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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19954
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My german shepherd / huski cross is very agressive at our back

Resolved Question:

My german shepherd / huski cross is very agressive at our back yard boundary gate & front door. Once we'd invited someone in this would abate but now he will actually go to bite. We now put him on a lead before we invite anyone in, getting him to sit first but just am not confident with him with people for 30 minutes after that! He was a rescue at 3/12 and is now about 3 years. He goes to obededience sessions weekly and is not aggressive outside our property: we are down a quiet lane on our own, so we do want the warning bark but not the aggression once we say "this person is OK". Any ideas what else we should be doing / try next?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
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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.
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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.
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How old is your boy?
How long has he been doing obedience training?
How much do you practice training at home?
Is he neutered?
Is he lunging at them straight on and trying to bite or coming up behind them to try and bite?
Is he growling and barking?
After they have been in for the 20 minutes is he ok with them?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We think he was born about Oct 2010, so he's 3 years & 8 months.


We took him once we got him at 6months. Then once he was doing basics, after about 4 sets of 6 lessons, we stopped as we ran out of money and the started back up maybe a year later and he's been going weekly since then for 1 hour in a mixed group of dogs (including personal protection dogs german shepherds) and other pets.


He's walked for between 30 -60 minutes twice a day. He has to follow the rules on those walks but has an off lead session on open ground and will mix easily with other people & dogs then.


He was neutered about 1 year ago.


He barks and tries to jump over the fence when he jumps it comes up to about his chest when he's at the top of the jump. He slams up against toughened glass at the front door (especially for the post man). He barks, neck scruff hair up until told off & told to sit on the lead. He will push after people and continues to bark sometimes until they're gone (they may have been with us 30-60 mins) The visitor will just tell him to "come on be good" and ignore him as best they can & may give him treats IF he behaves / ssits/ give me a paw etc. Some people then become "family" and he acts the same as he does with us, even if he's greeted them in this aggressive fashion. We can generally take all food off him except for marrow bones but i've just trained him out of that too. and I am happy putting my hand in his mouth to check if he's got stuff stuck in there. We also play rough with him, pulling toys with him, pushing him back when he pushes us and I pull his mouth when he touches my hand and he gently pulls back but doesn't bite.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.

Mary,

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Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. I want to address the outside first and then the front door issue. It sounds to me like he is exhibiting barrier aggression and territorial aggression. He gets worked up while they are still on the other side of the barrier and considers the yard and even the house as HIS and not yours. So part of the solution is to have him see the humans as the boss and that means the yard and house are yours, not his. this is going to mean you being the boss and leader no matter what.

 

I'm glad he is neutered and that should help. The obedience training is a plus too, but not enough. Going to class is great as it helps teach him to obey even with distractions like other dogs and people. However, to have him see you as the boss, you really need to practice obedience daily at home. 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

 

This will help reestablish you as the boss and as boss, YOU own the yard. If it is your yard and house, it is your decision who comes in and not the dogs. You will protect the yard not him. So increase the obedience training and start NILF.

 

Now I also want you to do some training with him. You would do well to have a helper with this part of training. You will have a supply of hot dog slivers in your pocket and have him on a loose leash. Have a person approach the fence. They don't have to get real close, just enough to trigger his reaction. When he react, give a short tug on his leash to get his attention and give a low toned NO as a reprimand. If he stops barking for a second or two, give a treat and have the person walk away. Repeat until he stops reaction, then give a couple of treats and calm praise. Try to end each training session on a positive note. As he stops reacting at a certain distance, have the person get closer until he is no longer reacting. It is a long process but very effective.

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It has been found that barrier aggression is often reduced significantly if you can keep the dog off of the barrier. In other words, keep them from getting too close to the fence. While you can train them to stay off the fence, installing an underground fence is a very fast effective way to achieve that. An underground wire buried along the fence line keeps a dog about 3-5 feet from the wire. Petsafe makes a good one and a used one on auction sites is relatively cheap.

 

You will give the same reprimand any time he barks at someone coming in the yard after you have said they are ok. If he barks after you have said they are ok, then give the same sort of reprimand as I mentioned before and the same rewards if he acts the way you want him to. You might even teach him the quiet command.

 

It seems easier to teach the quiet command after your dog has learned the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.

http://www.dogskool.com/web/news/summer2002/page3.html

 

Teaching the speak and quiet command may allow you to have him bark if you know there is someone around that doesn't belong and the quiet will help with controlling his aggression toward visitors.

 

For the house, you can get a similar barrier device called a scat mat. It keeps dogs away from certain areas. Many owners use them to keep animals off furniture when they are gone or in doorways to keep areas off limits to the dogs. They are great at exits to keep a dog from running out the door and the door aggression. However, teach him to sit and stay at the door until the visitor is seated and then give him a release command and have him lay down in one spot and stay while your visitors are there.

 

If your classes have not taught a release command, you need to do that. The number one reason a dog breaks a sit or down is no release command is ever given and they have to make the decision on whether they can move or not. So start with a release command training so you can keep him at the door.

 

When first teaching him to sit at the door when visitors come, you can slip the leash under your foot, have him sit and use the leash to keep him in that spot in a sit or down position as you open the door. Initially he will fight it, but soon will realize it doesn't do any good to try and move away and will stay. When he does that reward him. Have visitors reward him as well.

 

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 .

Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Jane Thanks will look up web sites and give everything a go. If we end up after a month or so struggling, I may ask for help from someone to come to the house to show us where we're going wrong. How can I tell that someone is experienced / qualified to perform that service rather than just a lay person setting up in business? Are there governing bodies or qualification that we should look out for?


Thanks, Mary

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 3 years ago.
Mary,
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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 believe in the UK they do have certifications for behaviorists, so you may ask about their certification when you call one of them.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Jane: I'm 100% satisfied with your advice on how we should start to tackle my problems guiding my dog to better behaviour, much appreciated, Mary