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TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION DIRECTED TOWARD VISITORS

 

Nicholas H. Dodman, BVMS, DACVA, DACVB BVMS, MRCVS, DACVB / PhD, CAAB
In-Depth Content
Behavioral Disorders

Territorial aggression is defined as a dog's physically aggressive response to a human visitor. The behavior goes beyond normal alarm barking to alert the household of a visitor; it includes threatening postures and sounds meant to intimidate, lunging, nipping and biting. The "territory," as perceived by dogs, generally includes the house and yard, sidewalks that the dogs regularly patrol and mark, and family vehicles.

When dogs exhibit aggression to visitors to their own territory, but do not respond aggressively to strangers in neutral territory, territorial aggression is the likely diagnosis.

DIAGNOSIS OF TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION

ETIOLOGY AND RISK FACTORS

  • Causes - There are two primary motivations for territorial behavior, dominance or fear:
    • Territorial aggression associated with dominance - Dominant dogs have a natural inclination to warn other pack members of a stranger's approach and they do this with confidence and authority. If a dominant dog detects the sound of footsteps on the driveway, he will spring to attention, run toward the door, barking, and will stand guard at least until the owner heeds the alarm. Dogs that are very dominant and do not heed their owners can provide a serious obstacle for any visitors to the home territory. Where owners have some control they can usually reassure the dog that the person is in fact welcome, at which point the dog will settle down. In most cases, once a stranger has been welcomed into the home, the dominant-territorial dog will relax and enjoy the visitor's company but it is necessary for them to run the gauntlet of intimidation first before being accepted into the inner sanctum.
    • Territorial aggression associated with fear - Less confident dogs show a variation on the theme of territorial aggression that involves insecurity, fearfulness and learning. Such dogs seem to have a blend of dominance and fear and act aggressively to visitors to the home because of this dual motivation. As youngsters, they may have backed up and barked at the sound of approaching people, but as time goes by and they get larger, they find themselves progressively more intimidating. In short, they learn that their aggressive actions can have the desired effect, striking fear into unwelcome visitors and often causing them to leave in a great hurry. Uniformed visitors like the mailperson or delivery person are prime targets for this learned type of aggression. The mailperson comes, the dog barks, the mailperson leaves, and the dog takes credit. The behavior is reinforced. On the street away from their territory, such dogs may not have the courage to intimidate strangers but on their own tuft, or from behind closed doors or a fence, their courage wells.

DIAGNOSIS AND PROGNOSIS

The clinical picture is of a dog that barks and is aggressive toward strangers only on his own territory. The motivation is subtly different from aforementioned dominance-related territoriality. To distinguish fear-related territorial aggression from the purely dominance-driven variety, it is helpful to consider the following factors.

  1. Posturing dog shows during displays of aggression can help distinguish the fear-related type of territorial aggression from the territorial displays of a more confident dog. Territorial/fear aggressive dogs frequently show ambivalent body language similar to fear-aggressive dogs, including approach-avoidance behavior, tucked or semi-tucked tail, slinking gait, and an indirect approach.
  2. Territorial/fear aggressive dogs do not usually settle down completely while visitors are in the home and are prone to violent outbursts if visitors move suddenly or get up to leave the house.
  3. The bites of territorial/fear aggressive dogs are usually directed towards backside of the offender (buttocks, thighs or calves). Or, because of a tentative nature, they may simply nip at the person, ripping clothing. The bite is often in the form of a "cheap shot" hit-and-run nature.
  4. The difference between territorial-fear aggression and overt fear aggression is the level of confidence that the dogs possess. Fear aggressive dogs have enough confidence to be aggressive to strangers on or off their own territory. Territorial-fear aggressive dogs have less confidence so that their fear aggression occurs only on their home turf.
  • Differential Diagnosis - Consider testing the dog for medical conditions that might be contributing to increased anxiety, especially hypothyroidism.
  • Prognosis - Although dominance-based territorial aggression is easier to manage than fear-based territorial aggression, both forms of territorial aggression can be addressed reasonably well by means of appropriate management measures, proper supervision, control and containment.

TREATMENT OF TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION

TREATMENT PRINCIPLES

Safety Precautions - Owners should keep doors secured to ensure that no visitor arrives without warning. A dog that has bitten a stranger coming onto the property should not be allowed to roam unsupervised if there is the faintest chance of a stranger entering the home zone. Territorially aggressive dogs should, at all times, be supervised by an informed owner who has realistic expectations of the dog's behavior.

Off-lead exercise should be conducted in a safe place. Electronic fences pose something of a dilemma with respect to territorial aggression. These e-fences clearly define limits for the dog but not for visitors, who may unwittingly cross the line. In general, territorial dogs are more aggressive when they are fenced in, because a fence allows the dog to know precisely where the boundary of his territory lies and he will patrol and protect it. Finally, owners should consider posting a "Dog on Premises" sign as a responsible reminder that a dog is on the property.

Harsh, punitive tactics will only serve to increase the dog's negative response to the situation at hand and the end result over time will be an increase in the unwanted behavior.

  • Nothing in Life is Free - When dealing with territorially aggressive dogs, it is essential that the owner establish a leadership role with respect to the dog in order to manage the dog's territorial tendencies safely. Taking a non-confrontational approach is the most humane, productive way to accomplish this important task. The approach we advocate is the "Nothing in Life is Free" leadership program.
    1. In order to receive any needs or desires, such as food, toys, attention and access to the outdoors, the dog must "earn" the valued resource by first obeying a command, such as SIT.
    2. If the dog sits automatically before the owner issues the command, the owner should issue an alternative command, such as DOWN before the dog receives the desired resource.
    3. The objective is that the dog should quickly follow the owner's directives and not be guided by his own agenda. If owners are consistent with this program, the dog will to look to them in order to obtain needs or desires, which are important resources from a dog's perspective. If the dog learns to look to his owner for all necessities and treats, he will be more likely to turn to the owner for cues when feeling challenged or fearful.
  • Exercise - Regular daily exercise is beneficial; 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily should be minimum for a healthy dog.
  • Diet - Artificial, preservative-free, low protein diets may help in some cases (18 percent dry matter, as fed).
  • Obedience Training - Regular daily obedience training sessions will sharpen the dog's response to commands and increase owner leadership. One to two 5-minute sessions per day are often sufficient. "Click and treat" training is a good method of improving owner-dog communication.
  • Head Halter - Head halters are very useful to help owners gain control of the dog and signal their leadership in aggression-inducing situations. They send a biological signal of the owner's leadership to the dog by exerting gentle pressure around the muzzle (maternal point) and at the nape of the neck (leader point). Pressure at these points will cause the dog to defer to the owner's authority so that he can be introduced to people and rewarded for remaining calm. In addition, head halters help to ensure visitor safety.
  • Basket Muzzle - All dogs that have shown aggression should be trained to wear a basket-style muzzle. A basket muzzle allows the dog to pant, drink, and accept small treats, but prevents biting. We find these muzzles to be not only effective but also more humane and safer for the dog than standard muzzles. Once trained to the muzzle, the territorial dog can be required to wear one in any particularly challenging situations.

TREATMENT FOR DOMINANCE-RELATED TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION

Some dogs restrict their territorial behavior to alarm barking and posturing. While they can appear to be quite menacing, these dogs rarely resort to frank aggression unless overtly challenged. This type of territoriality is normal canine behavior and may be considered advantageous by some owners. It is important, however, for owners to be able to turn off alarm barking if a stranger poses no threat or challenge.

For some dogs all that is necessary is a "good dog, thank you" response from the owner and the dog will quiet down. Other dogs must be trained to "shush," preferably using positive reinforcement. The concept of a "shush" cookie, a delicious reward that is provided when the dog stops barking, works wonders. A "no bark" or "stop it" command can be used to signal the owner's wish. The reward is given when the dogs stops barking for at least 3 seconds. The idea is to reward silence instead of punishing barking.

Suppression of dominance-related territorial aggression is facilitated if the owner is viewed as the dog's strong leader. Proper physical control of the dog with a head halter is important for visitor safety, and to teach the dog the right way to behave around visitors.

TREATMENT FOR FEAR-RELATED TERRITORIAL AGGRESSION

The approach to controlling this behavior is more problematic. The key to the entire program is desensitization to approaching strangers along with counterconditioning to alter the dog's perception and behavior during progressive planned exposure to visitors.

Avoid Confrontations - Except during training sessions, avoid exposing the dog to situations and specific people that may trigger an aggressive response. Bear in mind that the territorial dog wants the intruder to go away. If a territorially aggressive dog is allowed to threaten visitors and they subsequently retreat, the dog will see their withdrawal as a reward for aggressive responding. This will cause the unwanted behavior to escalate.

Counterconditioning - Counterconditioning interrupts unwanted behavior by training the dog to respond to a command or activity that is incompatible with continued performance of the aggressive behavior. This technique is most effective when owners can identify and predict the situations that trigger the dog's territorial response. If the dog can be distracted by food rewards or games, counterconditioning on its own may be sufficient to reverse the problem. For dogs that do not readily respond to food or play, it is helpful to train them to sit down and relax when given certain verbal or visual cues by the owner.

  • First under non-threatening conditions, owners should teach their dogs to sit and watch them (command "watch me") in order to receive praise and food treats. If the dog responds appropriately, by paying attention in a relaxed and focused manner, he should immediately be rewarded with a food treat and lavish praise. This relaxation exercise should be performed daily for 5 days. Each day the owner should increase the amount of time that the dog must pay attention before receiving a reward. By the end of the fifth day, the dog should be able to remain focused for 25-30 seconds, no matter what the distraction. At this stage, when owners sense that their dog is about to engage in the unwanted behavior, they can use this counterconditioning technique to interrupt the behavior before it is initiated. It is important to practice this exercise on a periodic basis to ensure its effectiveness when it is needed.
  • For indoor sessions, owners can also train the dog to perform a 20-minute down-stay on a specific bed or mat that is used only for training. Once the dog has learned the basic obedience commands he can be trained to perform long down stays while the owner moves progressively farther away. First train the dog to "down-stay" on a mat or dog bed. Initially, reward the dog every 10 seconds for lying still, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds and so on. Once the dog understands the concept, the owner can institute intermittent rewards. Every time the dog breaks the stay, a verbal correction should be given to indicate that there will be no reward and the dog should be escorted back to the mat. The dog will quickly learn that breaking the stay will result in his being put back on the mat, but holding the down-stay will be rewarded. Once the dog performs a reliable "down-stay" when the owner is in the room, the owner should ask for this behavior while moving progressively farther from the dog. Next, the "down-stay" should be utilized while the owner is in the room but otherwise occupied. Then the dog should be required to remain in position as the owner exits the room but remains nearby. The distance and time the owner is away from the dog should be increased a down-stay can be maintained for 20-30 minutes in the owner's absence.

Systematic Desensitization - The next step is to desensitize the dog to people and situations that trigger aggression while engaging it in a behavior that is incompatible with an aggressive response (counterconditioning). We recommend that all exercises be performed with the dog on lead, preferably with a head halter and basket muzzle, if necessary, for extra control and safety. This will help keep the dog, handler and volunteers in a more relaxed frame of mind. The key point to remember is not to expose the dog suddenly to the full intensity of the stimulus (visitor) but to very gradually "up the ante." This is accomplished by decreasing progressively the distance between the visitor and the dog. At no point should the dog be challenged so much that aggressive behavior results during training. If aggression occurs, the training has proceeded too quickly and the owner will have to return to an earlier stage of training. For desensitization, the owner should start by exposing the dog to people least likely to cause aggressive behavior and train the dog in a comfortable location.

  • Ask the dog to "sit and watch me" or remain in a down-stay.
  • Introduce a mildly anxiety-inducing person at a distance. For example, it may be possible to cue the dog to lie down in a relaxed posture or sit and watch the owner while a stranger walks by the end of the drive, rewarding the dog with a food treat for remaining relaxed, calm and in position.
  • Next, the stranger may stop at the end of the driveway and momentarily dip into the driveway before leaving again.
  • Following a progressive series of incursions, eventually the stranger should be able stand a few feet from the dog while the dog remains calm and under control. At this point, the stranger should be asked to toss one of the dog's favorite food treats in order to stimulate interest and an appetitive response.
  • Next the dog can be trained to rest on a training mat or sit while focused on the owner as the visitor approaches the door.
  • Once the dog calmly accepts this level of approach, the visitor can knock at the door and finally enter the home as long as the dog remains calm. Occasional delicious food treats should be issued to the dog throughout this procedure. If the dog prefers, visitors can be asked to present the dog with a tennis ball or other preferred toy instead of food.
  • These exercises should be performed frequently and with an assortment of strangers, starting with the least threatening and working up to the most threatening individuals. The dog learns that their presence is associated with a feeling of relaxation and other positive experiences. If the dog is resistant to remaining still, an alternative strategy is to have the person stand still and walk the dog around the person in progressively decreasing circles.

During the early stages of training, assistants should be advised not to make direct eye contact with the dog and not approach the dog head on. Volunteers should be asked to move slowly (but normally!), avert their gaze or look at the dog's ears or nose, and to approach the dog via a circuitous route as this approach is less threatening to most dogs. No stranger should ever reach out toward the dog at this stage of the training.

If the dog cannot maintain a sit and focus on the owner because of barking and lunging at the stranger, the owner needs to return to an earlier phase of training. Ideally, during the training process, no one should come close enough to the dog to trigger an aggressive response. If someone approaches too close and the dog becomes aggressive, the assistant should stand still until the owner can get the dog's attention, preferably using an obedience command and a treat for the performing the requested behavior. The owner can then ask the person to retreat quietly to a distance at which the dog was previously comfortable and resume training if the dog is not too aroused.

Once the dog is relaxed with people quietly sitting in the home, the dog can be taught to accept them moving about. Owners can start by having the guest slowly stand up and then sit down. If the dog does not respond adversely, the visitor can then try taking a few steps before returning to his seat. The amount of movement the dog will tolerate while remaining relaxed should be increased incrementally. Keep in mind that dogs with fear-related aggressive behavior have a tendency to snap at people when they move away, for example, when they are preparing to leave.

The dog should initiate all interactions with visitors to the home, not vice versa. If the dog chooses to approach a guest, have the person passively offer a hand for the dog to sniff and a treat if the dog is not "grabby." If the dog indicates that he would like to be petted, the guest may do so briefly, but visitors should avoid reaching over the dog's head and prolonged eye contact. Petting on the chest is best.

Avoid punishment - Dogs that appear to be becoming aroused should be brought under control by means of a command and the enforcement of that command, as by means of a head halter. Physical punishment is inappropriate and has the potential to increase the dog's anxiety and worsen the situation.

PHARMACOLOGICAL TREATMENT

In rare cases, it may be necessary to treat territorial aggressive dogs with medication. Fluoxetine (Prozac), clomipramine (Clomicalm), buspirone (Buspar), or a dietary supplement such as the amino acid 5-HTP, are all reasonable treatment options. The efficacy of such treatments will vary from case to case, but price, side effects, and other logistical concerns may determine the order in which these treatments are introduced. The effects of most pharmacological treatments take a few weeks to peak. The duration of treatment should be months, rather than weeks, and, in many cases, a good fraction of a year. Needless to say, appropriate behavior modification therapy, as described above, should be conducted simultaneously to take advantage of the therapeutic window that medications may provide.

Comments

Thanks for the great information. We have a (5 y/o) wire fox terrier that we rescued a year ago now & he fits the territorial/ fear aggression very closely. The aggression is in the home with strangers / guests. If a group of people arrive his tail goes down and he is fearful, but eventually appears to warm up to them, until the last couple guests from the group leave. Then he goes for their heels as they head toward the door.
Posted @ Thursday, February 07, 2013 10:13 PM by Holly H
My foster dog was used as bait and shot with a shotgun. She has 41 pellets in her right front leg alone. Someone had ground down her top 4 teeth together gum line and left the roots exposd. She is a sweet, affectionate dog who flips a switch when someone walks by or approaches our fence. She has nipped family members and contractors as described in your article...always on the back of their calf. She definitely suffers from PTSD as she and my laid back Foxhound got into a bad fight when they were outside and she heard a nail gun from nearby roofers. Both dogs were covered with deep bite wounds. I have worked and worked with her and she has made progress but I think we need medication at this point. She was beyond abused...she was tortured and I want to have the best chance of a calmer life. What do you think? Thank you.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 21, 2013 7:32 AM by Marilyn F.
My situation is a little different. My very good friend has a German Shepard who is wonderful to her family, grandchildren and friends except for me. This is extremely difficult for me as I love all animals and usually attract them to me. Her dog as lunged at me during different time of our visit and gives us the threat to bite. He has come close but not happened yet. My friend said she would have the dog put down if he ever bit me. This is difficult for me as I do NOT want that to happen. I am overweight and have trouble with my knees when standing up so originally thought it was my gait however others have had the same walking problems and he has not bothered them. The last time I was just standing up when he lunged and pushed me back to a seated position. My friend restrained him quickly before going any futher. When I come to visit often my friend will chain him outside. He continues bark wildly looking in the windows. Other times he brings his toys to me wanting to play with him. I am very fustrated with this because I still would like to have a secure relationship with my friend and there dog. 
Posted @ Wednesday, June 19, 2013 5:52 PM by Cris Sullens
Having read your interesting article I could do with some additional advice please. My Jack Russell has a very excited aggression, he barks at anyone who is passing and starts to shake with adrenalin, if they come to the door we tell him basket which he goes to but then will chew his basket or lick and scratch the washing machine with excitement. He loves most people but can take an instant dislike to others and has bitten them. Help!
Posted @ Sunday, July 21, 2013 2:56 AM by Peter
My dog has tried to lunge and bite at friends on a walk when I stop to talk to them. He is also very territorial at home. With some people he is worse than with others. I have joined a dog walking group and he has never tried to bite anyone there yet and gets along with almost all the dogs he has met there. I am unsure if he has fear agression also or is it just territorial agression. Please advise. As well, he has had 3 sessions of obidience training and does well with sit, stay and down. He also walks well.
Posted @ Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:20 PM by Alanna Jacobs
I have a few problem dogs right now. I have two shih tzu's who show aggression to other dogs with food, toys, treats and me. all of my dogs think they are # 1 (and they all are) but they will growl at the other dogs if that dog gets in my lap or something. but my main problem is my 5 year old male boxer. due to my living/working status during his first year with me, I did not get him out and socialize him like I should have. he was a rescue (as all of my dogs are)but I have had him since he was a puppy. I am a single(divorced) woman and I work 4 10 hr days. on friday, I volunteer for the humane society her in my county(we have a trift store to raise money for vet care for our rescues) on sat I take the foster dogs to adoptions and sundays I clean house and try to have a little down time. I do have a big fenced in back yard with a doggie door so they can go in and out as they please. boris, my boxer, will growl and sometimes lunge at one of the shih tzu's in certain cercumstances. the youngest one will pretty much get up close to him and bark at him. what he wants is for boris to play with him, but boris just gets aggressive and does the behavior as above. but the worst thing is how he has behaved with some of the foster dogs that I get. he is an alfa dog and will show the new ones who is boss. this usually consists of him standing over them to show whos boss. but sat I brought home a small dog to foster. boris really paid no attention to her sat or sunday. she was very calm and just wanted to stay close to me. since boris had not shown any aggression toward her at all I thought it would be fine to leave her out with all of the others. when I got home from work monday evening, I found her dead in the floor. she wasn't "torn up" but there was blood all around her throat. it had not been long because the blood was still wet, but she was gone. I am pretty sure it was boris who did this. sulu, one of the shih tzus had "jumped" on her a couple of times when he thought she was getting too close to his stuff, but I dont think he could have done it since they were both close to the same size. I foster two 9 month old lab mixes but they are out in the yard when I am at work. they are crazy and tear up the house if left in there. but one of them has somehow been getting past the fence and into the house. he had chased the new dog and was a little aggressive the first day she was here. so I'm not really sure if it was boris but it probably was. he is also very scared and aggressive to people who come to the house. he is getting worse. I did have a trainer work with him one on one last year, trying to get him not to act that way with people. he will do fine anywhere else but still does the same if it is at home. I am afraid he may bite someone (especially around men), and I cann't have him kill another dog. I have been reading on aggressive behavior and have seen everything from behavior training to meds. unfortunatly, there are no certified behavior trainers anywhere near me. also there are the closest behavior vet is about 200 miles from here. I am willing to try whatever I can to take care of this because I love him with all of my heart. my last resort would be to have to adopt him out to someone who has no other dogs. but since he is so fearful of other people, I dont know if that would even be an option. I just don't have the money to try training and meds and natural suppliments and so forth, to find out which one might work. can you help narrow it down for me? thanks
Posted @ Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:17 PM by carla
I'm so confused! My jack russel mix dog actually got aggressive! He has always been very sweet and kind. I have had him for over 3 years. He was always so timid and calm. Then one day while visiting my sisters he was walking right next to me and then suddenly he was gone. He went after one the neighbors! She immediately started yelling out and said I was horrible for bringing an aggressive dog into their neighborhood and was going to call animal control on me. But he has never been aggressive before. I apologized repeatedly but she wasn't budging. I don't know what to think.
Posted @ Sunday, October 06, 2013 1:54 PM by Krystal
Great info but I still can not tell if my dog is fear or dominate aggressive. She is a great sweet friendly dog, loves people and other dogs but in the house or yard she barks at everyone walking or when they come to the door she goes crazy and I can not stop her barking. Her tail goes up and the fur on her back gets all puffed up. She has never in nine years bit or even nipped at anyone or any other animal, just the barking. 
Even after she does settle down if that same person gets up and goes out the door she will bark when they come back in. Also in the car she barkes non stop until we get to the park and on the way home she is very quiet and a good girl. Any suggestions on what I am dealing with and how to stop the barking as I have tried everything and usually end up putting her in the crate which just seems to only make her bark more. I do have another dog that never barks for more than a brief 'wolf" and is then very quiet. Would appreciate any suggestions. jm
Posted @ Monday, October 07, 2013 7:58 PM by jm
Hello- I found your article on territorial fear aggression very good and realised we have gone through quite a few of the training stages with our rescue dog. She now calms down well when people come in, but even if they are here overnight, and all is calm, she will not allow them to stroke her and snaps. This can be confusing the for visitor as she comes up to them wagging, appearing to ask for contact, but then turns. Can you suggest anything please? She is also like this with people out on walks.
Posted @ Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:48 AM by HF
my case is different as my is too frindly and he will never show any aggresive sign even to stranget.what can i do to boost his territirial aggresive.pls kindly reply
Posted @ Thursday, November 21, 2013 9:40 AM by Tola
Thanks for the information but I am still at a loss. I have a blue heeler that I got from a rescue. I have had him for a couple years now. Im familiar with blue heelers, their attitudes, and their constant need for exercise. We moved about 4 months ago and suddenly my dog has become very aggressive towards anyone in the neighborhood or anyone who comes to my door. When I take him on walks he is uncontrollably aggressive towards anyone he sees and will not listen. I have tried multiple training techniques. He is ok with certain people coming into my home and if we leave him locked up at first while everyone settles, then bring him out with a muzzle on, and then eventually take the muzzle off we can have people around the house. I am mostly concerned with taking him on walks. When he goes to other people's homes or the dog park, he is a perfect gentleman and I Inever have a problem. ts just at home or in the neighborhood that is the issue.
Posted @ Sunday, December 22, 2013 12:29 PM by Cheyanna
I'm looking for any additional suggestions in trying to fix this issue with my dog. I have a 1 1/2yr. Maltese male. He also has 3 cats that are each 1yr old that he treats as his pack. We moved into a new home 6months ago and the territorial aggression went into hyper drive. Live in Oregon and a coyote came to the window threatening him and the cats. They were safe inside, but it freaked him out. This is a dog that goes to doggie daycare or the store and has no issues, sweet as can be. But now he has bit the Direct Tv guy..got to close to the cats, one of my daughters friends on Halloween..was new in the house,plus all the doorbell ring didn't help. Flips out at every passing person on the street. Lets not even get into UPS or FedEx cause he knows their trucks and is out for blood,who knew he could read. If we take him off the property he is fine. If I put him in his kennel when someone is at my home he flips out. I've even had him chew through a kennel, floor boards, and a door. Not sure what muzzles are appropriate for a maltese. I'm at a loss. Would really like to have confidence that family or friends could come visit with out him needing an exorcism.
Posted @ Thursday, January 23, 2014 5:09 PM by Mary Bagwell
, We got her fixed and we're trying to get her into a new home, Unfortunately if anybody approaches any of the people she's grown attached to she lunges and barks and tries to bite and that includes other dogs. What should I do to try to break this habit, Obviously she cannot be adopted with this kind of aggression.
Posted @ Saturday, February 01, 2014 6:01 PM by donna
Please help me. My lovely boy is a GSD from a rescue home. He is very intelligent and, I think, well trained. I have trained him to (almost) heel without a lead, sit, down, stay for a short time. He waits till I tell him he can jump down from the car and sits on the pavement until I've locked the car, before coming in with me to the house. He waits for his food and treats until I give the go-ahead. We recently moved to a house surrounded by barking dogs and a gate he can see through - so I'm sure his barking, herding of people and but nipping is the fear / anxiety type of aggression you mentioned above. We have stopped him being in the garden when people enter and he must sit with me until he has smelled their hands (he nipped two women in our house) and he nipped a small boy (who was clearly frightened of him) whilst on a walk. Today I opened the gate to get him into the car for his walk and he rushed out barking and herding a teenage boy before nipping him on the butt. I do think I need to get a cage muzzle for him but I'm concerned that it is other people's fear that he is reacting to and the muzzle will make people more afraid. He also chases and nips small dogs although that is much better now I've learned to keep his attention on me. He is 16 months old and walked every day. We also have another dog (a pit bull / Staffie) who is unfortunately untrainable as she is brain damaged, but she is sweet as pie. How do I stop him being scared and nipping people? 
I'd really appreciate an answer as I'm so worried he will get stuck with this behavior as I've never before had a dog that bites :-(
Posted @ Saturday, February 22, 2014 1:57 AM by Anna Konas
Thank you so much I love your article it is all ready working,a little I have a pitbull he is 2 he go`s crazy when people come to our house.gate ect anything he dosnt know he is scary looking because of his breed,people our scared of him. he has never bitten. and I have been working with food look at me it is helping to bring down excitement at door.gate ect he is very smart I am really working on not making him my baby and a dog
Posted @ Monday, April 07, 2014 11:41 PM by t
I read your article with great interest and gratitude. It is especially comforting to learn that other dog-lover-owners are in the same situation. I have a rescue mutt who I love dearly. He attacked my cats and I ended up giving the cats to a friend who was kind enought to take them. He also has nipped at people while I was walking he and his companion dog, pure beagle, also a rescue, but absolutely loving and layed back when it comes to other people. My Puccini, however recently bit my best friend when she first entered the house. First he jumped on her and then bit her in the upper thigh. She went to get medical treatment later in the day after she first cleaned her wound and applied antibiotic topical cream toit. Weshopped, ate lunch and had a decent day, despite the under-the-surface anxiety we both felt, due to the attack. I gave her the name of my vet and in case she wanted to or was REQUIRED to give information. (which I later learned from my vet tech, that she could have refused. Now, she tells me that she will be ok, and has antibiotics, and the urgent care facility will call my vet, and of course my dogs are always updated on their shots....she knew this...what I didn't know is that the laws are more strict now and she told me the health dept. will be in contact and may take my dog for a quarentine time....I totally flipped out.....so angry, starting to wonder if I loved my dog more, and I think I might, because my reaction and fear of losing him, is beyond expression. I found him in a metro park where he was "dumped" and obviously abused...he has nipped at others, never bitten like this....when he goes to the vet, I keep a snout muzzle on him, but those are temporary, and from now on, I will secure him and his friend, the beagle in the garage whenever someone comes over to my house. I will also check out a head muzzle, he also is very hyper when he sees squirrels, or any movement, even a leaf, on the other hand, he is very smart and learns commands quickly due to his intense focus on me. He is my doggie soul mate and I have been through so much to protect him, move my cats, who I loved, but put their safety first. 
 
Please advise, I took the beagle to obedience training and he did very well, as he was a little unfocused, and then I transferred the info. to Puccini, the more aggressive mutt, I think I may contact a friend who has a Home-schooler trainer come to her house and work with her dog who came home with her son from Afhanastan and is very protective and has bitten people. 
 
Please advise, I do not want to lose my dog or my dear friend, but right now, I am angry that she reported him to the authorities, very ANGRY. 
 
Marilyn
Posted @ Sunday, May 04, 2014 7:58 AM by Marilyn
Your article was extremely insightful. I have a 3 year Yorkshire terrier that seems to be territorial aggressive with a bit of fear mixed in there. He barks excitingly at strangers coming to the house or near my car. It takes a minute to quiet the barking but once he's hushed we put him in a sit-stay. If there's a knock at the door and runs to it I make him go away from the door and put him in a sit-stay. He has nipped a few people. When we have visitors he's put on a lead. What's confusing is he'll appear to be warming up to a visitor may even bring them a toy but then will lash out. I like that he warns of approaching people but I want him to hush when I give him the command and want him to be comfortable with approved visitors.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 04, 2014 10:59 AM by Andreana Stone
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