. Trick training can also accomplish this but only with certain tricks so it can be a little harder to navigate how to do that. Third, work on counter conditioning him to other people and dogs. Simply put, you want to associate other people and dogs with good things when he is acting calm and brave (in a friendly non-aggressive way). Do NOT reward him when he is displaying aggression or you can increase the aggression. Pay attention to distance and how exciting the person is. Set him up for success by having the person close enough that he notices them but calm enough or far enough away that he still does well. When he does well, peacefully reward him so that you are reinforcing the calm behavior but also helping him associate people and dogs with good things again to change how he feels about them. Check out the video below for an example of someone doing this with a people aggressive dog with a bite history: Since this dog has a bite history, notice the back tie and line on the ground that ensures the "stranger" is kept safe in case the dog lunges suddenly. It is always good to be aware of safety when working with aggression. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A The aggression will be a lot easier to tackle if you can find a training group in your area that has access to a number of different trainers to practice being "strangers" around him doing the training, and with access to a number of different social dogs that he can be counter conditioned around also. Part of the training can be done at a facility to help with socialization but you want at least half of the training to take place at your home and neighborhood too so that he will generalize his new dependence on you, calmer behavior, and positive associations with people and dogs with his own environment as well. Look for a trainer who has experience with a variety of types of dogs and a variety of types of aggression. Ask questions to find the right fit. Not all trainers are experienced with aggression and you want someone who is experienced with fearful, aggressive, reactive, protective and large breed dogs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello! Our puppy Nash (almost 10 mos old) in general is very sweet and affectionate but he has developed a behavior that is increasingly concerning. Starting around New Year (age 6 months) he started becoming really overly protective of me (although he has been somewhat this way always). It’s just worse recently. For example, if he is near me and someone walks in the room towards me (even people he knows) he will fiercely bark and growl. I will tell him “no” strongly until he stops. He will then calm down and be fine but it might happen 30 minutes later. It was a big problem over the holidays with lots of relatives around. He does fine on walks if we are actually walking and he happily greets other people and dogs, but if we are stopped (such as talking to a neighbor) and someone else approaches he growls and barks. He also gets upset now if anyone walks by our house or comes walking up towards us. Last night we were with our neighbors and their dogs and Nash was fine (since we approached them) but then a little boy and his Dad walked by and Nash growled at the boy and actually bit him. This is the first time he has ever bit anyone and we were horrified. It didn’t break the skin or leave a mark (might have been more of a nip) but the boy was understandably very upset. We are highly concerned and want to stop his overly protective behavior. What we are doing (trying to socialize positively, saying “no” when he barks/growls and removing him or having him say hi to person once he calms down) isn’t working. Nash is now almost 10 months old and we want to correct this behavior as soon as possible. I would be so appreciative of any advice or guidance. One idea I have after reading your other responses is to have friends or neighbors come up to the house with treats while I am sitting with him. Any other ideas? Another thought—one thing I’ve noticed Nash does is he likes to sit above me on furniture— on the top of the couch pillow with his head sometimes literally rested on top of my head. I had thought it was cute but now wondering if this is him trying to guard me? (the over protectiveness is more of an issue outside so the unwanted behavior doesn’t necessarily occur when he is sitting up high above me but wondering if I should still not let him to that). Thank you for the advice!
Hello Sarah, I suspect Nash is actually being possessive of you (as in he thinks he is in charge of you). I suggest a firm doggie bootcamp for him and no climbing into your lap, nudging you to be petted, or getting onto the couch or bed unless you invite him first. work on the "Working" method from the article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you When you walk him he absolutely needs to walk with his face beside or behind your leg (heeling), and not at all in front! The structure and attitude that he walks with can have a huge effect on his mindset when he meets people. If he thinks he is following you, he is more likely to look to you for direction in situations he is worried about, instead of acting aggressively. Having him heel is also a good way to build respect. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo When at home, practice him having to stay on a "Place" for a longer period of time while you move in and out of the room and simply get things done around the house (many dogs with his type of behavior do not want to let their person out of their sight, and that's not good for him right now. He needs to stay when told to). 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/ Finally, check out the protocol below for socializing with people. Notice how and when corrections are given, and when rewards are given. Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A For the human aggression protocol I suggest working with a highly experienced trainer. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Charlie was/is my companions dog. He was pretty spoiled when I first met him 2 years ago. David’s late wife had started Charlie’s training and most things were great. I was able to work out what commands he knew and had David using them. In a few months Charlie was my best friend. He is cute, loveable AGGRESSIVELY PROTECTIVE OF ME. Too much so. He growls at, attacks and even bites David. If I reach in to stop him...he bites me. He also will bite at some strangers/or even those he knows? We will have to give him away if this keeps up. What can we do?
Hello Sherry, You are probably dealing with possessiveness, which is a control and dominance issue. I suggest working on respect and correcting the behavior. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. Have Charlie work for everything in life right now, pets, food, walks, toys, ect...Command him to do a command that he knows, like Down, before you give him anything he wants. Follow the Working method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Teach an Out command which means leave the area and attach a chew proof drag leash to him while you are home so that you can enforce your command, or use a basket muzzle. When you tell him Out whenever he is being pushy or aggressive you need to be able to enforce it without being bitten. Not only for your safe (which is reason enough!) but because every time he uses aggression then gets what he wants he is essentially rewarded and the bad behavior continues. Out command how to: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Chew proof leash option: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HIM4RI/ref=twister_B0058G36O8?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1 Also, work on commands that build respect and improve self-control. Have both you and your husband practice the training with him so that his respect for both of you will increase. When you walk him he absolutely should be right beside your leg or a little behind and not in front AT ALL, even if that means walking him in a cul-de-sac or your yard using Turns method from the article linked below for a while. A walk has a big impact on how a dog views a person and he needs to be following you and not in front. Whenever he tries to move in front turn directly in front of him at a ninety degree angle. You will need to do this as soon as his head starts to move past your leg - if you wait until he is too far out it will be hard to do. When he is walking he should be a bit behind you so that he is looking at you and not scanning the horizon for dogs. 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 Finally, I suggest looking for a trainer in your area who is experienced with aggression. Read reviews and ask questions because many trainers are not experienced with aggression or are only experienced with fear-aggression, which is probably not the only thing happening here. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I adopted my dog when he was 3 months old after he was given to the adoption center as an unwanted gift. He was socialised from 3.5 months and has been to obedience classes and also lives in a house with another senior husky and a family of 8, all above the age of 20.
He has always been very protective over me since he was 3 months. In the group classes he'd try attacking the larger dogs when I had his leash but would calm down a bit more when my boyfriend had his leash. Everyone but it down to puppy fear and that he'd grow out of it but it's become worse since he's hit puberty.
The other day, he was in the house with another friend who had been round for hours, when he suddenly lunged while bearing teeth towards the guy and ended up smacking the guy with his nose (instead of teeth, so no bite) when he tried to move in his chair.
On walks, he sometimes goes berserk (bark, growl, lunging) at other dogs but sometimes will lay down and submiss.
Off lead he isn't as bad but has attacked other dogs (mainly other huskies) at random unexplained times.
His behaviour hasn't matched any of the information we are reading and trainers weren't believing he was protective at such a young age.
We are at a dead end until we have the funds to hire a Dog Behaviourist to help us out.
Hello Rae, Honestly, you really need to hire a professional trainer who specializes in aggression - not all trainers are experienced with it or with high drive dogs, so look into reviews or their previous client referrals and ask questions. This doesn't sound like fear aggression. It sounds like possessiveness, dominance, and yes maybe protectiveness. Not all trainers are experienced with aggression other than fear-based. In the meantime check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training and Sean O'Shea on YouTube. Both work with highly aggressive, reactive, and fearful dogs, especially Jeff. I cannot suggest implementing the training without professional oversight though. What you can do is work on structure and boundaries, manage better, and create calmness around your home to help with his trust and respect - which effect protectiveness. Jeff and Sean both have how to videos for building structure and managing also. Brownie needs to have a high level of obedience for management and you need to get him used to wearing a basket muzzle, using a back tie or crating him when guests are over to keep them safe. That friend froze when the incident happened. If he hadn't he probably would have been bitten. Your dog's response was serious and meant business it sounds like - especially since the response was unprovoked. Your dog was being extremely controlling, which I am sure you know. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog has always been very anxious right from the day we had him. He is a lovely dog and very good and obedient. However, when anyone comes to the house he completely loses control and has started to jump up and nip people. I would not be confident to open to door with him unrestrained. I have done some basic training and tasks like not opening the door until he is sat away from it, keeping him on a lead and asking guests to arrive with a treat etc etc. What I would like to know is if i should keep on trying to socialise him (although the problem is predominately in the house, he is fine out of the home) such as taking him to places with lots of people and having people visit the home, or should I completely keep him out of these scenarios as he finds them stressful?
Hello Liberty, I would suggest continuing to socialize him. Not all stress is bad. It's all about applying just enough stress to challenge the dog without overwhelming them and working them through their discomfort to help them grow. I suggest hiring a balanced trainer to help you with his anxiety. The nipping should be corrected. It is okay to correct an anxious dog if you do it appropriately and help the dog to learn what to do instead of the unwanted behavior, and also work on addressing his fear. He should only be rewarded by guests while he is behaving appropriately (but YES reward for appropriate behavior!). If you reward him when he is acting aggressive, jumping, nipping and doing other unwanted thing you can actually increase those bad behaviors because in general you get more of whatever you reward. Confidence building exercises and structured obedience can also help anxious dogs. Anxious dogs need clean leadership, consistent rules, and boundaries to feel more secure. In a scary situation your dog needs to know that you are in charge and not him, and that he can trust you to manage him and manage the situation. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog Odin is very protective of me around other dogs. When I am not in the room or in the area he is best friends with every human and dog around. But when I am with him he starts to bark and tries to bite. When I bring some friends over to my house with their dogs he is even worse. What can I do to stop this behavior because I want to get another dog as well.
Hello Colin, You will likely need to work with a training group that has multiple trainers on stuff and several well mannered dogs that can practice the training around Odin. Look for a trainer who can work on the following with you, who comes well recommended. Work on building respect and trust through adding structure, boundaries, obedience, and having Odin work for everything he gets in life. Many dogs who behave protectively lack respect for their owners and need a bit of an attitude adjustment to learn to let their people handle situations that make them uncomfortable, instead of trying to handle things on their own. A protective dog: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/good-dog-transformations/the-good-dog-minute-111913-kellan-nervous-fear-aggression-case-comes-for-rehab/ General protocol for teaching calmness and structure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8WEi9BfTIc Some of these dogs also need fear of strangers addressed by desensitizing them to strangers also. This protocol would need to be modified to involve people approaching your dog while you are nearby, since that is when the aggression is happening. You would still want Odin to be on a back tie leash though so that he cannot get to the 'stranger' or to you - because there is always a risk of an aggressive dog redirecting the aggression toward whoever is near them if they can't get to who they want. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Good commands and protocols to teach to build trust, respect, and calmness - practice all of this under the guidance of a trainer since there could be a risk of aggression toward you if respect for you is lacking. 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 Respect and Working method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello, I have a 1 year old Yorkshire terrier Westin cross chihuahua. He is a very friendly sociable dog however, over the past couple of months we have had issues with him really aggressively biting people when they touch him or go near him. It is getting to the point where I’m worried he’s really going to hurt someone. At the moment he is just brushing the person he bites. I feel like he is just trying to protect himself however, I don’t know what to do before it goes to far.
Please help :/
Hello Georgia, Is it just people he doesn't know well that he is doing this will or your family too. Assuming it is just people outside of your family, I would work on establishing his trust and respect for you again, then desensitizing him to other people while also correcting the aggressive outbursts. This needs to be done with safety measures in place to keep him from being able to bite guests. You also need to determine if the biting if fear based or if something else is going on. 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 Working method and Consistency method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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When Patches was younger she would get very nervous and excited around new people and she would drop to the ground and piddle, flopping onto her back for a belly rub at their feet. But for the past year or so she has become increasingly aggressive and protective. Instead of becoming nervous with strangers she is vicious and defensive. She is more comfortable with people outside of the house, but she will still try to attack any other person or dog if she thinks that they are getting too close to me, my sister, or my dad. She is ok with close family members who have known her since puppyhood, but about 6 months back she bit a visitor and drew blood and recently, when we thought she was comfortable with a friend of mine who visits often, she lunged at her, clearly intending to bite. When strangers aren't around she is incredibly mellow, flopping on her back, snuggling up to us, etc. My dad would rather just keep her out of the way when strangers are around, but this means that friends can't meet her, and we can't take her places with us. Even driving around she'll bark at people outside the car. I take her to the dog park from time to time and she's generally fine there, happy to meet other dogs, but clearly still being observant and wary of strangers. I would really like to be able to bring her with us places and to feel safe introducing her to people. What can I do?
Hello Lily, First, she needs to learn to respect and trust you and your family better. A nervous dog trying to be protective is never a good thing. Nervous dogs tend to benefit from a lot of structure and consistency - they need to be given things to focus on and do and not left to decide on their own. She also needs to learn how to cope with her general anxiety. Check out the videos and articles linked below. The Place and Crate manners exercise are good things to practice around the home to help her develop calmness, deal with the anxiety, and respect you better - the place command is also something she needs to learn for future guest visits. Because she is pretty timid when you train with her your energy should be confident, persistent that she obey, but also very calm. Avoid acting sorry for her, nervous, angry, or excited during training - especially around guests - when you give her an instruction, give is calmly but be a bit stubborn that she has to listen every single time - be firm. Repeat the crate exercise over and over again regularly. Practice Place until she can stay on Place for 1-2 hours while your family goes about their normal business, whether someone is in the room or not - this will take practice but it's an important command for building some skills she needs to make other training more effective. 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/ Practice the Heel, door manners, and general list of things to do to build respect, calmness, and trust in you. Her heel needs to be very structured with her head behind your leg. She should be focused on you during a walk and not looking for strangers or trying to see what's ahead - this is where trusting and respecting you to handle situations comes in. This is very important for setting the tone around people in public. 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 Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 Finally, check out the aggression video linked below. I suggest following that protocol with the help of a trainer. Also, have the trainer work with you on desensitizing her to being handled by those she knows, staying on Place around people, calmly rewarding for calmness and disciplining carefully and fairly for any aggressive displays or attempts to guard you - the guarding could also be her actually trying to own you and being possessive of you, but either way it's not something you want to encourage obviously. Jeff Gellman, who specializes in aggression demonstrates safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays), and how to appropriately use punishment when treating aggression (with good timing, calmness, and in combination with positive reinforcement for calm behavior and with the appropriate safety measures for your guests). Aggression is often something you need professional help with. You can practice the exercises above to get a head start on the training, but for the actual practice around people most people need the resources of knowledge, a staff, and safely measures, to really see improvement with aggression. There are general protocols you can follow but a good trainer will always know how to tweak those things based on the dog's response and history and that can only be done in person. Look for a trainer who works with aggression a lot and comes well recommended by previous clients. Ask questions to be sure. Many trainers are not experienced with aggression and even fewer trainers who teach in classes are - you probably need private training. Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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She is a foster who was rescued off a reservation. She growls at people when they come in the house.
Hello Tara, You are likely dealing with possessiveness (resource guarding of people), or fear aggression due to a lack of socialization. Possessiveness needs to be addressed through structure and building respect and trust for you. Fear needs to be addressed through structure, building respect and trust for you, and helping her associate people with good things, to improve the fear. Have him work for everything he gets for a while by having him perform a command first. For example, have him sit before you feed him, lay down before you pet him, look at you before you take him outside, ect.. If he nudges you, climbs into your lap uninvited, begs, or does anything else pushy, make him leave the room. Teach him a Place command and work on him staying on place for up to an hour, even when you walk into the other room for a minute. Practice crate manners. Work on teaching a structured Heel. Forget about getting places during a walk for a while right now, instead go somewhere open, like your front yard, a park, or culdesac and practice a heel where his nose does not go past your leg. You need to hire a trainer to help you with the aggression and you need someone who uses a lot of boundaries, positive reinforcement and fair discipline tactfully. Look for someone who is very experienced with aggression and different types of aggression - many trainers are only experienced with fear based aggression and you likely have some dominance- based or territorial aggression going on too, and they are treated a bit differently than fear. 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 Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 People Aggression protocol video- notice the back tie for safety (your guest should never be put at risk. Only train with the correct safety protocols to keep everyone involved safe. https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Be aware that an aggressive dog can redirect the aggression to whoever is close-by while in an aggressive state, even if he is not normally aggressive toward you. This is one reason why I suggest hiring a train to help. Be sure to take the correct safety precautions to keep everyone safe while training too - notice the back tie in the video linked above to keep the "stranger" safe while they are working with the dog. Muzzles are also one tool, as well as distance, or even crates at first. If he is showing aggression toward you even while guests are not around, have a trainer help you with the structure, respect, and trust building parts of the training too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
I forgot to add that we have only had her for 3 days they assume that she is over 3 years old she does great with my husband me and my son
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I adopted Ro from a family 8 months ago. They wanted to rehome him because they just got a puppy and were expecting another baby. They said he was starting to growl at their kids when they would approach him from behind and hug his back and they were afraid he might hurt one of them. When I adopted him, he never growled or showed any sort of aggression. He grew really attached to me right away, he never wants to leave my side. He comes to work with me every day (I work at a doggy day care). He just started getting aggressive towards the people that come into the building. He lunges at the window and sometimes tries to nip at them if they stick their hand over the gate. He is fine with other dogs however. He is the most loving dog, but about a month ago he started growling at me after I take a shower at night. He doesn’t nip, but his hair stands up. I love him and don’t want to see this aggression get worse. I am grateful for any advice.
Hello Shaylee, I suggest hiring professional help from a trainer who is very experienced with aggression - ask questions and ask for previous client's with aggressive dogs referrals. Honestly, the shower aggression is most concerning to me. The protectiveness is more likely possessiveness and a respect or fear issue. Possessiveness is essentially resource guarding - dog's can guard anything they think they own - including owners. For that issue a lot of structure, boundaries, and making him work in life is needed. Because of the shower issue I wouldn't advise building his respect without a trainers help though - you may end up being bitten if you don't do it right and with the right safety precautions. If the growling only happens after a shower, then he probably doesn't like something about you showering and is trying to control your behavior (resource guarding again) or is afraid of something related to it, or there could even be a mental issue and he is not recognizing you when you look like that. If the aggression happens at other times in the evening when you don't shower, but he is fine during the day the rest of the earlier day, then I suggest a trip to your vet to get hormones looked at. Hormones change throughout the day (I am not a vet). Check out Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog, Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training, and the Canine Educator - all on YouTube. Hire someone experienced to help you - this is one case I would have evaluated in person, and training needs to be done carefully to avoid him biting you. For now, if he is crate trained, crate him before you get in the shower. His life needs to start looking a lot more regimented - building respect should look like teaching things like Place, Heel, Staying in a crate even with the door open, and intermediate obedience commands. He should start working for anything he gets, like a pet, walk, toy, meal, ect...by doing a command for you first. Do not tolerate pushiness, nosing you, nudging, barking, or climbing on top of you. Keep interactions calm and your affection minimal while working to earn his respect - you don't need to be angry or negligent! Simply consistent and a bit firm but very calm and confident. Praise should look more like an even toned "good boy" or "thank you" instead of overly excited or high pitched. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I've had Gus for nearly 3 years. He is a rescue and I don't know much of his history for his first year of life. Since I've had him, he's been a very obedient, loyal dog. Friendly with other dogs and people. Very social. In recent months, he's become more and more protective and I need some help in altering his behavior. He jumps and barks/snaps at people who try to hug or shake hands, assuming it is a violent behavior. If I try to hold him and calm him it has the opposite effect and he becomes more aggressive.
He's not like this with every person or dog, so the unpredictability of the behavior scares me. I'm afraid that one time he will actually bite/attack someone.
I find it strange that for 2 years this behavior didn't really exist but I think the closer he and I have gotten the more he feels the need to protect me. I've thought about getting him calming treats for his anxiety/stress, as I'm pretty sure he gets scared and confused after this behavior.
I'm looking for some advice on what I should do. Thank you,
Hello Peter, First of all, the behavior is actually far more likely to be him being possessive of you than being protective of you - especially since he was socialized it sounds like, used to be fine with people, and the behavior has gotten worse as you and him have gotten closer. Without evaluating in person I cannot say for sure, but possessiveness is far more likely. Possessiveness is a form of resource guarding - he is essentially not wanting certain people or animals getting near "his" person, and is displaying aggression to keep them away. It's a respect issue. Possessive dogs can be insecure so their may be some anxiety going on - but that form of anxiety also needs to be addressed by building respect, giving clear boundaries, and adding a lot more structure. Establishing more structure and respect in your relationship is the first thing to do: 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 Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Resource guarding training examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgmRRYK1Z6A Out command - to teach move away and leave alone - so pup can be told to move away from you when resource guarding you. https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-out-command/ Q and A about resource guarding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLpKSx5jODg Resource guarding needs to be punished. It needs to be done safely, calmly, and effectively though. Dogs in an aggressive state may redirect aggression toward whoever is close (meaning you or someone else), so things like back tie leashes, muzzles, crate, or an e-collar need to be incorporated carefully into the training to keep everyone involved safe. I recommend hiring a professional to help you with this case. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training, Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog Training, and Thomas from the Canine Educator. Look for a trainer who has that type of experience, uses structure, is calm while training, uses positive reinforcement, fair corrections, and has a lot of experience with problem behavior and multiple types of aggression - more than just fear aggression. This will probably be private or board and train training, not a class. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello. My 3 adult children have recently movied into my home. I have 3 dogs however coco my dog has gotten really protective of me to the point if I'm on my couch and my children walk past he bites them. He just begun this after they movied in. He has always been a good dog. He sits lays down stays in my yard. He even comes in the house when told to. He however is fine when I have friends or other family come over. He's even loving with my children whenever I am not home. Please help. I don't know what to do. I have considered a shock collar.
Hello Valerie, First, it may help to understand that this is not a protection issue most likely; it is a form of resource guarding - which is a respect issue. The issue likely happens around your kids and not friends because of age. Your adult friends are probably viewed with more respect than the children are - kids are commonly respected less by dogs. Your dog is guarding you like he would a bone. Which is why when you are gone (like when a bone is put away) he is fine with them again. First, work on increasing his respect for you. I suggest teaching the following commands to increase respect. The second part of training will be having the kids practice the commands with him too, but start with just you working with him. 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 Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ The working method and Consistency method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Second, it's probably time to change some rules around the house. Do not tolerate pushiness, demanding to be petted, to receive food, affection, or toys. Have him work for what he gets for a while by following the "Working" method from the article linked above. If he typically gets between you and the kids while you are on a chair or the couch and especially if he tends to climb into your lap, use Out and make him leave the room whenever he does so - even when the kids aren't around. He needs an attitude adjustment to not think he owns you and is allowed to claim you - which means some new rules during that process. Make him work in life. On walks he should be required to heel behind you. While people are in the den together he should learn to stay on a Place bed (which can be a towel, dog bed, ect...) around distractions for up to 2 hours. He doesn't need to be receiving all the attention or controlling things and the above commands are good ways to make him work and enforce new boundaries. When you want to give him affection or play with him you initiate it - call him over, tell him to Sit or Down, then give him attention. This puts you in control of the relationship and on your terms not his. When he is doing better overall and less of a bite risk, then you can have the kids practice some of the commands with him too. If needed he can wear a basket muzzle during these times. Have him work for his dinner kibble (measured into a bag not grabbed from his bowl) and have them practice commands like Down, Sit, Heel, Place, Leave It, ect...Focus on commands that are calmer and require more self-control and respect from him, but are not directly confrontational. If it is not safe to do so with the kids even after implementing new rules with you, hire a professional to help you and work at it with the use of a basket muzzle. An e-collar (shock collar) can be used in this situation to modify behavior but it's not a matter of just punishing when he acts aggressive on a random level. Poor use of e-collars can make behavior issues worse, but done right it's a great tool that makes corrections safer since there is less need for physical contact during a correction. You first need to learn how to properly fit the collar (high on the neck, with both prong contacts making contact with the skin - too loose and the corrections are inconsistent or the collar can rub). You need to find the correct stimulation level to use, called a "Working level" - which is the lowest level that a dog indicates they feel while calm (A good e-collar has at least 40 levels, not 3!). You want a reliable brand like Dogtra, Garmin, Sportdog, or E-collar Technologies - the Mini Educator is a good all around collar. The dog is then taught new rules and behaviors like the commands I linked above so that their is proper behavior modification and communication in place, THEN the dog is given commands to communicate what they should and shouldn't do, told "Ah Ah" when they start to do something wrong, corrected with the e-collar if they don't stop when told not to do something, and shown how to make that correction stop (move away from what's making you uncomfortable, leave the area, react calmly instead, ect...). The dog is also calmly rewarded when they make good choices instead. Jeff Gellman from solidK9Training and James Penrith from Taketheleaddogtraining both have a number of videos on these topics on YouTube if you want to delve into it yourself. Finding a great trainer who specializes in aggression and resource guarding type behaviors, uses both fair corrections and positive reinforcement, comes well recommended by previous clients, and is very familiar with proper e-collar use can also help if you don't want to take the time necessary to learn enough to do it on your own. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Archer’s started getting aggressive with some dogs. He may greet them Nicely to start with sniff private’s and lick them on the face but then will tell them off (quite aggressively). He’s not bitten a dog and when it happens I take him out of the situation and put him on a lead but it’s not behaviour that I want to enforce. It also isn’t just with unneutered males either. (He’s not yet neutered but will be. I was hoping to wait until he was 12months though). I don’t want him to become problematic but the behaviour sadly isn’t one off. Any help or guidance much appreciated
Hello Jemma, First, I recommend practicing the three second rule - whenever greeting another dog cut off the greeting at three seconds. When the dogs have greeted for three seconds, tell pup "let's go!" happily and walk away. When pup comes (even if not willingly at first), calmly praise and give a treat for following you. Interactions that take place on leash that last for more than three seconds can put dogs in a stressful position. Both dogs are encountering each other head on, neither can flee, they remain in each others space for longer than they commonly would if off-leash, and their humans are close by. These encounters often lead to competing, confrontation, anxiety, and tension. Keeping the encounters down to three seconds let's the dogs say hi but removes them from the situation before they can size each other up and start competing. Pup doesn't actually have to meet other dogs on leash at all though. Some dogs simply don't do well with that situation. You do however need to work on socialization. A better way to do that though is to go on structured walks with other dogs, side by side, on leash, focused on you the entire time and not competing to be in front or wandering all around. Following you puts pup him a calmer mindset and helps him to associate the other dogs with that same mindset vs. competing, being in front of you or pulling. A structured obedience class is another good way to socialize around other dogs with more calmness and structure. If you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area those classes emphasize socialization for reactive or aggressive dogs and involve structure, socialization, and desensitization while all the dogs wear basket muzzles for safety - I highly recommend a good one of these. Finally, some dogs do really well on off-leash hikes with other dogs - but I wouldn't recommend that right now. Once pup has done some of the other things I mentioned above and does well around others again and has a higher level of intermediate and off-leash obedience, then hiking with others can also be good. Watch training videos about canine body language to learn more about how your dog is feeling in certain situations. His body language likely proceeds his fighting most of the time and the situation can often be avoided if you know when to correct or interrupt and when to allow and calmly praise. If you don't see improvement, don't wait to hire help from a trainer who is very experienced with aggression and behavior issues. Aggression is best treated early - the most the dog practices aggression toward another dog, the more ingrained the behavior can become. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Alma is a friendly, very well socialized puppy. She’s always been great with other dogs and people, until very recently. We moved across country a few weeks ago and ever since then she has been growling and barking at family members she knows well (once she realizes it’s them, she stops and gets very excited). She also stares out the window and barks and growls at nothing (I look outside and there’s nothing there — except maybe a bird?). She’s reacting in this same way when she hears a noise (a floor creaking, a door opening, etc). I’m worried this will become a bigger problem, and it’s not clear to me how I should respond to this. Sometimes I ignore her, sometimes I try to distract her and refocus her on something else. She’s such a sweet girl, I don’t want her to be protective or for this to escalate. I also am concerned this is stemming from being uprooted from her home and that she may be feeling insecure and scared — and that makes me feel guilty and sad! How can I help her to feel secure and stop this behavior?
Hello Alyson, This could be a socialization issue or even age related...Because everything is new, if she isn't used to a lot of new places before the move, then there might be a whole lot of new things for her to adjust to in general with the move. Many pups also go through an additional fear period around this age - so that could increase some anxiety. Whatever the reason I suggest working on confidence building exercises, desensitizing her to the new surroundings, and adding more structure to build up her respect and trust for you - helping her feel like you are in control and can be depended on, and it's not just up to her - which is hard for an insecure dog. First, pay attention to what and when she barks, even if barking is just associated with looking out the window and nothing you notice. Also, be aware that she may be hearing things like other dogs that you can't ear since her hearing is better than people's. Make a list of the things she seems unsure about or tends to act funny while doing. As soon as she sees, hears, or goes near those areas, BEFORE she reacts poorly, praise in a confident tone of voice and reward her for being calm and quiet still. It's very important to reward BEFORE she acts nervous and not while she is acting nervous. As she improves, introduce other new things that might seem odd to her and reward for a good response to those things. Exercise her brain more. Do things like putting her dog food into puzzle toys, hollow chew toys like Kongs, teaching new commands, and practicing current ones at a higher difficultly and skill level - to help her improve and challenge her to think more without overwhelming her. Keeping her brain working can help take off the anxious edge even more than exercise alone. Check out the commands below. These are great commands to increase respect and trust, stimulate her brain to think more, teach calmness and self-control, and help with behavior. 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/ Out - leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Quiet - Quiet method (read the desensitization method too): https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark 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 Long Down-Stays and Sit-Stays around distractions are also great to work up to. If she really seems anxious you can also do confidence building exercises. Working her through agility obstacles is one great way to do this. You can use things around your house to create obstacles, build a course out of wood and PVC pipes, or buy equipment. Even things like walking across logs, jumping over cardboard, going through kids' fabric tunnels, ect... are great. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OseD7TRwsPQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUUjOljBeGc Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Thank you, Caitlin! We do a lot of the things you mentioned (she eats all of her meals out of a horn, gets treats in a Kong, and we have daily training sessions – I just started teaching her a few new ones). I will continue to do these things and will work on the other commands/tricks you recommended! What should I do if I can't anticipate her reaction? For example, in the case where she might hear something I can't and she begins to bark? Do I tell her "it's okay" in a calm, soothing voice? Should I distract her by getting her attention on me and treating her when she makes eye contact and/or responds to my command (sit, look at me, etc) – as long as she isn't barking? Or is there something else I should do? We are especially challenged now as she is also recovering from her spay surgery, so it's hard to get her energy out right now since she is supposed to be resting. Poor doggie – I'm worried I've put her through too much all at once. Thanks again for your help!
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Hi, I have two Cavoodles (4 year old female and 1 year old male). I’ve noticed recently when we’ve been out on walks and a child stops to talk he will let off a light growl. It’s very strange because he is pulling toward the child wagging his tail for a pat but when a child goes to pat him he pulls back and gets very scared and growls. Also when we have visitors both dogs bark like crazy even once they’re in the home.. it’s very hard to settle them down and get them to both stop barking.
Hello Jacey, The behavior around kids sounds like a combination of frustration and anxiety - which could look like pup wanting to see the kids but feeling overwhelmed and defensive when they get too close. Check out the video below on desensitizing a dog to kids. First, whenever you walk past a kid, before he tenses up or growls, when he simply looks at the kid, praise and offer a treat - you want to reward him for calmness around kids but not for aggression around kids - timing is important here. When he can handle walking past kids and seeing a kid becomes a cue for him to look to you for a treat, then have some calm kid volunteers practice tossing him treats from a closer distance whenever he is calm. Correct if he displays aggression but also keep the environment calm enough that he can succeed and not feel overwhelmed. The goal is not being petted with this yet - but just to associate the kids being near with good things. Kids treat tossing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E Next, have the kids practice doing kid things like running around, jumping, laughing, ect...Let pup watch from a distance where he really notices it but isn't totally anxious. Reward pup every time he doesn't respond poorly when the kid(s) do something like run past. So every time he stays calm or at least isn't acting aggressive or scared - reward. You want him to associate the kids' behavior with good things but also teach him aggression around kids isn't acceptable - don't correct him for avoiding them just give more space and realize you are probably progressing too fast. Only correct for aggression, and reward for tolerant responses. Kids and desensitizing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n0_27XY3z4 Finally, desensitize him to being touched by you. Use his meal kibble and as often as you can practice pairing food with touch (even though he probably already tolerates your touch). For example, touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Touch a shoulder and give a treat. Touch his collar and give a treat. Repeat this with every area of his body, giving the treat while you touch and stopping the touch when the food has been eaten. When he can do this with you happily, have another adult he is comfortable with practice it also. When he can handle adults doing it, then if he is doing great with kids doing silly kid things, tossing him treats nearby, and walking past, and is no longer showing aggression, have a calm older kid practice the touch and treats with him - don't do this if he is still acting aggressive or have him wear a basket muzzle while doing this and use a straw dipped in peanut butter as a reward instead of treat - so it can be poked through the muzzle's holes as a reward during each touch. By the time you move onto kids he should be desensitized to touch and kids in general this shouldn't be really scary for him - he may not be ready for it if it's still really scary for him. For the barking, check out the video linked below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA
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My dog, Tangerine, gets really anxious whenever we leave the house. Inside, she listens to me very well and mostly cuddles in whatever blanket she can find.
But when we go outside her tail is always at the "alert" position. If we pass another dog she'll cry loudly. Lately, she has started to bark aggressively if another dog gets too close. When that happens she is uncontrollable for the rest of the walk and will zig-zag frantically until we are safely inside.
I've seen her have many positive interactions with other dogs before once she has been slowly introduced but that initial anxiety burst means it is very hard to socialize her.
What can I do to boost her confidence and make her more neutral when passing other dogs?
Hello Allie, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have her mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with her having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if she isn't calm. She should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk she should be in the heel position - with her head behind your leg. That position decreases her arousal, reduces stress because she isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents her from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind her. It also requires her to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive she is - it makes her feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not hers around other dogs. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as she starts staring them down, interrupt her. Don't tolerate challenging stares - even if she is stressed. Remind her with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and she is not allowed to break her heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for her in the long-run. Leading the walk this way can actually boost a dog's confidence in the long run around other dogs because the dog feels like you will handle the situation so they can relax. Protect her from other dogs. If she feels nervous and someone wants to let her meet their rude, excited dog, tell the other person no thank you. A simple "She's in training" tends to work well. Be picky about who and how she meets other dogs. Avoid dogs that don't respect her space, pull their owners over to her, and generally are not listening well - those dogs are often friendly but they are rude and difficult for a nervous dog. Also, avoid greeting dogs who look very tense around your dog, who stare her down, who give warning signs like a low growl or lip lift, who look very puffed up and proud - that type greeting with a dog is likely to end in a fight since your dog doesn't know how to diffuse that situation. A stiff wag is also a bad sign. A friendly wag looks relaxed and loose with relaxed body language overall. A tense dog with a very stiff wag, especially with a tail held high is a sign of arousal and not always a good thing. 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 Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Aggressive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Outside of the walk you can work on building pup's trust and respect for you in other ways too to help her confidence. The following commands and exercises are also good for that: Agility/obstacles for building confidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 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 Any tricks that challenge her mentally, require impulse control, and equal her learning new things successfully. A long down stay around distractions is a good thing to practice during walks periodically. A good way to do introductions with other dogs is to recruit friends with calm dogs and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below. After a few practice session of this, when the dogs can calmly walk side by side finally, take pups on walks together with both in a structured, focused heel. This gives both dogs something other than each other to focus on, keeps their energy calm, and helps them associate each other with the pleasant experience of a walk. Repeat this with lots of different dogs, one or two dogs at a time - you want other dogs to be associated with calmness, pleasant experiences, and boring things - not roughhousing, wrestling, nose-to-nose interactions always, or being rushed by them. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Sometimes you can even find others to practice with through obedience clubs, meetup groups, or hiking groups. When she does greet another dog nose-to-nose, give slack in the leash, relax yourself, and keep the greeting to a max of 3 seconds, then happily tell her "Let's Go" or "Heel" and start walking away, giving her a treat when she follows so that she will learn to quickly respond to that command in the future. Keeping the greeting relaxed and short can diffuse tension and give the dogs enough time to say hi before competing starts. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I got Lucy about one year ago, she had been tied to a pole and left for months and was severely underweight (about 18 lbs but she should be about 40 lbs). For the past 6 months or so she has been displaying possessive behavior when I walk her (barking at people and dogs or unknown noises from extremely far away ). When people (especially people with dogs) approach, she will start growling and her hackles go up. As the get closer she will start to nip/lunge towards them. Once she sees something (even from extremely far away, there has never been a distance she won't react to now) she won't stop focusing on it until we are no longer in sight and even then she will keep looking back for it unless we go inside. We have tried working with a trainer but she ended up nipping him. It's only when me or my boyfriend are with her, otherwise she is fine. She's had similar incidences at doggy daycare where she will protect one of the pack leaders that she favors from the other workers. She recently has started displaying the barking behavior towards my boyfriend (who's been around since I got her) when he is in the kitchen and she's in the living room. She can see him but there are dog gates so she can't get into the kitchen and doesn't try to but it's mimicking her initial behavior of barking and am worried it will become a problem at home too.
Hello Richele, You need to hire a private professional trainer who specializes in aggression and behavior issues. Not all trainers are experienced with aggression, and she probably needs to get used to wearing a basket muzzle for the safety of the trainer during sessions. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. He has a YouTube channel with dozens of videos. You need someone who specializes in aggression and anxiety like Jeff. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We got Artemus at 3 months old. He was so tiny and loved everyone! We took him everywhere with us. Now hes 1 and half and 95lbs! He's really a good boy. However, he is super protective over his moms. He barks at any little noise outside and we can't take him anywhere because he will bark at anyone that talks to us unless he knows them. Quite honestly it's embarrassing. He's fine when we are not around (we have to leave the vet office for him to stop barking and go with them.) He knows his basic obediance and even stays with us off of a leash. I was just wondering how we can stop his protective/aggressive behavior or know when it's appropriate? Please help! Thank you!
Hello Johnna, For this you really need a trainer to work with you in person. This will probably require a combination of building his respect and listening to you, desensitizing him to strangers more, correcting the unwanted behavior appropriately, and rewarding calmness in place of it. Look for a trainer who specializes in behavior issues and aggression - much of the training will be similar. Look for a trainer who comes well recommended by previous clients whose dogs struggled in this area too, who has experience with driven, working breeds and dogs with defense drive. Find someone who has a training staff who can actually practice being "strangers" during the training, and who uses both fair corrections and positive reinforcement in their training. Check out Thomas from the Canine Educator, Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training, and Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog for examples of trainers who regularly deal with aggression, protectiveness, resource guarding, and fear. Each of these trainers has their own YouTube channel where you can see how they work. Thomas generally has the most gentle stye of the three, Jeff has the most wide spread experience, and Sean is in between the other two. I highly suggest working with someone in person to effectively address this though, but learning from the trainers mentioned above can help you find the right person and know more about it yourself. If pup doesn't already know the Quiet command, Leave It command, and a good Heel, start by teaching those things. That is not all you will need but before you can enforce a command, pup needs to understand what it means, and those are good commands for managing the behavior you described. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My Aspyn is 2 years old. She is the sweetest little thing to myself and my boyfriend, people she's consistently exposed to. But when it comes to other dogs whether it's in our home or someone else's and they approach me she gets extremely protective and possessive over her things (especially me). If my boyfriend tries to hug me she barks as though he's about to hurt me. Lately I've put her on CBD to calm down her anxiety, and she's been doing a lot better by being calmer, and listening to commands. But she's still acting like my bodyguard at all hours. My boyfriend lives with another dog and if he approaches me, Aspyn will come to my 'rescue', when I absolutely do not need it. She's started little fights with this dog. But I can't allow for this to continue and wish to know what I can do to prevent her from acting so possessive of me all the time. I also would like to know how to discipline her when she does act out since I would like for her to learn that she doesn't need to protect me all the time.
At the dog park she plays with other dogs and loves to socialize, but she is a velcro dog and will end up next to me majority of the time. And if another dog at the dog park comes to me looking for pets she will get jealous and jump on me to remind me that she's there.
Hello Emilia, First, know that the behavior you described does sound a lot like possessiveness, which is a form of resource guarding but with humans, like you mentioned. True protectiveness should only be exhibited and allowed when the dog is perceiving an actual threat and protecting you. Possessiveness is more about the dog thinking they own you and wanting to keep others away from you - like a dog with a toy. This issue is often partially improved by working on the dog's respect for you - so that they don't view you as something they possess. To improve respect, a lot of boundaries, structure and certain types of obedience skills are usually what I recommend. Think of pup as needing a little doggie bootcamp. With that, also don't tolerate pushy, demanding behavior like climbing into your lap, nudging your hand, barking at you, or demanding other things from you and other people. Place - gradually work up to pup staying on place for up to an hour at a time - this is a good respect, impulse control, and calming exercise: 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 Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Many of these commands are purely to work on building respect and pup's impulse control, some of them like Out and Leave It and Heel are also important for dealing with aggressive outbursts. For example, when pup is resource guarding you from the other household dog, use Out to send pup out of the room and enforce it if she doesn't obey. Use Leave It to instruct her to stop focusing on another dog if you can tell she is starting to worry, guard you, or stare them down. Use heel to remind her to focus on you while walking and not to be scanning for other dogs, forging ahead of you (she should be following during walks to deal with attitude and dog-behavior) or staring another dog down, then if she disobeys your Leave It, Out, or Heel command, you can calmly discipline appropriately. She needs to understand what's expected of her first and to have practiced that command and skill so that she has the skills to obey in those types of situations. Disobeying "Out" might look like using the section from the Out article on how to deal with pushy behavior - to enforce her leaving the room when told in a firmer way. Disobeying a heel would likely look like a quick leash correction with the correct setup and heel training beforehand. Disobeying Leave It could look like sending her away from you, giving a leash correction, leaving the entire area of the park, making her stop something fun you were doing like fetch, or a number of other situational corrections. The biggest things with corrections is that the dog should understand clearly why they are being corrected, what to do instead (such as sit to greet someone instead of jump, or leave the room when told instead of guard you), the correction should be given very calmly and business-like, and there should always be follow through. A correction can be anything the dog considers unpleasant (even withholding something fun like fetch) so long as that correction doesn't lead to other behavior issues (like hitting leader to fear-aggression or hand biting). Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training and Sean O' Shea from the Good Dog on their YouTube channels. Both specialize in behavior issues, and Jeff specializes in aggression. Notice not just how they correct but how calm they are, how they also use a lot of positive reinforcement to teach the correct behaviors once the unwanted behavior is stopped via corrections, and how they utilize a lot of boundaries and structures to teach calmness, impulse control, trust and respect to change a dog's overall attitude and interactions around their people. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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