aggressive towards other dogs

Posted by clmeade
Feb 8, 2008
I have 3 dogs (Jasper black lab cross) is handicapped and I walk/run him using a wheel chair. One is a black lab puppy(Indi) and the third (Tao golden retriever cross) a dog that I got from a shelter about 6 years ago. Tao goes nuts if we run across other dogs when we are walking/running and because she is on a lead and close to the my other dogs she does that transfer aggression thing towards Jasper and Indi. She also got away from me once and hurt (pretty badly) another dog. I have started putting a muzzle on her when we walk which helps my stress level but is there anything that I can do short of walking her alone? We have done the obedience training and after having read your book realize that she thinks she is the alpha dog.

Your book had lots of great information in it.

Posted by Todd
Feb 10, 2008
Hi Caryl and thanks for the question.

Yes alpha problems seem to be underlying this problem so first i will give you some general advice and then i will try and give you more directed advice.

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 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.

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.

I also think it is very important that all the dogs be banned from couches and beds as these are items that can be used to represent dominance.

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs 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), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. 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 second after you have reprimanded one of the dogs and they show the correct behaviour you must immediately reinforce this with praise, petting and attention.

The next step you will have to take is to work very hard on your dogs obedience. 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. The more obedient they are the more likely you are to have success and get him to respond to you when they have misbehaved. This training will take a lot of time and patience.

The progression below is a useful one that many people have used to get better results from their dogs. The first step is to have your training session in an environment where your dog is comfortable and not threatened. You can decide where you start on the progression if you feel that you would get a good response out of the earlier progressions and do not need to do it again.

Make sure all their attention is on you. I would work mainly on Jaspers problem but this will also benefit the other dogs.

You will also be the best judge of when you should move on to the next progression, but I would recommend that you move on when your dog completes a 5 to 10 minute sit-stay and a 5-10 minute down-stay. This may require you to go back to the beginning to quite basic commands but you are better to take things slowly and complete this program over a number of weeks.

1. inside, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,

2. outside, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,

3. outside, off-leash, with no other dogs or people present,

4. outside, on-leash, gradually introducing dogs and people to the vicinity,

5. outside, off-leash, gradually introducing dogs and people to the vicinity.

I think the muzzle is hugely important. When you are walking him start with only him alone with you. When you see a strange dog approaching make him sit. He should follow your commands and not show aggression. If he misbehaves at all tell him off as above with a GRRRRRRRR. Then make him sit again.

If as the dog approaches he gets too out of hand turn away and leave. As they approach make sure to reinforce calm relaxed behaviour and reprimand poor behaviour.

I would also recommend that you keep Jasper well away from any other dogs other than while you are completing this training, so as to avoid as many potentially bad situations as possible. The more exposure your dog gets to confrontational situations the harder it will be to fix.


Outside of training it may be worth trying to socialize your dog a bit more. Preferably with friends who have dogs of calm temperament, as they will be more forgiving of any incidents! In saying that, if you think that your dog may react badly by biting or fighting then consider using a muzzle.

Again, this will have to be a gradual process where the new dog is introduced at a neutral venue and from a distance. By that I mean you should get your dog to sit and have the other dog in your dogs sight but a long way away. You want to keep your dogs focus and attention on you as your friend gradually brings the other dog closer. if your dog makes to move from the sit then have your friend back off to reduce the distraction.


I suggest you think about getting your dog neutered. The reason I say this is because aggression due to fluctuating hormonal levels is quite common. However, in saying that hormonal changes are only one factor with aggression and your dogs behavior may have nothing to do with hormone levels.

At approximately six months of age a male dog has a surge of testosterone which is thought to contribute largely to such aggression with other dogs. When the hormones are known for certain to be the contributing factor to the aggression, one can expect that in normal circumstances the aggression will subside at about four years of age. This sometimes applies to unspayed females as well.

Try and follow these steps. This will be a long progress and you can send me private messages at any time if you need anymore help. Work on Jasper alone until you can trust him when walking the other dogs. Good Luck and let me know how things go.

Todd Field
Posted by clmeade
Feb 11, 2008
Thank you, Todd! I will work on your suggestions.