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Territorial aggresion - your mailman's worst nightmare

LongIsland.com

Here is a copy of a discussion I had with someone dealing with territorial aggression. If your dog is acting territorial, it can be scary and dangerous. Training is the best way to combat territorial ...

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Here is a copy of a discussion I had with someone dealing with territorial aggression. If your dog is acting territorial, it can be scary and dangerous. Training is the best way to combat territorial aggression, but it will require some committment on your part. If your dog is displaying signs of territorial aggression, feel free to email me and I will arrange a free evaluation. Training to eliminate such aggression usually takes at least 6 weeks.

MY REPLY:
From your email, it sounds to me like you have a lot of issues that stem from not having a proper relationship with your dogs and lack of training. Both can be fixed with training - but you have to commit to train each dog individually for about 20 minutes per day. I will try to show you how training can help your situation, because your dogs are a lot like mine - very alert and protective, and somewhat aggressive over toys. Once you start training properly, the territorial aggression will be the first thing to disappear. The toys and fighting between the dogs will take a bit more effort, in my experience. So, lets look at your situation in a little detail:

HER ISSUE 1:
My 2 1/2 year old hound/shepard mix is becoming more and more aggressive with anyone who drives into the yard, walks into the yard, or tries to come up onto our deck.

MY REPLY:
How training will help:
If I notice a car or someone coming into my yard, I call my dog to come. He stops dead in his tracks, turns around, comes and sits facing me, waiting for the next command. Then, knowing my dog does not trust stranger, nor will allow a stranger to pet him, I bring him over to the side of the porch and put him in a down stay. He will wait there until I give him a release command. If my dog is in a down stay, he cannot exhibit aggressive behaviors towards my guests. If his hair goes up, he growls or inches forward even an INCH, he gets corrected back into place. To get my dog to this level, it took roughly 20 minutes per day for 6 months. I use a combination of the prong collar and an innotek electronic remote collar. If you are on your way to training your dogs, then I would be happy to answer any specific questions you might have. But there is no simple solution to your problem, to solve it requires that you have voice control and dominance over your dog and this only comes with regular training.

HER ISSUE 2:
The new chow/lab mix who is approximately 11 months old, has started with the barking and baring of the teeth, but the hair on his back does not go up like Knuckles does nor does he (Buster snarl).

MY RESPONESE
** Here I am not clear as to when you see this response in the chow. But any kind of aggressive reaction should be corrected.

HER ISSUE 3:
When we bring them out in public to the ball field, walking, etc they do not exhibit aggressiveness although I am trying to teach Buster you do not bark at people to greet them.

MY RESPONSE:
How training will help:
First you can begin by teaching your dog to bark and be silent on command. I use the speak command if I want my dogs to bark and I say quiet when they should stop. If you would like to learn how to do this, let me know. Secondly, I really don't see any reason why you should be letting perfect strangers pet your dogs. Dogs are PACK animals, and a good majority of dogs will be highly reserved around stranger because strangers are by definition not part of their packs. You can teach your dogs to sit quietly beside you if you must talk to a stranger, but as you are the pack leader, there should be no reason for them to greet strangers, especially strange dogs, on the street.

HER ISSUE 4:
I am extremely concerned that they are going to bite a guest. The last time we had company, I put the prong collar on Knuckles and gave our guest treats to give him.

MY RESPONSE:
How training will help:
You are making way to big a deal over guests coming over, and this is being relayed to your dogs. First of all, if you are doing any sort of productive training, the prong collars should be on the dogs ALL THE TIME. You must always be in a position (as would the alpha of a wild dog pack) to administer a correction. AND, by putting the prong collar on the dogs when guests are over, you are creating a negative association with the guests, and heightening the anxiety of the dogs. So, from now on, when ever you are interacting with your dogs, you should have the leash and prong collars on. This way when guests come over, you won't have to make a fuss. When guests come over (and you can have some friends come and help you with this), put your dog in a down stay on a specified area (like a mat) in the corner and do not allow them to greet your guests until you give the release command. Then, after you have let the dogs sniff your company command them into a down stay on their mats where they should remain until your company leaves. Remember, company are not part of your pack either so it is your dog's natural instinct NOT TO TRUST THEM.

HER ISSUE 5:
What ending up happening is he got into a fight with the new dog over bone

MY RESPONSE:
How training will help:
First, allowing two dogs with territorial aggression and dominance issues free to play with a bone is a bit irresponsible. If you want your dogs to have bones, separate them until they are trained and know that the bones are YOURS, not theirs. Only when the dogs really understand you are the pack leader might they start sharing goodies, and even then if they are close in rank, they may continue to fight. When you learn which is the more dominant dog, you can begin to correct the subordinate dog for taking the dominant dogs things yourself, rather than leaving it up to the dogs. I recommend the elder support system, meaning the older dog who has been there the longest gets treated as top dog. However, in certain cases, and it is pretty rare, the junior support is more suitable.

HER ISSUE 6:
Knuckles is a very fearful dog when it comes to men..

MY RESPONSE:
How training will help:
You can start a program of desensitizing Knuckles to men by having men help you with their training and having men give Knuckles lots and lots of treats. Have some of your male friends walk and play with Knuckles, as well as feed him and give him goodies like hotdogs, chicken...

HER ISSUE 7:
and very aggressive toward anyone who carries a bag. Paperboy, Mailperson, etc.

MY RESPONSE:
How training will help:
Again, if you train Knuckles, this kind of aggression will disappear. If the mailman approaches, you should call Knuckles to come. If Knuckles starts getting aggressive, and does not come, he disobeyed and should get a correction. The key here is timing and motivation. You must correct Knuckes immediately (this is where the electric collar works great) for not coming, and also the correction MUST GET THROUGH because if he is getting aggressive, his adrenaline is so high, he won't even flinch at a normal correction.

HER ISSUE 8:
I am very nervous about having people over I am honestly afraid Knuckles will bite someone. My husband says that Knuckles does not become that aggressive when he is home. Are the dogs "protecting" me.

How training will help:
Well, your dogs sense that you are nervous, and they are doing what they think you want them to do. They cannot make the connection that you are nervous about them, and not the guests, so they think mommy is acting all nervous when people come over so people must be something to worry about so I should worry too and become defensive.. if I act mean and bark and be scary, the bad bad guests get scared and then I get treats from them for doing such a good job at being mean.. Wow, I must be the best dog ever...

So to fix your problems, you must train these dogs or else yes, your guests and a stranger may get bit. The dogs in a sense are protecting you, but if you let them know that you are the alpha and don't need protecting, and teach them that when guests come over they MUST SIT OR LAY ON THEIR MATS, then you won't have to worry about a thing. When you start the training, it is best to tell your guests that you are training the dogs, and to ignore them.
Good luck and let me know if I can help you out a bit more.