I was in Dawsonville yesterday working with a new client and his Boston Terrier, Annie.  Annie’s biggest problem was jumping on the furniture and staling food.  We were able to deal with these items in short order and moved on to Annie’s other issues of not listening and running out the front door.  We were making excellent progress on these behaviors and needed to stop for the day because Annie was just getting too tired to “stay in school”.  Learning is often one of the most tiring things you have to do.  Annie thought so too.  As we were finishing up and planning our next session, a friend of my client stopped by and had a dog training question for me.  His dog is very aggressive towards dogs and he wondered if there was a way to fix that problem.

Dog on dog aggression can be caused by many existing or preexisting issues.  Because of that, I asked my client’s friend for more information.  After some discussion, I picked up on some important points about this other dog.  It seemed that he was from a rescue group and had been passed among as many as ten families before he came to my client’s friend about ten weeks ago.  My client’s friend took him to the dog park a few days after he got him and he got into a big fight with several other dogs.  He then took him to a doggy day care where he became agitated and had to be separated from the rest of the dogs (for everyone’s safety).

Since dogs can’t tell us exactly what they are feeling or what has happened to them in the past, we shouldn’t spend time trying to figure that out.  We should spend the time focusing on their current issues and understanding what we can do to try and mitigate them.

The bottom line is that the dog is afraid of other dogs.  Also, because he has been passed around among multiple families (packs), we can assume that he has not established a constant level of safety and security.  Although this problem often shows itself in aggression towards people also, his dog seems to be exclusively focused on other dogs.

What we need to do is to build up his dog’s security when around other dogs.  We also need to create a repetitive environment where a figure of protection and safety is there to oversee his security.  I suggested the following exercise to start the process:

  • Have his dog on a leash sitting on his lap in a room where they can see outside.
  • Have another dog on a leash walk past the window at a distance of at least twenty to thirty feet.
  • If the friend’s dog starts to bark or become agitated, verbally correct him and then redirect him away from the window by walking him for a minute on the leash.
  • Once he is calm, return to the window.
  • Repeat this process until the friend’s dog is comfortable with the dog passing by outside and the friend can easily maintain his dog’s focus.
  • Now, move to the front door. Open the door and have his dog sit about ten feet back from the entryway.
  • Have the other dog pass in front of the door about twenty to thirty feet back from the door. The other dog should walk past the door in a parallel direction and pay no attention to the friend’s dog.
  • If the friend’s dog becomes agitated and does not easily submit focus to the friend, he should be walked around the house until calm. Return him to the original position near the door.
  • Repeat the above steps at the door until the other dog’s passing across the door does not cause an adrenalized issue.
  • Now, move the friend’s dog half way to the door and repeat until he is calm again. Continue this until he is at the doorway.
  • Now, have the dog walking outside move closer to the doorway as he passed in front. Maintain the parallel direction.  This will minimize any assertive body language that might be interpreted by a direct approach between the two dogs.
  • Continue this process until the dogs are within five feet of each other can calmly sit. If one becomes agitated, adrenalized, or cannot maintain focus on the owner, walk that dog around for a moment until calm.

I asked that the friend repeat this process for two weeks in order to build up a consistent experience based on repetitive behavior.  By taking the process slow and always having them on leashes with the ability to move away, if needed, it gave the friend a clear sense of safety and control.  This is what is needed in order to overcome his dog’s sense of insecurity.

Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Dawsonville Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dawsonville Georgia.