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.


2.5 Year-old Golden Retriever Poodle-mix Exhibiting Guarding, Dominance or Fear Behavior?

Leslie asks: I have a 2.5 yr old neutered male golden doodle that follows me like there is no tomorrow. He sleeps in my bedroom on the floor by my bed or in the bathroom. The dog will give a low throated steady growl if someone comes in through the closed bedroom door, and may get up to go towards the door.

This stops when the familiar faces of family enter. He also showed dog aggression toward the UPS man while the dog and I were in the garage and the man came in to deliver a package. The dog chased him, barking and growling. Unfortunately he was not wearing his e collar, and my commands were only verbal. He did stop chasing after yelling no 2 times. The last case for concern is when we are in my SUV. We stop almost daily at the same corner with a crossing guard.

The dog rides in passenger side with window down and the guard comes over and gives him a biscuit. ALL good. When I put up the window and start to drive away the dog jumps in the back and seriously snarls and growls. It is almost like he can’t tell that the guard is walking away and not approaching the car. this is most concerning as I take him in my truck everywhere that I can. I always take him to school to pick my kids up and he hangs his head out the window waiting. Kids come up or walk past constantly and I need to make sure they are safe.He will be wearing his e collar daily. Also, which e collar do you suggest. I have a Dogtra 280np or something like that and the transmitter seems to lose its charge in less than 10 hours. May just get a new one or start trouble shooting this one. Hate to throw good money after bad. Thanks again!
– Leslie

Adam replies: Hi, Leslie:

This should be pretty easy for you to fix, as it’s fairly predictable in regard to the type of situation the dog reacts in– and you can “set it up.”

Mostly, your problem is one of consistency. I want your dog to receive the correction immediately … every time he does the behavior. Every time, until he stops exhibiting the aggression.

So– make sure he’s wearing the e-collar when he’s not in the crate, and wear the e-collar transmitter around your neck (or clip it to your pocket, so that it’s handy).

When he’s in the car with you, do not let him jump in the back of the SUV. Get one of those tie-down doggie seat belts. If you don’t want to do that (highly recommended, as it’s safest for your dog) … at least put the leash on a flat collar and attach the other end short, around the seat or the seat belt to keep him in the front with you. So, you’re teaching him to sit in his seat and act like a gentleman, not fly around the car like a wild animal.

The Dogtra collars are generally pretty good. Ten hours is about what you can expect from a charge. What I recommend is: Put the dog in the crate (or kennel run) for a few hours during the day. For example: While you’re taking a shower, or when you’re doing something without the dog. Take the e-collar off and plug it into the charger. Keep the charger near the crate, so that you remember to take it off and put it back on, every time the dog goes in and out of the crate.

When I let the dogs out in the yard in the morning to potty, I put the e-collars on and supervise as they run around the yard. Then, when they’re ready to come back in the house, their feet are wet so I make them sit and take the e-collars off and plug them into the chargers (which sit conveniently on top of the crate). Then I make the dogs get into the crates to give their paws a chance to dry off, while I have breakfast.