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Is it wrong for our dog to be protective/aggressive?

October 4th, 2005, 06:40 PM
Hi all
I haven't been here in a while!
We've had our Cookie for a year to the day!! We love her more and more with every breath - even though this crazy husky still acts like she is on glue - lol

She hasn't taken too much to our training (casual yes, parents still in training - spoiled child). Actually, we like her just the way she is - She is all personality, funny and clever as all get out and a big marshmallow sookey baby.

We are an adult family and play with her many, many, many times during the day. She spends her outside time on a 100 foot tether (we do not have a fence & live near a highway). She has the attention span of a fungus gnat and we can't let her loose, ever, because ... well if a bird flies by, she is gone.
She is submissive to most dogs - not threatened and curious.

Depending on who she is playing with, she can become rather agressive in her play. We have told the neighbourhood kids that they are not allowed to play with her because she may trip them, bite their ankles or knock them over trying to lick them. (You must be "this tall" to get on the ride sort of thing). She wouldn't mean to hurt them, but could.

She loves everything, but most especially my mother-in-law, her nanny.

So long re-intro, but we may have developed an issue ......

Nanny is lives in the same house as we do and is basically housebound. We feel safe going out knowing that Cookie is there to watch over her.

But today!!!!! the chimney sweep came and Cookie went into the most protective mode we have ever seen - very agressive, growling, trying to break throught the door window to get him. Nanny managed to lock her in the bedroom so he could do his thing.

So now I am puzzled. Folks at work say that if she bites someone we can be sued, etc.. Is this true?
Do we have to train her to be submissive to strangers?
Do we have any legal protection on our property?
Someone even told me that if I posted a Dog Warning sign that I am pre-admitting liability if she protects our space. (I thought of posting a sign that said "Warning - Dog has No Manners!")

I WANT Cookie to bark like a mad fiend when we are not home. I want anyone to think twice before approaching this house and my mother-in-law.

Am I way out of line?

Can you help?


October 4th, 2005, 06:46 PM
The behaviour is very dangerous and yes you can be sued, even worse she could be taken away and pts.
How often do you have visitors? How often does she socialize with strangers?

October 4th, 2005, 06:54 PM
Its very normal for dogs to experience strong amounts of protective behaviour to their home and family. What I would suggest is socializing her more. Take her to public places where lots of people are. Get her meeting people, it will help take the edge off.
Yes, let her be protective of her home, but train her very strongly not to charge people and jump up. Teach her to hold her ground quietly.
Down Stay is a great command to teach.
Now the law says, if someone breaks into your house forcefully, and your dog bites them, thats fine, its not different than you defending your home and property, you are legally allowed to. But if someone you invite into your home, a friend, a payed worker, gets bitten, you will probably lose your dog and she will be put to sleep.
You should work hard on training her to be OK with strangers to a certain degree, down stay would work wonders.

October 4th, 2005, 07:08 PM
I would say it's too early to know. You can't judge by one encounter. If your sweep was a really bad person, and your dog sensed it and reacted, it would not be representative of all encounters. I'd say try having somebody you know is a good person come to the house. Somebody he hasn't met yet and see how he reacts.

Some dogs get very aggressive with intruders when their masters are not home- which is why so many mailmen get bitten.

You don't want your doggy to attack a well-meaning stranger by accident, so it's best to figure out if this is the norm or not.

October 4th, 2005, 07:09 PM
I was afraid that I would hear that

Okay - we need to train ourselves again. (still)

You hit something right away. We do not socialize much at all with people - maybe one visitor a month (?) but no one new. An old friend, a relative but that is about it. We are fairly people-anti-social.

If we are home, we can calm her if an aquaintance comes over. She will bark like crazy, but we can eventually/usually make her sit and settle - after a few minutes she is bored and will just go off and do her thing quietly, or we put her in the house (it is pure torture for her to be away from us and that seems to be a punishment for not settling)

Once she has seen you a few times, she will bark a greeting but nothing seemingly aggressive (she is a major talker). New neighbours took us about a month to curb the "I see ya over there" barking (and they rather like the alert if someone new drives up). She knows every car that belongs on the street, but if a strange one drives up, she will carry on. We try not to let her bark so and attend to her every time.

We have tried to take her on a visit her and there but we have not yet mastered anything "calm".

We haven't mastered walking with a leash yet. We continue with excercises like stopping and looking up, ignoring her, while she pulls or bites the leash. It can take us 1/2 hour to attempt a walk down the driveway but we still keep trying. When we walk her in fields, we try the same thing, but here she continues to choke herself and it has yet to be a good experience for her. But we keep trying the same excercise (after a year, no change and we have accomplished nothing for either of us). Having said that, there isn't a place we could run into humans on a regular basis.

Okay, so we don't like people much. Is there a way to help her here without introducing them into our lives? I know that sounds "bad" but we are truly not comfortable with folks.

I could not imagine the pain of losing her to our negligence and will try to do whatever we can with ourselves to help her. There is absolutely nothing calm about our love except bed time. She wants to go and have fun and love life every second she is awake.

We have some work to do and I really need help eh?

Now that she "is", where do we start?

October 4th, 2005, 07:20 PM
I was answering the first post-reply while you two answered :)

thanks all

So, what if I get a sign for now? Will that help? (as if her barking wouldn't be warning enough) But should I have a sign?

Her tether does not allow her reach to the walkways, mail or meters to be read. It restricts her to the backyard only.
Is this okay for her to protect this given territory?
(she has access to nanny from the back deck, which is where she has started spending her evenings lately)

She ususally isn't inside with Nanny (loves the outdoors too much and Nanny's place is too warm) but today was a bit different ... he arrived during "I am so spoiled snack time". I was so curious as to how she even got our pooch into a bedroom (she is diabled) but she does listen to her best!

I am not worried about people we invite in so far because we are always there to introduce her. If Nanny has an old gal over for a visit, Cookie loves it and tries to lick them anew!
I have noticed that she is alerting more and more this last couple of weeks to Nanny's bumps and noises which makes me worried (about Nanny's health)

So, a sign ... will it do? Will it protect her? until we get this figured out?

October 4th, 2005, 07:29 PM
Regardless of her possible reasoning for it doesn't matter. This person was an invite to your home. It is very dangerous. It sounds as if this behaviour has been getting progressively worse.
You need to socialize but I think you will now get nervous when she gets close to a stranger wondering if she will do something. You need to find a trainer who is experienced in dealing with dogs with aggression/social issues.

Lucky Rescue
October 4th, 2005, 08:43 PM
So your dog has basically spent her life so far in the house or tied out?

Most dogs will bark a warning when someone approaches the home. This is called "alarm barking" and it's genetic with most dogs. However it sounds like your dog is going far beyond that.

I strongly suggest you enroll her in obedience classes asap. This will only help you train her, but will get her used to other people and dogs in a safe situation.

In the meantime, do get a sign, but make sure it says only "DOG" with no warning because, yes, in many places if you put a warning and your dog bites someone (even if that person is trying to break into your home) you can be sued since you knew your dog was aggressive. :rolleyes:

October 4th, 2005, 09:29 PM
I would say you have alot of work to do with her.

I see that at a year old,she hasn't been socialized that much at all.Not a good thing.And since she has not been listening much to you training her,she should have been in Obedience classes a long time ago.I would suggest Obedience classes for her now.

What socializing have you done with her as a pup?And even now?

It's one thing to protect your home.It's another to have your dog very aggressive towards someone.

Someone even told me that if I posted a Dog Warning sign that I am pre-admitting liability if she protects our space

This is not true.

I have a sign up.Is my dog aggressive?Heck no.He is a big suck.But he is also a retired Police Dog who is trained to attack on command.But his meaning of attack is to "hold",not to rip someone apart.Something I don't doubt you dog would do if she had the chance.My family members along with friends and co-workers also have signs up.Many I have told to put one up.It's just a warning sign stating a dog is in the home.It is not saying you have an aggressive one.It's just telling you to beware.It should really say "be aware of dog"

Chances of you being sued/charged if someone breaks in and your dog attacks is next to nil.Your dog was doing what comes naturally to them.Protecting the home and family.

I've gone to quite a few calls where this has happened.And they were not charged.

BUT,if your dog attacks outside of the home,then yes,you are very liable.And also in the home.And I am not talking about someone breaking in.I'm talking about friends.Or even family members.Lets say I came to your home and she attacked me for no reason,you bet I would charge you.

Not sure if your Dog Owners Liability Act is the same as here in Ontario,but I would definately check it out in your area.

October 5th, 2005, 08:01 AM
It is normal for the dog to guard. The problem lies with your relationship with the dog. The dog thinks it is in charge so it is doing what it can to act like the boss while not being very confident with strangers.

You need to train the dog that you are the boss. That it is ok to alert you of a potential threat but that YOU are the one to decide if it is a threat or not and that you decide the response. You need to teach the dog to defer to you.

You do this through obedience training primarily.

Putting the dog on a leash in the house when strangers enter will help. Don't get anxious, tense, or scold the dog when it happens. Be happy and try to get the dog to play or to do some basic obedience commands before and during the entrance of the stranger. The dog can't be focussed on you and the stranger at the same time.

Try to avoid the situation until you get greater control. Everytime it happens it reinforces the behaviour in the dog. Stranger/threat comes-dog has melt down- dog doesn't get hurt by stranger/threat - stranger/threat goes away - dog thinks it did the right thing - dog repeats.

October 5th, 2005, 12:06 PM

I will definately re-look into obedience training - for us.
I shied away when we first adopted her because they insist on the use of "restraint gear", muzzles, etc. for all participants and we just couldn't do that (she was abused and rescued).

So your dog has basically spent her life so far in the house or tied out? Yes. She also gets daily walks and car rides, but the majority of her time is spent outside tied. Her rope can make all four corners of the backyard (about 100' long). There is at least one human home all of the time so she has companionship and play times (two a day are scheduled to play with her bevy of toys - the rest are just because). She can come & go into the house(s) as she wishes (airconditioning!) and has a sheltered, straw-filled manger when she justs wants to hang by herself. Once a month she has a cousin come over for a weekend of dog-dog play. There are also about 3 or 4 dogs who come to visit on a regular basis (they are escape artists and they always wind up here to sniff and just say hello; no real playing - she is very calm with them ... not really submissive, but more accepting ... there is one poodle who she does not like and will chase off the property, but has never shown her teeth, hackled up, shied or growled at any animal ... including the cats who wander by).

Because you asked, I have to ask ... do you feel this is this wrong?
We just don't want her to get hurt. She is not "left out", but asks, and comes in when she asks as well.
We would love to be able to let her run wild and free but we just don't have the property - and we feel bad about this, so she gets tons and tons of opportunities to get out and about.

- except for the socialization part WHICH I PROMISE WE WILL START WORKING ON TODAY! :love: whatever it takes. She is the prime focus of our life, our joy, our only child.

I thought long and hard last night (still am) - I believe that my first task - and a huge one - is to walk around the house and yard holding onto her leash without it attached to her until it becomes a common, boring sight. You see, each and every time I get it out she bounces off of the walls, and then when atttached grabs it and pulls me to hurry - then she chokes herself. No matter how many times (every day, every time!) we walk, this happens (I have a crick in my neck from the stop-look up-ignore thing that has not worked yet - we make it a few inches and then ... repeat, repeat, repeat - she may now feel this is how we walk I guess :( ). So I think that if I can just get her homhum about it, we may just master wearing it calmly. She gets very excited abut everything, not just her leash. Her morning pee, her morning car ride, her morning visit to nanny (all routines), her meals - all done with such glee, zest and excitement.
What do you think about this being my first step?

I know that we slacked off because of her medical conditions (she has no back hips - growth plates closed because she was stuffed in a little cage for too many torturous months) - we know we have to restrict her activities and this is hard on her soul, so we try to make everything as fast paced as she is meant to be, but low impact.
Looks like we got out of control with sympathy, not her, and now it is time for us to grow up and be good parents (oh my, but that face! those expressions! it is so hard to get by and do the right thing - but the possibility of "pts" made me cry last night).

again, I thank you all for being there.

October 5th, 2005, 12:10 PM
Stranger/threat comes-dog has melt down- dog doesn't get hurt by stranger/threat - stranger/threat goes away - dog thinks it did the right thing - dog repeats oh my. You are so right!
I will be hanging tight to you guys for support until I get this down!

October 5th, 2005, 12:14 PM
Seek out a trainer in your area that uses positive methods not aversive.

October 5th, 2005, 12:16 PM
In regards to the beware of dog sign, instead of a beware of dog sign, you could put a big husky lives here, or spoiled rotten dog/husky or something to that effect. Let visitors know you have a dog, without saying your dog is dangerous.

Lucky Rescue
October 5th, 2005, 12:22 PM
By asking about the tying out, I was just trying to get a better picture of the situation.

Tying dogs out, no matter how long the line, always encourages aggression because a dog who is tied knows he's vulnerable and cannot run away. Since you say she spends the majority of her time tied outside, I feel this could be a very large part of her problem.

I can tell that you love your dog and want to do what's best to protect her and to protect other people!:)

I suggest you put up a fence.

Your dog seriously needs training. I"m sure you can find an obedience school that does NOT use any punitive methods or muzzles. I've never seen an obed. school routinely use them!:eek

After you have gone through obedience school, you can start taking her out to all sorts of places. I know your dog has a wonderful and loving home, but even people who live in palaces need to get out and see things and other people too.

Looks like we got out of control with sympathy
Probably, and that is normal! We get abused animals, then let them get away with murder because they've suffered so much.

But dogs live in the "here and now" and she has no idea that you are indulging her due to her past abuse. As you see, this is not helping her.

You can call some obed. schools, then ask if you can just go (without your dog) and watch a session. If you like what you see, you can enroll for the next course.

October 5th, 2005, 12:27 PM
Playing for Confidence and Compliance

By M. Shirley Chong

I do not believe that dogs view human beings as if they were other dogs. However, I am convinced that when humans act in specific ways that dogs usually react in a predictable manner. A handler can use these specific reactions to modify a dog’s behavior--to help a fearful dog feel more confident and to influence an uncooperative dog into becoming more biddable.

If your dog shows one or more of the following symptoms, take him to your vet and ask about doing a six function plus TSH thyroid test, before you start the Mind Games. This test usually costs in the neighborhood of $35-40 plus whatever your vet charges for an office visit and blood draw. In Iowa, vets usually send this blood off to the University of Michigan or to Hemovet in California. As far as I know, there is no lab in the state of Iowa that can run this test. If your dog is hypothyroid, problem behaviors can disappear or become much less pronounced with treatment. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:

* inexplicable and persistent weight gain
* inexplicable weight loss
* unusually heavy or thick coat
* unusually sparse coat
* unusually greasy coat
* areas that have been clipped down grow back very slowly or not at all
* generalized all over itchiness
* generally crabby or crotchety attitude
* spaced out some or all of the time
* lethargy or reluctance to exercise
* seems cold most of the time or seeks out warm places
* suddenly fearful of things that weren’t a problem previously
* softening of muscle tone even with regular exercise, particularly noticeable in the face

There are a number of leadership programs around, some of them more detailed than others. The following is what has worked for me and for students of mine but it’s not written in stone. If any part of the following is too difficult to carry out or might get you bitten, don’t do it! You don’t have to play all the Mind Games with your dog to get some benefit from the program. The more Mind Games you play, the faster and more dramatic your results will be.

If you are having serious problems with your dog, consult a dog trainer or behaviorist experienced in working with difficult dogs before changing any of your dog’s routines.

Note: a houseline is a 6-8 foot length of cord attached to your dog’s buckle or limited-slip collar for your dog to drag around the house. Spray it with Bitter Apple (or other anti-chewing product) to keep your dog from removing it.

If this is the first time you’ve used an anti-chewing product, make sure your dog doesn’t accustom himself to the taste by giving him the “shock” treatment with it. Apply some to a cotton ball or tissue. Then go to your dog and gently pop it into his mouth. He’ll go YUCK! and spit it out--praise like crazy, that’s exactly the reaction you want. You should only have to do this once. Again, if this is likely to get you bitten, don’t do it--consult an experienced trainer or behaviorist as soon as possible.
Mind Game #1: No More Kibble From Heaven!

Free feeding is the equivalent of kibble from heaven--some dogs seem to imagine that they own their bowl and that the food appears whenever they want it.

Feed your adult dog twice a day (puppies may need 2-6 meals per day depending on age and health status). Before you put the bowl down, have your dog do a sit. If your dog tries to dive on the bowl before you give him permission to eat, pick up the bowl and start over. When your dog stops eating and walks away from the bowl, pick up any remaining food and dispose of it.
Mind Game #2: No Free Lunches!

Dogs that never have to do anything to earn their living (their food) can become very spoilt. They see no reason to obey their owner at any time because they can get what they want (food) without any conditions at all.

At least four times a week feed your dog his entire meal from your hand. Divide your dog’s meal up into 15-25 parts (depending on the size of your dog, this might be anything from individual kibbles to small handfuls). Have your dog perform a simple command for every part of his meal. It doesn’t have to be complex--it can be sits, downs, stand, shake hands, salute, roll over, etc.

If your dog is overly rough about how he takes food, work on his eating-from-your-hand skills with his first meal fed this way. If he tries to grab the food roughly from you, pull your hand away, give him a short time out, then offer the food again. If your dog refuses to carry out known commands, quietly put his food away until the next regularly scheduled meal. It’s completely up to him whether he eats or not--don’t try to convince him. Let him discover where his own best interests lie!
Mind Game #3: No More “Pee-Mail”!

Dogs sometimes use urination and defecation to mark their own territories. Some males are particularly persistent about urine marking as many places as possible (some bitches do this as well). I call this “pee-mail”--dogs send social messages to other dogs with their urine. Dogs do not need to assert their ownership over a large territory; some dogs who mark the same places on a regular basis become quite territorial.

Urine marking is different from regular urination--the dog sniffs something (often a vertical object or a place where another dog has peed), then moves forward a little and sprinkles that place with a few drops of urine.

If your dog is in the habit of marking during walks on lead, take control of his pee-mail. Give him (or her) two chances to urinate at home and then insist that your dog keep up with you during your walk. You may have to use a head halter to give you control over your dog’s nose.
Mind Game #4: Patience!

Dogs that are overly pushy and dogs that are too fearful share one important personality trait: they tend to be impatient. They move, act and make decisions too quickly. Having your dog do a thirty minute down stay every day helps teach your dog how to be patient and just relax.

First teach your dog to do a down. Then put him on leash, have him do a down and run the leash under your own foot. Leave your dog enough slack to lie comfortably but not enough to be comfortable sitting or standing.

If your dog gets up, just stay quiet and keep pressure on the leash. Let your dog discover how to be comfortable. Your dog will eventually relax and just hang out.

If you do this regularly, your dog will start to relax sooner and sooner.
Mind Game #5: Learning His Place!

Controlling the best spots to sleep are one of the games dogs play with each other to establish authority. As almost every dog could tell you, the best spots to sleep in any house are the furniture and human beds.

If you are playing Mind Games because your dog lacks respect for you, prohibit your dog from getting up on the furniture and on your bed. If he doesn’t respect your “Off!” command, attach a houseline to move him when he doesn’t feel like moving. Don’t be harsh, just firm and matter of fact.

If your dog has a favorite place to sleep (a particular corner or dog bed), make sure to take control of that place at least once a day by making your dog move out of it and then sitting or standing in it yourself for a few minutes.

If your dog sneaks up on the bed with you after you fall asleep, put him in a crate or shut him out of the bedroom.

If you are playing Mind Games because your dog is fearful or anxious, it is important to get your dog out of the bedroom. British trainer John Rogerson has noted that he has never seen a case of separation anxiety in a dog that routinely sleeps outside the bedroom. I have seen a few cases of separation anxiety in dogs that didn’t sleep in the owner’s bedroom but *did* sleep with one or more other dogs. Removing the other dogs did trigger anxiety, so make sure your dog is sleeping in a room alone.
Mind Game #6: Taking Back Your Space!

Dogs can take control of a space by lying in the middle of the traffic pattern or by lying in the doorway. Anxious dogs are trying to prevent their owner from leaving, dogs with leadership ambitions are trying to control their owner’s movement. In dog society, the lesser ranked dogs have to move around the higher ranked dogs.

If your dog is lying in your way, shuffle your feet and shuffle right through him. You don’t want to hurt him (that’s why you’re shuffling) but you do want him to move for you.

Don’t ask your dog to move or warn your dog that you are about to make him move. Make it your dog’s responsibility to keep an eye on you and to move as needed to accommodate you.

If you think your dog might bite you, consult a trainer or behaviorist with experience dealing with aggressive dogs ASAP! In the meantime, put a buckle or limited-slip collar on your dog and attach a houseline. Use the houseline to move your dog.
Mind Game #7: Follow the Leader!

Teaching your dog to follow you teaches your dog to keep an eye on you and to accommodate your movements. You’re an important person in your dog’s life and if he doesn’t know it, it’s time for him to learn it.

Tie your dog’s leash to your belt or around your waist for at least one hour each day. Go about your every day business without paying particular attention to your dog. Don’t warn your dog you are about to move, don’t pay attention to your dog, don’t coax him to come with you. Make it his responsibility to follow his leader (you!) around.

It’s inconvenient to do--but the more often you can do this, the faster you will see a change in your dog’s behavior.
Mind Game #8: Take Control of Your Dog’s Body!

Dogs prefer to be touched on their own terms. Some dogs want to be petted constantly and some dogs would prefer only to be handled by invitation only.

If your dog solicits petting constantly, stop all free petting. Insist that your dog earn each petting session by performing one or more commands and keep each petting session short in duration.

If your dog doesn’t enjoy being handled, make sure that you handle your dog all over every day. Make sure you can touch and examine every part of your dog’s body, including his ears and between his pads.

If it gives you more confidence in handling, wear gloves until you feel safe handling your dog. If you think there is a high probability that your dog will bite you, seek professional help!
Mind Game #9: S/he Who Owns the Most Toys Wins!

In dog society, the dog able to control the most resources is usually the highest ranked. Giving a dog lots of toys that no one else touches can give that dog a mistaken impression of his own rank in the world. Overly confident dogs can become aggressive resource guarders and overly fearful dogs feel stressed by the enormity of their responsibilities.

Pick up and put out of your dog’s reach all of the toys, including chew toys. Hold one play session per day with your dog where you bring out one toy and use it to play with your dog for 10-15 minutes.

If your dog declines to play with you, put the toy away without comment.
Mind Game #10: Daily Chores!

Remind your dog that he works for his living by holding two short daily obedience sessions. For 5-10 minutes in each session, run through all the commands your dog knows or teach him new ones.

These can be combined with hand feeding sessions.
Mind Game #11: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body!

Dogs need physical exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. Make sure your dog is getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every other day. Aerobic exercise is any exercise that makes your dog pant steadily. Depending on your dog’s size and fitness level, this can be on lead walking, jogging, road work, treadmill, retrieve games, swimming or pulling.

It’s difficult for many people to walk fast enough to give a medium or large dog aerobic exercise (any dog over about 25 pounds). If on lead walking is the only option, you can increase the ooomph factor by teaching your dog to pull a drag from a nonrestrictive harness. I start small with loops of rope and work up to motorcycle tires (depending on the size and condition of the dog). This has an added advantage for conformation people of building the dog’s rear.

Avoid retrieve games if your dog doesn’t play nicely. Playing nicely means respecting your space when you have possession of the object (in other words, not leaping on you to rip it out of your hands), bringing the object directly back to you and allowing you to take the object out of his mouth.

Make sure your dog is getting a high quality diet with moderate amounts of protein and fat. I believe that a homemade diet based on raw ingredients (meats and veggies) is healthiest for dogs. There are high quality kibbles on the market for those who prefer to feed a commercial diet. Money saved on cheap kibble often gets spent at the vet, so there’s no point in trying to economize with cheap dog food.
Mind Game #12: Rewards From Daily Life!

All dogs have things that they enjoy doing. Earning these daily pleasures can help your dog learn confidence and compliance.

It might include things like going out in the yard, going for a walk, being fed, going for a ride in the car, being groomed, being petted, getting scratched in that spot that is always itchy, etc. Before you let your dog have any of the things on that list, have your dog perform a known command, then reward him with the intended activity. If he refuses to do the behavior, don’t comment, just walk away, wait for five to ten minutes and try again.

Play as many of the Mind Games as you can for at least a month. If your dog’s attitude has improved, slowly start dropping some of the games. I recommend that you keep the first game (No More Kibble From Heaven!) and the last game (Rewards From Daily Life!) for life. You may decide to keep playing more or all of the games. If your dog’s attitude starts to get worse again, re-institute the game you most recently dropped for at least another month.
Mind Games Checklist

¨ Medical exam, including thyroid check

¨ Mind Game #1: No More Kibble From Heaven!
¨ Mind Game #2: No Free Lunches!
¨ Mind Game #3: No More “Pee-Mail”!
¨ Mind Game #4: Patience!
¨ Mind Game #5: Learning His Place!
¨ Mind Game #6: Taking Back Your Space!
¨ Mind Game #7: Follow the Leader!
¨ Mind Game #8: Take Control Of Your Dog’s Body!
¨ Mind Game #9: S/he Who Owns the Most Toys Wins!
¨ Mind Game #10: Daily Chores!
¨ Mind Game #11: A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body!
¨ Mind Game #12: Rewards From Daily Life!

Back to the Top

October 5th, 2005, 12:34 PM
You see, each and every time I get it out she bounces off of the walls, and then when atttached grabs it and pulls me to hurry - then she chokes herself.

My dog also goes leash-crazy! But it's still possible to walk with her on a loosh leash, although it takes diligence. What kind of collar does she have on for walks? We take off Ebony's regular collar and put on a choke chain. Despite the name, the idea is not to choke the dog. :) At first we'd just put it on her and take her out and Ebony would pull and pull until she was gaaaasping for air.

Well, it turns out we were using it wrong. The correct way is to give a correction just as the dog begins pulling. It won't figure out on its own that pulling = choking. At least, Ebony didn't. ;)

Have you trained your dog to heel? That would be a big help, I'll bet. Even if you didn't use it all the time (we didn't with Ebony), it's useful because when the dog starts getting too, too excited you can tell her to heel and keep her heeling till she calms down. I also recommend training the dog not to step off the sidewalk curb before you do, just as a safety precaution. :) You don't want her running into the street and getting hit . . . and if she ever gets loose, maybe it will make her more hesitant about crossing busy streets.


October 5th, 2005, 12:36 PM

October 5th, 2005, 12:44 PM
Yes, it's wrong. In some jurisdictions it is illegal also. I would suggest never tieing out a dog.

It will also contribute to your problem.

Tie Out (Tethering) as a Means of Confinement

Canine Behavior Series

When a dog jumps or digs under a real fence or runs out of the yard in spite of the shock of an electronic fence, tying the dog outside might seem the best option. If you’ve not experienced how this practice can go wrong, it may surprise you that the United States Department of Agriculture doesn’t allow tie out (they call it tethering) as a permanent method of confinement for dogs under its jurisdiction. The Humane Society of the United States describes tethering as a permanent method of confinement as inhumane. Some localities have laws restricting it.

In animal behavior work, “tethering” a dog to you is a reputable bonding and supervision method unrelated to tying a dog up outside as a permanent means of confinement, so we’ll use the term “tie out” here. Just why does tying a dog outside as a permanent means of keeping the dog in your yard cause problems, and what kinds of problems occur?

What It Is, and What It’s Not

The tie out that causes the most problems is the one used most of the time. In the problem tie out, the dog is outside without the human. Other people and animals in the area around the dog add to the risk.

Tethering your dog to your waist around the house is a good practice. Tethering your dog in your sight in the yard for a while as you weed your garden is not the problem situation we’re talking about here either. Letting your dog out the door on a tether to potty can be fine, if you watch the dog during the time outdoors and bring the dog back in promptly.

The Problems

The risks from using tie out to confine a dog include both physical and behavioral. Risks of both types are serious and potentially life-threatening.

In the physical area, one thing to bear in mind—and your dog knows this full well—is the risk of another animal or a human taking advantage of your dog being trapped and doing the dog bodily harm. The dog is also an easy target for theft. If you think that’s not a risk because your dog behaves so “protectively” when tied, read on for what that means!

The physical risks of the tie out also include injuries to bones and joints from hitting the end of the line hard. The bones and other structures in the neck are especially vulnerable. Many dogs die of strangulation when the line tangles or hangs up in a way no one would have expected.

People, including children, will often tease, harass, and even injure a tied dog. Sometimes the humans don’t realize the dog finds their behavior threatening, but other times their actions spring from a warped sense of humor or worse. That person who inflicts the mistreatment may stay out of the dog’s reach, but then someone else comes along, maybe a nice little boy who coincidentally reminds the dog of the boy who did the harassment.

Dogs by nature are largely governed by instincts, and will often react without thinking. So the nice little boy comes up to pet the dog who has been mistreated by some other boy, and the dog bites. To the dog it’s self-defense, but people tend not to view it that way, especially since the harassment these poor dogs experience usually goes unwitnessed.

This explains a lot of the behavioral damage suffered by dogs who spend too much time tied out. Anything in the area when the dog is “cornered” by being tied may feel overstimulating or threatening to the dog.

If that threatening person, animal, or thing—or one like it—comes within the dog’s reach, the dog may attack in self defense. Keep in mind that what the person intended will not determine the dog’s reaction. It’s how the dog feels that matters here. If the dog gets loose or is out for a walk on leash with you and encounters one of these things, the dog may react aggressively for the same reason. That can mean lunging, snarling, growling, snapping, biting, and lots of barking.

The dog who spends too much time tied out tends to develop habits of pulling and lunging against pressure on the throat. The constant pressure from the tie out alters the dog’s normal perception of leash pressure and makes a dog “hard necked.” Then it’s more difficult to train these dogs to walk without trying to drag you or lunge against the leash.

The Bottom Line

Humane organizations, the United States Department of Agriculture and others including behavior specialists have serious reservations about tie out as a permanent means of confining a dog. Be sure to tether your dog only for minimum lengths of time, and only when you are directly supervising the dog.

Stand by whenever your dog is on a tie out, just as you do when working with your dog on leash. If someone starts doing something that could upset your dog, stop that danger and at the same time distract the dog’s attention away from it with a simple exercise that teaches your dog to look to you (See Eye Contact). Keep the line loose, not allowing it to go tight against the dog’s throat.

Be there for your dog. Whenever you can’t be there, make sure the dog is tucked away safely in the best situation you are able to provide. A real fence that allows the dog to move around without being tied is best for your dog’s supervised times outdoors. When a dog starts getting out of a fence, keeping the dog as an indoor dog with outdoor trips on leash and under your supervision is your best bet.

Kathy Diamond Davis is the author of the book Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others. You can email Kathy at for personal answers to your canine behavior and training questions! Should the training articles available here or elsewhere not be effective, contact your veterinarian. Veterinarians not specializing in behavior can eliminate medical causes of behavior problems. If no medical cause is found, your veterinarian can refer you to a colleague who specializes in behavior or a local behaviorist.

Copyright 2005 - 2005 by Kathy Diamond Davis. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

October 5th, 2005, 01:30 PM
Huskies should not not be openly aggresive, they SHOULD!! make terrible guard dogs.

October 5th, 2005, 03:58 PM
before you jump all over this person, remember, she doesnt have a
fenced yard, and is near a highway, so when the dog is outside, she is on a 100 foot long rope.
The dog isnt on the rope all the time!
This sounds to me like a sweet dog with a good owner.
The dog has clear dominance issues (knowing she can get away with everything), and would benefit from some socialization - public places with lots of people and/or other dogs; as well as some obedience training.

WeeZee, if cookie pulls alot, perhaps consider purchasing a Gentle Leader collar, it fits over the snout and around the head, so when the dog pulls it jerks their head back, like the same way a halter works on a horse when you are riding. Large dogs often benefit greatly from these collars., as it almost instantly reduces pulling.
Huskies are very social dogs, but were raised to be watch dogs and set off the alarm when strangers/ and or bears/wolves come around.
They are not overly aggressive dogs at all.
I am thinking this dog just really needs more social activity, as Huskies are such social dogs.

heres a link to the Gentle Leader website:

October 5th, 2005, 04:02 PM
Wow that is a lot of wonderful information - thank you.
The Mind Games seems right up our immediate alley and we have started already (of course, some things we knew but have ignored :( )

The tether. Oh my. I see that I will be saving for a fence. I do not want Cookie to ever feel like a prisoner etc. There are about 5 dogs on our small street, all tethered (it is the law here that they must be secured/tied). I don't know of anyone for quite a distance that has a fence so it looks like we may be trend setters :) It will give her less room due to the configuration of the yard and buildings, but that would be a trade off for her personal security, right?

We planted very thorny rose bushes (rugosas) along one side of the property this year to keep out other animals (and wandering children that might happen by) - next year they will have grown in enough to accomplish this.

... off to try to walk her.

I'll be back


October 6th, 2005, 06:00 PM
sneakypete Thank you. You did wrap that up and describe our situation as if by magic eye! If I were to be kind to me ( :p ) I would say the exact same thing! Thank you as well for the walk info and the link.
I'm just kind of in shock with myself because we 'broke our dog' by leaving her training until it almost became too late and someone was injured, or even just her mental state messed up. I am glad there are places like this to hear so many helpful words and views.

I was feeling a little bit, well perhaps defensive about the rope. We try to hard to make her life full and complete especially because she may be in a wheelchair in her mid years. I even measured the rope to the inch (really!) pulling as hard as I could so that she could get every available inch, but not get into trouble.
I made sure she had something to climb on (a picnic table she sort of ate when she first arrived - lol) and she gets a good view on either side of the house so she is "involved in the neighbourhood", can smile at the dogs across the street, etc., and of course she has her private 'manger' hangout. All the comforts of home we could make with as much freedom to move as we could give her. I would love a fence only not to have to remind us both of hindering her natural instincts. (when I get a fence, I know I will next need a field - lol)
Okay, sigh. I am over the pangs of remorse I felt about the rope, because in my heart I agree with the reasons that must have gone into what unfortunately had to become laws for morons.

I have started the Mind Games and I can see that my brilliant pooch is not going to make this a difficult task. If I could read her mind, she would be saying "whew, finally".

We haven't put away her toybox yet because we are being mindful of not doing it all at once. So Follow Me is the Game of the Week (and because it is timely & easy - shuffling our feet to walk through, and not letting her out if she is just checking out a noise - hubby does that now; I mis-trained her on this one because I felt it was better that she was able to satisfy her curiosity - lol.)

As you can tell, I can keep going on and on, but when it comes to my kid ... lol

thanks again everyone
I will be back to post after a week's Mind Games.