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Proper method to discipline a dog who is aggressive

Gripenfelter
October 19th, 2005, 05:18 PM
As some of you may know, my malamute pup was attacked at the dog park twice by an Akita on two different occasions and now he has become unfriendly towards towards other male dogs of similar size to him. He attacked one retriever and growled and lunged at a doberman.

Last night I walked him by our house on a leash and he was friendly towards all of the small dogs and also one medium sized german shepherd but growled and lunged at a black lab and a shepherd cross.

Both times I grabbed him by the snout and said "NO!" in a forceful manner. Is there something I could be doing to better discipline him when he does this?

His breeder suggested I bonk him over the head with an empty 2L Pepsi bottle whenever he growls. The sound is supposed to scare them.

Anyone else have any better suggestions?

Puppyluv
October 19th, 2005, 05:21 PM
His breeder suggested I bonk him over the head with an empty 2L Pepsi bottle whenever he growls. The sound is supposed to scare them.

Anyone else have any better suggestions?

Eeek! :eek: If you want to use noise, maybe instead of hitting him with the bottle, hit something near him with the bottle to make the noise. That way, you're making the noise and not hitting him in the head. (IMO that's almost as bad as hitting a dog with an umbrella :mad: )

PetFriendly
October 19th, 2005, 05:28 PM
I have had that problem on occasion with Chaley and what we do is stop, I put him in a sit and have him watch me for the time it takes for the dog to move away. Then he learns (or at least I htink that's what he's learning) that as long as he's sitting and watching me, the other dog isn't going to hurt him (which is why he barks and growls, cause he's afraid of getting hurt so he's trying to scare the other guy off first.) Over time, he's been able to touch noses with dogs that looked like the ones who scared him and he's not afraid (most of the time) any more.

K9Friend
October 19th, 2005, 08:19 PM
I would stop going to the dog park for a while and maybe forever. It only takes one BAD experience to really screw up a dog and have to start all over again. BTW - I'm not against dog parks - I just don't think they're for everyone and for every dog out there.

Always be one step ahead of your dog when you see another BIG dog approaching you...do a 180 and turn the other way...and make him FOCUS on you. Either by a treat, your voice, his favourite toy, make him sit, give him your paw..whatever it takes to make him listen to you.......work on this...all the time and be consistent but don't BONK him on the nose..... :yuck:

doggirl
October 19th, 2005, 08:58 PM
His breeder suggested I bonk him over the head with an empty 2L Pepsi bottle whenever he growls.

:eek:

Unreal.

You have to get rid of the idea of "disciplining" him. Instead of focussing on what he is physically doing and correcting him, you want to change his emotional reaction to the stimulus that elicits the behavior. This is called counterconditioning.

You also want to get him used to what is causing the fearful reaction, whether it's big dogs, black dogs, dogs that look a certain way, or dogs in general. You can't go wrong getting him used to dogs in general. Pretty much the only way to get over a fear is exposure to the stimulus. Making it a good experience always, and slowly increasing exposure until the dog is no longer fearful. This is called desensitization.

If you google these terms, counterconditioning and desensitization, you should find some good information. I would NOT USE CORRECTIONS outside of just a little tug on the lead or verbal "hey, knock it off". You are trying to teach him NOT to aggress as a coping mechanism, and you are trying to teach him that it's not so bad to encounter another dog - not that they have not just the dog to worry about but the bop on the head they'll get from you.

Excellent books -

Dogs are from Neptune - Jean Donaldson
The Dog who Loved Too Much - Nicholas Dodman

Beware...this is a classical situation where if you screw up, you can turn what is now a minor but correctable problem into a huge issue that will take lots of work to undo down the road...

Gripenfelter
October 20th, 2005, 12:29 AM
Thanx for the replies guys. I have never disciplined my dog by hitting him and I'm not about to start now.

I like the counter-conditioning idea. Sounds interesting. The thing is, I never know if he is gonna be friendly or aggressive towards a dog coming towards him untill he growls. If I wait till he growls and then get him to watch me and give him a treat, won't he think he's being rewarded for growling?

LoNScamp
October 20th, 2005, 02:15 AM
I would keep him out of the park and away from dogs he may react to utnil you can correct the behaviour the more he acts aggressively towards other dogs the more engrained the behaviour becomes.

I would strongly suggest that you contact a trainer to work with you on the problem. He will be a big dog and the last thing you want to risk is him biting or causing damage to another dog, particularly one that has not acted aggressively towards him. Aggression can be a tricky thing to correct and you want to esure that the behaviour is corrected. I think asking a dog to sit/stay and then giving him a treat is not appropriate, particularly if you are dealing with aggression.

How good are you at reading his body language? Does the hair on his back go up, what postion is his tail in, how focused are his eyes on the other dog, etc.? If you can ready his body language you will most often be able to determine what he will do before he does and stop the behaviour before it actually happens.

They other thing that may be happening that can contribute to his behaviour is how tense are you becoming when a dog approaches? Are you tightening up on the lead? If you react even slightly so will he.

A common mistake people make is to tell the dog it is ok or they are good when the dog starts to react in a fearful or aggressive manner. Doing this reinforces the unwanted behaviour. IMO giving treats does the same thing, particularly if the timing is off.

Your problem raises the important question of why do people who have dogs with behaviour issues take them to public parks and let them off leash? This level or irresponsibleness boggles my mind!

Good luck, keep us posted.

Gripenfelter
October 20th, 2005, 07:53 AM
He stiffens up and the hair on his back does stand up if he doesn't like a particular dog.

But when he attacked the retriever at the park, he gave no indication of this. He was wagging his tail and then pounced on him. He stiffened up for a split second before attacking him. I spoke to the owner of the retriever last night and he mentioned that my dog had peed on a tree and his dog went and sniffed it. Thats when my dog pounced on him. He was off leash and about 10 feet away from me at the time when this first incident occurred.

So maybe he was being territorial? He hasn't been off leash since the incident occurred. I spoke to his vet and to a trainer who both said that neutering wouldn't help be cause this is a psychological problem he has developed from being attacked at the park.

I'm steering clear of the park for now. If I ever go back it would be later at night when there is no one else around or just one or two of his female friends.

PetFriendly
October 20th, 2005, 08:11 AM
He stiffens up and the hair on his back does stand up if he doesn't like a particular dog.

I'm steering clear of the park for now. If I ever go back it would be later at night when there is no one else around or just one or two of his female friends.

I'm no expert here, but to me it sounds more like a fear response than agression. So yes, stay away from parks that have off leash dogs in them, so you can be in better control of who comes up to him, but I'm not so sure that avoiding dogs altogether is going to help :confused:

Also, while the park is likely less populated at night, its also darker which means there are more chances for the dog to get spooked, and given there are already fear issues associated with parks, that might just make it worse. I personally would start walking the streets instead. Make sure you mix it up, and drive to new places if you have to to keep it interesting.

mastifflover
October 20th, 2005, 10:07 AM
I agree it does not sound like aggression it sounds more like fear and he is trying to assert his dominance, to avoid being attacked. I would avoid the park for awhile. I would start with walks on a short leash so you have more control and really watch the dogs body language. Remember when you get tense or nervous it goes right down the leash and your dog will pick up on it. So try and be very aware of all the goings on around you. When you see the big dogs approaching start talking to your dog in a very calm and reassuring voice keep his attention on you. When the other dog is approaching you put your dog in a sit and keep the leash right by your side so you can put him back into a sit as soon as he moves. Let the other dog pass and then if he does remain sitting give him tons of praise and a treat. I think he needs more reassurance then anything, be patient and try not to let him feel your frustration you know how sensitive they are towards our feelings and moods. Good luck

catsnatcher-CDN
October 20th, 2005, 10:11 AM
Hi Gripenfelter,

I have the same problem with my doberman... About a year ago, he was attacked by another dog at doggy daycare and then started to nip at other dogs on his daily walks. His hair would stiffen and he would show his teeth.

I'm not an expert and I did exactly what you are thinking of doing. I stopped going to dogparcs or would wait until it was quiet to go. I also kept him near dogs that he knew and away from other dogs.

Now, a year later,my dog is so undersocialized and much more scared of unknown dogs than he originally was.


He stiffens up and the hair on his back does stand up if he doesn't like a particular dog.

But when he attacked the retriever at the park, he gave no indication of this. He was wagging his tail and then pounced on him. He stiffened up for a split second before attacking him. I spoke to the owner of the retriever last night and he mentioned that my dog had peed on a tree and his dog went and sniffed it. Thats when my dog pounced on him. He was off leash and about 10 feet away from me at the time when this first incident occurred.

So maybe he was being territorial? He hasn't been off leash since the incident occurred. I spoke to his vet and to a trainer who both said that neutering wouldn't help be cause this is a psychological problem he has developed from being attacked at the park.

I'm steering clear of the park for now. If I ever go back it would be later at night when there is no one else around or just one or two of his female friends.

Gripenfelter
October 20th, 2005, 10:22 AM
I took him rollerblading around my parents' neighbourhood for 90 mins. He met up with 4 dogs. He showed a positive interest in all of the dogs.

I'm thinking its partly territorial and partly fear of being attacked like you guys mentioned.

I've decided to neuter him in spring and hope for the best. If he doesn't do well at the November dog show, we'll snip him earlier.

twodogsandacat
October 20th, 2005, 05:20 PM
Why are you askiing this here? Instead contact your local liberal and ask them to contact the dog experts they listen to. Oh never mind..............

K9Friend
October 20th, 2005, 05:38 PM
Why are you askiing this here? Instead contact your local liberal and ask them to contact the dog experts they listen to. Oh never mind..............

huh? :clown:

babyrocky1
October 20th, 2005, 07:23 PM
Its political Tongue and Cheek, alot of us pit bull owners and supporters of pit bull owners don't like the liberals stand on BSL.....Thats putting it almost ridiculously mildly.....If you want to know more just go to the BSL posts, if not just ignore me :)

babyrocky1
October 20th, 2005, 07:30 PM
Gripenfelter, I am going through the same thing because I own a "pit bull" He used to be much better socialised than he is now, first I started to stay away from the other dogs and owners just cause of the negative press, and then this ban stuff, I now don't know if its him thats under-socialised or me thats just so nervous, if he even barks, well I have an audience all the time, so Im so worried about making a scene....BUT I do think its really important to re-introduce him to other dogs, sometimes having a trainer walk with you can help you and your confidence just as much as the dogs! Good Luck and Im glad to here you had a good day with him!

K9Friend
October 20th, 2005, 08:09 PM
Its political Tongue and Cheek, alot of us pit bull owners and supporters of pit bull owners don't like the liberals stand on BSL.....Thats putting it almost ridiculously mildly.....If you want to know more just go to the BSL posts, if not just ignore me :)

and which party is currently in power in Ontario? :(

babyrocky1
October 20th, 2005, 08:20 PM
Errr that would be the Fibs....Absolute power apparantly :sad: :eek: :eek: :eek: sorry, Ontario Liberal Party or the Liberal Party of Ontario...whatever :rolleyes: They are not K9 friendly :pawprint:

twodogsandacat
October 20th, 2005, 10:51 PM
Sorry I didn't account for new members to the forum not knowing about the liberal 'dog experts' in Ontario. They ignored every reputable agency that asked to speak to them and this is the only issue where they have stood firm and delivered on any promise. It's pretty sad really. The only issue they keep a promise on and it's one where nobody was listened to.

Soon they will face their first lawsuit regarding this issue.

I just like to post these things once in a while so they have something to read when they search this forum.....and they do search it.

K9Friend
October 21st, 2005, 05:21 AM
Liberal or Conservative - it doesn't matter. They're all the same.
I'm fully aware of BSL. Thanks. :crazy:

Gripenfelter
October 21st, 2005, 10:19 AM
I talked to another trainer last night that simply told me to keep him on a leash at the dog park and if he seems to be playing well with a particular dog to let him off leash.

Problem is, its an off leash dog park with about a dozen of dogs coming and going every hour. I fear what catsnatcher said above as well. If he stays away from the dog park, the problem will worsen.

My wife thinks we should invite one dog over at a time to play with him in our own backyard.

doggirl
October 21st, 2005, 10:36 AM
The thing is, I never know if he is gonna be friendly or aggressive towards a dog coming towards him untill he growls. If I wait till he growls and then get him to watch me and give him a treat, won't he think he's being rewarded for growling?

Don't wait til he growls - this is the whole point, it's a weird concept to wrap your mind around at first. You don't want to address his ACTION (ie wait til he growls), you want to address his emotional response (the feeling that makes him growl). He could have the emotional response without having the behavior (a growl or anything, really). When YOU see the trigger - any other dog - put him in a sit and just start working him. Get him doing sits, downs, watch me's, anything - just get him focused on you, and give him a reason (treats). A high quality soft treat is best (eg Rollover, pieces of chicken weiner, or cheese cube). You are not rewarding him for growling, you are teaching him that there's something more interesting than other dogs. Your goal is for him to eventually see another dog, and react by looking at you and sitting. At that point you have changed his emotional response - instead of fear, anxiety etc when he sees another dog, he experiences excitement or something equivalent. When you change the emotional response he has to a stimulus, you don't need to work on the behavior, because he'll no longer feel any need to display it. VERY IMPORTANT though, timing is everything. As soon as he looks at you, reward. Like within a second, literally. As soon as he looks back at the other dog, distract him heavily - you can do a sharp verbal correction (ah! or hey!) or just entice the crap out of him with the treats. With dogs you have about a one second window in which to reinforce a behavior, where they will associate the reinforcement with the correct behavior. Not getting timing is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make in dog training.

Good luck.

doggirl
October 21st, 2005, 10:43 AM
I talked to another trainer last night that simply told me to keep him on a leash at the dog park and if he seems to be playing well with a particular dog to let him off leash.

Don't agree. Being on a leash with other offleash dogs will most likely worsen his reaction, which will put you backwards.

My wife thinks we should invite one dog over at a time to play with him in our own backyard.

Your wife is right, you have to balance protecting your dog from himself and setting him up to succeed, with trying to provide socialization.

What kind of dog is this? I don't pay attention to people who feel "a dog is a dog" - yes, learning theory is generally the same across the board, but one MUST consider breed traits when looking at a behavioral issue - what is normal and correct behavior for one breed is abhorrent for another. Is this a bully breed? If so, it's really not unusual for him to just not click with every dog...

Lucky Rescue
October 21st, 2005, 11:38 AM
I don't pay attention to people who feel "a dog is a dog" - yes, learning theory is generally the same across the board, but one MUST consider breed traits when looking at a behavioral issue - what is normal and correct behavior for one breed is abhorrent for another. Is this a bully breed? If so, it's really not unusual for him to just not click with every dog...

Agree. This dog is a Malamute - young intact male - a breed also known for being dog aggressive, especially towards the same sex. Not dog park material.

Gripenfelter
October 21st, 2005, 12:46 PM
Thanx for the tips doggirl. I'll try it.

K9Friend
October 21st, 2005, 01:10 PM
Doggirl gave you excellent advice! The last thing you want is a leashed dog in a dog park! :mad:

MIA
October 21st, 2005, 07:09 PM
I would talk to some Malamute people personally, Lucky is right this is a breed known for dog aggression! Mals are very tough to train and are not easy dogs! A friend of mine has a few.... Not for me thanks! LOL

http://www.malamuterescue.com/ has some good information on the site.

catsnatcher-CDN
October 22nd, 2005, 09:28 AM
Whenever my leashed doberman is at the people park and an unleashed dog runs towards him, I know my dog is gonna nip. I think leash puts him in a submissive position around an unleashed dog and incites him to prove otherwise.

Gripenfelter
October 22nd, 2005, 09:33 AM
I would talk to some Malamute people personally, Lucky is right this is a breed known for dog aggression! Mals are very tough to train and are not easy dogs! A friend of mine has a few.... Not for me thanks! LOL

http://www.malamuterescue.com/ has some good information on the site.


This was my first dog. I'm not sure how hard it is to train other dogs but I found him to be a fast learner. He's just stubborn about when he wants to listen. If you give him the sit command and he sees no point in sitting, he tilts his head to the side and looks at you kind of like he's asking "why?". He will only do it if he sees a purpose in it. :crazy:

Perfect example is when I take him rollerblading. He's obedient 100% of the time because he knows when I give him the command to wait, go, turn, etc, his life could depend on it. :)

I used doggirl's method yesterday while rollerblading. We met 3 dogs with no incidents. One small 10 yr Boston Terrier snapped at him but Zeus didn't react back. :)

StaceyB
October 22nd, 2005, 04:07 PM
Reliable responce is part of training, if he doesn't respond every time then unfortunately he isn't yet trained. I would suggest taking him to classes to re-socialize him as well as strengthen his cues. He still needs to listen with distractions and classes will help you with that and you will have a trainer to help you through his issues with other dogs.

MIA
October 22nd, 2005, 10:21 PM
This was my first dog.

:eek: You sure picked one of the hardest breeds!!!!! There is an excellent training page on the mal rescue site I posted, honestly TALK TO MAL PEOPLE get on a Mal list, it will probably make your life a lot easier, these are complex dogs and not your average K9.

http://www.malamuterescue.com/alphatraining.html

I've worked with Shibas now for some time, very similar and I can tell you they are WAY different than other breeds and you need to use different techniques.

StaceyB
October 22nd, 2005, 10:51 PM
I had a Malamute that was very well behaved and social with everything. His best buddies were a kitten and a goat.
Does anyone remember the cartoon where the dog had a kitten friend and the kitten wandered into the kitchen where the lady was making cookies in the shape of kittens. The dog got all sad because he thought his kitten was baked. Anyway, the kitten in the cartoon would get on the dogs back, turn around, knead and lay down.
When we got the kitten she would do this to him and they would sleep together with the cat on his back.

Gripenfelter
October 24th, 2005, 09:46 AM
Well he's very obedient around the house and in the show ring. I guess I have to train him outside the home environment now.

I tried a little bit of counter-conditioning on the weekend with the dog down the street that he hates. I praised him, stroked him, and told him he was a good boy BEFORE he started growling or snarling. He didn't show any aggression towards the other dog but was still a little anxious and stiffened up his back.

Gripenfelter
October 24th, 2005, 09:53 AM
:eek: You sure picked one of the hardest breeds!!!!! There is an excellent training page on the mal rescue site I posted, honestly TALK TO MAL PEOPLE get on a Mal list, it will probably make your life a lot easier, these are complex dogs and not your average K9.

http://www.malamuterescue.com/alphatraining.html

I've worked with Shibas now for some time, very similar and I can tell you they are WAY different than other breeds and you need to use different techniques.

I think I've read through the malamute rescue page about 4-5 times now. :) I read it twice before I decided on a mal. I knew exactly what I was getting into before I adopted one and expected the most stubborn, ill-behaved dog. I was mildly surprised that he wasn't as bad as people make them out to be. :D He's actually MORE obedient than other dogs in our circle of family and friends who own cocker spaniels, bassett hounds, huskies, and mutts.

He doesn't bark, howl, beg for food, or run away. He comes when you call him, sits, stacks, lies down, etc. He also knows the commands for: leave it, slow down, wait, stop, turn, heel, etc. He's obedient with these commands about 75% of the time. :p

Its funny how people say "oh don't stereotype pit bulls" and go on about them but the same people turn around and stereotype other dogs like malamutes. This is just a general observation. Not aimed at any one person. ;)

yoda900_ca
October 24th, 2005, 10:53 AM
Hey grip. I've mentioned this before and i know it's not what you want to hear but Malamutes are known for being aggressive towards other dogs. It's like asking a yorkie to pull a sled or turning an Australin cattle dog loose in a field of sheep and when they run not have them nip at thier heals, sure he might be able to do it but it's not in his gentic make up. Certain breeds have certain traits both good and bad and i Strongly feel as do my fellow MAL buddies that you fighting a losing battle. The older he gets the more this trait will come out. He's an "teenage"Puppy now when this trait usually pops up (if it hasn't already)It's a dominence thing. Just because you are above him doesn't mean he feels other dogs have to be. Try letting him play with females only or u can try 1on 1 in a neutral area. In your yard might be to territorial for him. My last mal was fine w/small dogs but put anything over 50lbs around him all bet were off. He was well trained and would listen to my commands so he would come when i called but i knew enough not to let him near other large dogs. He would also behave as long as he was on leash w/ other large dogs around but i couldn't take him of lead.He would play with small dogs but not often usually just ignor them or whack them w/his paw. I know some mal owners who's dogs would go after and injure small pets given the oppertunity. Most mal's are just as happy to play w/ you. My previous and current Mal will play tag all day long.Please take a look at the malamute rescue site as it is full of info on the breed. goodluck :fingerscr

doggirl
October 24th, 2005, 03:32 PM
Great to hear you're having success Gripenfelter, just don't get discouraged if you have obstacles - 2 steps forward, 1 back. Glad to hear you're dedicated to the dog and accept responsibility for training him. :)

Gripenfelter
October 25th, 2005, 09:10 AM
Well he played for an hour in our backyard with a male siberian husky that he met for the first time yesterday. I could see some dominance behaviour but no growling, snarling, or attacking. I think next time I'll just go to the other guy's place.