Stop Dog Aggression When People Pass By

Corie writes to me about territorial dog aggression:

Our rescue husky/heeler cross dog is 1.5 years old. I’ve made a lot of progress with him with your suggestion of the pinch collar and leash and boundary training. He is a nervous dog that is really afraid of everything and when people come up to him his fur goes us and he is on edge. He will not bite, he just backs away. I give people treats to give him and that helps. But when people walk by our yard and I don’t have him in a stay position he will charge after them and show dog aggression (or territorial aggression). I know I have to work more on the boundary issue, little harder right now in Canada with 2 feet of snow on our grass. What should I be doing please? Thanks.

Adam replies:

Hi, Corie:

Specifically for the fence charging?

Don’t leave him out there, unsupervised… until you’ve got this problem fixed.

Here’s what you do: When he charges the fence, yell out, “No!”… then calmly walk to him and administer a firm correction with the tab. Rinse and repeat.

This issue really just comes down to getting the right motivation level, for your corrections. If, after several repetitions, he’s still doing it… then your correction simply isn’t meaningful enough.

If you can’t get a good correction with the pinch collar, I’d recommend upgrading to the e-collar. There is something about the texture of the e-stim that gets through to the dog (without having to even be set high, sometimes) that works, when the pinch collar corrections do not.

– Adam.

DPTrainer4 adds:

To echo what Adam posted, it’s basically a problem that the dog is outside and devising his own ways to keep occupied.

That doesn’t mean that you need to keep him busy 100% of the time when you’re out with him, but it’s a good policy to not turn him out by himself often. Because we have an unfenced yard, I feel (and this is my opinion, and it’s NOT MEANT TO RAG ON ANYONE WITH A FENCE) that because we must be outside with our dog, she is more focused on us than just doing her own thing around the yard. We play with her, do obedience, work on boundary training, just sit and chill…but we’re out with her. My personal opinion is that it helps a lot with potential problems that she would otherwise have if she were allowed to go out by herself and fence-fight with the two poodles that live behind us (and yes, she has the capability to do that if we allowed her to do so).

If possible, keep the dog outside on a long line too so that you are not stuck playing “catch-me-if-you-can” when you need to correct.

Cory responds:

Thanks for the tips – figured the e-collar might be the next step.

I have another question. I have been doing all you suggested to become the alpha dog – having him wait til I go thru the door first, down stay for longer periods, not being allowed on bed, etc. but when I walk him he always wants to be 1/2 a body (dog) length ahead of me. I use the pinch collar and correct him and say hey and he steps back but then he’s ahead again. I also have a 13 year old lab who comes with us for a short part of the walk but he’s always 10 paces behind because he has a hard time walking and chooses to stay behind. Daos (husky) is pretty much the same way whether my lab is there or not. Although he is getting pretty good at walking with the leash (well it is dragging so I can step on it if he decides he wants to get away). Training my lab was a breeze – this rescue dog has certainly been a challenge. What should I do about the husky trying to lead? E- collar again?

Adam replies:

Hi, Corie:

Yes, the e-collar will definitely help with that, but what you’ll want to start doing is more of the Left-about turns. (Make sure they’re tight turns, as if you’re balancing on a tight rope, and make the dog step back and around you, if possible.)

The idea is to bump the dog in the side of the head with your knee, in a surprise left-about turn. The dog will start to hang back, because he’s watching and waiting for (and wants to avoid) getting bumped by your knee.

You can synchronize the knee with the e-stim, for even greater results.


4 thoughts on “Stop Dog Aggression When People Pass By”

  1. My daughter has a 9 month old American Bulldog (Johnston) who is right at 100 lbs already. He is the sweetest baby to her family and both me and my husband. The problem is he is showing agression to other dogs and people. A dog this large, is abit scarey to people. Upon walking “Sarge”, if someone approaches him, he acts happy at first, but then as soon as they get within reach of him, he growls and lunges at them. My daughter has to keep him very close to her, so that she can restrain him. She does use a pinch collar but this isn’t diverting his bad behavior. We don’t know if he will actually bite, due to he is so large, we can’t let him get close enough to someone to find out. Most are scared of him from his deep growling and lunges. He is such a wonderful kind dog to all of us and quite a baby at home. He gets walked at least once a day and most days twice, but out of the line of people and other dogs. Another issue is, he will not stop barking at any stranger that comes into the house. We have to keep him on a leash so that he won’t bite anyone, but no matter what we do, as soon as the person moves, he immediately goes in attack mode. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, concerned granny of Sarge.

  2. Yep we have the exact same problem……

    We walk him when I see nobody is out but there are always those surprises…
    He is okay at first when somone comes in and he is like this happy loving dog then all of a sudden he changes and starts growling–and wanting to attack and bite!
    We dont allow anybody in the house unless he is in the back room….on walks he does the same thing!
    He loves us and is a big baby in the house with us–we dont want to have to get rid of him–whatta we do?

  3. Hi Sandy we have the same problem–I put the comment above this one but forgot to add that our dog was 5 years old in Feb. He was a shelter dog-rescue dog. My husband and I have had dogs our entire married life of 33 yrs. Prior to that him and i had our enitire childhood to. Is this common in shelter dogs? He is 130 lbs lab-golden ret. and shepard mix. Our blond lab of 14 years died jan 17th. I dont know about the shepard part but lab and golden ret are normally a gentle. He seems to want to love people but cant (?!) He is very protective of me since my husband is a truck driver but even when by husband is home or walks him he does the same thing. It is like a light bulb that turns on in his head.
    I thank you for writing this since I felt I was like the only one with this bad dog behavior or aggression. This is the first dog I have ever had that wanted to bite!
    Thank you.

  4. hi my two 6 month old german shepherds are a bit of a problem
    whenever we go for walks all they do is try to charge at strangers and dogs, it’s becoming a struggle now as they are getting bigger and bigger and are getting hard to control
    we take them to dog school but even then it’s hard to control them as they dont pay attention, the trainers can’t even touch them

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