Dog Agressive Only with Some Dogs

Posted by HandsomeDog
Nov 3, 2007
Help please. I have adopted a great little rescue dog named Handsome. He is perfect except that he goes crazy when he sees certain dogs and gets agressive, growling and snarling at them. They are usually bigger dogs. Some dogs including my other dog he gets along great with. We live in a high rise with alot of dogs in the building so we are always coming across the other dogs and nothing is worse than being in an elevator with my lovely dog turned Cujo.
What on earth is going on with my dog?? He is neutered, about 1 yr old, 12 pounds, perfectly housebroken great dog except for the Cujo part.
Help please..Is it because he thinks he is protecting me and my other dog (teacup chihuahua)
Posted by MartyEd
Dec 17, 2007
Hi there HandsomeDog,

Thank you for your post regarding your newly gained rescue dog, Handsome, who has been acting aggressively ever since you have got him home to your high rise. It is not uncommon for owners to find a behavioral problem with a rescue dog and in your case I would defnitely recommend acting quickly now to curb this problem. I think that you could well be right in that this could in fact be your dog's way of 'protecting' you. But little does he know that this behavior is completely unnecessary. In fact the only real way to show him that you do not need this protection is by showing him that you and your other dog are in fact alpha dogs over him. For this reason I would encourage you, and any other family members, to read the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". This book will give you a good understanding of the hierarchical nature and behavior of your dog. Follow the tips in this book as much as possible and you should get good results within a couple of weeks.

If you treat your dog as an equal it may well see it as an opportunity to challenge your position. For example, be aware that allowing your dog onto the couch, bed, etc will give it the leeway that it needs to be able to challenge your position as the alpha dog in the relationship. This behavior change may occur quite gradually, without you even noticing it, until your dog starts showing aggressive tendencies when you try to move it!

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dog’s poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior.
What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling or nipping), be sure to reprimand her. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

The following are some techniques to help reinforce your status as alpha dog

- If you come across your dog while he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.
- Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.
- Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first. At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.
- Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.
- Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.
- When your dog wants to go outside for a walk, make her sit and wait until you are ready to go. Note that this technique doesn't apply when house breaking.
- When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.
- It is vitally important that your dog has good all-round obedience skills. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands.
- Do not inadvertently reinforce poor behavior from your dog. You must be consistent in your attitude to your dog. For example, if your dog is allowed to jump on you when you are playing with it but is not allowed to jump up at any other time then how is it meant to know the difference?

I believe this is the root of your problem. I hope you make significant progress with your puppy’s behavioral problems using these methods. By ensuring he knows that you and the rest of your family are boss, you should see a gradual change in his demeanor. Be sure to reprimand any bad behaviors using the low, guttural growl advised above, but also reward good, well natured behaviors with gentle playtimes, tid-bit food rewards and vocal praise. Be sure to reprimand him whenever necessary (i.e. whenever he acts aggressively to other people or dogs). If you are every uncertain as to whether your dog would ever bite someone else, be sure to use a muzzle when you take him out in public. You can purchase strong, safe muzzles from your local Veterinarian or pet store that will ensure that no one around your dog can be hurt.

Best of luck with you rescued dog and please let us know how you get on with his training.

Kind Regards,

Mark Edwards
Kingdom of Pets team