social boxer turns aggressive

Posted by reedv937
Mar 26, 2008
I have a boxer Reece that is a little over two years old. I have had her since she was a pup. Reece used to love all dogs and people. I could take her anywhere without a single problem. When she was almost 2 she got into an altercation with a great dane. Basically the woman walking the great dane let it walk right under my bedroom window, so my dog started to bark at it. Then the great dane tried to come through the window. Both dogs were trying very hard to bite each other and would have succeeded if not for the screen. Since this happened Reece is very aggressive towards other dogs and for some reason men. When inside she listens great but as soon as we get outside she doesn't listen to a word I say. I have tried a gentle leader, harness, and pinch collar, but she has managed to escape all of them. I have read books and tried to work with her. She can be the biggest baby but I am so scared that she will bite someone or get into a fight with another dog.
Posted by amstaff07
Mar 27, 2008
Hi, I know exactly what you are going through i have an amstaff x Mastiff at the tender age of 7 months who was always well behaved and never agressive but over the last month has tried attacking 3 dogs on seperate occassions. He is already desexed and lives with another dog, it seems he is trying to protect me from the other dogs. If you get any ideas please let me know. I dont want to have to muzzle him in public.
Posted by Blue
Mar 27, 2008
Hi there,
So sorry to hear of your problems with your dog, it would help to have some more description of exactly how your dog is reacting to other dogs - we need to know if it's fear aggression or dominant aggression.

From what I can gather, it appears to be dominant aggression - she is taking over leadership of her pack - in particular while you are outside. While inside she is willing to listen to you for the sake of a treat, a pet, or because there's nothing more interesting going on . Does she seem to choose when to listen, or take several repeat commands to do things? Does she ask for attention a lot - and get it without being asked to sit or down before hand? Does she seem focused on you during obedience training or does she seem easily distracted or doesn't make eye contact with you at all (focuses on the treat or treat source more than you) During obedience does she 'choose' when to end it (by refusing to perform commands, lying down, walking away, or turning her head away from you). Does she have a bed or an area she goes to where you can't get her to come to you without wheedling "come here Fido...aww, come here, treat! Treats! cookie!" etc?

When you are dominant in your pack, your dog hangs off of every word you say to them, and is comfortable always, even when the pack leaves or goes outside. A pack leader provides pack members with security and peace. If you aren't a strong enough pack leader, your dog will take over that role for you and try to stop every possible threatening situation before it has a chance to even become a threat - hence the aggression.

Your dog by now is probably picking up your fear of altercations with other dogs and so she is fearful also and preventing the threat before it has a chance of hurting her or her pack. If anything has ever happened with her and men, just once, and it wasn't resolved properly, this can also have the same effect as with dogs - once you show fear of a possible situation, dogs pick up on it very quickly - and react.

The first piece of 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 them 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 dogs around the house on the leash, making your dogs 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 also suggest disallowing her on the couch/bed/laZboy any human resting areas as this can also aid in giving you a higher alpha position in her eyes.

In addition to alpha training I recommend 10 minutes of obedience training, twice a day (down/sit/stay/come in particular) to get her as obedient and responsive as possible. This is also good for stimulating her mind and make her more 'tired' mentally and physically. Obedience training will also help reinforce your position as alpha as you reprimand poor responses to your commands and reward good responses with praise.

[B]Do the alpha training for a few weeks before moving on to curing her aggression. Try to avoid situations that cause the confrontations by taking her down quiet unpopulated streets/parks.[/B]

Now i think the best place to deal with her dog aggression is in your yard. Get a friend to come over with a dog. Have the dogs sitting 5 meters apart and both on lead. Have your girl sitting beside you. If she behaves you can walk forward. If she starts to get over excited then reprimand him with a loud GRRRRR or AHHHHH and tell him to sit. If this has no effect, you can include a jerk on the leash sideways while reprimanding - not violent, just firm and pulls just enough to put her slightly off balance. Another tool for reprimanding that is popular is a squirt gun - squirt the dog while verbally reprimanding.

If she sits wait a few seconds and then advance another meter. If she misbehaves again again growl and then squirt her with a water pistol. This increase in reprimand will give her a surprise.

Keep going until the dogs are very close together. On the first few occasions don't let them meet. After a few sessions they can meet. Both must be on lead and only gentle play is allowed. If she starts getting rough tell her off and give her a yank on the lead. Make her sit and wait.

After a few sessions of this let the dogs off but put a strong nylon line on her collar. Use this like an invisible correcting tool if she gets too aggressive. Give it a yank, tell him off and make him sit.

After she has mastered this you can try her on walks. Again reprimand and reinforce as appropriate. Make her sit and let the other dog approach. If she stands up, lunges or barks tell her off. When she is sitting and relaxed praise her.
If she gets too much abort and take her away. Try again and again.

Once she is better on the street try dog parks and other areas. Follow the reprimand and reinforce method.

As far as her aggression towards men, treat it the same as with the dogs - invite male guests over, have them walk into the house (or back yard) and ignore the dog. Have your dog on a leash during these new meetings, any aggressive behaviour gets reprimanded and the man comes no closer to the dog until she is calm and quiet. Keep him coming closer whenever she is calm - and reprimanding/no closer when she is aggressive. Eventually when the guy gets close enough, have him squat and put his hand out palm side down gently fisted (an open upwards facing palm can be perceived as more of a threat).

Most of all during all training/obedience/aggression sessions - BE CONFIDANT. If your dog feels at all that you are nervous (even if it's just about her reaction and not about whether the other dog will attack) the dog will sense that and act on it.

Reprimands for bad behaviour and reward for good behaviour are key to fixing many dog behavioural problems, and the more you give your dog clear boundaries and rules, the faster she will learn you are alpha and she does not need to be alpha and protect the pack.

Hope this makes sense and is helpful! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them and I will try and help where I can.

Good luck!