Nervous aggression, what do I do?

Posted by 1whisper
Feb 20, 2008
Hi all, I have a 14mth husky/collie mix, she is a lovely natured dog most of the time but has a real problem with strangers. If we are out and she is off her lead when a stranger approaches she will stop, crouch down and start to bark and growl. She doesn't really show the teeth but she will chase off and snap at their heals. She is also very weary of strangers in the house. My son came home the other day with a friend who has never met our dog (Whisper), we were all chatting and smiling but she was having none of it, she kept backing off and growling at him. When I tried to take her over to introduce her she hid under the kitchen table.

Can anyone suggest what I should.
I suppose I'm more concerned about her meeting strangers when out for her play runs as this reduces the amount of places I can take her to let her run off her energy.

She was a rescue dog of about 6-9 weeks when we got her but have been told that her being a rescue dog should not be the reason she is the way she is
Posted by Blue
Feb 20, 2008

It sounds like your dog is under socialized, I found some advice on nervousness from another person with a timid collie type dog, in this forum. Perhaps you can apply some of the techniques described by Todd when dealing with a timid dog.

Hope this helps,

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HI there and thank you for your email.

Scared dogs are a common thing and they usually get worse unless you deal with them so it is great that you want to make her more confident.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dog while she is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making her move so that you can pass by.

2) 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.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dog tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dog straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dog want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) 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.

The best way to deal with fear is to ignore her when she is being fearful. This means no eye contact, turning away from her and not speaking to her. Any attention will only encourage her.
Now ignoring her alone will not work. You must also reinforce her confidence. Wait until she starts to not cower or hide as soon as she shows some confidence give her praise and attention. This with the reprimanding will help build her confidence.

The best way to help her with specific things she is scared of is to introduce her to them in a safe situation like at home. Get a friend you know well to visit your home.
Get her to sit away from them.

Your visitors must:

*Not directly approach the dog at any time, this will only increase its anxieties

*Not stare the dog in its eyes, direct eye contact is intimidating for a submissive, fearful type because it reminds the animal that you are a predator. A predator or potentially threatening person/animal will keep eyes on eyes and quietly approach head on (which is most often how we approach our pets without realizing it).

*Talk in quiet voices while the dog is around. A big booming voice would not help in the beginning, in time this should not matter though

*If your dog becomes agitated, let it into a quiet room.

*After a while have the visitor get down to the dogs level (i.e sit on the floor) and if the dog seems comfortable it may approach the visitor.The visitor should not pat the dog, or look it in the eye unless the dog seems comfortable.

Continue to introduce people in this gentle manner. It may take your dog a few months to become used to strange people or it could take a few years, but patience and perseverance can only help in the end.

Do this the same way with other things. Again ignore and reinforce.

After a while you can try out in public following the same principles. Good luck it will take time. But please let me know how things go

Kind Regards
Todd Field