Canine Behavior/Biting


"Ms. Farracelli, in a nutshell, my little girl has not lost her bite inhibition. We've been thru numerous "trainers"; techniques like dropping coins or air horns or loud voice commands have not worked. Now it seems these days, most trainers, for my situation, are simply saying - "use a shock collar or e collar ( might be the same thing). I refuse to do that. Bottom Line: she lunges and snaps at any dog that gets close to her - AND - she will snap and bite any human being that gets close to her as well. She has been on Reconcile for several years - but it doesn't take away the above described behaviors. We've been told it's Fear Aggression. That said, our vet says we need to see a Veterinary Behaviorist. Do you feel that should be our way to go - vs. a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist ? We have our little girl 5 years now. We have not given up. We've been extra careful to keep her and everybody else out of harms way. Thanks much Ms. Farracelli. Steve"

I am sorry to hear past trainers resorted to suggest aversion-based techniques and are now trying to suggest a shock collar! Yes, shock collar and e-collar are the same tools, some trainers even call them "static collars" to use euphemisms that sugar-coat so to say what they really do. There are many reasons why shock collars should not be used and I will provide you with a website full or resources explaining the harmful effects of them.
You'll also see my article on this which offers links to studies on the effects on dogs.

So if shock collars are counter-productive and dropping coins, blowing air horns and loud voice commands aren't working what's left to do? There are several force-free methods I would like to list, but they work best if you hire a force-free trainer that can show you exactly how it is done. I may have already provided you with these links, but it doesn't hurt to see them again because this time I will also provide links on videos.

1)You must always try your best to work under threshold. If your girl is barking and lunging to other dogs who get close to her, you'll need to find a distance where she is less likely to react. Ideally, you should find a trainer to help you out. A trainer may have a calm dog he/she can use to provide behavior modification set-ups. Here is a link on thresholds.
If people and their dogs still try to approach, get her a vest that warns people to give her space, use a yellow ribbon or put a muzzle on her so they'll know to keep away. If they still come your way, body block them and tell them your dog is in training. You must be assertive in this to protect your girl.

2)Once a good distance has been found, you can work on "Look at That". A behavior modification technique that teaches your dog to make positive association towards the people and dogs who worry. Here is an article that explains it:
and here is a video:

3) Another method is called "open bar/closed bar.

4)In case you are walking and you suddenly encounter a trigger that is coming close and your dog is getting nervous, you should prepare your dog by investing some time in performing an emergency U- turn. Here is a trainer teaching this method:

5) Seeing a veterinary behaviorist or a CAAB is a good option as these are both qualified professionals. You can learn more about them in this link:

6) This article explains several reasons why behavior modification may not be working. Have you noticed any of these flaws?

7) There are many books, websites and resources for fearful dogs. There are also several support groups on yahoo and facebook you may want to join.

I am happy you have not given up and that you are such a committed owner willing to give her a helping hand! You have been so patient and I can see through your multiple communications that you love your girl very much. I wish you both the best!

Disclaimer: behavior modification comes with some risks. If your dog is aggressive please employ the help of a professional to guide you through.  

Canine Behavior

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Adrienne Janet Farricelli CPDT-KA


I can answer questions pertaining dog psychology and general dog behavior. Why is my dog doing this? And what can I do about it? are common questions I am asked. I will not answer questions concerning health problems as this is out of my spectrum, but I can recommend a vet visit if there are chances behavioral problems may stem from a possible underlying medical problem.


I am a certified dog trainer (CPDT-KA) that has attended seminars on dog behavior. I am acquainted with behavior modification programs and have read several books from reputable authors such as Patricia McConnell, Turid Rugaas, Nicholas Dodman and Bruce Fogle to name a few. I have rehabilitated dogs affected by moderate to severe behavioral problems.

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