barking and aggression

Posted by dolsen
Jul 21, 2008
I have two dogs: a 4 year old English Mastiff that weighs 210 pounds and a 3 year old chocolate lab that weighs 140 pounds! We are having problems with the lab, Mac. We walk our dogs almost every day, but Mac has continued to drag us on walks so we can only walk when my husband is home. When he sees people or dogs coming toward us, he charges toward them. He will not listen to commands at all. We try to stop him and make him sit, but he just charges on. At 140 pounds, it's impossible to stop him. He is usually friendly once he gets to the dog or people, but the other day the other dog lunged at him and they were snapping at each other. When we finally got to the park and let him off leash, he ran to a couple that walked into the park and started growling at them. I think he has territory aggressesion, as he barks at everything he sees outside the window - people walking or driving down the street, people (even us) coming in the door. He will not stop or listen to any commands when he gets excited like this. I'm at the end of the rope. We tried the gentle leader head collar, but he scraped his nose on the ground and made it gush blood. We then bought the Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness, which has helped the pulling, but I'm still worried about his aggression toward people and animals in his perceived territory. Any suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated.
Posted by Maggiesmom1
Jul 31, 2008
I am in a similar situation with my little 40lb mutt. We are taking a dog training class and the teacher uses "bitter apple" spray as a deterant to barking/growling or other inappropriate behaviors.

Now when we walk in the neighborhood, I bring the bitter apple spray and also treats. When she walks nicely, she gets a treat. When she gets all excited about another dog coming our way, I spray her mouth with the bitter apple and say "no!". Its really working. The bitter apple tastes terrible and kind of "shocks them" back to reality when they are excited and out of control. After a few times of doing this, her behavior has improved tremendously. Last night, we saw a dog up the street and I said "Spray or treat, you decide". She turned back to me to get her "treat" and never paid attention to the other dog.

I have also used the gentle leader, no pull harness, and just recently ordered a pinch collar. Our training class uses the gentle leader, but all the dogs hate them. Yesterday, I got the pinch collar. With the new training that I have learned lately, it worked really well. The "random walking" is a great exercise to teach a dog to walk by your side. I realized that we walk the same path at the same speed every day so my dog didn't need me to lead her. If you do random movements and vary your speed they have to pay attention to you.

My trainer also taught us how to hold a leash properly. Dog on your left, using a 6 foot leather leash, hold it about 1 foot away from the dog's neck with your left hand and loop your thumb thru the handle of the leash and gather the extra in your right hand. Keep your hands palms down by your sides. It really gives you a lot more control. She said NEVER use a retractable leash, which I used to do. And you decide when to "release" the dog to go sniff, pee, letting the leash out and saying "release" so they know they can do it. Also-it helps when you are going out for a walk for you to go through the door first when you are leavingnever let the dogs pull you out the door. This establishes leadership.

That's all I know for now. I have another class today. If I learn more, I'll post.