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.