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Dealing With an Aggressive Dog

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Understanding why a dog behaves confrontationally will help keep it, and everyone else comfortable and secure. This guide is about dealing with an aggressive dog.
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By 1 found this helpful
October 11, 2010

Our dog was very unfriendly towards other dogs and would growl as she passed them and one day actually chased one and nipped it on the rear end. I was shocked and horrified, but knew that this could not continue.

My vet advised me that Saffy was protecting me and that I had to teach her that I was the boss and she did not need to protect me.

I did this by making Saffy walk behind me at all times. She could not pass through a gate or doorway before me and must stay behind me even if we were walking with other dogs and could never lead "the pack." We both found this hard going at first, but now I have a very happy, friendly dog, who wags her tail on meeting all dogs and never gives the slightest sign of aggression.

She was 10 years old when I started this training and although I am no longer quite so strict, I still let her know that I am in charge. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

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Source: Advice from my vet and other dog owners

By Margaret from Fleet, England

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March 16, 20170 found this helpful

Many pet owners look to neutering their dog as a way to reduce aggression. It may help to some extent, but it is not a cure for aggressive behavior. This is a guide about, "Does neutering a dog reduce aggression?".

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March 16, 20170 found this helpful

No matter the breed, if you have an aggressive dog, it can be difficult for you and your family. This is a guide about aggressive poodle.

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November 9, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about dealing with a protective dog at home. Dogs can offer a sense of protection to their owners. However, some pets are overly protective and can be a challenge to handle in daily situations when someone comes by.

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November 7, 20150 found this helpful

This is a guide about dog has become aggressive with owner. Determining the cause of sudden dog on owner aggression is the first step in reestablishing a good pet and owner relationship.

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Questions

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By 0 found this helpful
June 6, 2015

My boyfriend has a 3 year old Pit Bull that barely listens, has no discipline, and jumps on everyone when entering a room. He bum rushes our cats and then attacks them when they defend themselves and on top of it he shows aggressive behavior when animals approach his food bowl. He eats out of everybody's food bowls, but if they go and eat out of his he shows aggressive behaviors.

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I'm at my last straw especially when coming home one night to see he got out of his room and we found our cat near death. The cat actually died in my arms. I have not been able to look at his Pit Bull the same since the incident. I have now had to shuffle animals around to accommodate this dog and I feel at 3 years old and only having one owner since a puppy his training should be top notch. Please I need help any ideas?

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June 9, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

You are correct. Having had only one owner, the dog should be very well behaved by now.

Training for large breed dogs such as pit bulls, mastiffs and rottweilers should start in puppy hood and continue on through adulthood. The dog should be trained not to jump up on people and not to take things that aren't his. He should sit before receiving his food dish. He should walk on a leash next to the owner and not pull, lunge, or crisscross in front. the needs to be socialized to people, other dogs and smaller pets.

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Unfortunately, the dog is now an adult and has not been trained. It is certainly past your boyfriend's capabilities to rehabilitate a pit bull that needs all training and has already killed. It is also completely unfair to this energetic animal to have to keep it fenced in or behind closed doors, but you are having to do this because not only are your own cats in danger, but others' pets are as well. I guarantee your boyfriend can't control this animal on a walk and it will eventually get out of his control and kill somebody's little dog.

The only real hope for the dog is rehabilitation at a pit bull rescue with knowledgeable and dedicated staff.

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By 0 found this helpful
August 28, 2008

I have a 3yr old American Bulldog. Since my husband past away he's become worse then ever. He's very aggressive when on walks and chasing my neighbors. He barks and cries all the time inside, he even play bites. He went to Petsmart 3 different times when younger, it didn't really help. He is also fixed. It didn't calm him down. He listened to my husband but never me. Now I'm not sure what to do. Any advice would be helpful.

Arryn from St Louis, MO

Answers

By guest (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

The problem is the dog does not see you as being dominant over him. He may just look at you as being equal or even below him in rank meaning he doesn't really feel like he has to listen to you. Do some research on dealing with aggressive dogs try www.cesarmillaninc.com and WWW.leerburg.com.

Put up a gate so he cant chase the neighbors and look into Cesar Milan's Illusion Dog Collar and Leash set.

Is it possible that the dog is still mourning the loss of his best friend?
Please, whatever you do don't give up on the dog, you two can be good together.

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

The first poster is right. I 2nd her suggestion about Ceasar the "Dog Whisperer". Get his book or a training tape. You can proably watch his show every day & see similar dog problems. He feels like he is top dog, & you need to be in charge.

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I don't like Caesar because he's not totally non-rough in his training. If you have to bully a dog to get him/her to behave you don't know what you're doing. Visit this site: http://www.victoriastilwell.com/ & if you get BBC record/watch her show, "It's Me or the Dog". She's 100% reward/positive training. She's get more results in 5 mins. than any other trainer on earth.I've had dogs all my life & I've learned tons from her.I've never had a problem w/excessive bad behavior & I've STILL learned a lot.

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

Like you, he's probably grieving. Do you have something with your husband's scent that can comfort him? I agree with the other posters, please do not give up on him. He will in time, bond more with you.
God blessings.

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I also agree, GET Caesar's book or a training tape. Or google for someone in your area with that gift. When I was 12, my Dad died. Although my dog was never aggressive and I was chosen as his favorite in the family, my Dad would walk him daily when he returned from work. It took a good 6 months for Shaggy to STOP sitting on our 4th stair in the hallway to see out the small window in the door to see my Dad come home. (Don't remember, but maybe Mom started shutting the door.) He was hopelessly depressed. I don't know how long it's been since your husband parted, but I wouldn't give up on your pup just yet. He does have sweet eyes. That would be another heartbreak for him. Google EVERYTHING, try alternative medicine, music, incense, speak with your vet. I think you both would be lost souls. Keep the connection strong.
Best of luck to you both.

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Anonymous
August 29, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with the first two posts 100% but will add that it might be a good idea to ask your vet for a personal pet trainer recommendation. This way, a professional will actually be watching you and your poochies interactions and will know the history in order to give you immediate help without trial and error. You, your poochie and your neighbors will be happier and safer more quickly, too!

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August 29, 20080 found this helpful

Hi Arryn,
The first thing that came to mind is that he is trying to protect you, like your husband did. This may or not be the case but it is important that he knows that you are the "master" now and that you can take care of yourself.

Because you have both been mourning no doubt, it would be a good time to bond but also to show him that you are now all right and that he needs to follow your lead.

So sorry for both of your loss. Take Care,
Susan

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 30, 20080 found this helpful

I'm a dog trainer so maybe I can help.
First, educate yourself about pack order and canine communication. From more than one source. Cesar Millan is one source, but there are issues with some of his methods. Don't rely solely on his television show, either. TV is misleading. Try "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor, Stanley Coren's books, "The Dog Whisperer: a compassionate, nonviolent approach to dog training" by Paul Owens (not to be confused with Cesar's book), and Tamar Geller's book "The Loved Dog." I believe most of these authors have websites with information. Victoria Stilwell is also a good choice.
The point is, educate yourself from more than one source. You'll soon realize who knows what they are talking about and who is misguided or is using outdated, punishment-based methods that have been proven to be less successful.

Also, consider the energy you are projecting when your dog is acting aggressively, or when you feel he is about to. Cesar is right about that point: dogs can sense shifts in our emotional state. It's a chemical thing, most experts believe.

Anyway, it does sound like the dog feels he is the pack leader -- either he's taken on the role because he's generally dominant and wants the role, or because he sees no clear, competent leadership and so feels someone must step into that role, and perhaps he feels stressed about the job.

Here are some quick tips to clearly communicate to your dog that you are the leader and he no longer has to assume that role:

Basically, a dog sees the leader as someone who is in control of the resources. The resources are food, play, access to outside, access to inside, access to toys, etc. If you are clearly in charge of these things, you're on your way. Also, a leader leads. So, on walks, it is imperative that you don't let him pull you. Tamar Geller's book and probably her website has a simple explanation of how to easily get a dog to walk loosely on a leash. DO NOT USE prong collars or choke collars, or slip collars or anything punishment based. You will cause more issues. Just refuse to proceed in a forward direction until the dog moves back towards you and causes the leash to loosen. He'll feel the slack in the leash, and he'll be rewarded for causing this slack by getting closer to the object he wants to sniff or farther on the walk. And walk for time, not distance. If it takes him 20 minutes to get to the end of the block, well, he'll figure it out pretty quick, that the next 20 minute walk he'll go farther if he controls himself.

Also, you can try these things at home:

1. Feed him only at scheduled times, and leave the food for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it until the next feeding time. You want him to see that you are in control of access to food, not the magical food dish that is continually full. And make sure he sits and stays until you've placed the food down and have told him okay. Keep pulling the dish away if he doesn't hold the sit. You can also try hand feeding him the first handful.

2. Put him on the leash and walk around the house for 10 minutes or so, doing regular things like laundry, tidying, moving from room to room, sitting down to open mail, getting up again. The dog will have to follow you. This is a clear message to him that you are the leader and you expect him to follow you.

3. Never let him be the first one to greet guests at the door. Make him sit and stay until you've opened the door and let the guests in. If he doesn't hold the sit (several feet back from the door) then close the door, make him sit, and try it again. Each time he stays, he'll get closer to his goal: seeing who is at the door and greeting the person. You may want to practice this when no one is at the door, and then when you can have an assistant to help you by role-playing the guest.

4. Control access to his toys. Put them away and give them to him one at a time, making him sit for them. When you want to give him another, make sure to put the other one away. This isn't being mean, and you're not letting him have no toys. You are just making yourself the controller of the toys.

5. You be in control of play. You start the games and you end the games.

Also, make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. Excess energy and a lack of mental stimulation can lead to frustration and aggression.

Good luck with this. And don't be discouraged.

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August 30, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with all of the posts. When my dog passed away a month ago, my other dog got more protective of myself & the rest of my family. Because of that he was a bit more aggressive. I had to leave out her bedding so that he could still smell her scent to calm him dow. I woud suggest putting one or more of your husbands shirts in his bed or in a place where he can snuggle up with them in order to calm himself with the scent. Please don't give up on him. You both need each other more then ever right now.

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September 3, 20080 found this helpful

I'm so sorry you are forced to be separate from your husband, and you are right to be thinking 'we didn't have this trouble when he was here, wish he was!'
I don't know all that the other posters know about dog training, but it may be that your dog wants to be with someone like your husband, and that would be the solution, yes rehoming. Are you really bonded with this dog, yourself, in spite of the difficulties? Are you promising yourself to be his forever mom? If you really don't feel a yes coming from within to this, think about looking for a home for the dog...? I hope this isn't an offensive post, but this would be a solution for some dogs.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 3, 2005

I have a 10 month old poodle/cavilier spaniel cross. He is the greatest dog, but has a very annoying habit of humping peoples legs when they come to visit. I scold him and get visitors to talk crossly to him, but he continues to do it as soon as someone comes in. Any suggestions?

Donna Marie

Answers

By guest (Guest Post)
February 4, 20050 found this helpful

An easy way of training your dog _not_ to do something is to do something to them that they hate (like bathing them, picking them up and holding them like a baby) right after they do the offending behavior. For example, my dog used to claw my leg when she jumped up. So every time she did it, I picked her up and held her like a baby, which she hates. She no longer claws. In another example, I read something where they bathed the dog every time he ate from the coffee table. For a while there, they had the cleanest dog in the world, but now when they put food on the coffee table he leaves it alone. Another example is when a dog jumps up, hold its paws and do a little dance with it for 30 seconds or so (as they frantically try to pull their paws free). They'll get the message.

The key is not to be abusive to the dog, but just be consistent. In your case, I would invite over a couple of willing friends at different times and have him do the behavior and then follow that by something that will get him the message that this is not acceptable.

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February 4, 20050 found this helpful

Get the little feller neutered asap!

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 5, 20050 found this helpful

I'd try using a clean squirt bottle filled with water. Every time your dog "offends" squirt him (preferably in the face) with the water. You can also say "Squirt" while you perform the action. They don't like being squirted and quickly associate the behaviour with the consequence. After several consequences just the sight of the squirt bottle or saying "squirt" should stop the unwanted behavior

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 5, 20050 found this helpful

If you don't like the squirt bottle idea, you can use a loud noise correction. Fill a can partly full of pennies, seal the top, and throw it NEAR (not at!) the dog when he humps. This works best if it seems like the awful noise just "came from the sky" as a result of the bad behavior. You may want to warn your guest about this loud correction! Be ready to repeat this until the dog quits.

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Anonymous
February 16, 20060 found this helpful

your dog is exhibiting dominance behavior. Instead of shouting at your dog, try to redirect his attention to something else then reward him for being good. Your dog also needs exercise so walk him every day or every other day for at least 45 minutes. This may seem like a lot but a tired dog is a happy dog and a happy dog is a happy owner.
Never miss a chance to praise your dog for being good like sitting, or just laying quietly. Most people only give the dog attention when he's bad.
Show your dog leadership. Humans are the leaders, not the dog. Develop a good leadership relationship with your dog and show him that YOU rule the house, not him. Never allow your dog to go through the door first, don't let him eat first, don't allow your dog on the furniture or bed. Don't allow your dog to pull you on the leash. Know your breed and what it needs and ALWAYS be consistent. If you let him get away with something once, it will set you and him back five steps. Koda is smiling and saying that it's a dog's life!!!

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By 0 found this helpful
September 13, 2006

I have two dogs, a Pit-bull-Chow-Rottweiler mix, Penny, who is 4 and her son Doobie, a Pit-bull-Chow-Rottweiler-German Shepard-Dingo mix. They have been separated due to Penny's mean temperament while there is food within 50 miles of her. She is gentle with children and people, but if Doobie comes within feet of her food bowl, she turns evil. Doobie is very mild mannered, and seems completely confused by the change in Penny. What can I do to bring them together? At the moment Doobie is forced to live outside, and though he doesn't seem to mind being out there, we want him to be a part of the family.

That is another problem, when we do bring Doobie inside, he sits by the door and waits for us to let him out again. He is lovable, and a gentle giant at 130 lbs, but he just doesn't seem to want the hassle of being indoors. Is there anything I can do about this? Or are some dogs just prone to be outdoors.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 15, 20060 found this helpful

Can you feed them in seperate rooms with a closed door ? Was doobie an outside dog to begin with ? Do they get along good when there is no food involved ? I had a male and female , mother and son, and had to keep them seperated IF I was around them, and I do know that generally a male will" take orders" from a female. Maybe Penny is unsure of your feelings between them ? How do they get along together when they are both outside at the same time. there is a lot to consider here, like which one is the older - Pack leader- It will take time but I am sure that with TLC things will work out. You will need to understand the feelings of both, mostly Penny, and condition her to let her know that Doobie is part of the pack. Not sure if this answers your question, but if all else fails talk to your vet. and maybe he or she can come up with a solution for your furry babies. It seems like to me that maybe Penny is thinking that she has to compete with Doobie for your affection ? hope I did not confuse you here, but this is just off the top of my head, trying to think like a doggie . LOL Rose

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September 16, 20060 found this helpful

This is just my 2cents worth, but with dogs as large, heavy and breeds like yours I would either reconcile myself to feeding them 2xper day in two different rooms (doors closed), then pick up all food, put away so the source of conflict is not there. The other idea I would try would be to enlist the aid of a really good dog professional. If they are really good, sometimes unwanted behaviors can be changed. I know food aggression is a hard one, dogs being part of a pack even though domesticated, they still have that mentality. It is a mother/ son so technically she is alpha. We have shepards, and my huge male son to the mother we have, will go down in submission to her with just one small low growl. That`s it. He knows, she is boss. They have never gotten into a fight, and always fed apart, I never even wanted to take the chance. Could be UGLY!! Maybe Doobie is fearful inside now because of the food attacks? good luck, I hope you find the best solution for you all.

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September 16, 20060 found this helpful

I have 2 large dogs and allow both in the house. My lab loves it outside and the rotte likes to be inside. I think it is the same with people. My hubby works outside and feels cooped up when he is inside but I never seem to get outside. best of luck. Lady is everybit as much a part of our family though as Snoopy even though she is outside more often.

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September 18, 20060 found this helpful

Please see http://wgnradio  s/pet/index.html

Look under Dogs. Steve Dale is an animal expert and can give you some free guidance. Good luck to all of you.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 10, 2017

Winston is a male 3 yr old short haired red Dachshund. He loves everyone. He's good with other animals and all people. His issue is that if we're in bed or on the couch and someone walks into the room or walks by the door (family or not) he freaks out. He will start barking and grab onto the blanket with his teeth and "kill it"! If there is no blanket, he will do this with whatever is close. A piece of furniture or a stack of folded clothes.

This behavior is getting worse. He jumps down and runs toward the moving person barking and acts like he's going to bite them. He is extremely affectionate. His best friend is our female Lab and we dubbed him the cleaner. He licks and cleans her face, ears, nose, and mouth daily. He is a sweet, loving dog except for this one issue. I fear that he is going to eventually bite someone and I do not want that to happen. I do believe it is a protection issue just not sure how to address it. Help!

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By 0 found this helpful
April 3, 2015

I have a male Boxer/Golden Retriever mix who is one year old. He is very loveable to our pets and children and to other people. However, he will attack and try to kill small dogs. I am unable to walk him anymore, because if he sees a small dog he will break free of his collar and start attacking. I know he needs exercise, but I can't have him killing other pets. He has also killed two of our cats. I would appreciate any help you can give us. Thank you.

By Tina S. from San Antonio, TX

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August 10, 20110 found this helpful

My dog is people and dog aggressive. What do I do to calm him down?

By Saida from Binghamton, NY

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By 0 found this helpful
May 5, 2009

I was just wondering, can Pomeranians be sometimes aggressive, if they were abused at onetime by their previous owners ?

By Trevors99 from Norman, OK

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October 10, 20120 found this helpful

I have a Basenji and she is mixed with something else. She does bark and she is light brown, but she is now getting some white on her head and feet.

We would like to know how stop the fighting between our dogs. We have a Jack Russel and our Basenji always wants to fight with her and she is always growling at everything. We are also afraid she is going to bite us. She has tried so we are kind of her.

By Cindy

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By 0 found this helpful
May 7, 2009

I am the owner of a 2 year old pit bull. She is the sweetest and most loving dog I have ever owned, until recently. She has never bitten a person, and is very loving toward people. Then we moved to a new home and since then she has bitten four different dogs. I really do not want to give away my dog. I don't have children and she is like a daughter to me. Why did her aggression start all of a sudden, and how could I work to fix it?

By w0395999 from New Orleans, LA

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February 14, 20150 found this helpful

I have a 3 year old Ridgeback who has always been a fun friendly dog. He has lived with our family and an older German Shepherd. We had to have our Shepherd put to sleep. Since then the Ridgeback just shakes all the time and growls if any of us go near him. It's bad enough grieving over the loss of my dog, let alone the upset of the one we have left turning nasty. I have two kids that love the dog to bits. They have always been really close so it is upsetting them, too.

By a glt

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April 15, 20140 found this helpful

How can I get my 8 year old Pomeranian to stop being so aggressive with other dogs?

By Denise H. from Tacoma, WA

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November 21, 20130 found this helpful

My Shih Tzu cross had pups almost a year ago and she is driving me nuts. She is still very aggressive. She hates other dogs, barks all the time, and goes after other dogs. She doesn't like people coming near the house. She does not listen at all anymore, and has been doing her business in my house, even minutes after being let outside. How do I stop this?

By Jennifer

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By 0 found this helpful
July 26, 2011

I have 2 dogs. The first is an Australian Shepherd mix (female: 2 1/2 years) and the other is a Pit Bull (male: 4 months). They get along for the most part, but the older dog gets somewhat aggressive when it comes to sharing toys. They will play good together for about 5-10 minutes, and then she wants to play by herself. We have actually had to pull her off of the puppy twice. How can I stop this behavior? She is normally a very well behaved dog. Please help me!

By Kimiko

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