If you are looking for the greatest gold-mine of easy to use "change your dog's behavior" advice ever crammed into a newsletter series then read on!
Also, make sure that you check out our 100% authentic testimonials from people who have bought Secrets to Dog Training and find out the massive difference it has made to their owner-dog relationship!
"Dear Daniel, Your book was a lifesaver! Our 2 year old black German Shepherd, Jack, came to us from a woman who was not able to cope with him herself. When he came to us at the beginning of the year he was a total handful. He was boisterous, aggressive, skittish and unresponsive – outside the home. At home he was still boisterous and a bit aggressive but would sit or come every time.
Our White GSD Charlie was diagnosed with cancer literally 3 weeks after we agreed totake Jack and had beenmoping since his spleen was removed but he perked up with some young competition so we were feeling good about having
them together…until we took them for walks. We almost never put Charlie on his lead – we just never need to. Jack however couldn’t be let off his lead. He would drag me along behind him and strain against me to get to other dogs or cats or people that he could see and would panic once the door was open – struggling to get out and then trying to run off. It was distressing to say the least.
Jack was born and grew up in the one village so we have gleaned a lot of information from fellow dog walkers who recognised him and have seen our progress with him. We know the woman who gave him up to us loved him but couldn’t cope with him and a toddler so we think he just stopped getting walked. He was such a nightmare we can understand why. In the first month we were at our wits end and when I bought the Secrets to Dog Training books online we were a week from giving him up ourselves.
We had the dominance training sorted from day one because we were aware that was going to be an issue otherwise but Jack had serious behavioral issues around food and walks that needed a lot of work. In the months since we got and read the books he has become a different dog! Everyone says so. We have recently been told people suggest us to friends in the area who have dog trouble and we have helped socialise several problem pups with Jack (because its good for him as much as them) all thanks to Daniel and his book giving us that extra knowledge that has really rounded out our own understanding.
I recommend it ad nauseum! Jack still pulls on the lead he has good days and bad days but we are working on it (to be honest Charlie – our dream dog – has never been good on leads either). Jack now looks us in the eyes, can be walked off lead. Sits, Stays, Fetches, leaves – he is a great play mate. He sits and waits so quietly for his dinner we have honestly forgotten he is still waiting once or twice and he has come to remind us 5 minutes later! He doesn’t immediately run out if the front door is open and will happily sit outside with us if we are cleaning cars or talking out the front without dashing off. We have taken him from the most difficult, messed up dog – almost deliberately awful – to a great member of our family. He is fun. He is funny. He is a joy and we wouldn’t give him up for anything! And we wouldn’t have gotten this far without the wonderful hints, tips and explanations from Daniel in his online books. The best buy ever!! Bar none!
My other half is very good with dogs and even he was confounded by Jack but having the advice to hand in Secrets to Dog Training just turned it all around. We honestly have had dozens of comments on how good Jack has become. No joke!
Cheers Daniel – I really appreciate all your good work has done for us!"
-- Cara McLean (Cambridge, UK)
Well to start with Marty our Border Collie who is now 15month old had Parvo when about 5 months old(whether this has any bearing on the matter I don’t know). He was very poorly but because he had had all the jabs he only had a milder version. He started to become more and more agitated around men. In January we started him in obedience classes and he did really well, when he went into the older class (Trainers were two men) we were a bit worried but they soon got the measure of him and basically ignored him till he was snuggling up to them for attention. He continued getting worse regarding his aggressive barking especially to visitors to our home - not everyone- mainly men who he wasn’t familiar with but also one of my brothers (a big chap) whom he saw on a weekly basis. In May we had him castrated to see if it calmed him down but we've seen no difference
In June he did a 6 week agility course which he enjoyed, he loves following orders, but again anything involving the male trainers and he wasn’t happy.
In July we went away for a week and my brother looked after him (this is the one that he barked at) since then he has been fine with him. Not long after my friends daughter and boyfriend came to visit and Marty greeted them both and they fussed over them, all of a sudden he lunged at the boy and although we didn’t realize it at the time as the boy didn’t complain, Marty had bit him on the leg drawing blood - this resulted in a swollen and bruised leg.
I spoke to the vet after this and he just said to keep him on a lead when people are visiting to be on the safe side, that he was "protecting" myself and my daughter. We did this but the fact that we put him on a lead seems to give him the opposite message that there is something to worry about here and he seems more vigilant.
We put him in kennels in august for 2 weeks when we went on holiday and he was fine although after we told them about his aversion to men he mainly had the girls or a teenage boy looking after him. When we went to pick him up he wrapped himself around our legs and then proceeded to bark aggressively at he man - who said he had been fine with him before we came.
The following week we took him out with my sister in law and boys (3 triplets age 9-he loves them to bits by the way) we went to a local park that has some shops near the entrance. I couldn’t believe how aggressive Marty was he seemed like he wanted to bite whoever walked past, everyone was looking as he was making such a noise. With hindsight I suppose he could have been frightened of the crowds but it was really upsetting. We then took him to another park and proceeded to go off the path as soon as someone came close.
Recently since I have read your book and applied more stricter limits to what the family do with him there has been a marked improvement. If someone leaves the house, he is warned not to "shout", if he does he has to go to his bed, he has become increasingly obedient in this. We do not feed him at all from the table, (*we didn’t much before, its mainly my soon to be ex husband when he visits, but he has been told not to) he has never been aggressive with his food, in fact he wont touch it until told and you can take away the bowl when he is eating and he wont say anything. (He is never possessive with any of his food or toys). He is an extremely loving and obedient dog on the whole at home, it is very upsetting that people are starting to view him as a bad dog. We regularly walk him and we have a field around the corner where he loves to be off lead and fetch his ball- this is what he lives for! Although we have become very wary when people approach and often put him on the lead. He is usually ok with dogs but last week he had a go at an Alsatian who kept being aggressive with him - I put him on his lead straight away but the other owner looked at us as if it was Marty's fault and didn’t even call her dog to her. (There was one other dog at the obedience class that he didn’t like-a Pug- but this dog used to annoy all the border collies for some reason.)
Yesterday we took Marty to a local country park, we kept him on a short lead and halty to start with as he had been a lot better this week. After we had passed a few groups of people and he hadn’t reacted we let the lead out (this is a training lead not one of those that reel out) after we passed groups of men and even a man on a bike we let him have the halty off and we had a lovely walk with him. However when we got back to the car, he was having a drink and my daughter was holding him, a man got out of a car nearby and he started having a go at him, them some children came over to see him and my daughter had a hard time holding him back he was so aggressive - he had well and truly blotted his copybook.
Like I say on the whole he is obedient, the one thing we cant get him to do is to heel when we go for walks, he really pulls.
He eats complete dog food, the dried variety, he does like a drop of porridge in the morning but he only gets it now if he has been good. We are keeping treats only for when he is good. At the obedience classes my daughter uses pieces of chicken in his training).
This is our first dog and we have read books and tried to do our best by him. It is upsetting that we aren’t enjoying him the way we had hoped and that every trip out is a trial and not fun. We stopped obedience classes over the holiday period but hope to re-join shortly. I have spoken to the vet again, she had me fill in a questionnaire to give to the nurse to see if she could help - I haven’t heard back yet. Otherwise she said we may need to see a behavioral specialist. I would be really grateful if you could help us in any way.
Hi there Shannon,
Thank you for your email regarding your Border Collie Marty and the ongoing aggression problems you have been having with him.
The detail you have given in your email is excellent and gives me a good idea of the sort of behavior Marty is exhibiting here. It definitely sounds as though he either has a fear of men, or wants to protect you and your daughter from any potential 'threat', OR both! In order to help Marty overcome his current aggression problem, you must first show him that you and your family are dominant over him such that, if you need to, you can reprimand him as appropriate. This may also help show him that it is not his responsibility to be protective of you. By showing that he is in some ways protective or possessive of you, he is also showing that he thinks he is higher in the pack order, yet another reason to reinforce yourselves as alpha dogs over Marty.
For this reason, I would encourage you, and any other family members, to read the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". This book will give you a good understanding of the hierarchical nature and behavior of your dog. Follow the tips in this book as much as possible and you should get good results within a couple of months.
Most dogs go through an adolescent period when they reach 6 months old and this usually lasts until they are 20 months of age. However, the exact age of adolescence does vary between breeds and individual dogs. Be aware that this adolescent period can be characterized by behavior changes in your dog. Good on you for having Marty neutered – this was definitely worth a shot as it can help aggression problems in many cases. The fact that it didn't seem to help Marty does not mean his aggression problem is not possible to be overcome!
You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand Marty's 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).
Please ensure you undertake the following techniques to reinforce your status as alpha dog over Marty:
It is vitally important that your dog has good all-round obedience skills. 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.
Do not inadvertently reinforce poor behavior from your dog. You must be consistent in your attitude to your dog. For example, if your dog is allowed to jump on you when you are playing with it but is not allowed to jump up at any other time then how is it meant to know the difference?
By undertaking these techniques as a family with Marty, he will soon learn that you are dominant over him and that when you order him to do something, he must do it and do it straight away! This will of course take a few months to start having an effect on Marty and you will need to continue with these techniques throughout Marty's lifetime to keep reinforcing yourselves as the Alpha dogs.
It is also ideal for you to undertake daily training programs of basic commands for 10 – 15 minutes once or twice a day using plenty of rewards and vocal praise for good behavior and correct responses. In particular, it sounds as it would be a very good idea to go over the "heel" command daily! This will further strengthen your alpha status over Marty. In situations where you do need to reprimand Marty (i.e. whenever he becomes aggressive towards anyone you meet or know) be sure to give him a guttural growl of "AAAAH!" as above and perhaps combine this with a clap of the hands, a squirt of water from a water pistol or by shaking a tin can filled with pebbles in his direction. This should help put him off his bad behavior immediately. At the sign of even this slightest sense of aggression, whether this is teeth showing, snarling or barking, you should reprimand Marty firmly as above to nip this in the bud. In combination with this however, you will need to reward him for appropriate behavior around strange people he may have been aggressive towards in the past. Use plenty of praise and food treats whenever this is the case.
Because of the nature of the problem with Marty and the fact that he has drawn blood before, consider using a muzzle. If you are concerned that your dog may become overly aggressive towards other people or dogs, this will take away any risk of the situation getting out of hand. Allow Marty to get used the feel of the muzzle before you embark on any encounters with unfamiliar dogs or people. I often find that they initially hate the feel of the muzzle, but if you give them a distraction, such as going for a run or allowing them to play with a familiar friend, they will get used to it quickly.
Good on you for using the Halty. This is ideal for dogs such as Marty! Be sure to reprimand Marty while on walks by giving the Halty a good tug and using the techniques described above. Also keep Marty by your side and have daily training to ensure he Heels properly, and praise and reward him when he does! It is definitely going to be worthwhile for you to socialize Marty as much as possible over the next few months. Take Marty to plenty of public places and socialize your dog with other dogs and people as much as possible. Remember it is not unusual for dogs to be territorial and show aggression towards other dogs. Don't be afraid to growl at your dog, eventually it will learn no real harm will occur.
Arrange for people to come around (children too) to help with human socialization, and particularly male socialization! When you do take Marty to a dog park, walk him around on the leash first and have your dog meet everyone there with the safety of the muzzle. If you are confident that there will be no trouble, then let your dog off the leash. This way you are avoiding anything that could go wrong before it happens, rather then just leaving your dog to do its thing and then regretting it.
Another alternative for aggressive dogs such as Marty, is to use Rescue Remedy, which you should be able to find in a pet store. It is a very safe, very gentle and natural sedative, which can have a good anti-anxiety effect. You simply apply a few sprays in the mouth or on the nose.
The progression below is a useful one that many people have used to get better results from their dogs around other people and dogs on walks. 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. 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.
For the next few months, it would probably be a good idea to be very wary of Marty around other people and animals and to use a muzzle if you think this is necessary. It is always better to be safe than sorry in these situations! Be consistent with your reprimanding and rewarding and don't let Marty get away with any aggressive behavior. ALWAYS reprimand him appropriately for this behavior! With time and consistent training, you will be able to calm Marty down and get him to behave appropriately and non-aggressively around all sorts of people and animals. Other than Marty's aggression problem, he sounds like a marvelous dog and a pleasure to own.
Best of luck with Marty's training and please let us know how you get on!
Daniel Stevens and the Secrets to Dog Training Team
I've been a professional dog trainer for well over 20 years, and in that time I've helped thousands of dog owners just like you to get the friendly, well behaved, slipper fetching, best pal they always wanted.
But it didn't start out that way. I've always loved dogs, some things never change. But when I first started my professional dog training career I relied on the so-called 'best practices' when it came to dog behavior training. It was only when I heard people tell me over and over again that they just weren't seeing results that I started to question the old accepted wisdom. So I started a journey, a quest to search out the best, most effective, techniques, tips, and tricks that really work.
And that's how I came up with Secrets to Dog Training. Year after year I found new techniques that achieved the results I wanted. Eventually I had a whole book worth of great resources: Secrets to Dog training...
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