Teaching a few Reactive Dogs to Focus to Stop Their Aggressive Behavior

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 11, 2018

For this Blair dog training session we taught 4 year-old German Shepherd Xena (right) and her 2 year-old German Shepherd roomie Samson (center, pictured here with the third dog Potter) to focus to help their family redirect them from getting territorial when people pass by the home or come to visit.

Xena did some protesting when I first arrived so I took my time at the door before coming inside. When she calmed down I opened the door and tossed in a treat before closing the door. After repeating this a few times, I was able to give her a treat by hand. However she growled after receiving the treat so I kept repeating this process until the grumbles stopped.

When I sat down with the guardians, I saw the humans rewarding unwanted behaviors. I also learned that the dogs had no rules and their main form of exercise was running about on the huge acreage they lived on.

While living on a huge plot of land like this is awesome for the dogs in some ways, it can also enhance protective and hunting behaviors. To help the guardians develop a healthy leader follower dynamic, I shared a number of dog behaviorist tips with them such as petting with a purpose, rewarding desired behaviors and the importance of rules and good timing.

To help give the humans an easy way to redirect the dog’s attention, I showed them how to train a dog to focus on command. You can see how I did this by watching the free dog training video below.

The great thing about this type of positive dog training is it allows the dog time and room to discover things on their own. This leads to an increase in confidence and the way I teach dogs to focus has an added benefit; reduction of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase of serotonin (the love endorphin).

The key to stopping a dog from acting aggressive in some situation is to monitor them and give them a redirect command the instant you see that they are targeting; staring, walking slowly or stopping, hair on the back standing up, ears rotating forward, tail up, stiff body language, etc.

If the guardians call Xena away or get her to focus on them as soon as they see these behaviors, they can help her learn to relax and not be on guard duty.

Because dogs with aggressive behavior can sometimes need more help, I told the guardians to practice all the dog behavior tips I shared in this in home dog training session for the next month. If after that time Xena is still acting aggressively, we may need to set up a one hour follow up session to delve deeper into her aggressive or reactive behavior.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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