New Member Needs Advice

Posted by chilidog
Apr 8, 2008
Hello-I have a 9 year old Lab/Boder Collie mix, named Chili, who is the most lovable, gentle animal when we are in the house. He lives with 3 cats and has never tried to hurt them. He did have some aggression problems in the backyard when people came to the fence-barking, bit a kid that stuck his hand through the fence. But we got him fixed and he calmed down a lot.
He has always had some alpha male issues when around male dogs, not usually females.
Anyway- in the last few weeks he has tried to bite one man that was walking by us while we were out on the trails. (In his defense, the man reacted by pulling out a bottle of pepper spray and was acting weird which made me nervous-so I think he was feeding off me). And then tonight he suddenly bit (didn't break the skin) a kid that was walking past us on his way home from school.
He also goes to a friends house everyday during the week for "doggie day care" where he has a male poodle buddy he plays with all day. About 3 weeks ago my friends was walking the 2 of them, and another dog was coming down the trail Chili saw him and bit the poodle! The last week they were in the backyard and a dog walked by the fence with his owner and Chili bit the poodle again.
I have a vet appointment for him later this week to make sure he isn't in pain or anything. Barring any health issues, isthere anything I can do? I love this dog with all my heart and I love the fact that here in Germany (I am in the Air Force) I can take my dog to restaurants, stores etc. But if he keeps acting this way, I will have to start leaving him at home.

PLEASE HELP!! :confused:

Posted by Todd
Apr 16, 2008
Hi Kathy and thank you for your message.

How did the appointment go? Sorry for the delay in replying.

I think the reason Chili is attacking other animals is due to referral aggression.
Aggression is very serious and im glad you have asked for help.

The first few things i will say i say to anyone with an aggressive dog. Alpha training and obedience are the 2 most important things to train your dog with and will help to no end.

Alpha -
In the wild Chili would be in a pack of dogs, and the same is true in your household. Chili needs to know he is at the bottom of the pack for his and your comfort. Here are some pointers to help you -

1) Only give him attention when he is being calm and behaving to teach him good manners
2) When you arrive home make sure you ignore him for the first 15 minutes until he is settled and calm. Then you can go to him and give him some quiet attention.

3) He should always be fed last and never be allowed food from the table
4) If he is ever in your way move him out of the way to get past. If you move around him he will think he is the boss.

After this we need to work on some obedient. The more obedient he is the easier he will be to control no matter where or what the situation. Work with Chili in a quiet area on the commands of sit, stay and come. Work in 10 minute sessions twice a day.

Now this will help reduce the issue to a degree but Chili does need some specific training to help fix things up.

I think we need to socailise Chili a bit more with strangers or the closest we can get to them. I think the aggression to other animals is just a referral from being angry at something he can't get to.

So the idea is to bring people into his territory when he is under control and letting them have controlled interactions. When he is well behaved he will be praised and when he is aggressive he will be reprimanded.

So get a friend that Chili hasn't met very often to come over to your house. Chili should be on the lead and if you are at all worried then a muzzle may be a safe idea.
Get the 'stranger' to stand a few metres away from Chili. The idea is to let chili advance when he is being calm and not aggressive. If he gets aggressive eg growling, snapping, barking or lunging he needs to be quickly reprimanded. As always use a loud GRRRRR at him as well as a squirt with a water pistol to really let him know that it is not okay.

Once you have told him off make him sit and behave. Once he sits and behaves praise him and give him lots of attention. Then take one step forward. One step at a time every time he sits and relaxes. If he gets aggressive he is told off and made to sit.

Continue towards the stranger slowly like this. Give your friend some treats to give to Chili when he gets near. Make sure they don't make any sudden movements or talk too loudly.

Once he gets used to a number of strangers you can follow the same principle with other dogs. Try to avoid letting them meet on the first few occassions and when they do don't encourage rough play at all.

Now when you have him out walking you can sort of do the same thing. Make him sit as people approach and again reprimand aggression and praise calm relaxed behaviour. If he gets too much you may have to take him away. Keep trying on this principle and once he is good try a dog park or something.

Good luck with him be patient and take things slowly. I will be here to help you when you need it so keep in contact with me