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I have a female lab/border collie/ hound mix. I've had her for a little over three weeks now. She came from a local shelter and the only information we were given is that she was about 1 year old and brought in as a stray. She's been to the vet already and was declared healthy.

Overall my pup is great. She is well behaved, plays with her toys all the time, she's nondestructive, immensely friendly to both my boyfriend, me, our roommates, and my mother. She's housebroken and knows basic commands. She shows no food aggression and plays nicely with other dogs.

However, when we got her she had absolute no manners on a leash and was constantly pulling. Through research and the purchase of an easy walk harness, I've been able to get her leash walking to a more acceptable level although it still needs work.

Here comes the real point of the post. My dog has fear based aggression towards other adults. I've noticed that it is mostly males, as well as tall females. It involves growling, her ears pull back, and she barks as well. She will make attempts to lunge at the person but does not actually do so even when off a leash, it's more threatening in natural. However, as soon as the person she is having an issue with sits down, she immediately rushes over to sniff them and seems to calm even to the point where her tail is wagging and she is licking the person's hand. Whenever the person gets back up again, it resumes. If they leave and come back, it's as if she forgot who they were entirely. This has occurred both within my apartment as well as in other people's homes. This occurs while on walks but in those cases I merely have to distract her and attempt to keep moving along. She's not a mean pup but I don't doubt her ability to be mean and I do not wish for this to continue.

For now, I say "no" and "calm." I instruct the other person to not make any sudden movements and to sit if possible. On walks, I attempt to relax her by getting her to sit for a few moments. I praise her highly when she walks past someone without having a fit of barking and growling. I'm wondering what else to do. As I believe this is fear based aggression, I am uncertain how to or even if it's entirely possible to "untrain" it. As I don't know her history whatsoever, her fear may be justified but her behaviors are still scary to me. The last thing I would ever want is for her to bite someone.
 

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I agree... maybe she was abused by tall males ??? Will never know, but you can counter condition:
1. Get a friend to sit in your living room then bring in the dog. If she sniffs with no aggression, ask the friend to toss her 3 treats, one at a time.
2. Have him toss a treat and stand up. When she freaks, have him sit and toss her a treat when she calms down.
3. Then have him stand and toss a treat over her head, then another, then a third, and finally just hold one gently in his hand, while ignoring her, so she can approach with no attention... even when she takes the treat.
4. Continue ignoring her until she nuzzles his hand.

5. If she will never take a treat, under any circumstances, I have no suggestions....but I think you can train her that a sitting and standing person is both friendly...
 

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I think what you're doing is a good start, and hanksimon has good advice as well.

I'd like to add that 3 weeks is a short period of time. She's still settling in and it takes a minimum of 6 weeks for an adopted dog to really settle in and start showing their true personality. It took my dog about 6 months. So some stuff you're seeing now may not be as big an issue in a few months, and other things may pop up. Just keep up the kind of training you're doing and remember that she's stressed and confused and needs a little patience.
 

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Along with the great suggestions from hanksimon I would put a leash on her whenever someone that fits the type is coming over. Make sure you don't keep tension on the leash (pulling against her), and anytime she makes an aggressive move at all do a quick snap to correct (not punish). Amaryliss also is right, it can take quite awhile for them to settle in especially if they come from an abusive home.
 

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Along with the great suggestions from hanksimon I would put a leash on her whenever someone that fits the type is coming over. Make sure you don't keep tension on the leash (pulling against her), and anytime she makes an aggressive move at all do a quick snap to correct (not punish). Amaryliss also is right, it can take quite awhile for them to settle in especially if they come from an abusive home.
How is the quick snap not to punish? The only reason it wouldn't be a punishment would be if it didn't decrease the behavior. Sometimes when dogs get a collar pop when they are looking at something/somebody, they come to associate that with what they are looking at in an undesirable way. Much better to set up a different emotional state/behavior with something like Leslie McDevitt's "Look at That" game (from the book "Control Unleashed")
 

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Corrections are punishment. Do not punish a fearful dog, it will increase the stress and fear. You need to change her emotional state, not punish her expression of that state.
 

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punishment and correction are not the same thing. it is in the attitude you have. Dog's are very aware of their owners state of mind and if you react to "pay back" the dog it is counterproductive, if you are doing it to show her what is unacceptable behavior they learn. I'm certainly not claiming that my suggestion is the only method that will work, and it may not work on every dog, but it certainly worked for me. :)
 

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punishment and correction are not the same thing. it is in the attitude you have. Dog's are very aware of their owners state of mind and if you react to "pay back" the dog it is counterproductive, if you are doing it to show her what is unacceptable behavior they learn. I'm certainly not claiming that my suggestion is the only method that will work, and it may not work on every dog, but it certainly worked for me. :)
In behavioral science, there is no such thing as "correction". If you pop a leash and it decreases the likelihood of that behavior happening again, it is punishment. It may not be harsh punishment, but it can still have fallout and make the situation worse. (Hey! any time there tall men around, I get popped! I better keep them away.) If it doesn't decrease the frequency of the behavior, it is simply nagging.
 

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Interesting behavioral science comment about the "correction". The truth to the matter is most behavioral science about dogs come from a "positive training" outlook. If you're all about giving your dogs treats to train good behavior, how exactly do treats work for bad behavior? Funny when the word correction is used, "positive" people get all upset about it. You want to get upset, go down to your local shelter and see how many dogs have gotten left behind because "positive training" was unsuccessful and the owners no longer knew what to do. Besides feeding, have you ever seen a mother or father dog give their pups food so they will follow them, stop rough housing or stop being a devil pup......didn't think so. They "correct" them with a bite to the neck or nudge and that form of communication is understood. Correction is understood, abuse is not. "Positve" people really need to start understanding the difference between the two. Problem today is too many people treat their dogs as humans, when that happens that puts a dog (animal) in a weird place. When a dog is left to make its own decisions of what is right or wrong, that is when behavior issues start. Just because your dog can sit, speak, lay down and shake, that does not make the dog obedient. Treats to train is more like a bribery system, it's something you've never seen a mom/dad dog do to get their pup to listen, so then why do humans do it? Nothing wrong with giving your dog treats, just not in training situations. Reward with a good boy/girl, quick head rub, all our dogs want is our attention anyway. Good luck and thumbs up for saving your dog from the shelter!!!!
 

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Interesting behavioral science comment about the "correction". The truth to the matter is most behavioral science about dogs come from a "positive training" outlook
so? If a leash pop works, how is it NOT punishment? Correction is a weasel word that can mean almost anything from a raised eyebrow to a 2x4 along side the head. It tells me nothing, but I'm sure it makes some people feel better to convince themselves that their leash pops aren't a mild form of punishment (Of course, if it doesn't change the behavior, it's not punishment, but simply nagging.)

If you're all about giving your dogs treats to train good behavior, how exactly do treats work for bad behavior?
Really? REALLY? you don't even know that and you call yourself a dog trainer? You can classically condition a dog to view something they formerly perceived as a threat as an opportunity to earn reward. You can operantly condition an incompatible behavior to replace the behavior you don't want. Of course, it's not always treats. Premack is a powerful tool. You can use anything the learner finds desirable.


Funny when the word correction is used, "positive" people get all upset about it. You want to get upset, go down to your local shelter and see how many dogs have gotten left behind because "positive training" was unsuccessful and the owners no longer knew what to do.
Interesting. Things must be much different in Arizona. When I was a volunteer trainer at our metropolitan open access shelter, it appeared to me that the dogs I worked with had no previous introduction to the clicker. In fact the majority of them appeared to have very little training of any kind. That's more likely to land a dog in a shelter than either traditional or science based training. I actually know many people who lean more to the traditional end who are very effective trainers. I do not hold up the ineffective trainers as examples of what that sort of training should look like. There are also some people who are ineffective clicker or primarily positive trainers. Some people call themselves "positive" because they don't want to be responsible for setting rules and boundaries. But that doesn't make them good examples of it.


Besides feeding, have you ever seen a mother or father dog give their pups food so they will follow them, stop rough housing or stop being a devil pup......didn't think so. They "correct" them with a bite to the neck or nudge and that form of communication is understood. Correction is understood, abuse is not. "Positve" people really need to start understanding the difference between the two. Problem today is too many people treat their dogs as humans, when that happens that puts a dog (animal) in a weird place. When a dog is left to make its own decisions of what is right or wrong, that is when behavior issues start. Just because your dog can sit, speak, lay down and shake, that does not make the dog obedient. Treats to train is more like a bribery system, it's something you've never seen a mom/dad dog do to get their pup to listen, so then why do humans do it?
I don't treat my dogs as humans, but I also don't expect them to be stupid enough to think I am a dog. For one thing, dogs are much subtler in their body language and more timely with their discipline than even very dog-savvy humans. Most humans trying to mimic dog behavior to be the "alpha" look more like a mid-level bully than an actual leader to be respected. Additionally, what dogs want from other dogs is not what I want from a dog. If all I wanted was to stop a dog from behaving a certain way this very moment, and to leave me alone, acting like a dog might, just might, be effective. But the things I want from a dog are very different, and in canine society might be considered rude. I want a dog who can walk inside my space bubble (dogs who have a clue generally give other dogs plenty of space). I want a dog who can confidently maintain eye contact with me (would get a dog's clock cleaned with a higher ranking dog) I want a dog who will barrel straight in to me when I call, and end up very close to me (would create a problem with both higher ranking and less secure dogs) So, why would I want a dog to respond to me as they would to another dog?
 

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Pawz, I apologize for the insult, wasn't my intention. When I originally posted, I was just looking to give the poster another outlook. I guess we could go back and forth all day, but there really is no point. You have your way, I have mine. I should have never gone off about clickers and treats, if you are doing it right and it works, so be it. I do apologize. As long as you are saving dogs, I respect (just about) any method. Please accept my apology and lets move on from this.
 

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Pawz, I apologize for the insult, wasn't my intention. When I originally posted, I was just looking to give the poster another outlook. I guess we could go back and forth all day, but there really is no point. You have your way, I have mine. I should have never gone off about clickers and treats, if you are doing it right and it works, so be it. I do apologize. As long as you are saving dogs, I respect (just about) any method. Please accept my apology and lets move on from this.
You asked some questions. I answered them with my opinion/experience. I have nothing against you if you don't make uninformed statements about a method I know to work very well. I don't require you to use it and you are entitled to your own opinion. But if you make statements which are not true, you can expect several people here to be willing to point that out.
 

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Really? REALLY? you don't even know that and you call yourself a dog trainer? You can classically condition a dog to view something they formerly perceived as a threat as an opportunity to earn reward. You can operantly condition an incompatible behavior to replace the behavior you don't want. Of course, it's not always treats. Premack is a powerful tool. You can use anything the learner finds desirable.

[...]

I don't treat my dogs as humans, but I also don't expect them to be stupid enough to think I am a dog. For one thing, dogs are much subtler in their body language and more timely with their discipline than even very dog-savvy humans. Most humans trying to mimic dog behavior to be the "alpha" look more like a mid-level bully than an actual leader to be respected. Additionally, what dogs want from other dogs is not what I want from a dog. If all I wanted was to stop a dog from behaving a certain way this very moment, and to leave me alone, acting like a dog might, just might, be effective. But the things I want from a dog are very different, and in canine society might be considered rude. I want a dog who can walk inside my space bubble (dogs who have a clue generally give other dogs plenty of space). I want a dog who can confidently maintain eye contact with me (would get a dog's clock cleaned with a higher ranking dog) I want a dog who will barrel straight in to me when I call, and end up very close to me (would create a problem with both higher ranking and less secure dogs) So, why would I want a dog to respond to me as they would to another dog?
BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN. Absolutely spot-on.

To the OP, if you "correct" your dog when they display fear/aggression towards someone you can absolutely get a dog that says, "Tall people are bad. I should do everything in my power to keep them away." Teach your dog that tall people (or whatever she's afraid of) really means good things are going to happen. If she was abused by someone, you're not going to get results over night. Now, I'm not saying to reward your dog while she's going nuts because you shouldn't. What you should do is never let her get upset about another tall person ever again. I know what you're thinking: If it was that easy, she wouldn't do it now! Really examine the situation. Keep her on a leash and be ready to train whenever the need arises. If you have tall friends, ask for their help, but don't overwhelm your dog. Start with short training sessions (quit before the dog does) and always end on a positive note.

Yes, it takes time, but it works. That's exactly what we did with Colby and her herding issues (with cars) and what we're doing now with her dog aggression.
 

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I have a similar issue, with my dog RUSTY (POM/CHI), I rescued him from a unfriendly home, he was so scared and shaking. I brought him home to a happier place 3 yrs ago and he is the joy of my life. He wants to protect me here at home on our street. He barks and snarls at every man and anything (except cars, trucks) on wheels, skate boards, bikes, baby strollers. It has gotten worse this past few months, I think he would bite. We can go to parks, dog parks, walk the streets else where he doesn't act like this, just here at home.
He likes to take cat do-do out and eat it, I have stopped him before even taken it out of his mouth. TODAY... He tried to bite me, he snarled and growled at me. I gave him the cold shoulder for about an hour.
I acquired another pom/chi a month ago, Rusty doesn't seem to mind him here, But I wonder, since MILO has come Rusty has had a hair cut, they both went to boarding, and we all go on walks together. I spend time with Rusty in the back yard like I have always done. But I wonder if he is angry at me for MILO being here.
I dont know what to do about the aggressiveness out on our streets. Any ideas?? Thank you
 
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