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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20223
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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My dog Toffee is 2years old a X ridgeback / afghan she

Customer Question

My dog Toffee is 2years old a X ridgeback / afghan bitch she was last weighed in Feb and was 34.25 kilos . Her problem is she barks aggressively as people and other dogs when walking her, its not all the time but 8 times out of ten , she is a big dog and it takes all my strength to hold her . She is very good when it only us . Is this problem something l have done and can it be rectified . Many thanks Beverley
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 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 is she when she is off leash?
What type of bark collar did you use (spray, ultrasonic, shock)?
Does she walk in font of you, beside you or behind you?
what obedience training has she had?
I imagine you are now worried when you see people or dogs approaching, correct?
Did this start when she became an adult around 7-18 months?
Is she spayed?
What do you do when she behaves like this?
Have you tried anything else?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

How is she when she is off leash? not let her off lead for sometime as she runs off , she used to play nicely but chased a small dog on a walk and it worried me so now l keep her on extension lead
What type of bark collar did you use (spray, ultrasonic, shock)? Spray
Does she walk in font of you, beside you or behind you? She walks to heel but l tend to take a wide berth if people approach as l don't no what she will do some dogs she will sniff she seems to go off more at bitches than dogs and smaller dogs
what obedience training has she had? We socialised her at puppy group but she was the biggest and wasn't let off much so she learnt to lay down so the other dogs would come to her she always has played quite rough . I got her at 10 weeks old from Battersea and she had been round children and adult dogs .When she was 7 months we went to a training class at Rossway Training , while here she run off while playing and got into a lake . no one came to help so l never returned I imagine you are now worried when you see people or dogs approaching, correct? yes
Did this start when she became an adult around 7-18 months? yes but has got worse over last six months.
Is she spayed? yes at 6 months
What do you do when she behaves like this? l tell her no and try to pull her back to me but she doesn't seem to hear me . After the incident she no s she done wrong and goes back to walking nicely
Have you tried anything else? No

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
The first thing that should be done is to rule out a medical cause for aggression. I don't think it is medical in nature but need to mention it. You can read about these here:
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.
If there is no medical cause for the aggression, then it is strictly behavioral. Dogs are aggressive toward other dogs and people for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful and thus are aggressive before the other dog or person can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate 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 and people). I suspect dominance and protection to be the issue here since it is people and mostly female 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 she is justified in her aggressive stance because you are obviously worried about the dog or person. They don't know you are worried about them barking and acting aggressive, they just feel that you are worried and assume it is the other dog or person.
This means that you need to get her to think of you as the ultimate boss and as the boss, your job to protect her, not her job to protect you. Having her wear a muzzle may help you feel more comfortable since she won't be able to hurt anyone or another dog. It should be a basket muzzle though so she can breath, eat and drink with it on. She sill still be able to bark but not bite.
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 so it may be more of a case of her dominance over other female dogs and people.

You will need to obedience train her. . 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 she is ready for group class. Before you can get into classes, I am including a link that is great at teaching you to train your own dog. Be sure and click on the link to the left on obedience. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
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.
I know she has had classes before, but she needs to be worked on a daily basis to reestablish yourself as the boss. When they become adults around 7-12 months of age, they start thinking they might be able to be the alpha member of the pack. Often they take control in a passive manner by not obeying as quickly or pretending not to hear you. They might also go out the door first or try and dictate where you are going when on a walk. If the owner doesn't insist on obedience or allows the behavior, they get worse until they are outright attacking other animals and people.
You will also want to keep a leash on him at all times initially to grab if she 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.
As she obeys your commands, she will become more submissive toward you. This is a more natural way of regaining the top boss position back. I would have used a shock bark collar myself if I was going to use one but wouldn't have for this situation. The shock or spray would be considered something the person or other dog did to her. They do suggest not using one for aggressive situation. Barking in the yard or when you are not home is a good use of the bark collar.
You might teach the quiet command as well. 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.
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.

Repeat using just people to reduce the people aggression as well. Unfortunately, at this point, I would seriously consider having a behaviorist anyway available to evaluate the dog and determine the aggression level. In the meantime, institute the techniques I have recommended.

Another method is BAT training which you can read about here:
In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques I describe, 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.
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 .