Can a shock collar be used to train a dog with aggressive problems?

Jun 06

Robin,
I was wondering if you use e collars in dealing with aggression?  If so I was wondering if you can shed some light on the subject.   I also wanted to take a minute to say thank you.  Your information has really changed the entire way that I go about e collar training.  I can not thank you enough!

Thanks,
Tony

The question above came to me a couple days ago and I thought it a great topic to bring to The Truth About Shock Collars blog.

The answer is yes, I do use remote collars as part of the training program when dealing with aggressive dogs.  Using the electronic collar as a way to redirect the dogs attention is a large part of the success in how I go about rehabilitating dogs with aggression issues.

I realize that answer is in contrast to much of the information circulating on the internet. Warnings about NOT using a shock collar to deal with aggressive dogs abound. My guess is those warnings come from people who don’t use the tool on a regular basis and therefore have rather limited knowledge of how to do so properly.

Let me point out right off the bat that I don’t advocate putting a shock collar on the dog, waiting for him/her to display their aggressive behaviors and then push the button to punish for those actions. As in “That’ll teach Fido not to chase after other dogs!” Sorry but that thought process belongs in the idiots guide to dog training 101.

Unfortunately it is what some people do. And then when the aggressive behavior gets worse or the dog yelps and runs away those same people blame the tool rather than accepting the responsibility that they did not know what they were doing in the first place.

Seriously folks, if I go to the auto parts store, buy the best wrench set on the shelves, come home and lift the hood of my new Honda Element and start tinkering with the engine…..do I get to blame the wrench manufacturer when my car won’t run properly anymore? I’d say I was the problem, not the tool.

So lets discuss the highlights of how to incorporate the use of a remote collar when working with dogs displaying aggression problems.

The first and most important step is to lay a proper foundation of obedience training with the remote collar. The purpose of the obedience is to give the dog “something else to focus on” (ie. a job) when presented with situations that normally evoke aggressive responses. The dog should be introduced to the collar through the foundation and attention exercises of learning to follow on leash, come when called and stay in one place. I also typically teach a *look* or *watch* command to dogs dealing with aggression. In this way we can create higher attentiveness to the owner/handler when the dog is faced with situations where we do not want to allow him/her to focus on the trigger. This initial training should be started in situations that do not trigger the aggressive responses in the dog. It would not be fair for the dog to be learning something brand new when under the duress of those situations.

Once the dog has a solid understanding of the obedience we can begin to expose him/her to the triggers. The collar is used for the obedience commands while the dog is in those situations that previously brought on an aggressive response.  It is important to note that the collar is NOT being used to punish the dog for any aggressive response (barking, growling, lunging etc) Rather the collar is used to prompt and enforce an obedience command. The obedience is used PROACTIVELY before the dog reacts improperly. In this way we are redirecting the dogs attention away from the source of tension and back to the handler and the *job* the dog is being asked to perform.

Example: with a dog that is highly reactive to other dogs (growling, lunging, barking etc) I use the collar to enforce a Heel command and teach the dog he/she must simply walk politely near, around and past other dogs. There is no punishment for being reactive. The e-collar is used to prompt attentiveness to the handler and the Heel command.

NOTE: this is a process that is incremental and advances in level of challenge in respect to how quickly the dog is grasping the concept and being successful. If the dog can’t walk politely past a dog who is 15 feet away, don’t push him to walk within 5 feet. The goal is to keep the dog BELOW threshold and give him/her success at walking politely in the presence of other dogs.

One of the tremendous advantageous of training with a remote collar when dealing with these types of dogs is that it is far less subject to human emotion getting in the way and further escalating the problems. The handler can remain much more neutral in body language than when using other training collars or halters that require physical force.

The remote collar also has the advantage of being useful at a distance. Being able to enforce a Down command from 50 yards away, or recall a dog who is on a sprint to chase a jogger is much more achievable to the average dog owner than through any other  training method I know of

So the role that the e-collar has in dealing with aggression issues is that of the attention getter. The collar is used to prompt attention and hold the dog attentive to command even in the midst of those *distractions* (Other dogs, people etc) that cause the dog to react with barking, lunging, snapping etc.

I want to point out there are many other considerations when working with aggressive dogs and I don’t suggest the average pet owner go it alone. Find a professional who has hands on experience and a solid track record of success to help you.

In my years of dealing with aggression cases I have seen many things influence the outcome of aggression cases. Possible health issues (thyroid, structure problems, ear infections, deafness, and sight problems to name a few) should be ruled out by a veterinarian.

Dogs that are displaying fear aggressive issues need confidence building and desensitization exercises as part of their program. It is important to know how to properly time the use of food and other reward markers to help build confidence and better behavior with these dogs.

And there are cases where genetics are playing a major influence.

The most important consideration in determining the likelihood of success is the owner. There is no tool that is magic and will solve all the problems. And there are no absolutes in training. Each case is different. It takes consistency and dedication to help dogs that are struggling with aggression issues. The underlying cause should be understood, the triggers identified and then a plan of treatment determined.

The e-collar can be a large part of the process by being able to effectively re-direct the dog’s attention. Personally I would no longer want to work with aggression cases if I could not use the e-collar to help with the process. In my time specializing in this training I have found that the dogs learn much faster, there is FAR less stress on the dog and on the handler and total rehabilitation is much more likely due to those factors.

Here is a link to one of the many success stories we have in dealing with e-collar training and aggression cases.

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71 comments

  1. Lari Graver /

    i would love help in finding someone in my area (Enon, Ohio) who has experience working with dogs with aggression problems and the e collar. We have had a pet behaviourist who could do nothing with him, he responds well to our trainer at the local pet store but she does not believe in shock collars. He is aggressive towards all people (will not let anyone into our house = has bitten all family members (no one else because we keep a very close eye on him when out ) = he can be aggressive towards other dogs and honestly we are ready to put him down if we cannot find something that works.

    I am interested in trying the ecollar because we cannot distract him once his “teapot starts to boil”

    • There are actually quite a few really skilled people in OH, including Bill who is linked in the blog post. Also take a look here for a list of those who have been through my trainers program.
      http://www.thatsmydog.com/trainers-school/graduates

    • Jennifer /

      I would love to find someone in my area that can provide this training as well. My dog is 80 lbs. and an American Pitbull Terrier/ English Staffordshire/ American Bull terrier mix. He is a sweet dog with lots of love yet and protective. He does have aggression issues with other people and animals though. He is great with his puppy “brother” (weighs about 15 lbs) but barks aggressively at neighbors and neighbor animals. We can’t take him for walks, and we can’t take him to dog parks. He is extremely hyper and when excited does not listen to anything you say! I have a three month old baby and he is very difficult to live with sometimes as he will run to the window and bark and jump at it aggressively at the sight of any animal or person. I need help. I live in Vancouver, Washington and I’m about 15 minutes from Portland, Oregon. Is there a trainer in my area you could recommend?

      • Hi Jennifer. The only person I know of in WA is Kate at Fast Pup Dog Training
        even if it is a bit of a drive I would give her a call. She’s been using e-collars for a long time and I suspect could help you out.

        good luck,
        Robin

  2. Shaimaa Sayed /

    Hi there,
    I own a 3 year old purebred American Pitbull. I got him as a rescue at 13 weeks (found him near a dumpster left for dead) My husband and I spent nearly 3000$ in vet bills to get him up to par. He is fixed, and very well exersized. We used to do a monthly trip to the dog park for social interaction, and he played well with all dogs. 1 year ago we were walking in an area close to our neighborhood, and we were both attacked by a stray dog. The dog had bit my right leg, and after “kicking” him off me he latched onto Blue. I had Blue by his leash, and didnt let him go to “defend” or bite back. A passer by came to our aid, and helped up literally strike this dog several times until he released Blue and ran off. It was horrifying, I was covered in blood, Blue was covered, and even worse his eye was bleeding and I thought he was going to lose it. after 1500$ in vet bills, police and animal control interigation, he was fine, but now… if he sees another dog, doesnt matter alpha or not, small or big, he is in attack mode, and nothing I do will snap him out of this “red zone” he is a strong breed… and he knows this, when we are at home, he is the most amazing dog, and when we are walking he is great too.. wonderful with people, but once a dog comes into his vision its like hes a different animal. I cant say I have tried everything because that would be a lie, but as a puppy he went thru obidience and agility training, than as he matured (after 1 year) he did his phase 2 in obidience and agility. He is very well trained, but all those commands and work is thrown out the window when he sees a dog. I reside in Calgary, Canada, and even hired a “personal” training for Blue, with little success, and lots of money. I am wondering if the e-collar is going to be my last hope to have that wonderful balanced dog I used to have….. Its unfortunate already as it is, as he is discriminated against alot (pitbull)…. I truly enjoyed your artical and hope that there is some more insight you can give me inregards to helping Blue and myself with e-collar, or know of anyone local. Thank you for listening and reading my story!

    Shaimaa and Blue – Calgary, AB Canada

    • I am afraid I do not know of anyone in Calgary. I know some people in the Vancouver area and in Toronto area.
      If you send me an e-mail through the contact form on my business website ThatsMyDog! I’ll see if I can find someone.
      If you can not find anyone close enough consider my DVD’s “Just Right Training”. They are also on my website. Let’s see if we can find you help for this problem. I do think an e-collar with proper training would make a considerable difference for you and Blue

      • Krista Hogg /

        Have you considered Tyson Hainsworth at Dog Squad? He’s a little north of the city, but well versed in ecollars and training.

      • Stephanie /

        I am in Joliet, IL and I am at the end I bought a training collar and I am just waiting for it to come in. My dog has brought me to the ground and has gone after other dogs and I need help. Is there someone that anyone knows that would be able to help with her and that is not expensive?

        • Hi Stephanie,

          You can check the “find a trainer” link here on the blog site to see if there is anyone near you. Expense is relative, so I am not sure what you are or are not willing to spend to get some professional help. You might consider my Just Right Dvd set if you want some guidance on doing the collar conditioning and basic obedience on your own.

  3. Alex Richards /

    My dog is a 3 year old black lab mix, we think it is some kind of terrier but we are unsure. We had a trainer come over to our house to train him but it has only helped with some of his issues. He has gotten a little better about letting people into our house, but he will bark and growl when there is someone at the door and when we go camping he will lunge, bark, and growl at other dogs who walk by our campsite or our beach blanket. He does ok with people, for the most part, but he has lunged and barked at people if he doesn’t know them and they come to close to whoever is walking him.

    Our vet had said that he is protective of the family and that we have to teach him that we are in charge, but it only works when there aren’t any dogs or new people around. When our dog gets going there is nothing we can do. When he starts barking he doesn’t listen to a thing we say. I’m not ready to get rid of my dog, when he is home he is the best dog in the world he listens and is really sweet. But when other people and dogs come into the picture he just ignores everything we say.

  4. Amy Derdall /

    Hi there,

    It’s great to see an article offering useful advise on how to use these collars. Would you be able to give me a couple of good brands of shock collars?

    Thanks!
    Amy-Ontario

  5. Hello and thanks for the article. I was searching for more on lessons with the ecollar but found your article informative to say the least. I was compelled to write because I just purchased an ecollar and in regards to looking for brands I’ll name mine it’s a Petsafe ecollar, purchased at our local Petsmart pet store chain around here. I have a two year old German shephard and have gone through all the training with her as well as a personal trainer that gave us 6 private and 4 group lessons. Sasha is a smart dog but she seemed to only listen on leash or with a treat and performed all basic commands with ease. But take the leash off and she would have a mind of her own. Not to mention our biggest problem was her aggression towards other dogs. Still haven’t corrected that but only because we’ve only had the collar a couple days. But in regards to any questions about the ecollar and if you should use it. I can’t say how pleased I am with the one I bought for like $179.00 I have learned through expereince that the ecollar is more humain than any choke or pinch collar. I’ve used both and I hated the agression and force that had to be used at times when raising and training our dog. With the ecollar it’s a gentle static charge that gets thier attention real fast. You leave the setting on such so the dog does not yipe. if the dog yipes it’s set to high. We used to have to keep Sasha penned up in the Kitchen because she would just get into everything if left unattended. 3 days with the ecollar and she is a completely new dog and it’s just the beginning. I highly recommend using an ecollar for any training. I wish I did this day one! What a lot of wasted aggravation not using it all this time.

  6. When my Mother passed away, I inherited her nine year old German Shepherd, Chad. When I say inherited, I mean that I took the dog because I cared about him and wanted him to enjoy living out the rest of his life. He hasn’t been neutered, and is head strong. I never have “trouble” until the situation occurs where I drop something, or there is an object the dog wants to “get”. Then if you verbally scould him, or raise your voice to imply you aren’t happy with his actions, he will growl and has shown agressive behavior as in coming towards me. He has never bitten me, yet, and I think I need to fix this problem NOW. My only hope is with the ecollar. Any suggestions or comments are welcome. I have no intentions of giving this dog away, so I have to correct the problem somehow. My husband is not happy with the situation, and I am afraid he might be more prone to hurt Chad than me. You simply cannot have a dog biting the hand that feeds it. Thanks for this information, and for listening to me. I am planning on buying the PetSafe big dog ecollar. I hope it does the trick!

    • Hi Ann,

      I would strongly suggest you find a professional to help you with this situation. If the dog is 9 years old he has probably had quite a bit of practice being successful with this behavior. Which means when you attempt to change it you are at risk of getting bit. You need someone to guide you through the proper steps of teaching him to move away from things and to relinquish items (drop) if he does get them.
      You SHOULD NOT put the e-collar on and immediately use it in these challenging situations, that would set both of you up for failure. In using the e-collar to help you train to overcome this behavior you FIRST need to do the e-collar conditioning exercises so that Chad understands how to properly respond to stimulation and command. This means you need to teach him to come when called, go to a place and remain stationary/stay (commonly called a 3 Action introduction) BEFORE you start subjecting him to relinquishing and not guarding objects.
      Once he understands these things you can then use them to redirect his behavior when something drops on the floor. For instance when something drops you call him to come to you (rather than immediately going to retrieve the object) then you have him sit/stay or go to a place so that you can safely go get the object. The goal is to move him away from the object rather than allowing him to remain in proximity and begin to resource guard.
      A good trainer can help you with these things. They can also teach you how to “trade” so that he can learn to drop what he has in exchange for something you give him (treat/toy). This can change his mind about the need to guard resources also. But as I said, I am concerned about someone taking on this type of training without guidance of a pro who has had a number of successes under their belt doing it with other dogs. This is best done with an experienced trainer who can help you remain safe.
      One thing I would suggest immediately is you keep a light leash (drag line) on the dog around the house. In this way you can pick up the end of the leash and move him away from items rather than trying to reach in close to his mouth to take things away.
      Let me know if I can be of further assistance. Also check my website ThatsMyDog.com to see if there is a trainer in your area who can help.

      all the best,
      Robin

      • Thanks Robin! Very good advice. Chad is, and always has been an outside dog and has pretty much had his way until now. He would just be a wonderful dog if he had had professional training years ago. He has always been able to run inside a very large chain link fence, and has never been around other animals. He thinks HE is “the man”. I bought the ecollar today because I felt like I needed to do something quick, before my husband took things into his own hands. Actually, I was a little apprehensive about using it, as I thought it might make him even more aggressive towards me. However, after the first little zap, Chad obeyed my command of “NO” and walked over to me and put his head against me. Now, how could you not love that? Thank you for your input which I think is very good advice. Best regards… Gail

  7. is use of the e-collar for reactivity to all moving objects helpful, or does it only encourage aggression? he is reactive to every triggor–dogs (esp those who are off leash who yap and run at him), mounted horses, bikes on road, cars and trucks. please help–any advice?
    our adopted 1yr old dog was apparently never socialized by his behavior, and its uncertain how much leash time he had. we had one report by transient owners of him being allowed to fight with another dog, but no reported aggression. they thought it was “playful fighting” but they were uninformed.

    • Hi Emma,

      Whether or not use of the e-collar will help or make things worse depends entirely on HOW it is used. If a person straps the e-collar on the dog, waits for the dog to be reactive and then pushes the button as a way to punish the reactive-ness, it is hard to say what the outcome will be. It is possible that the reactive-ness would get increase if the collar was used this way.

      However, if the e-collar is used as a training tool first to teach attention and obedience in non trigger situations and then later used to maintain attention and reinforce the obedience in the presence of the triggers (keeping proximity in mind to keep the dog successful and not over threashold) there is a high level of success that can be achieved relatively quickly.

      If you decide to pursue it I would suggest either getting some help from a professional with good e-collar skills or consider getting my dvd set to help guide you.
      Robin

  8. Hi Emma,

    I use the e-collar/remote collar very effectively with aggression cases. Probably at least 80% of my business is working with reactive dogs. As Robin said, I use the remote collar to teach the obedience foundation exercises so your dog has very reliable obedience and you can later interrupt your dog’s behavior when they become reactive in the presence of triggers. Along with that, I use desentization and counter-conditioning to teach the dog to relax in the presence of triggers as well as look to the handler so that they are not as concerned by their environment.

    I’d highly recommend Robin’s DVDs as a starting point and then make it a point to travel to one of her seminars at her location or where she is speaking or if that’s not possible then consult with a trainer that has graduated from her program.

  9. Etienne de Ligenza /

    Hi my name is Etienne. I have a 2 year old female spayed healthly black lab mix who is very aggressive with other dogs. She was a rescue and started showing signs of aggression after the shelter with dogs. I have a feeling that it is a genetic problem. The problem occurs on initial contact with other dogs, no barking just biting 99% of the time. It happens on the leash and off. The other problem is that I live over seas. Most trainers I have met are far from professional. I have an e collar but I don’t really know how to use it and I am afraid I will make the problem worse. If you could give me any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank You

    Etienne de Ligenza

    • Hello Etienne,

      It would be best to get professional help with this, but I do understand the difficulty in finding a balanced trainer who also has good e-collar skills…My dvd’s can get you started with the e-collar conditioning and basic obedience. That will be a foundation for you and should be done without the distraction of other dogs around first…then After some good conditioning skills and better behavior begin to do more around distractions including other dogs who are under control and at a distance. Then you can then begin a process of desensitizing and counter-conditioning your dog around other dogs and adding closer proximity. IF there is a trainer who is experienced working with a stable pack to help you socialize you may be able to fix the problem. However, without that additional help the best you might hope for is having greater control and therefore being able to keep everyone safer. My dvd’s can be found here http://www.thatsmydogstore.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=5

      Good luck and let me know if I can be of further assistance.
      Robin

  10. Lindsey /

    I have a 90 lb chocolate lab who becomes very aggressive around food. At any other time he is a very sweet dog. Recently he got into my trash can, and I started yelling at him to come here and get out of it. I popped him on his rear end a few times, not hard. He turned around and came at me. I fell to the floor and blocked myself with my hands and arms and he would not stop biting me. I have bruises, gashes, scratches, bite marks, and a deep puncture wound that I had to go see a nurse about. He only stopped when I managed to stand up and scream at the top of my lungs. I expected him to growl and maybe even snap at me, but I never thought he would attack me like he did.

    I have a shock collar and have used it before with him for general training, though it has been a year or so. I want to start using it, specifically to deal with his food aggression, but I am very afraid he will attack me again. For exmple, if he is in the trashcan and I tell him to come here and nick him with a shock, will he come to me or will he attack me? And if he does come will he let me pick up the food or will he try to guard it and get aggressive?

    And I don’t even know where to begin with his food bowl, or if I should even bother. I have to tip toe around him while he eats.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Lindsey,

      The first thing I would advise is to find an professional trainer who is experienced with this sort of problem and get help.
      Secondly, Don’t wait till the dog is in the trash and then use the e-collar to try and call him away etc. This is a problem is going to take a multi-level approach.
      First understand that unless taught from a young age to accept others around their food/things, many dogs will behave possessively and with aggressive behavior. Ideally we teach dogs from the time they are pups and enter our household that it is ok for humans to be near their food/take their food etc.

      At this point you have a dangerous situation, so it needs to be approached systematically and carefully. Again, I suggest you find a professional to help you, but here are a few tips.

      1. I would hand feed your dog for a couple weeks. Absolutely NO free access to a bowl of food. I’d use the kibble as a reward in exchange for the dog doing “things” Those things can be any command/cue or trick you request. Sit, Down, shake or whatever, but a few kibble for each behavior until the meal is done. If the dog doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t eat. A healthy dog won’t starve himself so if he skips a feeding for a day or two, I wouldn’t not worry about that. By feeding his meals this way he begins to understand you are in control of one of the most coveted resources in his life..his food.

      Secondly, for the time being, secure the garbage so he can’t get into it and you find yourself in a difficult situation again.

      Third, Keep a leash or light line on him (5 – 6 feet long) at all times (unless he is crated or you are away) for a few weeks. This gives you a handle to take hold of if you need to move him away from something, rather than physically touching him. He can wear his e-collar around the house too (approx 8 hours/day) and you can use that to assist with the obedience as well (assuming he has been collar conditioned) BUT keep the line on as well.

      Fourth, Begin an obedience routine using the combination of the e-collar & leash. Polish up his recall, sit/stays, down/stays etc. THEN after a getting him back in a better obedience routine, practice around food. For instance a couple small pieces of kibble on the sidewalk that you make him heel past or sit within a few feet. As he is successful you release him to go get the kibble as a reward. He is learning to listen and that the food will be allowed to him with good behavior. (Rather than you just trying to take away coveted resources)

      Have a trainer work with you on “trade” games, starting with less coveted items and working up to things of higher value. For instance I am able to take raw bones from my dogs but this does not happen without a history of the right kind of practice.

      Also teach an “out” or “drop” command (the e-collar can be helpful for this) again starting with less value items and working toward higher value.

      These are some of the things a trainer can work with you on. If at all possible, don’t go it alone on this one. You dog obviously has a high degree of confidence in charging you and biting when it comes to defending what he believes is “his”.
      There may be other routines a trainer will ask you to impliment depending on your lifestyle with him that will help establish you in a better leadership role and help him feel less defensive around food.

      good luck.

      • Lindsey /

        Thank you for your advice and quick reply. I am starting right away. Right now he is quietly sitting next to me with his ecollar and leash on. He is very smart and knows sit, stay, here, and lay down very well. We have practiced those commands today. I tried taking him outside to practice, but he just runs around not caring about the zaps he receives. Next time we are outside I will use a leash too. Anyway I am going to keep working with him and slowly build up to food situations like you suggested. Again thank you!

  11. mandi /

    I was wondering if i could ask a question.
    I have a lab he’s about 5 years old and i also have another lab who is 3 years old.
    My 5 year old lab attacks my younger dog, it happens maybe twice a month and he used to just pin him down and growl at him but now he’s bites him a little.
    I can’t figure out what triggers his aggression towards my younger dog.
    I train both of them as far as general commands, they are crated trained and i exercise them everyday.
    I tried pinning my older dog down when he shows aggression at my other dog, i’ve tried putting him an extra bedroom until he calms down but nothing works.
    He always does it again.
    I’ve tried everything and was thinking of trying a shock collar do you think it would work in this case ? and if so do you have any pointers ?

    • Hi Mandi,

      A remote collar isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem. The role of the e-collar is in developing better obedience and attention to the handler. It isn’t a way to break up a dog fight. It can be effective in stopping one from starting IF you learn how to read the signs that a fight is about to errupt, but if you already have good obedience you should be able to interrupt with or without the e-collar. There is generally a lot to a situation like this and without personally being there to observe, I’m hard pressed to advise.
      I would suggest you find an experienced trainer to help you. Have them access the dogs and I would also have a thorough vet exam to rule out any underlying physical problems. Dogs often attack what they consider “weak” and there are times where one has a medical problem and the other is attacking because they can sense that weakness. Most often though these problems represent a leadership problem in the house with one dog feeling a “right” to discipline or correct the other dog for some “infraction”. These are usually over resources like space/toys/food or access to you and often the signs are obvious to them but subtle to us because it may be just a glance in the wrong direction that is a trigger.
      In those cases, leadership is better established through clear routines and making sure the dogs understand you are in control of all resources, not them. This means you should be able to pet one, feed one, treat one, take toys away, etc without interference of the other (they have to “stay” on a mat or in a down etc) Reward the dog for the stay, switch and work the other etc. This helps but may not be the entire solution…as I said, get help.
      Any pinning, crating etc. AFTER the fact is entirely useless. A dog’s thought must be interrupted rather than his action. If your dog has that look of about to go after the other, that is when you should be interrupting or redirecting. Make sure they are crated when you are gone as you work through this.

  12. Kelly /

    Hi, I really enjoy this blog. I have two whippets. One dog is wonderful with people but aggressive towards other dogs while on leash. The other dog is wonderful with dogs but aggressive towards people, especially strangers. I have been using the e collar on a vibrate mode for my dog aggressive dog, and it has worked wonders. I use it to snap her attention back to heal before she reacts and it works with cats and squirrels as well. I am wondering if this amazing tool can help me with my people aggressive dog. We have seen lots of trainers and behavior specialists and everyone is pretty confident that he is fear aggressive. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Kelly, It is my feeling that the e-collar can be used as PART of comprehensive program to aggression cases, be it dog/dog or dog/human. The key is understanding that stimulation is NOT used as a punishment for the aggressive behavior. The collar can be used as a way to redirect attention to alternative, desirable behavior in the midst of the triggers in order to decrease the dog’s focus on what is scary. This can help expedite the path to success. However that is not the entire solution. You still need to do the desensitizing and counter-conditioning to the fear triggers. There are a lot of variables in working with aggression cases, so I would strongly suggest you find some professional help. There is a list of skilled e-collar folks here; http://www.truthaboutshockcollars.com/find-a-trainer-in-your-area/

  13. Hi
    I have a 5 year old Spoodle who has aggression and separation anxiety issues. Bella has always been a very quick learner and most of the time is fantastic to have around however she can turn very quickly without warning into attack mode, lunges, bares teeth and will bite. Bella’s behaviour has worsened over the past 10 months and I can only put it down to her picking up my emotions which have been all over the place due to a miscarriage and IVF treatment, Bella has got so bad that now our groomer that we have been using for the past 3 years will no longer do her grooming unless sedated. We have always had an issue with grooming and her aggression however this has now got so bad that Bella will not even let me bath her at home without going into full attack mode. We have tried everything, obedience training, private trainers and are now looking to using the e collar. I am desperate to fix the problem because when she is not displaying these behaviour issues is a fantastically loving and loyal dog.
    Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Cheers Pip

    • It is hard to say without seeing the dog Pip. It certainly sounds like you have a very complex situation. I can tell you if you chose to utilize a remote collar, you should get qualified help. Check our trainers list to see if someone is near you. http://www.truthaboutshockcollars.com/find-a-trainer-in-your-area/ The e-collar alone will not be the solution but it may be helpful with some of the problems. There is a lot to be done to counter-condition and desensitize Bella to the handling and grooming issues.

      I would also strongly recommend you look to possible underlying medical issues that may be contributing to these behavior problems. A thorough blood work up, including thyroid (I am a strong advocate of Dr. Jean Dodds work – google her to find out more) Also consider exam by a DVM chiropracter and possible acupuncture. Often there are underlying physical pain/discomfort issue that are not easily visible. Unless a person is trained to detect these musculo-skeletal problems they can go undetected and reek many behavior problems.

      You need a good team to help you with this. I sincerely hope there is someone in your area to start you on a path to success.

  14. Rebecca /

    I have a 4 year old male yorkie, we have been thru 2 different training programs, he will listen and obey commands we give him such as sit, stay, lie down, come here, everything is fine as long as no one comes to our house then all heck breaks loose he goes into attack mode, i have gotten him to lie down on his bed when people come to the home however would not ever be able to let him roam freely and no one would be able to go near him or he will suddenly lunge and bite try to bite them on the leg, as a last resort I was wondering if one of the training collars might help snap him out of this “attack mode” moments, as a last resort was thinking of trying one, do you have any advice on that? thank you.

    • Hi Rebecca,

      I don’t know what to tell you for certain without seeing the dog and working with him. However, I can tell you that if you are considering using a remote collar you need to find an experienced pro to help guide you. The remote collar can have an advantage because of it’s ability to get the dog’s attention from a distance, so you can then be very proactive in diverting him to an acceptable, alternative behavior when needed. Check out the list of trainers under the Training Help and Supplies link here on the blog.
      Good luck.
      Robin

  15. Hi Robin,
    I enjoyed reading all your info on the e-collar and I have a question. I have a 4 year old cockapoo who has dog to dog aggression issues (lunging, growling) that has gotten worse. I’m moving to a city soon where Linus will be in constant contact with other dogs on the street and elevators so I’d like to start training him with an e-collar as soon as possible. You say that one should not be reactive with the collar, in terms of using it after a dog reacts. However, I usually see a dog walking on a leash at the same time Linus does so when am I supposed to use the collar? Should I use the vibrate/shock just as we’re walking for no reason? He is good with simple commands (stay, heel, down, sit) but when he sees another dog, all of that goes “out the window”. Does your video specifically teach when to use the collar? Thanks for any help you can give me.

    • Hi Judy,

      The main thing is to use the e-collar in conjunction with a command (in the case of walking = Heel) AS SOON AS the dog begins to go astray. The more proactive you are in getting the dog back on course and paying attention to a command the easier it is for him to begin to learn these new habits. This is opposed to “waiting” to see if he’ll be a good boy and then he fires up to the other dogs. Once your dog is actively barking/lunging etc, the adrenaline level is rising rapidly and then it takes more work and significantly higher levels of stim to get his attention back. So the goal is to be proactive. That means AS SOON AS you/he see the other dogs coming. You’re not using it for no reason, but to “remind” him to stay in his heel position when you think he is about to forge ahead etc. Does that make sense?
      Of course remember that you don’t begin your training in these situations. You should do your e-collar conditioning and beginning training in an area free of distractions so that your dog has a fair and un-distracted opportunity to learn about this new way of communicating. As he catches on then you gradually introduce more and more distraction. I just uploaded a YouTube video about the topic today. Take a look.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leUvGQfSLoI&list=UULFJfSltiXVfv3hHbbDHpww&index=1&feature=plcp

      The videos I have for purchase will teach you the basics of getting started, how to teach the obedience with the e-collar and how to use it proactively BEFORE you dog gets into problem situations.
      Good luck,
      Robin

  16. Hi, I just had a question, I read through these responses and you say to not just put the collar on and wait for the dog to react and it makes sense, however what about now my dog knows commands, sit stand stay come leave it, etc BUT he obeys except for triggers when were out (other dogs, rabbit) so I want the collar to use when he disobeys the commands. I at a lost as to why you can use the collar to let him know to ignore a command is wrong.

    • Hi Anita,

      It is not that you can’t use the collar to let him know that ignoring a command is wrong…it is just that I don’t think that is the ideal way to use a remote collar. There are those who use the collar as punishment for ignored commands. My stance is that it is STILL necessary to e-collar condition the dog FIRST. You still should go through the processes and on leash work so that the dog has an understanding of what the stimulation means. Without that it just is not very fair, if the dog has never experienced stimulation before and the first time he/she feels it is for disobedience…how do we know what the dog associates with that sensation? Perhaps he/she comprehends it is a consequence of not listening to command BUT perhaps they associate something in the surrounding area…we just don’t know. When you go through the process of e-collar conditioning first then the dog has a clear understanding of what the stimulation means and what they can do to have control over it.

  17. We just adopted a 3 year old German Shepard from a family who was moving and could not keep him , he weighs 91 pounds is non altered and is a really good dog except when he sees certain dogs , some dogs he will ignore and mind his business others he is totally uncontrollable, tonight he pulled my 19 year old daughter into the middle of a busy street to get at a dog , thank goodness rush hour was over. However there are times when my 13 year old sons walks him . You can tell he has had little training , he will sit and shake hands but that is about it , he will come when he wants to, we started to train him with one word commands , sit, stay , no , down etc and he is starting to get it , we give him food rewards to get his attention . On walks we started to take his ball to distract him and him focused but it’s not enough. My question is , I totally understand that we should incorporate the collar now in training him with basics and rewards before we find ourselves in a situation with another dog but will the collar change his personality as he is a gentle giant except with certain triggers . Thank you so much

    Donna

    • Hi Donna,
      It is absolutely my opinion that using an e-collar properly will have no negative effect on your dogs personality. May I ask, what it is exactly that you’re concerned about?

  18. Hi, I have 4 dogs in my home – A sharpei/lab mix, a chihuahua, a 1.5 yr old pitbull and 5 month old pitbull. From what I understand, in the dog world, older dogs will usually put the pups in their place when they get out of hand. But the youngest pitbull doesn’t know her strength and she fights back and we’ve had several ugly dog fights. As it is, before we got her, the sharpei/lad mix and the older pitbull had fought out of jealousy for human attention. I now have to rotate all the dogs for example, lock one in the pantry and another in the bedroom while we’re taking one through the house to go outside. This is not healthy at all. The 2 pitbulls are aggressive toward other dogs and the puppy is aggressive toward any stranger that comes to the house. We have to slowly introduce them and hold her tight to avoid her jumping, growling or barking at our guests. There is no way we can have a house party because we can’t even put them together any more. We love every one of our pets and I was very interested in reading the article above plus all your comments. I’ve never had such a problem. Usually, I can teach my dogs how to behave at home or in public, but I am losing control. When they aren’t around other dogs, each of them is loving and behaves well…..so well that if they were the only dog in the house, they might just be the perfect pet, except the puppy of course, she needs training so I was looking at getting the e-collar, one individual for each dog. The chihuahua is very well behaved but recently required surgery when the puppy chewed him up over food. I don’t know if this matters but except the chihuahua, they are all females who are not spayed. Will the collars help or should I go with a personal dog trainer at home?

    • Hi Sandra,

      E-collar training can make the management and training easier and more efficient, but as you stated, “you’re losing control” of your pack. You need to find a professional to assist you asap.
      Check the find a trainer page here on the blog and if there is no one in your area, let me know and perhaps I can help you locate someone.
      Good luck,
      Robin

      • First of all, thank you so much! I am really beginning to feel desperate. There were no trainers in my area. I live in El Paso, Texas. I looked online but I onestly don’t know what to look for. The trainers I found advertise that they will teach my dogs to walk on a leash or basic commands such as sit, come, etc. Individually, my dogs understand those commands. I need to know what I am looking for…..OR can you help me otherwise?? Thank you again!

        • Try this person, she is in El Paso and has been through my e-collar training program.
          Julie Rutledge
          Dogs On The Go!
          El Paso, Texas
          Phone : 915-562-2500
          Email :dogsonthego@earthlink.net

  19. Sandra /

    I have been in contact with Julie and we will be discussing my problem with my doggy family members later this evening. Thank you!!!

  20. Hi, we have 5 dogs all female except the youngest. He’s a male English bulldog. He’s really a sweet dog, but he goes into attack mode when he sees another dog anywhere, and with the broom or vacuum. Cleaner . Even when the vacuum isn’t running! Just wondering if the escolar will be helpful? Thankyou!

    • Hi Cindi,
      I tend to think a remote collar is a great training tool for most situations. It is a way to use tactile sensation to get a dog’s attention (which is what most people struggle with when a dog gets distracted) The remote collar also has an advantage in that it functions to get attention from much greater distance than other tools (leash/voice etc) All the said….I strongly believe that any pet owner dealing with aggressive behavior in their dog should get professional help. It is not something to try and “do it yourself” when dealing with human or dog aggression problems. Please look at our trainer referral list and see if you can find someone near you to help.
      Robin

  21. I have a female Sheltie that I got from a gal that recently divorced and is moving. She just turned 3. I had her spayed a week ago and she has seemed to finally start acting like she belongs with us; however, over the weekend, she started running out from no where and chased down my husband and bit the back of his leg. She also did the same thing when I had a male friend visiting. I thought it was just men, but then she chased after my grandaughter when she was following me through the kitchen. She barked and chased, but didn’t bite her. When she has run out to my husband, she doesn’t give any warning. We purchased a collar to try to stop this behavior. I have not started with it yet, but we can’t have this behavior. I asked the previous owner before I agreed to take her, if she ever showed any aggression towards children, and she told me no. She’s a very sweet little dog, but this is very disturbing. We need to stop this immediately. I intend to try the collar, as we used it on our other dog when we got him because we couldn’t get him to come to us. It worked great, but he was never aggressive. Now she doesn’t want to come to my husband at all, because she’s been in trouble all weekend. We put her in her kennel when she does this. Any help will be appreciated.

    • Hi Diane,

      You need to get professional help with this dog. Please don’t just purchase or use a remote collar to Stop this behavior. There needs to be evaluation as to “why” it is occurring and that may include some underlying health issues…I would need much more information and to see the dog in person to have a good handle on what is happening. You can check our trainers referral listing to see if there is someone in your area or do some research to find someone in your area who has a good reputation for rehabilitation work with aggressive dogs.
      good luck,
      Robin

  22. Hi,

    I have a spayed female 18 month old bull mastiff x ridgeback x pit who is very sweet natured. She has always been a bit of a sensitive soul though, and is usually quite timid. I call her the comfort zone dog – she takes a long time to get used to new things, and doesn’t like being outside her comfort zone. I also sometimes call her the paranoia puppy – if something new is in her environment (eg. a mat hanging on a chair) she is very wary and growls and avoids it until I convince her it’s not a threat. I’ve known her since she was born, and she has always been this way, and has never been mistreated.

    She is not generally an agressive dog apart from when other dogs try to get her food. However that issue is manageable.

    My real problem is that where I currently live the kids have taken to constantly teasing her through the fence, throwing rocks, using slingshots, climbing on the fence and so on. This has resulted in her becoming extremely sensitised to kids, and now even the sound of kids’ voices sets her off, and now she rushes the fence in a frenzy even when she is not being teased.

    She is only agressive when there is a fence. If I’m walking her and we encounter kids, she immediately tries to run and/or hide.

    Unfortunately I have no back yard where I can keep away from the street – the only fenced area is at the front. When I am home she is free to come inside, which helps.

    I am of course extremely concerned that she may actually one day attack a kid, particularly as they have been known to climb into the yard and corner her under the building. Unfortunately parental supervision and/or action is not forthcoming. I have raised and screened my fence, but this has simply made the kids more confident in teasing her and exacerbates the situation.

    She is generally very obedient and easy to train, but this issue with kids is a struggle, partly because I can’t confine her during work hours, and I need her to ignore the stimulus even when I’m not there. We’re currently not at my usual residence (staying with family on holidays), and even the sound of non-teasing next door kids playing in their backyard is setting her off. I try to distract her and then give her plenty of praise when she doesn’t react, but unfortunately I can’t always head off the start of it.

    I’m at wits end – at the least I need the kids next door to be able to play in the yard without upsetting her. I would love any advice you can offer. Thanks.

    • Hello,

      This is a difficult situation and unfortunately I can not give you magic advise that will solve it, but here are some thoughts.

      1. Work with a trainer to re-establish a trusting relationship between her and kids. We want her to associate being around children with pleasant things.
      2. You will have to find a way that she can be safe and not subject to harassment when you are not home. Is there a reason she can not be in the house when you are working?
      3. Consider contacting the parents of the offending children or contact the proper authorities. The situation as it is..is setting you/her up for a potential big problem down the road. No one, human or canine should be expected to tolerate prolonged taunting and teasing. It needs to stop and she needs an escape option to get herself out of the situation.

      Good luck,
      Robin

  23. Thanks for the response, Robin. I agree, no one should have to put up with it. Not only is it no good for her, it gets my blood pressure up and is my main stressor.

    Unfortunately I currently work and live in a remote indigenous community where mistreating dogs is a way of life. The kids get their kicks out of stirring her up, plus stirring me up is an added bonus. Parents and authorities are of no assistance whatsoever, and some parents actively encourage their kids. Indeed, I’ve had trouble with adults doing the same thing, even when I’m sitting out in the yard. Even when Boo is not reacting to passersby, kids and adults stop and bark at her to wind her up. My requests to stop upsetting the dog are usually met with racial abuse.

    Needless to say, I’m planning to leave the place as soon as I can get work elsewhere, but the issue with kids is a worry – I don’t want her to be a bad citizen, and I don’t want to lose her or have anyone else hurt. Hopefully I will be able to find a good trainer to help desensitise her.

    As you suggested, keeping her inside is probably the best option, although I’ve been reluctant previously due to her puppy energy/chewing and the very small quarters I have (essentially a bedsit), and as she’s inside at night I wanted her to have plenty of outside time during the day. However, it obviously the lesser of two evils.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer me.

    Best wishes.

    • TD, find a way to increase her energy expenditure before you leave for the day. That can be through physical exercise, but also through mental exercise. You can teach her tricks, play games or use any of a number of “food puzzles”. Lately I’ve been using this to feed my most active dog each morning. It takes her about 20 minutes to eat and that takes energy to think through it. Then I would leave her inside (crate if possible) with a great chew toy. You can rotate toys each day (hiding the other ones) so she is more intrigued by “something new” or consider a raw bone (femur or knee) from the butcher to keep her occupied. Some boredom is better than what is happening outside.
      Happy Holidays,

      robin

  24. Kristina /

    Hi I have a 2 year old English Bull Terrier with no health problems, obsessive behaviors or aggression toward people or other dogs(with dogs on leash only). I work in a doggy daycare that excepts slot of what we call daycare rejects. Other dogs that have failed to play nice at other daycare or get discriminated against for breed etc. I have also of experience with aggressive, dominant an unique dogs and I love them all! My boy Max has been through obedience an is very well trained except when off leash! I can no longer bring him to the dog park or my daycare because he will be playing with a dog and all of a sudden vicious growl and attack them. It very frustrating because I can not figure out his trigger. It’s always dogs about his size or larger( I have toy poodle an Chihuahua at him he is fine with) but it’s also always out of nowhere. Some times it when he’s under dog, other times he’s on top, it’s even happens when he was just standing there alone he targeted a dog grabbed them and didn’t let go. I’d like an e collar but how do I train a dog who has no trigger for his aggression? I know dogs that hate one breed, some do no like puppys under 1 year, some can’t put another dog on their back or vice versa, and aim dogs get tired easily an can only do 20 min play sessions. My dog is none of these things is it just his breed? Any help is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Kristina,

      These case are challenging. I’m not sure what to tell you but there certainly are dogs that just aren’t suited to dog park environments. They can go 0-60 in the blink of an eye and that makes it hard to see any triggers. It might be breed, it might be underlying pain or physical issues also. I’m a big advocate of thyroid testing and working with a vet chiropractor who could spot potential body issues. Beyond that the best I can tell you is to only allow socialization with dogs you know and that he gets along with. As for an e-collar the only advantage it could give you a very solid recall that would allow you to interrupt and call him back prior to a fight. It isn’t going to be of much value once dogs are fully involved in a fight.
      robin

  25. I always find it amazing that people will blame inanimate objects for their choice on how to use said object. I don’t blame the car for breaking down if I never maintain it. The concept of using a remote collar is no different from using a physical leash. Both have to be taught and misuse by either can cause problems. You can use tiny little nudges to direct a dog just like a leash. If you take the time to teach rather than just expect a dog to “know” something, you will have the dog you want rather than being upset that the dog “just doesn’t get it”. If he doesn’t “get it” then re-examine your teaching methods.

  26. Lynne /

    we got a pure bred border collie puppy at 9 weeks and he has been fear aggressive towards dogs and strangers since we got him. We are working on socialization, desensitizing him, and conditioning him to associate strangers = treats but with limited success. He has been doing wonderful with obedience training and is only reactive 50% near people and dogs but 100% reactive if a stranger tries to reach for him or a dog gets in his face. We tried hiring a behaviorist but she did not seem to know how to handle a fear aggressive puppy. We want to start training with an e collar to improve obedience to use as a tool of distraction when he gets reactive but would still love for him to tolerate attention from people at some point in the future (he is very affectionate with our family.) We are in Raleigh, NC area if you have any trainers with strong experience if fear aggressive dogs, especially puppies or any other things to try.

  27. Christina /

    Robin: we are thinking of getting an e-collar for our 9 year old Boston Terrier, he has developed some major aggression issues over the past 6 years and some other behavioural issues- first, as we walk him, he will lunge and bark/scream at other dogs, I have tried to have him focus on me with treats, or make him sit as dogs past by, but nothing works. I should say he was attacked by a wolf a year or so ago which doesn’t help and seem to display these behaviours more when we got our pug 5 years ago. Secondly, he has now begun to eat feces of both his own and my pug when we let him outside, we do our best to pick it up every time they go but he just doesn’t listen. We hired someone privately to work with him but it was a day session and it did nothing. We are at our wits end and wondering if a e-collar or the one that sprays citronella would be beneficial…we have a child on the way (our first) and so this all has me a little anxious. We live in Northern Ontario and there are really no good trainers here to help us. We have him doing sit/ stay commands and he will do them, but that is it. Please help and offer some advice if possible.

    • Hi Christina,

      An e-collar will probably help you regain some control, but after 6 years of “practicing” this aggressive behavior, there is much work to do and you really need to work with someone experienced. In addition to some obedience work, you likely need an overhaul on leadership issues in the house. Have you down loaded the free tips pdf from this site? If not, click on the link on the home page and fill out the info to receive it. Those are some starting protocols to consider. Additionally the new behavior of poo eating suggests there may be some underlying health issues? I would see about a physical and perhaps a blood profile to see if anything has changed recently. In the meantime I will try to see if I can locate a trainer there. I know there are some in Ontario but not sure of location. You may have to do some travel to find decent advice, but with a baby on the way I think it is important you prioritize it.

  28. Fernande Leblanc /

    Ihave a 5 yrs old black lab,very smart,little nervous,stubborn and very protective .Nobody can come in the house unless they know the dog.Iwill put him in the kennel and after a while if people are ok for him to come out ounce he has smell them he is ok.My next question is when we go outside sometime he listened to me but often he will go to the neighbours even I try to stop him he goes,Ilive in the country.Will a e collar work?

    • Hi Fernande,

      An e-collar is a tool. Just as is a leash, or treats, or various prong, slip and head collars…there is no magic about. Like all other tools it can be used to help train your dog. The key thing is you need to train your dog to listen to you with basic obedience commands. For instance you must train your dog to come to you when called. This means your dog must learn to do this even when he may not feel like it because their are distractions around.
      If you are interested in learning to use the e-collar to train your lab I would suggest you find an experienced trainer to help you, or at minimum purchase my dvd’s to teach you the basic process. Additionally if you decide to purchase an e-collar purchase a quality product so you know that you will have a tool that has versatility and will be fair for your dog.

  29. Maureen Grosshuesch /

    We have a two year old 100 lb Swiss Mt. Dog She has Become very aggressive while on a leash walking her. She’ had over a year of training and did great even on a leash , but changes immediately when we walk her, which I can no longer do she’s so strong. We are interested in an e-trainer. We’re great at following directions Do you think your cd is enough? Exactly what e-trainer should we buy?Many,many thanks Maureen
    We live in Bellingham wa

    • Hi Maureen,

      I certainly think it is ideal to work with a professional who is highly experienced with e-collar training. That helps provide confidence, but I understand there are many locations that simply don’t have someone nearby…which is why I created the dvds. I don’t believe you can do any harm in starting with the dvds and trying it yourself. Follow the instructions and do the conditioning work without a lot of distraction around, then begin to expose to more distraction as both you and your dog get the hang of it. If you run into problems you can always give me a ring and we can do a phone consultation.

      As far as what collar…I am a big fan of Dogtra e-collars. I believe they offer a great deal of versatility because of the rheostat system of stimulation. Take a look at the SureStim H Plus and the 1900 NCP. Both are very quality collars with the basic features you will need. You will just have to compare the various add features (one is expandable if you ever want to add a second dog to the system, etc) and see which fits your needs better.

  30. Calista /

    Hi I have a 6 year old Maltese, a 6 year old yorkie and an almost 2 year old Biewer yorkie. The two 6 year olds (females) used to get a long great. I got the third 1.5 year ago and he is a sweetie and a very submissive dog, but since then the 6 year old yorkie has been mean to the 6 year old maltese. She is attacking her, bloodying her ears, and even having to potty over the maltese’s potty spots in the yard (sometimes even while the maltese is going potty). What can I do to help them to get along so the maltese isn’t being attacked anymore? Getting rid of any of them is not an option.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Calista,

      Unfortunately no one can “make” the 2 of them get along or like one another, not anymore than we can make 2 humans like one another. However, they can learn they need to peacefully co-exist in your household. They can learn to understand that by you becoming a better leader and taking charge of your home environment. There are a number of tips about how to do that in 7 Tips for Stressfree Living with your Dog that you can download from this site. That should get you started.

      As for as the E-collar is concerned that can play a role in helping you develop better obedience and compliance which is part of becoming a better leader in their mind. Until you get a better handle on things I would suggest you keep them separate when you are not there, keep a leash on both (light weight, that they can drag around the house) so you have a handle to get hold of if you need to intervene and create follow through when they are not listening. Intervening is the way to interrupt behaviors before it gets out of hand. For instance if one is being petted and played with by you and the other approaches to possibly reprimand…you should re-direct the approaching one to go to her place/bed. The idea meaning you as the leader have the right to play/pet which ever dog you chose while the other patiently waits their turn for attention.
      Hope that makes sense. That kind of leadership and control maintains peace in a house where not all love each other.
      Also make sure their are no underlying health issues with the one being attacked. I’d suggest a blood work up to make sure. Some dogs will attack “weakness” when they know another dog is beginning to ail. And finally find a pro to assist you. Check the trainers list here and see if there is someone you can work with.
      good luck,
      Robin

  31. Devora /

    Hi,

    I have a 16 month old Siberian Husky who is having issues with jumping up and nipping people. A little bit of history: I got her at 13 weeks and I’m not completely sure about how much time she spent with mom before she was 8 weeks of age. I know mom teaches them about bite inhibition. She goes to the dog park every day for at least an hour because I know huskies have a lot of energy.

    But when guests come over (especially with men, and sometimes with me) she tries to get their attention by mouthing and jumping. The pressure she applies when she mouths is not enough to break skin, but it is definitely not soft either.

    I have gone through obedience training with her and when she does this to guests I try to re direct her to come to me and lay down or sit. She is incredibly persistent and will stay by me for a little bit, but then returns to her bad behavior. Sometimes when she gets all riled up and starts the mouting, she thinks it’s a game when I tell her “no” and gets more excited and nippy.

    I wanted to know what you thought about using shock collar training for my dog. I need her to “get the point” that she CANNOT jump or put her teeth on ANYONE, EVER. Re directing her with positive reinforcement and tons of treats does not seem to be working on its own.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Devora,

      I think the remote collar is a very versatile tool for a number of uses. In your situation it can be used to help direct to and maintain more positive behaviors. For instance, having your dog remain on a Place (dog bed, mat) when visitors arrive. It can also be used to interrupt undesirable behavior such as the jumping up and mouthing.

      However, I do strongly encourage you to find professional help if you chose to utilize this tool. A few lessons with a skilled trainer knowledgeable about remote collars and you’ll be not only on your way toward resolving this problem but also likely to gain off leash reliability with your Husky. (something that many find challenging with Nordic breeds)

      Check out our list of trainers to see if there is someone near you.
      http://www.truthaboutshockcollars.com/training-help-supplies/

      all the best,
      Robin

  32. Stephanie /

    I have a three year old poodle/ chihuahua mix that is a great dog. However, within the last several months, she has been randomly attacking our other two dogs (cocker spaniel and a yorkie) for no apparent reason (although I’m starting to recognize when she doesn’t want the other dogs to have my attention or if she has something she doesn’t want taken away she has gone on the attack). I don’t know what started this attitude, but we have been popping her, picking her up out of the fight and crating her until she no longer barks or whines. We ignore her when she is being crated for this behavior and she seems automatically remorseful once she has calmed down. I have been thinking about getting a shock collar for her because of this behavior and reading your article was very helpful in how to use a shock collar successfully. Until I purchase one, how should I be handling these attacks? She usually plays well with the yorkie and she has only attacked him once, but she has attacked the cocker 3 times and seems to want to intimidate her all the time. I will be moving soon and will be taking the poodle/chihuahua with me (I live with family and my dog was purchased after I had lived with the cocker. The yorkie came about 3 years after I got my dog) so I won’t have the constant alert anymore, but I still don’t want this behavior to continue.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Before you go out and purchase an e-collar I would suggest you do two things. One I would take the dog to a vet and have a complete exam and blood profile done including thyroid testing. If this is a sudden change of behavior it is possible there is an underlying medical reason. Google Jean Dodds DVM and read some of her work on the subject.
      I would also consult with a trainer who has experience resolving dog to dog aggression issues. It is very possible this is a due to lack of proper structure and leadership in the house but you need someone to assess that and help you get on track. For the time being I would suggest you keep a light leash attached to the dog and begin to institute some rules around the house. The leash gives you some control and helps you to enforce follow through. Increase obedience by making the dog earn privileges and resources (food/toys/affection) and interrupt (or better yet – prevent) the poodle mix from bullying the cocker.

  33. Barbara /

    I have a 15 month old Tibetan terrier who is great with people and most dogs but will go after dogs that show up less than confident or young dogs. To my knowledge, he has never hurt another dog but it sounds as if he might and it scares the other dog and all the owners, as well. I can’t take the risk that he might hurt another dog. We play with sometimes 30 other dogs at the dog park every weekend and one or two others everyday and he’s fine with his dog friends but about 1 out of every 10 dogs he meets is one that he immediately goes after and is aggressive with. It’s scary. He knows basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down, leave it but doesn’t respond on his own 100% of the time. I try to follow through and enforce the command. He is smart and headstrong. I can see when his attention focuses on a dog he is about to go after and think if I can keep his focus on the command (stay, leave it, etc), it may prevent the escalation of a dog attack. I think an e-collar will help this and keep things positive. I would prefer to train him to the e-collar with a local, private trainer but live in Anchorage and I haven’t found a trainer here who works with e-collars and is a recommended trainer. Do you work with anyone here in Anchorage, AK?

    • Hi Barbara,
      No, I’ve asked around with colleagues and I don’t know anyone up there. I do agree with the idea of using better attention to obedience as a way to decrease these problems. That would be my approach to utilizing an e-collar with him. By you creating a more reliable response you can decide who he can and can not interact with and this should lessen the problems of him going after/picking on the weaker dogs.

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