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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18960
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have recently obtained a 3 year old Lhasa Apso who is displaying

Customer Question

I have recently obtained a 3 year old Lhasa Apso who is displaying aggressive behaviour to all other dogs he meets. We have experienced no signs of any other aggression either towards adults or children.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I've professionally worked with animals for over 16 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your responses, it will likely take 30-40 minutes to type my response. I hope you can be patient.

Is your dog neutered?
Can you describe a few instances where your dog showed aggression toward another dog?
Is this on leash or off leash?
How long have you had this dog?
Do you know anything about his history?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1. Yes he is neutered.


2. Whenever he passes another dog he is always on a leash.


 


3. 3.5 years


 


4. No history known, but doubt that he was mistreated in any way.


 


 

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Gwyneth,

I'm a bit confused since you answered my question on how long you have had the dog with 3.5 years but indicated in the question that you recently obtained the 3 year old dog. I think you may have misunderstood the question and have NOT had the dog for that long at all.

So rather than question again, let me give you my thoughts on the situation and some things you can do to help stop the behavior. Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links to supporting websites at this time. So where there is a site listed, you may have to copy that to a separate browser window or tab to access the data there.

The first thing that should be done is to rule out a medical cause for the sudden aggression. You can read about these here:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/medical-causes-of-aggression-in-dogs/page1.aspx
. http://www.apdt.com/veterinary/assets/pdf/Dodman_MA10.pdf


If there is no medical cause for the aggression, then it is strictly behavioral. The first thing that I would try is to find someone with a similar sized dog that is female and spayed. Arrange to meet them somewhere away from each home to see how the dogs get along. Unused tennis courts or enclosed yards are a good choice. Let go of their leashes immediately upon entering the area and let the dogs greet each other off leash. This will help you determine if it happens when he is off leash as well which may be important. Remember that a little posturing is normal for dogs. If a fight should errupt, each dog can be pulled away using the trailing leashes.

Dogs are aggressive toward other dogs for a variety of reasons. Let me go over them. It might be that they are fearful of other dogs and thus are aggressive before the other dog can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the other dogs and be the top dog of the pack. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the leader of the pack and as the boss they must protect the pack (you) from threats (other dogs).

In addition, owners sometimes make the situation even worse by tensing up and worrying about what will happen. The dog senses the owner worry especially when on a leash and feels that he is justified in his aggressive stance because you are obviously worried about the dog. They don't know you are worried about them attacking, they just feel that you are worried and assume it is the other dog. This is where the exercise I first suggested with a meeting off leash can come in handy to determine if you may be contributing to the problem inadvertently.

For a dog like this, total control is necessary. This means not only physical control but on a mental level, you must be the boss. To accomplish this, you may want to have the dog wear a basket muzzle anytime he is not in your own house or yard. This will not only prevent bites but also allow you to feel more at ease when walking him as you will know that he can't do any real harm to another dog.


Many dominant dogs are described as well behaved until you try to get them to do something they do not want to do, and then they reprimand you either with a growl or bite if you don't heed the growl. Things like taking away something they want, making them move when they don't want to, waking them up, etc can cause them to reprimand (bite) you. You don't mention this as being a problem, but I want to let you know as it can be helpful in determining if the problem is fear based or dominance based.

Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if put on the furniture) tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level or higher if on your lap, they mentally feel elevated as well in the pack order and thus are the boss. Keeping them on the floor can help lower them mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow him higher that the humans or even on the same level anymore if you currently do. In addition, humans shouldn't be on the floor with him either. A small short stool is enough to keep them higher than the dog when petting the dog. Attach a leash and use it to remove him from the furniture. Give a correction in the form of a quick tug and firm "NO" when he attempts to get on and a treat when he starts not trying to get on the furniture. Thus you are providing negative reinforcement for the getting on the furniture and positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (not attempting to get on the furniture). If he is a dominant dog, this will help make him more submissive to you.

You will need to have him obedience trained. If you can, I would do group classes (with the muzzle if necessary) and let the trainer know of the problem your dog has. It might take you a few months of basic training before he is ready for group class. . Before you can get into classes, I am including links to a couple of other sites that teach some good methods of training. Be sure and read both.
http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-to-sit
http://www.luckydogs.info/pdf/Teaching-the-basic-commands.pdf

The following site is helpful. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

Obedience training serves various purposes. It helps a dog learn what humans expect of them when they state a command which leads to self confidence and less fear. Each time a dog obeys a command, even if it is for a treat, it makes them a little more submissive to that human in the future which helps with dominance aggression. And since it is the leader or boss who is responsible for protecting the pack, if the dog is made submissive with training, you are responsible for protecting him, so that can reduce aggression due to fear and dominance.

Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

It will be helpful if you can find someone with a dog to help you once you have your dog listening to commands consistently. What you will do is have your dog on the leash. You will have your helper off in the distance. Your helper will gradually move their dog a bit closer to you preferably walking past your position in the distance. As long as your dog ignores them, you can give your dog praise and a treat. The second you see him fixate on the other dog or show any other sign of aggression (hair standing up, etc.) give your dog a correction by giving a short tug and a firm low toned "NO". It shouldn't take your dog long to realize you will not tolerate the aggression and that if he ignores the other dog, he gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until he is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.

You will also want to keep a leash on him at all times initially to grab if he should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with training. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.
.
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques on the previous website, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.
http://www.apdt.co.uk/dog-owners/local-dog-trainers

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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