dalmation aggression

Posted by haarke
Mar 21, 2008
We have a 1 1/2 year old dalmation and a 5 year old lab. Our yard is set up with an invisible fench. Our lab is perfect except for eating poop. Our dalmation has just started to be very aggressive towards our neighbors this past week. He is usually tolerant of our neighbor coming over and playing ball with him, but last week our neighbors son (who our dog has meet) tried to come into the yard and my dog bit him in the crouch and tried to keep at him, the neighbor was okay but scared. He did it to another neighbor as well this past week. He also has alot of aggression toward people down the street. We have had this invisible fence for over a year, so it is not like this is something new. I was just wondering if any body had advise to help stop aggression toward people. We have been working on becoming more of the alpha dog and we have purchased a muzzle. Any advise is welcome. Thanks, Kari
Posted by Todd
Mar 22, 2008
HI there and thanks for the question.

Aggression is a very serious issue and i am glad you are taking it so seriously. The alpha issues and muzzle are the two most important items to help fix this so i am glad you have done this already.
Fixing aggression takes a long time so you need to be patient and consistent.

1) Keep on with the alpha training
2) Always use the muzzle when someone is coming over
3) I think he needs to be stopped from going out until we have his aggression underfoot. We don't need a serious problem in the mean time.

4) I think obedience training is a big thing to remember. Work on his obedience for 10 minutes twice a day. Work on the commands of sit, stay and come as outlined in SitStayFetch. Work on longer and longer lengths of command until he is at a level where he will listen no matter what the circumstance.

Now to the aggression issue. He needs to be told that aggression is not okay no matter what the circumstance. This means whenever he is being aggressive he needs to be told off firmly.
The best way to tell him off is using a loud AGHHHHHHHH or GGGGRRRRRR to distract him and steal his attention away. Don't yell at him as this will only serve to make him more aggressive.....a firm voice should do.

I think it is also important to use a contact reprimand. The best ways are with a large blanket or a water pistol whenever he is aggressive. Don;t hit him as he may end up biting you.

As well as reprimanding him you must also reward him when he stops being aggressive and settles down. Once he has been told off make him sit and praise him when he responds.

Now i think we need to socialise him a bit more. But this must always be on your terms not other HIS.

*Get an adult friend to come and visit (make sure that you tell them what is happening!).

*As your friend knocks on the door or rings the doorbell, make your dog sit and give it a treat. Then put your dogs collar on and take it to either a crate or a secure room. If your dog is too much of a handful at even this stage then you will have to put your dog away before your visitor gets to the door.

*Sit your friend down in a room that is not often use by your dog. Give you friend some treats so that they can give them to your dog.

*Go to your dog and make it sit. Put a halti or muzzle as well as the choke collar on. Get your dog to heel then take it into the room that your friend is in. Make sure that your friend does not give any eye contact. Act as happy as you can while petting your dog.

*If your dog growls or disobeys your commands at ANY TIME then squirt it with water or shake a pebble filled can to startle it. Have the water pistol or can in your dogs view at all times.

*Make your dog sit quite a long way from your guest, perhaps in the doorway of the room. When your dog is calm get it to heel and move it closer, then get your dog to sit again. Praise your dog when it sits and heels properly.

*When your dog is calm and you have moved it and made it sit within 5 feet of the guest then get the guest to give your dog a treat. Make sure that the guest does not look your dog in the eyes.

Repeat this over and over again rewarding when he is good and reprimanding when he is aggressive.Try this with different people including males and females.

After a week of this try the same thing in the yard. After a few days of this try with other dogs.

Get each dog sitting 5 metres apart the theory is the same as above. When he behaves he can approach if not he is told off until he behaves. Move him closer and closer (with Muzzle and lead). Don't let the dogs meet the first few times, but they can after a few days but always on a leash and no rough play.

After a week of this you can try the same thing on walks. Let the other dog approach while he is sitting. Aggression is reprimanded calm sitting is rewarded.

Keep up this socialisation and i am sure things will improve. YOu are on the right track so keep up the good work.