I was in Canton a few days ago at a Home Dog Training revisit for a Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever.  The client lives on the beach and the dogs were running out on the beach after unsuspecting tourists.  The training was going great and my client was quite happy with the results.  As we were coming inside, the local news has a story about an American Bulldog* in Atlanta that was not “people friendly”.  It seemed that there was a small boy and his mother walking in front of the dog’s house.  The homeowner had left the front door open and the dog heard the mother and child walking in front of the house.  That aggravated him and he charged out and bit the young boy.  The mother and several neighbors had to aggressively hit and pull the dog off the child.  The good news is that the little boy will make a complete recovery.  How can we stop stuff like this?

In today’s overcrowded and fast pace world, dog attacks can never be eliminated.  We make mistakes and put our dogs in inappropriate situations or we don’t train our dogs properly and they become physical.  What we can do is to understand how we can minimize any situation that could cause our dogs to hurt or scare other people or dogs.

Let’s look back at the situation with the small boy and the American Bull Dog for clues:

  • The mother and child were walking directly in front of the house.
  • The front door was left open.
  • The owner did not have control over the dog.

So far, this is a situation that could happen every day with no negative results.  The one thing that was left out and brought up in a later news cast was that the dog was aggressive towards people he didn’t know.  Although no excuse for the dog’s actions, we can now understand what happened.  The dog was left unattended while strangers had the ability to approach and walk past him.

We don’t know why the dog is aggressive towards people.  He might have been beaten as a puppy.  He might have been used as a “bait dog” when he was younger.  He might never have socialized towards strangers.  These are important facts that we will need to focus on, but the most important action we need to immediately take is to make sure that the neighborhood is safe and people can safely take walks and live their lives.

The one action that caused this situation was the door being open with an unattended dog.  We need to fix that first before anything else can be done.  Well, the front door is open from time to time and they can’t just keep their dog tied up all the time.  What should you do?

  • Always keep a leash on the dog. You don’t have to always have the leash in your hand.  If the dog starts to become agitated, step on the leash and then pick it up.  If you have to run towards the dog and try to grab him, this will only increase his adrenaline and make matters worse.
  • Practice front door safety. Before you ever open the front door, look back to see where your dog is located.  If he is too close to the door or will have a direct view of what is going on outside, place him in a location farther away from the door and not in direct sight of everything going on outside.
  • Always face your dog as you open the door. This allows you to portray a continual level of dominance and leadership and has your dog focusing on you and not other things going on.  It also allows you to see if he is starting to move towards the door or is becoming agitated or frightened.
  • Never let go of the doorknob. You must always have 100% control of the door so that you can quickly close it, if necessary.
  • Be aware of the environment outside. If there are “crazy things” going on outside that you know could agitate or frighten your dog, don’t open the door.  Tell the person on the other side of the door to wait a minute.  Wait until the “craziness” has subsided or relocate your dog in another room.
  • Place a sign at the edge of your property. Place a sign at the edge of your property telling passer-bys that you have a dog.  This doesn’t have to be a “Beware of Dog” sign.  Just have a sign that lets people know that you have dogs.  Many times this will cause people to walk more slowly or be quieter as they pass.  It will also encourage them to be more vigilant when passing.  This allows them to minimize any inappropriate distractions that they may create that adrenalized aggression in the dog.

These are just the first things you need to do to correct the problem.  Proper training and socialization are the next steps, but they can’t be started until you stabilize the situation with the actions mentioned above.

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 Canton Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Canton Georgia.

* Note from Bruce:  Don’t think that American Bulldogs are bad.  I love them and have trained hundreds of them.  They can be great family dogs.  Unfortunately, this story is about one that needs some help.