by Pete Zarria
Dear Mr. Katz:
I recently purchased your book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” and have tried very hard to curb my dog Honey’s aggressions, which I have now recognized as both fear and food aggression… after reading your book.
But instead of better, I fear it is getting worse.
We adopted her from the age of 2-3 months, and she was fine in the beginning. Very loving and extremely hyperactive. The hyperactivity continues, and she still jumps up at anyone coming near the house. She seems to fear tall men, especially if they have anything in their hands, like a garden rake or spade, and she backs away from strangers, even small children. She is afraid. She gets aggressive with anyone she senses is afraid of dogs, and she has gone for them, making it worse for them, of course! She becomes aggressive with anyone who passes her by when any food is around, and she will growl and snarl at them, telling them in effect that the food is hers, so hands off!
To crown it all off, she snarled and growled at me today when I went up to stroke her, which she has not done before. I have always tried to correct her, either by the leash, or we have a muzzle which we correct her with, and failing that, I will put her in her crate as a punishment. I am not a novice with a dog. Before Honey, we had the most wonderful shepherd/husky dog, who was similarly abandoned, and I never had one problem with him – he was wonderful. I have taken honey to obedience classes – She does sit and stay, also goes down when she is instructed to.
I feel that I have done everything possible to alleviate her aggression, but it doesn’t seem to work. I have two daughters who both pour love on her too, and quite frankly, I am afraid one day that she will become vicious – Can you please give me some advice, because I do not want to have to have her put down.
I have tried everything you recommend in your book, including spitting in her food, and making her wait to eat last. But I must be doing something wrong! I know mixed breeds aren’t your favorite, but please make an exception in my case. I love dogs, and hate to be beaten. I am also English, and you must know that we are softies when it comes to animals!
I await your reply in haste!
First, let me point out that I share my home with a mixed breed.
And yes… I like him. A whole lot! His name is Forbes and he is one of the most compatible dogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with.
To be honest, I have a feeling that your dog’s issues are very much a result of poor genetics and weak nerves.
But before jumping to any conclusions, you must first recognize that all of the information you’ve droned on about provides me with NONE of the information I need in order to help you.
So… what do I need? I need to know what happens when you correct the dog? Does she continue to act aggressive? Does she stop immediately? Does she try to bite you? Does she go submissive? And once you get her to pay attention to you, what’s happened once you’ve started to create new/positive associations with the stimulus, as described in the book?
These are all of the questions you need to be asking yourself. As well as:
– Is my timing on the money? Is the dog associating my corrections with the behavior (the aggression).
– Am I being consistent? (Be honest… if the dog isn’t getting a firm correction EVERY TIME she exhibits the behavior, then it’s no wonder that you’re not getting the results you seek.)
– Are my corrections motivational? If the distraction/stimulus is more motivational than your correction, then you’ll never get any results. You’ll know that your correction is motivational when the dog stops looking at the stimulus and starts looking at you.
Please let me know. However, judging on what you’ve described I would not be surprised if this is mostly the results of poor genetics and weak nerves. And in which case, you will never be able to overcome the dog’s genetics, so the dog should either be put to sleep or confined to such a lifestyle that she only comes in contact with you and people that she does not show the aggression towards. But before you make any snap decisions I would recommend consulting with a professional who can evaluate the dog for you. It’s impossible to give an accurate assessment without seeing the mutt. Err… dog.
That’s all for now, folks!
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