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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20179
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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2.5 yr old male ridgeback. No aggression whatsoever to family

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2.5 yr old male ridgeback. No aggression whatsoever to family and child at any time ever. Good with other dogs in Kennells and out and about. Ok with people away from home. Aggressive towards visitors to house immediately and for first couple of minutes, calms quickly if I maintain a distance between them as long as visitor does not hold eye contact and ignores him. This is unacceptable behavior for us. Can you help please?
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.
Is he neutered?
What obedience training has he had?
What have you tried in the garden to correct the situation?
Has he bitten anyone?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No he is not neutered, obedience training has all been from me. I've had 2 other ridge backs and a lab/ deerhound cross in the past. He chased and attacked sheep in the past. I have controlled this myself and now if he does chase sheep but rarely, I can stop him with 1 or at most 2 loud "NO". If meeting in the garden by surprise we usually put him on the lead and maintain distance before guest enters gate. Then after 1/2 minutes of ignore and no eye contact we can usually let him off the lead. Today a guest who he has met several times before arrived unexpectedly, he was loose and they met at the gate, the guest thought he would remember them so went to open the gate. At this point my dog stuck his head through the gate bars and bit them on the belly.
If your dog is actually biting people then he definitely needs help. First off he needs strict obedience classes. He needs to listen to you the first time, every time. Since you do your own obedience training, let me give you a site that has some great techniques for teaching your dog not only obedience but other types of training as well. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. 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.
Right now you have been pretty much allowing the dogs aggression in a way by changing the habits of your visitors rather than making your dog change his behavior. You have to teach him to not display that behavior toward visitors. This is territorial aggression as I'm sure you figured out.
This is the way I usually help clients whose dog has this issue. It requires that you set up situations where the dog will act inappropriately so you can correct the behavior. Have your dog on a long lightweight lead and be at a distance. Have someone come into the yard unannounced. When your dog reacts aggressively, give a short tug on the lead to get his attention, and a firm low toned no. I would also call him back to the house and have him Sit and stay.
A good sit includes a dog sitting until you give a release command. Often owners forget to use a command to release a dog from a sit or down position. When there is no release command, the dog makes his own mind up when he can move again. So you can see why it would be best to have a release command.
Practice having someone come in over and over again. You might need several people to help you. When he stops reacting, immediately give him a tasty treat like a hot dog sliver or liver piece. It is going to take a lot of work on your part and helpers to correct his behavior. Since he is reactive to people, you will need to teach him that he can only bark one to alert you but after that he should go and sit and stay. In the house you will want him to sit 4-5 feet away from the door until your guests are seated. Once they are seated, you can have him sit or lay down in a corner until they leave. This is where the strict obedience training will help stop the behavior.
Until he learns to sit and stay at the door, you can keep a lead on him and slip it under your foot and stand on it so he won't be able to move toward the door or people coming in. This helps teach him that is what you want him to do. Remember that when he behaves the way you want him to, reward him. However, if he reacts to them and as you put it "gets used to them being there", don't reward him. You can have your visitors give him a treat as well IF he behaved when they first came.
Often just preventing a dog from getting close to the fence line or door helps them settle down and stop reacting aggressively. Many owners install an underground fence system on the fence line that keeps the dog 3-5 feet from the fence itself. It seems to help a dog that is aggressive on the edges of the property. You might consider this. Other owners even run the fence along a walk way and let their dog out of a different door so there is a dog free pathway to the house. Of course, visitors will need to know to stay on the pathway and the dog will need to learn to not enter the area or receive a correction from the fence collar. It is just another option.
You might try the BAT method, but I'm not sure if that would really be appropriate for this situation but might help with other situations.
Definitely use the muzzle but be sure it is a basket style muzzle as those will allow the dog to breath, and drink and eat relatively normal.
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 .
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