aggression towards us when excited

Posted by Mary-Ann-Miller
Mar 19, 2008
We have Max a golden retriever who also is a rescue dog. We have had him since Aug. 2007. He is 4 1/2 years old. He is a great dog and has been thru obedience and canine good citizen training and passed both well. The only problem we have is when he gets excited he will snarl and bite. He doesn't do it very often but when he does he gets mean. A lot of times we can sit him right away and break his train of thought and sometimes not. We have used the spray water bottle but don't always carry it with us. Also when he sees the bottle he will stop. We try and grab his collar but he is to quick for us. The grandkids just love him but when he gets in one of these moods I worry he will bite them. We need to get this under control because we don't want to have to give him back to rescue. Please help. Mary Ann
Posted by Todd
Mar 19, 2008
Hi there and thank you for your question.

I think the most important thing is to try and avoid getting him over excited. Dogs often go through steps when they are getting excited so if you know the signs you can stop him getting over-excited.
When he is getting over excited there are 2 options.

1) You can completely ignore him ie turn away, don't look at him, don't talk to him and don't comfort him. This will teach him that he will not get attention for being bossy.
Combined with this you also need to let him know when he is doing the right thing. When he starts to calm down turn back to him and give him a sit command. When he responds praise him and give him attention.
This mix of ignoring and reinforcing will help him understand that he will only get attention when he is behaving.

2) You can continue on the path of reprimanding him when he is over-excited. Use a loud grrrrr or ahhhhh when he is too much, combined with this when you have the water pistol near then use that or otherwise a blanket or something else soft to throw over him. If there is nothing else you can always startle him by throwing something near him (NOT at him)
Again when he relaxes and behaves reward him.

So by combining the avoiding getting him over excited and the situations where he does get over excited and then actually responding when it does he will learn with time what is okay. This will take time and wont be an overnight thing.

I also like to mention alpha issues because many problems have this as an underlying problem. Below is the general method to help you and your family members be the alpha

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dogs while they are 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.

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 dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

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

6) Whenever your dogs 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.

I always like to mention that more exercise and more toys can often be a great hand. Good luck and please let me know how things are going