Stopping a Dog From Territorial Aggressive Behavior in Long Beach

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 29, 2018

For this Long Beach dog training session we helped 4 year-old Black German Shorthair Pointer Stella (right) stop acting territorially aggressive to people she doesn’t know as well as her habit of lightly bullying Max, her 12 year-old Poodle Terrier mix roomie (pictured here on the left along with her other room mate 13 year-old Diamond in the middle).

I met the guardians outside the home and structured a very positive greeting to ensure Stella was calm and comfortable with me. I probably went a little overboard in hindsight, but when Im rehabilitating an aggressive or reactive dog, I want to stack the deck in the dog’s favor every chance I can get.

After sitting down with the guardians to discuss Stella’s aggressive behavior to new people who visit, I learned she also did so with the person who rents a house on the property. Since this person uses a common space for access, I knew I needed to address that issue as well as her over all behavior.

From what the guardians described, I would classify Stella’s behavior as a kind of territorial aggression; only acting this way in the presence of her humans. But not acting aggressively once the human was seen as a friend by interacting with her guardians. That is, except the tenant. Who said Dog Psychology isn’t confusing at times?

I went over a number of small changes the guardians can make to help Stella start seeing them in a leadership role. It will be important to shift the leader follower dynamic to fully stop aggressive behavior from Stella. Adding rules, boundaries, limits as well as practicing delayed gratification and positive dog training exercises like leave it will also help her develop more self control.

Part of the reason the dogs didn’t have rules in place was Diamond, one of those amazing dogs who just “got it” immediately and behaved well on her own without much guidance necessary. Ive been fortunate enough to have a dog like this and they can really make you feel like a great dog trainer but in reality its because the dog is special. But this can also lead some people astray as its so easy to influence you into thinking other dogs can do the same.

While Diamond did just fine without rules and structure, Stella is headstrong and had a bit of a checkered past. The lack of rules in this house, coupled with two other dogs had resulted in her going “on duty” when her guardians were present. Cases like these often result in a dog with cortisone (the stress hormone) in their blood. This puts the dog on edge, making it almost twitchy and certainly more reactive.

Adding rules, boundaries and limits will help shrink Stella’s world while also helping the guardians start looking like leaders through their actions, in the dog’s eyes.

I also made sure to show the guardians how to recognize and reward desired behaviors. Many people train their dogs to misbehave as that activity gets the strongest and most consistent reaction from the humans. But if we engage and reward them when they offer a sit, come, lay down, fetch, etc, we can condition the dog to offer those actions to say “hey, can i get some attention” or at least do things we like and appreciate.

At this point we had the tenant come over so I could show them all some easy dog behavior tips that should help Stella stop acting aggressively to him.

I was very pleased with how well Stella and the tenant did. As you saw, by the end of the video, the tenant was holding the leash and giving her treats while she was completely relaxed and at ease. Stopping dog aggression is a process and this is just the first step of the journey.

When the guardians repeat the technique I demonstrated in the video, getting Stella a decent amount of exercise that finishes 30-60 minutes before they practice will afford her another advantage.

We finished things up inside where I offered a few more dog behavior tips to the tenant that should help Stella start to see him as a member of the family pack.

Its not going to happen over night, the guardians will need to be consistent with the rules and structure for 30 day or as long as the aggressive behavior is occurring. Petting with a purpose and passive training will help motivate the dogs to listen and do the things the humans like and want.

To help the family remember all the dog behavior secrets I shared with them in this at-home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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