What to do with aggression on walks

Posted by susan2912
Sep 1, 2010
Hey guys i was jst wondering what I am supposed to do on walks with my dog agressive border collie asI have been told many conflicting things:

let him look at the other dogs to see they wont hurt him
[B]or[/B] make sure all his attention is on you, physically make him turn away from the other dogs if you have to
[B]or[/B] try to make him focus on you, but dont force it and wait for him to feel safe enough to look at you

pat him and comfort him and talk in a low calm voice
[B]or[/B] dont reassure him in anyway

take treats to reward him
[B]or[/B] use only your voice so he respects you and really learns

im confused :S
thanks for any input its much appreciated
Posted by kjd
Sep 1, 2010
Dear Susan,

I had to laugh at your message. It is so true! There is a saying: "Get two dog trainers together and you'll get three opinions." So you have found.

OTOH, you said you were getting good results with Fletcher before. Has something happened to set back the training? If you find something that is working, don't change your methods, it is confusing to the dog.

Also, you have a border collie. He is a high energy, working dog. He needs a job. Are you taking him to obedience class? Have you looked into testing him for herding ability? Are you making sure to challenge both physically and mentally each day?

Do give us an update on Fletcher,
Posted by KOPCaroline
Sep 2, 2010
Hey Susan,

Training can be confusing indeed! I’ll give you my opinions on your concerns:

He’ll see other dogs approaching, but once they are at a certain distance from you (you decide the distance), try to get him to focus on you completely. Listening to what you are saying and not looking at all at the dog passing by. You want him to ignore the other dogs, can’t do that if he’s staring and working himself up

Reassure him, but only AFTER the other dog is gone. If you do it during, you might reinforce the fear or aggression he’s feeling. When the other dog is in the area you want to speak in a command voice, and make sure he’s listening to your commands, once the other dog is gone and no aggressive behaviour has been shown, you can praise and pat him full out!

Its up to you what you reward him with. I don’t think using treats in addition to your voice will change how the dog respects and listens to you, especially if he knows you’re the alpha dog in his life. I used treats with my dog, Jackson, as well as voice only, and switched it up, but only so he wouldn’t expect treats all the time. It’s a personal preference.

Hope this helps, I’m sure you’ll get other opinions from other users.

And to echo kjd, border collies need TONS of mental AND physical exercise! Are there agility training courses in your area? If he's happy in his "working" life (especially if it involves other dogs on an agility team, or something like that), theres a chance his temperament will improve in other areas
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Sep 3, 2010
Hi Susan,

This is what I have been doing with my dog-aggressive border collie named Noah:

I have been taking him to obedience classes (maybe he has been through advanced classes at least 3 sessions, and he is a CGC). Thanks to those training classes, he responds my commands very well.

He used to lunge/bark/going crazy (so embarrasing!) when he saw another dog (only big dogs, tiny dogs and puppies are fine). I used the method of distracting him by telling him to "watch me" using a treat. When he take his eye contact off to look at the dog, I would say "Uh Uhh, watch me!" and give a treat when he turns around and watches me.

By doing this, he learned that he would get a treat when he ignores other dogs. On his walk I am using the same technique and he has come to the point that he can now ignore dogs unless the other dog is aggressive and tries to lunge at him, etc.

When I spot a dog coming this way, I would put Noah on the side of the path and tell him to "Leave it". In the mean time, I tell the owner of the dog that Noah has a lead aggression and to keep his dog away from Noah.

If Noah could just ignore the dog passing by, I make a big fuss and kiss him and give him a treat and tell him how proud I am!!

The above is when I walk him by himself. When I walk my three dogs at one time it is a different story

Good luck!
Posted by susan2912
Sep 6, 2010
thanks heaps guys he has improved from when we first seeked help, but now he appears to have peaked :S

we really try to keep him stimulated, though im worried it isnt enough. He's aggressive off lead as well, so its tricky to get him a good run and we have to go when the park is empty and if we can keep lookout incase any dogs come. He also can't be taken to obediance or agility classes, due to this agression. He usually gets two walks a day, 40 mins approx, and we scatter his dry food across the yard for him to find during the day, as well as his kong and the occasional bone.

He's learnt i don't like him looking at the other dogs, and will often sneakliy look at them from the corner of his eyes, or with slight tilts of his head i find hard to notice. (I think he has only learnt i dont like him to not look straight, as opposed to not liking him looking at other dogs!) When we approach other dogs, i will try to get him to focus on me. he doesn't like this so often glances at them than back but so quickly that by the time i reprimand him hes already lookin at me again. is it still right to say 'uh-uh!' then?

and of course his co-operation all depends on how interested the other dog is!