Training a Dog to Focus in Santa Monica to Stop His Aggressive Behavior

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 11, 2017

For this Santa Monica dog training session we worked with Simba, a five-year-old Lab / Corgi / Shepherd mix on his dog aggression problems.

One of the first things I noticed about Simba was the spots where he had lost his fur. His guardian mentioned this happened shortly after moving to CA from the East Coast. This is clearly some kind of allergy and I wondered if its a food allergen. The food his guardian had been feeding him before the move was only available on the east coast. I suggested she have someone ship out a bag to see if that helped matters.

I mention this as behavior can easily be impacted by health issues. As anyone who has endured chronic pain knows, it can impact your behavior making you more irritable or reactive. As Simba was not displaying dog on dog aggression prior to moving to CA, there is a good chance this could be an impactor.

When dealing with any dog behavior problem, any good dog behaviorist always wants to rule out any physical factors first. Since her new vet wasn’t as intent on determining the cause of the issue, I recommended she look for a vet who focuses on skin irritation and allergies.

Training a dog to look at you can be a powerful tool when attempting to modify dog behavior. Several years ago I was introduced to a focus exercise that does just that. I spent the next few minutes going over the technique with Simba’s guardian so that she can use it to get him to stop aggressive behavior.

Its going to be important for the guardian to really master the focus exercise in easy situations before transitioning to practicing in more stimulus rich environments. This is the most common mistake people make when training a dog to focus.

The other technique I detail in the above video is a version of counterconditioning. Im hopeful that Simba’s guardian doesn’t need to use it, but I went through my preferred method at the end of the video in case Simba continues to act aggressive to other dogs.

Before we wrapped up the session the guardian and I took a walk so I could share a few dog training tips with the guardian that should help while on walks with Simba.

When we got back to his new home, I had the guardian shoot a video where I went over many of the dog behavior tips I shared with her during the session.

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