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Over the years our business has evolved a great deal. While we work with plenty of puppies and dogs who need obedience and manners help we’ve become known around the country for solving some of the worst aggression cases.
Our proprietary system taps into the dog’s natural styles and patterns of learning to help them overcome the fear and anxiety that leads them to act aggressively in the first place.
A short time ago we started working with a new case.
This is a dog that has attacked other dogs and is one of the more intensely aggressive dogs we’ve seen in a while. We decided to turn this case into a case study to show everyone just what it is we do to help these dogs.
I wasn’t planning on releasing any video until we had the entire process filmed. But sure enough, within the first five minutes of training we already had some great results. I wanted to show it off, press play below.
Our aggression formula is the process we use with dogs to overcome any type of aggression. The three steps are:
Stay tuned to the site. When the training is complete we’ll be posting the full case study.
In the mean time, check out our Curing Dog Aggression DVD program.
The owner is describing the dog’s anxiety, aggression, or otherwise nervous or anti-social behavior. I’m hearing stories of attacks, lunging, barking, running away in fear, or other such symptom of aggression or anxiety. The owner is at their wit’s end as the issues are causing them to hate going out in public, dread encounters in the street, and fear any interaction with other dogs.
Invariably the next, self-diagnosed, cause of action is blurted out,
“My dog just needs more socialization!”
The typical course of action that the owner is considering typically falls along the lines of:
Folks, forgive me as I get frank. If your dog is scared to the point of anxiety or aggression in the company of other dogs…what good will it serve your dog to be tossed in with other dogs?
If your dog acts aggressively around dogs and you keep throwing him or her around piles of other dogs at the dog park how on earth will your dog learn the skills for dealing with this stress in the company of everything that is making him stressed at a dog park?
If your dog has anxiety that manifests itself in anti-social or even violent ways, how will your dog benefit from being surrounded by a group of other dogs who are trying to be obedient and are likely a wild bunch themselves at a group obedience class?
Picture this. This may or may not be true but go with me.
You are TERRIFIED of public speaking. The very idea of it gives you cold chills and standing up in public brings on bouts of immediate vomiting.
Now imagine if your well meaning spouse or significant other simply required you to keep getting up on that stage day after day to make you get over your fear.
What do you imagine the results would be? Would you learn to get over your fear and deal with it?
Actually, that might happen. It would depend, of course, on the setting of the public speaking, the level of inner strength you had to recognize inner anguish and compartmentalize that emotion enough to overcome it, and more.
Guess what, folks?
Dogs don’t posses those self-actualizing realizations of ‘Hey, I’ve got a problem. I don’t feel good. What can I do to change this?’
No, dogs are much more instinctual animals. They are going to look for a coping mechanism for their stress and ‘dealing with the stress in a healthy and rational way’ typically isn’t in their holster.
More often than not the ‘fight or flight’ instinct will kick in and each successive return to that dog park is more terrifying than the last leading to a quicker draw from that holster into the fight or flight response.
You see, the person on stage in front of 1000 may eventually figure it out and get partially or entirely over their fear.
Or they may simply grow to dread their obligatory nightly presence in front of that crowd and simply learn to cope by public speaking, but public speaking in an awful way. Perhaps, in this imaginary scenario, their adaptation method is to simply blurt out a few unintelligible words as they quickly run off stage, therefore completing their obligation to ‘publicly speak’.
This is one of the paths I’ve seen the dog take. In the scenario where the owner insists that the dog simply needs more socialization and takes the dog to the dog park multiple times per week more often than not the dog simply keeps getting worse and quicker to make bad decisions. But in scenarios where the dog doesn’t appear to get worse more often I see them learn coping mechanisms which, plainly put, just suck.
I see that dog slinking around the dog park, doing his very best to simply avoid contact with other dogs. He’s not growing or working through a problem. He’s simply replacing one problem with another.
So what is the solution, you may ask? No more socialization? What about if that guy NEEDS to get on stage because his job depends on it.
Very good question.
The answer is not, NO SOCIALIZATION. Simply, the answer is socialization in a way that is healthy and positive.
This requires a few things:
Folks, socialization IS important. But socialization is NOT throwing your dog into a group of other dogs to hope he or she works out those stress issues on his or her own without having been taught skills for dealing. Those skills for dealing are not going to be learned at the dog park and they are not going to be learned in basic obedience classes. Happy Training!
The following question about overcoming dog aggression came in from a reader of our site-
Thanks for the quick reply, Ty!
Banzai is only aggressive toward other dogs, but absolutely loves every person he meets. We got him as a 7 month old runt from a breeder who didn’t think he would sell but then changed her mind because of his sweet nature and wanted him to have a family. He lived outside, there were other dogs, and what sold us was he was so very friendly! We also had an 8 yr old min pin (Batgirl, who we just put down @16, sniff, sniff), and thought she could use a playmate and it would help to keep her young, and they got along great! Banzai went thru his obedience class at PetSmart, and passed, and there were trips to the vet for vaccinations where he was always friendly to other dogs. Then on one particular vet visit, we were in the waiting room (we’d only had him about a month at this point) where he was friendly to other dogs, then a bigger dog comes in and he goes ballistic out of nowhere-this other dog did nothing! He had seen and been friendly to other big dogs before, so I’m not sure what precipitated this. And ever since then, it’s been ‘guard dog’ aggressiveness toward other dogs (except Batgirl!). We tried to socialize him on our own, but our attempts scared us into trying further for fear of injury to another dog (should’ve been the motivator, I know). Banzai did have TPLO surgery at 2yrs of age and there were several complications, which finally resolved in time. It explained why he was never a good walker, but even after the surgery he still will stop on a dime and lie down in the middle of a walk, but he pulls and pulls so we don’t take him really anymore. We have a huge yard but I know now that is no excuse. He sees the vet as needed as well as yearly, and takes arthritis meds regularly.
Banzai does bark at people walking by our fence, and once he was barking at a girl on her phone (we live next to a park) and she stuck out her palm, face up, and he just licked it! She laughed and petted him and shared the story with her friends (I was watching from the upstairs window, knowing she was not in harms way). A few years back a Chow Chow that lived up the street would get out and literally attack Banzai over the fence. Yes, Banzai would bark at him, but the dog was running loose and came up to our fence and Banzai was just protecting his territory. Banzai received puncture wounds from the fight and got antibiotics for his trouble. The Chow and his family moved away shortly after that, thank goodness. We have since built up the fence so this wouldn’t happen anymore.
Batgirl was the alpha for several years until her senses started to fade, but there was no aggressiveness, just ‘rudeness’, I’d say. Banzai would barrel past her running up the stairs or going into the house, sometimes knocking her aside. She would learn to step aside or hold back if she knew Banzai was coming. We would correct him or try to hold him back every time but he still did it. He would growl on their giant pet bed if she got too close, but she couldn’t hear so he just didn’t take it farther than that. They still licked each other and played together fine.
Banzai is not the most obedient– usually comes when you call him, and will chew things if not supervised, but he is very loving to all he meets.The fault lies solely with me, I take the blame for not pursuing his training further, and am ashamed of that. Why now? Well, Banzai seems lonely since Batgirl died (it’s only been 1 month), and I know that Banzai helped to keep Batgirl young and I’m hoping we can get another dog so he can stay young, too. We always respond to our pet’s medical needs, feed quality food, and play with them a lot. We also have 3 parrots, and a 100 pound tortoise who lives outside but has a shed he goes in and out from. Banzai just accepts these other animals with friendly avoidance. He never has potty accidents (sorry so random, just thought of that!).
I will follow your program to the letter, and carry on the training with our new dog, as well. Already I’m so happy to have found your program!
Here are a few ideas for helping him as a starting point:
At my Utah dog training company we get several clients per year who have two dogs, sometimes two female dogs other times two male dogs, who are fighting in the home. In most of these cases we actually find that the dogs were getting along for months or even years at a time. In most of these cases there was some sort of ‘aggression trigger’ that started one initial fight. These triggers have been varied, it could be a fight over food, over a toy or over and object in the yard. In other cases we’ve seen it happen when two dogs were hooked together.
Regardless of how it started we often see that the initial fight quickly leads to other fights and other problems. In many of these cases we’ve seen how the relationship between the two female dogs was one where there was an obvious dominant dog and an obvious submissive dog…but now the submissive dog is no longer willing to take the domineering attitude from the more dominant dog.
In any case, this is a common scenario that we run into several times a year. There can, at times, be variations with some of the variables. It’s not always two female dogs or two male dogs, perhaps it’s a mixture, or perhaps there are three dogs, but often the other elements remain the same.
While this is a common scenario we see in our training company in Salt Lake City, it’s also a common reason why dog owners invest in our dog training DVDs. One such person is Tiffani in Illinois. She invested in our training DVDs but also ordered our dog training with Skype.
A few weeks ago she and I got to work through Skype. She told me a similar story to one I’ve heard many times. She has two female dogs who aren’t getting along and she’s even had to resort to keeping them entirely separated throughout the day. I wanted to take a minute to share this blog post on exactly what protocol I take when dealing with aggression under one roof:
We’ve only just started the process but so far so good. You can see in the upper left hand corner of the article how the dogs are lying in ‘place’ close to each other. This placing in the same room will be big in helping the dogs learn to re-acclimate to each other.
Additionally Tiffani tells me, “We went on a walk this morning and we passed a dog for the first time without any noise or reaction – Yahoo!” Previously, before working on our ‘crazy man method’ for teaching proper leash walking her dog would ‘flip out’ when she saw other dogs.
She also says, “Thank you so much for working with me, it is great…. I don’t think I can ever get too much teaching in this area as I have realized that I need more work on my timing and praise. I was correcting a lot of the time but forgetting to praise when she did it right. I’m growing with her.”
The reality is, folks, that there is no need for lots of trial and error. Anything you are dealing with has already been dealt with. I wanted to share this brief case study as two dogs fighting in the same house can be a very stressful thing to deal with. We’ve got a long way to go with Tiffani and her dogs but in short order, with the right tools, the right techniques, and some good work from the owners, we’re already seeing nice results.
You can see this, too. There are always formulas and protocols to work on whatever issue you are dealing with. The key is finding the right techniques and getting to work. I encourage you to set aside any excuses that you may have previously had in not getting the right results with your dog and getting to work! Happy training.
The following is a question from one of our readers:
There are a few key points to consider in order to get your dog to stop grabbing the leash on a walk:
Remember that the mark of an effective correction is that it will change behavior now and change behavior in the future. If you are continually correcting and seeing nothing for your labors it means that your corrections are not the right style, firmness, timing, etc. for your dog. Change the training collar and change the positioning of your hands and I think you’ll be in great shape.
The following question comes from one of our valued DVD clients.
I have a terrier mix who is about 12 months old and just WILD!!! She doesn’t just jump on the furniture, she FLIES from a couch to a chair. She FLIES onto my lap from the across the room when I am holding hot coffee. We have had many close calls where she has just missed spilling it all over me.
ALSO, she scratches, chews, licks & nips myself and others CONSTANTLY on hands, legs, and FACES. (i have bandaids all over my arms and legs and she has even tried to bite my face, i.e. my nose and chin and cheeks! I had her nails ground down with a dremmel and that seems to help some. (any other ideas?). She has destroyed a $300 down comforter and many throw pillows. When she chewed a huge hole in the down comforter, I woke with feathers flying all over in the air and in my hair! I now have her sleeping in her crate, and she does well with that, although I do like her sleeping with me.
I have your Foundation Obedience dvd set and we are doing well with it. She walks loose leash in the house w/o distraction, she sits and lies down, but only stays for seconds and then she is up and running again. She is wearing a training collar and seems to do well with that.
PLEASE help me Ty, and tell me what dvds you suggest that will help! People don’t tell me to give her up but it would just break my heart!
Again, I hope you can help me!
Here is my video response to her question:
There are two key things I’d recommend:
You are on the right path, you’re moving in the right direction. No, you don’t need to give up on the dog. I think you need to be a touch firmer and you’ll be in great shape.
I was reading an interesting study recently about ADHD in children and how the French see next to no cases of ADHD within their children. (You can read the study here- Why French Children Don’t Have ADHD). I found it to be a very interesting article outlining certain thoughts on ADHD, child rearing, medication and drugs to manage behavior, etc.
I’m not going to comment in depth in this article about my opinions on childhood ADHD. I’m no expert in that field. I like what the study said and believe it to be true, but I don’t have a dog in that fight.
Where I am an expert, though, is in dog behavior. I often get asked if dog ADHD is real. Usually the question comes from the owner of a dog who is hyper, doesn’t focus, etc. Truthfully, whether or not it is real, doesn’t matter. What I want to comment on in this article is the mindset that the French have when raising their children and how that relates to your dog and his or her training.
Whatever your opinion on child ADHD or dog ADHD I think it’s safe to say there are certain parallels that can be drawn from how children with behavior problems are treated in the United States and how dogs with behavior problems are treated in the United States.
We frequently get clients at our Salt Lake City dog training company who have dogs that are being medicated for behavior problems. In 9 cases out of 10 we can get those dogs off the drugs.
The reason why is that the vet, behaviorist, or previous trainer the dog owner was using saw the problem of aggression, destruction, hyperactivity (dog ADHD perhaps?), anxiety and didn’t know how to deal with it from a behavioral level. Instead, they threw drugs at the problem.
The problem is that drugs are designed to interact with the body on a biological and chemical level. The vast majority of behavior problems, though, aren’t biological in nature. The vast amount of behavior problems are learned. The dog doesn’t know how to deal with his stress, no one has taught him to deal with his stress, so he lashes out aggressively. How is medication going to fix a problem that was a learned behavior in the first place? Or perhaps the dog has too much pent up energy, hasn’t been trained any sort of outlet, and manifests that stress through chewing and destruction. How are medications going to solve the problem of a lack of structure, training, outlets, etc.?
In most cases the only ‘results’ we see from these medications are that dogs live a sedated life and therefore less likely to be destructive and aggressive. Is that any way to live for your pet, though?
The article sites how French parents give real boundaries to their children, give real expectations of behavior and back it up, have set schedules and more. Behavior problems aren’t coddled, they’re addressed. The net result is they see so much less ADHD.
The same is true for our clients and those coming to us worried that they may have a dog ADHD problem. In 99% of the cases you don’t have a problem that medication will solve, you’ve got a fundamental issue where your dog needs more or less of something…training, stimulation, attention, excitement, exercise, and more.
I want to close by saying that I’m not 100% opposed to drugs or medication for the family pet. About once or twice a year we’ll come across a dog who simply can’t deal with stress in a normal way. This is after great efforts in training and fulfillment yet the dog can not cope with the situation he is being dealt.
Like I mentioned, there are dogs and children that do have real chemical imbalances. These are best managed by proper medication from a skilled professional COMBINED with training protocols designed to get results.
The following question comes from a reader of our site:
There are a few things you’ve tried that haven’t worked. The reasons for why they haven’t worked are simple:
The path I would go down would be obedience related. She needs to learn to deal with her anxiety and stress and she needs to learn that she’s not the one calling the shots. I would have her wearing a leash at all times and I would use that leash to teach a ‘place’ command on a dog bed when she starts barking. The idea is that you want to condition her to learn how to calm down.
Our foundation obedience training program goes into a lot of detail on the obedience necessary to fix this kind of issue.
The following is a question from one of our clients:
I am looking for some personalized advice from Ty about one of my dogs. Overall, everything is going great, and I am making great strides with the basic obedience using Ty’s methods in the DVDs. I have a 4 year old Am-Staff mix named Lucy who is obedient about 65-70% of the time. When she’s not is when she gets into trouble with other dogs. I’ve done a lot of reading and research on aggressive behavior, and I stumbled across Ty by accident while reading a rescue blog. I am so glad that I did because the way he teaches is exactly what I was looking for. I have some experience training, as I trained my now 14 year old yellow lab to do some competitive obedience when I was a teenager. He was a breeze to train because he was willing to learn and eager to please. Lucy is absolutely the love of my life, but she is stubborn and has a mind of her own. She isn’t a terrible aggression case, but she gets snippy from time to time when around new dogs, especially if those dogs are acting out (for example, when another dog excitedly tries to get to us while passing by on a walk). I’m tired of being embarrassed by her occasional outbursts, so I’ve been scouring the internet and books for a solution. Already, things in the videos are working to get her much more consistently listening to me. We have a long road of practice ahead, but her heel command has already come a long way.
What I wanted to ask Ty about is more specific to Lucy’s personality. I rescued her at about a year old. She came from an inner city shelter and was clearly not taken care of before I got her. She seems to me to have been beaten at some point. She’s naturally fearful, and is specifically very fearful of objects touching her. If you approach her with anything in your hands she jumps away or cowers. I have never, in the 3 years I’ve owned her, hit her with any object. She came to me with this behavior already engrained in her. She’s also suspicious of unknown things. For example, it was my husband’s birthday recently, and I brought in a bunch of helium balloons, and she’s terrified of them. She’ll co-exist with them when they’re up by the ceiling standing still, but if I move them, she runs away and hides. I can coax her out and make her lay near me while I hold them near her, but she is clearly terrified the whole time. In the past, I’ve tried to work on this issue, but the training methods I came across were very treat based, and it frankly just hasn’t worked at all. For example, she is very afraid of being touched by a frisbee, and the manuals I was using say bring the frisbee close to her and give her a million treats while slowly moving it closer. It does little to nothing for her. She remains just as afraid no matter how many treats I give her in the presence of a frisbee. I did this exercise many times with little improvement. She will pick up the frisbee and play with it on her own, but if I hold it and bring it near her, she’s very afraid.
This suspicious attitude also comes across when we’re training. I have done lots and lots of the crazy man method with her, and overall, it has tremendously improved her heel command. When there are little or minimal distractions, she’s basically 100% at my side now, and when there are distractions, she’s about 60-70% obedient. This is a big step up for us, and it’s improving every time. What I’m still struggling with is how hard it is to get her to be eager about listening. My other dog, who I’m also using Ty’s methods on, is naturally EXTREMELY eager to please. Crazy man has worked wonders on him, and he heels like a champion no matter what now. It’s really fun to walk with him because he is so absolutely in sync with what I want from him. He would also sit or lay down on hot coals if I asked him to. He has that trainability factor. Lucy on the other hand, is reluctant and stubborn. When doing the crazy man, she tends to hang back a little bit, and isn’t snappy about changing directions. She does it, but it isn’t eagerly. She’s the kind of dog that when I ask her to sit, and the ground is wet or cold, she half sits and hovers above it. She’s very stubborn.
Basically, my two questions are 1. What is your suggested approach to her fear behaviors? and 2. How do I make her more eager to learn without treating her to death?
I really, really appreciate any personalized advice. I love my dogs more than life, and I respect Ty’s methods wholeheartedly.
Thank you again,
Press play below to watch my response to her question:
1- You are correct about treat training, it doesn’t inspire change because it doesn’t challenge a dog to challenge it’s boundaries. It only challenges the dog as far as he or she likes a treat.
2- I always think in terms of mindset meaning; what is the dog’s mindset or state of mind when it encounters that distraction. If I don’t like the mindset how can I change it? I often find that a dog’s mind follows the body so we need to train the body to just be and to relax. A down stay or a place command while you have balloons around does not allow the dog to go into the flight response. A dog, when stressed, has only three options; fight, flight, and avoidance. Flight is like mental atrophy and if we can get rid of that response through a down stay then the dog must stay around the object that caused the fear and learn to adapt.
3- It may sound contradictory at first but I also like to introduce stress while moving. If you had her focused and on a walk and just started holding the frisbee and then graduated to getting it closer, etc. you could see some results. The point I want to get at is that a dog is not a multi-tasker. She can’t be thinking of many things at once. So if you oblige her to walk properly it doesn’t give her room to be thinking hard about other things which allows her mind to then accept those things.
4- As far as more eager a few ideas I have are: 1- Over exaggerated with praise. For example, when she’s lagging a bit while walking pat your leg and really ‘up’ the praise. 2- Continue focusing on obedience overall. The adage that dogs want to please their masters is true, but only if they see you as the master. The better your obedience becomes overall the more bonded you’ll become and the more her desire to please you will increase. 3- Watch your timing. Make it very clear that a correction is a corrrection and praise is praise. A lot of dogs are hesitant and that can be confused for stubborn. When you make the boundaries incredibly clear for them it allows them to trust you and trust the system much easier and you’ll see a dog ‘lighten up’ as a result.
Ty, I just had to write to tell you THANK YOU! We adopted a roughly three year old female rottweiler about two years ago and have loved having her. She is, however, 100 plus pounds of dog! While we had worked on basic commands, she would not follow them if distractions were present. Thus, they weren’t much good. We’re on week three of using your training videos and the ecollar. It has been wonderful. I only regret that we did not know about or look into this earlier. She walks at a heel, sits, a…
I have tried quite a few programs/trainers in the past and I have be honest in admitting that yours is by far the best I have ever seen. Now for the first time, I believe that I stand a good chance in solving my dogs aggression issue. I am now focusing on the obedience which I ignored and failed to understand how important it to get started and do it the way you have suggested. Yours is more realistic and not theoretical like others. Most miss the structure and way to solve problems. I have a…
Your videos are worth every penny… A true investment to training your dog!!!
I must say that your videos have helped me enormously. Charlie was hugely leash aggressive but he is now around 98% improved after only a week of me implementing your training methods! Thanks so much,
You will NOT go wrong with Ty as your dog trainer. You’ll only go wrong if you don’t have him help you with your dog. Ty is amazing and knows his stuff! Thanks Ty
Ty, I just wanted to say thanks for the training for Boo. He has just been awesome. He is so much calmer and we have been practicing the things on the list and he is doing great. I thought he was good on a leash when we went walking, but he is tons better now. I love it. I will definitely recommend you to anyone who is having pet issues. Thanks again!
I can’t tell you how much you have made my life a lot more enjoyable as well as my dogs. You truly are a Dog’s best friend. Thank you again.
People are asking us all the time what we have done to get her to obey so well. Well, we have to say all the glory goes to Ty! Thanks Ty I was at my wits ends and ready to give her away and now she is the dog we hoped for! Thank you for turning our terrorist dog into a great family dog- now only if you took teenagers for 3 weeks!!! Thanks!
Ty with DogBehavionOnline.com, helped me so much with the entire doggy process. He helped me along every step of the way, beginning with the breed of dog, to finding a reputable breeder, then finally training our newest family member. Thanks to Ty we don’t just have a dog, we have a great addition to our family.
Hi Ty, Just wanted to check in and let you know that Sierra is doing REALLY well. I am so happy with her and she is so much better behaved. It is nice to be able to sit on my front porch and have her out there with me enjoying things. She is great on trail and responds well. Overall I am so very pleased with the changes your help brought about in her behavior. Take good care and thanks again.