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Canine Behavior/agressive behaviour with strangers


QUESTION: hi! sir,i have cute dog, just 1 year he is extremely lovely with family and extremely aggressive to strangers,obedient,comes when called,heels,but if he sees strangers he just pounces what to do
note(he is rescued pup,i bought him home when he was just one month)

ANSWER: Most aggression is the result of fear.  If the dog lived on the streets, he most likely has a very good reason for his behavior.  Desensitization is extremely difficult.  One must do counter conditioning, consistently.  If you would please tell me what training you have done with this dog and describe what "extremely aggressive to strangers" means, in detail, I can possibly attempt to assist you.  But the bottom line is: this dog will never be fully accepting of "strangers" and what you must do is absolutely protect the dog by not allowing this to develop into an actual *bite* scenario.

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QUESTION: sir! extremely aggressive means he just runs after them,(even on leash).but he is too good to family, i have one more puppy he takes care of him as well and secondly training i deed only fetching games with him.. he understands command to sit,come,fetch,heels,he open the door.only his problem is agression what should i do?

OK running "after them" is not necessarily aggression unless there is active attempt to bite: snarling, growling, lunging, barking at full volume with teeth bared, etc.  What you're seeing may be just a lack of socialization and a fear response he acquired while on the streets.

Seeing as you leash him (absolutely necessary), I suggest you do the following:
*  Use a collar that is not punishing, like a strong martingale:

*  Since the dog knows his commands, and ONLY if he has been taught "sit" with positive reinforcement (not a choker collar), observe him very, very closely on walks.  Do a "setup" if you can with a friend who is willing to be the "stranger" (friend can wear a hat, dogs are often confused when people whom they know wear hats).  The MOMENT the dog begins to react (piloerection - meaning hair on scruff of neck and toward rear rises, sudden lunge, vocalization, BEFORE he gets into "running" itself) STOP walking, walk in circle left (like following a hoola hoop), then circle right, stop, ask for "sit", if dog is giving you full attention pop a high value food reward in his mouth (bit of tasty cheese, meat, etc.)  Be SURE you have his full attention BEFORE giving him the treat.  If you need to circle more than twice, do it.  

*  Repeat this EVERY TIME he REACTS (try not to allow a full blown reaction): interrupt by circling (changes brain waves and engages cognition), "sit", reward, go forward.

This is counter conditioning.  The dog will SLOWLY learn a different response to what now prompts him to "chase", but he will never be fully desensitized if this is a conditioned fear response.  So you must be prepared at all times while walking him to do as described.  You must remain calm, emotionally and physically; simply stop moving until he notices, circle him, "sit", reward.  

Try this for a week or two and report back.

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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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