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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20218
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have a 4 yr old American bulldog that we rescued in

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Hi, I have a 4 yr old American bulldog that we rescued in October 2015, over the last 7 months he had started showing signs of aggressive barking towards certain strangers out on his walks, they may be carrying a shopping bag or just getting a mobile phone out of their pocket. He doesn't bark at all people passing by it just appears random, and I can't decide if its fear motivated or dominant? could you give me some tips on how to deal with him to avoid this behaviour and how to deal with him when he's having a "kick off"
Thank you

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.

Have you done any obedience training with him?

Is he neutered?

How far away from him are these people?

Are you uncomfortable at all with the people he seems to be aggressive toward?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have done obedience training with him myself at home and on the street, and he is pretty good he'll sit, stay, heel etc nothing professional though.
yes he's been neutered from when we got him
They are always approaching us on the same side of the path or stood still on the path in front of him, I would say they are about 2 metres away when he first starts showing signs of a kick off and then a few steps forward he'll start barking and it gets worse as we get closer to who ever it.
I don't think I feel uncomfortable but I have in some cases thought "this could be a potential problem"

Thanks for the additional information. I was just notified that a reply had been received. You don't need formal training classes but you do need formal training in that you train him at the same time for a specific period of time and go over the same command over and over again until he obeys the first time every time despite any distractions. The following site is helpful in helping owners train their 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.

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.

It will be helpful if you can find someone the dog reacts to who is willing 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 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 helper 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 or bark at the person. You will need to practice this when you and your dog are walking as well.

Bat training may help as well. Here is a slte that goes over this.

If you are feeling uncomfortable when a person approaches, your dog picks up on that feeling and in turn becomes protective and aggressive toward the person in order to try and scare them away or protect you. You really have to try not to feel worried. Often you will become worried even about how the dog might act and they will pick up on that as well. When that happens, they assume it is the approaching person you are worried about and have no idea that you are worried about how they will react and not the person. So try to keep the leash loose and don't tense up.

Keeping your walk at a brisk pace will also help limit the amount of time your dog is approaching and moving past the person and thus help stop the response.

I have seen some trainers move their dog to the side and make them sit and focus on their owners. This can be effective but your ultimate goal is to walk your dog and not stop every time a person approaches. Now when walking you can definitely keep a hot dog sliver in your hand and be sure the dog knows it is there as you are appoaching the person and walking by them. If he does well and doesn't growl bark or lunge, give the treat. DO NOT give a treat if the dog does any of those things.

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.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you that information is very helpful and I will be trying it out, just a few quick questions should I distract him with a treat when passing all people on the street or just give him one when he's passed by with no reaction?
also if he does have a reaction should I just keep him moving forward past who ever has set the reaction or make him stop, sit and then move on?

It is a delicate balance. You don't want to lure him with the treat especially if he is already focused on them. But having it in your hand can and often will keep his attention on your hand and off the person and once you are past them, open the hand so he can get it. Hot dogs are oily and in turn the smell is on the hand all the time which also helps keep the dog's attention on you and not the people.

I would keep moving past the person and not stop. You don't want him thinking you will stop and engage him if he acts that way. You want him to believe you have no fear of the person and keep right on walking past them.

Jane Lefler and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Brilliant thank you