Interdog Aggression: Why Dogs Fight With Other Dogs

Anyone who has ever witnessed the horrifying experience of interdog aggression and seeing their dog attacking another dog knows all too well the terror of the moment. Interdog aggression is displayed towards other dogs and not toward people. Even though the dog displaying interdog aggression may be acting out of a sense of territorial protection, the owners of the “offender” are plagued with many conflicting emotions as a result of their dog’s “crime.” On one hand you, the dog owner, feel angry at your dog for attacking the other dog that you want to punish your dog. However, on the other hand, you might feel sad or guilty because you realize your dog was only trying to protect you. At all times, it is a nightmare to live through for both you and the dogs involved.

interdog aggression


Stop Interdog Aggression:

* Your dog growls at other dogs, nearby. Growling indicates your dog’s desire to attack.

* Instead of eating a treat immediately upon receiving it, your dog is overly possessive of the treat and hides it or stands guard over the treat so that other dogs or pets won’t take it away. This is also a form of antagonism that your dog is displaying toward your other pets which is another way of saying: your dog is picking a fight.

* What started out as usual playing among your dog and another dog, turns into a hostile fight or growling match. If your dog is not aggressive, they will submit and not growl back.

Risk Factors Associated With Interdog Aggression:

* Fear of being attacked by the other dog, though there may be no indication of aggression made by the other dog.

* Insecurity. Your dog’s insecurity is different than a human’s insecurity: If your dog doesn’t spend his days burning off energy hunting and chasing vermin in the yard or critters in the forest and doesn’t have a good foundation of obedience training and socialization, (s)he doesn’t have the self-confidence necessary to know how to have a balanced relationship with another dog, or how to act when one on one with another animal. This lack of experience causes to insecurity which turns into aggression. Note: allowing your dog to hunt in the woods or in your yard is not suggested to solve insecurity. A professional dog trainer or professionally-advised handling tips must be used to strengthen your dog’s sense of self so (s)he won’t have to resort to violence against every dog encountered.

* Your dog’s natural sense of being territorial. Protecting your home and property might not be behavior that you want to change. If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs that come near your home but is not aggressive when away from your home, you’ll need to make sure that your yard is well-fenced. Also, for some flock guardian breeds, this behavior is encouraged.

* Suffering from previous owner’s over-socialization with older dogs, as a puppy. If you have a rescue dog that is displaying strong dog aggression, chances are high your dog was not socialized properly. (S)he has learned to defend themselves with violent means. If you are an owner of a rescue dog, you probably don’t need to be told that you should start your dog on a “Nothing In Life Is Free” program and begin obedience training exercises so that your dog develops a vocabulary and relationship with you, that will allow you to communicate with your dog that fighting with other dogs is not tolerated.

* Some breeds are more prone to this form of aggression. For some dogs, there may be a genetic component to the aggression.

* Dogs that are often bred to fight are certainly more susceptible to fighting. Dogs like Pit Bulls, Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, Akitas and Shar peis come from a long line of fighters. They have the thrill of the fight in their blood and though they are not natural hunters or have not been abused as puppies, they may (but not always) have a natural instinct to fight with other dogs.

Signs Of Aggression Between Dogs

* While walking on a leash, your dog sees another dog and makes every attempt to wiggle out of his leash in order to attack another dog.

* When you open your front door, your dog tries desperately to run out to attack another dog.

* At the dog park, your dog starts out playing with another dog but begins to fight physically with that other dog over a toy, bone or area of the park.

Stop Interdog Aggression

* Choose a leash and a training collar. Learn the right technique to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash. This can be learned in less than an hour, and for some dogs… in less than 10 minutes. If your dog is not pulling on the leash, there is a 90% chance he won’t be aggressive toward other dogs.

* Hold the leash by putting your thumb through the loop, and then folding the leash in half and close your fist around both strands of the leash. Do not simply grasp the ring of your dog’s leash to hold on to him/her. This is the number one way a dog gets lost. If your dog is prone to running, bring your other hand up under your first hand (two hands, together) which gives you firmer control of the leash.

* Break in the use of a muzzle on your dog, before you encounter another dog.

Note: never force your dog to wear the muzzle for longer than five or ten minutes the first several times. A muzzle can be a stressful experience for your dog.

The first five or six uses of the muzzle, only keep it on your dog for ten minutes and keep your dog inside. Reward them with a treat upon removing the muzzle. After the sixth use of the muzzle, venture outside with your leashed dog and only keep him or her out for 20 minutes maximum. Increase accordingly.

Let me reiterate that interdog aggression (more commonly known as just “dog aggression”) is distinct from “handler aggression” in that the dog is aggressive toward other dogs, and this behavior may be completely devoid of handler aggression.  In other words: Sometimes we’ll see dogs that are perfectly fine around adults, children, babies … even other types of animals.  But when it comes to interactions with other dogs, you’ll see the aggression come out.


Interdog Aggression – What Are The Warning Signs?

In all cases, there will be physical signs– although sometimes subtle– of the aggression, before the dog acts.  This may include:

  1. Stiff and rigid body language.
  2. Pulling the mouth closed tightly.
  3. The dog may lock his gaze with the other dog.
  4. Curling of the upper lip.
  5. Lowering the head (in a stalking/hunting-like position)
  6. Dominant body language or seeking to be physically in a higher position than the other dog.
  7. Hackles up
  8. Lips curled tightly against the teeth, and showing of the teeth.

Types of Interdog Aggression

Interdog aggression can be broken down into the same main subcategories that every other type of dog aggression can be categorized in, namely:

  • Dominant aggression
  • Fear aggression or defensive aggression
  • Territorial aggression
  • Protective aggression (usually of puppies)
  • Pain response aggression

Of course, there are others, but most will fit within one of the above mentioned categories.

Eva writes: “You are so right, Adam! My German Shepherd experienced the same thing and at 2 years of age he became interdog aggressive. I have had 11 “Dog Trainers” and the last one finally told me to have the dog focus on me when other dogs approach. He is doing ok with only one or two other dogs while focusing but when 4 or more dogs come at him he loses it and attacks. I can only walk him with a shock color and, when I see other dogs approaching, ( tough to see them when they come from behind), have to put a muzzle on. I have to be on a constant lookout for other dogs and had a very stressful life with him for the past 6 years, he is now 8.
Sincerely, Eva”

Catherine adds: “I don’t know if you’ll see this reply, but my dog is a great example of your description of how interdog aggression gets started. Maya is a german shepherd/blue heeler mix and was very friendly as a pup. When she was about 9 mos. old and we were out for a walk, a neighbor’s dogs came after us. This happened a few times that summer, then again the next summer. Although they never bit her or us (my husband and I carried pepper spray and a baton to protect ourselves), we could see it dawning on her that “a good offense is the best defense.”

By the middle of Maya’s 2nd summer (when she was almost 2 years old) — and after talking to these neighbors and then finally reporting them to the dog control officer — the neighbors finally got their dogs under control. However, Maya had become a snarling, aggressive dog that was very difficult to control, even with other quiet, friendly dogs…and it had carried over to people.

It has taken me 3+ years of working with her with a prong collar and an e-collar so that she is no longer challenging and showing aggression to the neighborhood dogs. Sometimes we even walk with them and their owners. She is also better with people but still fearful. So, we still have a ways to go — and it’s all because we were attacked by those dogs when she was young.

The funny thing is, when I take her other places, Maya shows little interest in other dogs and is never aggressive towards them. In fact, her behavior in obedience classes as well as a class for becoming a therapy dog was better than anything I ever hoped for — even when other dogs misbehaved or were aggressive, she was fine. We now visit the skilled care section of a nursing home as a registered therapy dog team, and she is fine with the residents in wheelchairs, walkers, and other equipment…as well as the elderly miniature poodle that has the run of the place. She also seems to enjoy children. However, she’s still afraid of standing adults who can get around on their own. I continue to work with her on that fear, taking her to town or other situations with people for socialization at least once a week. — Catherine Seebald”

Philis writes, “Interesting article about interdog agression vis a vis socialization.How about an instance where a 4 year german shepherd, neutered and pack leader of 3 females and 1 male with whom he has been close to and best buddies unto the male turned 2 (he is intact) and the shepherd has now attacked him severely three times and the dog who was attacked is now living temporarily with me and my 2 females. Philis Raskind

Working with a dog that displays interdog aggression can be dangerous.  If you’re at all afraid of your dog, then by all means contact a professional dog trainer.   You might also want to take a look at my book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” and all of the accompanying bonuses that can help you get inside your dog’s head and teach him/her to stop the interdog aggression, as soon as possible.

Her Dogs Previously Got Along… Now They Show Dog Aggression. Here’s What To Do

Skipdogwalker wrote to me about how to handle dog aggression:

Hi: I have 3 dogs (Kona, male pit mix 3 yrs old) (Sur, male pit mix 18 months old) (Sierra, female boxer 7 yrs old) all spayed and neutered. Kona was the first dog… we have had him since he was about 6 months old.

Sierra came next and has been with us for over a year and gets along with everyone.

Sur came last has been with us about 6 months, he had a severe case of mange when we got him but it is now cleared up.

Dog Aggression Over A Kong Toy

Kona and Sur played together, slept together, ate together everyday until last month when they showed dog aggression over a kong toy ($1200.00 at the vet) we now have to crate them and bring them out separately in shifts. We let them out in the house together but they are now always on leashes. They have still fought 2 more times but not as long as the first fight (I was home alone for the first fight and it took me a while to separate them) They are both back to the “nothing in life is free” method. They both wear prong collars and Kona has been trained a little with the e collar. Every time we feel like they are making progress we get a little overconfident thinking/hoping they get along and they go at it again. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Also my wife and I have been married for two weeks and this is not making life easy! Thanks

Adam replies:

Hi, Skipdogwalker:

Congratulations on your nuptials!

dog aggression
dog aggression

As you know, there are several aspects to dog aggression: dominant aggression, fear aggression, territorial aggression and all kinds of other facets of aggressive dog behavior, such as predatory aggression in dogs, aggressive barking, reactivity, etc… And without seeing what’s going on, I can only give you a “best guess” as to what’s going on in this specific case.

The best case scenario is that you can get them to be around each other, but they won’t ever be able to interact with each other– because: They’re both males and they’ve already demonstrated that they are unsafe around each other.

What I would do is either:

1. Find one another home.


2. Get absolute, solid obedience on both dogs, so that they respond to voice commands PERFECTLY … specifically, the “No!” command (which you can use to break them up immediately, should a fight start).

But realize that it’s an explosive situation that you’re always going to need to be “on top” of, 100% of time. I’d definitely get a crate, and alternate which dog is allowed free time. Otherwise, having to constantly supervise the situation will drive you crazy. Of course, both dogs knowing sold down-stay commands will help make life easier. But you’re still in a situation where you’re living under the dog aggression equivalent of the sword of Damocles.

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.


Rescued Miniature Poodle with Dog Aggressive Behavior

Martiwise writes to me about her dog’s aggressive behavior:


We “adopted” an 8 year old minature poodle at Thanksgiving….. from a home in which he was neglected (therefore abused to me). The house contained 30 dogs and 1,000 rats when it was highlighted on TV new program. He was the oldest dog and the stud dog, father to a lot of the other dogs in the house. He wsas never outside…. never groomed…. food was “dropped off” at the house…

He was the last to be removed from the house…. had to be shaved, he was so matted (couldn’t even lie down) He was neutered and our hearts go out to him for the life he had to endure. We’d like to give him a good home for his remaining years.

We feel he has a lot of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in that he had to fend for himself with 20+ other dogs… fight off rats for food….heard noises (rats) all night long. We’ve house broken him, he comes and sits, waits calmly to be fed…

We have 2 standard poodles, both males, and he has “tussled” with the Alpha on several occasions, and the Beta nips at his neck. My concern is for the dog aggression  he displays when we settle down to watch TV in the evening.

He growls very little during the day… it’s night when the ugly disposition manifests itself. He can be sitting with us, as calm as can be….and if either/both of the other 2 dogs comes into the room…or is in the room and just moves….he begins to growl…ferociously….at both the dog(s) and can include either me or my husband….moreso my husband than me….and has tried to bite him on several occasions when in this state….

I’ve been pushing him off the couch and saying “NO!” sharply….and it helps, but it has not stopped the reaction… there anything else someone can suggest?

Adam replies:

Hi, Marti:

What a horrible life! You’re an angel for rescuing him.

Now– onwards:

The dog should not be on the couch. He needs to get a correction for the aggression, and that correction needs to come from somebody he sees as above him in the “pack”.

I recommend you start him on a “Nothing In Life Is Free” program. The structure and predictability will work wonders for providing stability and structure in his life.

Second, you need to start giving him leash corrections in the manner I describe in my dog training book. Please read it, from cover-to-cover, and if you still have questions, we’re here to help.

– Adam.

Martiwise responds:

Hi Adam,

Well, all I can say is…..the book works!

First, I established myself as the “pack leader”…and my male (standard poodle) Alpha “set the rules” for Baby (that’s the name he cam with and we’ve kept it).

I started the “walk on a leash…and he managed it in 2 days of training. Mastered the SIT command….doesn’t “stay” well yet, but wil continue to work on it. Waits. Is housebroken. Was “disciplined” EVERY time he GROWLED at the other 2 dogs when on the couch…was put onto the floor IMMEDIATELY!…and had to deal with the other 2 dogs from that level. And now does not get agitated into the growl stage every time one of the other 2 comes into the area where he is.

I also did the “THINK what he’s thinking; be in his head” …I “listened” to his “communication” with me….body languange, bark, everything! and when I started to realize that I needed to treat him like a puppy instead of an 8 year old dog….it all came together!!! This dog NEVER stepped foot on cement, or grass, or had a toy….or was loved….not the way I “love” a dog! He was the eldest dog of 30, trapped in a “house” that was filthy and rat infested…and had to be destroyed after the 30 dog were removed….and he was the last to be taken out….he and his 8 week old pup/son….who were left in a cage for 2 weeks before their removal…night frightened him, because no one lived in the house….just the dogs and the rats… was put out….and the dogs had to fend for themselves…against the rats! put myself “in his place”….it was really easy to do what was needed….think like he did….discipline him….teach him….lead him….and love him!

He’s become my “buddy”….follows me everywhere…..listens to my voice/commands….responds to praises and discipline….and it’s all right there in your book! I didn’t have it with my other dogs, but raising them from puppies was a lot different than adopting an 8 year old!…and he’s finding his place in the pack in our house! Still has a way to go, but NOTHING like it was the week of Thanksgiving…all this progress in 3 months!!!

I’ve told others about you website and book…
don’t know if anyone will take my advice….but if they don’t, it’s their loss….
Thank you for sharing your knowledge! What a difference you made in helping me realize “I CAN DO THIS!”

Marti Wise

Dealing With Dog Biting and Aggression

Vellsworth writes to me about dog biting and aggression:

There is no consistent ‘mitigating pattern’ to his dog aggression – first time he jumped up and drew a drop of blood from a man’s inner thigh, a man with a leg prosthesis (other dogs also went for this ‘wounded animal’ – Skippy was immediately leashed and made to walk around the park with the man for about 20 minutes – never another problem). 2 other times, men were walking away from him (trying to get their attention seems a bit out of the question as Skippy was busy playing with dogs) he just jumped up and snapped – but he did bruise one man – the other, nothing. Again, I caught up to him – no – he came on command and I gave him a time out – once we left the park and another time I knew the guy and we stayed – I distracted Skippy with one of his playmates and kept close watch on him. Since he is extremely bonded with me, I’d like to say he is just being overly protective – HA! He is nowhere near me when this happens – which is why I have (finally) gotten my e-collar.I also bought a mesh muzzle today – which I promised in order to go back to the park.

re: e-collar. is he supposed to think that the shock is coming from me or the man? I assume I watch closely for him going Toward a man – command him ‘no!’ then shock if he doesn’t obey. Correct?

BTW – he used to nip at dogs’ heels and we thought he had some sheep herder in him – one day with the shock collar eliminated that. Hope the same with men.

Adam replies:

Hi, Virginia:

RE: The stim from the collar: He needs to know this is coming from you. You use it the same way you would use the leash and collar: By saying, “No!” and then giving the correction. The e-collar just allows you to more accurately match the motivation level of the correction with your dog’s temperament and the situation.

I think using the muzzle is smart. It sounds like you’re on the right track. Regardless of why he’s nipping (peg leg, a guy with a hat, herding instinct) you’ll correct it, just the same.

As a side note: At this stage in his rehabilitation (I hate that word!) … you shouldn’t let him get more than 10 feet away from you, because we want him to know 100% that the correction is coming from you.

I’m assuming you’ve read the book already and understand the “three keys”?



Dog Growling While Being Fed

Nikki writes to me about her dog’s growling:

“Dear Trainer, I have a 4 mth. old Rott. and Lab mix male, more Rott. then Lab. I am the main care giver and trainer. I am a small women. We do very well together except in one very important aspect. When I feed him and pet him at the same time he growls at me. I have fed him entire meals out of my hand for a few feedings that went ok. But this dog aggression behavior continues with the bowl. I spit in is bowl as instructed I have his pinch collar on I will correct him he does not like this. He does not growl at my husband who does care for him but not as much as me. Help he is gaining 4 lbs a week. soon he will out weigh me. HE sits and stays on command. Thank you, Nikki ”

Adam replies:

Hi, Nikki.

This is very, very common for Rottweilers. Although usually it happens closer to 8 months of age.

What you can do is: Take a baseball bat or a golf club (or anything else that makes you feel more comfortable) and use it to nudge him out of the way, in one swift motion. The club becomes an extension of your arm. But you can’t do it timidly.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not suggesting you hit the dog with the club. Just shoo him away from the food. You’re using the club as a prop to give you more confidence.

It’s really just an attitude thing. Regardless of your size, you need to get your point across. You’ve got to remember: He’s still a puppy. So, he’s really just testing you to see what he can get away with. You’ve got to let him know that, regardless of YOUR size… you’re tougher and meaner than him. In other words: If he’s going to growl and threaten you, then you’re going to rock his world, and he’s never EVER going to think about doing that to you again.

This is really where consistency and self-confidence comes in. Because even if you’re correcting him, if he can sense you’re not really confident in telling him what to do… he’s just going to shake it off.

I’m not the biggest of men, myself. And when I work with big, aggressive, powerful dogs– I have to approach it with the attitude that I am the dominant animal. This is the same way our little Jack Russell can make our much bigger dogs get up and move away– when he walks by and wants the toy they’re playing with. Even though the bigger dogs could (physically) kill him– psychologically, they don’t know it. Because the little dog is tough, tough, tough. And he’ll go after the bigger dogs, if they test him– with no abandon.

Make sense?

Keep me posted.

In addition– I suggest you start implementing the “Nothing In Life Is Free” approach, as described in the book. This is something that will psychologically start making the dog view you as his pack leader.


“Our Dog Bit, So We Got Rid Of Him”

By Lynn –

What kind of excuse is this? Is this some kind of blanket statement for dogs that really do have issues, or is it more the problem of the owners? Let’s take a look at both.

I’ve been hearing this a lot lately, mostly from people who got rid of one dog and want to immediately replace it. And sure, while wanting to have another dog isn’t a sin in and of itself, but few people take the time to really investigate why the event occurred and what could have come of it.

Of course, the most likely situation is that the dog was part of the family first: he did fine around other children and adults, but when the Bundle O Joy© came home from the hospital, all of a sudden children weren’t so cool anymore. The Bundle screamed, made sudden noises and movements; pulled fur, ears and tail; and then when the Bundle learns to crawl and even walk, the dog can’t even escape anymore unless the Adults find it fit to secure the Bundle in a large area. And the Bundle takes away all the attention the dog used to get, so now he’s not getting the love to which he feels entitled. It’s no wonder why some dogs bite their Bundles!

However, there’s also another perfectly likely situation that most people aren’t willing to consider: their dog wasn’t trained.

Back in December, a county-run shelter was outed for some pretty bad practices, such as altering medical/behavior records, adopting out vicious dogs, severe overcrowding and poor management overall. The independent firm hired to take care of the management problems did the job quite well, but during the investigation, an article appeared in the local paper regarding the vicious dogs issue that opened my eyes to what was really going on, and I figure it’s good enough to let you all read the main part [hold on, this actually does having something to do with the topic at hand…I’m not just being random!]:

Vicious dogs get adopted, some say

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Workers at the Franklin County animal shelter don’t knowingly let vicious dogs out the door, its director says. But bitten or blindsided owners tell a different tale.

“There was blood all over my family room,” said Julie Thompson of Hilliard.

She and her husband, Arlie, had fallen in love with Rel, a husky who tested fine at the shelter with a family dog before adoption on Sept. 2, Mrs. Thompson said.

But within four hours of bringing him home, Rel was back at the shelter: He had attacked the Thompsons’ other husky and bloodied one of their two beagles.

“My dogs are my children,” Mrs. Thompson said, adding that all were rescued animals.

Rel’s search for a family didn’t end there. The shelter put the 36-pound, year-old dog up for adoption two more times.

And twice more, he was returned.

Shelter Director Lisa Wahoff said Rel was held for observation and training after the Thompsons brought him back to make sure he’d be a good pet. Such training has succeeded with other dogs. Randy, a 43-pound mixed breed, bit a shelter volunteer. After seven months of rehab, new owner Phyllis Sage was carefully screened and warned. She wrote Wahoff recently to say that Randy is a sweet dog: “We feel truly blessed.”

Rel did well in training, but it didn’t stick. “He did well in a large play group; no aggression was seen,” a shelter card says.

Rel’s second owner returned him Oct. 30, one day after adoption. Her dog was “initiating attacks” with Rel, she wrote.

He lasted two days with his third owner. On Nov. 12, she noted that Rel was “sweet, smart, affectionate.” He also “attacked my sheltie and drew blood.”

The shelter euthanized Rel the next day.

The number of dogs returned for biting people is statistically small, about 0.7 percent — or 24 dogs — a year, Wahoff said. Overall, people have returned 285 of the 3,234 dogs adopted through November.

“Most say, ‘It was too much dog’ or ‘We’re moving,’ ” Wahoff said. “We do a good job of trying to match up people and dogs. Dogs are dogs, and you can’t predict.”…

OK OK, I know there are SO many problems with a LOT of things in this article, but let’s stick to the topic. Below is my response, the stereotypical “letter to the editor” that never really got sent in, but in case you couldn’t figure out the main problem in the article, let me outline it for you here:

I read with interest the article about vicious dogs being adopted out from the Franklin County Shelter, but as I reached the end, my interest turned to astonishment. Should I be appalled that dogs with behavioral issues are adopted out? Of course, however, my concern is more for what we are doing with these dogs.

Has our instant-gratification mindset taken us to the point where we “special order” our dogs to fit a mold we create for them? Have our ideals and expectations sunk to where we expect housetraining to be the only “training” a dog receives in its lifetime, and obedience training to be optional? Columbus has a wonderful training club located in close proximity to the shelter that can help people with behavioral difficulties and obedience training. Instead of facing these problems and working to solve them, either with the Columbus All-Breed Training Club or with a private trainer, people choose to abdicate their responsibility and return the dog to the shelter. I applaud the shelter staff for putting in the time to train dogs while they are there, but ultimately it is not their responsibility to deliver to us a perfect dog. We must continue that training once the dog is adopted, and this is where many well-intentioned rescuers are lacking. A dog is a responsibility as well as a pet, a service animal, or even a furry “child,” and it amazes me how many owners give up on their pet simply because they didn’t think to train it or didn’t know how.

The unfortunately husky, Rel, didn’t have to meet his fate at the tip of a needle. All he needed was someone who was willing to invest the time and dedication into teaching him the appropriate rules of our world in a way he could understand. Dogs will not always act as themselves in such as strange and stressful environment as a shelter, and they also might not adapt to a new home those first few days. I’m sure every child who is the “new kid” on that first day of school is no different.

In the end, I cannot fathom the hypocrisy: Shelters and pet lovers everywhere are attempting to educate how no animal is disposable, yet here we are throwing them away and dumping their problems on someone else because they do not fit our ideals of a “perfect pet.” It is our job to teach them how to live in human society and not to otherwise abandon or euthanize them before putting forth that effort to the best of our abilities.

That last line is a bit vague though, because “to the best of our abilities” seems to be defined by a lot of pure positive humaniacs as “Tsk, guess he’s just not trainable.” Sounds pretty “positive,” right? But I digress&

To get a bit personal, my dog had bitten me not a month after we brought him home from the shelter. He had otherwise been very sweet and loving, a typical Lab/golden personality, but apparently I was the lucky one who stumbled upon the dark side of the moon instead of my parents. It was a very deliberate bite, but also very quick and to the point: I wasn’t mauled and no flesh was consumed. Did we consider sending him back? If you read the eulogy a few posts down, you would know that we did, and while I was the one who gave the ultimatum, my parents were also right to say the same thing. While I wasn’t a baby at the time, I was still young and I can only imagine the turmoil they must’ve felt at that time: their perfect dog just turned on me, their daughter, and sent me to the hospital for stitches. Is this the kind of dog we really want for a 4th child?

I think the important thing here is that we didn’t give up on Zeke. We knew there was a way to fix his aggression, but we didn’t know how and if we couldn’t find the appropriate person to teach us, then he would have to go back. We were lucky to find the trainer we had, and this is what we here at DogProblems are for. Unless the dog you have is truly a bad match, unless it really is hardwired wrong in the head, unless you really don’t have the motivation to fix the problem and just pass it along to someone else, your dog can be retrained.

Will it be easy? Most likely, no! The hardest part about searching for a dog trainer is admitting that maybe the dog behaves the way he does not because there’s something wrong with him&it might be something you’re doing too! (The easiest part of searching for a trainer is thinking you’re going to get a cheap quick fix from a magic bullet, FYI.) It takes maturity to admit that part of the reason your dog bit someone, chewed the furniture, peed on the bed, ran off or killed small animals might have something to do with a lack of a proper relationship with your dog. It’s not a process in which we lay blame to the owner and/or the dog, but in reading through the Secrets book, during a training session or even on the forum, we want you to see what might have went wrong and how you can fix it. But here’s the thing, and here we come full-circle: any trainer can start the learning process in a dog, but we can’t finish it for you. If you are to fix a dog problem, be it aggression, chewing, or even pulling, there will come a time when you have to be on the other end of the leash and not me.

(By the way…just in case you think a dog can’t be retrained from aggression, consider this: Zeke became a therapy dog and lived 10 all-too-quick years with a family that loved him enough to give him a second chance. Can’t beat that happy ending! Anyone think he might’ve achieved that had we returned him?)

So anyway, your dog just bit your child.

What are you going to do about it?

Your Dog Is A Snapper

By Suzi Jones –

She was non stop woo woo woo woo just not bark bark bark. But what did work hella is body blocking as in the case of my husband. He enters and every time she tries to come into my zone I walk into her and block her. This seems to quiet her an awful lot as this is me taking ownership over him.

My friend Christa did something weird with her dane Yankee years ago ( 7 to be exact), he was acting an ass while out walking one day and she stood in front of him, put him in a sit and asked him for his paw he gave it and tantrum and excited energy were gone. And I said why? And she said because he has to focus on me directly and if he tries to move I have his leg so he has to look at me. ( tried this with Uly didn’t work)

If you know however your dog is a snapper (This part adopted from “The T.V show”) or defensive with hands on corrections then I turn into them and start first body blocking or calmly walking into them to break their focus on the other dog or what ever.

If you watch a pack of dogs play weather 2,3,4,5 they use body bumps and blocks to contol the actions and movments of the other dog.

I have just really really been pushing with not fighting at all with dogs in these situations and I had the opertunity to experiment with a customers dog. She called me to come and dremel toenails,2 dogs female pretty normal, male border collie mix afraid of strangers and also possissive aggressive over the pregant owner.
The toenails we got it done took a bit, but as I was getting ready to leave, the owner behind me in the hallway, I stepped to her to shake her hand goodbye and he got a little pushy with me snapping at my legs.
Oh no this is not going to happen!

I took my shopping bag(Filled with stuff) and dropped it down low below my knee level and started to walk into him backing him off from her( In other words I took possission of his owner) The next thing I know I look over and the female is comming into the male and bumping him and bitting him in the neck (Little witch was working with me).

Just remember not all things work with all dogs or animals but a good dog trainer is one that can modify methods to come up with something that will work.