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Canine Behavior/dog aggression


hi i recently rescued my dog he is about 1yr and 5 mos he is neutered and well he hasn't been socialized though he doesn't seem to bother with the little dogs here at home ( they are separated ) when he passes them to go outside , but on our walks he goes nuts when he see's other dogs , someone riding a bicycle or someone on a skateboard.. he is a boxer mix were just not quite sure with what if there is any pit bull in him it's very little ... I was recently quoted 175 per session that sounds outrageous to me ... anyways his background he was found emaciated in an abanded building in the Bronx in new york , they said that he was seen barking from the rooftop and out the windows , so my thought was that maybe kids riding by on there bikes or skateboards would maybe mess with him ..... i guess my main question is the cost . is it really gonna run me $175 a session that just sounds outrageous and if so my goodness no wonder people don't get help with there dogs ...

First: this "problem" is eminently fixable.
second: yes, a professional in person evaluation is most likely necessary
third: a REAL certified applied animal behaviorist will not be cheap.  BE CAREFUL, NO dog trainers, no "dog whisperers" (yikes!)  Look for a CAAB.  In NYC and its surroundings you should have no problem.  

It would be nice to not "separate" him for your little dogs and maybe (I can't see anything from here) that can, eventually, be done with no problem.  Keeping them separated without a real attempt at habituation could cause a problem.

Going "nuts" when he sees another dog might just be excitement and a conditioned response from living on the streets; going "nuts" with joggers, skateboarders, bicyclists...this is prey drive, and can also be counter conditioned.  It's best to let a real professional SEE your dog.  If that were me, I very much doubt you would need more than TWO sessions, with free followup phone advice (that's how I did it).  I can't speak for others, though.

It's well worth the investment but you must find a true CAAB.  Look at these sites:

If you're in NYC area, call the Animal Medical Center and ask for referral to a CAAB.

Meanwhile, teach this dog "attention":

Remember that the dog is still habituating to you and your household.  It takes quite a while for that to occur.  "Attention" will help establish social hierarchy and will help him relax.  Teach it in areas where there are few (preferably none) distractions.  Once he has got the "idea", you'll know it.  At that point, begin to use it outdoors with him on leash.  DO NOT use a prong collar or a choker collar.  Buy a strong martingale, such as seen here:

Be sure he can't back out of it (but be able to slip your fingers between his neck and the collar).  It will restrain him humanely without pain.

EVERY TIME he reacts on leash outside, STOP walking, observe the dog.  If he has gotten the "attention" thing, at some point (it might take a while the first few times) he will LOOK at YOU.  Praise lavishly, walk in a circle left and then right (as if following a hoola hoop), stop, ask for "sit" = so long as his eyes are on YOU and his fight/flight response is no longer in control, if he "sits" food reward him = keep going forward.  This is counter conditioning.  It should, over time, help to desensitize him to some situations (not all) but will, at least, diminish his response (over time, perhaps months) and make walks less stressful for you and more rewarding for him.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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