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Training an Aggressive Dog

Dog on people aggression is a very serious situation. Training a dog to eliminate aggressive behavior is important for having a safe, positive pet and owner relationship. This is a guide about training an aggressive dog.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
July 12, 2011

We have an 18 month old Yorkie. She has become very aggressive and bites when she has something she shouldn't have and at times when you try to pick her up. It is getting worse. She had professional obedience training as a pup, and I still reinforce that training, but to no avail. She still will not mind off leash. We are at our wits end here. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

By glo from Rockford, IL

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July 13, 20110 found this helpful
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My 4 year old male dachshund still does this and he has been to obedience training also. He's real possessive of his things. He's worse when he gets out of his routine like when we go visit relatives out of town. Sometimes a "swat" with my house shoe will get him to stop his bad behavior is I can catch him; he runs under the bed when he knows I'm unhappy at him.

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I've more or less got him figured out and know when to give him his space and leave him alone. Pets are like people in the sense that when they are tired they want to be left alone. Your dog is still young and he may get much better if he knows you mean business. I'd try "swatting" him lightly to startle him and see if that helps. It helps with my dog.

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July 18, 20110 found this helpful
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Go to the National Geographic channel and watch Cesar Milan Aka Dog Whisperer . I watch him all the time even if it's a rerun.I have a Shih Zsu and a Schnauser Terrier mix. And they have issues and by watching Cesar I've learned a lot about behavior issues. A lot of their aggression was because of me. You have to become a pack leader because right now your dog is the pack leader. That doesn't mean you have to hit them. Just watch his shows a few times and see for yourself if he makes sense. To me he makes a lot of sense and I have much better dogs because I use his techniques. Give it a try !1 pam in Mo.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 20, 2011

I'm having trouble with my 9 year old GSD/Husky mix. I think that's what she is. She's always been shy around strangers especially men. This past year she has barked almost viciously at men who enter the house or people who knock on the door. She has even barked at me a few times until she realized who I was. She's always been fine with my kids until last weekend.

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A friend of mine who is a big guy came over and took a reptile I gave him. He approached the gated kitchen and my dog barked at him and he just stood there and offered his hand, but she didn't come closer. He never went into the kitchen or touched her. This was the worst I've seen her react. With different people she will behave differently. Sometimes she barks a little, sometimes a lot. I think it must be their demeanor.

For one week now my dog has been "grabbing" my 16 year old sons legs. He has autism, has never really had anything to do with the dogs, but will sometimes talk to them. My son is also a pretty big kid. In my presence I watched her approach him as if she was going to bite him and when I called her name she stopped.

With us "girls" she is just fine. I just don't understand why she is suddenly biting my son. The first time it happened he was getting a cookie like he has done so many times before and she grabbed his rear end. Today she broke the skin when he pulled away. I got her a mesh muzzle and plan on getting her to the vet ASAP. She is minimally trained; I did what I could with her. It took me 6 months to leash train her because the whole time she was trying to knock me down.

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I have established dominance, but my son has never given her food, treats or anything, that's my mistake. Is it too late to fix and since she bites him. do I dare? Given his disability, he really has no desire to touch her or have her lick or touch him.

By Anne from Buffalo, NY

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March 21, 20110 found this helpful
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You have a scary situation. You don't know how your son is going to act if the dog does something aggressive & if he reacts the wrong way it might push her into really hurting him-which can leave permanant mental 7 physical damage to him & a vicious dog report for your dog(which means real trouble). Are there any behavior schools/trainers or husky rescue groups you can get advice from?

I know you said she is aggressive toward men, are you sure that's what she's doing with your son,or could she be "correcting/getting after" him?

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My boys, who are bigger than me, have established dominance over our dog & she is VERY protective of them. BUT, if we start horsing around & I grab one of them, she will start grabbing their pants at their ankles & jumping up to bite their butts while she growls & barks at them. I think she's "helping mom" discipline them or something?

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By 0 found this helpful
June 8, 2015

My son's 1.5 year old Boxer Pit has started to go to bite my husband, a few times and also a friend. He is has never been like this. He lived with us last summer and is now back at our house. He will not share anything and takes things and runs and we cannot take them from him. We have a 4 year old Yorkie who holds his own, but it is getting out of control with the Pit Boxer not sharing anything and if we go to get it he goes after us.

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He is very nice and will go to a friend's house with dogs and plays and no promblems. He has lived with my son and lots of boys and other dogs his whole life. We are looking for any help. My son is taking him to classes and we have called the vet.

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June 11, 20150 found this helpful
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Your Boxer-Staffie (American Staffordshire Terrier is the correct name for 'pit' type dogs) is NOT 'grown-up' at all, and will not be until around aged three years.

I know this because I was a very successful breeder-trainer of AKC Boxers for over 40 years in the USA (before returning to the UK for my retirement years), and my cousin the same with Staffies.

Do ask the vet who will confirm these dogs (and their cross-mixes which btw we both did breed rescue of whilst in the US all those years) are NOT mature (proper wording, instead of 'full-grown'). Here in the UK, and more and more in the US, these dogs are being referred to as 'cross' or 'cross-breed' dogs. And once full socialised and trained you truly cannot ask for a better companion canine than these two highly intelligent and loving breeds mixed as a cross.

At 18 months you can expect two certain things from your cross - one that he will challenge you at every turn because he is still really a puppy, and two that he is still able to be turned away from bad habits.

In a nutshell, patience, consistence, and firmness is what is wanted. You've made an excellent start with the training course your son has the dog on, and in seeking information from your vet. Other excellent resources I highly recommend: your local library for books published from the late 80s through the mid-nineties for the two specific breeds - these will give you training and reinforcement tips as well as an outstanding 'heads-up' on breed specific characteristics so that you will all know what to expect as your cross comes to full maturity.

(hint, Boxers especially are 'food motivated' while Staffies prefer cuddles, effusive verbal praise, and toys especially 'tug-o-war' type. Boxers also love a good tug-o-war game but really prefer food, lol!)

Be very wary of Internet training tips - even mine! Always-always-always choose your vet as your No.1 go-to for ALL breed and training tips and assists.

Don't give up - it is entirely within the realm of possibility to achieve a successful training programme.

HOWEVER: until your cross is completely trustworthy, use a crate when you can't supervise him with the Yorkie. Please. I really cannot emphasise that enough without going into unhappy details of how many people have learnt this one the terribly hard way.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 1, 2014

I recently took in my cousin's dog. Her boyfriend was abusing him and trying to make him a fighting dog and now he thinks he's alpha male in the house. If someone hits me he will bite them and he doesn't like anyone he doesn't know to come near me. He is also peeing in the house and I can't smack him or tell him no in a strict voice because he gets scared. He is very protective over me and I don't know how to get him to stop being aggressive. If you can help please do, he is a great dog and if I can't get him to not be aggressive he will not be allowed at my house.

By Kathryn Wilson

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September 29, 20140 found this helpful
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You don't have the expertise to deal with this.
Training an aggressive dog requires experience. In the meantime you are legally liable if he bites anybody. And if he does bite somebody he will be put down.
Is he a specific breed? Try to find out if a breed rescue will take him. Call around. It looks like he needs an expert and you aren't that person.

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March 20, 20110 found this helpful

My German Shepherd is 2 months old. She is so aggressive all the time, she bites me and when I punish her she attacks me. I can't really control her. She does not obey me at all. What should I do?

By shirin from Tehran, Iran

Answers:

Training an Aggressive Dog

A puppy should never be "punished" for biting. A puppy should be trained and disciplined to learn the difference between biting and chewing as a puppy is still teething and doesn't know the difference. It's okay to say "ouch" very loudly and turn away from the puppy for a few seconds (ignoring them for a few seconds hurts their feelings and makes them think twice as they really don't want to alienate you.)

Ultimately, you the pet parent, need to learn the difference between puppy gnawing, puppy chewing, and true aggression. Seriously, would you "punish" a baby for chomping down on your finger?

Babies and puppies and kittens never need to be "punished", but will always grow and benefit from being "disciplined". The two root words (punish and discipline) are not equal synonyms. Punishment involves shame and too often, pain. Discipline involves teaching and instruction in a purely constructive manner.

Be kind and patient. Please. AKC (American Kennel Club) "Puppy" and later "Obedience Classes" (these are not restricted to pure breeds or dogs intended for competition) are your best bet for confident ownership and confident dog growth. Please check into these classes at a local chapter/branch of the AKC in your area.

Edited update from Cindy. I just reread you post and realized you are not from America and most likely don't have access to a "local" AKC! My apologies. None-the-less, since you have internet access, please look into sites that explain "American Obedience Classes for dogs" I think it will offer you great insight. Honestly, dogs really just want to please their humans and the kinder you are while letting them know you are "the parent", the better and better they will be your best friend forever! Good luck and best wishes! (12/28/2010)

By Cindy

Training an Aggressive Dog

Your dog is still just a baby. I doubt she's really being aggressive, she is still just a puppy that need to learn to behave. When my dog was a puppy, she would jump at us and bite us. When we'd try to grab her to make her stop, she thought we were playing and would bounce on us, grab us with her paws, and bite us more! This is how they play with other puppies.

There are a lot of resources here in the Thrifty Fun archives. The one under this column is titled 'training an aggressive dog', you might want to do a search on training a puppy. Good luck, I think you'll love your puppy when she learns what is expected of her. (12/28/2010)

By Judy = Oklahoma

Training an Aggressive Dog

Is your shepherd puppy from a registered breeder? Ask their advise because no canine control council member wants their kennel "prefix" to receive adverse complaints about their animals and will assist you with this problem this is my beautiful boy "eigenschaft heartbreaker" check him out on google good luck with your new puppy. (12/30/2010)

By NEWFIEGIRL

Training an Aggressive Dog

I have found that positive feedback for good actions and ignoring bad actions has worked with my animals.
Your dog is still a puppy and hasn't learned to communicate with you. When Tikko does something aggressive or something I do not approve of, I growl. When she does something positive, she receives a pat, belly rub and the word good. Consistency will work. She is our 16th pet, and our third "last" dog. (01/07/2011)

By tikko marie

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December 27, 20100 found this helpful

I have a 9 month old male Lab/Pit mix. I've had him since he was 4 weeks old. He has, in the last few months, been getting progressively more and more hard to handle. I had him fixed when he was 3 months old, which I now think was a big mistake doing it that young.

When he was about 6 months, he started barking at people and not just people coming up to where he was, but just anything, any random noise or anyone he didn't know, which for our life style isn't very acceptable. I want him to be protective, just not over protective.

That I could have lived with, until he recently started being aggressive towards my friends or just random people walking on the street when they would come near us or our stuff. He even tried snapping at two of my friends he didn't like!

Also, he used to be really good with other dogs, but now he's starting to pick on certain dogs too, like if they come where his bed is, or near his food, or even me or my boyfriend sometimes. He tried to kill another dog when she came near our bed. I was telling the other dog to go away and get away from us, when he just grabbed her by the neck and swung her around like a rag doll.

I've literally tried everything I can think of. When he tried killing the other dog I hit him, and when he's really really aggressive, I hit him (not hard or anything) and I realize this isn't the best method, but also when you're in the situation it's hard not to be upset/heated. I've tried firm "nos", flicking on the nose, ear "squeaking" which is what moms do to their baby pups when they mess up, they bite their ear only hard enough until the pup squeaks so they know they messed up.

I've tried putting him on his back and standing over him to show dominance. I've tried distracting him when I know something that might upset him comes around. I've tried putting him in time out, which works for a short period, but he always freaks out again.

He's definitely been properly socialized with other dogs and people, so that's definitely not the issue. I think that it might be that we were negatively disciplining him with hitting, which taught him aggression.

I'm absolutely under no circumstance willing to even consider putting him down or getting rid of him. I think that I made this problem and am willing to do whatever it takes to fix it. I can't afford a dog trainer, so that's 100% out of the question. So I pretty much just need lots and lots of tips on how to adjust this behavior.

By Jalka Jakkara from SD

Answers:

Training an Aggressive Dog

No hitting. You are right in thinking that is where the anger in him developed. He needs exercise. Lots and lots of it. That serves 2 purposes. One is bonding and it is downright fun for both of you. (11/23/2010)

By vicki hood

Training an Aggressive Dog

Some dogs as they mature, just get aggressive and there is for no reason for it. Sometime they are asserting their own dominance and not protectiveness. You have a long road ahead because he is still young. If you can't get him under control and he does bite someone then you will have to make choices.

In the meantime you should start aggressive obedience training on the leash and always keep him at a heel on your left side when walking outside. When anyone or thing approaches make him sit and stay that way until the the coast is clear.If you have to hold on to him by his collar to keep him sitting until he learns to sit by himself then that is the route you take. You have more control of a sitting dog than a standing one. This will be hard in the beginning but he will come around because you are the leader of his pack and you will make him do this. There is no need to hit him.

Firmness in your voice and following through with training always works. Bringing treats to give to him after he sits and heels is good also. He should be able to sit and stay indoors off leash when you tell him. I also keep a spray bottle of water close by in the house for my dog (Boxer/Pitbull). She sometimes gets aggressive over her toys and food with the other dogs. When the growling starts I do a little yelling and sometimes spray her with water and this stops the bad behavior because I'm boss. When I say sit, no matter where we are, all three of my dogs sit. It does take patience and it is not easy. Good Luck! (11/23/2010)

By xintexas

Training an Aggressive Dog

You sound like a responsible owner trying to do the right thing in the interest of all concerned but unfortunately any pit-bull cross can be a handful and puppy should never have left his mum/litter mates until eight weeks of age. And what ever was the Veterinarian thinking to de-sex a three month old puppy. Be aware that you are libel if he injures another animal or human. Never, ever hit a Dog they will retaliate in the only way they know. Good luck. (11/23/2010)

By NEWFIEGIRL

Training an Aggressive Dog

I have used the information on this website when I had inter-dog issues with my dog. They have free web lessons also lesson on video that you can order.

http://leerburg.com/aggresiv.htm (11/23/2010)

By merlene smith

Training an Aggressive Dog

You have a big problem, the dog could seriously injure or kill another animal, or even a human (child). That is what is not acceptable! You could try to use a squirt bottle, filled with water, and squirt him when he misbehaves, but it will most likely not be effective on a dog like that. I think the cross of Pitbull is the problem, and you have to face it. These are unpredictable dogs. check the statistics online. Unfortunate but true. (11/24/2010)

By Anne

Training an Aggressive Dog

Watch dog whisperer, he is really great with dogs. (11/24/2010)

By sugar

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November 22, 20100 found this helpful

We recently adopted a dog. He won't potty outside and is very aggressive towards visitors and one of the children in our home. What can we do?

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