Q: I need a new idea in dealing with doggie aggression.

March 15, 2008 | By Theranddav | 4 answers | Expired: 2873 days ago


I have been training dogs for 20+ years. I know all the conventional training methods. I now have a dog with which these methods do not work!! 8mo. old male rat terrier has been socialized since birth with all kinds, colors and sizes of other dogs. About 2 months ago he decided he HATES any dogs bigger than him. Nothing I have tried has stopped him. I think part of this is because none of my pack at home ever put him in his place when he was very young. This came out of left field. When I say he is aggressive, I mean he literally wants to kill the other dog!! Because of this, now he can't go with us anywhere. We can't trust him to behave. I could really use some different ideas here. HELP!!
I wanted to give an update for everyone that has been sending me helpful thoughts! We did find a solution to this problem. I was NOT thrilled with the solution but it did work. After talking to several professionals I broke down and purchase an eletronic training collar. I was able to maintain control easier with this. I would NEVER NEVER suggest anyone use an electronic training collar without talking to knowledgable trainers and studying the system. I would NEVER suggest using this collar unless you have ABSOLUTLY tried everything else first!! Pickle has now been to 3 different pet stores and has behaved very well! He spends as much time going out with me as Lady does. I think he is happier and I KNOW I am!! Thank you all for all your help and suggestions.

Chosen Answer
lori j.

Mar 29, 2008

I think the key to your answer was when you said the other dogs have never put your dog in his place. You should be the pack leader and all the dogs should look to you for direction. Think of the pack mentality, no one in the pack hunts or fights without "permission" from the alpha dog. Basic obedience commands like sit stay means you don't move no matter WHAT. Go back to the basics and reconfirm your position as leader and take that postion away from the dog. He'll start looking to you for guidance if you are a strong confident leader. I never let my dogs decide who is the leader- I am! I have multiple dogs over the years and since most were show dogs they were not altered until after their show careers where done and never had issues as long as I give them the security of knowing I was in charge. Remember too not all breeds and all dogs like to be "social" respect your dogs' breed and personality, but that doesn't mean he can show aggression. Keep control.

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Readers' Answers (3)
Kelly B.

Mar 26, 2008

The most effective answer might be to find a dog behavior expert (someone training in Applied Behavior Analysis would be best). They'll be able to observe, pinpoint the issues, and offer a step by step training plan for you.

For a different solution, I'd try Click To Calm - healing the aggressive dog. You'll find it on clickertraining.com or Amazon.

I've worked with dangerously aggressive dogs, at the point where if we don't change something, they won't have any options left. Operant conditioning was the most effective method of changing the behavior. I'm happy to say that since I started using it (was trained in the conventional methods before that), I've had more success and less problems. It's a hard thing to wrap your head around at first, especially when you've learned dominance methods etc... but once you see what it does... I couldn't ever go back to conventional training because this is so much better.

Best wishes for a well behaved Fido

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Mar 20, 2008

Did something happen to cause him to dislike bigger dogs so suddenly? The problem may be that he had a bad experience and is now afraid of larger dogs and is pre-emptively aggressive.
Look into a class for reactive dogs in your area. They can be a little expensive, but can work wonders. These classes usually involve desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques.
You haven't mentioned what methods you have tried using, but I would avoid using punishment, and watch your own body language (like tensing up on the lead). Try doing some extra focus work with the dog (rewarding him for eye-contact) gradually adding in other dogs (at a distance at first, then slowly closer) until he can focus on you rather than them, even at a close proximity. This will take extensive work, but will be worth it in the long run.

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Mar 15, 2008

i don't know if youll think about this but you could try a dog whisperer like Ceasor Millan the man wiht his own show hes really great ive seen him deal with the MOST aggressive dogs like this one dog who hurt there owners other dog so beddly that they had to put him down:~( but you should see if you could contact him to see if he'll help.

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