Dog to Dog Aggression –
Why and How to Stop It

When dealing with dog-to-dog aggression, it is important to listen to our dog.

There are many reasons why a dog may act aggressively toward another.

  • He may be afraid.
  • He may be stressed because his space is being violated.
  • He may feel the need to dominate.
  • He may be protective of us.
  • He may be very curious.
  • He may just be over-excited.

Sometimes, what we perceive to be aggression may be the result of hyper energy, eagerness, or natural inquisitiveness. Therefore, in dog-to-dog aggression cases, it is important to understand what our dog is feeling, and what he is trying to say.

When my dog meets a new dog, I observe both of them carefully. As soon as my dog starts to get stressed, I step in and interrupt before the situation escalates.

For dog aggression issues, it is best to take a dog’s age, health, temperament, and preferences into account, while coming up with appropriate solutions.

1. Be Calm and Decisive

Dogs are very sensitive to what their human is feeling. My dog picks up on my emotions and reflects them, except with much more intensity. Sometimes, I am not even conscious of feeling nervous or stressed, but my dog notices it and starts to act up. Once I consciously calm myself down, his behavior also improves.

A common mistake when meeting other dogs is to tense up, and get fearful of what our dog may do. If we are afraid, our dog will pick up on that fearful energy, and that will likely trigger an aggressive reaction.

Be careful not to put undue or continuous tension on the leash. Also, do not pull the dog straight back, as that will likely cause a lunge forward response. To remove my dog, I pull him to the side and quickly walk him past the other dog.

2. Teach Our Dog Avoidance


When I see another dog, I usually just ignore him and move along.

I have found that avoidance is most effective when I avert my eyes from both dog, as well as owner. I keep my eyes forward, and keep walking at a natural pace. In this way, my dog learns that when we see other dogs, we avoid rather than confront.

Be careful not to crowd our dog while walking. If he feels trapped between us and the other dog, he may think he has no choice but to react aggressively. Do not stand still while trying to tug our dog away. Move away, and he will come along with us. At the same time, we are creating space so that he will not feel trapped.

I do not let my dog obsess or stare intensely at other dogs. Sometimes, my Shiba Inu will drop into a stalking-down-position, stare, and wait for the other dog to pass. Some people think that he is such a good boy for doing a Down, when other dogs are coming toward him, but he is actually just waiting to pounce.

Do not allow this bad behavior, do not let our dog practice it, do not even let him think about it. Just move him along, and ignore. If the other dog is somehow blocking us (e.g. if the owner is unable to control his dog), then walk away in a different direction. Do not stare the other dog down and do not confront him, either through posture or by physically engaging him.

Challenging unknown dogs is a good way to get bitten.

3. Create Space or Block the Other Dog


We can do this by moving across the road or into a driveway, and waiting for the other dog to pass.

We may also move our dog behind a barrier, for example a car. If there are no barriers available, we can try blocking the dog’s view with our body.

By doing this, we avoid a head-on, more confrontational passing.

I have tried all of these blocking techniques, but what works best for me is to create space, and quickly move past the other dog. Whenever I wait for the other dog to pass, my Shiba uses that time to start obsessing.

Dog treats and trying to get his attention do not work at this point, because the other dog is too close, and Shiba Sephy is no longer listening. The advantage of walking Sephy briskly past the other dog, is that he has less time to stare. In addition, he cannot fully obsess, because he must partly focus on walking.

However, using barriers and blocking may work better for a fearful dog.

Some trainers suggest turning and walking away when we see another dog, rather than passing him or waiting for him to pass.

There are two problems with this method:

  • If we turn away, the other dog will be following us. This may cause some dogs to keep looking back, to make sure that the follower is not a threat. I have tried this, and indeed my Shiba keeps looking back.
  • If we keep turning away, we may meet other dogs and get boxed in; especially if there are many dogs in our neighborhood.

4. Create Neutral Experiences

I try to create as many neutral dog-to-dog meeting experiences as possible. If every time my dog sees another dog, we just pass by and nothing interesting happens, it will become a non-event.

Being consistent with neutral greetings will build our dog’s confidence. Through repetition, we are teaching him how to behave (just avoid and move along), and how not to behave (get over-excited, frustrated, lunge, and pull). He will be more calm because he is not waiting in anticipation of a highly charged encounter, either for play or for confrontation.

I try to set my dog up for success, and do not let him practice aggressive behaviors when meeting other dogs. The more he practices, the more aggressive he will be.

If my dog becomes agitated during a walk, I try to end the outing as soon as possible. Once in this mode, his adrenaline levels will be high for a fair duration, and he will likely react aggressively to all the dogs that we meet. In this state, he will no longer be capable of learning, and will only be practicing dog aggressive behaviors.

5. Protect our Dog


I usually keep my dog away from people and dogs with weak energy (e.g. fearful, excited, or frustrated energy). In addition, I also try to keep other dogs and owners from coming into my dog’s space. I say a quick ‘hi’ to the people I meet, and move on.

If people with weak energy stop and want to meet my dog, I ask them nicely to please move on, because my dog is easily excitable.

It is fine and good to let a dog meet people with calm energy, but make sure to let them know how to best meet our dog. In particular, turn away when he jumps, no quick movements, and no petting from above.

6. Keep Greetings Short and Sweet

While greeting another dog, we want to positively interrupt our dog every so often, and get him to refocus on us. Do this as many times as necessary, so that our dog does not get over-excited, and lose control of himself.

Whenever my dog is meeting a new dog, I interrupt him after a very short duration (2-3 seconds). I quickly move or jog away from the other dog, while giving the positive interrupt command, e.g. Hey, hey. Initially, I may have to lightly tug at my dog while moving away. I make sure to treat him well for moving toward me on a loose leash.

If our dog is too obsessed to move away and is strongly standing his ground, then we have waited too long to initiate the interrupt. Positive interrupts are also useful for dealing with human greetings, and getting our dog away from a dirty or unsuitable area.

The key to successful positive interrupts is to catch a dog early, before he starts to obsess on another dog or object.

7. Be Aware of Aggressive Triggers

Some dogs, for example Spitz-type dogs, have a natural look that may appear dominant (ears up, hair out, tail up). This dominant look may instigate other dogs to respond in kind, and start posturing as well. Conflicts may occur, and if neither dog is willing to back down, this may lead to a dog fight.

If I am unsure about a dog greeting, I just move on. Better to be safe than sorry.

8. Desensitize our Dog to Other Dogs

The problem with dog-to-dog aggression issues, is that in regular situations the “other dog” stimulus is too strong, and environment is too unstructured for any learning to occur. Often, our dog overloads quickly and becomes reactive, because the other dog is too close, is staring, is hyper, or is charging toward us.

In the desensitization process, we do training in a quiet, enclosed environment, and start with a very weak version of the problem stimulus. In terms of reactivity toward other dogs, we can use distance to weaken its effect.

In this way, we also weaken the strength of our dog’s reaction, so that he will be calm enough to listen and learn. This is necessary, to create opportunities where we can begin to teach our dog to be calm and relaxed, while in the presence of another dog.

I did quite a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization sessions with Sephy, when he was young, at our local SPCA. The trainers there had many balanced, friendly dogs, that we could do training with.

First, the trainer would engage the other dog in training exercises, so that he stays in a fixed position, and is not focused on Sephy (i.e., no eye-contact). Both dogs are on-leash.

I take Sephy a far distance away, far enough away that he is still calm and able to listen to me. Then, I get his attention by calling his name. If he looks at me, I praise, and treat him for behaving well. Sometimes, I also ask him to do very simple commands, e.g. Sit.

I let Sephy sit and watch the other dog as long as he is calm, and willing to give me his attention when I ask for it. Once we are both comfortable with this, I move one step toward the other dog and repeat the Focus and Sit exercises above.

Do not move too close to the other dog, too quickly. If we move forward too fast, our dog may become reactive, and will no longer be able to give us his attention. At this point, I no-mark Sephy (uh-oh) and move back a few steps. Once we are far enough away, I try to get his attention again. When he gives it to me, I stop, praise, and treat.

Note – for desensitization to be successful, we want to keep our dog below his instinct threshold as much as possible.

I always try to make sessions short, fun, and rewarding. This helps our dog associate other dogs with being calm, and with positive experiences. I make sure to stop before my dog shows any obsessive behavior, and long before he becomes aggressive. Once a dog becomes reactive or aggressive, it is usually best to end the session soon after.

As we make progress, we can slowly increase the strength of the problem stimulus. For example, we may allow the target dog to start moving around, or we may allow him to play with his handler.

The desensitization process can be long and difficult. Dogs with lower instinct thresholds (the point at which they lose control and switch to instinct) will be harder to desensitize. However, consistent practice will also help to raise this threshold.

What to Expect from Dog-to-Dog Aggression Training

Do not expect too much, too quickly, from our dog. Make sure to treat and praise him very well, if he voluntarily engages in avoidance maneuvers, when there are other dogs around. This includes looking away from the direction of the other dog, smelling and exploring the environment, or looking at us for direction.

Initially, treat and praise even small avoidance moves, for example looking away for just 1 second. If a dog will not accept treats from us, then he is too far gone and it is best to lead him away. Treats are only effective for shaping behavior when our dog is still thinking, and not operating on instinct.

If we keep practicing desensitization exercises, and teach our dog how to behave with other dogs, he will improve. As he matures, he will become more confident, be less dog aggressive, and be more comfortable around new experiences.

For aggression issues between two family dogs, here is more on how I help my dogs get along.

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Comments

  1. steven says

    I have an 8 year old ”pitbull” with dog to dog aggression. I own him since he is 20weeks, never had him professionally trained, i never mistreated him, did not have him ”fixed”(i hate that term). He grew up with one of his brothers and sadly they were separated at 1year of age. My dog broke his left leg at 1 year of age, the vet performed a surgery. at 3 years of age my dog was illegally taken from my house and was later in custody of the SPCA. the spca refused to return my dog unless he was fixed, i had to accept under threat that they’d give the dog to another human who would accept and pay to have him operated :( ever since his stay at the spca, my dog attacks other dogs, visciouly. he has attacked about 12 dogs, none were seriously injured. i had to put myself in the line of fire, sticking my hands in my dogs mouth. because my dog really does not want to bite humans, in fact if a human puts his hands in his mouth, the dog will turn his head away attempting to get away. if a human says ”ouch” my dog immediately lowers himself submissively and comes and licks u all over. i can’t take my dog to parcs anymore because people are affraid of him. my dog has few dog-friends, but only rdogs with really good energy can handle my dogs behaviour. Say my friend brings his dog over to my house or we go together to the park, this is what will probably happen: leech-on, we let them sniff eachother. normally my dog will immediately try to bite and show aggressiveness. i get in my dogs face(to get his attention) and once i get his attention i calmly pet him and bring him back to his happy state and i say NO! be a good boy! he normally calms down, then we go for a walk to get better relationship. when we let them off the leech to play together, usually they will play until they have a staredown and fight. sometimes the fight is not too bad and they continue playing after. sometimes we end it there. if we pull out a ball, they will for sure fight for it. My wife is expecting a baby, we love our dog, but unless this behaviour is corrected we are considering the hardest decision ever. I can’T even say the words :(

  2. Yvonne Kerdoon says

    I have an Australian Shepherd named Coco, I have had her since she was about 1 1/5 years old, previous owners gave her up. ( Don’t know the reason) She is now 2 1/5 . She has always been sweet , loving curious about other dogs but when I took her to dog park she seemed intimidated by large dogs her size. My daughter has 2 pugs one is very old , 16, and then a young one who is 3-4 years old The young one Rosie is Very aggressive towards all dogs (except for the old pug ). When I have visited my daughters house or vice versa we always have had to separate our dogs , but 2 weeks ago my dog and Rosie ended up in the same bedroom, I entered the room and huge fight broke out , Rosie attacked first and my dog reacted very violently back, while trying to get them apart my right hand got bit and one finger was broken as well. 2 days later my dog showed violence against a dog she has known for 1 year and is very familiar with ( I pet sit for a living) This is now a huge problem , what do I do ? I love my dog but I am scared of how much she has changed, can I ever get back my sweet loving dog???

  3. Kim says

    Five years ago we adopted a dog who had been tied up outside for most of his life. He is a mixed breed, Border Collie, Dalmatian, Samoyed, and so on. He is a big boy, tall, and weighing about 67 pounds. He is truly a wonderful dog and adapted to his new home quickly. A few months later we adopted another dog, a female, who was older and smaller (an American Eskimo-Chow-Unknown mix). The younger male tried to do the dominance-mounting thing with the new female dog, and she turned around and snarled at him. That was it! From then on they were pals, and he deferred to her. Sadly, our older dog recently passed away. We, and the other dog are grieving over losing our sweet girl. We thought maybe it would be good to rescue another dog, and it might make our other dog happy to have a new companion. So far we have meet two female dogs with bad results. The first dog was sort of aggressive, and that did not work out, because our dog wanted to fight her. The second dog was smaller, and seemed quite sweet. The people who are trying to find her a home brought her here. We met them on the sidewalk, let the dogs have a brief meet, and proceeded to take them for a walk. Then we brought them back to our fenced yard and let them go. At first it looked like they were going to play, then they got into it. We had to pull them apart. I don’t know what is going on with my dog. I am wondering if he is now confused over the death of his female companion, who was the “Alpha” of the two. Or I am going about introducing them the wrong way? Or was it just that these were the “wrong” dogs for him? Or will we now be a one-dog home? Some folks suggested we get a puppy instead of a grown dog, but I am not so sure. Ideally, I would like to adopt an older female rescue dog. Any suggestions as to how I might handle this situation better? Thank you!

  4. NAM says

    My dog seems to have a problem with other dogs and food guarding, i read your article on the food guarding so i can probably skip that but my dog seems to be guarding my girlfriend and I. When my other dogs are around he freezes and growls and stares at them no matter what room we are in. I don’t know how to solve this I’ve tried getting up and walking away and sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t.. As of now for the past year anywhere in the house, i will corral all the other dogs into a room while the dog that has problems roams the house and vice versa.. The potential for a fight is enormous especially when its in close quarters like any room in the house. It still happens in the backyard but its easier for the other dogs to get away if he tries to do anything.. what do i do?

    • NAM says

      my dog has also lost both his top canine teeth and has many cuts already, they’ve gotten into so many fights already and so much blood has been shed and im afraid for it to get any further because they are really trying to kill each other and if i can’t find a way to solve this behavior i’m going to have to give him away which i REALLY REALLY don’t want to but for his safety and my other dogs safety it’s the only thing i can think of doing.

    • Amber roelofs says

      Hello, my names amber and i have a dod his name’s bruno and he lives at my grandma’s house hea not that young and not that old but all the years hes been living at my grandma’s he’s been in a tiny house where he can only take 1 or 2 sreps and he has a leash he’s always lockes up there and he cry’s so much when hea locked up but when we let him free in the garden he turns really agressive and jumps to my neihbours house and they’ve already complained what im trying to say is that i want my dog to be happy but when i let him free he’s capable of biting me and when he’s locked up he’s sad what do you think us the best way to let him free but that he’s not agressive that people can come and he wouldn’t bite or bark. If you know a way please help me , thanks xoxo

  5. Bewildered says

    About a year ago, my sterilized cute medium-size male non aggressive dogs (cross between a Pincer and a Maltese) met and started interacting with a very aggressive female dog in the neighborhood. At first, the interaction between the dogs not terrible. The huge black female dog demanded that my dogs not move a muscle while she sniffed them and then she would let them walk around the park. If they dared to move or make any sound, she would start to growl and then put them in their place. Then gradually, she stated getting more and more aggressive with every interaction. Now, if she spots our dogs, even if they are very far away, she will come running from a very long distance away, and ‘attack them both’: Once she arrives at where they are, she just puts them on their backs, starting with the youngest of the two dogs. I don’t think her intent is to harm him in any way, otherwise she would have done it by now. One time the eldest dog was hurt on his ear ever so slightly. Is she going to try to kill my dogs? What should I do?

  6. Robert Nance says

    I don’t know if this is a forum thing or not, anyway… My dog is fine with other dogs off the lead on the beach – except for one – which she goes for. Any suggestions?

  7. Emma Rahr says

    Hello!
    Thanks for this great website. Its been a really interesting read, and I hope I can apply this to my own dog, Konrad, who is a Norwegian Buhund, which in some ways is very similar to the Shiba Inu. He is 2,5 years old now, and as a puppy I spend a lot of time with training, and socializing him, but already when he turned around 3 months old he started being aggressive towards other dogs, which ended in so many fights – luckily nothing ever happened, so slowly I got afraid of letting him be around other dogs. Now he is ONLY around my family dogs,, but he doesn’t always behave around them either. If I am not over him all the time when Im at my mothers place he might attack or try to herd my mother’s dog around (he is a king charles chavalie). If I tell him to stop, he stops, but you can see how he is always trying to find a way to dominate my mothers dog. Worst is when there’s food on our table – they can fine eat next to each other, but when we eat my dog wants the best spot for “food” – because my mother feeds her own dog by the table it affects my dog. So I always put my dog in another room, which can lead to him peeing in someone bed – maybe my mothers bed or something like that. I’ve tried to find explanations to this, but all I’ve found is he might be scared? Yet he seems calm in there.
    He also has a very jealous personallity. So if I pet my mothers dog he might get mad at my mothers dog. We have somewhat come around that problem, yet it still pops up once in awhile. The main problem is really he wants to herd him around and decide where he goes.
    My main problem is when we meet other dogs he either barks very aggressively and hang at the end of his leach, where i just try and move on, and try to calm him down (all depending on HOW close he is to the other dog ofc) it works sometimes. OR he will whine, with a very playfull tone, but if I bring him closer it might change to aggression. My main thought is other dogs might stress him out. He has always been dominate towards other dogs, and Im not sure if he is trying to tell them to stay away, or what it is. I just quickly remove him from the situation, or try to aviod it, by moving around, so he just sees the other dog, but might not come with a reaction.
    I know this is a mouthfull, because I tried to explain my little boy. He is a VERY lovling dog towards humans – around children he is VERY respectfull and reacts when my niece on 3 says no. So its really just around other dogs the main problem is. Thanks for reading this, and again really a great webpage!

  8. Barb says

    Very well written and hopefully I can apply the things I have read. I am dealing with an issue in my home with aggression as well and not sure how to stop it. My husband and I have 3 dogs, Jack Russel who is 9 and two Dachshunds who are 7 and 4. The 7 year old Dachshunds has recently become very aggressive towards the other two dogs mainly the Jack Russel at which times the fights have been extremely bad. Most of the fights tend to happen in the middle of the night when she is disturbed from her sleep. We are currently considering crating her at night due to the aggressive tendencies however I am not a huge crate fan for my animals. Is there anything I can do to prevent these fights from happening besides crating my dog? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      Did her aggressive behavior occur suddenly or develop gradually? Is she eating and drinking normally? Is she keeping to her regular routine and moving around normally? Has the 7 year old been to the vet lately? Physical pain or other physical issues may cause dogs to feel more vulnerable, and may result in sudden aggressive behavior. Did anything unusual occur around the time when this behavior started?

      I use enclosures to separate my dogs when necessary. If I put it next to a wall for support, I can combine multiple enclosures together to create a big, safe, space.

      When Shania was healing from amputation, we set up a big enclosure for her.
      Example of what Shania’s enclosure looks like.

      However, there is nothing wrong with a crate as long as the dog is properly desensitized to it, and sees it as a safe and positive space. I use crates for car rides, and my dogs will often go into their crates when they want to eat their chews in peace. When used properly, they are a great management and safety tool.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/puppy-potty-training-facts-and-myths#crate
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/weekend-crate-training

      I do not leave my dogs alone together unsupervised, until I am very sure that there will absolutely be no issues.

  9. Joan says

    Thank you for this article. I have 3 dogs in my home, 2 are mine and my husband’s and the other is my son’s. My husband and son work for the same company and are gone for months at a time leaving just me in charge of our furbabies. The oldest is a 12-year-old spayed female lab/cocker spaniel mix, the next is a 2-year-old spayed female purebred German Shepherd and the youngest a 1-year-old intact male purebred Pitbull (the youngest is my son’s dog). The Shepherd and PItbull play well together most of the time but the Shepherd still tries to dominate the play and the Pitbull just rolls over onto his back whenever she does. The Lab/Spaniel, however, refuses to submit and thus we have the problem. The Lab/Spaniel was the dominant dog in the house until the Shepherd got older and decided she wanted to be the dominant. The Spherhrd also has become aggressive toward other dogs and humans she doesn’t know.

    I ate up every word of your article and your responses to some of the comments. You have given me hope that this problem can be fixed with a lot of patience and a good trainer. I have plenty of patience. Its my activity level that I have to ramp up in order to be a good mommy/grandma to the Shepherd and the Pittie. Maybe I’ll finally lose those 30 pounds I’ve been wanting to get rid of and put some tone back into my muscles. I was about to give up and try to find someone who knew how to handle dominant dogs to take in the Shepherd; but now I have great hope that my babies may actually be able to get along again, at least while in a supervised situation. I have resigned myself to the fact that they may never be allowed to be roaming free together in the house when we’re gone, but I have learned that should not happen anyway if one expects a dominant dog to continue to see one as the alpha of the pack. Thank you again!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, management and supervision are key with my dogs. I try to always set them up for success and do not put them in situations that they are not ready to handle. I use management equipment such as leashes, gates, and sometimes a basket muzzle (if necessary) to make sure that everyone stays safe.

      Patience, a good trainer, and more exercise all sound great! 😀

      More on how I help my dogs to get along.

      Big hugs to your gang!

  10. Courtney says

    This website is amazing!
    I’ve been reading articles all morning looking for advise on how to help my dog Jasper.

    Jasper is guilty of All the shiba traits and tricks but I have used a lot of your methods (or similar methods) in the past and most behaviour problems are an easy fix. Not letting him think he’s the boss and keeping him busy with play time and walks usually is enough.

    Jasper was bitten by a large dog about 6 months ago.

    Before that he showed little dog aggression, we lived with another dog at the time and they got along great. We took him to leash free parks and he usually found a large playmate and burned off lots of energy!

    Since the incident Jasper has attempted to attack many dogs and even attracted aggressively toward the owner of the dog who attacked him (our neighbour who prior to the bite was very close with Jasper)

    We thought it was an issue with that dog in particular or our living space being too small and noisy. We have been living in a much larger home with lots of walking spaces and Jasper is much happier. However we often get chased by other dogs. Lots of people walk their dogs without a leash in the parks near our home. These are not leash free areas. We try avoidance and keeping calm but of course we simply cannot control other dogs and owners. Quite often the other owners lose control and their dog comes to say hello. I call out (calmly) that my dog is not friendly and to please get their dog. Sometimes it works out fine and they will call their dog back and leash them and we can pass each other without any problems. Most of the time they cannot get their dogs to come back and I have no choice but to scoop up Jasper as he will not bite me but WILL bite the other (much larger) dogs. This leads to big dogs jumping on me trying to get to Jasper who is barking at the stranger dog. I know picking up the dog causes confusion and I only do when the situation requires it but I would love to try other methods if you have any suggestions! Jasper used to love to play with other dogs and still loves small children. I’m sure since his incident with our old neighbour he feels threatened and I know protecting him from situations isn’t helping that mentality. Are there any ways to work with Jasper to be less aggressive with loose dogs? Jasper has a bite record from our old neighbour (who attempted to pick him up days after her dog attacked him- I know biting is wrong but Jasper barked and warned her not to touch him) that being said he will be put down no matter what (animal control legally wanted us) if he ever bites another human or dog. I believe avoidance is best, but when that is not possible what can we do?

    • shibashake says

      I helped Sephy with his dog-to-dog reactivity issues by doing two things-
      1. I did desensitization and counter-conditioning training.
      2. I manage his environment very carefully and protect him from situations he is not ready to handle.

      We did structured desensitization training at our local SPCA, in a controlled space, with trainer chosen dogs, and under the direction of a trainer. I talk more about this at the end of the article above. Desensitization training was a key part to helping Sephy because we had great control over the environment and the other dog, and therefore could create successful experiences, where Sephy learned the right things.

      The more calm and successful experiences that Sephy had with other dogs, the more confidence, trust, and positive associations he formed. Similarly, reactive experiences will undermine that confidence/trust, set back our training, and worsen his future anxiety and behavior.

      Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for me to always set Sephy up for success and *not* expose him to situations that he is not ready for. We walk him during off-hours and drive him to a quiet area with few dogs if necessary. I protect my dogs by managing their environment and routine, and I do not expose them to people or dogs that will cause them to fail.

      Given what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer ASAP. Find one who understands desensitization training and who has balanced dogs that he/she can use to help with training.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  11. Raquel says

    Hello!

    Thank you for your helpful tips and info about shiba inu’s behavior. We have 1 year old shiba inu and we are experiencing the same aggressive behavior sometimes.

    Your shiba inu looks healthy and I would like to ask if you have food recommendations. I would like him to gain a little weight, right now he’s about 22 pounds.

    Thank you in advance!

    Raquel

    • shibashake says

      Currently, I am feeding my Shiba Wellness CORE regular. I also use plain boiled chicken as treats (cut up into little pieces).
      More on how I pick kibble for my dogs.

      What does your vet say about your Shiba’s weight? I would consult with your vet first before trying to add any weight.

      My younger Husky is also very slim. I talked to my vet about it, and he advised me to keep her on the slim side. Also, my Shiba looks a lot more skinny after he has blown his coat.

  12. Mary says

    Hi there-
    I was hoping you could offer some advice on my dog, Kaya. She was bit by another dog roughly a month ago. Before this event, she was always very submissive with other dogs. She would lay down and let other dogs approach her, and then she would feel out the situation and was almost always friendly and playful with the other dog. Since she was bit however, she has become nervous and dog aggressive. The hair stands up on the back of her neck, she barks, growls, and begins lunging and tries to bite the other dog in the extreme instances we have seen.
    We saw a trainer who told us to keep her away from other dogs, essentially to isolate her. However, we don’t live an environment where we can properly do this. We are always seeing dogs in our yard, during walks, and so on. And she has continued to be aggressive, I would even say it has gotten worse as she starts barking and growling from as far as a mile away.
    Do you have any advice? She is a very independently minded dog, and isn’t very food driven- so we have found it hard to try and distract her. I would appreciate anything you can offer!

    • shibashake says

      I helped my Shiba be more comfortable around other dogs by doing dog-to-dog desensitization training. We did desensitization training in a controlled environment, with trainer chosen dogs, and under the direction of a trainer. I talk more about what we did at the end of the article above.

      The more calm and successful experiences my dog has in the presence of other dogs, the more confidence, trust, and positive associations he forms. Similarly, reactive experiences (where my dog becomes nervous, fearful, or aggressive) will undermine that confidence and trust, significantly set back training, and worsen my dog’s anxiety and behavior. Therefore, an important and necessary part of helping my dog is to carefully manage his routine and environment, and protect him from situations that he is not ready for yet.

      We drive to a quiet area and walk during off-hours if necessary. I observe my dog carefully and try to identify things that can help bolster her confidence. For example, my dog is more confident when she is closer to home, so at the start I may do shorter but more frequent walks. In general, I do everything that I can to always set my dog up for success. I want to not only maximize positive and calm experiences through structured desensitization training, but also minimize reactive experiences through structure and management.

      I talk more about what I do to create neutral experiences and protect my dog in the article above. Given what you describe, I would get help from an experienced trainer who understands desensitization training and has access to appropriate dogs that can help with retraining.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  13. Brandi says

    I have a 6 year old male doberman and a 4 year old female husky. Both have been to the dog park many times, but recently, our very docile doberman has become more agitated and snappy at the park. This seems to have started when he met a very large, playful, unneutered great dane a few weeks ago. Since then, If another dog comes to sniff or play with him or the husky, he will snarl and snap at them. He has never done this before, but this has been a constant behavior for about 2 weeks. I am nervous to take him to the park because I don’t want him to hurt other dogs. I’m not sure how to stop this behavior. Before he met the great dane at the park, he was very patient and playful at the parks and only responded this way if another dog came after him first. I would love some advice because I want my dogs to be able to play and have fun again.

    • shibashake says

      Many of the dog parks in my area do not allow un-neutered dogs.

      Other male dogs can easily detect an unneutered dog’s high testosterone level and become aggressive. This can make your intact dog a target of harassment by other male dogs. Neutering can reduce or eliminate this undesirable attention.
      ~~[ASPCA]

      As for enclosed dog parks, they can be very high stimulus and high stress, with very little supervision and structure. We stopped going after I noticed that my dog’s behavior and social interactions were taking a downward turn. More on our dog park experiences.

      There was not enough structure at the dog-park for Sephy, and he was learning a lot of undesirable social habits. The key with my dog is to set him up for success and protect him from negative experiences. Instead of doing dog parks, we did small and structured play-groups, with dogs that I know will fit in well with his temperament and play style. I am there to set play rules, supervise, and redirect bad behavior before it escalates. In this way, Sephy was able to have fun, socialize with other dogs, and learn positive social behaviors.

      While Dog Parks can be fun, they also bring plenty of NEGATIVE interactions by forcing your pet to come up against dogs that might be overly stimulated, short-tempered, outwardly aggressive or otherwise badly managed. Smart Socializing means keeping your friend dog-tolerant, and that involves AVOIDING dicey situations where conflict can spark.
      ~~[Smart Socializing]

      More on dog socialization.
      Badrap article on dog tolerance levels.

    • JT$ says

      shibashak, I’m in the same boat. It’s driving me crazy bc I have resorted to taking my guy on long walks at a nature preserve instead of roaming around the dog park. We used to go to the dog park on a daily basis and he went to daycare 3 days a week. However, in the last few weeks he has been aggressive no matter where I take him. I also noticed that once I trained him to fetch in the backyard, he has become increasingly aggressive at the dog park when balls are being tossed around. I want him to be a social guy I can take to parks, etc…. This is getting out of control.

  14. Amaly says

    My dog had puppies last year. We kept the mother and father. And we kept one puppy. He is now one year old. The father dog is 8 yrs and the mother is 5yrs. Well anyways the father always stares at the puppy and then attacks him. And the puppy has to learn to stay where is until he is allowed to they fight daily. Everyday. It is very annoying i do not know why he is doing that please help me.!

    • shibashake says

      What are the dogs’ daily routine like? Are the dogs neutered and spayed? What kind of training are they used to? What were their past social experiences with other dogs?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent so the temperament of the dog, past experiences, routine, and more will all affect his behavior. Given that the dogs are already fighting, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer. A good trainer can visit with the dogs, read their body language, as well as observe their behavior within the context of their regular routine and environment. A good trainer can help to identify what is triggering the aggression, and develop a good and safe plan for rehabilitation.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Breaking up a dog fight can be very dangerous as the dogs can redirect their energy/aggression on the people who are trying to restrain them. I would get in touch with a trainer as soon as possible.

      My dogs need structure, consistency, exercise, and supervision. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, I teach each dog what the rules are, and I supervise closely, especially early on, to make sure that everyone is following my rules. I also create positive, rewarding, and calm together time, so that my dogs learn how to behave around each other and learn to trust each other.

      I do not leave my dogs alone together until I am very very sure that there will be no issues. The more negative events there are, the more negative associations they form, and the more likely there will be even more issues in the future. When I am not around to supervise, I keep my dogs separated. As pack leader, it is my responsibility to keep my dogs safe and to make sure nobody gets hurt.

      In addition, all my dogs are neutered or spayed.

      More on how I help my dog get along.

  15. Josh says

    Hello,

    Very well written article, and as someone that has helped rescue dogs for several years all stuff I have found very useful when out in public or with strange dogs all-together.

    We have a different issue. My wife and I have 3 dogs (Koda, 9 year old sheltie, Deunan, 8 year old hound mix, and Isis, 7 year old maligator mix) and a 10 1/2 old son. When Koda is about to throw up, Deunan goes after him. Always the back of the neck and only when he is making the sound that he is about to throw up. There is no rhyme or reason as far as location that this is happening. Could be inside, near the couch, in the bed room…just anywhere. Isis is usually the “peacekeeper” and will bark in both of their ears and send them on their way with no issue, but not in this case. The dogs have grown up together for the past 8 years, they play together all the time when we are home, are crated throughout the day (4 hours at the most in a stretch). They are fed in their crates, but sleep in our room with us and get a fair amount of exercise and “work” throughout the evening when we are home. This has been going on for several years, but the aggression is getting worse as they age, and Jessie (our son) doesn’t seem to be any cause of this, but I am now having a hard time trusting Deunan around him.

    My main issue is that I don’t know if she is being dominate, trying to weed the weak from the pack, or if it is more a fear/curious reaction. The normal redirection I have tried, and used in the past, is becoming less and less effective.

    I do NOT want to lose Deunan, but I am at my wits end right now.

    Thank you for your insight.

    • shibashake says

      My dogs do get anxious when one of them starts making vomiting sounds. As soon as I hear this, I make sure to keep my other dogs away from the one who is about to vomit. The one who is about to vomit always moves away and does not want the others close-by, probably because he is feeling more vulnerable.

      With my dogs, I find that prevention is always best. I step in early, call them to me, and keep them calm. If necessary, I separate them. In this way, things do not escalate. My dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, which helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      For more extreme cases, doing noise desensitization exercises may help a dog to make positive associations, and teach him alternate behaviors. Desensitization training can be counter-intuitive, so when I started these exercises with my dog, I got guidance from a good, positive-based, professional trainer.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      More on how I help my dogs get along.

  16. Paige says

    Hi,
    I have a 11month old Dalmatian bitch, lately she has been mounting me and humping me all of a sudden, I thought at first for the first 1 or 2 times it was just a sexual urge but now she is crying and whimpering to hump when she try’s to mount I push her off and give a stern ‘no’ and she stops. What do I do to stop her doing this? Also she has just been for a walk and there was a dog there, we were talking to the owner ( baring in mind it was dark ish, but visible) and she went for the other dog and made it yelp, she also went for the puppy that was with them but I managed to grab her before she went near and smacked her nose and said ‘no’, she has never gone for a strange dog until then however we have another Dalmatian that is a couple months younger which they both fight over dominance in the house, one time they had a fight and the other dog bit her eye and made it bleed.
    She knows commands such as sit, down, wait, paw, high five, and also can do recall by the name or whistle. I’ve never had a problem with her until now:( please please help me I don’t want it to get to the point that she needs to be sold or even worse destroyed. Please help!!

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and a fixed routine. I supervise during times of interaction and make sure that everyone is following my rules. As soon as I notice the start of any undesirable behavior, I interrupt and redirect my dog. In this way, things do not escalate into anything serious. Prevention is best.

      I do not leave my dogs alone together until I am very very sure there will be absolutely no issues.

      The more calm and successful events my dog has with another dog, the more confidence, trust, and positive associations he builds. Similarly, negative events and punishment will undermine that trust, set back training, and worsen my dog’s future behavior. To help my dog rebuild positive associations with other dogs, I do desensitization training, I create positive experiences in a controlled environment, and most important of all I do not expose my dog to situations (outside or at home) that will cause him to fail or become reactive.

      More on how I help my dogs get along at home.
      I talk about how I did desensitization training with my dog in the article above, as well as about using distance and barriers to create neutral experiences.

      However, it is important to remember that dog behavior is very context dependent and each situation is different. In multi-dog households, things become even more complex. Given what you describe, and given that there have already been fights, I would get help from a good professional trainer as soon as possible. I would find a trainer who understands operant conditioning, desensitization training, and has good experience with dog aggression.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Conflicts arise between dogs for many reasons, and dominance is often *not* the cause of undesirable behavior.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dominance-bad-dog-behavior
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/aggression-dogs

  17. Kevin says

    Hello,

    Very good detailed article. It helps see things in a different perspective. I just have a couple of questions. I originally bought 2 mixed Shepherd/Husky dogs, they are from the same mother. However, i kept one and sold the other one to my roommate. We keep them together in the same house, but about a week ago they got into a fight and hurt each other. They were both bleeding, and now they can’t even see each other or they start barking. They have not been in the same place since the fight because they attack each other. This is why they have been separated. One day one sleeps outside and the other inside and vice versa. It is hard to do this, and i just wanted to get some advice or an idea of why they are acting this way. They are brothers and they always fight they can’t see each other. They both get really furious and aggressive. Thank you.

    -Kevin P.

    • shibashake says

      There are many reasons why dogs who live in the same home may get aggressive with each other. With my dogs, conflicts most often arise over resources, e.g. food, toys, sleeping area, access to people, etc.

      Extreme emotion, e.g. excitement, frustration, stress, may also cause aggressive behavior. For example, when my dogs get overly excited during play, one of them may start getting rough and the situation may turn aggressive. A dog with barrier frustration, may also redirect that frustration onto nearby people or dogs.

      This ASPCA article has a list of common reasons for dog aggression-
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/aggression-dogs

      I help my dogs get along by setting up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and I supervise closely during periods of interaction to make sure that everyone is following my rules. As soon as I notice the start of any undesirable behavior, I no-mark and redirect before things escalate.

      The more calm and successful experiences my dogs have, the more confidence and trust they gain, the more positive associations they form, and the better their behavior becomes. Similarly, negative events will undermine that trust, set back training, and worsen their reactive behavior. Therefore, I always manage my dog’s environment and routine, so as to set them up for success. I give them many forms of structured exercise with me (e.g. walks, structured play, obedience exercises, working for their food, etc.), so that they have many positive outlets for their energy. I use management equipment (leashes, gates, basket muzzle, etc.), as necessary, to ensure safety and success.

      I do not leave my dogs together alone until I am very very sure that there will be absolutely no issues.

      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      However, as we saw earlier, there are many sources of dog aggression and all of this is very dependent on the dogs’ temperaments, routine, environment, past experiences, and more. This is why in cases of aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer. During my Shiba Inu’s difficult period, we consulted with several trainers, and that was helpful for us.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  18. Michelle says

    Great article!

    I have a 10 months old Coton de Tulear that has started to bark and growl at other dogs. It started about two months ago, and it has gotten worse. He has always been very social and playful when meeting other dogs prior to this, and I have always thought that he was properly socialized when growing up.

    When he sees another dog we will try to run towards them (to play?), and if I hold him back he will start barking and growling to them. At first I thought he was maybe frustrated because I didn’t let him walk over to the other dog, but he will sometimes snap at them as well when I let them meet. In those cases, he will go forward and meet with the other dog, and suddenly stop sniffing at them and face another way. If the other dog keep sniffing at him then, he will snap and growl at them.

    It doesn’t happen every time, he is still often playful and happy when meeting other dogs, but it’s starting to happen more and more. At first I thought he only did it towards male dogs, but he has also done it towards some females. Only thing is that he doesn’t do it to older females and young puppies. I’m not really sure what to do, as I can’t see any pattern for when he will get angry and when he is like normal. I’m scared it will get worse.

    This is me and my family’s first experience with owning a dog, so we aren’t very sure about things even thought we try our best. Hope you have any suggestions!

    • shibashake says

      I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu to help him be more comfortable around other dogs, and to raise his reactivity threshold. We did desensitization training in a controlled environment, with trainer chosen dogs, and under the direction of a trainer. I talk more about how we did desensitization training at the end of the article above.

      The more successful and calm experiences that Sephy had with other dogs, the more confidence and trust be built, the more positive associations he formed, and the better his behavior became. Similarly, reactive experiences will undermine that confidence and trust, set back our training, and worsen his behavior. Therefore, I want to manage Sephy’s environment carefully and set him up for success. During regular walks, I teach him to ignore other dogs and we create neutral experiences. I only let him meet dogs that I *know* will lead to a calm and successful greeting. Even then, I keep things short and I do a lot of interrupts so that he refocuses on me.

      Sephy is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. If I get stressed or fearful, he will pick up on that energy, get stressed himself, and become even more reactive. Therefore, I control my own energy, I have a decisive plan of what to do, and I keep things structured and calm. I talk more about what I do in the article above.

      More on dog socialization-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-socialization-what-why-how
      http://www.badrap.org/dogdog-tolerance
      http://www.badrap.org/smart-socializing

      How I went about looking for a trainer to help me with desensitization training-
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  19. John Totten says

    I have two dogs. The first is a 11 year old chiuahua. The second is a chihuahua mixed with something else but nobody knows what. He is about 4 months old. The puppy, Chip, bites Hershey, the older dog, and gets a mouthful of hair and pulls Hershey all over the floor backwards. Do you know how I can stop this act? Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank You

  20. Casey says

    Our 1 1/2 yr old female bullmastiff, Roxy, has suddenly become aggressive towards our other 2 dogs, whom she has lived with since we brought her home at 7 weeks old. She has recently attacked our 7 yr old boxer, Jersey, on 3 different occasions. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to witness how the fight starts, but my kids were there each time and yell for me to break it up. The kids say that Roxy attacks for no reason and is always the instigator. Each time she has left Jersey with multiple puncture wounds. Prior to these attacks, Roxy had some aggression towards cats but never has had a problem with dogs. She has never hurt any of our kids and is quite amazing with them. I don’t understand why the aggression has started now when nothing has changed with our family dynamics, living situations, no new pets, nothing. Is there any way to stop this aggression? We are considering finding her a new home, as we are afraid she will injure the other dogs worse than she already has. We love Roxy and don’t want to see her go. Can you help us??

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear and consistent dog-to-dog interaction rules right from the start. I supervise closely during periods of interaction, and redirect any questionable behavior as soon as it occurs, and *before* it escalates into anything more serious. In this way, all my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      The more positive experiences my dogs have with each other, the more confidence and trust they will build. Similarly, negative events will undermine that confidence and trust, set back training, and increase the likelihood of more conflicts in the future. Therefore, I always manage my dogs’ environment and set them up for success. I need to be there to supervise, so that I can redirect undesirable behavior before it escalates. I do not leave them alone, unsupervised, until I am very very sure that there will be absolutely no issues.

      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so the temperament of the dog, routine, environment, and more will all play a big role. In a multi-dog situation, things become even more complex, and it can be difficult to tell what is triggering the behavior. Based on what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer ASAP. In the meantime, I would keep the dogs separated until the trainer can help identify the triggers of the aggressive behavior, and come up with a good and safe plan for retraining.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      In my experience, it is very difficult to re-home a dog with a history of aggression. The no-kill shelters that I have visited usually only accept owner surrenders if the dog is able to pass a temperament test.

  21. nicole says

    I have a 5 year old beagle (named buddy) and he gets aggressive around other dogs. Its all because my friend would bring her extremely aggressive jack ruslle over to my house and her dog would attack buddy to the point he would be pinned on the ground. buddy was a puppy when this happened and he saw this dog almost every single day and it was the only dog he was ever around. so now buddy thinks that’s the correct way to act around another animal.

    My sister brought over her dog over a few months back. Her dog a pitbull/boxer at the time was only a month old. So she put her dog in the back yard to play with buddy. Buddy kept growling and chasing after my sisters dog. We thought he was just playing until he attacked her dog.

    A few days ago My sister brought her dog over again to a cook out at my house. Her dog is almost a year old now. So we decide to try and take the dogs down to a field by my house. Buddy started growling but he was also trying to chase him around but in a playful way. It was like he had no clue what to do. so we took the dogs back to my house and put them in the back yard. At first buddy growled but then he started bounceing back and forth from playfuly chasing the dog to agressivly chasing the dog.

    So we brought them back inside to let them take a break, and then buddy started growling and showing his teeth again. So we had to separate the dogs by leaving buddy inside while we stayed outside with my sisters dog.
    Everyone now hates Buddy and was acting like he’s a mean dog. Where buddy is acutally a sweet and nice dog. The only time he ever gets aggrisive is at times like this. I don’t know what to do. Buddy is an older dog who thinks he’s suppose to be aggressive but how am I suppose to change that. We never knew buddy was aggressive because the only dog’s he was ever around was the jack russle and a great dane and the great dane is just as mean as the jack russle.

    Please help me.

    • shibashake says

      I helped my dog be more comfortable around other dogs by doing dog-to-dog desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises. I make sure to start small – far enough away from the other dog so that my dog is calm, not-reactive, and able to focus and listen to me. In this way, I can reward my dog for being calm, and teach him positive behaviors.

      The more calm and successful experiences my dog has in the vicinity of another dog, the more confidence and trust he builds, and the more he associates other dogs with positive events. Similarly, reactive or negative experiences will undermine that confidence and trust, significantly set back retraining, and worsen my dog’s behavior.

      Therefore, a very important part of helping my dog is in managing his environment, carefully choosing his playmates, and protecting him from bad situations or situations that he is not ready for yet. I observe my dog closely, try to identify his current tolerance levels, and what things trigger his reactive behavior.

      I talk more about how I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu in the article above.

      Some articles on dog socialization-
      http://www.badrap.org/dogdog-tolerance
      http://www.badrap.org/smart-socializing
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-socialization-what-why-how

      With Sephy, we did desensitization exercises in a structured environment, with trainer chosen dogs, and under the direction of a trainer. In addition, I also manage his environment carefully so that I always set him up for success.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  22. Tom says

    My wife and I are caring for our son’s Sheba Inu while he is in college. She is extremely dog aggressive, and when we walk her, we try to follow some of the above advice in avoidance of other dogs, etc. The main problem is that she is also a runner, and escapes the house a few times a year, and runs at high speeds and attacks any dog in her path. She was a rescue dog, and then we got her from an owner who said she was too uncontrollable to keep. She is great with people, and hardly ever barks, but is a terror when she gets loose on the streets. I doubt an invisible fence would stop her (she is way too fast and would go through it very quickly), so should we seek some professional local help?
    Thanks!
    Tom

  23. Taylor says

    I just wanted to say thank you for the articles about your Shiba Inu. We got our Shar Pei while in Germany, on a military post, where there was not much interaction for him with other dogs. There are certain dogs that want to play with him and will not test his dominance, and he has found the best friends in those dogs. Other dogs test his dominance, and like your Shiba Inu, he will not back down. We try to take walks and practice avoidance and desensitization as much as possible. Your articles have made me feel like we’re not alone in the quest to find answers for our aggressive pup. I often get negative looks and responses from strangers and even my vet. Your articles have made me feel as though my dog is not the only one going through training and finding what’s comfortable for him.

  24. Skye says

    Hello!

    We have a 9 year old miniature Australian shepherd, who was raised by another until she was 3-4. We recently got a 6 month old pomsky puppy and are working on socializing them. They are about the same size. The Aussie does well out on walks, and will calmly walk beside the puppy, and often be okay in the yard/house. The puppy has no aggression, and is curious and playful. The aussie does not act aggressive towards the two house cats recently introduced. (My fiance had the cats, I had the dog and we recently moved into a house together). I am sure the new territory and rival are escalating the conflict. She acts aggressive towards the puppy when there are toys/treats/or the puppy receives attention or gets too close. It appears to be possessive, territorial, and dominance aggression. Are there any extra tips for socializing these two in the home? We keep them separated with a fenced baby gate. The puppy goes in the crate at night in a separate portion of the house, and the Aussie does not get a crate. A thought was to crate the Aussie again (she was crate trained as a puppy) to give her less sense of owning the property, however my worry is she could see this as punishment and generate irreversible resentment. Should we be socializing them completely on neutral ground with a trainer first until they show no more signs and then restarting in the home, or nipping it in the bud directly in the home with consistent training? Thank you for any tips. :)

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I supervise them very closely during periods of interaction and make sure that everyone is following the rules. One very important rule is no-stealing. As soon as I notice the beginning of any anti-social behavior, I interrupt and redirect, before things escalate. In this way, all my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      I also put my puppy on a fixed routine and I keep her away from my adult dogs when they want to be left alone. Puppies have a lot of energy and are infinitely curious. This can be annoying to an older dog, especially when he wants to rest or merely wants to enjoy chewing on a favorite toy.

      At the same time, I also try to create as many positive and rewarding together-time as possible. For example, I will do obedience exercises or structured play-exercises with my new puppy. I make sure the exercises are positive and very rewarding. This usually attracts my older dogs, who also want to join in on the positive experience. When they come, I make sure to reward then really really well. I get them all to focus on me, do work for me, and I reward them all exceptionally well (especially in the beginning), for being calm and listening to me.

      I want to not only maximize positive and rewarding time together, but also minimize conflicts and negative events. In this way, my existing dogs learn to see the new puppy as an enhancement to their lifestyle, rather than an annoyance who steals space, toys, and their people’s attention.

      I do not leave my dogs alone together until I am very very sure that there will be absolutely no issues.

      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      However, as you know, dog behavior is very context dependent and it sounds like there may also be resource guarding behaviors. To be safe, I would consult with a good trainer who can visit and observe both dogs, and help develop a good plan for integration.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  25. Lisa says

    Thank you for your article! I am fostering a 115 pound 3 year old male german shepherd (neutered). He is very dog aggressive and I have been unable to take him on walks unless we go to a deserted parking lot or similar. A trainer tried putting a small stuffed dog in Sampson’s field of vision and he immediately attacked it. From what I gleaned from the woman who surrendered him, Sampson has not been socialized much so I’m not sure if his aggression is based on fear, if its prey driven, or just being a shepherd. Is the training the same? Any suggestions for my work with him. He likes people and with me is obedient, loyal and quiet.

  26. Juliet says

    I recently rescued Cody, a 2 year old male Schnauzer/Poodle mix. We already had Luna, a seven year old labradoodle female. We introduced the dogs slowly and after some initial wariness the two get along fine. But we are learning that Cody can be dog aggressive with other dogs when they enter our house or if we encounter them in public spaces. I really appreciate your site and plan to work on socialization with Cody, but thought you might have an insight on his pattern. He is playful and usually focused on his ball and retrieving. He will ordinarily ignore other dogs unless they approach him, in which case he often overreacts and gets into a fight. He does not lunge after dogs when walking, and typically is not the initial aggressor. Rather, he seems not to know how to interact with other dogs, and reacts aggressively when approached by most dogs. I suspect that he was not socialized as a puppy. Unfortunately, this means we cannot have him off leash where there may be other dogs which is unfortunate because he loves to retrieve and we are accustomed to taking our dogs to off leash beaches and hikes.

    Also, we have many friends with dogs and have to shut Cody up when their dogs are over. In this context (in the house), what is your view on muzzles?

    Thank you!
    Juliet

    • shibashake says

      Rather, he seems not to know how to interact with other dogs, and reacts aggressively when approached by most dogs.

      Does he act the same way when he is not doing fetch and there is no ball around? When another dog approaches him, what is his body posture like? You say “most dogs”, what are the dogs that he seems more comfortable with? Is there a type?

      what is your view on muzzles?

      I think when used in the right context, muzzles can be helpful. However, when used in the wrong situation it can make things worse. It depends a lot on the temperament of the dog, why he is showing the aggression, the surrounding context, etc.

      What has worked well for my Shiba, in terms of his dog-to-dog reactivity, is to start small, go in small steps, and slowly help him associate other dogs with calmness and positive events. I manage his surrounding environment carefully, so that he is not exposed to situations he is unready for, and feels he must resort to aggression.

      The more positive and rewarding experiences he has with other dogs, the more confidence and trust he builds, and the more comfortable he becomes with other dogs. Similarly, reactive episodes will undermine that trust, significantly set back retraining, and worsen his behavior.

      A muzzle prevents a dog from doing physical damage to others, but it does not alleviate the underlying anxiety, stress, frustration, etc. A fearful dog may become even more anxious if muzzled, and then put in a stressful social situation with a group of unknown dogs.

      Here are some articles on dog social tolerances and socialization –
      http://www.badrap.org/dogdog-tolerance
      http://www.badrap.org/smart-socializing
      http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/he-just-wants-say-hi

      http://shibashake.com/dog/my-dog-is-friendly
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-socialization-what-why-how

      With Sephy, we did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises in a controlled and structured environment, under the direction of a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs. A good professional trainer can help with first identifying the source of the reactive behavior, and then crafting an effective and safe plan for retraining.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  27. Andrej says

    I have a 2 year old lab,when he was about 1 year old i put him in the backyard, My neighbors also have a dog,and when he was about 1 year old he didn’t hate the dog and he was friendly toward other dogs. About 6 months ago,he started barking growling and trying to bite the dog,and he started barking and growling at other dogs. They actually got clipped 2 times,nothing serious but i think it might have made him aggressive towards other dogs. I’m going to move to a an apartment now,and take him with me,if it’s aggression,how can i help him get over it,help please.

    • shibashake says

      What is his daily routine like? How long is he alone in the backyard?

      Dogs may develop barrier frustration if left unsupervised for too long in the backyard. If untreated, barrier frustration can lead to negative associations with other dogs and then aggression.
      http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-do-i-manage-my-dogs-barrier-frustration
      http://www.bigdogsbighearts.com/Leash_Aggression_Barrier_Frustration.pdf

      With my dog, I do dog-to-dog desensitization exercises to help him be more calm around other dogs, and to reassociate other dogs with positive and rewarding events. We did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises in a structured environment, under the direction of a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs. The key thing during the desensitization process is that I must protect my dog from further negative experiences with other dogs, including barrier frustration episodes, bad greetings, etc.

      Positive experiences help my dog to gain confidence and learn to trust other dogs. Similarly, negative experiences will undermine that confidence, significantly set back retraining, and worsen his reactive behavior.

      I talk more about the desensitization exercises I did with my Shiba Inu in the article above. However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so the dog’s temperament, environment, routine, past experiences, and more will all play a role. This is why especially in cases of aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  28. Michael says

    This article is giving me new hope…. I have a golden retriever who is now 10; up until a couple of years ago he related wonderfully to other dogs. For reasons not entirely clear, he started to become hostile and now will attack other dogs if not restrained. When I walk him I have to choose routes carefully so there will be few if any dogs; I do cross the street to avoid them and I bring in his leash very, very tight as he strains to get at closer dogs (he will actually strangle himself trying to get to other dogs).

    I had him to the vet to see if there was a health issue causing this and nothing was found. I actually think it’s a little more subtle – about three years ago he had a change in living arrangement when he and my ex were divorced. We share him now but I wonder if the back and forth is just too disruptive for him.

    I look forward to trying more of the hints you’ve outlined above. I’m working hard on not being stressed when we come up on other dogs, but it’s difficult, particularly with people who let their dogs approach you/your dog and don’t first ask permission.

    • shibashake says

      One thing that has been helpful for me is to use my own body language to let people know not to approach. For example, I usually lead my dog into a driveway, especially when I notice a reactive dog or uncontrolled dog coming. If there are cars in the driveway, I use that as an barrier.

      Then, I face my dog, focus on him, and do simple commands with him. When people see that I am focused on training my dog, they usually do not approach. Some people may say hi or something, in which case I raise a hand and wave at them, but I always continue to keep eye-contact and focus on my dog, and keep him engaged with me.

      Another suggestion that I thought was interesting is to put an “in-training” vest on our dog, similar to the vest that guide dogs wear. The hope is that people will understand that the dog is working, and not to disturb when they see this. I have *not* tried this, so I am not sure how well it works.

      Desensitization exercises were also very helpful with my Shiba Inu in terms of helping him to be more calm around other dogs.

      Finally, yeah, uncertainty and changes to my dog’s environment and schedule can definitely cause stress, anxiety, and changes in behavior. Is your dog on a fixed sharing-schedule? What is the environment like at your ex’s place? Is it very different from things at your place? Are there other dogs around? Does she walk him in the same way? Does she have the same training rules etc.? Did he have any bad experiences with other dogs?

  29. Colburn says

    I have 3 rescue dogs. The first dog is a hound mix of some sort that is 60lbs. She is super energetic and leaps our 6ft fences like puddles. She now has a shock collar because nothing else worked. The collar does keep her in the fence. The second rescue is some other terrier mix at 18lb. They “seem” to get along and play fine. One day the battery died in Kipper’s (60lb) collar and she jumped the fence. She grabbed the neighbors shitszu and shook it until told to stop like she does a toy that looks similar to the puppy. We thought maybe she was confused. Now we have a 3lb rescue that is maybe a chi mix. We introduced by scent on us, then briery meeting in the yard on the porch, smelling through the door, etc. over a span of several days. Yesterday, Kipper got the 3lb pup and shook her too. We went to the emergivet and she had a broken rib and collapsed lung. Today she is doing fine and on the mend in our bathroom. Kipper did not growl or seem “aggressive” just curious I thought. My concern now is do I need to relocated Kipper because she could hurt another animal or perhaps even a small child. I know she doesn’t have the best yard. It is in a neighborhood so it is smaller that what I would like so I know she would like more room. Advice???

    • shibashake says

      Some dogs have high prey drive, and some dogs view little dogs as prey. Both my Huskies have high prey drive and they do not generally do well with little dogs, especially the ones who run around and bark a lot. They will also go after squirrels, deer, and cats.

      I manage their environment and set them up for success. I do not expose them to situations that they are not ready for. I pick their playmates and housemates carefully, set up clear interaction rules, and I always supervise very well during play. I also do desensitization exercises to help raise their prey threshold. I exercise them very well daily, and help redirect their prey drive into structured and safe activities.

      ASPCA article on dog prey drive.

      In their evolutionary past, dogs were predators. This may be a disturbing realization to pet parents, but almost every dog has a natural tendency toward some predatory behavior.
      ~~[ASPCA]

      Going after prey is a natural instinct in dogs. However, it can be managed, trained, and redirected so as to make things safe for our dog and for the people and animals around him. To do this, I would consult with a good professional trainer/behaviorist and also read up on prey drive and how it can be managed and safely redirected into positive and structured play.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      I always keep my dogs on-leash and under my control when there are young children about. I would do this for any dog, because even friendly excitement behaviors and play may sometimes result in harm to a young child. I do not let my dogs meet children who are overly excitable or too young. I only let them do greetings when I am very sure that it will be successful and safe.

      More on how I deal with my dogs’ prey drive.

  30. Jane Stratton says

    I have a 8 yr old lab/springer mix. Up until recently she has always socialised well with other dogs. We socialised her through puppy training classes when we first got her. I have been able to walk her off the leash in open spaces knowing she will pass other dogs after a brief greeting and a play, and then come to call.
    Recently our neighbour got 2 border collie cross dogs. We introduced the dogs on leashes originally and all seemed ok, and they got on well. We did this only once, and in hindsight should have done more with the 3 dogs together.
    Now, a few months have passed, our dogs cannot go out together in our separate gardens as they try and get at each other through the fence, which is getting broken. Our dog is now aggressive to others on walks, has attacked and bitten one of our neighbour’s dogs through a gate when she escaped one day. I now have to muzzle our dog on walks. A local trainer has suggested we swap dogs for the afternoon as the aggression is all about territory and defending the humans on their pack. This seemed like a good idea, and we plan to do it tomorrow. Having read your previous advice I am now worried how we should do this.

  31. Arianne Joy Castillo says

    Hi,
    My 4year old German mixed dog has been aggressive after giving birth. The pups are now 7month old, and she attacks the youngest and weakest pup. She’s so fierce now, that even us are scared of her. What can I do?

  32. Katie says

    Hi,
    i give my dog cookies when he plays at the beach and comes to me when i call him. He’s been doing great but recently he shows aggression when other dogs also comes checking or asking for food. My dog doesn’t want to share so he would growl and got twice in ”fight”. Luckily no dogs ware injured. I wonder what i should do now. Maybe next time i should call my dog and go another direction then reward my dog when he comes along when there’s no other dogs around? Do you think that could be a good idea?

    • shibashake says

      What you describe sounds like food guarding behavior.

      Guarding possessions from humans or other animals is normal behavior for dogs. Wild animals who successfully protect their valuable resources—such as food, mates and living areas—are more likely to survive in the wild than those who don’t.
      ~~[ASPCA]

      In general, I do not use food when there are unknown dogs around, especially in off-leash public places. If I move away, all the dogs may start following me. I was in a puppy play-group one time, and this guy came with a bag of smelly treats. As soon as he brought it out, all the dogs started following him around. It created a stressful situation for him and for the dogs as well.

      I do a lot of exercises with my dogs so that they do not guard food with each other, and they are pretty good about not guarding food with other dogs. However, this just means that they have a higher tolerance and are less prone to guarding. If there is a high enough priority item around that they truly want, they may start to guard too, especially from unknown dogs.

      In addition, there may be other dogs in the group who may be prone to guarding food from other dogs, or even people. Therefore, even if my dog doesn’t initiate the guarding behavior, another dog may start the fight. If I accidentally drop food on the ground, that could trigger something bad as all the dogs in the group will probably try to get it.

      Dogs may also guard toys and other items that they see as a resource.

  33. Mariella says

    Hi,

    First of all thank you so much for sharing so much with us.

    I am currently living in South Africa and have four dogs (17yr old border collie, 12yr German shepherd, 7yr Australian cattle dog x and a 2yr small border collie x with something like a corgi).

    My dogs are all rescues except for the 17yr border collie who was a working dog – police drug dog… Despite his age and being deaf he is the alpha in the pack although I have got all dogs in good control.

    Anyway, 3 days ago I took in another dog from a friend who was leaving to Japan and could not take her 1.5yr old dog with her. She was flown to be a few hours away. Is very cute. But…is constantly growling at my other dogs…

    There has already been s little scuffle with my gsd who is rather anxious herself and with my 17yr old BC. I worry about my BC because he cannot hear the warning snarls and growls…

    So… I am wondering if you have any advice as to how to go about this without traumatising my new arrival and my pack of 4.

    One thing I’d like to mention is that my new dog has a bad limp due to an accident late last year and do I think she may feel even more vulnerable due to this…

    Is the growling a phase? Will it pass? What can I do…

    Thank you so much for any thoughts.

    Warmest regards from South Africa. .

    • shibashake says

      One thing I’d like to mention is that my new dog has a bad limp due to an accident late last year and do I think she may feel even more vulnerable due to this…

      Is she still in pain? Has the vet done all that they can for her? I have a three legged dog and she definitely feels more vulnerable with dogs that she does not know well, especially larger dogs. Some dogs may also treat her differently because of her disability. I always make sure to protect her, and I manage her environment carefully. I do my best not put her in situations where she feels stressed or threatened. Dogs who have hearing or vision loss may also feel more vulnerable around other dogs. Very close supervision and management are key.

      With my dogs I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and I supervise closely to make sure everyone follows the rules. As soon as I notice the *start* of any anti-social behavior, I redirect my dogs so that things do not escalate into anything more.

      I always try to set my dogs up for success by managing their environment, and managing their excitement levels. I make sure not to expose them to situations they are not ready for, where they may feel that they need to use aggression to protect themselves or their stuff. I set up a fixed routine and schedule for all my dogs, and I make sure that my new dog does not bother my existing dogs when they want to rest or want to be alone (and vice versa). In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. Routine, rules, and consistency help to create certainty and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      I do not let my new dog mingle with my other dogs unsupervised until I am very very sure that there will be no conflicts or issues. I actually do not leave my tripod Husky alone with my other Husky (Lara). Lara is still young, she is pretty big, and often does not know her own strength. She has accidentally hurt Shania before during play, so I keep them separated when I am not around to supervise.

      I want to maximize positive interactions so that my dogs learn to trust each other, and learn to see the new dog as an enhancement to their quality of life. Similarly, I want to minimize reactive and negative events which will undermine their trust, create anxiety, and worsen their behavior.

      More on how I introduce a new dog.

    • mariella says

      Thank you so much for your advice and so sorry for not seeing your response sooner… i thought I would get an email! Anyway I will try what you suggest and hope for the best :)

  34. Erlina says

    Hello, i’ve a 3 years old dog. He’s Beagle and Basenji mix. I got him from my friend when he was 1 year old. He used to be a home dog.
    He never go out from my house without me or my family, but sometimes we take him for a walk. We ever tried to take him to go by car, but when the machine turned on, he was so nervous and look like frightened.
    One day when i took him for a walk, we stopped for a while in my neighbor’s house who has a new dog (actually a female dog) and suddenly my dog have slammed the pity dog and i just shock. I dont know if it was such a play or fight.
    Last week, my neighbor’s dog walked in front of my house without her owner. My dog was barking moreover shaking his body and i dont know that was kind of frightened or desire to attack (aggresive) or desire to the female dog (because my family never let him mate).
    So, Do you know what happen with my dog? What do you recommend for me to train my dog?
    Thanks

  35. Isabel says

    hello, a few days ago I adopted a 5 years old dog, I wouldn’t know the specie because he is mixed and they didn’t know what to tell me, I’m trying to learn dog’s language but I’m failing, I need a lot more training myself, but I need a tip, I can’t afford professional training session from professional trainers, ecceterà….
    But he doesn’t like other dogs at all, he stares, I call him he ignores even as soon he peeks a sight of another dog I tried to call him to get his attention, nothing worked he kept staring and pulling towards. He is a medium sized dog, has a great dominant posture, ears flopped up, weight forward, looking as big as possible I giggle because when I look at him he is cute yet I know is not good.
    This morning around 7am we went out for a routine walk, in the park he stopped to do his big business and with the corner of my eye I suddenly saw another dog approaching, looking curious, I couldn’t move him away because he was doing his business, the other dog was alone and un-leashed, I tried to stay calm and not signal my dog about my fear of what comes out of this. Well the other dog approached, as soon my dog heard him coming he looked at him I tried to call my dog he didn’t respond and once finished he launched himself barking and pulling, growling towards the other dog, I tried to walk away, meanwhile my dog was standing on hind paws trying to attack the other dog which started to bark and growl aswell, I have to admit I started to feel uncomfortable because I’m not a dog trainer and if something would come to happen I wouldn’t know how to break them apart.
    Fortunatelly insisting and forcing myself to take a calm state, I kept pulling him behind me until the other dog intimidated by me and by the barks of my dog walked off a bit, fortunatelly the other wasn’t stubborn. But I really want my dog to get along and not be so dog aggressive everytime he meets or sees another dog.
    As I said earlier I can’t afford all those exercises, also because I don’t know any other owners with balanced calm dogs, I live in a neighborhood where all owners babytalk their dogs and every dog is spoiled and hyper…
    Is there any other way I can control my dog from responding to another dog’s challange? or stop him from trying to challange another dog too?

  36. Eman says

    hi, ive yorkie terrier shes 8 years old, i adopted her when she was 5 years from family, she get used to me too much, sharing my bed, going out with me and acting with her like a real baby. but shes very agressive with other dogs, i brought yesterday puppie 5 months old, i kept him Inside the crate but shes attacking him for no reason. every time shes bitting him and i should interfer and separate them. this evening she bite me when i tried to stop her from attacking him and shes hiding from me in the other room, shes not letting me approach her and she will be grawling or even bitting me. the new one am keeping him Inside but he want me to stay in the same room, he start barking if am leaving for even 30 seconds, plz help am desperate

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and I supervise closely to make sure they follow the rules. In this way, each dog understands exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      I use leashes, baby gates, and other management equipment as necessary. I use these to make sure that all my dogs and all the people around them are safe. For example, putting a leash on my dog allows me to more easily and quickly control him, with less risk of him biting at me. I only use a regular flat collar. More on structure and drag-leads.

      In general, I try to set my dog up for success and prevent bad behaviors *before* they escalate. As soon as I notice the start to any anti-social behavior, I no-mark, and stop it before it escalates into anything more serious. The more negative events or fights there are, the more negative associations are formed, and the more likely it will happen in the future. Therefore, it is important to maximize successes, minimize negative events, and *not* expose my dogs to situations that they are not ready for.

      Supervision, structure, and management are all very important in ensuring that my dogs get along.
      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      Based on what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer. Dog behavior is very context dependent, and it sounds like there are many issues here. A good trainer can help with reading the dogs’ body language, understanding the source of the aggressive behavior, management, safety, timing, etc.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      Where I get dog training and dog behavior information.

  37. Danny says

    Hi, My female Kelpie 8 yrs old is a beautiful natured dog who has been non aggressive to any dog at all before , but recently i brought another pup, a female Mastiff into our home and she plays non stop with her and has no aggression towards the puppy ,She will walk with no problems and listens to all commands , But when we go to the of leash area dog park she wants to attack every dog that comes near , I don`t think it`s her being protective over the pup because the pup wonders off to play and she will still be aggressive towards any other dog that comes near her still . I have friends that bring their dogs over to my house and they play together with no aggression at all.
    What are your thoughts on this ?
    Regards
    Danny

    • shibashake says

      Before you got the puppy, how was her behavior at the dog park? Is that an enclosed dog park? If you bring her to the park without the puppy does she act the same way? How often does she go to this park? Did anything unusual happen at the dog park?

      I have friends that bring their dogs over to my house and they play together with no aggression at all.

      Was she previously familiar with your friends’ dogs?

      I know that my dogs are a lot more confident and sure of themselves on home turf. They also feel very safe there. On the other hand, the enclosed dog park environment can be very high stimulus and can be stressful for a dog. There are often many strange, new dogs around, engaged in chasing, wrestling, and other high energy behavior. Usually, there is not much structure or supervision. My Shiba Inu picked up a lot of bad habits at the dog park, and his behavior and social skills suffered as a result.
      Our enclosed dog park experiences.

  38. Katelyn says

    Hi, I have a five month old female pit bull, who is currently at the vet now getting spayed, and she is perfectly fine with the three other dogs I have in the house. but as soon as we go on a walk, and she sees another dog, she pulls, lunges, and barks like crazy. I try to pull her away and tell her no, but she pays no attention to me. But I have noticed, that If I go up to the dog and associate then she is perfectly fine with that dog. I understand she is getting over excited over the dog, which can lead to the aggression. but I don’t understand why she acts the way she does. I just want to be able to take her for a walk and pass dogs without any issues. and I would like to get it fixed now since she is still a puppy, please, I need help!

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, was a pretty reactive dog when he was young. He is curious and very dog focused. Also, at the time, he was an only dog. As a result, when he saw another dog during walks, he would get really excited and pull to get over to smell and possibly play.

      However, since he is on a leash, he is prevented from going. His excitement becomes frustration and he pulls harder and starts of vocalize. Ultimately, he redirected all of that frustrated energy onto the leash and started to do leash biting.

      I helped Sephy to be more calm around other dogs by doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. We did desensitization training in a structured environment, under the guidance of a professional trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs. I used distance and barriers to create neutral experiences during our regular walks. We drove him to quiet, low stimulus areas to walk, and did it during off hours as necessary.

      I talk about what I did with Sephy in the article above. However, just like people behavior, dog behavior is complex and will take time, patience, repetition, and consistency to change.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      The most important thing with Sephy is not only to maximize positive events, but also to minimize reactive episodes. Reactive episodes will significantly set back our training, undermine his trust, as well as cause him to associate other dogs with frustration and crazy behavior. Therefore, I had to manage his environment carefully and set him up for success by not exposing him to situations that he is not yet ready for.

  39. Lara says

    okay so, Me and my fiancé own a pitbull Australian shepard mix, and he has food aggression with only one of the other dogs, I am wondering if it’s a dominance thing toward him or is it just the fact that she gets to close to him… I have done everything I could, did research…and yet no result has appeared…

    • shibashake says

      How many dogs are there? Which other dog is he food aggressive with? Age? Breed? Temperament? How long have they been together? What is their history? What are their daily routines? What are their interactions like when there is no food? What retraining exercises have you tried? For how long? What is the situation like during feeding time?

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and I slowly teach each new dog what the rules are. I supervise well during meal-time to make sure there is no stealing and that everyone is following the rules. I try to set my dogs up for success by managing their environment, and not exposing them to situations that they are not ready to handle. I supervise closely and redirect questionable behaviors *before* they escalate into anything more serious. More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so a dog’s past history, temperament, routine, environment, and more will all play a role. Things become even more complicated when there are multiple dogs involved. This is why in dog aggression cases, it is usually best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer/behaviorist.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  40. Jennifer says

    I own a Shiba Inu (Leon). He is a great dog except for his aggression towards other dogs, and his tendency to pull when on leash. There are a few dogs that he knew as a puppy that he still gets along with. But any new dog we pass on our walk he immediately stands guard and will attack. (He once slipped off his collar and tried to pick a fight with a great dane)
    There has also been an instance where we came across a dog unleashed and he attacked that dog as well. It scares me now more than ever because I usually have my 2 yo son with me. We switched to an easy walk harness, but nothing seems to help, he still lunges at other dogs.
    He has always been very hyper, so not going on a walk isn’t an option. Not sure what to do at this point.

    • shibashake says

      I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba and that was helpful. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      With Sephy, management is key. The more structured, positive, and calm experiences he has with other dogs, the more confidence and trust he gains, and the better his behavior becomes. However, reactive episodes (e.g. where he lunges or loses control) will undermine his trust, significantly set back training, and worsen his behavior.

      Therefore, I need to manage him carefully so that I do not expose him to situations that he is not ready to handle. I drive him to quiet trails if necessary, and we walk during off hours, etc. I use distance, barriers, and more to weaken the other dog stimulus and set him up for success. At the same time, I do desensitization exercises in a structured and controlled environment, with a trainer, to help raise his reactivity threshold.

      I talk more about what I did with Sephy in the article above.

      More on desensitization and counter-conditioning.

  41. DogPerson says

    Hi,
    Thanks for your article. I thought it was helpful, however I do still have some questions. I have a three year old male Texas Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog and Australian Shepherd cross) who is extremely reactive towards other dogs (and people in some instances). He was from a backyard breeder and has genetic fear aggression issues. Dogs (big or small) who show up on walks are instantly growled and lunged at (interestingly, he doesn’t bark). Sometimes he will hide behind me as they approach before lunging out. I never allow interaction with unknown dogs. He pulls like crazy on the leash, but once the dog passes us, he is completely fine. People can walk by and, as long as they say nothing to him, he doesn’t seem to care (if a person does speak to him, they are immediately growled at). This makes walks very stressful. Would you please offer me some advice? Sundance (the dog) doesn’t like other dogs… period, but he can be around them (like in a house or in someone’s yard), though I have to be alert of his body language and make sure no toys or food are around. Thanks again for taking the time to help me.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • shibashake says

      In terms of other dogs, I create distance to weaken the other dog stimulus, I use barriers if they are available, and I also do dog-to-dog and dog-to-people desensitization exercises to raise my dog’s reactivity threshold.

      The more calm or successful events my dog has in the presence of another dog, the more confidence he gains, the more he associates other dogs with positive events, and the better his behavior becomes. Similarly, reactive events (where he becomes fearful and starts lunging) will undermine that confidence, significantly set back desensitization training, and cause his behavior to become much worse.

      Therefore, it was very important for me to minimize the number of reactive episodes that my dog has. To do this, I manage his environment carefully, and I make sure not to expose him to more than he can handle. I drive him to more quiet areas if necessary, we walk during off-hours, etc. I need to start small, and in an environment that sets him up for success. As he progresses with desensitization and gains more confidence, then I can very slowly increase the environmental challenge.

      Desensitization exercises need to be carried out in a very structured and specific way, so it was helpful for me to get guidance from a good professional trainer/behaviorist, especially in the beginning. We did desensitization at our local SPCA, under the direction of a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs. I talk more about what I do with desensitization and creating neutral experiences in the article above.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      More on desensitization and counter-conditioning.
      More on dog socialization.

      As for food and toys, that sounds more like resource guarding.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/why-dogs-get-aggressive-over-food-toys

  42. CJ says

    We have had our malinois for four weeks now, she is a 6 year old rescue dog and until she has been settled in her new home we have been trying to avoid other dogs until we could take her to a socialisation class. .
    At first we thought her problem was that she would be aggressive towards other dogs if she was on the lead and the other dog was not (despite our efforts to keep her away from other dogs this has happened a couple of times where the other dog has been off the lead and trotted right up to us. In one case she knocked a newfoundland to the ground, in the other she snapped at a boxer. Neither dog showed aggression towards her at all)

    We have been taking her to a field where we have been letting her off the lead to run around, since she needs plenty of exercise we’ve been there about an hour each day, there’s plenty of space to avoid other dogs and you can easily see all around you. So we can see other dog walkers before she can and avoid them easily. She’s good on recall and always comes back to us. She did this even when she saw a Black lab she came back when I called.
    Unfortunately she did not come back to me when she saw two dogs that I had failed to see because they were hidden in the trees. She’s as fast as a greyhound so she was over there in an instant. I couldn’t see what was happening due to the trees but I heard the other owner shouting. She’s gone over, started a fight and from what I can tell, injured the other dogs leg.

    She was rehomed shortly before we got her but then taken back to the shelter, we were told this was because she was fighting with that woman’s other dog. This woman had her for three weeks and couldn’t stop her fighting. We were lead to believe that this was just a problem with that specific dog. From what we can glean, it is every dog. Unfortunately we live in a built up area. We can’t avoid other dogs, but I’ve been doing everything you said in this article about moving away from the other dog if I see them on the street. We can’t distract her with treats as she has little interest in food.

    Any advice would be seriously appreciated. We are not letting her off the lead again. And before she goes out again we are getting a muzzle since we can’t guarantee that another dog who is off the lead won’t come up to her. I wasn’t nervous about walking her before, I’ve dealt with dogs that have bad socialisation skills so I’m pretty laid back when avoiding other dogs. Now I’m worried about her hurting other dogs. Please,Any help to avoid any harm to someone else’s pet would be really appreciated

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu, I did dog-to-dog desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises to help him be more comfortable around other dogs. We did the exercises in a very structured and controlled environment, under the direction of a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/desensitization-and-counterconditioning

      The key with desensitizing Sephy is in managing his environment. I want to not only maximize positive and controlled events with other dogs but also minimize bad or reactive episodes. The more calm and successful experiences Sephy has in the presence of another dog, the more comfortable he becomes, and the more he associates other dogs with something positive. Similarly, reactive events will undermine his comfort level, significantly set back training, and worsen his behavior. I talk more about what I do in the article above.

      For dog-reactivity issues, I would get help from a good professional trainer who has access to dogs that can be used during training. We did training at our local SPCA and it was great because they had many different dogs that they can use to help Sephy with desensitization. In addition, the trainer helped us to keep things safe for everyone, and ensured that we carried out the steps for desensitization in an effective way.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  43. Anita says

    Thank you so much for this article. I have a 1 yr old rat terrier chihuahua mix that is in obedience class right now, and although I was told his aggression would be addressed, it is absolutely not (which is quite frustrating). My dog has aggression issues with people as well, and any doors that go to the outside, and a male member of my household (whom he barks at agressively and attempts to bite whenever he comes home). This means he barks at strangers and dogs outside, strangers inside, and even a family member. I try to walk him calmly by but it does not work too often.

    Do you recommend this type of training for his aggression towards people as well? I have tried both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement, but I must be doing something wrong for it not to work. I appreciate any help and advice you have to offer.

    Thank you!!

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu, I did desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises with other dogs and with people. However, the process requires a lot of management and must be done in a specific and structured way. To do it right, we did private sessions with professional trainers at our local SPCA, with trainer chosen dogs.

      The more positive and calm experiences my dog has, the more confidence he gains, the more he associates other dogs with good things, and the better his behavior becomes. Similarly, reactive events will undermine that confidence, significantly set back our training, and cause his behavior to worsen. Therefore, an extremely important part of my dog’s training involved managing his environment carefully, so that I do not expose him to situations that he is not ready to handle. I want to not only maximize positive experiences, but also minimize reactive events.

      More on how I did people desensitization exercises.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and situation are different. For something like this, I would get private lessons from a good professional trainer, who has access to dogs that he can use to help with training.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  44. Jeanine says

    I understand that judging a dog by its breed is predjustice but my 5 year old lab/terrier mix (65lbs) does not interact well with small breeds particularly chihuahuas, shit-shuz, and other companion breeds. If the small breed is calm and uninterested in my dog Foxy than everything goes well. But Foxy has been aggressive towards 2 chihuahuas now, one requiring medical needs and neither instances was she the initial aggressor. I need advice and help to train Foxy to relax and stay calm when small breeds become aggressive towards her. She is stocky and very strong with the potential to seriously injure or kill a small breed. Large breeds she is calm, playful, and sometimes intimidated by but I have never had to seriously correct her behaviors before with breeds her size.

    I don’t want anyone’s dog to get hurt, especially at the mouth of mine. But when a small breed acts aggressively I’m not sure I have the knowledge to help Foxy.

    I can’t help but feel that small breeds get away with being undisciplined and poorly trained too often because their size makes them manageable to pick up and remove from situations. That because they’re small they really can’t do much damage. But acting aggressively has lead my dog to dominate and inflict pain causing damage to a small dog. Someone’s baby.

    I need the dog on dog aggression to stop. I need to become a stronger leader with clearer expectations for my dog. But now everyte even we see a small breed, I become nervous.

    Some Tiny Aggressive Yappers

    • shibashake says

      Are the little dogs loose?

      In general, I try to set my dogs up for success by staying away from reactive dogs and reactive people. I also did structured desensitization exercises with my Shiba to help him be more comfortable around other dogs. We did desensitization at our local SPCA, with a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs. In this way, we are in control of the environment and the experience.

      The more positive experiences Sephy had with other dogs, the more comfortable he became and the more he associated other dogs with something good. Similarly, reactive experiences will undermine his comfort level, make him be more reactive, and significantly set back our training. Therefore, I manage Sephy carefully and I do not expose him to situations that he is not ready for.

      I talk about what I did with Sephy in the article above, including creating neutral experiences and desensitization.

  45. Heidi says

    I have a sheba/chow mix. Starr… She is 11 and I love her!!! A few months ago she was attacked by a lab who almost tore her ear off. Now when I walk her she is extremely aggressive towards other dogs…. I keep her on her leash but she will lunge and growl and bark at other dogs. She has never done this before… HELP!

  46. R.Lawrence says

    I have a 1 yr old boxer/pitbull mix who is fear aggressive towards other dogs. When he first came into my home, my 4 year old female Carolina dog was very aggressive with him–She is a very dominant dog with other dogs–she injured him pretty badly a couple of times. Since then my boxy boy gets very aggressive (snarling, barking, pulling, lunging) when he is around or even sees other dogs. I have not let him off leash near another dog since the first time I noticed this behavior. He is such a loving pup and very social, but because my other dog made him so scared of dogs, he assumes all dogs will be hurtful to him and immediately goes on the defensive. Is there something I can do to get him over his fear without him hurting another animal? He is great and gentle with my cats, by the way.

    • shibashake says

      I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu to get him to be more comfortable with other dogs. The key is to start small, with a very weakened version of the “other dog” stimulus and slowly build up from there. I talk more about how I did desensitization at the end of the article above.

      The more positive and calm experiences my dog has in the presence of another dog, the more confidence he gains, and the more he associates other dogs with good events. Similarly, reactive/negative experiences will undermine his confidence, significantly set back training, and worsen his behavior. Therefore, it was very important for me to manage Sephy carefully and make sure that I do not expose him to situations that he is not ready for.

      I talk more about what I do in the article above. Desensitization and counter-conditioning is best done under the direction of a good professional trainer. We did desensitization at our local SPCA where they had a variety of trainer chosen dogs that we used during training.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  47. Crystal says

    I appreciate this article. I have a pitbull, about 4 years old (he’s a shelter dog so I am unsure of his age or background). I’ve had Max for almost two years and we have been through alot together. Together, we have gotten over a short period of male aggression and he welcomes male family members and friends with high energy affection! I continue to struggle with his fear/aggression while on walks and at the vet. He was with another dog in my home for about a year, previously, and the two always got along well. He and the neighbor dog run up and down the chain link fence in what a previous dog trainer described as play, and I do not note any growling or aggressive behavior. However when I walk Max, or take him to the vet, he exhibits behavior that I cannot distinguish between fear and aggression. After several encounters of this behavior, my anxiety is high in these situations which I know is bad and I try to control. I do my best to remain calm and ignore his behavior, but if it wasn’t for the halti collar I have on him I fear he will get out of my grasp and I don’t know what he would do. When he is in these situations, He begins to wine and not exactly growl, but make a noise between a wine and a growl. He then jumps, twists, shakes his head back and forth in what I think is an attempt to get out of the halti. I can’t observe any aggressive body posture such as a stiff tail or raised fur or low head and neck because he jumps and twists and pulls so hard. Today this happened at the vet. I remained calm and safely removed him from the office with the help of staff but the other owners had to move aside with their dogs from us and I was extremely embarrassed. As soon as we were outside he calmed down and I made him sit and relax a bit before we left. I did not yell or pet him, I remained as calm as I could. How do I tell if this is aggression, fear, or just over stimulation? He has never attacked another dog; he was great with my old dog; he is great with my cat; and he lived with other animals in foster care before I got him. Sometimes I feel if he was off a leash he would be fine but of course am too afraid to test that theory in case he hurts someone’s pet. I’ve spent $600 for 2 training sessions and the trainer simply said “he’s tough” after spending several hours working with her dogs and seeing no progress.

    I will try your tips on our next walk, with space and trying to remain calm myself. I can definitely say I do not exercise him enough, and that is something I am working on. Any other advice or pointers would be appreciated. Max is sweet, he loves to play and he loves me and I just want him to be happy and healthy. I would love for him to have a play friend; I work 2 jobs and live alone and I try my best to exercise him on my days off. A play friend may help with that but you can see my dilemma.

    Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      My dogs generally hate going to the vet because when they are there, they get needles poked into their skin, they get poked at, prodded, and more, by people who they do not really know or trust. My Huskies will pull back, twist, and do everything that they can, not to go into the vet’s office. When we get in, all they want to do is leave. It is difficult to get a dog to “enjoy” the vet, when what happens in there is usually pretty negative from their point of view. Some dogs may get aggressive due to fear (fear aggression).

      When animals and people are afraid of something, they prefer to get away from that thing. This is called the flight response. But if escaping isn’t an option, most animals will switch to a fight response. They try to defend themselves from the scary thing. So a dog can be afraid of a person or another animal but still attack if she thinks this is her only recourse.
      ~~[ASPCA]

      Some things that help with my dog for the vet-
      1. I need to control my own energy. This is very important. My dog is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him, so if there is stress, he will pick up on that, get even more stressed himself, and become even more reactive.
      2. I try to find a vet who is also calm and confident. The energy of the other people around my dog is also very important.
      3. This is harder to do, but an experienced vet who knows something about dog behavior and training helps a lot. There were a few vet visits that went well, and these were with experienced vets who knew how to calm my dog, and who were willing to spend the time to get to know him. This is much harder to find because most vet offices are under time constraints.
      4. For my younger Husky, I wait outside the office and have the receptionist come out and call me when they are ready. Then I go in by the side door so I don’t have to subject my dog to the added stress from other dogs, who are probably also feeling highly anxious.
      5. I have tried doing desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises, but that is difficult to do properly because I cannot get access to the vet or vet techs for training. Plus vet techs tend to change a lot, and sometimes even the vets.

      Desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises were also useful in helping my dog be more comfortable and calm around other dogs. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above. It was a crucial part in improving my dog’s reactive behavior.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/desensitization-and-counterconditioning

      Finally, the dog training field is not well regulated, so finding a good trainer/behaviorist can be challenging. I first quizzed the trainers over the phone pretty extensively, then we did single consultations with a pared-down list. When we found some good ones, who actually understood the science behind dog psychology and had good experience with reactive dogs, it was very helpful. They taught me how to properly do desensitization exercises, how to read my dog’s body language, and helped me better understand the source of my dog’s reactive behavior.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      I also read up a lot on dog behavior. That helped me to better understand and help my dog, and also helped me identify trainers who knew what they were talking about.
      More on where I get information about dog behavior.

      As for exercise, hiring a dog walker may be helpful. However, finding a good dog walker can also be a challenge.

  48. Laura Cardozo says

    U just adopted a 6 ur old boxer , she’s pretty good with ppl a little afraid of guys and. Does not really get along with other dogs, her previous owner couldn’t keep her anymore cause she attacked twice one of her smaller dogs ( female as well) however, this didn’t till 7 months after she adopted her . I walked her for the first time and she mostly did pretty well until other dos would bark at her . I couldn’t help but to get nervous when one of the big dogs kept barking at her so I started walking in the shoulder of the street .. I couldn’t cross the st cause of traffic . Anyway the dog we encounter got out at the end of the fence and they sniffed eachother and walked off eventually… But my dog wouldn’t move on and I got scared there would be a fight… She med my friends dog the other day and something didn’t click with them two and a fight broke out and my grinds dog got hurt.. And today I was in my front yard and my neighbors little yappy dog got out charged right at my dog… My boxer charged too at that point… I’m pretty new at this and I’m trying to read some literature but I’m just nervous of loosing control of my boxer . She listens to me mostly… But I do loose her attention with other dogs… I really hope you can give me some input…. I would love to keep my dog… She’s so mellow and good with my kids … :)

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu, I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises to help him be more comfortable and calm around other dogs. With desensitization, I start small, with a very weak version of the stimulus, and in a structured environment where I am in control. The “other dog” stimulus has to be weak enough that my dog is able to remain calm, and learn positive behaviors from the experience. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      Successful, calm, and rewarding experiences with other dogs help Sephy to build confidence, learn good social behaviors, and form positive associations. Similarly, negative or reactive experiences will undermine that confidence, significantly set back our desensitization training, and worsen Sephy’s reactive behavior. Therefore I manage Sephy’s environment and routine carefully, so that I always keep him below his reactivity threshold and so that he is not exposed to situations that he is not ready for.

      With Sephy, we did desensitization training in a structure environment, under the direction of a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs. The desensitization process can be counter-intuitive, especially in the beginning, so it was helpful for me to consult with a good professional trainer/behaviorist.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      To help Sephy stay calm, I also needed to control my own energy. If I got stressed, worried, or fearful, Sephy would easily pick up on my energy, get stressed himself, and become even more reactive. I talk more about my experiences with Sephy in the article above.

  49. Danijela says

    I have a 6 month old pug. Every morning we spend about 30min to 1 hour at dogs park. There are 3 to 5 dogs she meets and play with them every morning for the past two months. They are all young female dogs so there is a lot energy but they get along really nice. However, there’s a 1 year old bulldog which acts like a real bully and attacks all of thee dogs from time to time. She is not too aggressive/strong, but she starts the fight every time. It’s same with my dog. First few times, she attacked my puppy, we stopped the fight and that’s it. Of course, after like 10 times, now my pug won’t run away any more but she stops and fight back. I try not to over protect her and allow her to socialize, but also I don’t want my dog to get hurt or learn to be aggressive. Any advices how can to protect a dog in a dog park from dog bully, but still not over protect her, or allow her to accept this type of behavior as normal thing at the park. Thank you so very much!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I used to take my Shiba Inu to the dog park a bunch when he was young, but we stopped going after a while. Dog parks are often very high stimulus, unstructured, and sparsely supervised. In addition, there is no proper separation of the dogs into appropriate and manageable groups.

      Sephy ended up learning a bunch of bad habits, and his social behaviors with other dogs worsened as a result. He does much better in smaller, structured, and highly supervised play-groups, with dogs that match his temperament and play style.

      I set up a consistent set of play rules and I supervise. There is absolutely no bullying behavior, I manage excitement levels, and I make sure nobody gets overwhelmed. This teaches Sephy good social behaviors. He gets to play and have fun, but in a structured environment.

      The key with proper dog-to-dog socialization is not only to maximize positive events and good social behaviors, but also to minimize negative events that lead to reactive and aggressive behaviors. The more positive and structured experiences Sephy has, the more confidence he gains and the better he behaves with other dogs. Similarly, reactive events will undermine that confidence, teach him bad social behaviors, and result in negative associations with other dogs.

      While Dog Parks can be fun, they also bring plenty of NEGATIVE interactions by forcing your pet to come up against dogs that might be overly stimulated, short-tempered, outwardly aggressive or otherwise badly managed. Smart Socializing means keeping your friend dog-tolerant, and that involves AVOIDING dicey situations where conflict can spark.
      ~~[Smart Socializing]

      More on our dog park experiences and why we stopped going.
      More on dog socialization.

      He Just Wants to Say Hi by Suzanne Clothier.
      More on dog tolerances.
      ASPCA article on puppy socialization.

  50. Emily says

    Thank you for the article, I will start practicing what you have posted. I have a 6 month border collie/blue heeler mix who is just fine with both my other dog and my moms dog, but I took her to a dog park for the first time and she was extremely aggressive towards other dogs. Snarling, lunging, and backing away towards me which made me think she was fearful, but even a small weiner dog that was just as nervous as her even looked in her direction she was aggressive towards. I hope she gets better after following your tips! Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Emily

    • shibashake says

      Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises were helpful with my reactive Shiba Inu. The more positive and calm experiences that Sephy had with other dogs, the more confidence he gained and the more relaxed he is in the presence of another dog. Note, however, that fearful or reactive experiences will undermine that confidence, significantly set back retraining, and make him more reactive with other dogs.

      Therefore, I had to carefully manage Sephy’s environment so that I not only maximized positive and calm other dog experiences, but also minimized reactive or fearful episodes.
      – We did desensitization in a structured environment, under the direction of a trainer, and with trainer chosen dogs.
      – We start small and go at a pace that Sephy is comfortable with so that I always keep him calm and well below his reactivity threshold.
      – At other times, I make sure *not* to expose Sephy to situations or environments that he is not ready to handle.

      As for dog parks, we went to a bunch of them when Sephy was young, but he ended up learning a lot of bad habits there. Sephy does better in more structured and supervised environments, with a much smaller number of dogs. He does best in small playgroups with dogs that suit his play-style and temperament.

      More on our enclosed dog-park experiences.
      More on dog socialization.
      More on dog social tolerance.

  51. Kati says

    Hello, I have a small beagle mix named Casper. He is about a year old and he is not yet neutered. He is not aggressive at all and he listens very well. I am a dog walker and sometimes I bring him along on walks. Well, I walk one dog and he is a Pitt/Lab mix and he is never aggressive on walks towards other dogs, not even towards Casper. Diesel (the Pitt mix) has an owner that works very long hours so I am there a lot and he asked if I could bring my dog on a play date and just let them play in the yard and the house since it was rather cold outside for a long walk. I agreed since it had never caused any problems before. His owner had told me that he gets aggressive about treats and food but toys should be fine. So I removed all bones, treats, and food from the area they would be playing in. Diesel is almost 2 years old and he is fixed. As soon as we walked in the door with Casper on a leash, Diesel cornered him and started growling. Casper rolled over to show him dominance and he kept growling. Diesel has a vibrating collar and I put that on him. They were fine for a little while, until Casper tried to pick up a squeaky toy from under me. Diesel growled and I gave him a warning verbally and on his collar and he did not stop. Casper picked up the toy and Diesel snapped at him and continued growling even after he had dropped the toy and rolled over and even yipped. Could this be because Diesel sees that Casper is not fixed and he sees that as a sign of dominance, or is it because Casper was showing that he was afraid? He did not even react to the collar. What should I do in that situation if it were to ever happen again?

    • shibashake says

      Some dogs get protective over their home area and over objects in their home. Does Diesel show any aggression over toys outside his house? Aggressive behavior can be caused by many different things. This article from UC Davis has more on dominance and aggression.

      True dominance aggression is very rare. Most often aggressive acts are based out of another type of motivation.
      ~~[UC Davis]

      With my dogs, I try my best to protect them from bad dog-to-dog experiences. Negative events may cause them to become fearful or mistrustful of other dogs, learn inappropriate social behaviors, and cause them anxiety and stress.

      It sounds like Diesel has some guarding behaviors, so if I were the owner, that is the thing that I would address. With my dog I did structured desensitization exercises under the direction of a professional trainer, in a controlled environment, with trainer chosen dogs. I also carefully managed my dog so that I do not expose him to situations where he feels he has to resort to aggression to protect his stuff. Reactive experiences will undermine his trust, form negative associations with other dogs, significantly set back retraining, and cause him to become more protective of his belongings.

      To help my dog I want to maximize positive and structured experiences, where he can learn good social behaviors and make good associations with other dogs. At the same time, I want to minimize aggressive experiences and events which will create negative associations, and undo all our desensitization work.

      Why dogs guard their food and toys.

  52. Christine says

    I have a mixed breed male (neutered). He has really been a great boy, and I am working with him to be a traveling companion. He is a little shy of people and children, but we are working on that and he is coming along well. He doesn’t seem to be aggressive towards cats, nor does he have a particularly high prey drive. He is very interested in new dogs, and any time we have visitors at the house he does well with them, the problem that I have run into is when we are out and about any face to face encounter with another dog turns very quickly into growling/snapping. I have started trying to work on this with him with some desensitization exercises. (ie. having him sit, down, stay when another dog is nearby) and rewarding him when his focus stays on me, rewarding him when he gives visible relaxation cues while in sit or down position. I am not sure if this is just a matter of stress and new experiences on his part or if this is the beginning of a real problem. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      Does this behavior only happen on-leash? When he sees another dog while on-leash, what is his reaction? Is he still relaxed or does he get tense? At what distance does he start to react, or is it only when they are face to face? Does he act this way with all dogs while on-leash or only with certain types of dogs? Does he approach the other dog, does the other dog approach him, or are both dog approaching each other?

      Face-to-face greetings can sometimes be stressful and confrontational, depending on the temperament and body language of both dogs. In addition, when a dog is on-leash, his freedom is limited which can introduce more stress to the situation because he is not able to move away or flee.

      In general, when out on walks, I teach my dog avoidance. We only meet dogs that we have seen a bunch of times, who show relaxed body language, are friendly, and are under control. I also observe each of my dogs closely, and I take note of what dog types they are most comfortable with, and what dog types they do not enjoy. For example, my Shiba Inu does not get along with dominant dogs. He also does not like new dogs sniffing his butt. Therefore, we only meet with relaxed and more submissive dogs, and I make sure they do not go into his rear region, until he gets to know them better. 😀

      When it comes to dog-to-dog socialization, I want to not only maximize positive and successful interactions, but also minimize bad greetings. The more positive experiences my dog has, the more confidence he gains, and the more he views other dogs as friendly and non-threatening. Similarly, negative events will undermine his confidence, significantly set back desensitization training, and cause him to get more wary of other dogs.

      With Sephy, I managed his environment carefully, and I always try to set him up for success. We ignore most dogs during walks, we meet some that I am sure he will do well with, and at the same time we did desensitization training in a structured environment, with trainer chosen dogs. In this way, he never gets exposed to situations that he is not ready for, and he stays below his reactivity threshold, so that he can learn to be calm and to stay relaxed.

      More on dog social tolerances.
      More on the friendly dog.

    • Christine says

      Thank you for your very informative reply! In response to your questions, other than at our home he has not been introduced to new dogs off leash, and even the at home the introductions we have had are with puppies under 12 weeks. Generally he is curious about new dogs enough to go check them out while on leash, but I wouldn’t say that he is excited or wound up. I will say that a certain degree of wariness does seem to be present in his posture. The reaction so far is always when face to face, and I am not really sure what the trigger is for him, because they can be politely sniffing at each other for several moments and then I will see him tense up if I watch closely and from there I can still distract him and move away without any resistance. He is generally the one approaching, but he does not like a strange dog approaching him. Again thank you so much for the info!

  53. Danielle says

    I have a 10mo th old Jack russell Pip he is very fearful of so many things he is tiny and as a small pup out on walks larger dogs off there leads would come up to him and get too close he now has built up a fear of other dogs and shows real aggression . My mum has a parson Jack russel who is 2weeks older than pip they were great friends always playful and good 2g. We didn’t see them for a 4week period due to my mums dog being neutered when we last saw them pip was awful he growled and when she got close he bit her you could see his fear he kept running and hiding behind us. I’m at a loss with him, he has always shown aggression towards us but this is mainly if he is touched whilst napping. Walking him is awful h is scared of cars and no pulls at them barking. I’m temped to try walking him with a muzzle so he can’t hurt anyone and can’t bark at everything but don’t want him to feel in more danger. We have been to ouppy classes he was always great until one day a new dog came they both had a real problem with each other I had to stop going due to work but now feel I’m stuck I don’t feel he could now go back he would be awful I’m starting to fear leaving the house with him . Pleas give me some advice

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu Sephy, we did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. Desensitization was helpful because it addresses the anxiety, and teaches my dog to be more calm and comfortable around other dogs. I talk more about our desensitization training at the end of the article above.

      With anxiety issues it is important for me not only to maximize successful and calm encounters, which help my dog to build confidence, but also to minimize bad encounters and panic attacks. Negative events will undermine my dog’s confidence, significantly set back training, cause him to become more fearful/anxious, and result in even more extreme behavior.
      More on how I desensitize my dog to scary noises (for example from the garbage truck).
      More on dog anxiety.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and situation are different. In addition, desensitization can be counter-intuitive and requires good timing, technique, and management. When I had problems with my Shiba, I did private consultations with several trainers. In this way, they can observe and evaluate my dog, help me come up with a good plan for retraining and management, as well as help me with timing, technique, and more. I find that private consultations are best for addressing behavioral issues with Sephy.

      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      A training class is not the place to try to solve a behavioural problem with a dog. Aggressive or nervous dogs need individual attention away from the class environment.
      ~~[Choosing a Dog Trainer]

  54. Kasey says

    Hi there,
    I have own a 1year old bitch PureBreed English Bulldog. I have had to leave her with close relatives for a couple of months now untill we find a new house suitable for her. We just picked her up, and I have notice a change in her behaviour. When she was with us, she was playfull, relaxed. I could take her anywhere with us, was good with other dogs as well as people. As the family members had her with their dog a (German Sheperd bitch) my dogs come back with wounds all over her face I swear she looks like shes been in a dog fight ring. Shes become very aggressive towards other dogs, and barks at everything now.
    Is there anyway to undo the damage? Please.

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu (Sephy), I helped him to be more calm and relaxed around other dogs by doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. The key thing with Sephy is to not only maximize positive structured greetings, but also minimize reactive encounters, where he loses his cool and starts to bark, pull, or lunge.

      I talk more about desensitization exercises at the end of the article above. I also talk about what I did to avoid reactive encounters.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, and desensitization exercises can be counter-intuitive and complex. When I started retraining Sephy, we got help from several professional trainers. They were able to evaluate and observe Sephy within the context of his regular environment and routine. Together, we identified the source of his reactivity and then came up with a good plan for retraining. They also helped me to properly manage the desensitization training, and guided me on timing and execution, which are very important.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      For aggressive behavior, it is usually best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.

  55. Kelly says

    My 2 yr old rescue lab mix seems to be getting dog aggressive. I have had her for 6 months and she was so sweet went to dog park every day and always played well. The park is closed. For the winter and now when she meets other dogs she seems to be aggressive. I feel she might not be exercised enough without daily trips to dog park and it’s hard for me to go on long walks in the very cold weather. I want her to be able to play at dog park again In the spring but afraid she may be a bully by then. I take her to dog friendly stores or wherever I can take her to keep her socialized but her hair stands up on her back now. I want to put her in a class but just had neck surgery and need to wait about a month. I don’t want her to become aggressive what do I need to do

    • shibashake says

      How was she when meeting other dogs on-leash previously? What was the context when she met other dogs previously and now – i.e., what are the differences? Was she on or off leash? Was it in the same location?

      One of the key things with socializing Sephy to other dogs is this – I need to not only maximize positive interactions with other dogs, but also minimize bad experiences.

      In the beginning, I tried to introduce Sephy to as many dogs as possible, but that turned out to be a mistake. This was because he was having a lot of so-so and not very good experiences, and he ended up being even more reactive to other dogs.

      What works best for Sephy is to do more controlled greetings and play, so that he learns good interaction behaviors from each experience. I still try to introduce Sephy to a variety of other dogs, BUT only in a structured, controlled, and positive way.

      Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises were also helpful for Sephy. I talk more about desensitization and what I did with Sephy in the article above. We do structured play, structured walking, and structured desensitization exercises.

      More on dog socialization.
      More on how what I do during dog playtime.
      More on our enclosed dog-park experiences.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, and things become even more complicated when multiple dogs are involved. Therefore, in cases of aggression, especially those involving multiple dogs, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer. We visited with several trainers during Sephy’s difficult period.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  56. Cindy says

    I have had 4 doodles for many years. All mellow and have gotten in routines and used to a simple way of farm life.
    They all are trained pretty well and get along. Each have a very distinct personality. Three of them are 6 and one is 11 years old. The 11 year old is Alfa of the group (and starting to fail) besides us humans are top Alfa). They are also all females.
    This past summer we adopted a unique little creature and she desperately needed a home. She is a mix Austrian Shepard and long hair terrier. Half the weight of the bigger girls

    She is a bit of a handful. Energetic and lively. She had come with zero social skills or training and was 9 months old when we got her.
    We have had her for 3 months now. Smart as whip. She has learned basic skills of demands and many tricks ( sit up- wave- high five- crawl-rollover- etc!)

    My problem;
    She is very pushy with the other dogs. She can get aggressive if she wants a toy. A few times the other dogs have layed into her- with respect- but have corrected her- and she wants to fight back and not back down. I’m worried about pack mentality if she doesn’t cool it. I’m not alarmed with any of these spats – yet. They don’t happen often. That’s what I want to stop before it could get out of hand.

    Any suggestions on how to handle this?

  57. Sabina says

    Hello!
    I have a one and a half year old male dog, he is a teckel mix, we have had him since he was two months old. For the last few months he has been showing signs of aggression towards other dogs and towards people.

    The aggression towards dogs appears when they approach him too fast and I think he gets scared, although they do not show any sign of wanting to attack him. The problem is that he enters this attack-mode where he barks and bites uncontrollably, and I have yet to learn how to stop him. He has also bit me while trying to calm him down, as if he didn’t know who I was. I must mention that this does not happen with every dog, only with the ones that approach him too rapidly.

    The aggression towards people has come up in a number of instances. The most recent one is having guests over, it is really hard to stop him from barking at unknown people that come over, and if these people try to approach him he will not hesitate to bite. Also while trying to stop him from barking he has bit me because once again he had entered that aggressive-mode where he does not seem to realize who is touching him.
    Another situation where he was aggressive towards me is an older one. While trying to pick him up for a bath he will lay on the floor and begin to bite if picked up. This happens only when he realizes that I want to give him a bath.

    I personally think that all his aggression is fear-induced. Fear of other dogs, fear of new people, fear of getting a bath. Generally he is an active dog, he does play rough (we have yet to teach him how to not bite while playing, but these bites do not compare in intensity with those from when he enters his attack-mode), but overall loving and not unusual in any particular way. He is stubborn, but does not show other signs of aggression around the house (except for the bath thing).

    What advice could you give me? How could I make him more relaxed and not afraid of new dogs and people? Do you think obedience training could solve any of these problems? I have found that for the bathing problem I can make him go in the bathtub on his own with a treat, but if I try to put him in there by picking him up he becomes aggressive once again…maybe I am triggering some sort of fear?

    I eagerly await your answers! Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      Did anything change when this behavior started to show up? Was it a sudden change in behavior or was it gradual? Is he showing any other changes in behavior? Is he playing and moving normally? Eating, drinking, and eliminating normally? Have there been incidents with other dogs before this change? How was he with people and other dogs prior to the last few months? Was he relaxed and confident, or has he always been fearful?

      When there are *sudden* behavioral changes in my dog, I rule out physical issues first. If my dog has a physical issue or is in pain, her behavior will change because she is not feeling well and is feeling more vulnerable.

      After I rule out physical issues, then I can look at other possible triggers and come up with a plan for changing my dog’s behavior. To help my dog be more comfortable around people and other dogs, I do people desensitization exercises and dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. I talk more about dog-to-dog desensitization at the end of the article above. I also slowly desensitize my dog towards handling and grooming. More on how I bathe my dog.

      In terms of play-biting or accidental, I do bite inhibition exercises with my dogs to teach them to control the force of their bites. More on how I train my dog not to bite on people.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent and aggressive behavior can come from many different sources. Therefore, each dog and situation will be different. This is why especially in cases of aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      When I had problems with my Shiba Inu, we visited with several trainers. Each trainer observed and evaluated Sephy, and we came up with a plan for dealing with each of his problem behaviors.
      More on how I deal with bad dog behavior.

  58. Meesha says

    Hi. I had gotten a rottweiler male pup who is now almost 5 months old. I now got another rottweiler female puppy and there is a big size difference between the two. The male pup just wants the female to stay near him at all times and this offends the female. This usually causes the female to get aggressive. Even when they are playing the female ends up biting the male and making him scream in pain. I have to keep them separately because of this. What do u recommend I should do?

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear and consistent dog-to-dog interaction rules. In this way, they know what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts. If one of my dogs needs some alone time, I make sure that my other dogs leave him alone. Each dog has a safe place that he can go to, to rest or chew on toys.

      When they are together, I supervise them well, especially in the beginning. I try to create positive and calm together experiences, and try to minimize negative interactions. The more positive together time there is, the more my dogs learn to be calm and relaxed together. Similarly, bad experiences will undermine trust and acceptance, causing stress and more conflicts in the future.
      What I do to help my dogs get along.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and situation is different. In cases of multiple dogs, there is even greater complexity. This is why especially in cases of aggression, it is best and safer to get help from a good professional trainer.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

  59. Jessica says

    I have a blue heeler “Percy” that I have had sense birth. I had no other dogs at the time so every where I went she was with me. I have an incredible bond with this dog. I would trust her with my life. She does anything that I ask of her and is my best friend. She listens, and is just an amazing dog that I could take anywhere and do anything with.
    Because we have such a bond she is extremely protective of me. Even around people she has to be in my lap or close to me but she never is aggressive to people, just dogs.
    Recently I got an australian shepherd “Fisher” who she thinks she is the mother of. She loves him and shows the same signs of protection towards him as well.
    Here recently we decided to breed him and we got another shepherd, a femal “maggie”
    This threw Percy over board because I spend a lot of time with Maggie and extremly baby her because like Percy I Have a strong bond with her.
    If I sit out in the drive way to love on all the dogs Percy will not allow any dog near me, not even Fisher whom she actually really likes. She isn’t mean and starting a fight with them. Just letting them know that I am off limits and when I do go to the other dogs she stays right next to me just to make sure.

    Recently this acts of agression have gotten much worse. Percy now has a death wish for maggie. She has gotten her down on the ground by the throat and I believe had no intention of stopping, but of course we broke up the fight. This has been the worse but she has been attacking her for a while now. With the last go at the throat being the most recent and worse attack she has done.
    I don’t want to punish Maggie by keeping her away from the other dogs. It’s percy but I do not know how to handle it.
    They are all outside with each other all day, none are allowed in the house and have houndreds of acres to roam on because I live on a farm.
    I do not want to get rid of Percy because I love her so much, but I love Maggie too and I’m not going to let her attack her like she does.
    Every time I witness an attack i try to show dominance over Percy and let her know what she is doing is not tolerated, but in this area she shows no signs of regarding anything I’m saying or doing.
    Do you have any advice? Any would be much appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      What helps with my dogs is to set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. When a new dog comes along, I teach him what those rules are. In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      I do this right from the start so that I am fair and consistent with my dogs. I usually set up more rules and structure in the beginning, and then I can relax some later on as my dog matures.

      When I get a new dog, I try my best to keep routine and rules consistent with my existing dogs, so that there is as little disruption as possible. I want to maximize positive interactions, while at the same time minimizing negative experiences so that they learn to associate my new dog with good things and an enhancement to their life and routine. Therefore, I make sure *not* to cut down on people time with my other dogs.

      I supervise my dogs closely so that I can teach them what the rules are and redirect bad behavior *before* it escalates.
      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      I also do dog to dog desensitization exercises to help my dog be calm around other dogs and to teach them what to do in the presence of another dog. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      When I am not around or am too busy to closely supervise, I keep the new dog separated. I do not let my dogs together unsupervised until I am very sure that there will be no negative incidents. This is not a punishment. It is a safety measure to keep all of my dogs safe, and to prevent my dogs from practicing undesirable behaviors. The more bad behaviors they practice, the more likely it will happen in the future, and the worse things will become.

      Based on what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation are different. Things become even more complicated in a multi-dog household. In addition, while engaged in a fight, a dog may redirect that aggression onto nearby people, especially when we physically try to restrain him (redirected aggression). In such a situation, I would want to start off right and safe by getting help from a good trainer. With my dog, I also use management equipment such as leashes, gates, etc., to keep everyone safe.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  60. Taylor Newell says

    i have a walker puppy about 3 months old and i have a older dog and she attacked the older dog the other day for no reason and today while i was outside with the 3 month old puppy i also have a chihiua about 4 yrs old and she attacked him for no reason……… What could be causing her to be doing this

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so when I want to identify what is triggering my dog’s behavior, I try to remember all the details of the situation. For example, what was the puppy doing prior to the incident, what were you doing, what was the older dog doing? Did the older dog approach the puppy? What was the body language of the puppy and the older dog? Were there any toys or food around? Were you close to the puppy? Anybody else around? Any other dogs around? What is the daily routine of the puppy? Have there been any play or interactions among the dogs? What kind? How did it go?

      When in doubt, I get help from a good professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression.
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

  61. angie says

    I’m so glad I found you. I have a 8 months old Shiba “Hachi” and she is very social with human and dogs. She comes to work with me which is grooming shop and loves to play with other too. However the problem I’m having is I have 3 other mixed breed at home, they all get along but once in a while Hachi and one of dog would start fighting. Hachi become too excited when Bobby plays with her and she gets too rough and Bobby just wants out and hachi won’t listen. Then Bobby growl at hachi and she will start fight. Also they are free feeder out of one bowl but not at the shop. I would put hachi ‘ s food by my table and she gets overly protective the space with other dogs comes around even there’s no food. Today Hachi bit Bobby ‘ s ear and I’m afraid what would cost next. Please help.

    • shibashake says

      What helps with my dogs is to set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and play rules. During play, I supervise and throw in many play breaks, to manage my Shiba’s excitement level. He can get pretty extreme when over-excited, and overwhelm my other dogs.
      More on what I do during play-time.

      As for food, I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program, so all my dogs work for their food by doing simple commands, following house rules, following play rules, etc. Whatever is left over, I put in interactive food toys, so they work for that too. During meal-time, I supervise and make sure they give each other space. If one gets too close to another, I redirect him away.
      More on what I do during meal-time.

      Big hugs to your furry gang! 😀

  62. Pat says

    I have a Jack Russell x whippet . Sometime when I let him off the lead and he plays with another he gets aggressive by growling and trying to bite the other dogs neck whilst they are running . He does not respond to any commands when he is like this .
    Desperate for help as he is a lovely dog.

    • shibashake says

      Is this at the park? How is he when playing at home in a more structured setting? Is the other dog high energy/excited as well? Does he get this way with all other dogs or with just certain other dogs?

      When my dog gets over-excited during play, he goes rear-brained sometimes and no longer responds to commands. I help control this by managing his excitement level. I have play rules, create a structured play environment, and throw in many play breaks.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog#play-time

      The enclosed dog park environment is too high stimulus and unstructured for my Shiba. Therefore, I do small play-groups at home, where I can properly structure the environment. I pick dogs whose play-style and temperaments fit well with Sephy, and I supervise closely during play to manage excitement levels, and make sure that everyone is following play rules. In this way, everyone has a good time, nobody gets overwhelmed, and play does not escalate into aggression.
      More on our enclosed dog park experiences.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and each situation is different. When in doubt, I consult with a professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

  63. Roxy says

    My dog, Siberian/Alaskan Malamute mix has been attacking my poodle, we have other dogs but doesn’t attack them only this particular dog when we are at home. My poodle is usually frightened around her for no reason and I don’t know if that is what triggers the aggression. We try to let my dog (poodle) be comfortable around her but we decided that it is probably bad and that we have to let them get comfortable at their own pace or she (Siberian/Alaskan Malamute) might be frustrated. She isn’t aloud to be around her when she is alone because we can’t trust her so it’s made our life very difficult. Also, when she is out walking she wants to attack other dogs or just growls at them but they just want to sniff her tail and if any dog sniffs her tail she quickly growls and we tell her “no” or “bad dog”, but she is very well with her commands. I try to avoid dogs when I’m out walking with her. She sometimes doesn’t listen to the commands at home, I don’t know how to make her listen to the commands established. She attacked a German Shepard (my brothers girlfriends) and left him a wound. Of course, we weren’t around but she only responds to my dad as the pack leader but I don’t know if the whole family has to be understood as the pack leader or just one. I try to become her pack leader but I think she believes she is the pack leader of us. We try to set boundaries and rules but she is stubborn and doesn’t listen sometimes. What do we do? How do I fix this problem, I don’t want it to be too late, she is four years old and I know I’m a horrible owner because I don’t know the breed or understand it but I love her to death and been learning about her breed and try to cooperate with her. Our past is the reason why we are inseparable. I try really hard and would do anything for my dog. All suggestions are welcome and even criticism.
    Side note: When my dog was a puppy, my other poodle who was sixteen at the time, growled and barked but aggressively like she was about to bite when she sniffed her tail when I tried to introduce them. I don’t know if this is what made her hate other dogs. Ever since then she has never been friendly with other dogs.

  64. Silver says

    Hello, I’m on the verge of a melt down. I’ve just recently taken in a 3yr old Chihuahua mix. Her owners could no longer take care of her, plus she lived outside and it was getting cold. So, being the Dog lover I am, I took her in expecting no problems, seeing as how her owner had said she had no issues towards other Dog’s or Cat’s.

    But upon getting her home, I am mortified to see that wasn’t the case at all. My Youngest Pup Katsu, who just turned a year old in October. ( He’s a medium, to small Dog. Dachshund and Beagle. ) He’s overly excitable, and loves to play. He’s a little loud, and I think he startled her a bit. That started her whole, snarling and snapping, and growling fits. She’s also not very fond of the Cat’s. I have a 7 year old Chihuahua mix, who is very small. And I’m afraid she’s gonna lash out at her soon.

    She also has a bit of food aggression.

    I don’t think her current owners, had allowed her any interaction with other Dog’s at all. She’s fine with people.

    I don’t know what too do…. I don’t want to have to be the bad guy, and find her a new home…. Can you please, help??

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and each situation is different. In cases of aggression, it is best to get help from a professional trainer who can visit with all of the dogs, observe them in their regular routine and environment, read their body language, and provide safe guidance on how to retrain the problem behaviors.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      I help my dogs get along by-
      1. Setting up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I teach each new dog what those rules are. In this way, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, and certainty reduces stress.

      2. I want to create positive, calm, experiences together and at the same time minimize bad interactions. Success will help everyone gain confidence and learn to relax with each other. Similarly, stressful or fearful experiences will undermine that confidence and set back training.

      3. I supervise my dogs well, manage their environment, and set them up for success. I do not expose them to situations that they are not ready for and I do not leave them together unsupervised until I am very very sure that they can be calm together.

      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      ASPCA article on how to introduce a cat to a new dog-
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-behavior/introducing-your-cat-new-dog

      However, given the complexity of the situation, with multiple dogs and cats, I would really get help from a good professional trainer.

  65. Angie says

    Hi
    I’m at my wits end and hope you can help. We rescued a border collie 3yrs ago when he was around 18mths old. Right away he showed a fear of cars, loud noises, other dogs to name but a few but was a loving dog ( and still is most of the time) within the home. I will try to give you a short overview. After a visit to the vets last year & having his temperature taken, he refuses to let us brush him near his rear, which is of course is causing matting, though not serious as yet. No groomers will take him due to his aggressive nature. In the last 6mths or so, his aggression is increasing, he will snarl at us if we pass him too quickly, hoover the house or any thing that he deems to be ‘out of order’. Today I’ve come home from work to find my husband very upset due to our dog escaping from the garden & going into a neighbours & attacking her dog. My husband is the ‘pack leader’ & so our dog does look to him for reassurance on most occasions, but now he is even testing those boundaries. He has already nipped a little girl for trying to smooth him, but we were very lucky & the mum reassured us that she realised our dog was just scared. Trying to muzzle him caused us so many problems, he tried to attack us. I’ve even been to the pet shop, who recommended a natural remedy of skullcap, which has had no success at all in helping to calm him. The only time our boy seems happy, is when he is either in the home or being taken for a drive in the car! We have to search quiet places to walk & play with him & I’m now fearing for his future with us. Please help

    • shibashake says

      What is your dog’s daily routine like? What type of training is he used to?

      To help my dog with his anxiety and fear, I do desensitization exercises to build trust and help him build confidence. I slowly desensitized my dog to other dogs, to touches and handling, to loud noises, etc. The key with desensitization is to start small and slowly build my dog’s confidence by tying the “bad stimulus” with positive events and being calm.

      The more successful and positive experiences my dog has, the more confidence he builds, the less anxious he becomes, and the more calm he is. Similarly, bad experiences and anxiety attacks will undermine that confidence, create more anxiety, and cause his behavior to worsen. Therefore, I manage things carefully so that I set my dog up for success and protect him from situations that he is not ready for. I want to not only maximize positive experiences, but also minimize panic and anxiety attacks.

      In addition, my dog is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. If I am stressed or anxious, he will pick up on that, get even more stressed himself, and his behavior will worsen. Therefore, I need to control my own energy and try to always stay calm and in-control.

      Fear aggression occurs when a dog feels under threat and tries to protect himself. Therefore I absolutely stay away from all dominance and aversive techniques which will only increase fear and make my dog feel even more threatened.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation is different. Especially in cases of aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good, certified, professional trainer.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      More on dog anxiety.
      More on desensitization and counter-conditioning.
      ASPCA article on desensitization and counter-conditioning-
      https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/desensitization-and-counterconditioning

  66. Ali says

    Hi there

    We adopted a 7 month old pit bull mix from the shelter about a month ago. 90% of the time he’s an absolute sweetheart. He’s gentle, sweet, obedient, plays well (if energetically!) with our 18 month old coonhound girl and curls up with her when it’s time to rest. He’s great on his pack walks, is friendly to everybody he meets on the street, and seems to responds really well to training. However…he’s also started to exhibit some aggressive behaviour.

    Initially we thought it was resource guarding, although there seemed to be no real pattern to what he was guarding or when. We had no problems around meal times or with toys they had both been given. Rather it seemed to be odd things like wood chips or stones in the yard that he found, became fixated on and then possessive over.

    Then we had a few incidents where there was no ‘resource’, but there had been a stressful situation beforehand – once when my partner was in a store and the pup became very agitated waiting outside, and once after a dog had been slightly aggressive towards him on the street. The problem is that most of the time he doesn’t appear to give a great deal of warning that he’s stressed. He doesn’t growl or show his teeth or snap to tell our other dog to back off, it is like a switch flicks and in a nanosecond he goes from happy to attack mode.

    I’m starting to become better at recognizing some of the more subtle threatened/threatening body language (the stare, the stiff posture etc) and snapping him out of it before it escalates but sometimes it really does seem to happen in the blink of an eye and he doesn’t back off once he’s lunged. He goes into full attack mode even when the other dog runs away.

    Until this point these episodes have only been with our other dog and have been diffused very quickly, however this morning whilst out with somebody else he went for another dog and caused harm, also apparently ‘without warning’.

    He’s about to start a fairly full-on training program which is great. I suppose I’m just trying to better understand his behavior right now. As I said, 95% of the time this puppy seems incredibly good with other dogs – you see him and his adopted sister curled up together or chasing each other in the yard, sharing toys, and you’d never guess that there was any issue.

    I suppose my concern is that I’m not easily able to predict when trouble might flare. I think the only common element is that all of the incidents have occurred when he’s stressed or has been over-stimulated in some way so I’m trying to make sure we’re always keeping his energy in check and putting lots of structure into his life.

    I guess I’m just wondering if this sounds like a young pup that just hasn’t had a lot of discipline or opportunity to learn good dog behavior or something more? He was a stray and then ended up at animal control so suspect he hasn’t had much in the way of training or socialization, but it has also been suggested that he might have some deeper anxiety/insecurity issues that might need more work.

    Our other dog was very straightforward in this regard so we really are very new at this. It really seems like a Jekyll and Hyde situation. He seems to adore other dogs, cant’t wait to play, will happily roll over when it’s time to be submissive, takes cues from other dogs when his behavior crosses the line…then bam, something gets triggered in him and in a second he’s trying to destroy them.

    Any thoughts/comments so gratefully received!

    • shibashake says

      Hello Ali,
      With my Shiba Inu, his early aggressive/reactive behavior came from multiple sources.
      1. Sephy is very sensitive to the energy of the people and dogs around him. If I get worried, frustrated, or angry, he would pick up on that, get stressed himself, and that would trigger a reactive episode.

      2. Sephy was reactive to other dogs. When he sees other dogs, especially energetic other dogs, he would get excited and want to go over. However, since he is on a leash, he is prevented from doing so. This may sometimes cause him to redirect his over-excited energy into biting energy on the leash. This is also known as barrier frustration and redirected aggression. This energy can also be redirected at nearby dogs and people.

      3. Sephy is very sensitive about his personal space, and especially with butt sniffing. Here is why. He will allow dogs that he knows and trusts to do whatever, but new dogs or dogs that are dominant, he will warn away. If they ignore his warnings, he will escalate his behavior.
      BadRap article on dog social tolerances.
      More on dog social boundaries by Suzanne Clothier.

      4. Sephy also developed some guarding behavior, mostly because I wasn’t doing the right thing with him. More on why Sephy started guarding stuff.

      5. I always manage Sephy carefully and try to set him up for success. As you say, stress or over-stimulation often trigger reactive behavior, and it was the same way with Sephy. Therefore, I manage things to reduce stress and not over-stimulate him. When he is playing with my other dogs, I do a lot of play-breaks to control his level of excitement.

      I raise his tolerance level by doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises, and at the same time, I manage his environment so that he is not exposed to situations that he cannot handle or is not ready for.

      The more successful and calm encounters that Sephy has in the presence of another dog, the more relaxed and confident he becomes. Similarly, reactive, stressful episodes, erodes his trust, sets back our training, and worsens his behavior. Therefore, with Sephy, I try to not only maximimze positive experiences, but also minimize reactive occurrences (prevention is much better than cure).

      He’s about to start a fairly full-on training program which is great. I suppose I’m just trying to better understand his behavior right now.

      That sounds good.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent and what we view as “aggressive” behavior can come from multiple different sources. I would be very careful about “trainers” who attribute all aggressive issues to dominance, and who seek to simply suppress stress symptoms through the use of aversive techniques (e.g. collar corrections, alpha rolls, etc.)

      I got one of those trainers early on with Sephy, and it made things a lot worse for us in the long-run.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      Finally, let me say that I use Sephy a lot as an example of bad dog behaviors, but he is actually now a very relaxed and calm dog. In fact, he is the most calm of my 3 dogs when it comes to other dogs. 😀 I think desensitization exercises helped a lot, and also controlling my own energy and careful management. Although it may take time, with proper guidance and time, he behavior improved significantly.

      More on dog socialization.
      More on how I deal with bad dog behavior.

      Big hugs to your furry ones!

  67. Chrissa says

    Hi Shibashake

    I have a rather shy one and a half years old cavapoo who I was taking to puppy playgroup every week since he was about eight weeks old till he was about one. And during the week we would go out for walks and car trips so he can see all sorts of different people and environments. He has never shown any signs of aggression towards any person/s or dogs.

    Unfortunately, in the last six months one of my family members got seriously ill which resulted in me taking him to an enclosed dog park closer to home whenever I had the time to do so. However, lately I noticed a change in his behavior… Sometimes when playing chase with another dog he would suddenly turn around and start growling and baring his teeth at the other dog even though just moments before they were happily taking turns chasing each other. This appears to happen at random and I haven’t been able to pinpoint what characteristic or behavior of the other dog is causing him to react. Usually when this happens we grab him and carry him to the other side of the park, where we have him sit until he is calm, and then we’ll walk him to the door, put his leash on, and take him home. Unfortunately, these incidents are starting to become more frequent. I feel like I may be somehow encouraging him to keep reacting in this way and sadly if his behavior continues we will no longer be able to bring him to an enclosed dog park. And now I’m also too afraid to let him play with my friends’ dogs in fear of him potentially attacking them. Do you have any advice for me?

    Thanks in advance!

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu is a very reactive dog, and he loses control a lot more easily than my other dogs. One thing that really helps with Sephy is to manage his excitement level during play. I do this by throwing in many play-breaks.
      More on how I do play-breaks and manage my dogs’ excitement level.

      I supervise during play-time, and set up clear play rules. In this way, play is structured, and my dogs learn good interaction habits from their sessions together.

      However, that is much more difficult to do in an enclosed dog park. There are many dogs there, it is a very high stimulus and exciting environment, there is very little supervision, and very little structure.

      I used to take Sephy to enclosed dog parks when he was young, but we stopped going because he was picking up a lot of bad habits, he got hurt a couple of times, and the unstructured environment was just not suited to his more reactive temperament.
      More on our enclosed dog park experiences.

      Sephy does well in smaller play groups that are structured and supervised. He also enjoys going on walks, especially to hiking trails. Although we no longer go to enclosed dog parks, daily exercise is still very important for Sephy. It provides him with a positive outlet for his doggy energy. If he does not get enough exercise, he becomes more reactive and engages in his Shiba hijinks. 😀

      I have more time now, but in the past, if I got busy, dog daycare or hiring a good dog walker was helpful. I make sure to research both very carefully before signing up.

  68. Kelpie Owner says

    Hello Shibashake, I have just gotten a 4 month old spayed Border Collie x Kelpie Bitch. She is a bit shy, keeps to her human contact and is very cuddly. Today we visited some friends at their house and they have a neutered 1 yr old Male Husky who is twice her size. As we walked towards the screen door for her to visit him, she attacked the door and had her tail between her legs. We tried for half an hour to socialize them, but every time his face came near hers she would attack. If he walked away, she tried to follow him, but would drop down and get aggressive if he turned back towards her. No blood or anything but how do I handle this. I have never had an aggressive dog before so am not sure what to do here.

    • shibashake says

      Based on your description, it sounds like fear aggression. Face to face greetings with eye-contact, can be intimidating, especially for a shy dog.

      I helped my Shiba Inu to be more calm around other dogs by doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. The important thing with desensitization is that I need to start small, with a very weakened version of the stimulus, and then very slowly build up my dog’s tolerance and confidence.

      The more successful and positive controlled encounters that my dog has, the more confidence he builds and the more calm he becomes. Similarly, reactive/fearful encounters will undermine his confidence and significantly set back training. With Sephy, I was very careful to not only maximize positive events, but also to minimize stressful greetings that he was not ready for.

      More on how I did dog-to-dog desensitization with my dog.
      ASPCA article on desensitization and counter-conditioning.
      More on dog socialization.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so the temperament of the dogs, background, environment, routine, training, and more, all matter. Therefore, when in doubt, especially in cases of aggression, I get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      During Sephy’s difficult period, we visited with a bunch of trainers. It was especially helpful to find a trainer who had calm and well trained dogs, that she could use to help Sephy during training.

  69. Morgan says

    Hi Shibashake!
    I have two Shiba brothers age 2 (got them at age 8weeks). They love each other but food guarding is starting to happen. I have set two different bowls in different rooms but then neither will eat. They like to watch each other and be in the same room. Do you have any suggestions with this? There is lots of low growling when one dog gets too close to the food bowl. I’m sick of the guarding and the growling! Help!!!
    -Morgan

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, when did this behavior start? What type of training are they used to? How are they with people? Do they guard objects and food from people? Have they stolen food or toys from each other before? What do you do when they start staring and growling?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent. The temperament of the dogs, surrounding environment, history, routine, and everything else will affect their behavior. This is why in cases of aggression, it is usually best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer who can visit with the dogs, and observe them within their regular environment and routine.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      My Shiba does best with positive based training. Dominance and aversive based training caused his behavior to worsen in the long-term.

      Dogs usually start guarding their food, toys, and other resources because they learn that when people or other dogs come near them, they may lose their stuff. Therefore, they growl to warn the other dog or person away. If their growls are not heeded, they may escalate to air-snaps and then something more. I always try to set my dog up for success, and redirect behavior early, before things start to escalate. Prevention is much better than cure.
      More on why dogs get aggressive over food and other resources.

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules so that they know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. Certainty helps to keep my Shiba happy, calm, and more relaxed. I motivate my dogs to follow rules by following the Nothing in Life is Free program. My dogs work for all of their food, either through doing commands for me, by following house rules, or through interactive food toys.

      One very important rule that I have for all of my dogs is the no-stealing rule. I set them up for success by making sure that they give each other space during meal-time. I supervise closely during meal-time and play-time, and I settle things in a fair and very consistent manner. If I notice that one is getting into the space of another, I no-mark, and get him to move in a different direction.
      More on what I do during meal-time.

      More on how I prevent food and resource guarding behavior.

      However, as I said earlier, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and each situation is different. All my dogs have good bite inhibition, and I know them very well, so I know the best way to redirect them and prevent any escalation of behavior. Timing, energy, consistency, and repetition are all very important in training my dogs. This is why especially in cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer.

      My Shiba was very reactive when he was young, and during his difficult period, we visited with many trainers. It was a challenge to find good trainers, but we found a few and they were helpful in guiding me, helping me with timing, reading my dog’s body language, and more.
      More on how I went about finding a trainer for my Shiba.

  70. Bowsmommy says

    Hello,
    Very interesting, I can now understand some of my Dogs behaviors.
    I have a question, My female beabull (beagle American bulldog) is four, she has not been spayed but it’s definitely a must now! Recently I moved to a neighborhood where theres a nice park one block away so of course we run into several dogs during our walks. My dog has an extreme aggression issue with ALL dogs (&stollers) that are in sight. She barks pulls towards them but at first she gets really low, as if she’s going to creep up on them! And when they come close or if I try to avoid the dog by walking the opposite direction she goes nuts! She’s a very strong dog & honestly Im scared of her now. She’s no longer my sweet little dog. She’s a hassle to take out on walks and Im rather petite….im overwhelmed by her actions during her walks. Is there anything I can do? I don’t know where to start. I feel like I can’t ignore other dogs because it has previously ended up with my dog harming a puppy; It was a very scary situation to say the least. Any type of advice would help. Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      When dealing with my Shiba Inu’s reactivity issues, it was important for me to start small (in a low stimulus environment) and to take prevention steps early (while I am still able to redirect and prevent him from going into reactive mode).

      At first, I start leash training him in my backyard, which is very low stimulus and where I am in good control of the environment. In this way, I get him used to walking on a leash together with me, without pulling. Once we are good with that, then I *very very* slowly increase the environmental challenge. For example, I walk him outside but in a very quiet part of the neighborhood and during off hours so that I set him up for success. We drove him to quiet areas or *on-leash* hiking trails when necessary.

      At the same time, I also did a lot of controlled dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him, in a structured environment, with an appropriate dog, and under the direction of a trainer. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      The key with Sephy is to maximize positive calm walk experiences, while at the same time minimizing reactive episodes. The more calm experiences Sephy has, the more he learns to stay calm while in the presence of another dog. Similarly, reactive experiences will undermine what he has learned, significantly set back training, and cause his behavior to become worse.

      Therefore, I always try to set Sephy up for success by carefully managing his environment, I do not expose him to more than he can handle, I create distance to weaken the other dog stimulus, and I redirect and avoid early on, *before* Sephy goes into reactive mode.

  71. Cameron says

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for all your hard work responding to people and outlinning all your tips. This is really great for dog owners all over the world who are trying to train their dogs!

    I have a 14 month old American Staffy/Pitbull (whatever you want to call it) but have the 3 following problems –

    1) She steals toys when off leash in the park
    2) Her recall isn’t great when there are distractions
    3) Her manners aren’t great off lead and at times this has gotten her into trouble – she has punctured 2 dogs in the last month because she has been harassing them and then they retaliate but because she is the bigger dog can do more damage.

    We go to the same park every morning for 45 minutes. I am worried because this is the only time slot I have but she has had some altercations with other dogs and typically they remember her now and are scared/defensive which further escalates problems if we want to share the park. I practise training every day with her at home and take treat to the park to try and enforce good behaviour too. She has been through a number of obedience courses but I can’t seem to shake the habits.

    I have sought the expertise of a professional trainer now to do some sessions with us.

    From reading your blog, I am going to try and do the following –
    1) Train on the lead in the park with a lead – working on eye contact and focus
    2) Slow introductions for 2-3 seconds and then “hey hey”
    3) Don’t let her adrenaline get too high when training
    4) Find another dog and walk them both on the lead and practice training around just 1 dog

    Is there anything I have missed? I really want to enjoy the park off the lead with my dog but I am scared now that she could hurt another dog.

    What would you recommend I do to stop her from stealing toys in the park? If another dog resources guards she is typically the more dominant one and this can cause trouble.

    Any help would be much appreciated!

    Cheers,
    Cameron

    • shibashake says

      Hello Cameron,

      Yeah, in general I start small and slowly build up my dog’s tolerance. With my Shiba Inu, the park environment was too high stimulus for him, so I started training in a much quieter environment first, and only very slowly increase the challenge. I try to set him up for success as much as I can, so that I can keep reinforcing good behavior.

      In terms of off-leash exercises, this ASPCA article has a good list of recall training techniques.

      Recall is probably the most important thing for an off-leash type park environment. The most successful dogs that I see at the park, are those with extremely solid recall. In the park that I used to frequent, there was this fireman with an Australian Cattle Dog. His recall was just superb. Every time the owner saw that trouble was about to start, he just recalled his dog and leashed him up. He was also great about watching his dog so that he can recall before things escalate.

      Sephy also used to steal toys at the park. It is a self reinforcing behavior because every time he succeeds, he gets rewarded with a fun game of chase with dogs and people; which encourages him to keep repeating the behavior. To stop such self-rewarding behaviors, I need to make sure that he *never* gets rewarded for it, i.e. I have to make sure Sephy never succeeds in stealing a toy and that he loses something good (e.g. play stops) when he tries to steal. At home or in a smaller and structured environment, I am able to do this. However, doing this in a park situation was much harder ~ unless there is good recall.

      I no longer take my dogs to enclosed dog parks. The environment was just too unstructured and chaotic for Sephy, and he was picking up a lot of bad habits. Here is a bit more on my enclosed dog park experiences with Sephy.

  72. ♥ my girls says

    Thank you for your information. Trying out some walking techniques, but I have a question. I have 2 litter mates adopted. I was told they are boxer lab mix but who knows for sure :) Both female and one is clearly dominate and the other is A ok with it. They are about a year and a half. When I walk them they do great until the submissive dog sees another dog. She will stare and then bark and try to lunge. When she does this my dominate dog will jump at the submissive dog and snarl and growl until it breaks her attention and then we keep walking. At least I think that is what’s happening. Eventually will the sub dog learn from the dominate? And could this be what my dominate dog is actually doing? She is really smart :) lastly… Should I let her correct her sister? I try to correct but she does get beyond listening to me so her sister steps in. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

    • shibashake says

      In general, I *do not* let my dogs correct each other because-
      1. I set the human-rules, so I decide when to correct and how best to correct.
      2. I do not want my dog to over-correct or try to correct in the wrong circumstance.
      3. When one corrects, the other has to submit. If the other chooses not to submit, then things may quickly escalate into something more.
      4. I do not want my dog practicing ‘aggressive’ behavior or behavior that may lead to aggression with each other. If they keep doing this, they may repeat it in other contexts that may not be appropriate.
      5. I want to maximize positive interactions between my dogs so that they learn to trust each other, to relax with each other, and to associate other dogs with positive experiences.

      In addition, I have a three legged dog, and it is important that I set clear interaction boundaries for my dogs so that they do not accidentally hurt each other.

      When I leash train a new dog or a reactive dog, I walk her by herself first. My younger Husky, for example, is a lot more reactive when walking together with one of my other dogs. This is because she is a lot more excited and bold when we go out in a group, and sometimes the dogs may amp each other up. I talk more about how I deal with my dog’s reactivity in the article above.

      In general, I start small, manage my dog’s environment, and do my best to set my dog up for success.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, therefore each dog and each situation is different. When in doubt, especially in cases of aggressive behavior, I consult with a good professional trainer.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  73. Loyde says

    Hi Shibashake

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge in doggies. =) I had a little bit of an “incident” a couple of days ago with one of my dogs:

    He’s a mix lab/beagle neutered super friendly one year old doggie, but we were in the park nearby my place throwing the ball and looking at our dogs play nicely with the other dogs there and a lady passed by with a dog on a leash (wearing a muzzle) and my dog went running towards the doggie and actually bit his leg. I’ve never seen him like that before. His way to be friendly is running towards the dogs and just be playful (I didn’t even tell him to stop because of that) but this time was different. =(

    Now I really don’t know what to do to “educate” my dog better, or am I over-reacting?. He’s well socialized, zero violence until now, but maybe something in us is missing to educate our doggie in a better way?

    Thanks

    • shibashake says

      What seems to work well at my local park is that people keep their off-leash dogs away from on-leash dogs, unless the owner says it is ok.

      Different dogs have different tolerance levels, and my dog reacts differently depending on the temperament and actions of the other dog. Some dogs may be fearful of other dogs, some dogs may not be tolerant of other dogs invading their space, etc.

      My dog is also sensitive to the energy of nearby people and dogs, and will react differently to calm energy vs stressful energy.

      He Just Wants to Say Hi by Suzanne Clothier.
      More on dog tolerance levels.

  74. Talia says

    Thank you for the information. We have a large neutered 7 year old Lab and a medium size two year old spayed pit bull, both rescues we adopted when they were one year old. The very wizened lab promptly put the pit in her place when we brought her home and continues to be very patient and tolerant but dominant with her. She has made doggy buddies, but meeting in our yard first is imperative. She has developed strong alpha male behaviors outside our home/yard. She is aggressive towards strange dogs (particularly submissive ones), marks and even lifts her leg when she does her business, pulling, attitude etc., more so when our male dog and her male owner are present. She is also much less attentive when we walk as a family. We have been working to desensitize her to other dogs, but it has been a tough road. Just when she starts to show improvement walking with me (I am female), she turns into a monster dog again when we walk as a family. Do you have any suggestions regarding increased aggression and general “tude” when particular people and sibling dogs are present outside the house/yard? Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      My young Husky, Lara, is also a lot more reactive when we walk her with our other dogs. I think that is common because –
      1. It is more exciting when everyone is out together on a trip.
      2. She is more confident and sure of herself when out in a larger group.
      3. Their excited energy feeds off each other.

      With desensitization, I always start small and very slowly build up Lara’s tolerance and reactivity threshold. Therefore, I start training with just her. The key with desensitization is not only to maximize calm and successful experiences with other dogs, but also to minimize reactive encounters by always keeping my dog below threshold. I talk more about how I teach my dog avoidance, and how I create neutral experiences, in the article above.

      The more calm experiences Lara has, the better her behavior becomes. Similarly, reactive events worsen her behavior and sets back our desensitization work. Therefore, I very slowly increase the environmental challenge, and I only increase one thing at a time. I did not attempt to walk Lara with my other dogs until she was already very very solid with singleton walks.

      Currently, we only walk Lara together with our Shiba, who is now very Zen during walks. This helps to set Lara up for success, because the two dogs do not amp each other up. In the beginning, I walk Lara and I get somebody else to walk Shiba Sephy. In this way, I can focus solely on training, redirecting, and controlling Lara.

      Since walking together with Sephy is more exciting and therefore a greater challenge for Lara, I set her up for success by tuning down the environmental challenge. We start walking them in the backyard first, then move on to quiet areas of the neighborhood during off hours, and slowly build up from there again. This is similar to what I did during our single walks.

      Desensitization can often be counter-intuitive and is dependent on timing, reading my dog’s body language, and managing his environment. When I was doing desensitization work with Sephy, it was helpful to do the exercises under the direction of a professional trainer. We did a lot of exercises at our local SPCA, with one of their trainers, and with appropriate dogs that were chosen based on Sephy’s temperament. I talk more about our desensitization experiences at the end of the article above.

      More on finding a good trainer-
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  75. Jamie says

    Hi Shibashake – I rescued my mini aussie and border collie mix puppy when he was 9 weeks old. He is now 7 months old and was neutered 2 weeks ago. About a month ago, I started fostering a 10 month old border collie/husky mix female. She was spayed prior to her arrival. She is very sweet, and also very confident and seeks a lot of attention. I had my resident and foster dogs meet on neutral grounds before letting her into my home. The two dogs get along well for the most part – they love running, chasing each other, and wrestling; however, my resident pup was getting very territorial over his toys, and began showing aggression toward my foster pup during toy play. I have since removed all toys, and they are only allowes to play with toys when in separate rooms. Recently, I have noticed more dominant behavior from my resident pup. He uses his body to block the female from rooms or from seeing what I am doing if I leave a room. Over the weekend, I brought him to our local farmer’s market where he met a small dog about half his size. They sniffed each other and then became uninterested in one another. No problems until my puppy took a leaf in his mouth. I made him drop it, and as soon as the small dog walked close to “his leaf” he lunges, growled, and became aggressive. This morning he found a chicken bone outside that I made him drop. He dropped it, and when my foster pup went to sniff it, he lunged at her very aggressively. Just now, I came home and was petting my pup. My foster pup came for her usual greeting, and he lunged at her again. I do not think either dog is willing to step down from their desire to be the alpha. The female will be adopted soon, and will not be with us for much longer, but I need to figure out how to correct this aggressive behavior. It seems like his aggression has intensified since he was neutered 2 weeks ago. He is becoming less tolerant of the female, and my efforts to remain calm and authoritative seem to be doing no good. When he is aggressive I pull him aside and make him loom at me while I express my displeasure. He looks remorseful at that time. If we are inside, he will go in his crate for a short time. I do not think the crate is a punishment to him, though, because he likes his crate. I am at a loss of how to help him, and I am worries this is my fault for bringing in a foster pup while he is still so young, learning about his world and how to behave in his world. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      What you describe sounds like guarding behavior. More on why dogs guard their resources.

      With my dogs, I help them get along by setting up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and one very important rule is “no-stealing”. When they are playing or eating, I supervise them closely and make sure that they do not steal each other’s stuff. If one of them starts showing an interest in burglary, I no-mark and redirect him into doing something else. Prevention is best with my dogs.

      If I miss something, and an item gets stolen, then I make sure to give the victim adequate compensation. The thief goes to time-out in a very low stimulus area. I do not use a crate for time-outs. More on how I do time-outs with my dog.

      In this way, my dogs learn that I will settle resource conflicts in a fair and consistent manner. They do not need to protect their stuff from each other because they know that I will be there to redirect and prevent stealing. If something gets stolen, they know that I will give them back something of equal or better value, so nothing is truly lost. On the other hand, the thief will temporarily lose his freedom to play, his access to food, his access to people, etc. Therefore, it does not pay to steal.

      When I bring home a new dog, there is a lot of uncertainty and change, which will create stress. A fixed routine, close supervision, as well as clear and consistent rules help to create certainty and reduce stress for everyone involved. In addition, I also try to create as many positive and rewarding instances as I can between my existing dogs and the new dog. I want to maximize positive and successful interactions, as well as minimize negative events so that my resident dogs quickly see that the new addition is a big enhancement to their lifestyle.

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      However, as you know, dog behavior is very context dependent. Therefore, in cases of aggression, it is usually best to consult with a good professional trainer.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      More on dominance and aggression.
      More on dominance and bad dog behavior.

  76. Cindy Taylor says

    We just adopted a 1 yr old westie/schnauzer mix. She is intelligent and full of energy. She loves people, but is aggressive with other dogs. I don’t understand this since she came from a rescue being fostered with 5 other dogs, they seemed to have gotten along well. When we walk, if she sees another dog even in the distance she stops, digs in, and stares. Then the growling begins. If they get too close she lunges. I have been making her sit down, be calm and focus on me until they pass, praising her for cooperating. My husband is frustrated and it seems I have more control over her than he does. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises helped with my Shiba Inu (Sephy) in terms of reactivity towards other dogs. The nice thing about desensitization is that it helped him to be more calm and raised his reactivity threshold. However, it took time, repetition, and a lot of management.

      I also make sure to stay calm at all times. If I am frustrated, angry, or stressed, Sephy will pick up on my energy, get stressed himself, and act even more crazy.

      The key with my dog is to maximize positive successful sessions and walks, while minimizing reactive episodes. The more success we had, the more Sephy’s behavior improved. Similarly, reactive episodes made his behavior worse and significantly set back retraining.

      I talk more about desensitization and what I did with Sephy in the article above. Consistency is also very important, so I got everyone that walked Sephy to follow the same techniques.

      In the beginning, I also competed with my partner. I think it is part of human nature. However, I realized that this just hindered Sephy’s progress and also my own progress. After I realized that everyone is part of the same “Sephy” team, things got a lot better. 😀

  77. rachel says

    hi there, I have a 2 year old female German shepherd .
    Her first year she was fantastic and non agressive to people or other dogs.
    After she hit 1 it seemed to have gone down hill, she sees a dog walk by the house she is trying to bust out the window, walking her outside in parks or around town she is uncontrollable when another dog approaches or walks by . she will not listen to any commands when barking.

    I have called a trainer and it does not seem to be doing anything,
    Guests that she does not know cannot come over without giving notice becuase she will bark her head off if she does see them,

    Any suggestions? please help!

    • shibashake says

      What kind of training exercises has the trainer suggested? What was your dog’s response? What is her daily routine like? What kind of training is she used to? What was her reaction to other dogs and people in the past? Did her behavior suddenly change or did it happen gradually? Did anything unusual happen around the time of the change? What were her past experiences with other dogs like?

      Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises helped to teach my Shiba to be more calm around other dogs, and helped to raise his reactivity threshold. However, it took time and a lot of management. Desensitization and counter-conditioning helps to raise the tolerance level of a dog and helps the dog to re-associate a previously negative stimulus with positive events. For it to be effective, it was necessary for me to keep my Shiba (Sephy) below his instinct threshold at all times, and to prevent further reactive episodes.

      I carefully managed my dog’s environment and surrounding context so that I set him up for success. I also try to remain calm, and I make sure I have a good plan of action to prevent his behavior from escalating. For example with other dogs, distance helped a lot in weakening the stimulus, so I used distance as much as possible to ensure that Sephy does not go into reactive mode. We walked in quiet areas first, at off hours, so as to maximize success.

      In general, I do not expose him to more than he can handle. The more successful walks and training sessions we had, the more calm Sephy became. Similarly, the more reactive events there were, the worse his behavior became. I talk more about how I did desensitization with Sephy and how I create neutral experiences in the article above.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, and timing, technique, repetition and consistency are all very important while I was retraining Sephy. Therefore, each dog-trainer pair will be very different. When I was having issues with Sephy, we visited with several professional trainers who helped me with timing, technique, reading Sephy’s body language, keeping things safe, managing his environment, and more.

      Finding a good professional trainer is not always easy, because the field is not well regulated. However, it was helpful for me, especially in the beginning, to have someone observe Sephy within the context of his regular environment and routine, and point out areas that I could change for the better.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/
      http://shibashake.com/dog/finding-a-dog-trainer

      I also read up a lot on dog behavior, which helped me to better filter out bad trainers and also better read and respond to Sephy.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/where-to-get-dog-training-and-dog-behavior-information

  78. Stacie says

    I have a 15 year old Pekingese. I had another 15 yr old Pekingese that passed a year ago. I just had a 14 year old chihuahua mix pass away last month. He was left alone. Didn’t eat much. Seemed to age overnight. He has never been super friendly with other dogs. Just ours. We have a 4 yr old daughter who is an only child and full of energy. My husband came across a 1 1/2 year old boston terrier/ English bulldog mix that needed a home. She’s spayed and trained. We weren’t looking for a dog but decided it would be good for our daughter and we have always been dog people and a dog family. We brought her home. Did all of the complete wrong introductions. It has been three weeks of hell. The new dog loves everyone, is not aggressive. We have taken her on walks to the dog park etc. our older dog HATES her. Since he has been about 12 we haven’t taken him on many walk because his back and joints are bad. The older one has bit and snapped at the new dog. She doesn’t do anything. She could literally snap him in half. He has bitten us when we step in and he literally growls for hours and hours straight. Even if the new dog isn’t around. We don’t know what to do. We love them both. The older one walks around and looks for the new one and wags his tail until she actually comes to him. Is it hopeless? Did we ruin our chances of being a pack family? Please help???

    • shibashake says

      Some things that helped when I introduced a new dog-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules.
      I supervise my dogs closely and slowly teach them what the rules are. In this way, they know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. I also set up a fixed routine for all of my dogs, including my new dog. All this helps to increase certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and fear.

      2. Supervision and management.
      I supervise and manage my new dog very closely, especially in the beginning. I try to set my dogs up for success and create as many positive experiences as I can. At the same time, it is important to avoid negative experiences, so I supervise, keep my new dog on-leash with me, and use other management equipment such as crates, pens, baby-gates and more as necessary. I make sure that my new dog does not bother my existing dogs when they want some alone time or rest time.

      I do not leave my new dog alone or unsupervised with my other dogs until I am very very sure that they can be calm together.

      More on what I do to when introducing a new dog.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and each situation is different. In a multi-dog situation, things become even more complicated. This is why in cases of aggression, it is usually best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  79. Georgia says

    Whatever I do my dog, (11 year old Cocker Spaniel) is still aggressive towards other dogs. Usually male dogs, with puppies and female dogs he is OK.
    I have tried the barriers, but he is still barking, pulling, and going round and round, making it difficult for me to control him. There must be someway to calm him. Thank you

    • shibashake says

      Distance and desensitization worked well with my Shiba Inu. Barriers didn’t work well for him either.

  80. Karina says

    Thanks so much for all of this practical and well-written advice. Learning about your experience is very helpful for other dog owners like me.

  81. SibeNoob says

    Oh my gosh, wow thank you so much for writing such a detailed article! I was able to apply a few of the suggestions and noticed immediate results on our walk with my 2yr old female Sibe companion. We passed by two different small dogs within inches and she didn’t even look at them or tug on the lead. Looking forward to applying the other advice at the dog park so hopefully I’ll be able to let her romp around even when someone brings in small breeds.

  82. Margaret says

    Hi, looking at websites to see if could work out why an older Great Dane Max(3) who we see at a Great Dane play date twice a month has on the last 2 occasions attacked my 11mouth old Great Dane pup Merlin. Max is neutered and Merlin isn’t yet. Last time we thought it was because another persona came with the scent of her female Dane in heat on her and most of the males entire and not where a little crazy! but today Max again fixated on my boy and had a go at him 3-4 times the last time quite aggressively but never breaking skin etc. Merlin is already a little timid around new people etc and I am also worried this will not help him. Any idea’s why Max has fixated on him suddenly? Merlin see’s him and hides behind us or runs to us and Max will come after him. His owners are now aware and follow him but today not quite quick enough to stop him from the attacks. Spoils the day out for us and him. We have an older female Dane who is neutered and have no issues. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Being un-neutered *can* be a factor. Here is an excerpt from an ASPCA article-

      Social problems. Other male dogs can easily detect an unneutered dog’s high testosterone level and become aggressive. This can make your intact dog a target of harassment by other male dogs. Neutering can reduce or eliminate this undesirable attention.
      ~~[ASPCA]

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent so there could be other factors at play. Some dogs may target more vulnerable dogs, or dogs who are nervous/fearful.

      With my dogs, I always try to maximize positive experiences and minimize negative encounters. Therefore, I pick their playgroup buddies very carefully. Sometimes, the temperaments of certain dogs are just not compatible.

      For example, my Shiba Inu does not do well with dominant dogs because if another dog comes over and tries to bully him, he will fight back. He also does not do well with smaller dogs, because they get overwhelmed by his more intense play-style and become afraid of him. I only let him play and interact with larger dogs, who are more relaxed and playful. He does well with them and everyone has a positive experience.

      More on dog socialization.
      More on dog tolerance levels.

  83. Christina says

    Hello I agree with all your advice but my dog is a Newfoundland and unfortunately now he is 4 years old he has become aggresive with dogs tha he doesnt know, he lives with 4 labradors and a cat, but when i walk him he has become very aggressive and dominant and will pull with all his strenght, i have tried all of the above, he is very obedeient and listens to me in all cases except the agression with strange dogs.

    • shibashake says

      i have tried all of the above

      Dog behavior is very context dependent so details are important. How far away was the other dog when your dog gets reactive? Does he fixate on the other dog first? What do you do when he starts to get reactive, what is your dog’s response, what do you do in response to that?

      Have you tried structured desensitization exercises? What kind of dog did you practice with? How many desensitization sessions? What are the details of the exercise?

      Desensitization exercises were helpful for my Shiba Inu. However, I had to start with a *very weak* version of the “other dog” stimulus. I do that by using distance, using a calm “other dog”, and having the other dog be engaged with his handler and not on my Shiba. I talk more about what we did at the end of the article above. We did desensitization training under the direction of a handler at our local SPCA.

      As for controlling a large dog, some people use the head-halti. However, just like any piece of equipment, it has its pros and cons. It is important to read the fitting and use instructions carefully for proper use.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-leash-training-equipment#halti

      Note that dog behavior is context dependent, therefore each dog and each situation is different. This is why in cases of aggression, it is usually best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

  84. Tim Rebel says

    Dear Shiba Shake,
    One of our dogs got killed today in our garden by one of the others or perhaps a group attack.
    It is not the first time it happened. We had three dogs, a German Sheppard not pure blood, a Labrador also not pure blood and finally a Mini Schnauzer. Once grandpa could not take care of his dogs, four in total, we took care of those dogs since we have the space. A little later an English Sheppard who was also living with those four from gramps joined us still a puppy. Those four dogs are all smaller dogs and all from the street. So in total we had eight. Those smaller dogs were isolated from the others out of fear that something could happen to them since they were so old and formed their own pack. The English sheep dog joined our three dogs. So we had two groups of four. In that setting three of the smaller dogs were killed in a short time frame by one of the others or like I wrote before perhaps more than one. The remaining one joined our pack after that and all went well for year without any problems or aggression towards one an other.
    The German Sheppard very docile and timid (male).
    The English Sheppard is still juvenile and wants to play all the time and very protective of our property (female)
    The Labrador (female) was the dominant one but due to some allergic health issues had to step back and was replaced in order by the English Sheppard.
    All the dogs were by alone outside the house without human observation when it happened, the Schnauzer was inside the house.
    All are great with kids and other humans. I observed them all closely since we have a six year old daughter and also since six dogs came from the streets. I myself have been living with dogs since I was eight and although I am not Cesar Milan I have experience handling and correcting unwanted behavior.
    I am drawing a blanc at this one and need some advice as to what action to take. My wife suspects the German. I suspect the English one. Please help.
    Best regards, Tim from Chile

    • shibashake says

      Given the seriousness of what you describe, and the complexity of situation, I would get help from a good professional trainer.
      aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      With my dogs,
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and I teach each new dog what the rules are. In this way, there is certainty, and each dog knows exactly what to expect from me, what to expect from the other dogs, and what I expect from him in return.

      2. I carefully manage my dogs’ environment and I set them up for success. Smaller dogs, older dogs, and dogs with disability are more vulnerable, therefore I make sure to supervise my dogs when they are together. If I cannot supervise, then I separate them so that the more vulnerable dog(s) cannot get hurt accidentally or otherwise by my other dogs.
      More on dog predatory behavior.

      3. I redirect my dogs and manage their excitement levels before things escalate into anything serious.

      4. I use management equipment such as gates, leashes, a basket muzzle, and more as necessary to keep all my dogs and the people around them safe.

      5. Structure, rules, a fixed routine, supervision, management, and training, are all important in keeping my dogs safe and helping them get along.

      How I help my dogs get along.

      It is important to note, however, that dog behavior is very context dependent. Each dog and each situation is different. Which is why in serious cases of aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.

  85. James Lamb says

    I’d be interested in hearing your response on this: My Aussie Shep. / Cattle Dog mix was well socialized as a pup. I took her to obedience classes, and we even did agility at a local animal shelter with a training center. We also frequently visited a local dog park. Early on, I was concerned about her tendency to be too submissive, as I had heard this could “flip” into aggression later. Fast forward to about 1.5 to 2 years, and she first attacked a larger dog while both were practicing obstacles on the agility course. The attack was the circle and strike kind, not the dominance kind, and the trainer told me that this was very serious. She is no longer able to do agility. About a year later, she again attacked while I was playing frisbee with her (wounded other dog on leg, circled, then tried to attack again). She has been in an obedience class specifically for dog aggression and had a visit from a private trainer. I always carry treats on our walks and practice the “look at” behavior, and generally try not to allow her to fixate on other dogs. I also try to give her a reasonable level of exercise, including daily bike rides using a device that keeps her secure on the bike; however, this problem behavior has seriously constricted my ability to give her a variety of stimulating exercise, because I have only a small yard, cannot take her to the dog park, and can never allow her off leash.

    I’ll close by saying that she is unpredictable. Sometimes, when off-leash dogs run up to her on hikes in the mountains, she is as friendly as can be, perhaps on account of being away from familiar territory. On other occasions, she is highly aggressive.

    I have not been able to figure out the specific triggers, and I am worried that at some point her behavior could expand to aggression against humans. She is a very loving dog and in general very obedient, and I would hate to have to put her down.

    • shibashake says

      Well, the circle and strike sounds like part of a prey drive sequence. Did she fixate on the other dogs first? What was her behavior like before the attacks? Were the other dogs nervous or fearful? What did the private trainer say? What did the trainer suggest in terms of rehabilitation?

      What were her interactions like at the dog park? Did she try to herd other dogs? What kind of play did she do with the other dogs? Were there any negative incidents? Does she usually fixate on other dogs? Does she fixate on all other dogs or only particular types of other dogs? What is her behavior when she sees cats or squirrels? What type of training is she used to?

      With a more submissive dog, aggressive behavior can sometimes be fear based. However, the circle and strike behavior that you describe sounds more like prey drive sequence. This ASPCA article has more on predatory dog behavior. It is difficult to say given the very limited context here.

      With my dog, the first thing that I do is try to ascertain the source and triggers of the aggression. This is where a professional trainer can be very helpful. I try to remember as many details as I can from when the behavior occurred, I try to look for similarities not just in the dogs, but also in the surrounding context, I try to look at my dog’s past experiences, and I try to identify predictive signals. For example, does my dog get stiff, fixate, change posture, etc. With my dogs, there are usually signals that indicate they are starting to prey-stalk, or that they are nervous. If I know what those signals are, then I can take steps early on to prevent escalation.

      I also manage my dog’s environment and use leashes, gates, or a basket muzzle to always ensure the safety of everyone.

      When I was having issues with my Shiba Inu, we visited with several professional trainers. There were some duds, but I learned a fair amount from the good ones. For dog reactivity issues, I tried to find trainers who had access to balanced dogs that can help with Sephy’s retraining. For a herding dog, it may also be useful to find a trainer who has herding experience. Teaching a dog to properly herd gives him an outlet for his prey-drive, while at the same time putting the prey behaviors under command control.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

    • says

      Thanks for the reply. The private trainer suggested redirection and desensitization. Her training has always been positive feedback, with and without clicker. The trainer also recommended the class that I attended. The problem I had was that the humane society was so concerned about liability that we were never able to work the dogs in close proximity, even with muzzles and cages available. She was completely relaxed the entire time — not so much as a muffled growl over the 3-week course.

      She will often fixate on other dogs before becoming aggressive. However, in both instances where she attacked, there was almost no warning. In the first case, we were actually doing weave poles at the time, and I believe that she ended up face-to-face with the other dog, which was coming off another obstacle. In the second we were playing frisbee — the other dog appeared from behind some shrubbery very nearby and started barking at my dog.

      She grew up with two other dogs and still remembers and likes both of them. She also seems to like certain other dogs that she knew when she was young. Any dogs that display tense energy, like terriers and huskies, are a big problem. However, with certain unfamiliar dogs, she is very gentle and friendly — my only observation is that it seems depend on where the dog is when she first sees it and perhaps also on its body language. She becomes more aggressive when she is in the car or running on the bike attachment. She is generally, but not always, less aggressive when in unfamiliar areas, like hiking trails.

      Basically, I have had a hard time sorting out the triggers. Some of the aggression seems to be territorial (car, bike, backyard), some of it fearful (other dog’s body language, how the dog approaches, whether it is coming down a hill from above, size of dog, etc.), and her pattern of attack, as you noted, resembles a hunt. She has a very strong prey drive and, without leaving the backyard, has managed to kill several times, inc. a skunk.

      All of this built up gradually over a single summer — she went from being very submissive at the dog park, to gradually more reactive, up until the point where I had to stop taking her because the only thing she would do is growl. Negative incidents usually involved other dogs dominating her. I tried to create positive experiences and to keep her involved with responsible owners and familiar dogs.

      I actually feel that working with balanced dogs could help her — it’s just not an easy opportunity to find. On one occasion, for example, she had the opportunity to meet a very well-balanced sheltie, and did just fine.

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, could it be that she is trying to protect herself, and views other dogs as possible threats? Could seem more so when the appear suddenly, startle her, and invade her space.

      For example, my Shiba Inu (Sephy) can be protective of his personal space. He doesn’t like new dogs coming in and sniffing his butt, because he sees this as a threat. When he was young, we used to take him to the dog park frequently, but he became more reactive because of it. More on our dog park experiences.

      Sephy does much better in small, structured, and highly supervised play groups. I set clear play rules, and I pick dogs that I know he will get along with. I also manage excitement levels by throwing in many play-breaks. This refocuses Sephy’s attention on me, and helps to calm him down so that play doesn’t escalate into something else.

      The key with Sephy is to maximize positive encounters and minimize negative events. I do my best to protect him from rude behavior by other dogs, we avoid dogs that I know will result in a bad encounter, and I stop bullying behavior during play. I leave at once if my dog becomes nervous, uncomfortable, or starts to fixate. The more positive experiences we had, the more calm and relaxed Sephy became. Similarly, bad experiences made him become more reactive, so avoidance and creating neutral experiences were also important for Sephy.

      More on dog tolerance levels.
      More on dog social boundaries.

      More on prey-drive training-
      http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/how-do-i-train-my-dog-to-stop-chasing-the-chickens-cat-rat
      http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/chase-this-not-that
      http://shibashake.com/dog/the-squirrel-instinct-can-it-be-retrained

      All of this built up gradually over a single summer

      Did anything unusual happen in that summer?

      With Sephy we did desensitization exercises at our local SPCA and then later some sessions at a local daycare center. We did private sessions. He didn’t “meet” all the dogs that the trainers picked for training. Some of them we used just for avoidance training. The ones that he met and played with, they specifically picked to suit his temperament, play-style, and energy.

      Hope this helps. Hugs to your girl.

    • says

      Thanks — I appreciate the time you’ve taken to respond, and the links you’ve provided, which I am going to have a look at. I’ve started taking her to a local dog park. At this point, we just loiter around outside to get her used to wearing a muzzle around other dogs.

      I agree that she is probably fearful / protective of her people and territory. This would jive with her other peculiarity: she grew up with two other dogs and still gets along with them when she goes back for visits. And so, we shall see how this journey goes…

      Cheers,

      James

  86. Anu says

    Hello, I’ve read some of your tips and comments from other dog owners. I have a 14-month old miniature poodle, Zoe, who goes to doggie day care 2-3 times a week and goes to a playgroup for an hour for a couple of days a week. She also gets walked in the morning and evening by me. I’ve noticed in the last 2-3 weeks, that when she meets another dog, she is her curious, excited self. She even whines to go meet them. Then she has a sniff and the so does the other dog. I can’t tell what the trigger is that she quickly turns aggressive and starts lunging at the other dog. I have a feeling that something in the past is triggering it. But not sure how to correct it when her temperament changes so quickly. Any tips? Thank you, Anu

    • shibashake says

      What is Zoe’s behavior at the day care and playgroup? Does she enjoy being with other dogs? Does she interact and play a lot? Has she had any bad experiences at the daycare or playgroups? What type of dogs are in the daycare and playgroups – e.g. larger or smaller, high or low energy? Does she only ever show aggressive behavior while on-leash? Has she shown any aggression at all during daycare or the playgroups? Are there particular types of dogs that she shows this behavior with, e.g. larger dogs, smaller dogs, loud dogs, nervous dogs?

      My Shiba, Sephy, gets along best with playful, non-dominant dogs that are larger than he is. Smaller dogs get overwhelmed by him very easily and do not enjoy his play style. He also does not like new strange dogs sniffing his butt. Here is why.

      With Sephy, I figure out exactly what his social tolerances are, and I make sure to protect him from encounters that will have an undesirable outcome. At the same time, I desensitize Sephy to the trigger stimuli that he is most sensitive to. I talk more about our desensitization experiences at the end of the article above.

      The key with Sephy was to maximize positive encounters and minimize reactive experiences. Successful calm experiences help to improve his future behavior. Similarly, reactive events make him less calm and sets back training significantly.

      Note that dog behavior is very context dependent, therefore when in doubt, I consult with a good professional trainer who can observe Sephy’s behavior within the context of his environment.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

  87. Alexis says

    Hello! I adopted my dog about a year and a half ago. She is now 10. When I got her, the shelter said she was dominant around other dogs but that’s it. Come to find out, she is very dog-aggressive. Immediately when she sees a dog she goes from 0-100. Even when I try to keep her moving, she will keep looking back, and sometimes when she is very into it, she will be up on her hind legs on her choke chain and it doesn’t seem to phase her a bit. I have to restrain her while her claws scratch at the concrete trying to get to the other dog. She is 45 lbs and half pit bull half Aussie cattle dog. The strangest thing though is that she is only like this when she is with people she knows! When no one she knows is around and another dog comes around, she couldn’t care less and it’s as if the other dog doesn’t exist! It’s so strange to me!!! Any advice? I’ve tried distracting her, making her sit, which she does for a few seconds then gets right back at it. Her energy level just gets so high and I can’t calm her down for a while after we have left the other dog. I don’t want people with dogs to be afraid of her, and I want our walks to be enjoyable. Any help?

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, was pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young. Some things that helped with Sephy-
      1. Distance weakens the other dog stimulus.
      So I always create as much space as possible, and we ignore and move on. I talk more about what I do in the article above. Once Sephy goes into reactive mode, it is too late. For him to learn, I need to keep him below his reactivity threshold, by managing him, his environment, and not letting him escalate. Once he becomes reactive, I can only remove him from the trigger as quickly as possible so that I can calm him down.

      2. I did desensitization exercises to raise his reactivity threshold.
      Desensitization needs to be conducted in a structured environment. I start by only exposing Sephy to a *very weak version* of the other dog stimulus. In this way, Sephy is calm enough to listen, learn, and re-associate other dogs with being calm and positive rewards. I talk more about the desensitization exercises that we did at the end of the article above.

      3. I try to stay very calm.
      My Shiba, Sephy is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. So if I am stressed or nervous, he will pick up on my energy, get stressed himself, and become even more reactive. After I controlled my own energy, Sephy’s behavior also improved. He behaves best when I am calm and decisive. In this way, I can prevent him from escalating or quickly remove him from a bad situation.

      The key with Sephy is not only to maximize successful encounters, but also to minimize negative experiences. The more successful and calm walks we have, the more Sephy’s behavior improves. The more reactive events we have, the more likely he is to become reactive in the future.

      I use a 6 foot leather leash with Sephy and a thick no-slip collar. Choke chains and aversive corrections may make the situation worse.
      More on collar corrections.

      Note though that dog behavior is very context dependent. Each dog and each situation is different, therefore when I am in doubt, I consult with a good professional trainer.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

  88. Georgina says

    Hey Shibashake,

    I have recently rescued a 5 year old unneutered pug. He is a delightful family dog and is obedient, as far as respecting house rules and waiting for food etc goes. Pugs are not the best for doing tricks though and as we haven’t had him since a puppy it’s a little more of a challenge. We know nothing about his past.

    We live in a city with lots of dogs, a lot of which are off lead. Whilst this is not always a problem, I have in the past 3 weeks encountered 3 dogs (a french bulldog male, a beagle cross male and a jack russel male (all neutered)) that came bouncing over to him, attacked him (two gave him a warning bite on the neck that did not draw blood). The first one crouched down and then floored him with his jaws on top of my dog. The second sniffed his butt and then nipped him on the neck and walked off and the bulldog came running at him and the owner didn’t have any control over her dog, it wasn’t even wearing a collar. In this case, I decided that picking him up was the best solution because I simply wanted to avoid the confrontation. I know this is not the best thing to do, but in the moment I had no alternative and it was my instinct that told me to do this.

    What is the best thing to do in these situations? The thing I find the most upsetting is that my dog doesn’t react, he simply ignores the other dogs because he isn’t interested in them, which could be infuriating them more but it could also be something from his past that we are not aware of. He isn’t fearful, but he isn’t at all aggressive towards other dogs either.

    Any help would be much appreciated, you seem to know so much!

    • shibashake says

      my dog doesn’t react, he simply ignores the other dogs because he isn’t interested in them

      Wow! He sounds like a really balanced dog. I think ignoring is a good response, because that is probably the best way for the other dog to lose interest and leave.

      I decided that picking him up was the best solution because I simply wanted to avoid the confrontation. I know this is not the best thing to do, but …

      Hmmm, why is it not a good thing to do?

      Personally, if I could pick my dog up and spare him the stress of a bad encounter, I would do that as well. Based on what I have read, I think that picking a dog up *can* be detrimental when the dog is already reactive and behaving badly. If we pick him up in such a state and comfort him, then we may be rewarding his reactive behavior, which could possibly reinforce it in the future.

      However, if a dog is calm and simply ignoring the rude dog, then I am not sure why picking him up would be an issue, as long as we are calm about it. In fact, if my dog remained calm, I would want to reward his good response and protect him from rude behavior.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation is different. When in doubt, I consult with a good professional trainer.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      Suzanne Clothier has a great article on dog social boundaries titled “He Just Wants to Say Hi”.
      Here is my take on the friendly dog.

  89. Cheryl says

    Hello
    I have two male dogs (Jax is 6 years and not neutered and Ryu is 2 years and has just been neutered). They are cross-breeds (Jax is German Shepard/ Whippet-cross 25kg and Ryu is Jax’s son/Lab 40kg. We live in a tourist resort in the mountains and during the summer months lots of people come here with their dogs. Both of them are worse during this time (barking at other dogs, dominant etc) as they come across a lot of dogs they don’t know. I was going to try all of your advice mentioned above. However they do feed off each other, would you recommend me training them individually or together? Thanks

    • shibashake says

      For reactivity issues, I start training a new dog separately. My youngest Husky, Lara, is pretty vocal and easily excitable. However, she is a lot more calm when I walk her singly, so I start small and slowly build up her tolerance.

      Once she is more calm and able to handle situations in single walks, then we started walking her together with our Shiba Inu, who is now very calm during walks. I would handle Lara and I got somebody else to walk Shiba to that I can devote my full attention to training Lara.

      What is key with my dogs is to maximize successful outings and minimize negative or reactive encounters. The more successes we have, the more their behavior improves. Similarly, reactive events undermine the desensitization process and sets back our training. Therefore, I always try to set them up for success by starting small and not exposing them to more than they can handle at each step.

  90. Jessie says

    I recently adopted a 4 year old dog when I moved. He seems to get along with most dogs, usually smaller ones. I also have the family dog that stays with my parents who is the same age and is a lot more larger not so much in height but way more bulky than my new one. I’ve taken my newer dog, who I’ve had for about 4 months now to my parents house to try and interact with the family dog and at first it seemed like he liked him because he was wagging his tail but then when my family dog got closer Harley got defensive and started growling. My family dog axel seems scared of Harley and tries to avoid him. It seems like he has a complex now. They can be in the same house and be on a walk together. It just seems like when axel gets too close that’s when Harley goes after him kind of biting him but not doing any damage. One day in the yard Harley was playing around and axel stated to as well but got to close again and Harley went after him. Axel doesn’t show any aggression. Is Harley eventually going to stop or is it just a lost cause?

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu, desensitization exercises were helpful in getting him to be more calm and relaxed around other dogs. I talk more about what we did at the end of the article above. The key with desensitization is to always start small (with a very weak version of the problem stimulus), and to only very slowly build up my dog’s tolerance for it. At the same time, I make sure not to expose my dog to more than he can handle. The more successes we have, the more Sephy learned to be calm around other dogs. Similarly, each reactive episode undermined his progress and set back our retraining process.

      Desensitization took time and management.

      Another thing that helps with my dogs is to establish clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. In the beginning, my dog did not know what to do and got stressed with a new dog. Setting up clear rules reduces uncertainty, and that reduces stress.

      I supervise them closely during interaction so that I can slowly teach them what the rules are, and redirect questionable behavior before it escalates into anything more.

      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent. During Sephy’s difficult period, we visited with several professional trainers who could observe and evaluate Sephy’s behavior within the context of his regular routine and environment. In this way, I could better ensure that everybody stayed safe.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  91. nicole says

    Hi, I was wondering if I could get some help/insight? I have a shiba she will be 6 in dec we also have a rat terrier that will be 7 initially we didn’t have any problems with them together once we moved the first time she would randomaly attack the small dog, usually after I would yell at the little dog for being bad learning that that triggered her I stopped doing that.. we since then moved again and on our move across country she attacked her in the parking lot she needed staples and it took everything we had to get her off of her.. once we got to our new home we had one attack 2 weeks after .. then everything was good for a while almost 2 years then the other day for no reason that I can think of I let her outback and the small dog was back there with our other med size dog and she just jumped on her.. It was scary my screaming and trying to pull her off did no good took a few mins she finally let her go .. our little dog went into surgery for some lacerations she received mainly on her back .. Just wondering is there something I can do or do differently to get this to stop like I said It stopped for a while, IDK if she was mad because there was a bunny in the front yard she couldn’t get to it or what? Shes a great dog great with the kids and everything but every so often she goes psycho on our smaller dog? she hasn’t tried to attack our med size dog an American eskimo which we got thinking maybe she needed a dog more her size to play with, she is also spayed for a few years now as well .. any ideas or tricks we can do to change this behavior? We don’t want to have to surrender her but if it happens again I don’t think we can keep her for the sake of our small dog her life means just as much as hers… Sorry for the long post im just really clueless as to what to do!

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba really likes routine and consistency. Whenever there are big changes to his schedule or environment, he gets really stressed. Stress can cause changes in mood and behavior.

      When we moved to a new house,
      1. I made sure to quickly re-establish a fixed routine and a consistent set of house rules. I have dog-to-dog interaction rules and also dog-to-people interaction rules. I slowly teach the rules to my dogs so they understand what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, which helps to reduce stress. More on what I do with my dogs.

      2. I make sure to increase my level of supervision, and I do not leave my dogs together unsupervised until I am very sure that there won’t be any problems. I make sure to set my dogs up for success by minimizing bad experiences and maximizing positive together time. I also make sure that everyone is safe by using management equipment such as leashes, gates, a basket muzzle, and more as necessary.

      3. My Shiba is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. If I get stressed, fearful, or nervous, he will pick up on that, become more stressed himself, and act even more crazy. To calm him down, I make sure that I am calm and in control.

      Note however, that dog behavior is very context dependent and aggressive behavior can be the result of many different things. ASPCA article on the different types of dog aggression.

      When I had problems with my Shiba, I visited with several professional trainers who could look at Sephy, understand his temperament, and view his behavior within the context of his regular routine and environment. I wanted to make sure that I properly diagnosed the source of Sephy’s reactive behavior, so that I can keep everyone safe and start re-training in the right way.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  92. Carly says

    My mastiff/lab mix is extremely dog aggressive. It does not matter who is walking her, where she encounters the dog(at home or out) or if she knows the dog. She loves our dogs but that’s it… I have tried everything. She even reacted this way towards another dog with a trainer…HELP!

  93. Lindsey says

    My dog has had issues with my neighbors dog for quite some time now. We think that when she was younger and we left her outside in her kennel while we were at work, the neighbors dog (who has free reign of the neighborhood) came over and harassed her. Every time our dog sees the other dog she barks and lunges. There have even been a few instances where they began to fight. Things have been going well until the neighbor cleared out the trees between hour houses. Now my dog is back on the prowl and after the other dog. We considered having the dogs meet in a controlled environment, but we are afraid that might make it worse. To make things worse, the neighbor kids runs away yelling for his dad every time my dog even looks his way. I am afraid that she is going to think he is playing and chase after him. The kid is afraid of her because she recently showed her teeth to the neighbors dog when he was around. Is there anything we can do to alleviate the situation? We are planning on putting up a fence as a barrier, but it would be nice if we could have some peace for her.
    Thank you
    Lindsey

    • Lindsey says

      I forgot to mention that she attends doggy daycare regularly with no issues. We also used to take her to the dog park but stopped going when she met another dog she did not get along with (he was there three times a day- pretty much every time we tried to go).

    • shibashake says

      Our backyard is next to some nice public trails, but there are deer, coyotes, and sometimes goats who come by. 😀 It helped to put a 6 foot, solid fence around our backyard. The solid fence helps with my dogs, because it cuts out the visual component of the outside stimulus.

      They still get excited, especially when the goats come around because they can smell and hear them, but a lot less so without the visual and motion cue.

      As for kids, I am very careful when there are kids around. My dogs are very attuned to motion, so a running kid will be very tempting to chase. When there are kids around, I always supervise very closely, and I have my dog on-leash so that I can keep him under control. I do not let my dog meet over-excited or fearful kids. I always try to set them up for success, so we only meet calm, older kids. Even if a dog just accidentally hurts a kid or if the kid should fall from running, it will be very bad news, especially for the dog.

      Desensitization exercises also helped with Sephy, in terms of helping him to stay more calm and less stressed around other dogs. I talk more about what we did with Sephy in the desensitization section at the end of the article above. We did the exercises at our local SPCA, under the direction of a trainer. In cases of aggression, it was safer and helpful to consult with a professional trainer, especially one with balanced dogs that we could train with.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help

      I also did people desensitization exercises with Sephy, which I talk more about here. I always have my dog on-leash, I make sure to set my dog up for success, and I make sure that everyone is safe.

  94. Jessica says

    HELP! I am in desperate need of advice. I have a 2 yr old german shepherd who has only recently begun to show aggression toward other dogs. We never thought to actively socialize her because she has always gotten along great with my dad’s two dogs. Recently though she has become aggressive towards our neighbors dogs. Both the Rottweiler next door and the shepherd across the street and last week there was an issue with our friends put bull while we were camping. I plan on taking her to a trainer next month to work on this as well as some other commands but there is one major problem. We are leaving this week to go visit my mom out of state. We have no one close who will be able to care for our Nikki while we are gone so we must take her with us. My mom has a 6 yr old shepherd mix. I am concerned that they won’t get along and I have no idea what to do about this. What is the best way for us to introduce our dogs to ensure they will get along, or at the very least, tolerate each other without fighting? Please any advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated. I am terrified Nikki will hurt my mom’s dog. Nikki has never shown any aggression towards people in case that information is helpful. Thanks again for any advice you can give me on how to handle this situation.

    • shibashake says

      Introducing a new dog into a new household can be very stressful for everyone involved, and it will take time. When I introduce a new puppy to my adult dogs, there is usually an adjustment period.

      Husky Shania is usually very good with puppies, but she is wary of new adult dogs. She was well socialized when young, but since then, we have been charged several times by loose dogs in the neighborhood. As a result, she has gotten somewhat wary and so have I. Sephy gets a lot more stressed with big changes, so with him, I have to slowly get him used to the new puppy in a very positive, safe, and structured way.

      My dogs are also very sensitive to the energy of the people around them. If I am stressed, nervous, or anxious, my dogs will quickly pick up on that, become stressed themselves, and their behavior will worsen.

      What is the temperament and training of your mom’s dog? Is he/she well socialized? How does he/she respond to new dogs in the house? Has Nikki stayed over at someone else’s house before? What is Nikki’s reaction to dogs who visit your house? Is it possible to delay the trip?

      Based on what you describe, it sounds risky to me. Personally, I would look for safer and less stressful alternatives. For example, when I leave on trips, my partner stays behind to take care of the dogs. Another possibility is to try and find a trustworthy dog sitter.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, and I have very little context of your situation. When in doubt, I usually consult with a good professional trainer who can observe my dog’s behavior and environment firsthand.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/finding-professional-help
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  95. Sue says

    My daughter infrequently brings her mixed-breed dog to visit. On the last visit, my Flat-Coated Retriever and her dog were playing with a ball, which is one of my own dog’s most prized possessions. Unfortunately, her dog managed to retrieve the ball about 5 times in a row. My dog suddenly and viciously attacked her dog. He has never shown a slight bit of aggression in the past so I’m wondering if somehow we managed to exceed his frustration level. Should I have my daughter bring her dog back, and have her play with her own dog fetching the ball while my dog and I sit back and try to calmly watch? Would that desensitize my own dog? Any other suggestions? This is really bothering me because I’ve never seen this in him in the past 4-5 years I’ve had him. Thanks~

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sue,
      What you describe sounds more like resource guarding.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/why-dogs-get-aggressive-over-food-toys
      http://shibashake.com/dog/stop-food-aggression-stop-resource-guarding

      With my dogs, I set up clear play rules and I supervise during play. I do not allow any stealing, I manage their excitement level with play-breaks, and I make sure that play is fair, positive, and inclusive. I try to set my dog up for success by removing high priority objects, and redirect his behavior before any conflicts arise.

      With desensitization, I start with a very weak version of the trigger stimulus. If the trigger is an object/toy, then I do desensitization with my dog by starting with a very low priority toy, in a quiet area, and without any other dogs around. I start small and then very slowly build up.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent. A dog’s behavior depends a lot on his temperament, past experience, surrounding environment, daily routine, and more. When trying to change my dog’s behavior, I first try to understand the source of his behavior – what triggers it, whether it is from stress, fear, anxiety, protection, or something else. The more I understand where my dog’s behavior is coming from, the better I can manage, redirect, and retrain it.
      More on how I change my dog’s behavior.

      In this article, I talk about Sephy’s dog-reactive behavior. In this case, the trigger is another dog, and not anything else. Sephy gets over-excited when he sees another dog, doesn’t know where to put his energy, and starts acting crazy. Other dogs may become reactive out of fear or nervousness. However, aggression can also arise from *many other sources*, including protecting resources, physical vulnerability, etc. Retraining behavior depends a lot on the source of the behavior.

      This is why in cases of aggression, it is usually better and safer to get help from a good professional trainer. We visited with several trainers during Sephy’s difficult period.
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  96. sarah says

    hi i heard about this website i thought it was cool because i need help with my dog her name is misty and she is part begal and we think collie mix and she has a problem with other humans and dogs at my aparment area but what is strange i let her have a puppy sitter with other dogs she was fine even with her other people with dogs there and she almost hurt a tiny dog i was walking her at my m oms andall the sudden one tiny dog went rushing torward her i hold her and kept her head up so she couldnt bite the puppy she almost got its side of its body and this dog to misty it could be a chew toy not that she is really large but her agresion i saw all her back hair up please help im 11 soon to be 12 and i dont know if im strong in oder for her not to hurt or to get hurt by other dogs she thinks she is tough im worried she gose to a mean dog who is large and dose that stuff

    • shibashake says

      Have you talked to your parents about this? What did they say?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, i.e. it depends a lot on the temperament of the dog, his past experience, his surrounding environment, daily routine, and more. To keep my dog safe and to keep everyone else safe, I got help from several professional trainers when dealing with my Shiba Inu’s aggressive behavior.
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  97. Kazza says

    Hi, my Yorkshire terrier has become very aggressive and even went for another dog, this has been since he was attacked by a dog that said hello and then turned on him, what’s best for me to deal with this?

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent – so each dog and each situation will be different. This is why in cases of aggression it is usually best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer.
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      When I was having issues with my Shiba Inu, we did private lessons with several trainers so that we could focus on his most difficult issues. It also allowed them to observe Sephy, read his body language, and guide us in retraining his behavior. With Sephy, I wanted to make sure everybody stayed safe, and that we properly diagnosed the source of his reactive behavior.

      Desensitization exercises helped Sephy to become more calm around other dogs. I talk more about desensitization and the other things I did with Sephy in the article above.

  98. Steve says

    I recently adopted a 3 yr old from a local shelter (they claim she’s an akita mix, but she looks like she has some pit, and other breeds in her as well). She’s very good around people, but very excitable. Unfortunately we soon discovered that she has major aggression problems with other dogs. If the dog is far away, she’ll pull, or at least stare. If the dog gets close, she’ll instantly start barking and growling, and trying to lunge at the other dog. I haven’t even been able to have her successfully meet another dog, because this happens every single time. This makes it very hard to socialize her, as I can’t safely get her close to another dog. Would you recommend starting off with the desensitization exercises as you talked about above? Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      What I learned, the hard way, with my Shiba Inu is that I want to maximize successes and minimize reactive or negative encounters. With Sephy, socialization is not just about meeting lots of different dogs, but about meeting them in a positive, structured, and calm way. The more calm successful events we have, the more Sephy learned, and the more he improved. Similarly, the more reactive encounters we had, the worse his behavior became.
      More on dog socialization.
      A good article on dog social boundaries.
      An article from BadRap on dog tolerance levels.

      In the beginning, I took Sephy to the dog park, but his behavior quickly became much worse. The environment at the dog park was often chaotic, unstructured, and mostly unsupervised. Sephy would get over-excited, become reactive, and he was starting to get rough even with me.

      Therefore, I stopped going to the dog park and started doing desensitization training. Desensitization exercises were helpful for Sephy. During regular walks we avoid and create neutral experiences. Structure, consistency, and routine also helped.

      Note though, that dog behavior is very context dependent, so I always make sure to adapt strategies according to Sephy and based on our particular situation. For this reason, we also visited with several professional trainers to get advice, a new perspective, and also to train with balanced dogs.

    • says

      Thank you for asking this question! For our three years with Mifflin (a 5 or 6 year old female American Bulldog), we simply avoided other dogs on walks and kept going and she did just fine.

      Then, a setback: she spent a bit of time with our brother in law’s dog over last Christmas, a smaller dog who ate her food and nipped her heels, and since then she’s been VERY reactive on walks. Her previous owner had a small dog that bit and scratched her, and it took a lot of work to get her calm on walks again around other dogs. We recently tried a “meet and greet” with our new landlady’s dog, a smaller dog (smaller than Mifflin, at least), who is allowed off-leash sometimes (something we don’t like) and Mifflin lunged and barked, flanking the dog. Luckily, she responded to me and calmed down, but not without leaving my landlady feeling like our dog is “aggressive and dominant.” I feel very sheepish about Mifflin’s bad reaction.

      I’m going to take your advice and continue as we were, to walk her assertively and gently, crossing paths with other dogs but not pausing. We’ve heard that her breed tends to not like other dogs once they get older. :( She’s so good with people, though!

      Also wanted to say thank you for your candid and thorough writing here! I’m finding all of your training advice extremely helpful.

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy, we also did a lot of desensitization training to raise his reactivity threshold and to teach him new ways to cope with his over-excitement and stress. We did the training at our local SPCA, under the direction of a trainer. The trainer would pick appropriate dogs that we could train with, and then we would train several times a week under the trainer’s direction and guidance.

      Desensitization was a very important part of Sephy’s re-training process. Creating neutral experiences and minimizing bad encounters prevented his behavior from becoming worse. Desensitization helps to improve Sephy’s behavior, by helping him to be more comfortable and calm in the presence of other dogs.

  99. Brody says

    The article was very helpful. A few questions about my two year old lab/hound mix. We rescued our dog when he was very young, we were told he was 9 weeks, but when we first brought him to the vet she said it was closer to between 5-6 weeks. As a puppy we had him around many dogs and he was always good with them, he would play and not be aggressive. Lately, around some dogs, when I take him on walks he gets aggressive and lunges toward some dogs, but not all. He gets along great with say 75% of the dogs we encounter, especially the ones he knows and has played with. What can I do to help my dog feel more comfortable and safe and not be aggressive toward the other 25% of dogs he lunges at?

    • shibashake says

      Different dogs have different social tolerances, and that may also change with experience, maturity, etc. Here are two articles that I like on dog social tolerance-
      http://www.badrap.org/dogdog-tolerance
      http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/he-just-wants-say-hi

      My Shiba Inu was a pretty reactive dog when he was young. He got too excited, and as a result, many dogs did not like him invading their space. At the same time, he has certain interaction triggers such as butt sniffing, which he views as a threat when coming from unknown dogs. If he feels under threat, and his warnings are ignored, he will use force to protect himself.

      He gets along well with larger, easy-going, playful dogs.

      With Sephy, the first thing that I did was observe his interactions closely and try to identify his social boundaries. Then, I set him up for success and I do not expose him to situations that I know he cannot handle. The more calm encounters we have (even if we are ignoring and just passing), the more likely Sephy is to stay calm in the future. The opposite is also true.

      Most of the time, we just move along and ignore other dogs. I use distance and barriers as necessary to weaken the “other dog” stimulus. When he was an only dog, I set up structured and supervised play-groups with friendly neighborhood dogs. We don’t go near dogs or people with nervous energy or over-excited energy. Sephy still does not like strange dogs butt sniffing him, so I also protect him from that.

      When he was young, we did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. This helped him to be more calm around other dogs, and it also taught him what to do when around other dogs. I talk more about that at the end of the article above.

      Another related article I wrote on the friendly dog.

  100. danielle says

    I have a 5yr old rotty X akita. She has been the perfect dog up until about a month ago when she developed a chest infection. Since taking her to the vets (without any problems with other dog) shes had 2 fights where shes fighting to kill. Then straight after shes wagging her tail and back to normal. She didnt give off any warning signs prior to the events. Now she has to wear a muzzle on walks. I cant work out what could be the trigger. I also have a 2yr old son which im scare of walking the dog with him incase she fights again. She knows that im top dog and try to reassure her without speech or touch. But now suddenly shes not reacting to it. And i certainly dont want her to suddenly feel the need to challenge my son.

    • shibashake says

      Did the other dogs come over to her and invaded her space? What were both dogs doing leading up to the fight? What was the body posture of both dogs like? Was your dog staring at the other dog or doing something else? Is she fully healed from the chest infection or is she still recovering?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so when troubleshooting my dog’s behavior, I try to observe very closely and take note of as many details as possible. I also use distance and barriers to weaken the “other dog” stimulus and most of the time, I find that it is best to avoid and create neutral experiences.

      Given that there is a young child in family, I would get help from a good professional trainer. A good trainer can meet and observe the behavior firsthand, within the context of our dog’s regular environment and routine.
      http://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      More on dominance and aggression.
      More on dominance and bad dog behavior.

  101. Sofia says

    I recently adopted a male German Shepherd (5 Months old) and whenever he sees a dog he stands there staring or he either try’s to bark at it and go to it. Recently when I was walking him with my brother there was a dog walking freely (my neighborhood has a lot of dogs and they don’t use leashes.) so the dog came up to my dog in its face, at first my dog was wagging his tail then he stopped and lunged to bite its face but it escaped fast enough not to get bit by my dog. I don’t know if he’s playing with the other dog or actually trying to hurt it. He’s not aggressive at all with people and is very calm.

    • shibashake says

      Each dog is different and will have different social boundaries.

      For example, my Shiba Inu is generally calm and friendly with people. However, when we go to the vet, he will not let strangers stick needles into him. If he thinks he is under threat, he will fight back.

      Sephy is very good with dogs that he knows and trusts. He is calm with new dogs, but there are certain things that he does not like, such as butt sniffing. Here is why. I try to observe each of my dogs, and understand their social boundaries. I protect them and make sure *not* to expose them to situations that they cannot handle, and feel they have to resort to aggression. In this way, I set them up for success.

      The more successful experiences we have, the more positive social lessons they learn, and the better their behavior becomes. Similarly, reactive/aggressive encounters will worsen their behavior and set back training.

      I talk about some of the things that I do with my dogs in the article above. Here is more on dog socialization.

      When I have having issues with Sephy, I also visited with several professional trainers. Because dog behavior is so context dependent, it was helpful to have a professional observe Sephy and help me come up with a good training plan.
      https://apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  102. Oliverious says

    Your article is really intresting! i have a male goldenretriever, he is 2 years old! he is really calm and NOT aggressive! though at my place we have many dogs in our neighbour that they obviously have owners, cause they wear collars though they are free on the streets! most of them become really aggressive and sometimes i have used water to make them go away! that works most of the times but they are others who do not fear it! today we came face2face to a male german shepard! i said my dog to sit and i stand in front of him to make them avoid “contact eye” and the gs left! i ll try to use next time most of your tips :) thank you!

  103. Donna says

    My Shiba is a female, 5 yrs old, she has always dominated my 7 yr old male Lab. Very snippy, vocal, aggressive over toys, food, me, my food, my space. She does not like other dogs either. Last year she was viciously attacked ny a pitbull, he had her by the throat shaking her, when I was able to get him to let her go, she had a large hole in her throat. I took her to the ER, there was bruising & internal tissue damage. In October, she was spayed, in November we moved out of the house she was raised in, left the state, moved in with 2 roommates, she didn’t know & another dog lives there as well. She has been attacking, biting, drawing blood, screaming, at almost every turn lately. She has attacked my dog, the roommate’s dog, a neighbor’s dog & has even been snapping at me. Something has to be done or we are going to lose out place to live, she is going to get impounded, possibly put down. I love her to death, I can’t stand the thought of losing her. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent. For serious aggression issues, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Sephy, my Shiba, really needs his consistency and routine. Whenever there are changes in his environment and routine, he gets really stressed and his behavior changes.

      When we moved houses,

      1. I quickly set up a consistent set of rules and a fixed routine in the new place. I have house rules, dog-to-dog interaction rules, dog-to-people interaction rules, walk rules, play rules, etc. In this way, Sephy know exactly what to expect from me, from the other people around him, from the other dogs around him, as well as what we all expect from him in return. This creates certainty and helps to reduce stress – for everyone.

      2. I increased the amount of positive, structured exercise. We went for long walks in quiet hiking trails, which are low stimulus, low stress, and where Sephy can have fun exploring and smelling. This gives him a place to put his nervous, stressful energy, and helps him to relax.

      3. I increased the amount of supervision so that I can properly manage Sephy’s day and environment. I make sure to set him up for success, provide him with enough positive structured activity for his Shiba energy, and at the same time, I can redirect undesirable behavior before it escalates.
      What I do to help my dogs get along at home.

      4. I also did desensitization exercises with Sephy to help him cope with his stress triggers.
      More on dog anxiety.

      5. The key with Sephy is not only to maximize successes but also to minimize failures. Management of his environment is very important, so that he does not keep practicing bad behaviors. We also visited with several trainers, and spent a lot of time desensitizing him to other dogs, under the direction of a trainer.

  104. Rolyat Ybba says

    Hi i have two dogs, one is the mother, she is nearly ten, and the other is the son, he is nearly 4. When walking them, being aggressive towards other dogs isn’t a problem, and I’m always confident when I walk them that we’ll pass by other dogs without any problems. However I really want to start letting them off the line, but can’t because they’ll attack any dog passing by. Even when I pass other dogs the younger one will try to attack. Usually he never gets far but when he does he will attack any dog that crosses his path. And the mother will join in. They’re Goldens, so no one really expects them to be aggressive and are completely unprepared. We recently moved in to a neighborhood with lots of other dogs, and I just want to know when they are not in my control, how can I make sure they and the other dogs are safe?

    • shibashake says

      To keep my dog and other dogs safe, I need to make sure that I am there to supervise, and that I am in control even when my dog is off leash. Some things that help me stay in control when my dog is off-leash-

      1. Very strong recall training (come when called). Here is an article from the ASPCA on recall training techniques.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-come-when-called

      2. Management of my dog’s environment. I do not let my dog go off-leash in high stimulus areas that I know he cannot handle. I always start small, and very slowly build up his tolerance.

      3. Desensitization training. I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu to teach him to stay calm while in the presence of another dog. I talk more about what I did at the end of the article above.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent. Therefore, for aggression issues and dogs with a bite history, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  105. Glen mcclellan says

    Ihave two labs that are almost 4 years old. Ihave a electric fence up to keepthem in the yard, the other day a little dog came by the house with its owner. They were walking in the street both batteries must of been bad in there collars., I opened up the back door to let them out and both of them took off for the street to attack the little dog. Kobe and Tucker are there names. Tucker is the dominant one. I yelled at Kobe to stop and he did butTucker got ahold of the dog and I thought he was going to kill him, At first Tucker would not listen to me but I finally got him off the little dog .They both have showd aggression to little dogs in the past. The little dog is going to be allright but ended up costing me around $400.00 to fix the hole in the neck that Tucker did to him. I have lost all trust in my dogs know and don’t know what to do. Most the time the dogs are very awesome dogs. Luvable and like to layclose to me. I don’t want to put them down but Iam afraid whats next hurt a little kid or something. Ineed to mention I leave right behind a school and ther is a lot of kids outside all day . Help me please What to do? Thank You Glen Mcclellan

    • shibashake says

      In terms of escapes, we put up a solid 6 foot fence. A physical fence is much more reliable and less risky. The solid fence also blocks visibility, which helps to reduce the strength of the outside stimulus. I also put concrete blocks all around my fence line so my dogs can’t dig out. More on electronic collars and the risk of aggression.

      I also did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu who was very reactive to other dogs when he was young. I talk more about that at the end of the article above.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent though, so for more serious aggression issues, I would get help from a good professional trainer. When I was having troubles with my Shiba Inu, I looked for trainers who had access to calm, balanced dogs, so that we could do structured training exercises with them.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  106. Lulu4 says

    Hi the problem I’m having is that we have a 1 year old husky and she is very playfull, and we frequently go camping with these people whom own 2 dogs, one of them is agressive towards other dogs and protective towards them and the other dog. So when we are camping and our dog, which is always on leash ( cause otherwise she’ll take off the campsite ) this dog is constantly walking around our dog growling at her, if our dog plays with their other dog or if ours gets close to their camping trailer this agressive dog attacks ours. And we tell this dog to stay away from our dog ( at first we let the dog get close to ours to smell her but she starts growling inmetiately and if our dog makes a move she just attacks her that’s why we always keep an eye on them).
    Sometimes this agressive dog comes close to our RV where our dog is, like waiting for our dog to do something or us not to be paying attention to attack ours. So I really don’t know what to do to stop it because this agressive dog is not ours and at he same time we don’t want our dog getting attacked on every chance the other one has, also we like going camping together that’s why I’d like to approach it properly☺️

    • shibashake says

      This sounds more like a people issue rather than a dog issue. With loose neighborhood dogs, I sometimes talk to my neighbors about it *if* I think it will help. I make sure I am in a calm state of mind, and prepare what I want to say. Sometimes, it can create awkwardness and bad feelings, so it really depends on the situation and people involved.

  107. Sandy says

    Hi, please help me to control my dog, he is a Stanfordhire Terrier ,3 years old. I don’t think I have strong energy to control his agressive stubborn behavior. I am living in NYC and he is terrified to go out, even in the elevator he shakes. I used to bring him to Central Park early in the morning so he can run free off the leash but once is time to go home he ignores me and go away, I offered him treats before so I can put his leash back , but now he ignors them and runs away. Just today he escaped from the leash when I force him to go out to pee, a neighbor stop the heavy trafic on the street ,with his hands wide open so my dog won’t get hit by a car. I am very upset trying to think what to do with him or with me. I don’t want to return him to SPCA again, please help me. Thanks

    • shibashake says

      Hello Sandy,
      I had a lot of difficulties with my Shiba Inu (Sephy) as well. He was crazy stubborn and pretty reactive. It took some doing, and a bunch of time, but he really has changed a lot, for the better, and so have I. 😀 Here are some of my early experiences with him.

      This article on zen dog training tips may also be interesting.

      In terms of training our dog to come when called, here is a good article from the ASPCA.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-come-when-called

      Sephy has always been a very independent minded dog though, so I always keep him on leash during neighborhood walks. I usually only let him off-leash in safe, fully-enclosed, areas. For walks, I use a properly fitted Premier no-slip collar, and he has not slipped out of his collar since. The problem I found with regular clip-on collars is that they can slip a lot just from regular use, so I had to frequently keep readjusting them or they would get too big.

      Another thing that is very important with Sephy is to control my own energy. If I get fearful, frustrated, or stressed, Sephy will pick up on that, get stressed himself, and act even more crazy. After I started to control my own energy, and became more decisive (always have a plan of action), Sephy’s behavior also improved.

      As for fear issues, I try to start small and go in small steps. The key to helping my dog build confidence is by maximizing positive experiences and minimizing negative ones. For example, I first start leash training my dog in a very safe, low stimulus area, such as my backyard or even inside my house. This gets him used to walking on a leash without having to deal with other dogs, noise, people, etc. Once we are good with walking in the house, I *very slowly* increase the environmental stimulus.
      More on dog anxiety.
      More on dog desensitization.

      Finally, we also visited with a bunch of professional trainers during Sephy’s difficult period. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it really helped to have someone come over to watch Sephy, give me pointers on his body language, identify problem areas, and help me develop a plan for retraining. Since you got your dog from the SPCA, I would give them a call and see what they suggest. I have had pretty good experiences with my local SPCA.

      More of my training experiences with my dogs.

  108. BigL says

    We just adopted a 2 year old Akita Inu named Pearl just a few days ago. Pearl is well behaved with all people she comes in contact with but very aggressive around any dog that comes near her. She is fearless and when going for a walk we will just walk by any dogs on their leash in their yard or if a dog is being walked across the street with their owner. Unfortunately we live in a community where there are alot of either stray dogs or unattended dogs off of their leash walking around the neighborhood or sitting in their front lawn. This is where the problem is, it seems that every dog we have come across is off of their leash and will curiously approach us. This immediately triggers her to act aggressive towards the other dog. I want to work on her to be able to get comfortable with other dogs and get her to be able to get along and play with other friendly dogs. She has not been spayed, and I’m not sure what her previous owner did about her behavior in her first 2 years. Spaying her may help with the aggressiveness and I plan on spaying her asap. I know that Shibas and Akitas are different breeds but I can’t find another site like yours that is this helpful for Akitas. Since the breeds are similar, I was hoping that you could maybe give some advice. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Some dogs are more protective over their personal space, especially with unknown dogs. My Shiba, for example, will not let unknown dogs sniff his butt. He is very particular about that. More about the butt sniff.

      We did a lot of desensitization work with Sephy, and that helped him to be more calm around other dogs. I talk more about this at the end of the article above. We also drove him to quiet hiking trails for our walks so that he can have positive walk experiences. The more positive experiences we had, the more he learned to trust me, and the more calm he became. It took a fair amount of time, repetition, and management to change his behavior.

      Still, there are certain things that he will not tolerate from new dogs. For example, I always keep new dogs away from his butt area. Here is an interesting article about dogs and social boundaries.

      In terms of play, I pick Sephy’s playmates carefully and I set up clear play rules and dog-to-dog interaction rules. In this way, he knows what to expect from other dogs, what he can expect from me, and what I expect from him. Here is more on what I do during play-time.

      We also visited with several professional trainers during Sephy’s difficult period. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it was helpful to have a good trainer observe him, give us pointers on his body language, help identify the source of his reactive behavior, and come up with a plan for retraining.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  109. Court says

    Hi,

    I have (2) female 9 month old boxador puppies and they dislike people & animals (no matter their size).

    Let me give you their story …

    The pups Sire is a 50lb. Black Lab & the Dam is a 44lb. Brindle Boxer. On 07/27/2013 the puppies were born into a litter of 10. (7 females, 3 males)

    I purchased the largest & the runt of the litter when they were 9.5 weeks old. Upon their first checkup, the vet specifically told me not to socialize them until they had their full set of shots.

    We took her advice and did not try to socialize them until 6 months old. In my opinion, this was a HUGE mistake. The 1st training class did not go well & the trainer ended up having to get stitches.

    We have been to two training/obedience schools, (one in a puppy class and another with private lessons) which yielded no improvement in their behavior.

    The only time I can take my dogs out for a walk is after midnight due to the fact that both puppies are so aggressive. I refuse to give up on them, but I don’t know what else to do.

    Any adivce would be greatly appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      What type of methods have you tried? What happened with each method? What did the private trainer suggest? Do you walk them together? Is their behavior different when walked separately? Have you tried desensitization exercises?

      I find that my dogs are more reactive when they are walked together. During the training period, I walk my new dog separately.

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, was pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young. We did a lot of desensitization exercises with him and that was helpful. In general, I start small and go in very small steps. At the start, I walked Sephy by himself, I start with more quiet, low stimulus areas, and very slowly work my way up. The key is to maximize positive, calm experiences and minimize negative encounters. Therefore, I try to manage everything so as to always set us both up for success.

      I talk more about desensitization and creating neutral experiences in the article above.

  110. Nathan says

    Thanks for these tips!

    My shiba is a little over 2 years old and has been well socialized ever since he was a pup. Lately, he has attacked a few dogs. This has never happened before up until recently.

    1st encounter was at my friend’s house with his dog. They have played several times before but he just went crazy and latched onto his ear. Drew some blood from the ear while at it. We were all in the kitchen at the time and there was no food involved.

    2nd encounter was at a restaurant patio. He just went crazy and lunged after my friend’s dog. There was no physical interaction though.

    3rd encounter was at a restaurant patio. It was a dog that was walking around the patio first. They smelled each other nose to nose before the other dog went in. Finally when it came in and sat next to us, my dog attacked it and nicked his nose.

    I’m kind of at wits end and am hoping this isn’t just a classic Shiba trait. A lot of folks on different forums have stated they experienced this behavior once their dog turned 2-3.

    • shibashake says

      What I have noticed with Sephy is that he is very particular about space and greetings.
      – Sephy does not get along well with dominant type dogs. He does not start anything, but if another dog challenges him through stares or other types of body language, he will respond, irrespective of size.
      – Sephy will respond when he feels that he is under threat. For example, he does not like new dogs sniffing his butt area. When they do that, he warns first, but if they do not heed, he will do more. More on butt sniffing.

      What helps with Sephy:
      1. I pick his playmates carefully.
      I only pick dogs that I am sure Sephy will get along with and that will get along with him. He seems to do well with playful larger dogs, that enjoy wrestling, and that are totally not dominant. Note that other dogs (even Shibas) will have different preferences, so we want to pick according to the temperament of our own dog.

      2. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and supervise him during play.
      In this way, Sephy understands what to expect from the other dog, what to expect from me, and what I expect from him. Certainty helps to reduce stress and allows him to relax and play. If there are any conflicts, I step in and resolve it before things escalate into aggression.

      3. I throw in many play breaks so that neither dog gets over-excited.
      I have noticed that most problems arise when Sephy gets over-excited, at which point his play becomes really intense and other dogs may get overwhelmed. The reverse may also occur. Things work out best when I manage their excitement levels with frequent play-breaks.

      More on how I supervise play-time with my dogs at home.

      What I have noticed about Sephy is that he is more particular about interaction manners, and more likely to respond to what he views as threats or challenges with aggression. He also can get really extreme when over-excited. For these reasons, he requires more supervision and management than my two Sibes, who are more submissive by nature and much more easy-going.

      Note that this is based on my experiences with Sephy and his temperament. Different dogs will have different temperaments and we will have to adjust things to suit their particular temperament and situation. Because dog behavior is so context dependent, it is usually a good idea to consult with a good professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  111. Carlos says

    Hi, I just found your site. I have a 4 month old Shiba. So far we’ve been able to train some good behaviours like lying down before eating, and sitting before going out of the house. He canplay retrieve inside the house as well. He is however, very aggresive when meeting other dogs. Even when seeing them accross the street, he get’s very anxious and that escalates to barking. Have you had that experience? I don´t expect him to completely ignore the other dogs but I don´t want him to become a maniac either.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, Sephy was pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young. Mostly, he got really excited, which caused him to pull and jump around. Using aversive techniques made his behavior even worse.

      With Sephy, the thing that helped him most was doing desensitization exercises and creating neutral experiences. I talk more about what I did with him in the article above.

  112. Saylor says

    My dog Daisy dislikes other dogs, a lot. We may be getting a new dog tomorrow, but only if she seems okay around him. She has attacked other dogs before, and I have no clue how to make her stop attacking them. I was wondering on how I could maybe keep her calm around other dogs, and somehow get her to not attack this other one. If Daisy doesn’t like him, then he will be put down. She is about 5-6 years old.

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy, desensitization exercises were helpful in terms of getting him to be more calm around other dogs. I talk more about what we did at the end of article above.

      However, changing his behavior took time and quite a lot of management.

  113. olivia says

    I have a collie, she is deaf there have been some problems going on it started to happen when we moved house about 2-3 years ago. when I walk her she’s fine if she happens to see a dog(witch happens alot)then she will stair at it antil we get really close then she will growl/bark at it try running up to it and leaning on the lead,she will go on her hind legs and her ears will be pointing up and tail swinging slowly her eyes fixed on that dog!when I get to the fields I let her go she’s fine but then she sees a dog that she lay’s down and crawls slowly to that dog/dogs then I try to catch her but when I try then she crawl faster,I normally catch her at that point.I do want to get her a trainer but my parents wont,I am only 12 and I havent got much to say,please can you help me train her??

    • shibashake says

      Hello Olivia,
      I have never lived with a deaf dog before, so I do not have experience with training deaf dogs. This site may be a good starting point-
      http://www.deafdogs.org/training/

      I do desensitization exercises to train my dog to be calm while in the presence of another dog. During walks, I use *distance*, barriers, and more to keep my dog calm. I talk more about what I do in the article above. However, each dog and each situation is different, so I always change things as necessary to suit my dog and my situation.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, and depends a lot on the temperament of the individual dog, her routine, her environment, and more. This is why it is best to get help from someone local. Can your parents or an adult relative help with the training?

  114. Porsche says

    I have a 1 year old rescued Malamute. We does great with anyone, and very well temperment. He’s been introduced to many dogs, and ever since my knee injury he has gotten agressive towards dogs he doesn’t know. He can walk great on leash, and not pay attention to another dog unless the dog is barking/growling at him or its in a few feet of him. It’s been a serious problem, because even though I have a daily excerise routine with both my dogs.

    Here is the twist, I dont see it as agression all the time. My reasons? He does grow, howl and quickly want to be next to the dog and after a few minutes of meeting the dog he calms down, but other owners tend to be scared and turn their nose and walk away. Which makes my mally have more anxiety and try going after the dog. Im curious what I could do, or if you could provide training tips? He loves dog parks, but seems to be to excited and since he is a rescue we think he had no dog soicalzion.

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu, Sephy, was pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young. We did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him at our local SPCA and that was helpful. I talk more about desensitization and other techniques that I use in our walks, in the article above.

      Dog parks were too unstructured and hectic for Sephy. What seemed to work better for him, were small, structured, and supervised play-groups. Usually I would just invite a friendly neighborhood dog over, I set up play-rules, manage their excitement level with play-breaks, and supervise closely. In this way, Sephy learns good social manners, learns to control his excitement level, has a bunch of fun, and also has a positive outlet for his play energy.
      More on how I structure play-time with my dogs.
      More on our early dog park experiences.

      The key with Sephy is to properly manage him and provide adequate structure during dog greetings so that he stays calm, has a positive experience, and can learn from each experience.

  115. A Shively says

    Thanks for your generous and sensible tips for avoiding dog-to-dog aggression. Our 2.5 year old rescue Westie is 85% perfect, but barks and lunges at most strange dogs when we are out walking (city dog, always on a leash). We’ll try the avoidance methods you suggest and perhaps find a trainer with some friendly dogs he can work with. Thanks again!

  116. says

    I have a 6 mo old (male) Wheaten Terrier and a 6 year old (male) Chihuahua — both are neutered. They exhibit a great deal of aggression towards one another – both wanting to be dominant. The puppy more wants to play and my chihuahua has always been a dominant aggressor — however the other day the puppy drew blood on the chihuahua in a few places. I desperately need some tips on how to help them get along, seeing that they have to live together
    thank you!!!

    • shibashake says

      What daily routine do they have? What kind of training are they used to? How much daily exercise do they get? What kind of rules are they used to in the house?

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, I manage their excitement level, and I supervise them closely during play, meal-time, etc. In this way, they know what to expect from each other and what to expect from me. If need be, I use management equipment such as baby gates, leashes, and more to keep things safe for everyone.
      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      It is important to note, however, that dog behavior is very context dependent and each situation is different. This is why in cases of aggression, it is usually better and safer to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  117. Ninette says

    Congratulations and many thanx for sharing, your precious wisdom. Other “experts” don’t. I see lots of similarities between your Shiba Inu and my 2-year-old male Dobe, particularly this “stalking” lying position, rings LOTS of bells in my ears. I’ve been complaining trying to explain to outnumbered “trainers” that particular posture and my Dobe’s refusal for treats “when he’s like this” but no one seemed to even listen! You have resolved the riddle! I’ll stick to your simple techniques and I’ll revert. I’ll try it when we’re obliged to confront cats and see what happens. Thank you indeed.

    • shibashake says

      Thank you Ninette. I had a lot of problems with my Shiba Inu when he was young, so we had a lot of “fun” experiences together, and our neighbors were very entertained.

      It took me a while to see that my dog is not perfect, and I am not perfect, but that is ok. I still make mistakes, but once I started trying to understand things from my dog’s perspective, and setting him up for success, things got a lot better. I think the key lesson that I learned from my Shiba is to listen more to him, and less to my “expert” neighbors. 😀

  118. says

    Thank you for this post! Really helpful tips and reminds me we have to be patient. We’ve been dealing with leash reactivity for 4 months now and the progress is very slow. Keeping the intensity threshold low is so important.

    Many thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Keeping the intensity threshold low is so important.

      Yeah that was key with Sephy as well. At the time, I thought he was never going to get better, but now, he is actually the most calm of all my dogs. Hang in there!

      Btw, love your idea with the fan by the door. It blows away whatever scent there is, masks out the outside noise, and prevents obsessing type behavior. Super clever!

      Big hugs to Marvin and congrats on your new place. 😀

  119. Emma says

    Hi i have a 10 year old male dog who is a medium sized dog who is neutered and the last 3 years he has become unfriendly towards dogs that are bigger then him even if there male or female, how am i able to stop this? He was attcked a couple of years ago by a german shepherd who is bigger then him could this have triggered his fear? He is fine with smaller dogs and dogs that are his size

    • shibashake says

      Negative and stressful interactions can certainly make a dog wary, anxious, or fearful of other dogs. My Husky has gotten a bit wary of large dogs because we have been charged by a few of them, and some of them try to bully her.

      I do my best to protect her and to keep dog interactions positive, or at worst neutral. Luckily, many of the owners are now keeping their dogs properly secured. We avoid places that regularly have unsupervised off-leash dogs.

      With my Shiba Inu, I did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises, to help him be more comfortable around other dogs. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      However, it is very important to note that dog behavior is very dependent on context. I can make very good guesses about the source of my dog’s behavior because I know their temperaments very well, their routine, environment, and more. Once I know the source of my dog’s behavior, I can come up with a plan for retraining it.

      We also visited with several professional trainers to help us with Sephy’s dog reactivity issues – which was mostly due to over-excitement. A *good* professional trainer can observe Sephy interacting with other dogs, evaluate his behavior, give me insights on what is causing the behavior, and help me develop some good and safe strategies for retraining it.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  120. Taylor says

    Hello,
    I have a husky, Shepard, lab cross. She will be one in March. In the past couple months she has become very aggressive, mostly to smaller dogs and once they show aggression towards her it’s almost like she thinks well I’m bigger than you I’ll win, this causes a major problem when we are at a farm and they are not on leashes. If the other dog is fine mine is fine, just eager to play. Any advice on how to help her over this?

    • shibashake says

      As I understand it, dogs, like us, have a tolerance threshold. When pushed beyond this limit, they will react. Some may choose to run away, some may choose to fight, and some may choose to submit.

      For example, my Shiba Inu a has pretty low tolerance for social rudeness. If overly provoked, he will issue a verbal warning. If that is ignored, he will do an air-snap. I manage him carefully, choose his dog friends carefully, and step in before things escalate into anything more serious. During play, I supervise and manage his excitement level, because that can also cause things to get out of control.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him, which helped to raise his tolerance threshold. However, desensitization is a slow process and during retraining, I had to make sure not to expose him to any negative encounters.

      Recall training can also be helpful. There was this Australian Cattle Dog that we met when we went to the dog park and he had superb recall. Every time some trouble was about to break-out, his owner would call him back and put his leash on. In this way, he never got involved in any trouble.

      However, the tolerance threshold never goes away, so I still manage Sephy carefully and prevent anything from escalating out of control. I also stopped going to the dog park because the environment there was not structured enough for him and there was too little supervision. For safety, I both manage Sephy’s environment and supervise him when he is interacting with other dogs.

  121. Andura says

    Hello. I have very much enjoyed your articles. I am hoping we can use your tips working with my mother’s dog. She has a female English Bulldog that’s about a year old. Maddy was a gift and is the youngest of my mom’s 5 dogs. We’ve had her since she was about 3 more months old. The other four are rescues, a female Boxer, a small mix breed female, a male poodle/Lhasa mix, and the matriarch Heddie Bess, a small Chihuahua/pom mix about 10 yrs old.
    For months there has been no problems except at feeding time, Maddy is very aggressive with other dogs over food, but mom feeds Maddy separately, and dishes are taken back up after eating, so that is not an issue now. But about 2 months ago the Maddy began attacking Heddie at every opportunity. She has injured her.
    For now, the dogs are separated into different rooms, and are not let outside at the same time. But whenever she can, Maddy will dart out the door, and if Heddie Bess is outside she doesn’t stand a chance. Mom can’t stand the thought of parting with either one, but they can’t be allowed to be in the same area together.
    I had hoped that putting a gate between their areas of the house would help with the dog to dog desensitization, basically help them get used to each other again. If Maddy comes near it Heddie Bess begins barking and growling non-stop (of course she is terrified and is just reacting), but Maddy just completely ignores her. If you saw them standing by each other with just the gate between, you would never guess Maddy would get aggressive with her. She will sniff at Heddie through the gate, no barking, no aggressive stance, nothing at all But if they are out at the same time, or get into the same room together, Maddy will try her best to rip Heddie Bess to shreds.
    She attacked the male once, but hasn’t since, and the other two not at all. She is not the least bit aggressive toward us, or visitors, but I’m afraid her aggression will escalate to other dogs or children. Mom wants to use a remote shock collar, for aggression toward Heddie only (not for any other behaviors), but I’m hesitant until we’ve tried everything else. She loves these dogs so much, but it is becoming a very overwhelming situation.
    Thank you,
    Andura

    • shibashake says

      Hello Andura,
      Dog behavior is very dependent on context, and dog-to-dog aggression can be the result of many different things including over-excitement, fear, frustration, resource conflict, and more.

      The first step that I take in terms of changing my dog’s behavior is to observe him carefully and try to identify the source of his behavior. I also make sure to carefully manage him so that he stays safe, my other dogs stay safe, and the people around him stay safe. I use management tools such as leashes, gates, and muzzles as necessary, according to my dog and my situation.

      What is Maddy’s daily routine like? How much exercise does she get? Did anything unusual happen 2 months ago? Was there a change in Maddy’s routine 2 months ago? What training is she used to? Is she good about following house rules?

      Based on what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer. Especially in cases of aggression it is very important to start on the right foot, otherwise, the situation could get worse.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      As for shock collars, they are very risky and can frequently increase aggression in dogs. I briefly considered using a shock collar on my Shiba Inu when I was having troubles with him, but after doing some research on it, I quickly decided not to go there. Here is why.

      Shock collars *should not* be used to break-up a dog fight. Introducing more pain and stress into such circumstances is very dangerous and will likely make matters worse.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-shock-collar-good-bad/comment-page-2#comment-78125

      Desensitization

      The key with desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques is to only expose my dog to a very small amount of the problem stimulus to begin with. It has to be small enough that my dog is able to stay calm and listen to me. I talk more about how I did desensitization with Sephy at the end of the article above.

      It is important during retraining to always try and keep my dog below threshold. I want to maximize successful experiences so that my dog learns to be more calm around other dogs and learns to reassociate other dogs with positive events. For this to happen, I need to be there to manage the situation, teach him what to do, and properly reward him for staying calm and following commands.

      Changing my Shiba Inu’s dog reactive behavior required some understanding of where the behavior is coming from, careful management, consistency, time, and patience. I read up a lot on dog behavior and dog training so that I could read Sephy better and pick better trainers.

  122. michelle says

    Hi I am hoping you can help me. I have an 8 year old female boxer. I got her when she was 4. When I went to meet her I noticed that her teats were still sagging from her having pups. I asked how long it had been since her last litter and they told me it had been about a year. Her teats have never really gone back to normal so I am presuming that they had used her as a breeding machine!!
    I had her neutered when I got her. The main problem is that she is very…and I mean very protective in and outside of the house. If someone even walks past the window she goes mad and when I take her out she is a nightmare!!! She gets aggressive with all dogs even if we are not near them and she just sees them.
    When I take her to the vets I have to leave her in the car until its time to take her in and then hope there are no other dogs in our way to get her straight out and into the car.
    Last time I took her to the vets my friend came with us and sat in the car with her while I went back in to pay the bill. When I got in the car my friend said she wouldnt come with us again, as a couple had walked past the car with a dog and she thought Kiya (my dog) was going to put the window through to get to this dog and it frightened my friend to death (bless her).
    My dog as never bitten anybody or another dog as I dont let her get close to other dogs. It is just a shame that I cant take her for walks like normal people because she is like this.
    Any advice would be very appreciated

    • shibashake says

      Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises helped my Shiba Inu to be more calm around other dogs. With desensitization, I start small, with a very weak version of the stimulus. It has to be weak enough that my dog is able to stay calm and listen to me. In this way, he can learn to refocus on me, and be rewarded for his behavior. Once he is comfortable with this, I can *very slowly* increase the challenge and build up from there. I talk more about what I do at the end of the article above, in the desensitization section.

      During the desensitization process, I want to keep my dog below threshold as much as possible, so that I can slowly teach him to re-associate other dogs with calmness and positive events. I make sure not to expose my dog to situations where he will lose control and become reactive. The more successes we have, the more confident he becomes and the more calm he is around other dogs. The more reactive encounters we have, the more likely he will repeat the behavior in the future and set back our desensitization training.

      Also note that dog behavior is very context dependent. As such, especially in cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from good professional trainers. With Sephy, we consulted with several professional trainers, and some of them were helpful. In fact, we practiced desensitization exercises with a bunch of different dogs at our local SPCA, under the direction of one of their trainers.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  123. waz says

    Hi,
    I have a black Lab who lunges at everything and I mean everything, dogs, cats, even statues of Loins and giraffe’s. I take him for a two hour walk every night but he still wants to attack every other animal. I have taken him to 2 dog aggression trainers on multiple occasion’s and each time he just sits there and does nothing even when they took him to a dog park he was perfect, I bring him home take him for a walk, he goes nuts again. I don’t get it don’t understand it he is perfect at home, I can even bring other dogs home and he is fine…….I am out of ideas.

    • shibashake says

      Was he on-leash or off-leash at the park? Does he only show this behavior when he is on-leash? Does he walk properly on-leash in the backyard? If you put a new statue/ornament in the backyard, does he get reactive when off-leash? on-leash? Does he also do this when someone else walks him? Is his behavior the same while walking in different locations – e.g. a more quiet and low stimulus area?

      Some things that come to mind-
      1. On-leash aggression.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/dogs-who-are-reactive-leash
      http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/handling-lead-aggression

      2. People energy.
      My Shiba Inu was very sensitive to my energy. If I get stressed or frustrated, he would pick up on that, and get stressed-out himself. This, in turn, would cause him to get reactive.

      3. Past experiences.
      Has he always acted like this? Did anything unexpected happen during walks in the past?

      It could also be a combination of those things or something else. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it is difficult to say without having any context. When dealing with such issues with my dog, I first try to identify the source of the problem, by looking for commonalities, and doing some structured/controlled exercises to test the behavior. Once I better understand the behavior, I can develop a management and retraining plan to help him overcome it. What did the trainers say/suggest?

  124. Joseph Zahnen says

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate the article! I have a 205 pound Euro Great Dane. He is so good with strangers, kids, sharing resources with my other pups, etc. But when it comes to strange dogs I never know what to expect. Sometimes he plays, sometimes he ignore them, but more and more often he postures himself strongly as dominant. He has never bitten another dog but its only a matter of time before this behavior causes a situation to escalate.

    What I was looking for was a good method of conditioning him to correctly behave in these situations. Negative reinforcement was the only thing I could think of and I know it is counter productive in these situations. Both me and Moose would be so sad if I had to start leaving him at home on our trips to the Dog Park.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I also had issues with my Shiba Inu (Sephy) in dog parks. Dog parks are often a big challenge because there are all types of dogs that appear there. Some of them do not want to play at all, some of them only want to play with their family and start guarding family members, some people bring kids there (even though they are not supposed to because of the risks), etc.

      Sephy plays well with other playful dogs, but if another dog postures or challenges him, he will not back down. He is bold in that way, and that is part of his personality. We went to all the ones that were in our area, but soon realized that the environment was too unstructured for him. He was also starting to learn a lot of bad habits there. Here is more on our dog park experiences.

      In terms of conditioning, dog-to-dog desensitization exercises were helpful in getting Sephy to be more calm around other dogs, in more structured situations. For example, during walks and in smaller, more structured, play-groups. I talk more about our desensitization experiences at the end of the article above.

  125. Barbara Watson says

    I enjoy reading these articles and have tried many of the methods with my male GSD/Ridgie mix and am still stumped! I have also watched both Victoria Stillwell and Ceasar Milan and think both are excellent, although I prefer Ceasar’s more direct approach in most cases.
    The problem I have is that my male shep/ridgie mix gives no indication before he bites. Sometimes, he tries to be dominate at the dog park and most dogs just ignore him-although a Great Dane has put him in his place! LOL! No injuries -just seemed to embarrass my brat dog! But he has attacked 2 collies- the first one was an old dog coming to greet all of us. I felt at the time that my dog -Brudder -was being protective of my friend -a quadriplegic who was with us at the time. The second time Brudder attacked a collie was at a dog park, and the only thing I could figure was that it was too close to Brudder’s “sister”. But there were other dogs around at that time, so maybe he has a fixation about collies.
    There are several collies in my apartment building and he has met them all and he has shown no sign of aggression to them-until today. We were returning from our morning walk, and there was the old collie just sniffing away at a post so I allowed Brudder to go sniff his butt. They’d met several times before, and Brudder had even tried to play with him. Today, we were all relaxed and yet suddenly Brudder nipped the dog in the side! No warning, no upraised or stiff tail- just bit him! I immediately pulled him away and made him lay down, while the other dog was pulled away. Brudder obediently laid there focused on me until I let him up. We then came home and I put him in the bathroom (his replacement crate) while I fed the other animals, then when they were done, I let him out and fed him. They’ve just gotten over Kennel Cough and started interacting with other dogs again, and I have been sick for several days so Brudder could have been stressed, but he appeared relaxed as this was after a run through the woods.
    I can’t afford to have an unpredictable dog! This is not the first time he’s just bitten a dog out of they blue-and he doesn’t seem to do any physical damage. But he has been in 2 serious fights which occurred when he ran up to greet 2 other dogs- a female ex fighter Pitt, and an unaltered male spaniel type dog. He’s much more obedient than my little female chow/border collie mix, and he loves people! He is fearful of thunder, fireworks, etc and he indicates that he’s ready to go in to avoid the things he’s afraid of. He’s also fixed. He follows my female when running through the woods, but he does a role reversal and dominates her in play, at the dog park and here at home over his chew bones (although she couldn’t care less about the rawhides!) I think that he is a dominant/agressive/insecure dog and I don’t know how to deal with his nipping other dogs when he show no signs!

  126. Marciel says

    Great article. I am having so many problems with my reactive rover. I am hoping to use all your tips. Thank you.

  127. Risa says

    Hi. I wonder if you could help me. We have an 8yrs old pom-spitz dog that suddenly starting to attack our 1yr old daschund. It’s the only dog the he attacks. He doesn’t attack the other dogs and he doesn’t attack any other dogs before. But, when our golden retiever died he started attacking the daschund. Do you have any advice on how we can tame him? Currently he’s on the leash or inside the cage just to prevent him attacking again. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      What were the dogs doing right before the attack? Were there any food or toys nearby? What are the dogs’ routine like? What other dogs are there? Are there any other changes in behavior with the dogs? Is the Pom showing stress, changes in energy level, changes in eating behavior, or anything else? Do the attacks usually happen at a particular time or place? What things are there in common?

      When there are aggression issues between my dogs, I first try to identify what is triggering the aggression – for example is it over resources, from stress, physical issues, or something else? Once I identify the source of the aggression, then I can work at managing it and helping my dog overcome it.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent and there are many things that can trigger aggressive behavior. For complex situations like the one you describe, it may be best to consult with a professional trainer who can visit with the dogs, and see their behavior first-hand within the context of the surrounding environment and routine.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  128. Maria says

    Hello, I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I’m having.
    I just got a 14 week old Shiba Inu puppy and am having some trouble with her and my other dogs, a Mini Schnauzer and Bichon Frise. The first day she just ignored them, probably because she was scared, but the second day she started barking and nipping at their legs and tails. I tried to intervene by standing between them and saying “NO” in a firm voice, but that doesn’t seem to do anything. So the next thing I tried was “timeout”. When she started nipping at them I would pick her up and take her to a crate in our basement, leaving her in there for 5 minutes at first, and then after the third time, 10 minutes. But that isn’t helping either.
    I’ve done research and read that instead of a discipline system, you should try a reward system by giving your dog treats for good interactions with other dogs. I thought this sounded good for my Shiba since she reacts better to rewards than discipline but the problem is that there is NEVER a good interaction between her and my other dogs. As soon as she sees them she goes after them.
    I’ve had her for 4 days now and my other dogs are just so afraid of her that they hide from her, and stay in our basement all day, trying to avoid her. It’s really disappointing because she is such a great dog. She’s very smart, and I love her so much. She is already potty trained, after only one accident, I have taught her “sit” and “lie down”, and she walks great on a leash. She is a wonderful little thing, but a nightmare to my other dogs.
    I would very much appreciate any advice you can give me! Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      1. Crate
      I train my dogs to associate their crate with calmness and positive experiences. Crates are very useful for transportation and other training tasks, so I want them to like going into their crates and to enjoy their time there. This is how I do timeouts.

      2. Reward Training and Aversive Training

      Here is more on how dogs learn.
      More on operant conditioning.
      More on how I train my puppy.
      More puppy training stuff.

      3. Helping my dogs get along.

      To help my dogs get along-
      a) I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and teach them what the rules are. In this way, my dogs know what to expect from each other and what to expect from me. If there are any issues, I step in and resolve them. I try to be very consistent about consequences and I try to be very fair. Timing, repetition, and consistency are all very important in training my dogs. It takes time to change behavior.

      b) I minimize bad encounters. I supervise my new dog closely and make sure that he follows the rules and does not bother my existing dogs when they do not want to be bothered.

      c) I try to create as many positive learning experiences as I can. For example, I will start training my new puppy by using very high priority rewards. This will usually attract my other dogs over, at which point I will do obedience commands with all of them. I make sure to reward them *very very well* for being calm together and doing work for me.

      Here is more on how I help my dogs get along.

      My Shiba does well when there is a fixed routine, a consistent set of rules, and structure to his daily life. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

  129. Niki says

    Hi

    Your article was really helpful and I’ve read through the comments and although some are similar to the issues I’m having – I wondered if you could help?

    I have 2 JRT, (14yr and 3yrs) both rescue. I’ve had the 3yr old – Kato a Parsons since he was 6months, he is also a tripod (his rear leg was amputated before I adopted him due to hip dysplatia)

    He’s fine at home and with people, tho still territorial towards strangers in the home during the first meeting. We moved to the city from the quiet countryside and now with all the city noises and as soon as he hears or smells people/dogs outside he barks.

    My dogs get on great together and the older one, cleans Kato daily – tho the favour isn’t returned!

    He is a nervous dog – which I’m working on. The main issues is walks, he has got to the point where as soon as he sees another dog he lunges, barks and growls. I can only let him off the lead if there are no other dogs around, or once he has got to know them but he’s still very weary and growls if he feels invaded.

    He can’t stand other dogs around my older dog and gets really stress and barks/growls – my other dog just ignores him.

    I use to be able to let him off around our local parks, but I can’t risk it now, he had never bitten a dog just barking and growling.
    He has been attacked by other larger dogs on several occassions, some occassions he has barked at them other times he has only gone to say hi a which had undoubtly nerved him and made his behaviour towards other dogs worse. staffy type dogs especially set him off – yes he has been attacked by two.

    If I walk him in the countryside or on visits to my mums I can walk him off lead around other dogs and he is absolutely fine, he’ll go and sniff them then carry on with his walk – different dog!

    He responds well to his ball and I praise him for good behaviour around other dogs when he doesn’t growl. I’m following your advice and also that of my dog walker who cares for them when I’m at work. Who says its nervous aggression. My vet also thinks that because he only has 3 legs he knows he is more vulnerable which could explain his behaviour and also why he has been attacked by other dogs.

    I am trying to stay calm when walking him but I know I’m tensing as soon as I see a dog approaching, I change our daily walks but he’s still not improving and I’d love him to be more friendly and social with other dogs, he’s fine with my friends westie when he does see her, tho he’s even getting aggressive towards dogs we normally meet on walks that previously he’s been fine with.

    How can I stop his jealousy (?) when my other dog is with/greeting other dogs and his reaction in general to other dogs an the causes?

    Thank you

    • shibashake says

      Initially, I leash train my dogs separately. They get a lot more excitable when they are together, so I leash train them singly first. I start small, in a quiet, low stimulus environment, for example my backyard. This allows me to get my dog comfortable with walking on leash and paying attention to me. After my dog is totally comfortable, then I *very slowly* increase the environmental challenge.

      In this way, I maximize successful walks, and this helps us both to enjoy our time together and to build confidence. The more successes we have, the more improvement I see in my dog’s behavior. The opposite is also true. Therefore, in addition to maximizing successes, I also do my best to minimize bad encounters where my dog starts to show reactive behavior. The more reactive behavior he practices when he sees other dogs, the more likely he is to repeat those same behaviors in the future.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu, which I talk more about at the end of the article above. We practiced a lot at our local SPCA, in a structured environment, with certain chosen dogs, and under the direction of one of their trainers. Visiting with a good professional trainer was helpful for Sephy, and for me as well.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  130. Rick says

    Hi:

    Any tips on how to reduce/avoid aggression when my dog is at the dog park? She is fine at home with the cat and two other dogs and 99 times out of 100, she’s fine at the park too. But once in a while she just worked up and pins another down and won’t release. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs the key is to manage their excitement level so that they don’t get into that over-excited state. That can be difficult to do at the dog park, especially if there are many highly excitable dogs around, with no rules, and very little supervision. My dogs do better in smaller, more structured playgroups, where I can properly supervise, have breaks, and manage their level of excitement.

      A bit more on my dog park experiences.

  131. Amber C says

    Hi there, I adopted a 7 year old German Shepard, female, from my local shelter at the end of July this past year. She is extremely laid back, great with kids and cats. When we first got her, for about a month, she paid no attention to other dogs. Would sniff them and keep walking. But after that month she started barking aggressively, and even tries to attack them. She is an only dog here, but it’s gotten bad to the point where I can only walk her at night (my complex has a lot of dogs that are walked during the day) out of fear that something bad may happen to her or another dog. I do one day want to add another dog to my family, but I want her to not be afraid of whatever it is that’s bothering her. I tried an introduction with my friend’s dog and even that didn’t go well. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      Did anything happen with other dogs during that month? During that month, is she the one who approaches the other dogs or is it the other dogs who get into her space? Does she bark at all dogs or just some dogs? How near are the dogs before she starts to react?

      Each dog has different tolerances when it comes to other dogs. I think dog-to-dog tolerance, in large part, is based on temperament, past experiences, and surrounding context. For example, Sephy, my Shiba Inu was very reactive towards other dogs when he was young. He would get over-excited, and then frustrated when he was restrained by his leash. He then released his frustration through barking, jumping, and leash biting. This is very different from Shania, my Husky, who is wary of big dogs because we have gotten charged by large dogs before, and it was not a pleasant experience for either of us.

      I did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy to help him stay more calm in the presence of another dog, and to help him re-associate other dogs with positive experiences. The key with Sephy is to start small (we start from a long distance away and in a very structured environment) and to go slowly. I make sure to go at a pace that he is comfortable with, and to manage things so that his other dog experiences are either positive, or at worst neutral. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      My energy is also very important. If I am stressed out, fearful, or frustrated, Sephy will pick up on that and get even more crazy with other dogs. Therefore, I always try to stay very calm.

      I also pick Sephy’s friends very carefully, and we only do greetings that will be positive and successful. At other times, we create neutral experiences and ignore other dogs. It was very important with Sephy to minimize negative greetings, as they made his behavior worse. At the same time, I created opportunities for positive greetings in a structured environment, through desensitization exercises.

      It is also important to note that introducing a dog in neutral territory will be different from introducing a dog in the house. Some dogs, especially guard dogs, may guard their property from new dogs and strangers.

      In short, there are many variables involved, and each dog is different. For safety and accuracy, it is usually best to consult with a good professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression. We visited with several for Sephy, and did desensitization training at our local SPCA under the direction of a trainer there.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  132. Nina says

    I’ve adopted a (supposedly) two year old female Chihuahua in late May of ’13. She is a very laid back dog in most situations and I can bring her anywhere I go.
    But recently she started to get aggressive when other dogs approach her. She will do the exact same thing as your Shiba Inu when the other dogs want to sniff her (and especially her butt).
    What worsens the situations is, that she will get circled, almost run over by bigger dogs, sometimes two at a time. It had male (unfixed) dogs follow her obsessively though she was neutered in April. It’s not hard to see why she’s getting agitated. The other dog owners NEVER have called back their sometimes very boisterous dogs back to them. This is rude, right?
    (With a Chihuahua most people seem to judge me – young woman + small dog = Paris Hilton. That’s why I feel bad about her doing that. I try be more relaxed, but so far I still have to work hard on my attitude. Currently I’m looking for a trainer/supervised play sessions.) After reading your posts I think my dog is not anti-social but is a bit overboard with her reactions. Did I get it right?
    My issue is, that most dogs we meet are off leash, the paths were I walk are narrow with no escape. Even with leashed dogs, they are allowed to get closer, lunge forward or get in our way. I was hesitant and too ashamed to ask the dog owners to keep their dogs away or adress it in general as I thought my dog was behaving badly.
    How should I handle the situations with the other dogs?

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba I tested out several different hiking trails, and we go to the ones that are more quiet, with less foot traffic, and has more space so that I can redirect him away and get him to do something else. I usually also go during off-hours. I like the quiet myself, so it works out well.

      As for untrained off-leash dogs, that is a difficult issue because it is more of a people problem rather than a dog problem.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/off-leash-neighborhood-dogs

  133. shalynda says

    So I have a 7 year old border collie and she acts like a puppy. She is great with other dogs. However we just rescued a 7 year old neglected malamute she growls at my other dog all the time. Doesn’t attack just growls. This dog was obese and unsocialized she is amazing with my cats and kids. My kids are 2 and 3 months. She let’s my 2 year old ride her and sleep with her but her and my other dog don’t get along. My border collie is submissive and will fight back but she just tries to walk from my room to the living room and gets growled at even though my border collie ignores the malamute. What can I do to encourage my malamute nakita to play or stop growling at my border collie. I am a stay at home mom and am willing to put work in

    • shibashake says

      Here are some things that I do to help my dogs get along-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      I try to create and maximize positive and successful together time, while minimizing negative encounters. I make sure that each of my dogs has a quiet place to go to when they just want to rest. If a dog is resting or just wants some alone time, I make sure the other two does not go near to bother him.

      I also set up a fixed schedule and a consistent set of interaction rules for my dogs. In this way, each dog knows what is expected of him, what to expect from the other dogs, and what to expect from me. When introducing a new dog, there is a lot of stress and uncertainty, so having some consistency really helps.

      Big hugs to your two girls!

  134. bronwyn says

    hi i have 3 dogs (and sometimes look up to 5 dogs) and we are having aggression issues with our middle dog as we have just had a new puppy so he is always telling him off with food and toys and also when we look after my brothers dog he often has a go at him over food and toys. my mum is looking into neutering him and i am looking at training for him but i was wondering does having 1 neutered dog mixed with 2 other un neutered dog cause problems?

    • shibashake says

      Aggression between dogs can have many different causes. As for neutering, here is a relevant excerpt from an ASPCA article-

      Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
      ~~[ASPCA]

  135. Brittany says

    Hi! I have a couple questions about dog on dog aggression. I recently moved in with my boyfriend who has a husky and a husky/lab mix. I have a vizsla/pitbull mix. It was very stressful with all three dogs when I first moved in. We have had to seperate the vizsla and keep him in another room due to the husky/lab being overly dog aggressive. The vizsla and the full husky get along outside and can play without a problem. But recently, the vizsla has become extremely overbearing and guards everything, He literally thinks every toy in the house is his!! he will growl a viscious awful growl and will lunge and attack the full husky who he can normally play fine with! Nevermind the husky/lab which gets nervous and bites or nips just about every dog she meets. I don’t know what to do anymore and am becoming so frustrated! I’ve gotten two trainers, one who uses only positive behavior techniques which don’t seem to be working at all and the other trainer I set up blew off our first meeting and haven’t heard from him since =[. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      What did the trainer recommend? What have you tried and how did the dogs respond?

      One thing that was very important with my dogs is to control my own energy. If I got frustrated, stressed, or angry, my dogs will pick up on that, get even more stressed and anxious, and become even more reactive towards other dogs. When I supervise my dogs, I always try to stay very calm, and I make sure that I have multiple plans of action. This helps me to be decisive, consistent, and in-control.

      Other things that help with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and a consistent routine. This helps to create more consistency and certainty, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety with my dogs.

      2. Supervision is very very important. During the training period I supervise all interactions with my dogs. If I am unable to supervise, then I separate them. Each dog also has a safe and comfortable place that they can go to relax without being bothered by the other dogs. I make sure to keep everyone safe and to manage the environment so that there is as little stress as possible.

      3. I try to create as many opportunities for positive, structured together time as I can. At the same time, I try to minimize stressful and bad interactions. The more positive experiences my dogs have with each other, the more confidence they build, and the more they learn to see each other as being part of the same pack. The more negative experiences they have, the more stressed and anxious they will become, and their behavior will worsen as a result.

      Here is more on what I do with my dogs-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      Finally, finding a good trainer can be a big challenge. During my difficult period with Shiba Sephy, we visited with several different trainers. Some were bad, some were ok, and some were quite good. I learned something from each of them (some more than others), and at the same time, I also did a lot of reading on dog behavior.

      In my experience, getting help from a trainer can be very helpful, especially in the beginning. None of the trainers were able to fully “fix” Sephy’s most problematic behaviors, but they each contributed to my knowledge, and helped me to get to a point where I could combine what I have learned, to get to a better place with my dog.

      The key, I found, is to control my own energy, stay calm, reduce stress, establish a fixed routine, and focus on doing what is best for Sephy. As I learned more, I felt more in-control, and things slowly started to get better.

      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  136. Cheri says

    Hi there,
    I have had my chihuahua since she was born and she is now 6yrs old, she is a very loyal and laid back dog, a couple of months ago I adopted a 8 weeks old german shepherd, husky cross. They were very good together, they could eat out of the same bowl and my pup would let me take her bowl or bone off her. When she was 3 months, I was out walk on her and she got attacked my a rotweiller, she had very major surgery and was in the vets for a week. Since she’s been home she’s has been growling my other dog of she walks near her when she got her bowl infront of her or when she is eating, and she has been growling with her bone aswell, I have tried some things and been working on her trusting me and taking her bone or food away and she doesn’t really growl me anymore only the odd occasion but hopefully I can stop that complety but I have no idea how to stop her growling my older chihuahua, cause she is a lot bigger and could really hurt her if she wanted to! Pls help me!!

    • shibashake says

      Some things that help keep the peace at home with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. During the training period, I supervise my dogs closely whenever they interact, and I slowly teach them what the rules are. I establish the rules, and I enforce them in a fair and consistent manner.

      2. I create as many positive experiences as I can. As you have observed, bad encounters with other dogs cause stress, fear, and loss of trust. Similarly, properly managed positive encounters can help to create trust and reduce anxiety. I start by doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises (which I talk more about at the end of the article above), and later I also do group dog obedience training sessions with my dogs. In this way, they learn to stay calm and work together for me. I make sure to reward them very well for being calm together, and I create as many positive but structured together time as I can.

      The key with my dog is not to push things too quickly. I always start small, for example with desensitization. Then I only move on to more advanced together exercises when I feel that my dog is ready. With my dog it was always very important to not only maximize positive experiences with other dogs, but also to *minimize* bad encounters, where my dog starts to show reactive or aggressive behavior. The more aggressive behavior my dog practices, the more likely he is to show aggression in the next encounter. Similarly, the more calm encounters there are, the more confidence he will build, and the more likely he will stay calm.

      3. Supervision is very important. In the beginning I supervise all interactions between my dogs. If I cannot supervise, then I separate them to keep everybody safe. I also manage their energy and excitement level by controlling the environment and throwing in obedience breaks.

      I talk more about what I do with my dogs here-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      Note however, that dog behavior is very context dependent. Given what you describe, it is probably best to get help from a professional trainer who can visit with the dogs, get to know their temperament, and read their body language within the context of their environment and routine. In cases of aggression, we want to keep everyone safe, and a trainer can also help with that.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  137. gc says

    Hi, I found your blog recently and all the articles you wrote are so helpful! Really appreciate your kindness to share all these valuable tips. I have 2 dogs, both are about 2 1/2 year old and fixed. One is germen shepherd and another is rottweiler mix. They bond with each other so much and there was times when they escaped they always stayed together. They don’t go out much because we have a huge yard for them to play and run, but recently they have escaped from the yard and now it becomes a habit when they go out they cross the street! It is definitely my bad not taking them out. I tried to walk them before but the problem was: whenever my 2 dogs were together, and they see another dog, my female germen shepherd started making some noises and ear up, tail up, then instantly looking at my rottweiler, and soon they start fighting with each other. It is very hard to pull them apart. I really don’t know how to deal with it, but every time it happens, my female will look at my rottweiler first and they start fighting. And it is not only for walk, whenever there’s something that causes them to be alert, my female germen shepherd always look at my male rottweiler like she’s waiting for his cue or something. Now, I decided to walk them again and whenever I have noticed the germen shepherd started become alert(she certainty knows there’s dog nearby in one of the houses in neighborhood), I instantly turn around and walk back and want her ignore it. And after she’s calm, I walk them again to the same place, and repeat. Am I doing this right? Or should I walk them separately for easy training individually?? My rottweiler is calm most of time, whenever I walk him ALONE, he’s fine, but if my other dog is around, they start reacting with each other. Thank you so much for your time!

    • shibashake says

      When retraining dog reactive behavior, I walk my dogs separately. They get a lot more crazy together because they amp each other up, so I always start small and go in small steps. Only after my dog is doing well in single walks, do I start walking two of them together. In the beginning, I get a friend to walk one, while I walk the other. In this way, I can better control and train the one that I am walking.

      With Sephy’s dog reactive behavior, I found that it is necessary to not only create structured opportunities for calm greetings, but also to minimize bad encounters where he becomes reactive. My first goal is to manage our walks so that we have neutral encounters, and Sephy doesn’t become reactive. I do this by using distance, barriers, and more, which I talk more about in the article above. I also did shorter but more frequent walks at the start. In this way, I minimize bad encounters and at the same time I create positive encounters through controlled desensitization exercises.

      The more Sephy practices dog-to-dog reactive behavior, the more likely he is to repeat it. The more calm greetings he has, the more he learns to associate other dogs with being calm.

      Based on what you describe, it sounds like there may also be barrier frustration issues, combined with redirected aggression.
      http://www.kathysdao.com/articles/Leash_Aggression_in_Dogs.html
      http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-do-i-manage-my-dogs-barrier-frustration

      However, dog behavior is very dependent on a dog’s temperament, surrounding context, past experiences, and more. This is why it is often helpful to visit with a professional trainer, especially in dog-to-dog aggression cases. A trainer can meet with our dog, get to know his temperament and routine, and can read our dog’s body language within the context of his environment.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  138. Corey W says

    Hello, I just recently adopted a german shepherd, st bernard retriever mix named Harley from my local SPCA about a month ago. I regularly attend a place in which there are dogs on a daily basis. Harley has been aggressive toward other dogs and in few circumstances has actually bit other dogs. He will not react being in the presence of another dog and usually will ignore them and extend attention toward me when doing so. He will act excited when confronting another dog but will then result in lunging and trying to bite the dog upon nose-to-nose confrontation. I would like advice as to what to do to have him be less aggressive upon these confrontations. most of the dogs he is in contact with are friends dogs and dogs he sees almost every day. Id like him to atleast be comfortable approaching and being in contact with dogs as he is a very sweet loving and well behaved dog aside from this issue. He is nuetered as well and i admit i have been a bit on edge when hes around other dogs but have since learned to calm myself, yet his reactions have still been the same. Any Advice I could get in regards to this issue would be very appreciated.

    • corey W says

      Also i would like to add that he is four years old which presents me with the fear that I cannot break him out of this habit. It is my belief that his previous owners had not had him socialized around other dogs which could possibly be the catalyst for his behavior now.

    • shibashake says

      What helped with my Shiba Inu’s dog-to-dog reactivity issue is to start small and in a very controlled environment. I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy by using distance to weaken the “other dog” stimulus. In this way, he is calm enough to listen to me, and calm enough to learn.

      The key with Sephy was to not only create positive and successful situations with other dogs, but also minimize bad encounters where he loses it. The more Sephy became reactive, the more likely he will repeat this behavior on the next encounter. The more calm experiences he had, the more likely he will stay calm on his next encounter.

      I talk more about the desensitization exercises I did with Sephy at the end of the article above. In fact, when Sephy was young, we did a lot of desensitization exercises at our local SPCA with appropriate dogs there, and under the direction of one of their trainers. Consulting with a trainer can be helpful in dog-to-dog interaction cases, especially where the trainer has balanced dogs that he can use in the training session. Our trainer(s) were also able to read Sephy’s body language, and give us good insights into his behavior.

      Have you talked to the people who cared for Harley at the SPCA? Did he get along with the dogs there? Were there particular types of dogs that he got along with? They may also give special training rates to their own dogs.

    • Corey W says

      I did in fact talk to some associates at the local SPCA about Harley’s behavior prior to adopting him and they had said that its the hyperactive dogs that he particularly doesn’t like, which is understandable with the fast movements toward him and all. I have gotten him to atleast have a positive experience with my friend’s 1 year old black lab, whom for his age is well trained and although he growled at him did not bite. I will arrange a controlled meet with harley and my friends dog though that is a good idea. Another positive instance happened last night. my friend has just adopted a 7 week chocolate lab mix in which Harley was more curious and not a bit aggresive with. im not sure if its because he can pick up that the pup is merely an infant or what but that was good of him. Thank you for all of your advice i really do appreciate it and i hope to nip his behavioral issue in the butt. Happy Holidays!

  139. olivia says

    please help me my dog (that is deaf)when ever she sees a nother dog she cant stop looking at him nothing will move her away,when she gets to the dog and sniffs him she bites him and then will not move ,i loooked every were on google to find some help but there is nothing there ,i really wont her to like aver dogs what do i do??!

    • shibashake says

      How old is your dog? How long have you had her? Has she always displayed this behavior?

      Some dogs may feel more vulnerable due to a physical disability. For example, my Husky Shania is a three legged dog. She absolutely loves people because she has had very good experiences with them. They give her affection and sometimes, dog cookies. 😀

      She is a lot more wary about other dogs, especially big dogs because she feels more vulnerable around them. Also, we got charged a few times during our walks, and those encounters were not pleasant for either of us. Here is a good article by Suzanne Clothier that talks more about this-
      http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/he-just-wants-say-hi

      I do controlled desensitization exercises with my dogs to help them re-associate other dogs with positive experiences. I did a lot of this with my Shiba Inu at our local SPCA, under the direction of one of their trainers. I talk more about this at the end of the article above.

      With my dogs, I try my best to only let them meet other dogs that I *know* they will be successful with. All other times, I create neutral encounters and teach them to ignore. I also try my best to protect them from rude dogs, so that they learn to trust me to take care of things, and need not do it themselves through aggression. The more successful encounters my dog has, the more calm he became with other dogs. The opposite is also true.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, and each situation is different. This is why in cases of dog aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  140. June says

    I have a dog that I have had for two years and a dog that I have had for six year I got the two year old when she was four weeks old and my other dog raised it and now the two year old tries to attack the six year old now and I don’t understand why

    • shibashake says

      What are the dogs doing before the start of the behavior? Was there any food, toys, bedding around? Was one trying to protect something? What were the people doing? What was happening in the surrounding context?

      Did anything change when the behavior first began? Is there any other unusual behavior? Are the dogs eating, drinking, and doing everything else normally? Sometimes, when dogs are in physical discomfort, they may feel more vulnerable and may use aggression to protect themselves.

      What are the dogs’ daily routine like? Have there been any changes there?

  141. Poula says

    hi !
    My father, as much as i love him, is a terrible dog owner. He owns a german shepherd – that he loves very much (almost 3 years old)
    The dog is scared of other dogs and will run over and leave a warning bite and run away with his tail between his legs and has actually bitten a small dog that lives nearby, that keeps barking and teasing my dads dog though the fece, badly enough that it needed to be stitched back together. also he has the usual problems of an underexcersized dog – nipping, jumping and barking. i know what most of the problems are, but i can’t get it though to my dad that he needs to walk the dog instead of just letting him out in the yard to pee.
    – however my biggest concern is the dogs fear of children, so far nothing has happened other than warning growls. but i actually, and i’m not proud if it, had to threaten to put his dog down if he ever attacked a child before my father agreed to never let the dog of leash again in puplic.
    also my dad is so concerned with the dogs comford that he lets the dog get away with everything and is annoyed that when i visit i bring a special leash and walk his dog with it. i’m not very strong and can’t hold this big dog back if he decides to run. (it is a head collar, so his head will turn if he pulls)
    His dog doesn’t even mind the odd leash, he’s just happy to be outside.
    All that being said, he is a well behaved dog as soon as he is with my dog (a one year old pekingese mix) for some reason, he is on best behavior as soon as my dog is around – the only dog he doesn’t attack.
    How would you recommend getting a dogowner to understand how dangerous it is for him not to do something about the dogs behavior before he attacks another dog again og even worse, a child?

    Sorry for the bad spelling and the very long question.

    • shibashake says

      Heh, I don’t know, people are a lot more difficult to handle than dogs, especially family members. :)

      In my situation, I have observed that it can sometimes help to bring in a professional trainer. I think taking advice from family members can be difficult for some people, because it can be taken personally. However, getting information from somebody outside is different, especially from an experienced trainer. In this case, we are simply paying for a service, and there is no added emotional baggage.

      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  142. Carrie says

    Hi. I just came across this site, hoping to get help with my problem. I have a 6 yr old fixed male 135lb American Bulldog. He is the most gentle and docile dog I have ever met. He is friendly with all dogs and loves all people. We have had him since 12 weeks old. We also had a 6 yr old fixed female German Shepherd, and they were the best of friends as they grew up together both since 12 weeks old. She passed away this past spring and it has left a void in us all. I decided to buy another sister for Frankie ( my AB ) so he could get some of his old self back again. I bought a 7 month old female American Bulldog pup. The breeder is a very good one and well known, so this pup that she was going to keep herself for her breeding program decided I could buy her as she is a very calm friendly pup, and would be perfect for Frankie. I have had her for a week now and everyday since I brought her home, she has attacked Frankie. She is the perfect puppy in every other way. When she walks by him, she will just strike out growling and go for his neck or face. This happens everyday, She is fine when we go on walks, they eat together in kitchen and they are fine. It seems to be whenever the mood strikes her. She is not play fighting, she is real fighting. I for the life of me can not understand this. I have gotten to know her face expression when she is going to attack him, so a firm NO will usually distract her, and she wanders off. Frankie being the gentle giant he is, just turns his head away from her when she comes near, and after the attack will walk away from her. Yesterday she went up to him and I thought she was going to try to attack him, but she laid down beside him waking her tail, and I think wanting to play. This time Frankie growled at her loudly, got up and walked away. He has never growled at another dog in his life. This has me worried. Last night after our walk, she attacked again, only this time Frankie was going to fight back. Being the size he is I am sure he would do a lot of damage, I got them apart in time. I don’t want to be unfair to Frankie, so I really don’t know how to handle this situation. Does anyone know why this little girl is attacking him all the time. Like I said she is a very good mannered pup, except for this. On walks she just wags her tail at other dogs we run into., and has never attempted to attack them. Please help. Thank-You.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Carrie,
      Congratulations on your new puppy. Introductions can sometimes be tricky depending on the personality of the new dog and our existing dog. Surrounding context and past experiences will also come into play.

      Did Frankie’s behavior change in Spring? How was Frankie’s behavior before the Puppy? Was he back to his old self, or did he still seem sad/subdued?

      In terms of introductions, here are some things that have helped with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules right from the start. When my Husky Lara was a puppy, she would always be trying out new moves on my other dogs, so I always supervise her very closely. If she does something she is not supposed to, I no-mark and redirect her into doing something else. If she redirects, I make sure to reward her well for it with a game and other rewards.

      2. During the training period, I put a lead on Lara when she starts interacting with my other dogs (only with a flat collar and not an aversive collar). In this way, I can quickly and easily stop her from harassing them, and I can teach her what interaction behaviors are acceptable and what are not. When my adult dogs have had enough of Puppy and just want to rest, I make sure that she does not disturb them. Sometimes, my adult dogs just want some alone time. Setting up a fixed routine really helps because it establishes some consistency and certainty, in a period of change, which can be stressful for the dogs and people in the house.

      3. During play, I manage all my dogs’ excitement level, to keep things safe and under control. I do this by throwing in many play breaks.

      4. I try to create as many positive interactions as possible between the new puppy and my resident dogs. For example, I start by doing obedience training sessions with my puppy with *very very good* rewards. This will get my other dogs to join in as well, then I can reward all of them really well for being calm together, and for working with me together. In this way, they learn to stay calm and cooperate rather than compete with each other for resources. They also learn to see puppy as a plus to their lifestyle.

      5. In addition to maximizing positive interactions, I also try my best to minimize negative encounters. If there are any conflicts, I make sure that I am there to resolve things in a fair and consistent manner. In this way, my dogs learn that I will settle conflicts and they do not need to deal with it themselves through aggression.

      Here is more on what I do when introducing a new puppy.

      Hope this helps. Big hugs to Frankie and his new sister!

  143. Roper B says

    Hi, I have a almost 2 yr old husky wolf hybrid named Deuce. He’s very sweet and loves everyone but when it comes to other dogs that’s another story. When I first got him up until about when he turned one, he was great with other dogs and listened really well but now he’s super aggressive toward any animal he sees and as soon as he sees them you cant get his focus back. It’s really weird because we have 2 other dogs, a border collie/cocker spaniel mix and a pure bred poodle, and 3 cats and he’s perfectly fine with them. He even lets the cats bathe him every morning. The first time i ever herd him growl was this last summer and it was the first time he had ever shown aggression. It was toward the neighbors dog which is a blue heeler mix and since then its just been down hill, he’s rolled and fake bit the other neighbors toy poodle, he’s gone after the blue heeler multiple times, the chihuahua down the road that travels to our yard to harass him, and any dog we meet walking. It’s getting out of hand cause now i’m scared to even walk him for fear he’s going to attack another dog. What makes the situation even weirder is a random husky showed up out of no where and they cuddled and loved each other it was adorable, but no aggression? So why is he vicious toward all other dogs? I’ve tried bring calm dogs around but he ends up being aggressive. Any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, different dogs have different tolerances to other dogs, and this may change with maturity and experience.
      http://www.badrap.org/dogdog-tolerance

      For example, I used to take my Shiba Inu to the dog park. There was very little structure at the park, so he learned all sorts of bad behaviors during his time there, and his behavior with other dogs got worse. He does much better in smaller, very structured, and highly supervised playgroups. With small groups, I can manage his excitement level, and teach him what are acceptable interaction behaviors and what are not.

      Otherwise, he thinks everything is ok, and that there are no rules.

      With Sephy I did highly structured dog-to-dog desensitization sessions at our local SPCA with one of their trainers. We used distance to lower the strength of the other dog stimulus, and we did the training in a very controlled environment. In this way, Sephy was able to stay calm and we were able to slowly reduce his dog reactive behavior. I talk more about it at the end of the article above.

      Other things that help with my dogs-
      1. I pick their playmates carefully.
      2. I supervise all their play sessions, set up clear interaction rules, and I enforce those rules (usually by stopping play briefly, or with short timeouts).
      3. I manage their excitement level by throwing in many play-breaks.
      4. I try my best to protect my dogs during walks and keep away rude dogs. It is really unfortunate that many little untrained dogs are left to roam about freely, and they get to harass other dogs with impunity.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/my-dog-is-friendly
      5. I try to not only maximize positive encounters with other dogs, but also to minimize negative interactions.

  144. Joan Austin says

    Have a rescue corgi, 6 months now, may be 3-4 years old, has notched ears so has been in fights in the pass. After trying many techniques listed, am now using a WATER SPRITZ BOTTLE. A miracle after attempting to lunge at another approaching dog, a spray stopped the action and she now looks to see if I have the bottle in my hand and stops immediately or looses interest.Whether she had been sprayed in the past, don’t know . Do know she dislikes water in her face and walking her is a pleasure now, although I will create distance between dogs as we have only been using the spritz bottle 2 weeks.

  145. jody hewitt says

    I have an Queensland heeler mix that i adopted a few months ago, she loves people but just the sight of another dog raises her fur and she is very mean and aggressive with other dogs even puppies in neutral areas, plus she doesnt like horses either, what should i do?

    • shibashake says

      I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu. Desensitization and counter-conditioning was helpful in terms of teaching him to be more calm around other dogs, and to build his confidence. I talk more about this at the end of the article.

      My general strategy is to maximize positive experiences with other dogs, and minimize negative encounters. I do this by using distance, barriers, staying calm and planning out my own response. I make sure to start small (e.g. shorter but more frequent walks, in quieter environments with few dogs) and to go at a pace that my dog is comfortable with. In this way, our walks will be successful, and with each success, my dog will gain more confidence.

      Consulting with a good professional trainer can also be helpful.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  146. Alina says

    Hi,

    I just discovered your articles and I find them very very useful. I have a mixed breed dog that is 8 years old and have brought to live with me recently. However, in 4 days he has been attacked twice by 2 smaller dogs without a leash. We just met them, all of a sudden, and as I am not sure with myself and not leader of the pack I stopped and the first dog, without any warning, just attacked him. Today, I stopped again thinking they will sniff each other but I saw the other dog become rigid and he attacked. My dog was very nervous after this, barking and growling. What can I do to prevent such attacks? In my country stupid people walk small dogs without a leash and muzzle and they attack. My dog likes to mark his territory. Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, off-leash neighborhood dogs is a difficult issue because it is more of a people issue rather than a dog issue. To truly fix it, we need to influence people behavior and that is much more difficult to do, especially without enforcement of leash laws by the authorities.

      I currently carry an air-horn with me. At the very least, it would get the attention of the people around if there should be any trouble.

      Here is a discussion of loose neighborhood dogs.

  147. Derek says

    I have a 6 month old Gsd and he sometimes jumps up and bites my clothes while I’m walking an also jumps at snaps at me. What should I do.

  148. Tony Kretz says

    we just recently adopted 2 shiba’s. A 4 year old male and his half-sister which is almost 3 years old. Our 4 year old male gets extremely stress when he sees comes into close distances with other dogs. Part of it seems he is trying to defend his sister but his sister has very little dog aggression. Our male dog has a mean bark and wants to attack instantly. We were had the vet and while sitting there, he had a strong growl and bark and would constantly show his teeth. Also, if walking and he sees another dog he will jump around constantly to free himself from his leash to catch the other dog. If I to pet him and calm him of the situation he will whine and try to slip himself out of his leash. Please help with any advise to teach this old dog some new tricks.

    • shibashake says

      How does the male react to other dogs when the sister is not there? Is he very friendly or still somewhat wary?

      My Shiba, Sephy, is also very protective of our Husky Shania. When a friendly new dog comes to visit, I first let Shania meet the new dog and make sure that they are getting along fine. If everything is going well, I get someone else to supervise Shania and the new dog. Meanwhile, I bring out Sephy on-leash, and we go a far distance away from the two dogs. For enough away that Sephy is able to stay calm.

      I do some focus commands with Sephy and simple obedience. I reward him well for working with me. If everything is good, we move one step close to the other dogs and I repeat.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy (without Shania there). That helps him to generally be more comfortable around other dogs.

      During training, I walk Sephy and Shania separately. This is important because I want to maximize calm and successful walks while minimizing bad encounters with other dogs. The more Sephy practiced his reactive behavior, the more reactive he became. I talk more about what I do during walks in the article above.

    • shibashake says

      It did not really help in Sephy’s case because he was too highly charged, and aroma is not a strong enough counter stimulus (for him). Desensitization exercises using distance, in a controlled environment, worked best for us. Perhaps adding aroma could help during distance desensitization, but it did not seem necessary in our situation.

      I imagine it also depends on the type of dog. Scent hounds, for example, are more attuned to smells.

  149. Will says

    Hi there,

    Our shiba inu turned 2 yrs old back in June, and ever since then, he’s started becoming leash aggressive towards other dogs. 50% of the dogs we meet on our walks he’ll take a bite at, where it’s to the point that I avoid most encounters.

    However, he still seems to love playing with other dogs and definitely wants to go meet them, so I feel a bit bad for avoiding these social situations.

    Off leash, he’s perfectly fine and plays with most other dogs etc.. He’s also good with people as well, since we socialized him a lot growing up. We still go to dog parks and shiba meet-ups pretty often and he’s great there.

    Any advice for another shiba owner? I’m hoping it’s more of a phase that he’ll grow out of, but who knows? Your comment on sensing owner tension might be adding to the aggression as well, so I’ll keep that in mind.

    Thanks!
    Will

    • shibashake says

      Desensitization exercises helped with my Shiba. It really made a big difference for us to do exercises in a controlled environment because a lot of the dogs that we meet during our walks are reactive as well, so it is difficult to do training in such a situation. Also, the more negative encounters Sephy had, the more reactive he became, so I always try my best to not only maximize good encounters, but also to minimize bad ones.

      I know what you mean with feeling bad, because Sephy also really likes playing with other dogs. However, bad encounters can really set back his behavior and cause him to learn bad habits. In the long run, it worked out much better (in our case) when there was more structure, and when I am careful about only letting him meet dogs that I know he will be successful with.

  150. Cheri says

    I have 3 dogs, a 12 yo male Golden Retriever (Bos), an 8 yo female Pug (Cera) and a 1 yo make miniature Dachshund (Max). The two older dogs have been spayed and neutered. Max has not been neutered. We have had all our dogs from weeks old. We noticed before we got Max that Cera would on occasion nip at Bos’ ears and he would just take it & yelp until we would get after her to leave him alone. Now that we have Max, Cera doesn’t seem to bother Bos as much but instead when Max runs to our front door and barks, Cera will attack at him and Max defends himself so the two dogs fight and we need to step in and break them apart. None of the dogs have ever been aggressive to the people, only to each other. I know there must be a reason why it’s happening, I’m not sure what to do.

    My vet has mentioned jealously, since Cera has always been the dominate dog and now she has another who will not cower down like Bos does.

    I should also mention that we have 2 cats. Both cats cane to us as siblings only 6wks old. Max has always pestered the cats, sometimes barking at them. Could Cera be acting out after Max because of how he acts with the cats? I didn’t think this could be the issue, since Cera will sometimes follow Max & join him in chasing after them.

    Do you have any suggestions? I need to do something soon before this gets further out of control.

  151. chuck says

    Hey, i would like some advice. I have four dogs and two cats the four dogs i have had for 3 years + and they have always gotten along but recently my bulldog mix has been aggressive and jumping on my yellow lab mix and my Sheppard mix and this morning jumped on one of the cats. I dont know what to do he is a great dog older but very loyal and protective of my family. Can you help?

    • shibashake says

      What were the dogs doing before the jumping behavior? Were there any resources (food/toys) around? Has anything changed recently in the dogs’ routine and environment? Did anything occur during their outside walks? Sometimes, aggression can also be the result of some physical issue. For example, a sick dog or a dog that is beginning to lose his hearing may become more protective of his personal space because he feels more vulnerable.

      When my dog starts to act differently, I first rule out physical issues. I do a vet visit if necessary.

      Once I rule that out, I observe him very closely to see what are the triggers that cause his behavior change (e.g. another dog getting close to him when he is working on a chew toy, another dog getting close to him while he is sleeping, play getting too rough, other dogs barking outside, dogs coming onto the property, etc.). There can be many reasons why a dog shows aggression, so I start by trying to identify triggers and similarities between each occurrence.

      Once I identify the source of the behavior change, then I can take steps to redirect and retrain my dog.

      Consulting with a professional trainer can also be helpful as it brings in a fresh pair of trained eyes, who can observe the dogs and observe the jumping behavior as it occurs.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  152. Ashleigh says

    HI, I wonder if you had any advice for us as we are in a terrible position currently. We have 2 Staffordhsire bull terriers, Saffron, female, who is almost 9 and we have had since she was 12 weeks old and Diesel, almost 5 who we have had since he was 12 weeks old also. The 2 dogs have grown together. They eat together, sleep together and play with each other beautifully and they have always been like this. Yesterday, we let them in the garden and within 10 seconds, heard awful growling and aggresive dog noises, we ran out and Diesel had Saffron by her neck and we struggled to get him off of her. She needed a number of stitches in a large tear and spent some time at the Vets. She has not been back to the house yet and is staying with our sister who will look after her. Diesel has been very quiet since the incident and it is clear he knows something is not quite right. This happened once before about 3 weeks ago also and we are terrirfied that it will happen again, to the point where we currently do not want to put them back together at all, which will mean re-homing Diesel which we really do not want to do, if we can help it. A point to note is, our next door neighbour has always had one dog, but recently got another and they bark through the fence (6ft fence, they cannot see the neighbours dogs) at our dgos, which I believe does agitate Diesel somewhat – he has never been brilliant with other dogs. Our neighbour confirmed that their new dog was in the garden at the time of the attack. Any advice for us? Is there hope for Diesel and do you think a pet behavioural specialist may be able to assist here? Please help :-(

    • shibashake says

      It could be barrier frustration combined with redirected aggression. One of my neighbors has two Labs and they are pretty reactive toward outside dogs and noises. Whenever anybody passes by their sidewalk, they would start banging at the gate and then one of the dogs would turn on the other one out of frustration.
      http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-do-i-manage-my-dogs-barrier-frustration

      Does Diesel charge at the fence? Does he bark back at the neighbor’s dogs? Does his behavior change when the neighbor’s dogs start barking? What is Diesel’s routine like? How does he react to other neighborhood dogs during walks?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it is not possible to say what is triggering the behavior without meeting the dogs and seeing things firsthand.

      I think getting help from a qualified behavior specialist is a good idea. It can be a challenge to find a good one though. The dog training area is not well regulated, and anybody can claim to be a trainer or behaviorist. The APDT has some good resources on how to find a trainer/behaviorist.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      What I did to find a trainer for my dogs.

  153. iggy says

    I have just adopted a 4 yr old terrior mix and she did wonderfully with my dog that ive had since she was just a pup and now shes 4, and the first night that we’ve had her here in our home, i guess what im asking is, because she was so excited coming to a new home and having so much in the first day happen, can her being over excited cause her to be aggressive tord the other animals in the house, and if i lower the excitment levels in our home, will it help her adjust to everyone around here.

  154. Victoria says

    Hi there, I came across this page because my nearly two year old American Staffy displayed some aggression to another dog today and he has never done that before. He has always been happy to meet other dogs, wagging his tail and sniffing bums but today when we were walking in the park, there was a boxer coming towards us and my dog Budda suddenly started slinking along like he was stalking the other dog and when the dog was walking past, his whole body went stiff and I told the owner of the other dog to please walk away. I have never seen this behavior from my dog before. The other dog was bigger than him but it was not pulling on its leash, it was very calm so I don’t know why my dog was so aggressive towards it. My dog is a rescue dog, I adopted him at five months old so I am unsure of his past. We had a trainer a little while ago but her method of ‘punishment’ did not work and it was scaring my dog. Why is my dog only now showing aggression to other dogs and why only certain dogs?

    • shibashake says

      Just like us, different dogs have different social tolerances. Each of my dogs is different when is comes to meeting other dogs, and what causes them stress. For example, my Shiba Inu does not like unknown dogs sniffing his butt. My Husky Shania is cautious of large dogs (likely because we have been charged a few times by off-leash large dogs in the neighborhood), and little Husky Lara may get overly excited during greetings.
      Interesting article on dog tolerance levels.

      A dog’s social tolerance may change based on past and current experiences with other dogs. The more successful “other dog” encounters my dog has, the more confident he becomes, and the more he associates other dogs with being calm and positive. The opposite is also true.

      Finally, dogs communicate with each other through a variety of methods including their body language. Since we rely a lot on verbal communication, we are not as practiced at reading body language, and catching these “non-verbal” exchanges that may occur between two dogs. It may be a change in posture, a hard stare, a tensing of the mouth, and more.

      My Shiba Inu, for example, is a stubborn dog. He is friendly with playful dogs, but if another dog challenges him, he will not back down. He does not do well with dogs who want to bully him because he will absolutely not submit no matter how large the other dog is. This is why, in general, we just ignore unknown dogs and create neutral experiences. Sephy does best with friendly, relaxed dogs, so those are the ones I choose to be his playmates.

      I observe each of my dogs carefully, so that I can learn their social boundaries as well as their language of communication.

      More on what I did to find a trainer for my dogs.

      Some articles on how to assess a dog trainer –
      1. Dog Welfare Campaign
      2. Association of Professional Dog Trainers
      3. Vet Learn

  155. larry says

    have a 9 month akita male very nice dog 1 great dog he and my 15 year old male dog are great and each other he will play with other dog that he know , but when walking him if he see another dog he become very wild like he want to go after the dog not sure if it to play or that he just don;t like some dog and the person with the other dog don’t want to find out which one it maybe and i realy can understand there feeling i would feel the same, would like to stop him from doing it

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu was also very reactive to other dogs when he was young. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises helped a lot with my Shiba. We used to go to our local SPCA and do training exercises with their dogs (under the supervision of a trainer).

      I talk more about desensitization exercises and what I did with Sephy in the article above.

  156. Melissa says

    Hello,

    I have a two-year-old pit bull mix, I rescued her when she was 4.5 months old. She and my older cat tolerate each other, she’s great with all people and she used to be great with most dogs. Friends brought their own pups over and they would play for hours, I could take her to dog parts and she immediately got along great with strange dogs and old friends. However, she was attacked three different times over the course of a year and now she doesn’t have any tolerance for dogs anymore, new or old friends. She’ll approach with tail wagging and a friendly demeanor but all of a sudden she snaps. She’s never connected her bite or drawn blood but it’s definitely an aggressive snap.

    because of this change in behavior, I have kept her away from other dogs, practicing the ignore technique. She’ll wine and pull towards the other dog but I’ll calmly have her follow me in the other direction. Today, she backed out of her leash and charged another dog. Luckily she was muzzled so not much damage was done, but she still got a bit of the other dogs cheek and drew some blood. She would not back off when I asked her to, I had to pull them off of each other. I feel so horrible, especially for the woman and her poor dog, and I have no idea how this happened or what to do about it. Nor do I know what measures to take to prevent it from happening again.

    Please, help with any suggestions or advice you can give.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I took Sephy to enclosed dog parks as well when he was young. However, I noticed that instead of becoming more social, his behavior toward other dogs actually worsened. This was because the park environment was too unstructured and chaotic for him. Here are some of our dog park experiences.

      Did your girl get attacked at the park or during walks? Was it loose dogs that attacked her? Are there a lot of loose dogs in the neighborhood?

      With Sephy, I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises together with creating neutral experiences. The important thing with Sephy is to maximize positive experiences with other dogs, as well as minimize bad encounters. I create distance as soon as I see another dog, and *before* Sephy loses control. I also needed to stay calm and control my own energy. If I got stressed or afraid, Sephy would pick up on my energy and he would become even more reactive.

      At the same time, we did a lot of structured desensitization exercises at our local SPCA (under the direction of their trainer). Desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises helped Sephy to stay more calm and in control while in the presence of another dog. He also learned to re-associate other dogs with positive events. I talk more about what I did with Sephy in the article above.

      The more positive experiences Sephy had, the more confident and calm he became with other dogs. The opposite is also true, which is why it is crucial to minimize bad encounters.

      However, dog behavior is very dependent on the dog and the surrounding context. Timing, body language, our energy, and technique, are also very important. This is why in cases of aggression, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  157. Mandy says

    I need help! I have a 4 year old sweet chihuahua, about 11 months ago I got another chihuahua. The younger one is very aggressive and kind of picks on the older chihuahua. If I give them a treat he scarfs his down and then chases after the older one and tries to steal the others treat, he gets jealous when I give the older one attention. I do not know what to do… I don’t want to get rid of the younger chihuahua I just don’t know what I need to do. Please give suggestions..

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I *do not* let them steal from each other and there is no humping or bullying. I supervise my dogs and use leads, gates, and other management equipment as necessary, so that I have better control and can keep everyone safe.

      Here is more on what I do when introducing a new dog.

      However, dog behavior is very dependent on the temperament of the dogs and the surrounding context. Timing, reading body language, and technique are also very important. For cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  158. Jennifer says

    I feel ridiculous saying this but I have a highly aggressive Dachshund. Yeap, a wiener dog. I adopted him a month ago from a shelter. He is very good with people, including children. He is quite submissive with me &, from his behavior, it is obvious he was abused.

    My main problem is that he is very aggressive with cats & other dogs. He even attacked & bit a stuffed animal that was incredibly realistic looking. I don’t want him biting another dog. Also, I worry that he will bit a much larger dog & end up getting hurt.

    I have no idea what to do or where to start. I’m an experienced dachshund owner but I’ve never seen anything quite like this…

    • Jean says

      Hello I also have a miniature dachshund who is aggressive towards other dogs I have tried everything but keep hoping for an answer to stop this behaviour, but he was attacked by fox hounds last year they broke his pelvis, I like yourself am an experienced dachshund owner. We have been to all the training classes and ernie, the dachie, has attained the KC good citizen gold award. Please let me know if you have found a way of stopping his behaviour.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jennifer,

      My Shiba Inu (Sephy) also used to be reactive to other dogs. Some things that helped with him-

      1. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.
      These exercises allowed Sephy to meet other dogs in a controlled environment and in a structured way. By controlling the strength of the ‘other dog’ stimulus using distance, I was able to teach Sephy what to do, redirect him so that he stays calm, and also help him associate other dogs with positive experiences. The more success Sephy had, the more confident he became, and the more calm he was with other dogs. The opposite is also true, so I try to minimize negative encounters.

      2. Neutral meetings.
      When we go on walks, I first teach my dogs to ignore other dogs. I find that this is a good first step, because it gets them to start controlling their impulses, and when they do greet other dogs, they do it from a calm state of mind. It also teaches them to be in the presence of other dogs without the excitement and stress of a charged greeting.

      Once we are familiar with a friendly dog and his owner, we may start to do greetings. I pick what dogs we do greetings with carefully, so that we usually have a positive experience.

      3. Social preferences and tolerances.
      I try to observe my dog’s social preferences and tolerances. Sephy is a more confident dog and he will rise to whatever challenge that comes his way, so he does not do well with dominant dogs. He also does not like new dogs sniffing his butt so I make sure there is no rear greeting. Shania is a more submissive dog and she is a bit afraid of large dogs. We have gotten charged by a couple of large off-leash dogs before, so now she is cautious. She likes meeting dogs that she is more familiar with, and has seen out and about on a regular basis. Lara still gets very excited when other dogs are nearby, so I use distance to weaken the stimulus, and we work on ignoring other dogs.

      I talk more about these things and what I do with my dogs in the article above. We also visited with several professional trainers who helped us with Sephy. In particular, it was helpful for us to do desensitization exercises at our nearby SPCA. They have many friendly dogs that the trainer used to help us with our training.

  159. lacy says

    hi i have a 2 year old pit bull that i adopted two month ago. When on walks if there is a strange dog he pulls on the leash and wont listen to any commands. He also lets out a whine/howl/bark if he cant get to the dog. His tail and ears stand straight up and stares intensly. I let him sniff another dog once and he snapped at her. He gets along great with my other dog and my grandmas dog its just dogs he doesnt know. Recently he tried to attack the neighbors little dog and ran over it thankfully he didnt bite it. I dont know what to do about it any advice would help. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      What helped most with my Shiba Inu were dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. I talk more about what I did in the article above.

      We also worked with several professional trainers. In particular, we did a lot of training at our nearby SPCA. They have a variety of dogs that we could do desensitization exercises with, under the direction of their trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  160. Kim C says

    Hi,
    What a wonderful site you have. Our 10 yr old retriever/chow mix, who we adopted from a family moving oversees last year, has attacked some of the neighborhood dogs, thankfully there have been no injuries. We live in the foothills and have 2 acres of a fenced yard but occasionally the dogs find a way out. The aggression occurs when the dogs and their owners ,usually on horseback, walk past our home (we also have a horse). He does have food aggression issues with our other dog (5yr old female shepherd mix) but feeding them in separate places helps. Both dogs are good with other dogs that come in the yard with family members. He usually seems like a big sissy, the female is the one who barks at things at night while he sleeps on our doorstep. I’ve thought of an electric fence for containment of at least the male but our yard is so big he wouldn’t have the run of it. Also the electric fence instructions say the collars should only be on 12 hours a day and these are outside dogs. Right now I’m in the process of establishing myself as the pack leader by making both dogs have eye contact with me prior to feeding. I have him tied on a long rope and let him loose or on a leash supervised a few times a day. Of course these incidents have happened when I’m not home and they don’t happen every time someone comes by. I’m concerned that while they escape they may target other peoples dogs or animals. I know I’m rambling but I guess I need a starting point/ plan of correction. i don’t want to be one of those that gives up :-). Any advice is appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      Daily walks really helped a lot with my Husky Lara.

      I think a problem with the backyard is that it is not very interesting from a “smell” perspective. The only people and animals who go in there are members of the family, so after a while, the smells are always the same.

      Sometimes, a skunk or raccoon will pass by our yard, and my dogs will get excited and go explore all over again. My Huskies will sometimes hunt for rodents, but I think the rodents now stay away from the property.

      My dogs use the backyard to sun themselves when it is nice out, or we play games out there together. For exploration purposes, they love their daily walks a lot more, because the smell-scape is much more interesting and dynamic. Outside, it smells like many different dogs, many different people, cats, wild turkeys, and more.

      In addition to increasing her daily exercise, I also made sure that my fence line is very secure. Lara escaped by digging under the fence, so we put in concrete blocks all along our fence line to prevent digging. Some people build a smaller but more secure dog run to prevent escapes, especially when there is no one home to supervise.

      Here is more on how I deal with dog escapes.

  161. David Sullivan says

    I have a spayed five-year-old German shepherd female we got when she was four. I bring her everywhere with me; to my office, for rides in my vehicles, etc. From the very beginning, she showed extreme aggression toward other dogs, no matter the circumstances. Walking her in the city immediately ceased due to her attempts to fight any dog she saw, no matter the size of her potential opponent. While she is with me in my truck and I have the window partially down on her side, she will see a dog being walked by its owner; the same applies to dogs she sees on my side, which can potentially result in my loosing control of the truck, since she tries to get out of either window to fight. When a dog walks on the street by my office door, my dog will attempt to break through the door to attack it. She is fine with humans after an initial barking at them.

    The previous owner sold me the dog after it saw dogs being walked by their owners and went over a five-foot chain link fence and tore up two dogs to the tune of $1,000 in veterinarian bills for the victims. She got away from me once and that vet bill cost me $350.00

    She was trained in the Czech language and responded to commands very well for the first few months. However, she no longer rapidly responds to commands in any language unless they are repeated several times. The command, “Not say,” Czech for “heel” is no longer a command, but a suggestion she generaly ignores, especaily when the command is contrary to what she wants to do.

    Suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      For serious cases for dog aggression, I would get help from a good professional trainer-
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      My Shiba was pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young, and we did a lot of training with him at our local SPCA. They had a great variety of dogs that we could do desensitization exercises with, under the direction of a trainer there.

  162. David says

    Hi, I have serious problem which I’m hoping someone can help me with. My 6 year old black lab/bordercollie cross Rufus is showing aggression with other dogs and people. I think he’s trying to protect me. He is also very insecure. My wife is pack leader, our cat is 2nd fiddle , Rufus and I are duking it out for 3rd. He never shows aggression when my wife walks him, only with me. He hasn’t bit anyone yet but I’m hoping to correct it before he does. I use a power wheelchair and Rufus thinks I need special protection. Do you have any advice?

    • shibashake says

      What helped most with my Shiba Inu were dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. I use distance to weaken the ‘other dog’ stimulus, and paired it with positive experiences. I describe more of what I did in the article above.

      Another thing that was very important with my Shiba was to control my own energy. I used to get somewhat stressed while walking him because I was afraid that he would start to act out. Sadly, this only made his behavior worse because he would sense my anxiety, get anxious himself, and become even more reactive towards other dogs. After I learned to control my own energy and remain calm, Sephy’s behavior improved as well.

      I talk more about what I did with Sephy in the article above, and in my pack leadership article.

      We also visited with several professional trainers, which can be helpful. Much of it depends on finding a good trainer, which is not easy, because the field is not regulated and there is a lot of misinformation out there.

      More on how to choose a trainer from the APDT
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  163. NicoleM says

    Thank you for this article! My German Shepherd 2 y.o. dog is extremely gentle w people and children of all ages, but with some dogs she begins lunging and barking. I have been at my wits end and the positive reinforcement “treating only” techniques have failed because she has no interest in the treats when she gets over-stimulated. Thank you for offering some good insight and suggestions!

  164. Terry says

    This is a great article and you have described my dog perfectly. I have a Shiba/jindo mix who is 50 pounds. I try to avoid other dogs on walks, and move to the other side of the street and such, as you mentioned above.

    He has not been socialized much, but I always have him on a leash for walks. How do I handle other dogs whose owners let them run off leash and then come up (usually running) to greet my dog. He does not take this as a greeting and proceeds to try to bite and attack them.

    thanks for your help.

  165. Jorg says

    Hi! Love your blog! We adopted Lucy, a female, spayed pit mix several years ago. She’s a lovely, intelligent dog but she has some quirks. She will bite if startled (we understand that fear trigger and try to keep her away from stressful situations and children). Two months ago, we brought home an abandoned 5-month old mixed JRT. He is a male, thus was promptly neutered. He is gentle and submissive, though occasionally rude in his enthusiasm. He is also occasionally the object of Lucy’s redirected aggression if someone knocks on the door. Lucy will bite him in her excitement. We are working on this, too. But we have a problem we aren’t sure how to handle. The JRT, still being a pup, sometimes hurts himself while playing and will let out a yelp. This triggers an immediate attack response in Lucy. It’s as if her little brain enters another dimension. She will come from anywhere in the house to go after him, and she is serious. Is this a prey situation? I have scolded her severely for this, and she is just contrite and confused. It’s as if she doesn’t even know why she is being scolded. At all other times, she loves the little newbie. Can you offer any help for this problem? Any suggestions on the redirected aggression would be helpful, also. Thanks so much!

    • Jorg says

      I’d also appreciate some advice on how to keep her from correcting him when he is rude and invades her space. I realize that this is partly our responsibility in that we need to teach him better manners. But she is often quicker than we are and will snap at him before we have a chance to intervene. How should we react to this? As bad as all this sounds, Lucy has really welcomed having some canine company and 99% of the time, is patient and gentle with him. Thanks again.

    • shibashake says

      Have you tried doing sound desensitization exercises with Lucy?

      My Husky Lara was reactive to the sound of garbage trucks and coyotes when she was young. Doing controlled desensitization exercises combined with management, helped to raise her reactivity threshold, build her confidence, helped her to calm down.

      In the beginning, I did the exercises with Lara alone. I make sure that my other dogs are safe and in a separate area. Then, I start playing a recording of the garbage truck sounds in soft volume. I engage Lara in doing very simple obedience commands and reward her very well for staying calm. I repeat until she is comfortable and fully relaxed, then I *very slowly* increase the volume of my recording, repeat the exercises, and so on.

      After Lara was comfortable with the sounds in natural volume (what she would hear normally), I started to do exercises with the garbage truck itself. Garbage trucks come by on Tuesday, so we would practice desensitization every Tuesday, first inside the house, then close to the door, then in our front yard, and so on. Each successful exercise helped her to build more confidence, and to be more relaxed and calm.

      During desensitization, I very carefully managed Lara’s environment, so that we did not accidentally meet a garbage truck during our walks. This would trigger a fear reaction, undermine her confidence, and set back our training. I only expose her to the stressful stimulus slowly, in a controlled way, and only when I am sure that she can handle it without losing control. I keep sessions short, fun, and positive. I make sure to always keep everyone safe during training, and I use management equipment (e.g. baby gates, leashes) as necessary.

      More on how I do sound desensitization exercises with my dog.

      In terms of introducing a new dog, and helping everyone get along, this is what I do.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent. I consulted with several professional trainers when I was going through a difficult period with my Shiba (Sephy), and it was helpful to have someone observe Sephy, teach me how to read his body language, as well as help me with technique and timing. For more serious bite issues, it is also best to consult with a professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Big hugs to Lucy and her new brother. It is very good to see that they have found such a good forever home. 😀

  166. Ang says

    Hello. We recued our female Basset/Beagle mix (Dog A) in January 2013. She is older – probably over 6. She is very sweet. Cuddly. A joy.

    We rescued our female Pointer (Dog B) just 10 days ago. She was under weight, had numerous rashes/skin allergies, severe itching and nawing, sad, and who knows her history. She is slightly gray in the face – so she may be over 6 yrs as well. Dog B was also very sweet, cuddly, fearful at time of doorways, and slept ALOT on our couch. By day 5, Dog B had put on a few pounds and we got the medication that she needed to help with her conditions. She is a HAPPY HEALTHY dog now.

    On day 8, Dog B started trying to dominate Dog A. Dog B will stare at Dog A, cutt her off as Dog A is walking, block Dog A from my husband and I, sit close as Dog A lays on the floor.

    This morning Dog B showed the first signs of aggression towards Dog A. She showed her teeth and nipped at Dog A as Dog A was approaching where Dog B was laying on the couch.

    Is Dog B demanding the Alpha role since Dog A could care less? Do we allow Dog B to keep this role? Will Dog B’s aggression advance?

    I don’t want to give up on this dog. Thank you!

    • Ang says

      Let me rephase my question…..

      I realize we must not allow aggression. But do I do such things as feeding Dog B before Dog A? How do I keep Dog B from “bullying” Dog A? Is Dog B demanding the Alpha role because she is new? Larger? I see Dog A as the Alpha because she was “there first”. Dog A sleeps with us. Dog B sleeps on the couch. Can we continue this arrangement?

    • shibashake says

      Some things that have worked well with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. For example, there is no stealing, no bullying, no humping, and no correcting each other.
      2. I supervise them closely, especially when there is a new dog around. In this way, I can teach the new dog what the interaction rules are, together with the help of my existing dogs. If there are any conflicts, I will resolve them in a fair and consistent manner. I set the rules, I enforce them.
      3. I do group training sessions and other fun things with my dogs together. In this way, they learn to associate other dogs with positive outcomes, rather than as competitors for resources.
      4. I manage my dogs’ excitement level so that they do not lose control of themselves during play and other activities.

      Here is more on what I do while introducing a second dog.

  167. Anne says

    Hey! I have a boxer who usually is the kindest dog in the world, but when we meet small dogs she just snaps! She does everything she can to come close to them and try do dominate. What can I do?

  168. Syl says

    Hi there! This problem is very recent and very shocking to me. I have four dogs. The oldest is 7, and she is a 60 pound Pitbull/boxer/lab mix, Ainsley. I received her a bit too early from an eager owner, at 5 weeks old. She has always been very energetic, athletic, and intelligent to the point that she understands how to turn doorknobs. This has resulting in replaced doorknobs from toothmarks but…you know.
    The next oldest is Morgan, a 5 year old Cane Corso/Neopolitan Mastiff mix. We received her at 7 weeks old, also a bit early. She was deeply inbred and has some mental issues because of it, but we love her all the same even though she’s special needs, and she plays with Ainsley well, as Ainsley helped take care of her during puphood.
    The next two are sisters, from the same litter, 4 year old Siberian Huskies Arkham and Lillith. I recieved Lillith at 7 weeks, and Arkham at 10.
    Arkham is a very ‘talky’ husky. Lots of sounds come from her and she’ll stare you right in the eyes while she does the, expecting you to answer. She gets offended if you don’t. She is otherwise quiet, out of the way, calm, collected, and never aggressive. Then, there’s Lillith. She is the typical, classic husky. Fluffy, fast, and strong. She is energetic, but normally very well behaved despite being hard headed and a ‘runner’ (Arkham has never left the vicinity of the house, but Lillith will run for miles just to run). The problem is Ainsley and Lillith. Ten minutes, they can be best friends, snuggling and licking and grooming each other (a favored past-time of Ainsley) but the next, they’ll fight so hard that I need a pry-stick to break ’em up. After a 15-20 minute cool down. they are cleaning each others wounds and snuggling again, as if the previous fight never happened. They even cry if I decide to keep them separate for longer.

    Arkham is clearly the omega here, and I’m certain that Lillith is planning on taking over Ainsley spot as dominant dog, as Ainsley is now officially a senior and should be beginning to slow down soon. Unfortunately for Lillith, Ains is still the reigning champ of their fights.
    This is worrying me more than usual because Arkham had puppies. They are now 10 weeks old and I only have two left, and one we call a mini-Ainsley, aka ‘The Devil’ and officially known as ‘Banshee’ because of her attitude, her willingness to succeed and dominate, and her habit of LOUDLY HOWLING HER TRIUMPH OVER THIS FOOD BOWL.

    She had gotten very, very attached to Ainsley, moreso even than Arkham, and Ainsley was happy to play with her. Taught her growling, stalking, pouncing, and even that it was okay to share food instead of being a jerk about it. However today, Ainsley seemed grumpy or annoyed, and bit Banshee superficially. (The wound bled alot, but no serious damage was done.) Banshee was fine after a 10 minute calm-down snuggle, and Ainsley was sitting at our glass door with her paws on it, crying. Everything about her read ‘submissive, apology’ and worry’ about ‘her’ puppy.

    Is her age beginning to effect her, and her over-aggression with Lillith (Whom I have had to stop from attacking an unsuspecting Ainsley) because of her growing weakness? (Though at 7 years old and still able to pulls a 130 pound cart, I’d say she’s showing no signs of slowing…)

    • shibashake says

      What helps most with my dogs, is to set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules.

      When there is a new puppy, I make sure to supervise closely and teach my puppy what are good ways of interaction and what behaviors are not acceptable. Puppies, especially Husky puppies have a lot of energy, so they will want to play and interact almost all of the time. This can become annoying, even to a usually patient adult dog, who needs some quiet time now and then. 😀

      Therefore, I set up some clear rules and boundaries, and I enforce them. I make sure that my puppy has a fixed routine, and that my adult dogs can have quiet time away from puppy whenever they want it. If there are conflicts, I will resolve them in a fair and consistent manner, before it escalates into anything serious. In this way, my dogs learn that they do not need to correct each other, because that is my job. They get to enjoy each others’ company, and I get to be the bad Sheriff. 😈

      Here is more on what I do at home to keep the peace-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

  169. Joanne says

    Hi, this information is really helpful.
    But I do have a question. I have a Siberian husky (unspayed), that is a year and a few months. She was raised by me since she was 8 weeks old, but I’ve been around her since she was a week old. I had 2 other dogs, one 12 year old fixed male and a 6 year old unspayed female. When she got a bit older, she started attacking the male, the second time was bad enough so she got scolded and never touched him again. Now, she’s been attacking the older female for about 2-3 months now, ever since she went in her second heat. Everytime they are close to each other, the youngest raises her fur and starts shaking and grolwing. When I’m walking with her and she meets another dog, she raises her fur and start shaking a bit (Less than with our other female). I’m not sure what to do anymore, we have to keep one locked in a room to avoid further injuries, I have also been injured stopping one of the dog fights.

    • shibashake says

      Dogs can get more aggressive during their heat cycle.

      Irritability Each estrus cycle causes significant hormonal changes in a female dog. Some dogs become irritable or nervous and even feel pain due to ovulation. Because spayed dogs don’t experience these hormonal changes, a female dog’s behavior may be more consistent after she’s spayed.

      Aggression Females may be less aggressive toward both dogs and people after they’re spayed. Unspayed females sometimes compete for the attention of a male dog by fighting. Spaying can reduce or eliminate this fighting. Spaying your dog can also eliminate the possibility of hormonally driven guarding behavior. Female dogs will sometimes behave aggressively if people or other pets attempt to approach or touch their puppies. Some dogs who don’t get pregnant during a heat cycle will experience a “false pregnancy” or “pseudopregnancy.” Females in false pregnancy often “adopt” objects and treat them like a litter. These females may guard the adopted objects as if they were real puppies.

      ~~[ASPCA]

      My Huskies are spayed so I do not have much experience with care and management during the heat cycle. Also, given that there is injury, I would get help from a professional who can develop a safe plan for retraining as well as management strategies during the heat cycle.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  170. Daniel Booth says

    hey. I have a tibetan spaniel that is 14 months old and is aggressive with other dogs. He is great with people but the main problem with him is that he just reacts really aggressively to other dogs on walks. We have been attending a dog socialisation class on the weekends the past two weeks and he was amazingly well behaved at the school being off the leash with other dogs with no aggression. But he is still aggressive on walks and my mother gets quite upset and hesitant to take him for walks anymore. I was just wondering if the dog socialisation is the best thing we can do? or is there more to do?
    We both try and tell him to stop when he gets aggressive but he gets a bit out of control. Please any advice will help. thankyou

  171. Juliana says

    I have a year and a half old cockapoo. He weighs twenty pounds so he is a pretty small dog. He is perfectly fine with people but if we are in the vet or on a walk and another dog goes by, and doesn’t even look at him, once he spots another dog he makes a very high pitch noise and shows he teeth and starts to get aggressive. I yell at him but I do not know how to stop it!! He also gets that way with toys and food towards our other cocker spaniel! I am lost at what to do to stop this behavior.

  172. Kourtney says

    I need help. My 5 year old beagle/terrier mix and my 1 year old rednose/staffordshire terrier mix have been fighting. It got to the point that my husband is ready to find a new home for one of them. I want to avoid that if at all possible. The first fight I am unsure of the reason because I was not in the room when it broke out, but the second was because the 5 year old growled at the 1 year old and next thong I know they are fighting. They are currently not allowed to be together which is a strain, but worth it to prevent any further fighting. What do I need to do to create a safe environment for my dogs?

    • shibashake says

      Here are some things that I do to keep the peace at home with my dogs.

      I would also consider getting help from a professional trainer. A professional can observe the dogs, read their body language, and help us identify the source of the aggression.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      When dogs growl – it is already a warning for “something”. With my dogs, I try to determine the root cause of the behavior, for example, what made the 5 year old growl? Was it a toy that both wanted? Did the older dog just want to rest? Did they both want to lie on the same space? What was the surrounding context? Who usually starts the disagreement?

  173. Sim says

    Please help me. I have american staffordshire. He is attacking other dogs. Size doesnt matter if its a make dog i have hudge problem. I am afraid that dog control will shoot him.
    He is a young dog, his name is Fluffy. When he was puppy he got bitten by other dog. Since that day he changed. Now he shows who is the boss against other dogs. His hair will stand up, he will constantly look at the other dog and then without long waiting he attacks. Most of the times he is not even listening to me. He concetrates only to the dog and nothing else. He is not a bad dog against people. Always shows his belly, give a lot of kisses. He knows a lot of comands. He is a smart dog and i love him with all my heart but this behavior is driving me crazy because i dont want to loose him.

    Please, please help me.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Simona,

      What I have observed with my dogs is that they have certain space and greeting boundaries. For example, my Shiba Inu does not like strange dogs sniffing his butt because it is a sensitive and vulnerable area. The more negative experiences that Sephy has with other dogs, the more reactive he becomes, and the more likely he is to use aggression – not because he wants to dominate them, but simply because he views them as a threat. He is trying to protect himself and warning the other dog to stay away.

      Some things that helped with Sephy-
      1. I protect him from other dogs. I manage him carefully and *do not* expose him to situations that I know he cannot handle. The less he practices reactive behavior, the less likely he will repeat it. The more often he lunges and growls at other dogs, the more likely he will repeat and escalate his aggressive behavior.

      2. I carefully leash train him and walk him on a secure 6 foot leash and no-slip collar. In this way, I have better control of him and we can avoid bad and negative encounters. I make sure that at worst – we avoid other dogs and do neutral encounters. I use distance and barriers to weaken the ‘other dog’ stimulus. I talk more about this in the article above.

      3. In the meantime, I do dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy to raise his reactivity threshold, and to help him reassociate other dogs with positive rewards and events.

      However, dog training is very context dependent. To accurately identify the source of aggressive behavior, it is important to observe the dog, evaluate his temperament, routine, and environment, as well as read his body language. Therefore, especially in cases of aggression, it is best to get help from a professional trainer.

      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  174. Paula says

    I have a 5 year old Beagle/Rat Terrier mix. When I have her on the chain by my front door- people walk by on the sidewalk and she gets aggressive as they come towards our sidewalk to the front door. If they will stop and calmly talk to her she settles down. But how do I break her of that. Otherwise she loves people. She especially loves kids.

    • shibashake says

      Does she act the same way during walks or is it only when she is on the chain? Does she act the same way when you are there or only when she is alone?

      Chaining can become a problem because it can cause a dog to get really frustrated when they cannot get to what they see – e.g. another dog, cat, running squirrel, etc. All that frustration can then turn into aggression. Here is a USA Today article on chaining and bad behavior.

  175. Summer says

    I have a 3 1/2 year old beagle/rednose mix I adopted from the animal shelter. He lived in a kennel with 2-3 other dogs, and he did not seem to have any aggression towards other dogs. I moved away from home and a friend of mine took care of him for a year. I found out that she was not taking him for walks and often times left him alone for weekends at a time (because he had a doggy door and back yard). Because of this, my mom decided to take care of him instead. I have now had him living with me for about 9 months. He is aggressive towards other dogs during walks- pulls very hard on his leash, whines, tries to get at dog. The hair on his back also sticks straight up, which makes him look very scary to other dog owners. I have become so frustrated because he was never like this before and I thought it would just go away with time, but it has not. I recently took him to the lake where a friend had their dog also. It was stressful and exhausting at first because my dog kept trying to get at the other dog. I kept him on a leash for over an hour until he got used to the other dog being around him and then took him off. He snapped at the other dog, but then after that everything was fine. He was even around 5 other dogs later in the day and there were no problems at all, not a snap whine, or growl! I thought he was maybe “cured” of his dog aggression, but the behavior still continues during our walks. I want him to socialize with other dogs, but I’m too afraid to. I also have a trip planned at the end of this month and can’t find anyone to watch him because all of my friends have dogs. Is there any advice you can give me? I have become so frustrated and exhausted, I don’t know what to do anymore!
    Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      What I have noticed with my dog, Sephy, is that he has different levels of trust based on familiarity. He trusts my two Huskies the most, so he is very tolerant with them. He plays well with them, they sleep together, and they eat together.

      He acts differently with dogs we meet during walks, especially with new dogs because there is no trust yet. This is a good survival instinct because a new dog could be dangerous, could be be a threat, and could attack him. For this reason, he does not let new dogs sniff his butt. This is not too unlike greetings with people – we may hug a person we trust, and just shake hands with new people that we meet.

      Here is more on “the friendly dog”.

      To help Sephy be more relaxed around other dogs –
      1. I do dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him to help raise his tolerance threshold. Desensitization also teaches him to associate other dogs with positive events and to use alternative behaviors for dealing with his stress. I talk more about the desensitization exercises that we did in the article above.

      2. I protect Sephy from rude dogs, I do not expose him to situations that he cannot handle, and that will end in a negative way. The more negative experiences that he has where he practices aggressive behavior, the more negatively he will view other dogs, and the more likely he will repeat his aggressive behavior. Similarly, the more positive encounters that he has, the more relaxed and comfortable he will be around other dogs. I discuss more of this in the article above. Here is more on dog socialization.

      3. Here is how I help my dogs get along at home.

      Each dog is different in terms of temperament, background, routine, and more. As such, they have different tolerances towards people, other dogs, and new environments. Some dogs are very tolerant, some dogs are protective over their personal space, some dogs just want to play with every other dog that they see. I am more of a loner myself, so I do not expect my dogs to be friendly with all the dogs that they see. We ignore most dogs (neutral event), and we only meet friendly dogs that I know will result in a positive experience.

      What has worked well for me is to observe my dogs carefully, see where their stress is coming from, and then help them work through that stress so that they are able to live a happier and more comfortable life, in our very human-oriented world. Getting help from a good professional trainer can also be helpful.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  176. Jesse says

    I’ve worked for various shelters over the years and help run a pit bull rescue these days, and I just love your summary here and would love to link to it in our recommended training resources. It’s the perfect summation of many socialization tactics we describe to foster parents and adopters alike…and is a very entertaining read!

    I personally feel where you’re coming from with your Shiba; the primary issue I have when training and socializing our new pitties is the intense focus they have on other dogs (either very positive or very negative, depending on the individual). Even if they appear to be minding their manners in a down-stay in the presence of other dogs, their focus is usually completely on the other animals and not at all on their handler! It’s both frustrating and entertaining to recognize that vibrating quiver the new guys get when they’re in a stay or are otherwise restrained but just REALLY want to do nothing in the world more than launch up and body slam the nearest dog.

    • shibashake says

      but just REALLY want to do nothing in the world more than launch up and body slam the nearest dog.

      LOL! Yeah I love watching Pitties play. They are so athletic, energetic, and so into wrestling. They are also such good looking dogs with all that solid muscle. One time a Pit ran into me while playing with Sephy – that took my legs out from under me and he barely broke stride. 😀

      Thanks for your wonderful comment and four paws up for helping out dogs who have had a tough life.

  177. Candie says

    I am a volunteer at a local shelter. We currently have a foxhound mix that is adorable and playful on leash and through a fence but every time we try to let her play with another dog, she erupts into an aggressive dog, often drawing blood. We have tried her with many of our tried and true “test” dogs and she just seems to snap. We remove all toys, food etc so there is no trigger. Her behavior changes so quickly it is unpredictable. She has been known to be a resource guarder but has not shown fear type of aggression. We walk her with other dogs and she seems fine but free play never ends well. Any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, when she is walked with other dogs, are they walked close together? Is she ok with other dogs being in her space?

      Is her play style different when she plays on-leash? Is she never aggressive on-leash? How long does she play on-leash? Does she play in the same environment and with the same dogs on-leash?

      Does the aggression start right away during free play, or does play go on for a while before the aggression behavior? What is her play style like during free play? Is she more excited in free play? What else is different between on-leash and free style play (other than the aggression)?

      What do the trainers at the shelter say about her behavior?

      There can be many different reasons for dog-to-dog aggression. She could be protecting her space, she could be over-excited, she could be responding to certain actions from the other dog, she could be responding to the environment, etc. I think the key would be to determine the differences between on-leash and free-play, which will help to identify the things that may trigger the aggression.

  178. Heather says

    My female German Shepherd just attacked my parents female German Shepherd. They were interacting just fine, then the kid (my parents male shepherd) began playing “chase me” around the house with a toy. My Shepherd must have been over stimulated…not sure…but she went for the other female and started attacking her face. She made her ear bleed and cut her under her eye. What the heck happened? I’m so confused and upset. Any thoughts?

    • shibashake says

      Are both dogs spayed? As you say, play may also turn into something more serious when the dogs are over-excited. A dog may also get possessive or protective over another dog.

      With my dogs, I supervise them closely during play and set up clear and consistent play rules. I enforce the play-rules and also throw in many play breaks to manage their level of excitement.

      If there is a new dog around, then I am even more careful with introductions and supervision. I always err on the side of caution, and use breaks liberally so that all my dogs have a chance to calm down, and refocus on me. The key is to manage them, keep things relaxed, and prevent any kind of tension from forming – i.e. I want to prevent fights *before* they occur.

      Each dog is different though, including their temperament, routine, and environment. Therefore, in more serious cases of aggression, where there is bite-penetration and bleeding, it is best to get help from a professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  179. Sarah says

    We have a 6 month old lab puppy. He was a rescue at 3 weeks where I bottle feed him along with many many many medical issues as a newborn. He is now a healthy pup. We just moved from a 6 acer lot to about an acer :/ and we now have dogs on both sides of us which has lead to very aggresive behaviors. He charges the fence and today he cleared it along with biting the dog next door. Thank god it wasn’t to horrible. We have tried to take him to the dog park also to socialize him but he does the same thing. We are at a lost of what to do. He is very energetic and I’m wondering if maybe he isn’t getting the exercise he should be getting. I’m currently prego and my husband works long hours. We walk him at lest twice a week along with ball play and tug of war with him and our other dogs everyday. My dogs are my babies and it just breaks my heart to think that I can’t handle him on walks and how he might react when the baby comes, so we need to bite this in the butt ASAP. If you have any suggestions we would greatly appreciate it!!! TIA

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I found that places like the dog park are too high stimulus and too unstructured to do proper socialization exercises with my dog (Sephy). In fact, Sephy ended up learning a lot of bad habits at the dog park and his behavior actually worsened.

      Here is a bit more on our dog park experiences.

      1. What worked well with Sephy is to do controlled desensitization exercises with other dogs. I talk more about what we did in the article above in the desensitize section.

      2. Also, Sephy does a lot better with small, structured play groups, with dogs that I carefully pick to suit his play style and temperament.

      3. Daily exercise is also important with Sephy. When he was young, I walked him 3-5 times a day for at least 1 hour per walk. At the time, I also got help from a dog walker.

      Now Sephy is older and less energetic, so I walk him for at least 1 hour *every day*, he plays with my two Sibes, he works for all of his food through obedience commands and interactive toys, and more. The more exercise Sephy has, the more calm he is.

      We also got help from several professional trainers to troubleshoot Sephy’s reactivity towards other dogs.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      Here is a bit more on dog socialization.

      Hugs to your pack. Let us know how it goes.

  180. Hannah says

    Hi I have 2 x almost 3yr old malamute x red cattle (female is dominate) who we tried to socialise from a young age with not much luck as our male got attacked when he went to the dog park so we kept trying to walk them and now we have to walk them at 10pm at night somewhere where no one walks their dogs because as soon as they see another dog they lunge bark chuck themselves in the air and have major troubles refocusing I dont believe that they are doing this aggressively what can we do as they are a little chubby n need the exercise do walk them separate as they go eachother when another dog is around they do know basic commands sit drop stay not that they always listen hope you have some helpful tips .

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy I *first* did desensitization exercises to raise his reactivity threshold. With desensitization, we start with a very weakened version of the stimulus in a controlled environment. In this way, our dog can stay in control and is still capable of learning and listening to us. Once Sephy becomes reactive, he is in instinct mode and is no longer capable of learning. Therefore, I always try to keep him below instinct threshold. If he becomes reactive, I have missed a valuable learning opportunity. All I can do is remove him from the area as soon as possible so that he can calm down and not practice his reactive behavior.

      I talk more about the desensitization exercises we did in the article above.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression#desensitize

      With dog socialization, I find that it is important to control the environment that I expose my dogs to so that they do not get overwhelmed. For dog socialization to “work”, I want to maximize successes and positive experiences. Here is a bit more on dog socialization.

      Getting help from a professional trainer can also be helpful. With Sephy, we found trainers who have access to well-behaved dogs that we can do training exercises with.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

    • Phil says

      I might as well ask you a question too. I just adopted a big boxer who was found as a stray. He shows the signs too as he’s a scavenger and loves dumpsters and trash. I’m working on those bad habits and he’s doing well. He’s very sweet and extremely calm around other big dogs, but his problem is with the small dogs. I believe he sees some just as prey to toy with. He’ll lunge at them and get on top to dominate. Before I know it the little one fights back and I have to throw myself in there. He doesn’t seem to try to hurt them because I’ve felt the pressure of his jaw on my finger and he’s holding back but it still bothers me that he has this behavior. I’ve applied the tips from your site and they’ve worked great. He can stare calmly or we can move along quickly but I’d like to fix the issue so he can be around any dog. Any tips for this case? Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my Shiba is also like that. He likes to wrestle and play-rough and little dogs do not like that.I pick his play-friends carefully so that everyone can have a good time.

      Also, there are many greeting signals that pass between dogs when they first meet. Certain greeting behavior, for example, a dog that invades another dog’s space without permission may get corrected. Here are more of my thoughts on “the friendly dog”.

      For things like enclosed dog-parks and such, the only thing that comes to mind is to train a strong recall. In this way, we can call our dog away when he approaches smaller dogs or dogs that may not want to play.
      http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/teaching-your-dog-to-come-when-called

  181. Jen Blume says

    Hi – Thanks for all of the great information on your site. I have an Australian Cattle Dog that is reactive to other dogs and sometimes people who look “different” and who are moving towards us. We normally move her away (across the street, behind a car, etc.) to keep her under her reaction threshold. You mentioned in one of your tips that you do not allow your dog to star at another dog, and I would like to get your thought on something. When our dog sees another dog, she often immediately goes into a down position, staring and trying to slink forward toward the other dog, which I think is a herding behavior. When she’s in this position, it’s nearly impossible to move her away without dragging her in the down position. It’s been our experience when this happens that it seems best to allow her to stay there watching the other dog and getting a treat intermittently when she breaks her attention on the dog and looks to us. Often, if we try to move her away when she’s in this position, she just gets more frustrated and will react. Even when she’s not in a down, she’s always less likely to react if we stop to watch the dog while I ask her to do tricks like shake, touch, etc. for rewards. If we try to keep moving, she just keeps trying to stop and watch the dog and will get frustrated and react. How would you handle this situation?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jen,

      Each dog is different, so I can only talk about my experiences with my own dogs. I currently have a Shiba Inu and two Siberian Huskies (no herders).

      1. Sephy (Shiba Inu)

      With Sephy, if I stay still and let him watch, he will get even more reactive when the other dog comes near. He spends the whole time obsessing, and if the other dog comes close enough, he would explode from his crouching position in a burst of energy. The more times I let him obsess, the more likely he will spring into action from a greater distance.

      What helped most with Sephy are the desensitization exercises, which helped to raise his reactivity threshold. Then he can tolerate more during our walks, and we can ignore dogs from across the street. It is best if he does not go into an obsessive state, because then, he is no longer capable of learning. However, if he does get into that state, then I always remove him from the situation as quickly as possible.

      He is a smaller dog though, so I just walk away from the other dog at a brisk pace until he calms down. I do not stop until he breaks away and is in control of himself again.

      2. Shania (Sibe)

      With Husky Shania, I let her watch the other dog if she wants to. This is because Shania is not as reactive, she is calm when watching, and she is more than willing to give me her attention for rewards. However, there is this one little dog that always causes her to lose it. It is strange because she is ok with all the other small dogs in the neighborhood. The owner of that dog is a bit fearful, so that could be a factor, but the dog himself seems pretty relaxed.

      I move us away as soon as I see this dog, hopefully before Shania starts to react. If I don’t see him early enough, I move Shania into a driveway and behind a car. Having a barrier helps a lot with her.

      3. Lara (Sibe)

      In the beginning, I let Lara stop and watch. However, not too long ago, she started going into the crouching down position, and started to obsess even though the other dog was across the street. Then, she tried going into the road to get to the other dog.

      Now, I move her along. If she makes a fuss or tries to charge the other dog, I no-mark, hold the leash close to her collar so I have good control, march her home, and end the walk. She enjoys her walks so that seems to work well with her.

      In general, I first try the least disruptive strategy and see if the behavior gets better, does not change, or gets worse. If it gets better, then that’s definitely a keeper. If it does not change, then I will usually stay the course for a while to see what happens. I make sure to observe very closely for any small changes. If it gets worse, then I try something else until I find something that works. I also make sure to always be aware of my own energy, and to always stay very calm and decisive.

  182. tara says

    Hi, its been very interesting reading this piece and all the comments, my situation seems a bit different – Gordie is a large yorkie – most yorkies are tiny dogs but some of the orginal yorkies were larger, 22lbs, Gordie walks with his pack of dogs everyday with his dog walker, and for the most part he is happy easy going and loves being around dogs. However this MUST be a scent that certain dogs give off that trigger aggression in Gordie – he goes from zero to 100 in seconds. I always walk him on a leash, and usually wearing a harness but there is no way to know WHICH type of dog will trigger this insanely aggressive reaction. Gordie “sees” or “smells” the dog faster than I – and the dog can be across the street – or at a distance ( meaning there’s alot of space between Gordie and the ‘trigger’ dog) and BOOM – he just goes nuts. And he NEVER forgets the trigger dog – one dog is a collie, bur the other two dogs are different species, sizes, color. I used to ell at him we he behaved like this but I read NOT to do that, so I speak calmly to him, try to block his view of the dog with my body, kneeling down so he can look at me, and focus on me… I try to move Gordie along ( which he won’t do and even after the dog has moved along – Gordie wants to chase after him, he keeps looking back knowing the direction the trigger dog went it and keeps wanting to chase after him or walk in that direction. He will calm down after a few minutes. I have NO way of knowing why some dogs trigger this reaction in him and WHICH dog at any time will trigger this reaction in him. I have a retractable leash but I lock the leash so he stays close to me.

    Im convinced its the scent of the dog that triggers him because the first time I saw him behave like this – the dog was not in his visual range – we had stepped in an elevator in my apt building -G was on the leash, and he got very agitated – as soon as the door opened, he bolted in the direction of the dog who by then was OUTSIDE the building and still not within visual range. Normally when elevator door opens Gordie waits for me exit first, and then looks at me for a decision as to which way we will leave the building. But this time he was on a mission and just bolted in the direction of the back door – finally making visual contact with the trigger dog where he went agitated to aggressive.

    I am truly baffled as to understand what causes this aggression and why he reacts as he does. But when it happens I stay calm and try to create huge space between him and the trigger dog but its not easy.

    Any thoughts?

    • tara says

      sorry this >>>>> I used to ell at him we he behaved like ….should read” I used to yell at him when he behaved like this…

    • shibashake says

      Hello Tara,

      When walking my dog, I use a 6 foot leather leash. I find that the leather leash gives me a lot more control because I can very quickly change leash length and tension. The closer I place my hand to the collar, the better control I have.

      As for what is triggering the dog reactivity behavior, sometimes it can be difficult to tell. Our dogs can smell things that we cannot, and catch canine body language that may not be apparent to us. Controlled desensitization exercises with a variety of different dogs, helped my Shiba Inu become more relaxed during walks, and helped to raise his reactivity threshold. Getting another set of eyes, especially a professional set of eyes can also be helpful.

  183. Marise says

    Thank you for sharing your advice with us. I read your article as well as most of the posts here, but my problem is a little different in that I’m not sure if my dog is being aggressive. She’s a 3year old lab pit-bull mix and up until about a month ago she always behaved very well towards other dogs (I’ve had her for over 2 years now). She goes to daycare twice a week where she interacts with some 20+ dogs each time and has never had a problem there (I asked, they said she’s one of the best behaved dogs they have). However, recently, when she’s with me, sometimes sniffing or meeting another dog very suddenly bursts into jumping and growling all over them. She’s never bitten or scratched them – despite having had the opportunity – so I don’t know if this is just some weird form of play or what’s going on? She doesn’t do it with dogs she knows. A couple times she did it with dogs she didn’t know and I pulled her off them and held her for a minute or two until she calmed down. Then I let her go with the other dog still there and no problems –she will ignore them for the rest of the time. Also this only happens with some dogs and usually it’s actually the calmer ones. She will let excited puppies and small dogs nip her ears and jump all over her and even though I can tell she’s sometimes a little annoyed, she just walks away. However, at the same time, I’ve also noticed that other dogs are behaving more aggressively towards her (even showing teeth and acting like they would bite given the chance). I presume she’s sending some signal that’s instigating this…? I’m trying to observe her more carefully but I really don’t know what I should be looking for or how to interpret it. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it is difficult to say what is causing reactive or aggressive behavior without knowing the dog or seeing the behavior. This is where getting help from a professional trainer can be helpful.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      My Shiba Inu, for example, would get reactive sometimes because he is over-excited and wants to meet other dogs. Holding him back with the leash would turn that excitement into frustration, and then he would redirect that frustration back onto the leash with biting and jumping.

      Other times, he would get reactive because of what he *sees* as threatening gestures from other dogs. For example, he does not like strange dogs sniffing his butt. Here’s why.

      Some dogs may also get protective over their people, protective over space, or protective over food and toys.

      Some dogs may be fearful when new and strange dogs invade their space and force a greeting.

      Dogs also pick up on the energy of the people around them. If the people around are fearful, stressed, or uncertain, our dog may pick up on that, and start to get stressed himself.

      I try to set my dogs up for success and I pick the dogs and people that we meet very carefully. Sephy does not like dominant dogs, so we only stop to meet larger dogs that are relaxed and playful. I do not expect my dogs to be friendly with all the dogs that we see. Most of the time, we ignore other dogs, especially if we have not seen them before.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/my-dog-is-friendly

      Some things that helped me with Sephy in terms of reading his body language-
      1. Spend a bunch of time observing him (some people will also record their dog and watch things back in slow motion).
      2. Spend a bunch of time observing him interact with friendly dogs.
      3. Reading books on dog body language. Turid Rugaas is probably most well known for her work in this area, but there are many other books.
      On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals
      4. Get private lessons from a good professional trainer. A trainer can meet with Sephy, observe his behavior and interactions with other dogs, give me pointers on how to read his body language, as well as provide suitable dogs for retraining.
      5. We did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy. These exercises are structured and safe, and they gave me many opportunities to observe Sephy while in the proximity of other dogs. It also helped Sephy to get more comfortable around other dogs, to stay more calm, and to use other behaviors for dealing with stressful encounters.

      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

  184. Marina says

    I inherited my mom’s 4 years old, 65 lb akita shepherd mix. He was mostly confined until last year when I moved in. I started walking him about 3-4 miles a day and although he is not as destructive nor jumping on people but he doesn’t like other dogs. I switched to a gentle leader because he was backing out of the harness and/or collar and am better able to control him. He goes crazy if we see another dog, or even smell one from as far as 1/2 mile away. He pulls and tries to overtake the dog. I will pull him off the trail and try to hide, but sometimes it is impossible to break the sight. I try to get out before most people are on the trail but with the weather getting better, more folks are up and about early. The some dogs may be calmly walking along but he still goes crazy. At the vet, we have to go through the back door or wait in the car until the waiting room is empty to go in and even then when other dogs come out, he is crazy in the car. One time, he even went crazy over the dog scuplture in the waiting room. What can I do? He doesn’t act bad around people and my mother wants to keep him. She also wants a cat, but I am afraid he will kill it. Help!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, my Shiba Inu (Sephy) was also pretty reactive to other dogs. We did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him, which helped to raise his instinct threshold.

      The key with desensitization exercises is to start with a weakened version of the other-dog stimulus so that Sephy could still be in-control and could still learn from the experience. Once Sephy starts to react, it is too late and the best that I can do is remove him from the situation. Otherwise, he will just keep amping-up and start to associate those feelings and behaviors with other dogs.

      My old house was in a more busy area, so initially we would drive Sephy to a quiet trail for our walks. We also took him to our local SPCA for desensitization sessions with the dogs there. We did the exercises with one of their trainers, and with different dogs that they picked based on Sephy’s temperament. We only did exercises with one dog at a time, but we would switch through 2-3 per session.

      Given what you describe, it may be best to consult with a professional trainer, preferably one who has access to calm dogs that she can use to help with training.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

  185. Cloe says

    what do you do if there is an off leash dog and your dog is aggressive towards other dogs? I have a small dog and most off leash dogs in my neibhorhood are bigger than her.

    • shibashake says

      Here are some of my experiences with off-leash neighborhood dogs. There is a discussion on what people do in the comments section, but the off-leash dog issue is really more of a people issue rather than a dog issue. As such, to really fix it, we would need a people solution.

      I also do dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my dog to help raise his reactivity threshold and to help him be more comfortable around other dogs.

  186. Michael says

    Hello, I have 2 pit bull terriers, a female who is 4.5 and a male who is roughly 2(found him on the street and he appeared to be around 6 months at that time. They have been great around each other for the past year and a half. 1 month ago a stranger entered my front yard while I doing yard work. Both dogs were in the fenced in side yard, within 12 seconds of that stranger appearing the female went CRAZY. She locked down on the male with a death lock and WOULD NOT LET GO. After about 30 seconds of me rolling around on the ground with them she finally let loose but still did not want to stop her attack. I kept them separated for about 2 weeks then gradually let them get back around each other by leaving my back door open and letting them wonder in and out as they pleased. I moved last week and of course they came along. They where looking around their new yard and I was on the outside of the wooden privacy fence, I stuck my head over to check on them and gave a little whistle to grab their attention, I do not know if they ever saw me though. I continued to wash my truck and about 2 minutes later the horrific sounds of a dog fight caught my ear, I open up the gate a sure enough the female is locked down again. I love both of these dogs greatly and need help.

    • shibashake says

      It sounds like it could be barrier frustration combined with redirected aggression.

      Redirected aggression is a relatively common type of aggression but one that is often misunderstood by pet owners. … For example, two family dogs may become excited, and bark and growl in response to another dog passing through the front yard; or two dogs confined behind a fence may turn and attack each other because they can’t attack an intruder.
      ~~[Humane Society]

      Dogs are known to become barrier aggressive when they get frustrated by not being able to make contact with whatever is on the other side of the barrier. Some dogs will pace back and forth and growl at a dog, human or anything moving on the other side of the fence. Then that dog can become aggressive towards any dog that is in the fence with them …

      ~~[Atlanta Dog Trainer]

      For retraining, I would get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-to-dog-aggression/comment-page-2#comment-78690

  187. Billy Edwards says

    Lets start by saying we have a Siberan Husky (full blooded) 2.5 yrs and a german Shepard Husky mix 3 yrs old. Our problems started when the mix jumped the full blooded husky. We watched them VERY closely for a long time, and when they were finally getting along, REALLY WELL, we let them be together alone. NOW, 1 yr later, we are going thru this again. They attacked each other while we were gone, came home and found 2 bloody messes. They did a good job of messin each other up, and they seemed to be doing well. Today, when we brought the Full blooded home from the vet, (got staples removed from the first fight 2 weeks ago) the mix went after the full. We broke that one up, Brought the full blooded in the house to cool down, and then we ALL went outside. After about 5 mins of being outside, the full blooded went after the mix. It took 2 adults to get them apart. We brought the mix in after that fight to calm them both down. Both are fixed, both have been great dogs and wonderful around the children, but we can’t figure out for the life of us, why they are fighting each other. We are trying to figure out a way to make this stop so we don’t have to let one go. They are both our rescue dogs and are a huge part of our family………

    • shibashake says

      Given what you describe, it is probably best to get help from a professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      To identify what is actually triggering the aggression, and come up with an effective retraining program, it will be necessary to observe the dogs in their environment, get to know their temperament, and understand their routine.

      When there are issues between my dogs, I go back to basics and quickly introduce more structure into the situation. When they are in the same area, I make sure they are leashed and under control, so that they do not engage in more negative interactions with each other (my dogs are not leash aggressive).

      I use distance to make sure that they are able to stay calm, and focus on me, instead of on each other. Then I keep their focus by engaging them in something positive. The key is to create neutral and positive experiences, so that they learn to ignore each other and be calm from a distance. Greater structure and management will also prevent them from practicing aggressive behaviors during the retraining process, which is very important.

  188. shadowkat says

    I recently took my 14month old male GSD to a dog walk. He was nervous meeting new people. After some reassurance from me and the strangers approaching him with palm open, he relaxed enough that the people could approach him and pet him without reaction. I tried to remain calm and tell him to sit or down if he got alittle overwhelmed. He was fine with the puppies there, and sniffed some adoption young dogs behind a fence. Then a 10 month old Wolf/Malamute mix came. That dog was friendly and unreactive to my GSD. My GSD then charged the mix. He would stop mid charge when i called him back or when the leash ran out. The owner of the mix and I tried to get the two to tolerate each other by allowing them see each other at different distances, but my GSD would continue to charge him. The mix was able to just be outside of the leash range. At one point he even broke the choker and was free, but he immediately stop the charge and came back to me before I could call him back. I made him sit or go down after a charge and moved him away from what I thought he was charging at. At times, I couldn’t tell if he was reacting to the dogs or the owners. He never raised his fur before a charge or barked. He also don’t pull. The only time his fur raised, was just after we arrived. My GSD was 105 at 10 months… and might be pushing 120+ now. It concerns me of this charging behavior. This was his first outing with strangers and strange dogs. Any insight would help

    • shibashake says

      It sounds like meeting so many new people and new dogs may be a bit much, especially for a first outing.

      With my dogs, I have found that it is best to start the socialization process in a more controlled setting, and then only very slowly increase the environmental challenge over time.

      For example, I start by introducing my puppy to other healthy puppies in a controlled class context. Then, when my puppy is fully vaccinated, we start to go on neighborhood walks and only meet single friendly dogs briefly, and so on. I ignore and move on if the other dog is too excited, not in good control, or does not have loose body posture. I also ignore and move on if my dog is stressed, or overly excited.

      When both dogs are calm and relaxed, then the possibility of a successful greeting is much greater. The more successful greetings a puppy has, the more confident he will become, and the more he will learn to associate other dogs with positive outcomes. If a successful greeting is not possible, then I just move on and create a neutral experience.

      We also did a lot of desensitization exercises with our Shiba Inu. Desensitization helped him to gain confidence, helped to raise his reactivity threshold, and also taught him new ways to deal with the stress of meeting new dogs.

  189. laura says

    I have a 22 month old male border collie, he is extremely smart, does agility, has 4 walks/jogs a day… has 2 ‘trick’ sessions per day… so he is well exercised and will still try to bring the lead to me at the end of the day… I have read alot of articles on dog aggression as my dog is CONSTANTLY being attacked, and nastily attacked… my dog has only ever responded to an attack twice, never actually biting the other dog but snapping and showing teeth while moving backwards as the other lunges. I only know of one dog that he is completely himself around and comfortable, and even that dog snarls at him and snaps from time to time.

    I was wondering if this could be because my dog is a true typical border collie who believes everything that exists is there to be hearded… he lies down and just stares at them, and when they come over he either stays lay down or sits up, but after about five seconds i notice a change in the other dogs behaviour ( they stand very upright and become twitchy) and then my dog suddenly goes stiff or very twitchy (on the odd ocassion he goes stiff and jumpy first) and the next thing i know my dog is nearly getting torn to pieces and i have to jump in the middle of it and literally take the other dogs bites while blocking my dog who is trying to retreat (99% of the time) obviously i can’t train pure instinct out of my dog (that border collie stare is pretty darn hard to control, even a behaviourist said to me i could train the action of hearding away but not the stare, thats why now he lays still, he used to try and round things up as soon as he seen them), but as soon as he sees another dog he is straight down and refuses to budge, there is no way to get him up you can try to pull him up and he will not move….

    Everyone says he is amazing and one of the nicest dogs they know, he lets puppies bite him etc when they are trying to play and lets children play with his face and open his mouth to see his teeth haha but he just becomes very nervous around most dogs now, could it be because of this stare that he is always getting into trouble? and could it be that he has been attacked so much already at such a young age dog meetings just scare him?
    please help :( i love my dog and i want him to be happy and comfortable while out exercising, i’d take a thousand bites from dogs to protect my dog (i’m definately in double figures now anyway), but i just wish there was something i could do

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, I am not sure I fully understand. Are the dogs that are attacking him unsupervised off-leash dogs?

      With my Shiba Inu, I have found that the key with meeting other dogs, is to make sure to set him up for success.
      – I only let my dog meet calm and friendly dogs (loose body posture) that are well supervised and under good control.
      – Other times, we just ignore, move on, and create neutral experiences.
      – I observe closely during greetings and positively interrupt my dog, so that he refocuses on me and does not get over excited.
      – As soon as I see the beginning of any stress or tension, I will quickly end the greeting and move on.

      As you say, many negative experiences will teach a dog to fear other dogs, see them as a threat, and/or associate them with stress and anxiety.

      Shiba Sephy can be pretty high-strung, so it is very important for me to prevent negative meetings. In addition, I help him to reassociate other dogs with positive outcomes through controlled desensitization exercises.

      Here is a bit more on our experiences with off-leash dogs.

  190. Caitlin says

    My name is Caitln. I have a dog, Harry who is 5, Two Cats, one is. 18 and the other is 16. We recently rescued a dog through a family friend in October. She is 3 years old and what appears to be a mix of Pointer, Spaniel and Boxer. Her owners left her outside and was never allowed inside the house. She spent Winter, And Summer outside with nothing more than a old dog house for shade.
    For the most part she is well behaved. However, she chases the cats and I believe she tries to eat them. My cats hide and avoid her for the most part. My cat who gets along with our Golden Retriver is terrified of the new dog, hissing and growling whenever she is near.
    Lucy, our new dog, gets along fine with other people and our own dog.
    However, recently she has become aggressive towards other dogs, except the one she lives with. In the car she will bark and growl at another dog going by, same with when walking. Recently at a dog groomers she attacked another dog. The dog was older and had a tumor on its back apparently. It ended up with a scratch on its ears and two puncture wounds on its neck and growled at the other dogs.
    A few months ago we went out of town and took her to a dog hotel. Apparently she got along fine with the other dogs.
    We have some trouble walking her do to the fact she pulls, Harnesses don’t work, we have a choke collar that works somewhat.

    We really need help before she hurts another dog. She is a sweet girl and loves people. We really don’t want another incident.

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba Inu, I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises to help raise his reactivity threshold towards other dogs. Desensitization teaches him to better cope with his stress, and helps him to reassociate other dogs with positive outcomes. With desensitization, it is *very* important to do training in a controlled environment and start with a weakened version of the stimulus. With other dogs, we can use distance to weaken the strength of the stimulus. In this way, our dog will still be able to listen to us, and learn from the experience. Then, as we make progress, we can very slowly increase the challenge.

      I describe what I did in the desensitization section above.

      With dog-to-dog aggression issues, getting help from a professional trainer can also be very helpful.
      http://www.apdt.com/pet-owners/choosing-a-trainer/

      As for cats, I do not have any cats at home, so this is not something that I spent a lot of time on with my dogs. Here is an article from the ASPCA on introducing a cat to a new dog.

  191. Lynn says

    My dog is a 5-yr, 55lb, spayed female German Shepherd, and it would take a dissertation to fully explain her behaviors – she is hyper, nervous, anxious, sensitive, fearful, very smart – and very aggressive towards dogs smaller than her. Not just little dogs – any dog smaller than her. Big dogs, same size dogs, she’s nervous and anxious – but the smaller the dog, the faster and more aggressive the reaction (when I don’t catch it in time). The closer the distance, the more aggressive the reaction too, but I see this small-dog aggression even from a distance.

    Last week, a loose half-grown puppy ran up to us – the puppy was pretty neutral, friendly and curious. It wasn’t until the puppy and my dog were sniffing (appropriately) that I could see the puppy was about 10lbs lighter than mine – and it was like seeing a light switched in my dog an instant later when she realized it too, from cautiously friendly sniffing to tail-up, hackles-up, nipping-bullying, and then the other dog owner got ahold of her dog and they left.

    I can’t ask you to diagnose or fix things via internet, but I am curious whether this is something you’ve seen – small-ER dog aggression? What is behind it other than prey drive (since these small dogs are rarely running)? I don’t want to humanize too much, but could it be along the lines of cowardice/bullying like I’m thinking?

    The other significant piece to her dog-aggression is that when I step in, she steps back – which is to say, when we’ve been charged by truly aggressive dogs (three different instances I can recall, one of which bit my dog on the tail) – and I get angry and roar commands at the other dog – my dog doesn’t act aggressive at all, she just stands there and watches. Beyond knowing her usual nervousness, that tells me that fear factors into her reactions to other dogs (and probably that my pack-leader efforts are not enough to overcome her anxiety/aggression on a day-to-day basis). At the same time, inside the house she is calm, quiet, and obedient – I do not have dominance issues with her, or destruction issues, and I’ve weaned her off the separation anxiety.

    I’ve never owned a dog as high-strung as she is, and I’m constantly trying to read more and learn more about what I can do to fix things – unfortunately, I think I’m at the point where I need to pay a trainer for one-on-one time with a calm dog in a secure space, and that’s tough to afford. I’d be happy to hear any words of wisdom you can offer.

    • shibashake says

      Both my Huskies are more reactive towards certain small dogs. As you say, running can trigger prey drive, but any kind of fast movement can do the same. Some of the small dogs that we meet like moving quickly back and forth, they stare, and do high-pitch barking. This type of behavior can also trigger prey drive.

      Energy is also very important. My dogs are very good at picking up my energy, the energy of other dogs, as well as the energy of their owners. For example, my Huskies remain calm when everyone has calm energy. However, if the other dog is fearful/over-excited, or if the other owner is fearful/over-excited, then that will likely get them excited as well.

      Some dogs may use aggression because they are fearful of other dogs or are intolerant of rude dogs that invade their space. Here is a bit more on my experiences with rude greeting behavior.

      This article by Suzanne Clothier also illustrates rude greeting behavior very well.
      http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/he-just-wants-say-hi

      Desensitization exercises can help to raise a dog’s reactivity threshold, help her better cope with stress, help her gain confidence, and help her reassociate an undesirable stimulus with positive outcomes.

      However, it is also important to protect our dogs from bad greetings. I try to always protect my dogs from rude dogs and also from people who do not have good energy. Sometimes, that is not possible with off-leash dogs that are not properly supervised, but I do my best.

      I make sure to set my dogs up for success, and only attempt greetings which I am sure will produce a positive outcome. If I am even slightly unsure, I just ignore and move on. Neutral encounters are much better than a failed greeting.

  192. Shanina says

    I need some help. I live in Germany and it is an off leash culture here. When owners take their dogs on walks they are off leash and run through open parks or on the street. The dogs will in turn come up to my Shih Tzu mix. She does not like it when they sniff her bottom and she will lunge forward and go after the other dog, sometimes viciously. She does have some ‘friends’ that we see on a regular basis and enjoys those encounters. What do I do, when a dog comes bounding up to my dog??? She gets nervous and there are situations when I can’t just walk quickly by the other dog.

    Thanks!