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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18943
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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Why is my 2 year old, recently rehomed boxer aggresive

Customer Question

Why is my 2 year old, recently rehomed boxer aggresive towards other dogs?
Submitted: 21 days ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 21 days ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

How long have you had this dog?

What obedience training has the dog had?

Has any testing been done on this dog?

Can you describe some instances of aggressive behavior?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 16 days ago.

Hi Again,

I was hoping to get a response back from you before answer, but I want you to have an answer as well.

Many boxers are aggressive toward other dogs and even humans. Often this is due to a medical issue such as hypothyroidism which they are prone to. This can also make them shed more than normal as well especially when you pet them. Read more on medical causes of aggression.

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/medical-causes-of-aggression-in-dogs/page1.aspx

http://www.tropicaldogtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Dodman_MA10.pdf

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.michvma.org/resource/resmgr/MVC_Proceedings_2015/horwitz_02.pdf

If there is no medical cause for the aggression, then it is strictly behavioral. I Dogs are aggressive toward other dogs for a variety of reasons. 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 alpha member of the pack. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (other dogs). Male dogs often go through a dominance testing phase between 1-2 years of age. They will test other dogs and even humans to see if they can dominate them and thus control them.

.

In addition, owners sometimes make the situation even worse by tensing up and worrying about what will happen. The dog senses the owner worry 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.

.

For a dog like this, total control is necessary. This means not only physical control but on a mental level, you must be the alpha. 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. If he is not neutered, have that done.

.

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 but keep an eye out for this behavior. Dogs will often take a few weeks before they start displaying their normal behavior.

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. 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). So if you let the dog on the furniture, try not to in the future.

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You will need to have your dog 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 a link that teach some good methods of training. 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

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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

. http://www.cairnrescue.com/docs/NILIF.pdf

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.

You will also want to keep a leash on the dog 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.

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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.com

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.

I hope this information is helpful to you. 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 do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 8 days ago.

Hi Again,

I just thought I'd check in to see how things are going for you and your dog. Let me know if my answer was helpful.

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