How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20218
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
Type Your Dog Training Question Here...
Jane Lefler is online now

I have a rescue dog which is very agressive to other dogs when

This answer was rated:

I have a rescue dog which is very agressive to other dogs when on the lead but is also dominant and agressive to othe dogs when off the lead. I find I worry every time I take her out and am relieved when the walk is over. She is fine with people and is a loving sofa loving dog indoors. She was originally a stray brought over here by a charity from Turkey. What should I do to help overcome her agressive tendencies ?
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.

Did you do all the preconditioning with the clicker training?
What kind of rewards or treats are you using?
How old is she?
What breed is she?
Is she spayed?
have you tried anything else?
Does she pull on the lead at other times as well?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi I must admit I did not use the clicker for long as she really did not pay any attention to it. I used small biscuit treats she is thought to be 4 years old. She is a collie Alsatian cross. She has been spayed . I don,t know what else to try. She does not pull on lead ,except when she sees another dog and then she snarls and barks.

Clicker training can be quite effective. Since you haven't used it long, you might want to try it for a bit longer with a better treat. Biscuit treats just are not very appealing to a dog. You need a treat that is going to grab their attention immediately. I use things like vienna sausages sliced paper thing or raw chicXXXXX XXXXXvers as treats. Dogs find them irresistible and will usually work (obey) for these types of treats.

There are alternative methods as well that can be used and I'd use the same "high value" treats I suggested for working with her. She is a mixture of a breed that is very strong willed and protective by nature so you will need to do obedience training with her. Let me give you some instructions for that as well as another program that helps a dog learn that you are the boss and it is your job to protect them from other dogs, not their job to protect you.
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.

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.

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.

These help you control your dog. Now with being the boss, it is your job to protect her as well, so carry an umbrella and pepper spray to help stop any dog that might try and get to her when she is on leash. The umbrella can be opened and create a barrier and the hooked end can be used to grab a collar and pull a dog away.

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).

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. Since she does it off lead as well, it is likely that she is a dominant dog. You might contribute but are not the soul cause.

You will also need to rule out a medical cause for the sudden aggression. You can read about these here:

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 her 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 she ignores the other dog, she gets treats. Once this happens you can repeat the training moving the other dog closer until she is no longer trying to lunge at other dogs. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.

It helps if she has firm obedience training before you try this, since obedience training helps her see you as the boss and she is more likely to keep her attention on you. Some people will even have their dog sit or otherwise do commands so they can reward them with the treat and this can work, but I prefer the dog to know that they ware being rewarded for NOT reacting rather than for obeying a different command.

There is also bat training that you could try. The following site goes over it in detail.

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 4 years ago.
Hi Jane do you think I should use a collar or harness for better control when she lunges at dogs,also do you have a preference of type of lead? I think the better treats are a good idea and I will definitely give it a go . Thankyou for your help with obedience idea too,, it all makes sense.

You will get a lot of thoughts on this. I prefer chain collars for my dogs but I also teach them to walk by my side with a loose leash (putting those special treats in the palm of your hand and feeding every so often helps teach this despite distractions). If a dog is trying to choke themselves it is not a good idea. Even the prong collars when used correctly can help with pulling but I hesitate to recommend those to people that aren't trainers can they can be abused.

Now one thing that might be a help until she is trained is a harness with the leash loop on the chest so it automatically pulls her back around toward you rather than the person. I wouldn't use a regular harness as the breed is powerful and might just pull you right off your feet.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thankyou Jane I will try the Harness with loop on chest, that sounds a good idea. I use a normal harness at the moment and find I have very little control over her and yes she has very nearly pulled me over. Thanks again for your help
You are very welcome.