Dog Aggression – What Does it Mean?

Dog aggression is an overloaded word.

It can mean anything from staring, jumping, showing teeth, lunging, growling, barking, or the terrible B-word – biting.

Usually, aggression is used to describe dogs that overact to a stimuli (e.g. another dog, a stranger, food).

Reactivity is a new, perhaps less negative term, coined to describe the same behavior. Some trainers use aggression to describe dogs that overact as a result of dominance and reactivity to describe dogs that overact as a result of fear.

These terms, however, are just labels, and it is not useful to overly focus on which label to use.

The important thing is to recognize extreme behavior in our dogs, which causes us to lose control.

What constitutes extreme behavior varies from person to person, and is dependent on context. Mouthing and showing teeth in one context may just be play (top and right), while in another, it may be dangerous.

A problem only arises when the human/owner is not in control of the situation.

If your dog is biting you and causing puncture wounds, it is best to seek help from a professional dog trainer.

My Experiences with Dog Aggression

I was very embarrassed, shocked, and worried when my Shiba first showed signs of aggression. It happened four days after we brought him home (at 10 weeks old), when we took him to the vet.

The vet was very afraid of him and had to muzzle him to do an examination. She later recommended that we return him to the breeder. I never visited with this poor vet again, but at the time it was very difficult not to be embarrassed, and try to show that we were good dog parents by scolding and punishing our Shiba.

Many of my neighbors also gave us the ‘you are such a bad dog parent‘ look.

Because I was so embarrassed I made some very bad mistakes. The worst was using alpha rolls and other aversive techniques including leash jerks with him. My embarrassment also caused me to get angry, and frustrated with my dog.

I was jealous and hurt when my dog would behave better with other people. After all, I feed him and take care of him most of the time, why should he misbehave most with me?

Although it is very natural to have such feelings, they are very detrimental to helping a dog with his reactivity or aggression issues.

Dog Aggression and Love

Remember that your dog’s behavior is a result of behavior conditioning, and not from lack of love

It is natural for us to place our own, very human values and expectations upon our dogs but that is not the way they think.

Dogs respond to conditioning (classical and operant). Dogs will repeat behaviors that have good results and reduce behaviors that have bad results.

What constitutes a good or bad result can sometimes vary from dog to dog. If your dog is showing aggressive behaviors that are continuing to escalate, then he is inadvertently being rewarded for that bad behavior.

  • Does he get to go on a walk when he jumps up on you and makes a pest of himself?
  • Does he get to smell the other dog by whining loudly and lunging?
  • Does nail clipping stop when he mouths or bites you?
  • Do you back away when he growls and shows teeth?

If so, then your dog is getting what he wants through aggressive behaviors and will continue those behaviors.

Once we accept that our dogs are not acting out of hate, jealousy, or some other human emotion, we can move on and start reshaping their behavior by changing the consequences of their actions.

Dog Aggression and Other People

Do not worry about what strangers think. Your dog’s welfare is a lot more important.

Actively watch out for feelings of embarrassment, anger and frustration and try to redirect yourself to a more positive frame of mind. Rather than focus on the judgment of strangers -

  • Think about the fun you had with your dog just this morning and how cute he looked with cheese bits all over his muzzle and his tongue hanging out in a goofy smile.
  • Carry some happy pictures of your dog with you to help redirect your negative feelings.
  • Remove yourself and your dog from the unpleasant stimulus as soon as possible.

Dog Aggression and Breed

Some dog breeds may be more prone to reactive or aggressive behaviors. Breeds that are strong-willed, stubborn, and independent will have a higher propensity for challenging you, and displaying aggression in that process.

Breeds that have a strong prey drive may easily become over-excited when they spot prey (e.g. squirrels, cats) and redirect that energy onto you if you thwart their instinct to chase.

Similarly, a strong protective drive may result in using aggression to guard territory, food, toys, or other resources.

More primitive dog breeds often have a lower reactivity threshold. I.e., they may easily go rear-brained when excited, stressed, or fearful.

Make sure to take your dog’s temperament and natural breed instinct into account while retraining his aggressive behaviors.

Dog Aggression – What to Expect


Dealing with dog aggression can be difficult, and may take a long time to fix, but …

  • The rewards are well worth the trouble.
    The journey will reveal many things not just about your dog, but also about youself. In the process, you will develop a special relationship and strong bond with your dog – and that in itself is priceless.
  • Things will get better.
    Many dog owners are going through the same thing, and their dog’s behavior has and continue to improve.
  • When the world says, "Give up,"
    Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."

    ~~[ Author Unknown ]

  • Your dog will challenge you less as he matures.
    … but he may keep challenging you. That is one of the joys of dog ownership :D

If you are having aggression issues with your dog, know that you are not alone. I had many aggression issues with my Shiba Inu.

There are also many touching stories from the Toronto Shiba Meetup and Dogster about dealing with dog aggression.

More on Aggression

Canine Body Language

Related Articles

Comments

  1. dave bowen says

    I was a dog trainer,and breeder of Ridge backs for over thirty years,and there is one truth.No dog,regardless of breed, is born aggressive or mean. I have trained dogs of all breeds,many with bad reps. dobermans German shepherds ,pit bulls,chows, rotties,you name it,as well as mutts. In my experience,a dog is only as mean,aggressive,anti social and nasty,as the people it lives with. Viciousness ie taught,either through training,or abuse. It is just like disrespectful children. They are products of the parents. The problem is that word,’owner.’ Far too many people treat their pets as if they were property(although legally they are) like furniture or a stove or a car,instead of like family. I have yet to encounter any dog that cannot be rehabilitated with love and respect. So,if you have ever been attacked by a dog,do not blame the dog,blame the “owner” who taught it.

  2. Scarlett says

    Hello,
    I got a husky puppy she is 2 months old, she is like a daughter to me, I have no children its just me and my fiance. We give her all the love attention food everything she needs. She is way to aggressive, even when she tries to kiss us she will show her teeth and kiss/bite kinda thing, she will never lets me pet her or play with her without hurting me. I tried everything from the can with coins to saying no ouch crying, walking away ; ignoring her , creating her. She pulls my hair bites my face when I try to kiss her and if I say no! She barks at me and bites anything she has near her.
    She has destroyed everything home from my couch and carpet ; she digs holes and destroys everything. I really don’t care about the stuff, but I feel she doesn’t love me. Im scared she is going to be a big aggressive husky. Please help!! There is no way im giving her away im not giving up on her.
    Today I tried to teach her not to bite and we played with a toy she put her teeth really deep in my hand and I pulled really hard that bleed alot.
    I cryed and she didn’t care she just continue bitting….
    is she just teething? When does it stop? Obedience school?
    Im really depressed because i feel if cant make a puppy love me, im never going to be a future good mother.
    thanks

    • shibashake says

      I had a similar experience with my Shiba Inu, Sephy. He would mouth all over me, jump on me, and even hump my leg. It was not a good time. Even worse, he responded much better to other people, even though I was the one to feed him, walk him, give him affection, etc. There were two key reasons for Sephy’s behavior -

      1. My energy was really bad.
      I was stressed out, nervous, frustrated, and unhappy. Sephy is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him, so he would quickly pick up on my unbalanced energy, get even more stressed out, and his behavior would worsen. It got so bad that as soon as I held his leash, he would start his crazy jumping mouthy behavior.

      After I changed my own energy, Sephy’s behavior also improved. More on what I did with Sephy.

      2. I did not have the information to properly train Sephy.
      In dog training, timing, consistency, energy, and technique are all very important. I needed to know what to do, at the right time, based on Sephy’s temperament and his surrounding context. I learned that dog training is actually more about training myself rather than about training Sephy.

      I had to learn how to properly communicate with Sephy, how to read his body language, how to set up a fixed routine and consistent structure, how to time my rewards and punishment, and more.

      During Sephy’s difficult period, we visited with several professional trainers. We did individual lessons so that we could focus on Sephy’s more serious problem behaviors. A good trainer can give me guidance on how to read Sephy’s body language, could help me with my timing, technique, etc.
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      It is important to note that dog behavior is very context dependent, therefore each dog and each situation is different. This is why I visited with several trainers who could observe Sephy, within the context of his home environment, routine, and more. However, finding a good trainer is not easy because there is a lot of misinformation in the field, and the training area is not well regulated. Therefore, I also read up a lot on dog behavior, so that I could filter out the bad trainers. Sadly, there are many of those around.

      Reading up on dog psychology and dog behavior also allowed me to better interact with Sephy, and provide him with a good, stress free environment, where he can be successful.
      Where I get my dog training information.

      Sephy acted badly *not* because he didn’t love me, but because I had bad energy and because I did not know how to communicate and positively interact with him.

      More on my puppy training and biting experiences-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/how-i-trained-my-husky-puppy
      http://shibashake.com/dog/puppy-biting-tips-solutions

      I do not use a crate for timeouts because I want my dogs to associate their crates with positive experiences. I use crates for transportation, management, and more, so it is important that my dogs be comfortable and relaxed during crate-time.
      More on how I do time-outs.

      More on how I bond with my dogs.
      More on my difficult beginning with Sephy.

    • Brayka says

      I just got a 3 month old Shiba-Inu and him having the same problems. I felt as depress and helpless as you did. I cried so much cause I felt like he hated me. He is and I can’t even play with him without him biting hard, What I do know is bark at him when he bites I bark really loud on his face and he stops biting. when I’m playing with him and he tried to bite I put his toy on his mouth so he bites that. Also Bitter apple spray helps too I put it on my hands and he stops biting cause dogs hate that taste and if he bites the carpet or anything else I say “No!” Show him the bottle and spray now whenever he sees the bottle he stops biting things. Good luck I’m going to start puppy classes cause I’m a first time dog parent they can help you a lot.

  3. Emmanuel says

    First I want to say great post.

    I am having a bit of an issue with my male 3 1/2 Siberian Husky I have had him since he was 8 weeks old not neutered . He recently bit me hard and threw blood and I had to go into the Emergency room.

    He never showed aggression like that before the most was when leash pulling when being corrected. I took him to Obedience training and leash training onsite for a few days and it dramatically improved this was prior the bite.

    The bite was out of the blue and very unexpected. Me and the family where having a picnic in the park and having a great time running around and playing with the ball and eating everlasting was picture perfect.

    The rest of the family was eating and he lays down next to me when I hear the Nylon leash snap he did have a choke prong leash and a body harness .

    I suddenly realized this in a park full of kids and family since he super energetic I hand my sister the broken leash and tell her go get the other leash before he decide to take of or something.

    While I reach the for the top of the body harness just in case he decides to take off in a park full of kids.

    He was still laying down and not looking when all of a sudden he turns into a demon possessed dog which I have never seen him do.

    He just starts to go berserk and chop down on my right arm I get scared and feel a sense of like what the hell is going on. I start to call his name try to calm him down and I quickly stand up and fend off with my left and he bites me again.

    I didn’t realize I was bleeding until my sister pointed it out. He never got up on an all out attack mode. But still was showing teeth my sister threw water at him and he snapped out of it.

    When my moms husband went to put on the leash onto the body harness he tried to snap at him.

    He never got up on all fours just lay there.

    So I went to the Er my mom and family took him in to their home . She said he acted up a few times on the way back.

    Sorry for the long story but not sure what to do at this point.

    So I have not been able to get back to work due to the pain in my wrist from the dog bite. I have been staying with the dog and my family at my parents house. Hes been more stubborn then ever ,but we have played with him pet him and even belly rubs no signs of the aggression.

    But.. Still a bit hesitant with him . My family is scared as well. Throughout the week hes been good except on Friday night we have been putting him in the kitchen when we would go to sleep as a precaution due to children in the house and fear of getting bit again.

    But Friday night came and he wasn’t having it he did not want to go into the kitchen ,he is very smart and caught on quick.

    He refuse to come into the kitchen we would throw treat call him over nicely and nothing he just went back to the living room and lay down on the floor .
    So I went to approach him as regular non aggressive he saw me coming and in a low tone of voice “come lets go” I went to grab his collar and he bit me again on the left hand no blood no penetration.
    My mom got scared and started to shake the kids where scared and ran back into the room.

    That when she told me he has to go, I told her I cant even move him at this time. So she said call animal control or 911. Just to get him out.

    This has been one of the hardest decision in my life , I don’t know what to do , Just so confused . I feel Betrayed in fear that he will do it again to my family or someone else.

    The cops came and took him and he is being held for a 10 day observation, at this point I am being asked if i want to surrender him ,or reclaim him.

    There is also a very sad chance of him being euthanize.

    I am not sure what to do at this point, is there hope my family is in fear of him doing it again even worse and so am I .

    I lost trust in him but I also know how far I have gotten with him and how smart and a fast learner he is.

    Thanks for taking the time out to read this.

    Have you experienced anything like this ? Any help or suggestions would be gladly appreciated,

    His rabies shots were not up to date just by two weeks, so as a precaution I was given rabies shots.

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it depends a lot on the dog’s temperament, his past experiences, his physical health, training, surrounding context, and everything else.

      For serious cases of aggression, I would get help from a good professional trainer, and use management equipment as necessary (gates, muzzles, etc.) so that everyone stays safe, including our dog. For muzzles, I prefer to use a basket muzzle because it still allows my dog to pant. I desensitize my dog to the muzzle first before using it, which is something that a trainer can provide guidance on.
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Sudden changes in behavior can also be the result of physical issues, e.g. if the dog is ill, hurt, or feeling pain. Being un-neutered may also be a factor.
      More on dog aggression.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-aggression-what-does-it-mean/comment-page-1#comment-232717

      My Shiba Inu was very reactive when he was young. He never really broke skin, but I still went through a period where I was very stressed out and somewhat afraid of what he might do. Unfortunately, he would quickly pick up on my nervousness and fear, get stressed out himself, and his behavior would worsen.

      To help Sephy, I had to control my own energy. The first step that I took, is to carefully manage him and to use proper management equipment, so that he does not hurt me, anyone else, other dogs, or himself. I also make sure not to expose him to people with nervous or unbalanced energy.

      In addition, I stopped using the prong collar and other pain-based techniques, because it only made Sephy’s behavior more erratic. Here is more on my rough start with Sephy.

      Note though, that dog behavior is very context dependent. Aggressive behavior can be the result of many different things, so with Sephy, we got help from several professional trainers. We did private lessons, and I picked trainers with experience, and who are used to dealing with reactive dogs.

      I also read up a lot on dog behavior so that I could better read Sephy’s body language, and understand what things were triggering his behaviors. This also allowed me to catch things a lot earlier, so that I could deal with the problems early on, before they developed into larger problems.

      Where I get my dog information.
      How I went about looking for a trainer.

  4. Gail Dawson says

    I am just starting at the worst point of my life with my alaskan mal boy who is 4, I just wanted to say as much as I now realise we need help, I felt a bad owner and I had failed him and felt so embarrassed. But you have made me realise you can be a good owner really easily when all is fine but the really really good owners are those like us looking for the answers to make life better for our dogs. Thank you so much for making me realise I am not alone

    • shibashake says

      Hello Gail,
      I am glad that you liked the article. I went through some really tough times with Sephy, my Shiba Inu. One of the things that really helped with Sephy is to come up with a detailed plan and list of tasks. There were many issues initially, so I picked the most important ones and came up with a plan for those first. Once I had a plan and tasks, I could start focusing on something positive, which made it easier to ignore all the other stuff, including negative energy from others.

      Once my energy improved, Sephy’s behavior also got better. It is quite amazing how sensitive my dogs are to my energy. Because of them, I have learned to control my temper and to just let unimportant things go. There is this great line from the movie “As Good As It Gets”, where Jack Nicholson says to Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man.”

      That is how I feel about my dogs. :D Big hugs to you and your boy.

      A few more things that I learned from Sephy-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/zen-dog-training-tips

  5. jessy says

    Hi,
    I’m at my wits ends, I hope someone can help. Ok, so my hubby & I have 2 sons (18 & 11) we have a 5yr old black chow mix (with Welsh Corgi I think) he’s a rescue. We rescued him when he was barely 10-14 days old. He’s always been super sweet, playful, loving etc…now we discovered a neighbor was abusing a puppy (maybe 2montys old, maybe lab mix but not sure). We called police, they came out, removed the puppy, checked him out in the guys driveway, then cops just drove off leaving this defenseless puppy to roam the streets. I was horrified, grabbed my dogs leash, ran across the street & took him in (right before we had a severe thunderstorm). This puppy was so very happy, was all skin & bones. Weve now had him for 3 days & from the moment he came in our home our 5yr old runs for holy hell when thus puppy goes anywhere near him. All the puppy wants is to play. My dog acts petrified of him &if he goes into the corner & the puppy follows, he’ll start growling, showin teeth & even bark a time or 2. How long does it take for my 5yr old to get used to the puppy? Is this normal? Should I be worried, should I get rid of the puppy? Sorry for the long letter but I’m desperate for help. Thank you in advance for any advice., Jessy

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jessy,
      When I got my second Husky puppy, my Shiba Inu (about 5 years old at the time) also did not get along with puppy initially. I set up a fixed schedule and clear dog-to-dog interaction rules for my puppy. I also supervised all puppy interactions with my adult dogs, so that I can slowly teach my new puppy what the interaction rules are. I made sure my adult dogs always have a place to go to for rest, away from my pestering puppy. Often, energizer puppy is too much for them. :)

      In this way, I create certainty for everyone. My adult dogs know exactly what to expect from my puppy, and my puppy knows what to expect from the other dogs, from me, as well as what I expect from her. The fixed schedule also makes sure that puppy has scheduled nap time. I stop puppy from pestering my adult dogs if they just want to rest. I also try to create as many positive interactions between my puppy and Shiba Inu as I can.

      In general, I want to maximize positive, calm, successful interactions. The more such interactions that they had, the more they learned to relax around each other. The opposite is also true, so I want to minimize negative encounters as well.

      More on how I introduced a new puppy to my existing dogs.

  6. Paul Jones says

    Hi,
    I hope you can give me some insight to why my 3 year old Doberman has suddenly gone crazy towards me only. He has matted with our Rottweiler several times over the past year, she had a titter of 9 4 months ago.
    Last time she was on heat the Doberman was showing some aggression towards me. Now he has gone crazy snarling showing teeth trying to get me through the window. Towards my wife he is soft and gentle.
    I don’t want to put him down, but he has become a real danger to me.
    At the moment I have to keep him in a pen in our garden.
    Thanks Paul J

    • shibashake says

      Does he only show this behavior when the Rottie is in heat? How is his behavior towards you when the female is not in heat?

      It is difficult to describe the stress, restlessness, and sheer loss of sanity that a male dog can exhibit in the face of a female in standing season. It will be close to unbearable for you, to say nothing of him. Plan a vacation for one of them, ideally the male.
      ~~[Whole Dog Journal]

      Given the seriousness of the behavior, it may also help to consult with a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.co.uk/dog-owners/choosing-a-trainer

    • Paul Jones says

      Thanks for the advice.
      My Doberman also waits at our back gate for a stray bitch who I believe is on heat, do I lock him away at night ?

      he has not eaten a full meal for over 10 days or so.

  7. says

    hi! so i have a belgian malenois puppy. she does this thing where she suddenly runs back and forth around our garden. and suddenly charges/jumps on me and bites me although my skin isnt really torn or bitten in to just a red mark. what caused her to do this?? whats wrong with her???

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it is difficult to say without seeing the dog, her environment, etc.

      My young Husky Lara likes running around in the backyard when she is excited. She charges and jumps at my other dogs when she is trying to initiate play. She usually also does play-bows with that. She does not charge or jump at me because I have trained her not to.
      What I did to train my Husky puppy.

      Lara is a very energetic dog so we do daily walks, play games, and she works for all of her food (Nothing in Life is Free program). In this way, she has several positive outlets to direct her excited energy.

      What is your puppy’s routine like? How old is she? What type of training has she had?

    • Anonymous says

      she’s 4 months old and she knows the basic sit and down command. we usually feed her in the morning and at night. we play and walk her during the afternoon

    • D says

      Our last dog was a Belgian malinois mix. When she died, we rescued a catahoula mix. Both showed the behavior you describe…that sudden change in facial expression, then off running at top speed in crazy circles around the yard.

      I never figured out “why.” I stopped trying. Seems to be for sheer joy & fun. Maybe it’s a herding breed thing?

      Anyhow, I add that particular running style into a training routine. When outside, I wiggle the fingers of both hands at once, and dog does his crazy-thing. I’m able to add other training commands into the activity flow, because he’s paying attention to me. Because I started him running & enjoying himself in the first place. It becomes another game.

      But, it ENDS if he lays teeth on me. Even accidentally. The threat of fun ending was enough to change toothy behavior. Jumping seemed to take longer to redirect into a sit. Because jumping is so fun & the way dogs play together.

      I agree with shibashake that a dog’s behavior can have many reasons, for different situations. I’m no expert. I’m just relating my own experience. Good luck & enjoy your new friend.

  8. Beth says

    Hello I was wondering if you could help me, my one year old male staff has just suddenly started growling and snapping at people who he doesn’t really know. He has always had different people around him so I can’t understand why he’s starting doing it now. He a very loving dog but has been spoilt since he was a puppy. It mainly happens when a new person comes in to the room he starts growling and runs over to snap at them iv smacked him and told him no but he keeps doing it. He used to run over to new people and wee with excitement but he’s totally different now can you help? Thank you

  9. Kevin Jacob says

    My 3 month old dachshund growls and bites my feet when i make a leash correction. He wont allow anybody to touch him because when you touch him he bites. IS this mouthing or fear biting. And if i take his food bowl away he wont growl but if i try to take a toy away he will run away and growl from me. But when I go to pet him he will show submissive behaviour like cowering the head and rolling over and urinating.

  10. Rick Adams says

    My 13 Month old, 55 LB Black Lab – Shiba mix gets violent when the gas fireplace lights. The first time he was about 5 months old. I thought he was going to bite me in the face. Now this just started. If I ask him “do you want (to go out)” I only say the “Do you want” and he gets violent. When I take him to the park or the beach he is very social with people and other dogs. Everyone says how great he is, he listens and does tricks. He is also very playful with the other dogs. He only seems to get.. shall we say pushy with me, showing his teeth and snapping his teeth together. He has not drawn blood but sometimes he scares the dickens out of me. He is also very aggressive when he has to poop. 2 Vets tell me there is no physical problem. When he gets like this I shun him from the room I am in or put him in his cage. What else can I do to stop this?

    • shibashake says

      That is interesting. I also had a lot of problems with my Shiba, in the beginning, during poop time. I think initially, he got a bit over-excited after pooping, and tried to run around crazily. Later on he progressed to jumping on me and biting my jacket sleeve. It was pretty scary.

      The thing tho is that the more stressed I got, the worse Sephy behaved. He is very sensitive to my energy and to the energy of the people around him. If I get even a little bit stressed or nervous, he would pick up on that, get stressed out himself, and act even more crazy.

      Here is more on my experiences with Sephy and some of the things that helped make things better with him-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/pack-leader-to-an-aggressive-dog
      http://shibashake.com/dog/afraid-of-your-dog

      More on how I do timeouts.
      More on what I do to change my dog’s undesirable behaviors.

      We also visited with several professional trainers during Sephy’s difficult period. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so what works in one situation may not work as well in another. In cases of aggression, it is especially important to start on the right foot, so it was helpful for me to have a professional come over, observe Sephy and his environment, observe the people around him, and give me pointers on how things can be improved in a safe and effective manner.

      It was not easy to find a good trainer, and we went through a few of them. In the end, I started doing a lot of reading on dog behavior, and this was not only helpful in my trainer search but also helped me better understand Sephy.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/where-to-get-dog-training-and-dog-behavior-information
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  11. Veru says

    Good day. I am writing this out of pure desperation. I am embarressed beyond words to adnit this but our spoiling attitude towards our doggy has created a monster! I have a 2 year old Pomeranian. Female. My mother and I treated her like a little princess when we got her and I think thats why she is the way she is. She was always a bit quick to get snippy, at about 6 months she started growling if we tried to bath her, or touch her ears or even if we (the humans) stand to close to each other she got upset and started barking until we move away from each other. And so it just escalated SO dramatically. Eventually we needed to give her herbal calming solutions to clip her toenails BUT for the past two months we cannot get near her toenails. And to top it off we can no longer bath her as she bites us now when we put her in the tub. Tonight I tried to help unhook her paw from the blanket it got stuck in and she attacked my arm and bit me open that I am actually bleeding. I do NOT want to put her down but we have tried everything. Changed her eating routine and disciplined more firmly (NEVER hit her!) And do not allow her to sit on the couches or beg for our food etc but it is gettint WORSE. What do you do with a dog that attacks you despite your efforts, is it too late? I love my doggy so much and I know it was our lack to establish authority in the beginning but is it really to late? A part of me literally thinks there is something wrong with her brain because the one moment im scratching her and she loves it and is so happy and the next moment she snaps and attacks me or my mothet. Please please give advice.

  12. mary says

    my half pit half bull dog 1 and a half years old has been fine until about 2 months ago. suddenly if my husband is sleeping she will growl and act like she wants to eat me. it has been getting worse we put her in her kennel at night and she growls at me if i get near my husband even walking by the door if he is sleeping. how can we stop this. we had a trainer who said to continue training and she will outgrow this but i am unsatisfied with this statement. during day time she seems just fine with me but this is really worrying me. any ideas please

    • shibashake says

      Is your husband around during the daytime? Does she only show this behavior when your husband is around? Does she only show this behavior when he is sleeping and you are near him? Did anything unusual happen 2 months ago? What is her routine like? What type of training is she used to? Who primarily trains and feeds her? What rules does she have in the house?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, and aggression can be the result of many different things. When I am trying to change behavior for my dog, I first try to identify where the behavior is coming from.

      For example, is he trying to guard something, is he fearful of something, is he over-excited, is it from stress, or something else. To do this, I try to look at the details of the surrounding environment and look for commonalities. Once I understand the source of the behavior, I can better manage it and come up with a good plan for retraining.

      The training field is not regulated, so when I was having problems with my Shiba Inu, it was a challenge to find a good trainer for him.
      Here is more on my trainer search experiences.
      How to choose a trainer (Association of Pet Dog Trainers).

  13. Inkedbully says

    I just came across this and hope you can answer a question. Our 9mo apbt has been attending play groups for socializing, very playful and enjoys it. He had an incident which they think back 2 back days and being confined indoors (rainy day) contributed. We’re very aware his breed history, and know sometimes adolescent dogs just decide they don’t feel like playing as they once did. We were told he corrected 3 different dogs this one day..easily verbally redirected from staff. We were told the staff member didn’t see all 3..heard, turned around and said “hey stop”. Another staff member heard our pup was “rounding” the other dogs. I don’t understand that term, I believe it means correcting? I can’t even find it on the net. How does one continue socializing outside of play groups at a daycare? And should I be alarmed of this? No behavior issues since. His trainer is going to observe his play at his next scheduled day.

    • shibashake says

      Another staff member heard our pup was “rounding” the other dogs. I don’t understand that term, I believe it means correcting?

      My first guess is that it probably means “rounding”-[up] as in herding/collecting the other dogs. Border Collies or other herding dogs, may sometimes try to round up other dogs, and may even do that with people. Best to get clarification from the staff member though.

      As for daycare, is really depends a lot on the quality of the staff, size of playgroups, and more. How big are the playgroups at the daycare? Do they group the dogs based on age, size, energy level? What type of training techniques do they use? Do their staff seem engaged with the dogs? How does your dog respond to the staff? Is your dog very excited to go to daycare?

      What worked best for my Shiba Inu is to organize very small play-groups with friendly neighborhood dogs. We had a great dog living across the road from us in our previous place, so I would often bring her over to play with my Shiba. I supervise the whole time, so I can set up consistent rules, manage excitement level, throw in lots of play breaks, and keep things positive.

      With Sephy, we also did a lot of desensitization and socialization sessions at our local SPCA, under the direction of one of their trainers.

      We did try daycare with Sephy in the beginning, but he really did not enjoy the daycare experience. My Huskies are more ok with it, but ultimately, I was more comfortable with setting up and supervising their play sessions myself.

  14. Aisling says

    I was just wondering, I have a jack russell x beagle and recently started showing aggression to me after being left alone for periods of time with my house mate. My house mate is not a dog person and regularly uses a washing backet to stop the dog coming near him… Lately, if i leave the house for work commitments etc, when I get home, my dog won’t let me near him, snarling and growling at me and snapping on occassions… He has never displayed any of these signs until about a month after my house mate moved in… yet he seems to want to be around the house mate all the time, even though hes not wanted…. any tips or advice?? I’m at a loose end. cheers

    • shibashake says

      I think it would depend a lot on his behavior and interactions with your house-mate, routine, environment, and more. What is his routine like? How long is he alone with your house-mate? What actions cause the snarling behavior – is it only when you approach? Get too near? Are there food or toys around? I.e. what things seem to trigger the snarling behavior?

      Does he know trained commands, e.g. Come? Does he still do commands for you? Does he still come when called? Does he vocalize with other people during walks? Was he friendly with other people before your house-mate moved in? What was his routine like before house-mate and after house-mate? Are there other changes in behavior?

      Since there are so many factors involved, it may be best to consult with a good professional trainer who can visit with the dog and observe his behavior with you, your housemate, and with others.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

    • Aisling says

      He still responds to my commands, and the longest he would be left with the house-mate would be 6 hours… once a week maybe.. His interaction with the house-mate is generally trooper tries to get his attention, house-mate takes out washing basket and uses it to keep the dog away from him. He doesnt pet him, he doesnt do anything for him. Im thinking is it troopers way of being angry with me for leaving him alone with him, as he is so used to getting so much love and affection from me? there are no problems with my other dog as he is quite happy to spend the time alone sitting out the window! No change in routine since house-mate moved in, only difference now is if im out for a while, he’s at home! He is still very friendly with people.. its only when i come home he wont let me touch him.. but when its bed time then he’s the first under the blankets and all is forgiven!

    • shibashake says

      My *guess* based on what you have described is that it is stress-driven. My Shiba, for example, is very sensitive to other people’s energy, so if I am fearful or anxious, he will pick up on that and become stressed himself. Once I remove the bad energy and Shiba has some time to calm down, his behavior improves significantly.

      If you keep him in a quiet area of the house away from your house-mate, does he seem more relaxed?

    • Aisling says

      my house is small so when the house mate is around there is no getting away from him unless he locks himself in his room and trooper cant get in.. The past two night i have been home before my house mate and there have been no aggression issues….. tonight,, my house mate came home before me, by about 2 hours… i get home, he’s snarling, locking his paws, showing his teeth…. and refusing to engage in his usual play…. no issues around toys or food… only acts like this when any time on his own with house mate….. its coming to.. housemate or dog has to leave…. and its not gonna be the dog!! thats for sure!

  15. Iren says

    Hi I need some help to decide if I should neuter my 5 yr old Pomeranian. I have not neutered him do far as I’ve always been scared as to how this is going to affect him health wise and behavior wise. I am not worried about him making puppies as he rarely meets other dogs and when he does he is very shy and runs away and hides from them even from the females. He “plays” with stuff toys at home. I’ve heard and rear so much that I should neuter him because he could get testicular cancer or prostate cancer but I’ve also read that if you neuter them they have a bigger chance of developing many other kinds of cancer: thyroid, bone, heart or other diseases. So i am not sure what’s best for him. :( I am considering neutering him only because I’ve heard and read it will help with his behavior. He is tiny but is very snappy and dominating even with me he shows teeth when he doesn’t want to be made to do what he doesn’t like to do- get from one room to the other, get from under the couch, move him by picking him up from the bed, or when he feels like he will be excluded from the company or activity. He did bite my mom who was trying to get him from under the couch to show him on Skype camera once, since then we are very warey of his change in tone. He also is very snappy and barky at people and dogs when he is on a leash walk in our block where he feels this is his territory- he doesn’t do it anywhere else unless a person provokes him. If the leash is loose he hides behind me if the other dog responds aggressively too so he just does it for show. Also he does not bite people for any other reason than picking him up. I wonder if this is normal and if this is caused by the testosterone or is it just his character. I also wonder of this will be corrected with neutering. But I don’t want to neuter him if this endangers his health just so I can correct his aggressiveness. Do you think I should neuter him? Is it ok to neuter a 5 yr old male (he never mated with another dog and never mounts humans, only toys)? Will he be healthier neutered than intact? Will neutering really stop the aggression – biting and snapping? I also don’t want him to lose energy and become sluggish and not interested in play or toys, he is fun because of that, I don’t want him to be sleep around all day dog. I hope you can help me? He has a neuter appointment for tomorrow and I’m getting the cold feet. :( Help?

    • shibashake says

      For health concerns, it is best to consult with your vet.

      As for aggressive behavior, there are *many* reasons why a dog may display aggressive behavior. To address aggression issues with my dogs, I first try to identify the source of the aggression. I do this by carefully observing them, reading their body language, and also by consulting with good professional trainers. Once I understand the source of their bad behavior, then I can develop steps to correct it through positive socialization, desensitization exercises, handling exercises, careful management of their environment, and more.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Some articles about neutering from the ASPCA-
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/spay-neuter
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/top-10-reasons-spay-or-neuter-your-pet

    • Ren says

      How long will my intact male mid size pomeranian live?
      How long will my mid size male pomeranian live if I get him neutered at 5 years of age?
      There are more cancers and diseases he can develop neutered than intact, what will make him live longer if neutered?
      :(

    • shibashake says

      I do not know of any definitive scientific data or studies which show an association between neutering and dog life spans. If you know of any, please let me know.

      However, there is always a lot of opinions and conflicting information on the web. For health concerns, I usually talk to my vet since they also have a complete health history of my dog, have medical training, and are more likely to have accurate information on dog related medical issues. For important issues that my vet cannot resolve, I talk to a specialist.

  16. Ann says

    Great Article …
    I have a 15 wk old border collie/jack Russell (border jack) with traits of an alpha male and he is now more aggressive torward me when it comes to his toys, space, and when I’m near his crate. (While grabbing for his bedding to clean it. He does not do this when I pet him or while he is eating, he also barks at people when passing. Any suggestions as to what might be causing this at a young age?

  17. Susan says

    I’m feeling very overwhelmed with my dog, I got her from the SPCA, I have had her 3 years, she will soon be 5. She is an Australian Cattle dog X Rottie, its just her and I and she seems to have become very protective of me, and particularly aggressive with men. She is also aggressive with other dogs, on leash for the most part. I find her so unpredictable, when i first got her I used a dog walker, (in addition to me walking her, I wanted her to have a break in the day because I live in an apartment) that was fine until she started lunging at other dogs, I’ve tried trainers and reactive dog classes. I switched to a dog daycare which has been great they think she is wonderful and look at my like i’m overreacting when i tell them about the issues I’ve had. so away from me and off leash I guess she’s ok but around me she is very aggressive towards people, lunging and snarling at men, if they make any sudden moves she will lunge at them in a very aggressive way. I love her and this is breaking my heart, I don’t know what else to do, ive tried training I could try more but feel like i’m just throwing money I don’t have at this problem with next to no results. I can handle the leash aggression, I will keep up the training i’ve learnt for that but the aggression with people is getting worse and it makes me very uncomfortable to have her around anyone. My next step is to ask my vet about anti anxiety meds, do you have any thoughts on them? I would like to date, I would like to have people over, I don’t know how much more I can do.

    • shibashake says

      One important thing I learned from my Shiba Inu (Sephy) is that my energy greatly affects his behavior. Sephy was very reactive towards other dogs when he was young, and I would get frustrated, embarrassed, and a bit fearful of his behavior. He would sense this in me, become even more stressed-out himself, and become even more reactive.

      Sephy and I had a very difficult beginning. Part of training him also involved training myself and controlling my own energy.

      What specific training exercises have you tried with your dog? How often and for how long? What is her behavior like during and after the exercises? What did the trainers suggest? What did they say about her behavior?

      With my dog, I do people desensitization exercises to teach him to be calm around people and to help him to associate people with positive events. For desensitization to work, I make sure to start small, go slowly, and to always set him up for success. During retraining, I make sure *not* to expose him to situations where he will lose control and start showing aggression. The more successful exercises Sephy had with people, the more confident he became, and the more calm he is with people. The opposite is also true.

      Therefore, I try to not only maximize successes but also to minimize bad encounters.

      Timing, technique, and energy all matter a lot in dog training. This is why getting a good trainer can be very helpful because they can be right there to help us with these things. I consulted with several trainers during my difficult period with Sephy.

      However, it can often be a challenge to find a good trainer.
      http://www.cappdt.ca/public/jpage/1/p/ChoosingTrainer/content.do
      http://www.cappdt.ca/public/jpage/1/p/TrainingArticles/content.do

  18. Di says

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU, ShibaShake. I also have a primitive, strong-willed, high-drive dog (a Shar Pei mix who is more the traditional Chinese style–not the typical American, pet Shar Pei). She is a very well-trained and wonderful girl who no longer challenges me, but who is aggressive toward small dogs who come near her territory. I am SO ashamed and embarrassed by this behavior. I’ve heard someone call her “vicious” and a “nasty, dangerous dog” and since I live in a very tight community, I know that many people around me are hearing this about her and judging the both of us.

    It makes a HUGE difference to read your posts and get encouragement. You reminded me today to let go of my neighbors’ judgements and focus instead on my dog–who is really amazing–and needs my help. I really needed that.

    Thank you again from the both of us,

    -D. and M.L. (beloved Shar Pei cross)

  19. Melissa says

    Hi, I am desperate for some help with my 2 year old American Staff X Rottweiler (he is the size of a staffy). In recent months when we take him out off lead he jumps on other dog’s backs and growls and nips into the back of their neck until they submiss. He has always been very over excitable and came to us as a puppy from a vet with a cut in his lip after being left with adult dogs in the garden (we think that he was roughed up). We have socialised him since he was a puppy to ensure that he did not become aggressive. He seemed to be going well until earlier on this year he had a couple of fights with one of our friend’s dogs whilst our friend’s dog was staying at our house. Since this time he has progressively been showing the dominance behaviour with other dogs. It started with one particular dog that he didn’t like and since we returned from holidays has progressed to every dog that he sees. He will charge up to them and jump on the other dogs back. My husband says that he does it less frequently when he is out with him. I’m not sure if he is picking up that I am fearful now when we go out. We are expecting our first baby in Jan and so I am at my wits end as to what to do with him. We have had bark busters around and we have been doing more on lead training with him and have been having him on a long lead around other dogs. Yesterday the long lead gave me rope burn after he went for another dog. Can you suggest anything else for us to try? My thoughts at the moment are that we might have to give him away.

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba was also pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young. Some things that helped with Sephy-

      1. We did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him at our local SPCA, under the direction of a trainer there.

      2. During walks, I try to create as many neutral experiences as possible – where we just ignore the other dogs. During retraining I *always* walk him on-leash and always manage his environment so that I can maximize successful walks and minimize bad encounters with other dogs. The more positive experiences Sephy had, the more he learned to be calm around other dogs, and vice versa.

      3. I pick Sephy’s play-mates very carefully. He does not like dominant dogs and plays much better with larger dogs. Smaller dogs get easily overwhelmed by him, and if a dog challenges him, he will not back-down, so it will become a negative encounter pretty quickly. He plays well with friendly dogs who are interested in chasing and wrestling. I organize supervised play sessions with single dogs that he gets along with.

      I supervise play sessions closely, and throw in many play-breaks to manage Sephy’s excitement level.

      Creating more structure and managing his environment really helped with Sephy. In a high stimulus situation where there are many loose dogs about, it is difficult to retrain a dog. Therefore, I start small by training him with calm single dogs first, and then slowly build up from there.

      At home, I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

      Here are a couple of articles from the ASPCA about preparing a dog for a new babby-
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/preparing-your-dog-new-baby
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/introducing-your-dog-your-new-baby

      In recent months when we take him out off lead he jumps on other dog’s backs and growls and nips into the back of their neck until they submit.

      Is this at the dog park? What did the trainer from Bark Busters suggest?

      I used to bring Sephy to the dog park, but I stopped doing that after a few months because he developed many bad behaviors. The dog park environment was too unstructured and not suitable for his temperament. Here is more on our dog park experiences.

  20. Max says

    I took my dog for a beach walk this morning . He is 2 1/2 and is a Schnoodle ; a schnauzer / poodle x. He loves the tennis ball thrower on the beach and this morning I didn’t take it. 95 % of the time is great on the beach; loves to be chased by other dogs and is very social with other dogs. However with Puppies; especially furry ones; sometimes he bowls them over , jumps on them and nips them. he did this this morning with one puppy and then wouldn’t stop and wouldn’t come. Is there anyway I can stop this behaviour. He didn’t appear to be over aggressive just dominant ; but the puppy owner this morning basically threatened to kill him!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, sometimes my dog gets overly excited during play and loses control of himself. At that point, he is no longer able to hear or respond to commands.

      What works well with my dog is to manage his excitement level *before* it reaches that point. I do this by throwing in many play-breaks or by engaging him in doing something else that he loves (e.g. that is why the tennis ball thrower is so effective). This helps to break things up, so that he doesn’t overly obsess on any one thing, and has many chances to redirect and calm down in-between activities.

      If I am too slow and my dog is too far gone, then I go get him, and remove him from the overly excitable situation. He has to come hang with me for a bit, in a quiet area, where he can calm down.

  21. Nadine says

    Hi! I realllly need your help! I have a 18month old german shepherd. Untill she turned 1 she was the best dog i could ask for! She was perfect with ALL people, ALL dogs and in general everyone! One afternoon walk, when she was off leash she ran at a man with a guitar case barking at him. I didnt know what to do other than call her to me, ever since she does this repetedly to anyone she sees really. Mainly men. She decides on the people she likes and dislikes:/ I dont know what to do other than introduce her to asmany people as i can. Once she has said ‘hi’ to the people she barks at she is friends for life but as you can imagian, most people arnt willing to approch a barking, large german shepherd!

    Another problem which has rised in the past 3 month is dog agression. Before I could let her off leash with dogs and she would be fine, just over playful. One time i let her off and after 30mins of playing, she began baring her teeth, so i clipped her on her leash and led her away. She has been going to 1 hour long classes every week on sundays which teach the basics, sit, stand, lay, hold, drop, here, stay, heal work, and at the end, in and out of dogs and owners and back to your place. She seems fine with dogs at a distance, or even a meter away! but as soon as she comes into contact with one, face to face, bum to face etc, she lunges and growls and snaps!
    For example, yesterday, she was on a walk, and a staffy pup passed, 11month old. The owner asked if the pup could say hi to my dog ‘Lacey’. I said, yes, however she can be over playful. because at this point i had never seen her lunge for a dog! So the pup came over, i had laceys lead slack, as i was sorting out her training lead which was tangled, and the pup was sniffing at lacey and lacey was sniffing the pups head which she then lunges ontop of the pup! I was lucky i could pull her back before she get her. However after she then stood next to me on a slack lead looking at the pup wagging her tail and quickly kinda calmed down. I dont dare let her meet a dog again! I was terrified as she is a big dog and of course can do damage!
    Any suggestions? if you have any questions please please email me!!:(

  22. Paul says

    Hello! Thank you for a great website!

    I have a pack of three dogs (14 Year old spaniel, 7 year old Daschund and a 3 year old Yorkshire terrier.

    They have been a pack for the last 17 Months with no issues or incident yesterday when my wife arrived home, as she does every day, the Yorkie attacked the Spaniel and the Daschund followed suite.

    This behavior occurred again when I arrived home a few hours later, and again this morning after I have left for work and just before my wife left.

    We have no idea what sets them off as this has never happened before not even a growl.

    Is there any advice you may have ?

    • shibashake says

      My dogs usually get excited when people leave or come home. Sometimes, they may redirect this excited energy onto each other and start something.

      I always supervise them when people come home. Husky Lara is only 1.5 years old and still has a lot of puppy energy, so I usually hold her back or keep her outside. I let the other dogs meet and greet the person first, then Lara can come in and meet. When she was younger, I had her on a leash with just a flat collar so that I can teach her calm greetings.

      I also try to stay very calm myself, and ask my dogs for simple commands, e.g. Sit. The one that stays calm and does commands, gets attention first.

      For over-excitement issues, I find that daily exercise is also helpful. My dogs are a lot more calm after their long daily walks. If we are both going out, we walk them first, then they are a lot more relaxed about us leaving and coming home.

      Each situation is different though, and it is strange for things to start up suddenly after over a year. Usually there is a trigger for sudden changes in behavior. Has anything changed recently? Are any of the dogs showing any physical discomfort? Before this incident, how do the dogs act when people come home? Are they very excited? Do they wrestle with each other? bark?

      Getting a good trainer to come and observe the dogs can be very helpful. In this way, the trainer can identify the source of the aggressive behavior and come up with a good plan for redirecting and retraining it.

  23. Jacinta says

    Hi I’ve just got a husky for the first time whom I’ve called Koda!! She is absolutely gorgeous & we are starting puppy kinda in a couple of weeks & I’m going to do everything I can to ensure she is a much loved but well behaved dog. As we only got her yesterday this mig be a bit preemptive but we already have a dog which is a staffy X (I think she may have a bit of pit bull in her). Snake is a lovely dog who has never shown any aggression however as she is a lot bigger & rougher than Koda, Koda isn’t as receptive as I’D hope she would be. I don’t blame her, a gigantic dog running at me full pelt would scare me too, even if she does just want to play. I’ve introduced them slowly & Koda does show signs that she wants to play by wagging her tail & play pouncing & approaching our other dog but Anake is just so big & rough that Koda gets a bit frightened & starts barkin & nipping. She will then come to me for reassurance & if Anake comes over she will continue to bark & nip at her. I was just wondering if you had any tips on how to handle this as I would love for both of them to get along & not feel as though I’ve got to constantly watch their every move.
    Hope you can help

    • shibashake says

      Congratulations on your new Sibe puppy!

      When I first got puppy Lara I found that what worked best is to have her on-lead (with a flat collar) when she is playing with my other full grown Sibe. Initially, I did not do this, and Lara decided that she wanted to start a chase game. It ended with one of my other dogs banging into her and she got hurt. It wasn’t serious, just soft tissue damage, but we still took her to the vet just to be sure.

      Because of the size difference, it was necessary to prevent any chasing games until she had grown up a little. Therefore I kept her on-lead with me during play and had many play breaks so that nobody got over-excited.

      I also try to be fair to all of them and not give puppy Lara any special treatment. Puppies like being with their people so Lara stayed close to me more than my other dogs, which is fine. However, she is not allowed to snap at the others dogs when they come to join in. If she does this, I no-mark her and give her an alternative command. Then, I do a short group obedience session with them. In this way, they have a positive group experience and learn that if they are calm together and work together for me, they get rewarded very well.

      Here is more on what I did while introducing a new dog-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      Here is a bit more on Lara’s first 10 days-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/a-new-puppy-first-10-days-of-hell

      Big hugs to Koda and Snake! Share some pictures with us when you have the time! :D

  24. susan says

    My rescued Bull Terrier is very docile around me but viciously attacks other dogs that live in the house if they come into the area where I normally feed him. Even if the feed is removed at the time. This behavior has occurred at least 3 times where the other dog is injured. He is now on Prozac but I do not feel that he is in control of his emotions as he is getting worse. What do you recommend?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Susan,

      Dogs usually fight over resources because they do not want other dogs or even people stealing their stuff. Some things that help keep the peace with my dogs-
      1. I have a very strict “no stealing” rule at home. During feeding time, they each get their own interactive food toys, and they are not allowed to steal food from each other. I am there to supervise and prevent any kind of stealing. I make sure to “prevent” it before any kind of aggression occurs. In this way, they learn that I am the one that handles resource conflicts and that they do not have to do it themselves.

      2. I also do group obedience training sessions where they all stay calm, and work together for me. This teaches them that they get the most resources when they stay calm and work together.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      However, if a dog is already aggressive and causing bite wounds, it is best to get help from a professional trainer. In dog training, timing, reading body language, and execution are very important – especially with aggression cases. A good trainer will be able to help with all of those things and come up with a good plan for teaching the dog other ways to cope with his stress.

      Stopping a dog in the throes of aggressive behavior can be dangerous for us because in his frenzy, he may inadvertently redirect his aggression onto us.

  25. Emily A says

    Hello! I am in desperate need of help with my severely aggressive Shiba Inu! I adopted him on March 7 so I have not had him very long. He is nine months old, and WONDERFUL with our daughter, and us. He gets along fine with our Chihuahua BUT he HATES other dogs & strangers. When he sees other dogs, his hackles go up, he snarls, bites and tried to lunge for them! We had a VERY scary experience at the vet where he not only tried attacking the Vet & Ast but other dogs at the vet. He ended up redirecting the bite at me, since I put my leg in the way to block him from biting the other dog. I dont know what to do! He is wonderful in our apt with us, I walk him 45 min a day as well as playing with the lazer light & he has tons of chew toys. I am home all day with him and give him so much love and attention. He is great with us but I am worried he will bite someone and then he would be put down. Please Please Please help!! He obviously needs socialization but I dont know how to do that when he is dangerous to other dogs and people. He does not lunge for people BUT he does bark and back up a lot. He is most dangeorus with other dogs. Please help! Thank you!!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Emily,

      My Shiba Sephy also hates going to the vet. I do not really blame him since he does not really trust them, and they always stick needles into him. What works best for the vet, with Sephy, is to put a muzzle on him before we go. I use a basket muzzle and desensitize him to it throughout the year, so that I can put it on before his yearly vet visit. Once he has the muzzle on, he goes into shut down mode, instead of doing fearful aggression.

      Here is more on my experiences with dog-to-dog aggression-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression

      Here is more on desensitizing a dog toward people-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/how-to-calm-a-fearful-reactive-dog#people

  26. El Tigre says

    I love your site! Very informative! A month ago I adopted a 5 year old Husky/Shepherd/St. Bernard mix named Tigre. I was lucky enough to learn his history. He has only been with one other family. They got him as a puppy, they have two young children, and had to give him up due to financial issues. He’s adjusted to our home much faster and easier than I expected. He already knew basic commands (sit, down, no, wait, etc.) Really, up until now our only training issue was teaching him to walk on a leash. Last night is the first time I’ve seen him show any form of aggression. My 3 year old son came home last night from visiting his father. Tigre greeted my son with kisses and tail wagging but immediately started being aggressive towards me. He was running back and forth, charging/jumping on me, biting me (he did not break the skin but it was hard enough for me to bruise instantly). When I tried to firmly, verbally correct him he would bark, growl, and bite more. This went on for 3 hours. I tried verbal correction, spanking w/ a rolled up piece of paper, a squirt bottle, taking him out to walk, everything I could think of. The aggression didn’t stop until my son went to bed. Today, he’s back to acting like the dog I’m used to – layed back and well-mannered. I don’t understand what this was about. I’m wondering if he was trying to establish dominance since there was a much younger, smaller person in our home? Or maybe he was jealous of the attention I was giving my son? Anyway, do you have any suggestions of how I can get control of the situation if he acts like this again? I definitely failed to get control last night but I’m trying to prepare myself if it happens again.

    • shibashake says

      Hello El Tigre,

      Could it be over-excitement? When guests come to visit, my dogs get really excited.

      In terms of jumping and biting, I do the following with my dog -
      1. I no-mark him (Ack-ack) to let them know that it is not desirable behavior.
      2. Then I give him an alternative command, e.g. Sit. If he does this, he gets rewarded with calm affection and good treats.
      3. If he is too excited and ignores this, then I fold up my arms, turn away from him, and just ignore him.
      4. If he calms down, I make sure to reward him well.
      5. If he escalates his behavior and starts to bite at me or my clothes, I calmly say timeout and remove him to a timeout area.

      The key, I found, to deal with over-excited behavior is to stay very calm myself. I also put a drag lead on in-training dogs, especially when guests come over. I only use it with a flat collar and not an aversive collar. The drag lead helps me get better control, and quickly put a dog in timeout if necessary.

  27. Amy says

    Hello!

    I adopted two girl dogs a year ago, a Pomeranian (Bella, 6 years) and a Pug X fox terrier (Tricky, 3 years) and I had them spayed about 2 months ago. They have begun fighting since then. They used to be best friends and now fight at least once every day over attention or food.

    Do you know what may be causing this or do you have any advice on how to handle it?

    Thankyou!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Amy,

      After neutering or any kind of surgery, my Shiba Inu just wants to be left alone. I make sure to keep my other dogs away from him until he feels better.

      My Siberians (2 girls, both spayed) seem to handle surgeries better and are in a better mood.

      I have not experienced what you describe before so I am not sure of the cause. My best guess is that one or both were in pain or in some discomfort after the surgery, and that may have triggered something.

      In cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a professional trainer. A professional trainer will be able to observe the dogs in real-time and identify exactly what is triggering the aggression. This helps us focus in on the right trigger and the right treatment. Since no two dogs are the same, visits with some professional trainers really helped me out a lot when I was having aggression issues with my Shiba Inu.

      Here are some of my experiences with managing multiple dogs in the same household -
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      Here are some of my experiences with food guarding and resource guarding -
      http://shibashake.com/dog/stop-food-aggression-stop-resource-guarding

  28. Ilovemydog says

    My dog had a problem with chasing a raccoon last night she went into the street to get the raccoon.She is very good of leash and fallows me everywhere. She has not got her rabies shot yet. Should i keep her on the leash for now?

    • shibashake says

      Should i keep her on the leash for now?

      It would be safer to keep her on leash.

      There are also raccoons in our area and my Siberian Husky has chased after a few in our backyard. They are pretty large and quite fierce. I don’t let her tangle with them. Siberian Shania is a very sweet and very brave girl but she often does not know her own limits. :D

  29. Roxanne says

    Hello! I love your website. I see a lot of books and videos advertised by Google and such, but I wonder if you could recommend a name or book that will be benificial for training my 2 yr. old Shiba Inu. I don’t know if I’m doing the wrong things or the right things. For instance, since he came to us we have walked him with a sturdy halter and a retractable leash, so he can roam and run around. I see here someplace that I read, only use retractables after the dog is leash trained. What does that mean? Should I mostly be walking him on a short leash? We don’t have a fenced in yard, so he needs to stretch his legs. I have so many questions.
    Thanks for any help you can give me!
    Roxanne Rogers

    • shibashake says

      I wonder if you could recommend a name or book that will be benificial for training my 2 yr. old Shiba Inu. I don’t know if I’m doing the wrong things or the right things.

      It was the same way with me when I got Shiba Sephy. I learned a lot from other Shiba owners by reading through several Shiba message boards. Now there is the Shiba Inu Forum which seems like a nice community.

      Getting a personal trainer also helped me a lot because then, I could get my questions answered in real-time.

      In terms of specific dog books my favorite one is Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier. This is not really a training book though, but more of a dog relationship book.

      Training books are a lot more dry and not as interesting to read :) Two that are pretty good are -

      I also like Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor which is more focused on positive reinforcement techniques in general and how they can be used on both dogs and people. It is a fun read.

      I see here someplace that I read, only use retractables after the dog is leash trained. What does that mean? Should I mostly be walking him on a short leash?

      My preference is to use a 6 foot regular leash. This gives me good control so that I can teach Shiba not to pull while walking, not to go where he is not supposed to, and not to eat this and that from the ground. I let Sephy walk on a loose leash (i.e. he can go wherever he wants in the 6 foot radius as long as he does not pull). In the beginning, I was a bit more strict and got Sephy to walk closer to me but now he is very good about not pulling so I give him more freedom.

      We don’t have a fenced in yard, so he needs to stretch his legs.

      Yeah I know what you mean. I didn’t have a yard at all when I first got Sephy and it was tough. Shiba really likes off-leash time where they can do the Shiba zoomies. There are several possibilities -

      • I took Sephy to the enclosed dog park really early in the morning so that we get the whole enclosed space to ourselves. I have also taken him during regular hours but supervising Shiba in such a busy environment was extremely difficult and he was picking up bad habits.
      • I took Sephy to a nearby SPCA where they have a fenced in space to exercise their dogs. They were happy to let us have some time in their space while they were not using it.
      • I cleared out a room in the house and made it into a playroom for Sephy. He could zoom around there, we play dog games, etc. It was not ideal because it was not very large, but it was helpful at the time. I also invited friendly dogs in the neighborhood over for one-on-one play sessions in the playroom.

      Hope this helps. This article on puppy obedience training also contains many of the things I learned together with Sephy in the beginning.

      Please let me know if you have more questions and hugs to Django.

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