Aggressive Dog Training
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Q: I have a 1-year-old large Munsterlander, who shows way too many signs of aggression. We LOVE him but his aggression is awful. Any advice would be wonderful!

Hi,

My name is Lena. I have been reading your site about dog aggression. I have a 1 year old large munsterlander, who shows way too many signs of aggression. When he was six months, he nipped our friends young son. He was alright, but it greatly concerned us. Ever since then, we have been trying to destroy those signs of aggression, but it has been difficult. He is a baby to everyone in our family. He has never shown aggression to any of us. We can steal his food, mess around with him, scold him, wake him up, or whatever and he never growls or anything. For this reason, I feel that our dog, Radar, may not be dominance aggressive. I think he is more fear or territorial aggressive. But he has never been abused by anyone, and doesn't really show any signs of being fearful, but more insecure and nervous. The people he is most aggressive to is children. Especially children who come into our home. On walks, any adults he sees, he is fine and friendly with them, and the same goes for dogs. But if we are just standing on the street and a child walks by, not even towards us, he may start growling. This confuses me greatly. Other times he can say hi to children and be perfectly good. The biggest problem is in our home. When kids come over, even as old as 14 or 15, our dog grows very weary of them. He will slink around and has a nervous, distrusting look in his eyes. This scares us all very much. But sometimes, some kids will come over and he will be perfectly fine and normal. But if he is started, he can growl and snap, or if he is approached or bothered. Sometimes, when kids come into our house, and he does not realize they are there for a while, he will bark and growl and get very aggressive when he realizes they are in our home. Also, it seems like at night, he is most untrustworthy. It is his unpredictable and inconsistent behavior that worries us. He is extremely sweet to us, but still can be a handful. He has a lot of energy and is a big dog. When we are gone, he will chew up shoes or steal things off the counter. This behavior, however, is not as big as a concern to us as that of his aggression. We have a dog behaviorist working with us, and he seems to know what he is talking about. But his aggression, none the less is a huge scare.

As of now, we are working to ensure that we are dominant. We also have strangers shower him with treats when they come over (he is a very skinny, but big boy). When anyone comes to our house, we will send him to his "spot" in the separate room where he can see everyone but is undisturbed. He stays there for 5-10 min. and is then released and given treats. If he misbehaves, we grab him firmly and scold him loudly, then throw him out the door and leave him outside for a little.

We LOVE our dog to death, but his aggression is awful, especially when our other dog is SO well behaved. We are more that willing to do anything it takes to fix this problem. Any advice would be wonderful!

Thank you so much.

Sincerely,
Lena

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A: An insecure dog can be very dangerous. A big misconception is that fearful dogs have suffered some form of abuse. This is usually not the case. Temperament is a genetic trait, and many fearful dogs are that way simply because thatís how they are programmed. Dogs like this need rules that make sense to them and lots of structure. They need to feel safe and protected by YOU, their pack leader. Dogs like this do not want to make decisions, they want to be followers and so we need to be strong leaders for them.

I would STOP having people that make him worried give him treats. This is one of the worst things you can do. Many times fearful dogs just want their owners to protect them and keep non pack members away from them. In my experience these dogs can learn to be neutral to strangers, if handled correctly. Having a stranger or person that makes your dog uncomfortable get close to your dog to give them a treat goes against everything your dog needs from you as a pack leader.

Also letting your dog interact with strangers, and then taking him by the scruff, getting loud with him and putting him outside when he breaks your rules (which he probably doesnít understand) will do nothing except make him more worried when strangers are present. Dogs donít understand what we expect of them automatically, they need to be shown with clear and consistent handling. By doing this, you may actually be making him worse and more worried.

I will make some recommendations for articles and videos that I feel could help you out along with working with a qualified trainer.

Iíd start with our Groundwork program. Pack Structure for the Family Pet is the DVD that picks up where the article leaves off.

I feel that the way dogs are handled on a daily basis are the most important factors to consider when dealing with insecure, nervous or aggressive dogs. Obedience training only plays a small role in this, actually. How you live with the dog has the most impact.

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

I hope this helps.

Cindy


My Rot isnít aggressive to any of the stray dogs that approach us when we are on walks. He just stands there and looks at them. Is there anything I can do to make him more aggressive towards them?

I have a 15-month male Rottweiler. He has begun obedience and is excelling in it to the point where I am going to put an obedience title on him. I have not entered bite work with him but he has been worked on some tracking. My question is this: I walk my dog in the neighborhood and the other neighborhood (strays) dogs run up to him and stay about 10-15 feet away. They bark and growl at him, but they never come any closer. My Rottweiler in turn stands his ground and just stares at them. As he does this they seem to retreat. Why doesn't he bark at them? Should he need to bark at them? Thank you, Kobie

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