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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18811
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My Border Terrier (cross) is very aggressive. How do I moderate

Customer Question

My Border Terrier (cross) is very aggressive. How do I moderate his behaviour?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,

My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with the best information, I do need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your answer, it will likely take me about 30-45 minutes to type up your response. I hope you can be patient.

How old is your dog?
It is male, correct?
What training has he had?
Can you tell me how he is aggressive and explain the circumstances surrounding the incidents?
The more information I have about the aggressive behavior, the better I can develop a treatment/training plan.
Has anyone ever used physical reprimands with the dog?
How long have you had him?
Is he neutered?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

He is a rescued dog so not sure how old but approx. 5 years.

Male - yes.

No formal training.

Very aggressive with anyone coming near my car or house(even walking past my house). Anyone on a bike or running . In fact lots of different situations. Seems to be getting worse.

No physical reprimands as far as I know. I have no knowledge of what his life was like before I had him. He was abandoned following a car accident and picked up from the roadside by the RSPCA.

I have had him for 2 years.

He has been neutered and chipped by the RSPCA..

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Mrs. Maley,

Thanks for the additional information. Some dogs tend to be dominant animals. In some cases a dog may be stronger willed than the owner. This is especially true in cases where a dog has had no ongoing obedience training. The dog can start to think that they are the boss of the house and that the house, yard and car are all his and thus he needs to protect them.

This type of situation can often be corrected with a little training which helps establish the owner as the boss and the dominant member of the household. Once the owner is established as the boss, then it is the owners responsibility to protect the house, yard, etc. The dog can still be allowed to alert to strangers without being overly aggressive.

Formal training is best, but you can start at home. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links, so to view the supporting websites, you will need to copy and paste the link into a new browser window or tab.

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.

The above teaches your dog that you control everything and you are the boss. The next step is to teach the dog which behavior you find unacceptable and which behavior is you would like him to display.

To teach him what you don't find acceptable, you need to reprimand him. To do that you will need to keep a leash attached to him and set up circumstances where he will display the unwanted behavior. When he does , give a short tug on the leash and a firm low toned "NO". He will be hard headed but be consistent with reprimanding even if it takes 10 in a row. He will stop even if it is just for a minute or two. When he does stop barking and lunging, then reward him immediately with a vienna sausage slice or liver sliver. The reward teaches him what behavior you want him to display while the reprimands tell him what is unacceptable.

It is not going to be a quick fix, and will take a lot of work on your part but this technique works well. It can help with barking, growling and even lunging and can be applied to any behavior you find unacceptable.

If barking is the main complaint, they do make barking deterents. They have ones that use sound that is inaudible to humans. These work by distracting the dog with the sound. In some cases this will only stop the barking temporarily. Citronella spray and shock collars are very effective for stopping barking. They usually emit a tone first and if the barking continues then deliver the spray or shock of correction. This allows a dog the option of giving an alert bark but stops repetitive barking.

Some aggression directed toward passing people can be termed fence aggression. In these case keeping the dog away from the actual border of your property can help prevent the behavior. I've know people who use an underground fence system along their existing fence line. This also uses a shock collar in most cases and keeps the dog about 4 feet from the fence. Just keeping them away from the fence is often enough to cut down on the aggressive behavior.

It may help to find your dog an appropriately sized playmate. I would try for a female to reduce any dominance aggression issues. letting them play a few times a week will help your boy expend some of his excess energy and also help cut down on his "guarding".

As I mentioned, I would allow a single alert bark but discourage other barking and aggressive behavior and that includes raised hair on the shoulders, tail held straight up and stiff legged walks. Amazingly enough, brushing the tail down to a horizontal position also helps reduce aggression so that can also be used to teach him what behavior you expect.

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 .
If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may go here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Just a quick follow up to see if you had a chance to try any of my suggestions. I hope you found my suggestions helpful.

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