Overcoming Dog Aggression

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!

Sincerely,

Cindy

The Following Video Outlines Some Strategies for Solving Dog Aggression

Overcoming Dog Aggression on YouTube

Ideas for Your Aggression Problem

Here are a few ideas for helping him as a starting point:

  • Think about putting him on a raw diet
  • Look into getting his thyroid levels checked.  Ask the veterinarian to check his T3 levels
  • Work on proper leash walking.  A structured walk where your dog is paying attention to you doesn’t leave room to be thinking about other dogs.
  • Work on ‘checks and balances’ around the home.