There is some evidence that dogs involved in aggressive situations with the dogs they live with do have a tendency to show aggression in other situations. If the dog cannot maintain the required posture and affect, and remains tense, barking and lunging at the stranger, the owner needs to return to an earlier phase of training. Exercise. Keep in mind that your dog is not happy in this state of mind either. Perhaps they do possess a low level of dominance and would bark anyway, but some are also insecure, anxious, or even frankly fearful. Allow sufficient slack for the dog to leave your side and interact with other … Once trained to the muzzle, the territorially aggressive dog can be required to wear the muzzle in any particularly challenging situation. Dogs that are overly dominant, both in absolute terms and with respect to their human family members, may provide a serious obstacle for any visitors to the home territory. Last Resorts for Aggressive Dog Training. Head Halter. I get calls every week because people want help with dogs who react badly to anyone who comes to the house. The amount of movement the dog will tolerate, while remaining relaxed, should be increased incrementally. They call to tell me that their dogs are aggressive towards visitors by barking and lunging, If the dog learns to respect his owners in this way, he will be more likely to turn to them for direction when he’s feeling challenged or fearful and will be more likely to heed directions. The mail carrier comes, the dog barks, the mail carrier leaves, and the dog takes credit. Yes, fear. Dominant dogs often push forward to inspect or bite or nip the visitor; fear driven dogs can react with a facade of ferocity while inside they’re trembling. Dogs with stranger aggression (and anxiety over your presence) remain much more vigilant and wary of that presence. There are several factors that distinguish fear-related territorial aggression from dominance-driven aggression: Although dominance-based territorial aggression is easier to manage than fear-based territorial aggression, both forms of territorial aggression can be addressed reasonably well by means of management measures, proper control, and containment. This can cause the unwanted behavior to increase in frequency and intensity. Dogs will normally demonstrate signs of aggression between the ages of 12 and 36 months, and is seen more in male than female dogs. Ideally, during the training process, no one should come close enough to the dog to trigger an aggressive response. Territorial/fear aggressive dogs have a lower level of confidence that permits the expression of fear aggression only on the home territory or from within the safety of the owner’s vehicle. So, solving aggression is best done in incremental steps that are successfully achieved 'before' your dog is aggressive. If the dog does not respond aggressively, visitors can be asked to try taking a few steps before returning to their seat. Needless to say, appropriate behavior modification therapy should be conducted simultaneously to take advantage of this therapeutic window. At this early stage of the treatment program, if the owner has the dog in the room with guests, the dog should be removed before the guests prepare to leave. Out on the street, these same dogs may not have the courage to intimidate their adversaries, although they might wish they had. Next, the “down-stay” should be utilized while the owner is in the room but otherwise occupied. Pet owner asks: “How do I manage my dog’s aggression towards visitors in our home?” As much as we like to dress them up, give them cute clothing, paint their nails, put them in strollers, call them pet names like “fluffy” and “monkey” and wash them with all sorts of wonderful non-dog-smelling shampoos…dogs were originally wild animals and are territorial by nature. If someone approaches too closely, and the dog becomes aggressive, the assistant should stand still until the owner can get the dog’s attention, preferably using an obedience command, like “cut” [it out], and rewarding the dog for its compliance. Aggression to other dogs Basket Muzzle. The owner can then ask the person to quietly retreat to a distance at which it was previously comfortable and resume training (as long as the dog is not too aroused). These dogs are normally of a stronger personality. If your dog is aggressive to visitors, don’t worry – help is at hand. Rather, they should be asked to avert their gaze and advance slowly in a circuitous path (as this is less threatening to most dogs). Counterconditioning. If owners are consistent with this approach, the dog will learn that he must look to them to obtain anything he needs or wants, such as food, freedom, play, and social interaction. This is particularly true when the intruder is on the home turf of the dog. This will ensure that your resident dog isn’t thrown off by an unexpected visitor charging into her space. Leash the dog. The key point to remember is not to suddenly expose the dog to the full intensity of the stimulus but to very gradually “up the ante.” At no point should the dog be allowed to become aggressive during training. Some dogs simply hide behind their owner’s legs, watching as if transfixed by the visitor. By this it simply means that the dog is of a personality structure that is more decisive by nature and takes charge in a situation. If it is a planned visit, you can calmly pop your dog in a room out of the way 5 minutes... On arrival. These dogs are likely to growl at people passing by and even attempt to lunge or nip at someone that walks near by. When initially working on training with a dog with stranger aggression, you have to keep his world safe (for others’ safety). The IHC Group. Dogs display this behavior due to fear and/or anxiety, and need behavioral intervention to overcome it. Diet. Neither punishment nor reassurance are appropriate actions. Except during training sessions, avoid exposing the dog to situations and people that may trigger the aggressive behavior. Punishment has the potential to increase the dog’s anxiety and worsen the situation. Owners can start by having the guest slowly stand up and then sit down. Fear aggressive dogs generally have enough confidence to be aggressive to strangers on or off their own territory. It’s a stressful and difficult situation in which no one is happy – you, your dog, or your visitors! In mild form, dogs bark to intimidate intruders, particularly those of the same species. Most dogs that are simply territorial by nature can be easier to approach. As I mentioned above, genetics can play a large role in aggressive behavior. The goal is to teach the dog to associate visitors’ presence with pleasant experiences. The body language includes: approach-avoidance behavior, tucked or semi-tucked tail, slinking gait and an indirect approach. By the end of the fifth day, the dog should be able to remain focused for 25-30 seconds no matter what the distraction. toward the person’s buttocks, thighs, or calves) … or they may simply nip, ripping clothing. Like human children, puppies tend to explore their environments. Finally, owners should consider posting a “Beware of Dog” sign as a responsible reminder that a dog is on the property. Unlike humans, dogs have little sense of equality and will always aspire toward the highest possible rank within their social group. Walk the dogs side-by-side. And if this is ineffective in deterring the visitor, an attack may ensue. This is most commonly seen within the dog’s own home, but it can occur in new locations as well. But reactive dogs, including a dog that barks at guests in the home or outside, are feeling anxious. Gradually you can move to sitting with the door open and even progress to a bench outside. Territorial aggression, when confined to barking at the sound of approaching strangers can be a bane or a blessing, depending on the circumstances and the owner’s control of the situation. Next, the dog can be trained to rest on a training mat or sit while focused on the owner when a visitor approaches the door. No stranger should reach toward the dog at this stage. For example, it may be possible to cue the dog to lie down in a relaxed posture, or sit and watch his owner, while a stranger walks by the end of the drive, rewarding the dog with a food treat for remaining relaxed, calm, and in position. Once the dog remains relaxed when people are quietly sitting in the home, he can be taught to accept them moving about. Don’t be afraid to keep people at bay! If the dog responds by paying attention in a relaxed and focused manner, reward him with a small food treat or praise him lavishly. When dogs display aggression to strangers only on the home property, and do not respond aggressively to strangers on neutral territory, territorial aggression is the likely diagnosis. The Dangers of Using Punishment with Aggressive Dogs, Sending your Aggressive Dog to a Boarding Facility. Additionally, dogs with stranger aggression require more management and training. If the dog is resistant to remaining still, an alternative strategy is to have the person stand still and walk the dog around the person in progressively decreasing circles. Each day, increase the amount of time that the dog must pay attention, in a relaxed pose, before he receives a reward. While stranger aggression is most common at home, this is partly because dogs with this issue have less access to the outside world due to their behavior. Breed and Dog Aggression. Considering that your dog is aggressive to visitors, the best process is:-Teach your dog a reward-based leadership routine. That means that the dog is territorial by nature (so more leery of strangers anyways), but then has a heightened worry about strangers. Let them know he isn’t ready for people to pet him or you may even have to get up and move away to keep the situation safe. The dog should initiate all interactions with visitors in the home. The dog will quickly learn that if he breaks the stay, he will be put back on the mat, but if he holds the “down-stay,” he will be rewarded. Setting Up the Introduction Ask your visitors to call you instead of knocking on the door or … The next step is to countercondition the dog to people and situations that trigger aggression. Domestic dogs, however, seem to regard people as conspecifics and consequently may direct territorial aggression toward human visitors. Owners should keep doors secured to ensure that no one enters the property without warning. At this point, the stranger should be asked to toss one of the dog’s favorite food treats toward him. Dog aggression and behavior expert with 30 years of experience. If you adopted an adult dog with behavioral issues, or missed the symptoms of aggression in your pet’s puppyhood, there are still ways to stop aggression even when it becomes a serious problem.. Key to the entire program is desensitization to approaching strangers along with counterconditioning to alter the dog’s associations and behavior during progressive, planned exposure to visitors. Territorial/fear aggressive dogs do not usually settle down completely while visitors are in the home and are prone to sudden outbursts of barking or lunging and may aggress toward visors who move suddenly, speak loudly, or get up to leave the house. Next, the stranger may stop at the end of the driveway and momentarily walk onto the dog’s property before leaving again. Treats should be supplied if the dog remains calm. Every time the dog breaks the stay, a verbal correction should be given to indicate that there will be no reward, and the dog is escorted back to the mat. What may seem like a benign visitor to your yard, such as the mailman, … For difficult cases, it may be helpful to treat territorially aggressive dogs with anti-anxiety, anti-aggressive medication. Although alarm barking can sometimes be aggravating for dog owners, neighbors, and visitors, lunging and biting are far more serious problems. Medical Rule-outs. Ask the dog to “sit and watch me” or remain in a “down-stay.”. In effect he must “earn” all valued resources by first obeying a command, such as SIT or DOWN. For these dogs, all off-lead exercise should be conducted in safe places, with constant supervision by an informed owner who has realistic expectations of the dog’s behavior. If the intruder is not intimidated, warnings may escalate to include hostile posturing and lunging. The bite is usually of a hit-and-run nature – a cheap shot. For indoor sessions, owners can also train the dog to perform a 20-minute “down-stay” on a specific bed or mat that is used only for training. If the dog is sitting or lying down and appears relaxed in the visitor’s presence, the visitor could slide a small food treat toward the dog, if this will not startle him. If the dog can be distracted by food rewards or games, counterconditioning on its own may circumvent the brunt of the problems. If a dog is allowed to threaten, and the subject then retreats, the dog is rewarded for showing aggression. In fact, it can be dangerous if fights erupt regularly and you try to intervene. Perform this relaxation exercise daily for 5 days. anticipates the owner), the owner should issue an alternative command, before giving the dog the desired resource. All dogs that have shown aggression to visitors in the past should be trained to wear a basket-style muzzle. Yes, they may bark, but they may also back away and go into hiding mode once the visitors approach. These dogs are likely to growl at people passing by and even attempt to lunge or nip at someone that walks near by. These changes won’t entirely stop how your dog feels towards strangers, but they can dull his demeanor, which gives you more time to work on modifying his behavior. Head halters send a biological signal of the owner’s leadership by exerting gentle pressure around the muzzle (“maternal point”) and at the nape of the neck (“leader point”). ©Copyright 1999 - 2021. These dogs can often learn to like one person, but then the whole process starts over again with a second person and so forth. For dogs that are aggressive when people enter the house, it is best to isolate the dog at first and then, once everyone is seated, the dog can be brought into the room on a lead and head halter, if he remains relaxed. Then the dog should be required to remain in position as the owner exits the room, but remains nearby. There are two primary motivations for territorial behavior, dominance or fear/anxiety. Clomipramine (Clomicalm®), fluoxetine (Prozac®), buspirone (BuSpar®) are all reasonable treatment options. Those displays are meant to keep the intruder away. Aggression in Dogs Toward Strangers and Visitors, A Fresh Perspective on Dog on Dog Aggressive Behavior. Can you bitten by a dog with a stranger aggression issue? Many times an owner has been bitten trying to break up fights between her own dogs. The bites of territorial fear aggressive dogs are usually directed towards the “nether regions” of the offender (e.g. It’s not uncommon for a dog to get aggressive toward an unknown dog, or other dogs in the home, because a dog often feels the need to protect her territory. Consider testing the dog for medical conditions that might be contributing to increased anxiety, especially hypothyroidism. Dogs with the confidence to bite strangers present a danger to any visitors to the home and a liability for the dog’s owners. The head halter gently, but firmly, establishes owners’ leadership and control of their dog, as well as providing for visitors’ safety. When they are taken to the outside world, caution must be taken. For desensitization, the owner should start by exposing the dog to people that he is least likely to be aggressive towards and train the dog in a location where he is most comfortable. Avoid Confrontations. If your dog is aggressive to visitors to the home, make sure you secure your dog in the garden or in a secure room before you open the door or greet guests. During the early stages of training, assistants should be advised not to make direct eye contact with the dog and not to approach the dog head on. Click & treat training may facilitate training endeavors. Introduce a mildly anxiety-inducing person at a distance. In a way, the only distinguishing feature between territorial fear aggression and overt fear aggression is the level of confidence that the dogs possess. Teach your puppy bite inhibition. Dogs that aggressively protect “their” territory are often dogs that were not socialized as puppies 1 and have a fear of novel things, people and animals. Dog on dog aggression in the home can feel overwhelming. If he doesn’t want you there, he will attempt to rid you from the area. He might be fearful of strangers, protective of his home, or he may just have general anxiety that comes out as reactivity when something weird happens. That’s because you need to be aware of the dog. Counterconditioning interrupts unwanted behavior by training the dog to respond to a command or activity that is incompatible with continued performance of the aggressive behavior. Aggression in dogs, whether it be toward a dog's owner or other dogs, is a serious behavior that should be adjusted with the help of a professional dog trainer. Aggression is one of the top reasons dog owners seek the help of a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist.And it's not just larger dogs and so-called "dangerous breeds" that are prone to aggression; any breed is capable of becoming aggressive under the right … Initially, reward the dog every 10 seconds if he remains still, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. That means you might start initial training by playing the people watching game. Nothing in Life is Free. Reassurance will affirm the dog’s fear. Commands like Leave It, Watch Me, Come, Sit, Down, and Stay are all essential commands that can help you in any situation that arises. If these exercises are performed frequently enough, and with an assortment of strangers, starting with the least threatening and working up to the most threatening, the dog will learn that their presence is associated with positive experiences. sidewalks) that the dog patrols, and family vehicles in which he rides. Treats and playing with these dogs can improve the stranger’s likeability over time, but the dog takes a long time to warm up to the person, if it ever does. Consult with a professional who can give you an honest assessment of your dog’s prognosis and the amount of time that will be required to work with him so that you can make a decision as to how best to proceed. Not only will you have to work on making him feel better about being around new people, he will also require a high level of obedience control. First, train a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed. They will use their... Limit guests for some time. But, there is a limit as to how aggressive or protective a dog should be. If you’ve already popped your dog out of the way, all you need to … Engage the dog in regular daily obedience training sessions to sharpen his response to one-word voice commands and increase owner leadership. When dealing with territorially aggressive dogs, it is essential that owners establish a leadership role with respect to the dog in order to safely manage the dog’s territorial tendencies. While stranger aggression is most common at home, this is partly because dogs with this issue have less access to the outside world due to their behavior. There are behavior modification steps that have shown to be of great assistance in cases of dog aggression. For example, a young puppy of 5 months old might growl as fiercely as he can muster when a guest enters the home, but after a few moments if the person were to move slightly his way, he would likely step a few paces back or retreat entirely. If your dog is clearly showing any signs of aggression upon the sight of your guest, you... Offer a safe space for your dog. "In this video, I am working with a German Shepherd dog called Jazz. Even some of the most strong reactions in a dog that look horribly aggressive can be rooted in fear or anxiety. After doing this several times, eventually the stranger should be able to stand a few feet from the dog while it remains calm and under control. If it is a bane, the owner can do something about it using the approaches described above, and can frequently make inroads into containing the problem. Some dogs with very severe behavior may need to go to a comfortable place in the home away from visitors where they can rest and not be anxious when visitors come. Territorial aggression is a potentially dangerous behavior problem. Territorial aggression that has advanced to the point of lunging, snarling, and biting is more difficult to treat and positive results, though eminently possible, are not guaranteed. Borderline-low levels of the principal thyroid hormone may be associated with increased anxiety, and thus aggression. Bear in mind that dogs with fear-related aggressive behavior have a tendency to snap at people when they move away, for example, when they are preparing to leave. Territorial/fear aggressive dogs frequently show ambivalent body language similar to that of purely fear aggressive dogs. So let this article explain a bit about why the aggression is happening, what you can do about it, and what to get your visitors to do. Controlling dogs within the home can be difficult, especially when you own an aggressive dog. Inter-dog aggression occurs when a dog is overly aggressive towards dogs in the same household or unfamiliar dogs. This will cause the dog to defer to his owners’ authority so that he can be introduced to people under pleasant circumstances and be rewarded for remaining calm. Consider setting up some dog gates around your home that will block your dog off from front-facing rooms with windows. When they are taken to the outside world, caution must be taken. First say, “watch me,” and move a finger toward your face. Typically, these treatments are applied for at least four to six months, and possibly for as long as a year or two. Safety Precautions. A dog that has bitten a stranger coming onto the property should not be allowed to roam unsupervised while there is the faintest chance of a stranger entering his zone. This behavior is often considered normal, but some dogs can become excessively aggressive due to learning and genetic factors. Dominant dogs have a responsibility to warn other pack members of a stranger’s approach and they do this with confidence and authority. These dog may hide under a bed or behind the owner. In general, dogs tend to be more territorially aggressive when they are behind a fence, because a fence allows the dog to know exactly where the boundary lies, and he will patrol and protect it. The barking is also intended to alert other pack members who can join in defense of the pack’s territory. More often than not, these dogs are afraid, but people rarely call to say that they have a fearful dog. The approach to controlling fear-based territorial aggression is more problematic. Uniformed visitors, like the mail carriers, are prime targets for this learned type of aggression. Bear in mind that the territorially aggressive dog is reacting because he wants the intruder to depart. At this stage, whenever owners sense that their dog is about to engage in the unwanted behavior, they can use this counterconditioning technique to interrupt the behavior before it escalates. For dogs that do not readily respond to food or play, it is helpful to train the dog to relax on command by responding to verbal and visual cues from the owner. They are generally not trustworthy around small children (other than your own), and great care should be taken with a dog like this in a household with children. If the dog chooses to approach a guest, have the person quietly offer their hand for the dog to sniff and they may offer a treat if the dog is not too “grabby.” If the dog indicates that he would like to be petted, the guest may do so briefly, but again they should avoid reaching up and over the dog’s head and they should avoid prolonged eye contact. The efficacy of such treatments will vary from case to case but price, side effects, and other logistical concerns will determine the order in which these treatments are tried. A basket muzzle allows the dog to pant, drink and accept small treats, but prevents biting. As youngsters, they may back up and bark at the sound of people approaching but, as they grow older, they find themselves more intimidating and learn that they can drive the bogeyman away. Feed a healthy non-performance diet. Employ a Gentle Leader® head halter to exert the optimal control of the dog in aggression-inducing situations. 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