A Reader Wants To Know If You Can Make A Dog Be Social With Other Dogs

I recently purchased and downloaded your book, “Secrets of a
Professional Dog Trainer” and have found it very helpful.

My wife and I adopted an abused 5-month old Hungarian Visla cross,
and found that she was very friendly with humans but vicious with
other dogs, (Probably from being abused as a puppy by bigger dogs).
We’ve applied your techniques and tips and have seen tremendous
progress already in just a few weeks with the basic sit, stay and heel
commands. Still, though our biggest problem is trying to get her to be
“social” with other dogs, and trying to get her to not pull our arm off
every time she sees another dog. That said here is my question, Is
there any trick, tip or special way to get her to be social with other
dogs and not jump over the fenced yard every time another dog walks
by. Your advice is appreciated.


Dear Rob:

Thank you for the kind words.

Unfortunately, you cannot “make” a dog be social with other dogs. You
can use the techniques to teach your dog to IGNORE other dogs by
correcting him if he shows aggression& but I would not recommend putting
the dog in an off leash setting around other dogs that are off leash.

Ignoring vs. socializing with are two completely different things.

It’s like with humans. Some are poorly socialized. You can teach a person
to be respectful around others, but you can’t always MAKE them LIKE other

As for “pulling your arm off” when you’re walking your dog on-leash, I would
recommend you use the “loose leash/attention getter” technique I describe
on page 175 (the section titled, “How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Pulling On
The Leash”) and for the fence jumping, look at page 168 (the section titled,
“How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Jumping On The Fence.”)

Ankle Biting

I have a five month-old Maltese and I’m having a problem with him nipping at my ankles and pulling on my pant legs. Also could I use a pinch collar on him? He only weighs 4lbs.

Thanks for any help you can give me. Regards, Marie

Dear Marie,

By biting your ankles and pulling your pant legs, he is asking for attention. I find it hard to think that he is trying to dominate you at this age, so the behavior is probably more related to attention. You need to eliminate this behavior verbal correction IN CONJUNCTION WITH grabbing the scruff of his neck and giving a firm pull.

If it’s easier, use a prong collar on because the collar only pinches the skin instead of constricting against the neck. While they are very hard to find in conventional pet stores, they are available online and can be found by typing “micro prong collar” into a search engine. It will help you communicate with your dog in a way he understands. However, it’s unlikely.

Dog Trainer Loses Finger

I received this e-mail, last week. I don’t know this guy– nor do I know anything about his methods. Therefore, I cannot recommend his approach. A quick glance at his web site would suggest some minor confusion over the difference between “punishing” a dog and “correcting” a dog. Although I
guess it depends on whether you’re using the confusing academic
lingo which incorporates concepts such as, “positive and negative

In any event, you’ve gotta admire this guy’s sense of humor! I think that this e-mail is especially important for anyone who’s thinking of becoming a professional dog trainer. If you think that you can go through a 6-week mail order course and become a “certified professional dog trainer” and this should make you think twice.

Here’s the e-mail:

” Wow!! Well, after 30 years of working with dogs that try to rip me apart (I am a trainer that specializes in the treatment of unwanted dog aggression) I finally lost a finger. I turned my back at the wrong moment and WHAM! The moment I put my guard down, the dog jumped me and off came the finger.

Funny thing, I always thought it would hurt much more, but it didn’t. It felt as if my hand had been suddenly hit with a blast of cold air. You can imagine my horror when I saw that my finger was gone.

After a day in the hospital, the bloody doctors caused me more pain than the dog, I have returned to work and have every intention to rehabilitate the savage dog that took my finger. So, as you can imagine, I am no stranger when it comes to dealing with problem dogs.”

Body Language Before Dog Bites

Mark writes: After catching up on doggy email, I’ve noticed your reference to submissive posture. Your book helped more than a professional trainer I hired for my adopted Golden. We went through biting and  dominance issues.

The problem I am having now is I still do not trust him 100%. When he bit there really wasn’t any sign it was coming (that I noticed). Even now, the only sign that he doesn’t like something  is a lowered head and sometimes a low growl (the groomer told me this).

This dog growls sometimes when he is happy. It is almost like someone
taught him not to make any other noise in doors. Outside he will bark.
I guess the big question is how do you read a dog’s face, body, etc.?

Dear Mark:

It’s a tough situation you’ve got. You’ve really got to just pay close attention to the dog at any time you suspect she may display the aggression. The most common indicators that I used when working with clients who had aggressive dogs was to watch:

1. The mouth. A dog will always pull has mouth closed tight just before
he bites.

2. Body language. The dog’s body language will get stiff and still just before he bites. Especially watch the stillness. It’s very subtle, but at the same time very noticeable once you train your eye to look for it.

There are other things that you could look for depending on the dog and the type of aggression. However, you need to recognize that there are ALWAYS cues… it’s just a matter of whether we are quick enough (or aware enough) to catch them.

Sensitive Older Dogs: Preventing Pain Or Fear Induced Aggression

Fear induced dog aggression or pain induced dog aggression is a condition that every older dog is prone to attract. This is simply because many dog owners do not realize that the aging dog is very sensitive to the feelings of pain, surprises, and aggressiveness — even from innocent play.

Pay attention to changes in your pet’s demeanor or personality as things become difficult for him. If you do, you won’t be surprised by a full-blown fear of, for example, jumping up into the car to go for a ride. If your dog can’t see where he’s jumping, or if it hurts him to jump, it can lead to fear-induced aggression. He may strike out against you, seemingly for holding the car door open.

Aging dogs get into biting for similar reasons if they’re experiencing discomfort. Pain-induced biting can be a result of forcing them to do things that they’re no longer able to do. And this in turn can lead to fear-induced biting if, in their eyes, you’re about to force them to do the painful activity. If it’s jumping into the car, they become afraid of your reaching for the car door handle and nip the hand you’re using to hold them because of the coming pain. Creaky old hips aren’t meant to propel a slightly overweight frame onto the seat of an SUV, even with the help of a push from the rear.

Sometimes children or grandchildren forget that the dog is not as young as she used to be. The smaller the children, the more reminding they will need – for their own safety as well as for the comfort of the dog. Many dogs are likely to become aggressive if they are hurt while being picked up the wrong way by an unsuspecting child. Sometimes it’s necessary to set new rules in the household for the kids who come over to visit: “Sparky is not feeling well today. Please let him be by himself in the corner,” or “Sparky is old, and he’s feeling a little grumpy today. Maybe tomorrow he’ll feel a little bit better, but let’s leave him by himself today.”

Similarly, if one of your younger puppies or dogs starts to get into too intense play for your older dog, redirect his activity and play toward you or toward self-play. It’s up to you to intervene on behalf of your geriatric pet. If it doesn’t look like she can take it any longer, she’ll thank you for sure, and your relationship will grow because of it.

Dog Aggression From Formerly Friendly Dogs

My dog (2 years-old) and my mother’s dog (4 years-old) have always gotten along very well. But lately, they’ve started to fight over certain things. We’re appalled by this behavior and immediately break them up and scold them.

However, I am concerned and don’t know if I am doing the right thing.

Thank you, Danny.

Adam replies: Dear Danny: You need to let them work it out. Every time you break it up, you make it worse for the next time. I would recommend that you read my book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” (Find it in the download library, at left).

It will give you a much deeper understanding of how dogs communicate with each other and with us. My advice on this issue is to supervise them with a garden hose and a break stick– just in case they start to seriously injure each other. But if both dogs are generally well socialized, it’s more than likely just a dominance scuffle that needs to be worked out and not actual dog aggression.. Again, the rule of thumb is to let them work it out as long as the dominant dog is not INJURING the other dog. (Viscous sounds, growling, nipping on the neck, don’t count as “injury.”) If you don’t heed my advice, then you can still make them get along while you’re there, but when you’re not, then they must be separated. And as always, if there is any question or you are still unsure as to whether it’s a dominance scuffle or a death feud, then please contact a qualified local trainer who can supervise the situation.

Dog Aggression Toward Other Dogs That Wander into the Yard

Although I don’t have many of the problems with my wonderful dog that you talk about — I do have the problem that he has not been socialized with other dogs and thus shows dog aggression towards other dogs that come into our yard. Not quite sure where to start.

I want to be able to take him anywhere with me and not be afraid that he will invade some other dog’s space. He listens to me quite well — except when very excited, this we are working on now.

Thanks again so very much,
– Diane.


Adam replies:

Diane, I would recommend that you do not allow your dog to interact with strange dogs that you do not know because of the risk of dog aggression. Nor would I allow other dogs to approach my dog. Especially by wandering into my yard. This is your dog’s territory and it is not unusual for an owner to see dog aggression when another dog is wandering into the territory.

This is viewed by the dog as an invasion. Now, assuming that you’re at this point, the sigue now becomes: Is your dog showing aggresion towards other dogs, even when the other dogs are off in the distance? If the answer is yes, then I can almost guarantee that you’re not giving your dog a meaningful correction.

Make sure the pinch collar is fitted correctly and that you’re getting snack in your leash when you’re tugging on it. If your correction isn’t firm enough to even break your dog’s focus on the other dog, then you’ll know that your corrections are meaningless.

Dogs Fight When She’s Asleep

Karen writes to me about dog aggression:

“My little 8 pound dog starts to attack my geriatric dog when I go to sleep at night. What should I do?”

Adam replies:

Remember… you must confine your dog (in a crate or kennel run) when you are not in a position to correct him. If you’re asleep, and the dog can do a behavior that you don’t like, then you’ve just taught your dog that YOU ARE INCONSISTENT in your response to his behaviors.

TEACH your dog that EVERY TIME he does a behavior that you don’t like, he will receive a motivational correction. If the dog knows that you’re consistent with everything you do in life, then he’ll stop challenging you and will drop any unwanted behavior after only one or two corrections.

Golden Retriever Shows Two Different Types Of Dog Aggression

I am writing about our dog Rudy, a three year old goldie mix that we adopted
five months ago from a shelter. We have received different opinions on his

Some have said goldie/shepherd, some have said goldie/chow. The latter
is the opinion of the [local dog training academy], where he is presently
enrolled in their one-month board and dog training program.

We enrolled him because one month ago he attacked a jogger. The jogger was running by my husband, who had Rudy in a sit on a slack leash. The jogger changed direction quickly, running straight toward Derek and Rudy. Rudy lunged at the jogger, jumped up on him, barking and growling aggressively. He tore the man’s jacket by nipping at it, but he did not bite the jogger.

[You weren’t paying attention to your dog. If you were, you’d have already
been running the other direction to execute the “attention getter” drill as
outlined in the book. — Editor ]

The only other time he had displayed such aggressive behavior was toward a
UPS driver coming up the driveway, but he was well under control that time.
He has a very strong prey drive and dominant personality. He had been doing
very well these past three weeks at the Academy. They were not able to
elicit any aggressive behavior from him, and his obedience training was going
well. But last Thursday, he bit a trainer. He apparently was being put back
into his kennel and ran off down a long hallway. He was not leashed. When
he got to the dead end, he first went submissive, rolling over on his back.
The dog trainer then reached to grab his collar and Rudy gave her hand a good
bite. She then reached for the collar with her other hand, and he did the
same to that hand. He did not give her any warning growl or snap. He did
not move forward toward her, just reacted to her reach toward him. After
the second bite she backed off, and another dog trainer was able to
coax Rudy to go back with her uneventfully.

I have read your book and believe that the trainer bite was an example of
fear aggression? (I don’t know what to think about the jogger, though.) The
Academy seems to be saying that they can’t train that reaction out of him;
that we will just need to be vigilant and mindful of his triggers. That goes
without saying, and I now believe that being cornered is one of his triggers.
(Our vet had also mentioned that when they cornered him to get him on a
table, that he had snapped out at them.) But your book and tapes led me to
believe that you can train such behavior out of a dog. Or am I
misunderstanding? Are you merely just getting the dog to react to you
instead of following his instinctual reaction? Certainly that’s a good thing, but
what if he’s with someone else when he’s triggered?

We need some perspective on this situation. I love him and want to give him
every chance to learn correct behaviors. But on the other hand, we live in a
dense children and jogger packed neighborhood. We can’t keep him if there is
reasonable risk of this kind of thing happening again.

Mary Ellen

Dear Mary Ellen:

Thank you for the e-mail.

You’ve got a couple of things to consider:

1. The dog needs to be firmly corrected lunging. Going after the biker is a
prey-based aggression. Correct him for this, as described in the book.

2. Going after the dog trainer and the veterinarian is the result of the dog being
insecure and not trusting the handler. Usually in these types of cases, he will
not bite if he is secure that you will not hurt him. Or if he knows that he will
only be fairly corrected for behavior that he understands.

With aggressive behavior, we can never say 100% “All” or “Never” that your
dog will or will not show a specific behavior.

Regardless, your dog needs to be corrected for such behavior, and then
shown that if he is calm, he gets praise and nothing bad happens to him.
This can sometimes be achieved by placing the dog in such positions while he
is wearing a muzzle. He cannot bite you, and ultimately learns that
everything ends up “A-Okay.”

It is a process of deconditioning. Not so for the prey-aggression, which can
be fixed with a couple of well-timed and motivational corrections.

Dog Aggression — Amateur Dog Trainer Offers Bad Advice

About a month ago, I adopted a 41/2 year old male shepherd mix at the Hawthorne SPCA . He is great except he barks (whines and cries) like he wants to play when he sees other dogs.

When the dogs get close in proximity, my dog lunges and barks out of control in a very aggressive manner. At the shelter, he was housed with two other dogs (no problem).

In addition, the shelter employees confirmed that he showed no signs of dog aggression. The day I brought the dog home, I hired a dog trainer anticipating minor problems. The dog follows all the basic commands and is extremely well behaved until another dog shows up — at that point his excitement gets the best of him and his interest is only in the other dog.

The trainer has recommended a halti and the “leave-it” command but the problem appears to be escalating. Recently we tried a pinch collar which seemed to be working until my dog nipped me in response to a correction for lunging /barking at another dog. Any suggestions???



Thanks for the e-mail.

Here’s what I recommend:

#1: You may consider doing the following under the supervision of an experienced dog trainer. Not the one you’ve been working with, but one with experience when it comes to correcting aggression.

#2: Please note that it may not be absolutely necessary to hire a dog trainer for this specific behavior, but it depends a lot on your confidence level. Here’s what I recommend: Buy a snug fitting muzzle for the dog and put it on him when you’re taking him for a walk. Also make sure you’re using a properly sized and fitted pinch collar.

#3: When he tries to correct you for correcting him, you’re playing the “broomstick game.” He’s correcting you, and you must end the game by correcting him with so much motivation that he never thinks about trying to bite you again. This is all a dominance behavior on his part.

It should be quick and sweet. You should not let your dog suck you into a tit for a tat game. The muzzle is so that you don’t have to worry about him biting you and so that you can still get your point across. Once he understands this, your problem will be pretty much solved.

#4: Go to a Starbucks Coffee or other area where people walk their dogs on leash and put your dog on a down-stay and MAKE him stay down. He should get used to other dogs walking by and staying calm. Praise him after they walk by if he stays relaxed.