You are here:

Canine Behavior/Dominant aggression


Hello, we have a corgi, lab, terrier mix.  When we visit family and friends with other dogs, she most likely will go after the other dog.  Growling, showing fangs, and nipping very aggressively to perhaps establish her dominance?  Alone, she is very calm and friendly toward humans, although she may bark when first encountered for less then a minute until petted.
We would like to put a stop to this behavior, if possible.  Walking her with the other dogs helps for a while, but she may still go after the other dog, too.  We've tried removing her after each episode, but that also only works for a while.  When held back and soothed, she may whimper to be let go, and attack the other dog again.  
Any advise?

Dog to dog aggression can be the result of inadequate, or totally absent, socialization to other dogs when the dog in question was 14 weeks of age and younger.  It can also be the result of miscommunication between dog and handler ("soothing" her rewards her fight/flight mechanism, she is not "thinking" through this, there's no cognition involved).

The obvious solution is: this dog IS NOT A CANDIDATE for dog to dog interaction, no matter how much you wish it weren't so.

The next solution requires a certified applied animal behaviorist.  I'd need a full history of your dog's life and training as well as an "eyes on" ability to see her body language when another dog approaches, I can't see anything from here.  IF you want to ATTEMPT to rehabilitate this problem (using positive reinforcement training, counter conditioning, etc.) you need a real life professional.

No problem finding one in NYC, just be sure the person has educational credentials (NO "dog whisperers please!) and references, especially veterinary references.  If you are in or near Manhattan, Animal Medical Center most likely has referrals.  If not, try these sites:

Because there MAY NOT BE an easily identifiable cause (to the average person), persisting to expose your dog to other dogs, knowing the outcome, is an error.  Most aggression is fear based, not "dominance" (quite rare and usually confined to specific breed type).  

Canine Behavior

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]