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Need some help with escalating aggression

This is a discussion on Need some help with escalating aggression within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I agree with Bob. It's one thing to say not to follow a professional trainer's advice if the dog is not making progress or actually ...

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Old 02-01-2018, 11:28 PM
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I agree with Bob. It's one thing to say not to follow a professional trainer's advice if the dog is not making progress or actually getting worse, but the op posted that the dog is making progress and seems happy with this trainer. If the dog is happy and the op is happy why question the trainer who's actually doing a good job and who actually is working with the dog hands on? Just to be right over the internet?
If one particular method is not right for one dog it won't work. The dog won't make progress. Tethering is not aversive. From the research I did online about it yesterday out of curiosity it seems a popular way to housebreak young puppies. Hardly traumatic and it's advertised as a great way to build a strong bond with your dog. I really wish I'd heard of it years ago when I first adopted my current dog, he'd probably have perfect recall by now.
I did try tethering him last night at the stable after he wandered off again. He did come right back when I called him which is huge progress but my younger horse had been acting up and I was already irritated and the dog taking off yet again was my last straw. So I tied him to my waist. He was fine, no tantrums. We only had a disagreement when I was in the horse stall brushing and blanketing the horse and he got nervous and wanted to go outside the stall and I said no stay right here next to the horse with me in close quarters. He hasn't learned to differentiate yet that the younger horse likes dogs and wants to make friends with him and won't deliberately hurt him and my older horse hates dogs and charges at him to attack him so he's afraid of all horses because the older one has attacked him in the past. So he really wanted to leave the stall and wasn't happy being so close. But he was good overall.
It was good having my hands free and not having to worry about where he was constantly or have him tied and whining all the time either. I'm definitely going to do that more there. He's used to the stable now.
I'm glad the ops dog is making progress! If you're happy with your trainer and her advice stick with it, she's seen and evaluated your dog and that's what you're paying for.
Some people on the internet know a lot, some like to be right and there's a lot in between but most importantly no one else has seen and evaluated your dog in person. You live with your dog and know the day to day so know what's working and what's not and how happy and relaxed he is. He's adorable!
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Old 02-02-2018, 12:09 AM
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@bobthedog and @Shadowmom, people are allowed to give opinions. Especially when a member is here asking for it...

Just as it is ok for you to share your opinion that the advise should be followed, others may voice their opinions about what they might do instead. As long as posts are within forum rules (polite/respectful, reward based, on topic, etc.) then there shouldn't be a problem. People can read, ask questions, and decide for themselves as to what they think and wish to do.
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Old 02-02-2018, 05:41 PM
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Arrow teaching a shy dog to 'Say please' to improve confidence & enable 2-way communication


I will add that i also like to empower dogs to communicate their wants - not just "needs".
I teach my dogs, & i offer to show my clients, how to teach their own dogs to 'say please'. This is, again, an instance of the dog being not only allowed, but encouraged, to initiate actions - & for fearful dogs, that is a huge change. // I've found it especially helpful with dogs who are timid, undersocialized, or have fear-based reactivity.
[That included Dakota, AKA Cody, the dog saved from a hoarder's pick-up truck in the parking-lot of a high-kill N.C. rural shelter - but it took him quite some time to screw up his nerve, & ask for something he wanted.]

If the OP's dog belonged to one of my client's, this is what i'd suggest:
- make "Sit" the coin of the realm - sit buys everything.
Open a door for the dog to enter or exit / to get out of the car / move the bowl from counter to floor / get attn, scritchies in itchy spots, anything, everything.
- the more opportunities the dog gets to "pay" for desired outcomes, the quicker the penny will drop.
- Depending upon how many chances U give the dog to pre-pay for actions, & how intuitive the dog is, it might be as short as 2 days or as long as a week B4 s/he ASKS for something on their own; keep a sharp eye out, as typically it will be a chain of behaviors: a brief eye-to-eye glance, then the dog will pointedly & precisely SIT, often in slow-mo - usually next to the 'thing' they want.
It might be a door they can't open; it might be their favorite treat at the pet-supply; it might be the leash, hung on its hook... WHATEVER it is, unless it's literally dangerous, try to say 'Yes' & let them have what they want. This is an important moment, 'cuz if U say no, or if U just miss it completely, s/he is most-likely going to conclude they misunderstood the rules, & they may never "ask" again.
So even if it's inconvenient [it's after dark, U don't feel like going for a walk, & besides, Ur favorite TV-show / sports team is playing...], say YES anyway - just this crucial once, & for the next 2 or 3.

Later, after the dog develops some confidence that they've grasped the concept correctly, & that U are responsive and understand them, then U can say 'No' - without crushing their initial, possibly clumsy, but always tentative attempts at 2-way communication. Early on, try really hard to say 'Yes'.

A highly-reactive & very vocal dog, another of PACC's basket-cases , was actually adopted by a novice dog-owner & her husband - she at least had lived with dogs from about 10-YO thru high-school, but she'd never housetrained a puppy, nor taught any dog any cued behaviors, not even 'sit'; hubby had never owned a dog himself, nor had any of his relatives owned dogs. He met dogs sometimes, at friends' homes, or on the street with ppl he knew, but otherwise had zero past experience of dogs.
To say that i was worried about this placement is a massive understatement. I was never so happy in my life to be proven wrong!

- she'd lived inside a yard, on a chain, behind a privacy-fence, from puphood to approx 2-YO.
- she was completely unsocialized, other than to her 'family', who fed & watered her, but aside from an annual vet visit, never took her outside the fenced backyard.
- unable to see out, she developed an ear-piercing bark at noises, especially "other dog" sounds: tags jingling, chain rattles, panting, claws or pads scuffing, etc. She also barked at bicyclists, joggers, strollers, peds, a basketball being dribbled in the park down the street, car-doors, house doors, knocking, ___ .
- she was crazy about BIRDS.
They were the only living things she'd seen since she arrived there; she went nutz when she saw one, & a flock could make her completely manic... she'd almost turn inside-out in her excitement, nearly screaming her barks.
- she was not housetrained, & didn't just pull on leash; she lunged, spun, barked, jumped shoulder-high on me [I'm 5' 8", & she weighed 28#], shrieked, & ran from side to side, or completely around U, in a crazy nonstop fashion.

How did she get into PACC's custody?
Alone in the backyard as usual, one day when she was about 2, the bent-metal D-ring on her collar failed when she lunged, & she was suddenly free, inside the fence.
She found a gap at the bottom, slithered under, & ran... right in front of a passing car. // Her foreleg & chest took the primary impact, but luckily the car wasn't traveling fast - she was a small tricolored Sheltie-mix, just under knee-high on me & wiry; she was flung by the impact, rather than run over.
Lungs bruised, cracked ribs, but the nerve-bundle under that foreleg was crushed; her leg was hanging meat & bone, not functional, & her paw had compromised circulation. Without surgery soon, she'd die.
Her owners were found & charged with neglect [underwt, parasites inside & out, matted, dirty...], but the shelter couldn't pay for surgery, nor could the [former] owners.
PACC took her on; her foreleg was amputated, & she was discharged to a foster [founder Michele] for healing. // She healed quickly & put on some muscle, but her many problem behaviors hadn't been addressed at all by the time she was adopted - aside from entering a house, & being mostly-housetrained, she was still the nutty little fruitcake she had been.

3-mos on, with lots & lots of work by her new owners, she was a different dog.
We met 2X a week at first, then weekly, & worked on reactivity in public, while the couple worked on in-home issues from e-mails i sent, videos, & the 'Click to Calm' book.
Did i mention they had a CAT?... yes, an indoor-only, not dog-savvy, timid former street-cat.
The kitty was hubby's baby; the dog began as mostly the wife's pet, but her DH soon got suckered into clicker-training & became a real whiz - his final project was teaching their dog to put all her toys into a box on cue, LOL.
DS/CC helped her reactivity [to dogs, humans, moving objects...] & we worked intensively on her BARKING in the car, which was awful. // Teaching her to 'say please' opened up new worlds for her, she eagerly entered the pet-supply store [a place of terror, at the start] in order to ask for a new toy, or a chewy - she was a fetchaholic, & adored bones & antlers.

6-mos later, i got an unsolicited thank-U from the woman; she said both she & her husband were thrilled with their dog - who continued to improve, & add new behaviors; plus, they planned to have a baby in the next 18-mos or so, & as soon as their child was old-enuf, s/he would learn to interact nicely with the dog, & to teach her new tricks by using rewards... because anyone can train their dog [or do B-Mod] by using positive reinforcement - no disclaimer is necessary, U CAN do this at home.

- terry

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Old 02-02-2018, 08:22 PM
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I want to try more of this desensitizing and counter conditioning, but my girlfriend is so dead set about what the trainer has said to do for the first month it's hard to get her into it to (no treats allowed unless its something major). I have noticed lately he has become very barky with my back up beeper on my work van, like he knows this guy in a uniform is going to come I'm at any minute. But he usually calms down right after I get down on the floor and let him Come to me. On walks it's seems like the more we try to restrain him the more he growls and lunges. I know he is friendly with other dogs off leash, but definitely not on it. I also noticed today while still in my uniform and after he had calmed down, that when I tried to play with him he would get scared a run to his bed. Try and throw a stick for him outside and he puts his head down like I'm about hit him with it, throw a ball that he will usually dance around with when I throw it and he let's it hit him and puts his head down and tail between his legs.

Also I notice he is quite the crotch and butt sniffer, they actually called him the perverts at the rescue we got him from. It's literally every time he comes up to you, or you bend over to pick something up. If he try to push his head away and he will force it back, so we just walk away and he goes about his business. Is there a good command for this or trick for stopping it.
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Old 02-03-2018, 01:33 PM
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Lightbulb some videos & articles on DS/CC, & a demonstration U could do to show its efficacy

Originally Posted by Rescuedpup View Post

I want to try more... desensitizing & counter conditioning, but my girlfriend is so dead-set [on following] what the trainer said to do for the first month, it's hard to get her into it, too (no treats allowed, unless its something major).

Ask her if U can spend 5-mins on a single demonstration. // Then use 'treat & retreat'.

WEAR Ur uniform, & have her set the goodies out, in a place close to the door but not accessible by the dog.
This can be real-life scheduling [U're coming in after a day's work] or a set-up - if it's a set-up, put the uniform on outside, over Ur civvy clothes.
Enter the house, DON't look at or speak to the dog, pick up the bag or bowl, & toss ONE pea-sized, high-value tidbit past the dog; look away pointedly, watch from the corner of Ur eye only. // If he runs to sniff it or eats it, well & good; if he doesn't, throw another. [& another after that one...]
- Looking away is a calming signal; 'chill, it's okay' - it also signals "no threat".
- throwing PAST the dog forces them to move away to investigate the tossed object, which gives them more distance, & reduces their stress.

If U've tossed 3 individually & he's eaten none, go back out the door & repeat the whole process; give him 30-secs or so while U stand STILL outside, away from the door, to eat what U already delivered.
Ur 2nd entry should elicit a lower-intensity response - less sharp or lower-volume barks, not as fast 'charging' or fleeing, maybe he hackles the 1st time & not the 2nd, & so on. // As B4, toss a single tidbit PAST him, not "at" him, & don't make eye-contact - look Away. Give him a sec; if he eats it, let him decide what to do. If he turns WHERE HE STOPPED to eat it & stands there, that's a clue - throw it PAST him, at that point. If he resets & comes even one step closer, note where that is - & toss past him. Each time, watch only from the corner of yer eye, note where he stops... throw past him.

Over a few reps, he will reduce the distance between U *of his own choice* -- but U don't go toward him; he moves, U stand & toss tidbits, always past him.
U can repeat the "enter the door" sequence several times, if he refuses to eat & only sniffs the tidbits, but don't worry about it - SNIFFING is also a calming behavior, just as eating is [it's not quite as potent, but sniffing releases the same endorphins as eating]. Even if he sniffs, then barks, don't fret - progress is being made; U can literally quantify it by noting the changes in volume & pitch of his barks, changes in body language, the reduced distance when U enter the door the 2nd [& 3rd & 4th] time, he doesn't charge as far or flee as far, & so on.

If U want to make a good non-threatening impression on the dog, during this Treat N Retreat session or at any other time, change Ur own body language:
- lower yer head slightly
- drop yer shoulders; tension brings them up & in, breathe - & drop them.
- soften yer gaze, & smile - no teeth, please; lips & eyes only.
- don't stare; glance, then look Away.

If U make a sincere attempt to do this as i've described, & he's at all willing to be brave & risk change, U may see him cut the distance separating U by half - but don't TRY to make it happen, it has to be the dog's free choice, & don't be discouraged when, tomorrow, he reacts as tho the Treat N Retreat session never happened; he's been barking & charging [or fleeing] for months, now, & it's a habit.
A new habit takes approx a month to begin to be automatic, whether we're talking of humans, dogs, horses, parrots, whatever; U need to reinforce it for it to take root, & repetition is part of supporting the new habit.
But a 5-minute demo could very well be eye-opening, for Ur GF, & could also be very encouraging for the dog.

Treat & Retreat - article by Ian Dunbar, DVM:

here's a video shot by Rise' VanFleet, a fellow-trainer, USA-apdt member, & well-regarded pro; her apprentice Ashley is using TnR with a semi-feral adult dog. The dog is staked on a long double-webbing line, in the middle of a large lawn - nothing to get snagged on, she's got between 35 & 50-ft of line, & can move over a large distance.

some further info, from a crossover trainer * -

*: a trainer who moved from use of aversive corrections, which happen after the fact & are meant to discourage any repetition of the previous behavior, to positive reinforcement / reward-based training, which teaches what is wanted, vs punishing what is not.
As Yvette van Veen notes, she no longer uses or needs 'corrections' - AKA punishment.

I'd encourage Ur GF to watch any UTube clip by KikoPup, DVM Sophia Yin, Chirag Patel [Domesticated Manners is his user-name], or Leslie McDevitt - all use rewards to teach & encourage desired behavior, & Leslie in particular works with many highly-reactive dogs - including her own beloved maniac, Snap, her M JRT.
Of the 4 trainers, Dr Yin is by far the poorest, in terms of skills - her timing in particular is horrible, LOL, so don't imitate her too closely! OTOH, her lack of skill & terrible timing provide very-solid proof that rewards used in DS/CC work amazingly well, & work very quickly - her videos are real-time, not cut-&-splice edited products.

There are also many clips of ordinary pet-owners using CU / 'control unleashed' techniques, or LAT / Look At That, which are both DS/CC methods [DeSensitize & CounterCondition].
here are 6 clips - Yoshi is a highly-reactive Corgi, using CU; he's in 2 clips, with his owner using the clicker.
There's a BEFORE & AFTER clip that are pretty revealing.

this is Yoshi during B-Mod in a crate, outside the local dog-park -

I hope those illustrate what average pet-owners can do, with some support & basic skills.
If U'd like to learn about clicker or marker training [a clicker is just one kind of marker], PM me, & i'll forward a series of written lessons.

- terry

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Old 02-06-2018, 08:18 AM
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Thanks for all of the tips and reading.
This weekend my girlfriend had to look after her niece and nephew who are in grade 2 and 1. We decided to bring Chance up to their place to get him out of the house since they are out in the country. When he was introduced to them he liked them both, let them pet him and then he pretty much just ignored them completely. He was more interested in going to my girlfriend and hanging out with her. We brought them inside and made him stay on the matress by the door as he was wet and dirt and again no issues with growling or anything when they walked past him. About an hour later they were playing and both screamed really high pitched and ran into the room he was in. Well he was not to happy about that, from then on he was barking at them, whining, growling and lunging so I took him home. His trust is so easy to break.
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Old 02-06-2018, 08:41 AM
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Exclamation eek!


Why would U put the dog into a new environment, novel to him, with a 6-YO & a 7-YO?

If "getting him outside" & out of town was the idea, why was he lying on his mat by the door?
Surely one of U could be outside with the dog on leash, while the children were INSIDE, & vice versa? -
when the kids came outside, he could go in. // Then the kids can scream, run, & wrestle, & he's not exposed to it.

U didn't set him up for success - U set him up to be flooded. He needs CONTROLLED exposure.
Brief; within his ability to cope; & happy experiences.

I'd try again - with better planning, & no unleashed children.

- terry

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Old 02-06-2018, 08:57 AM
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Yeah I think you are right. The only reason we didn't keep him outside was because he isn't a fan of the cold. He was holding his feet up off the snow and his skin was getting red. What if he has to be around people like if they were to come over. Is it best to introduce him then bring him to a separate room?
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Old 02-06-2018, 10:34 AM
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Arrow After that setback, give him a break. // 3 to 5 days would B good.

Originally Posted by Rescuedpup View Post

... What if he has to be around people [when we have visitors]?

Is it best to introduce him, then bring him to a separate room?

I'd leave him in the other room, crated, with a long-lasting chewy (or a stuffed frozen Kong, with half a meal in it), for the time being.

Time enuf to introduce him to strangers invading the sanctity of his home in a week or 3, when U've reduced his anxiety somewhat in other less-fraught settings.

He has the rest of his life to get over his fear of strangers - don't try to hustle the process.
As the Amish say, "the faster I go, the behinder I get." . U cannot progress faster than the dog can -
& right now, he's way-too wobbly for any big challenges. Strangers should be no closer than 10 to 12-ft away, & no one should lure him to them with food in hand - IMO & IME.

- terry

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Old 02-06-2018, 12:19 PM
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I don't adopt dogs for this very reason (call me selfish or whatever you like). If you want to know what breed he is, do a DNA test (Wisdom Panel is the best). Living in a kennel isn't going to hurt a dog, as long as they get plenty of exercise and love. Fearful dogs often don't even feel comfortable when people talk to them. I have come across many dogs that were either rescues or not socialized enough that are afraid of walking on certain surfaces. The most common surfaces are usually slippery ones, such as laminate, tile, linoleum, or metal, such as manhole covers on the street, vents, etc. If your dog has problems walking on the slippery surface and falls a lot, this may be why she tries to avoid it. While some breeds developed for fighting or protection may be more included to quarrel, dogs of any breed can get into fights.
It's a mistake to assume your dog won't fight.
Avoid scary conflicts by staying alert and keeping your dog under a short leash and voice control at all times. While some consider aggression to be normal behavior in dogs, it can be impulsive, unpredictable, and even dangerous. It can be challenging to determine whether a dog is demonstrating abnormal aggression. While most aggression towards familiar people is a sign of a serious problem, there are some instances where an animal will be aggressive following a painful medical procedure or if they are in pain regularly. Some breeds are more aggressive than others. During a medical examination, your veterinarian will look for fear-based aggression, anxiety conditions, and pathological disease. The lunging is often worse when the dog is on a leash, but doesn’t occur during off-leash time. Unfortunately this problem can develop quickly, and while in some cases a specific trigger can be identified, such as an altercation with another dog, there is not always a known cause. Dog-to-human aggression can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially when there is an extensive history of aggressive behavior.
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