Training a Really Smart PitBull Mix to Focus to Stop Her Leash Aggression

By: David Codr

Published Date: November 13, 2017

Nelly Omaha pit - Training a Really Smart PitBull Mix to Focus to Stop Her Leash Aggression

For this Omaha dog training session we worked with an extremely intelligent 1 year-old Pit Bull mix named Nelly, training her to focus to stop her leash aggression towards dogs and protectively aggressive behavior when some new people come to the house.

As a dog behavior expert I always apply soft body language when meeting reactive dogs or any dogs with aggressive behavior. From what I saw, I would not consider Nelly an aggressive dog.

I noticed a number of things that the human was doing that likely confused Nelly as to what her role in the home was. Being found on the street, we don’t know about her backstory, but from what I observed, she seemed to be reactive in a territorial or protective way.

I suggested a number of small changes to help shift the leader follower dynamic in the home. This transition needs to take place in order for Nelly to stop thinking her role is to be a protective dog when people come to the home or to dogs she sees on walks.

Paying attention to when she is petting the dog and making an emphasis on rewarding desired behaviors will go a long ways towards helping Nelly see and respect her guardian’s authority.

I recommended Nelly’s guardian move her dog bed away from the current location next to the front door and near a window that looks down into the yard. This perch certainly confused Nelly into thinking part of her job was door guard.

To make it easier for Nelly to be calm when new guests arrived, I showed her guardian how to teach her to go to a spot several feet away from the door (command word “off duty”) and the dog understood what I was asking after only one repetition.

Because she is such an intelligent dog, I recommended her guardian find a different trick or command (on google or youtube) to teach her each week until the end of the year (or longer). By instructing the dog in a new command then practicing it all week long, the bond between human and canine will be deepened which will establish even more respect for her human as the leader.

To address Nelly’s leash aggression towards dogs on walks, I went over a focus exercise.

It only took a few repetitions before Nelly was looking up at my face on command. Once that was the case I walked her guardian through the exercise. Within minutes Nelly was looking up at anyone who gave her the focus command word. Another illustration of her high level of intelligence.

Being able to redirect Nelly’s attention will greatly improve her behavior if her guardian gets her attention before she can act aggressive to another dog. Stopping dog aggression is all about good timing and redirection.

By the end of the session, Nelly was already following the new rules and was responding to the new commands. Her guardian’s responses and reaction times had improved significantly as well.

We finished things up by filming a roadmap to success video to make it easier for the guardian to remember all the positive dog training tips we covered to help Nelly stop acting aggressive to new people and dogs.

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This post was written by: David Codr