Behavior Problems


Is There Hope for Your Aggressive Dog?

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Growling and snapping to protect food or bones (as shown in this video) is just one form of aggression. There are many other types of aggression in dogs - fear based, territorial, dominance based, redirected, dog-on-dog, medical, maternal, punishment-elicited aggression, leash reactivity and many others.   

Aggression is a self-reinforcing behavior in dogs. Every time a dog bites someone, it becomes more likely that the dog will bite again. Left untreated, both the frequency and the intensity of the attacks will increase. The dog will not “grow out of it.” Aggression will not go away on its own. It cannot be “punished” out of the dog. In fact, punishment can make aggression much worse.

Canine Dimensions has excellent counter-conditioning protocols that can help rehabilitate dogs that have shown aggression.  Because we train your dog in your home, we can design exactly the right program for your dog. Our aggression intervention programs use modern training, management, desensitization and classical counter-conditioning techniques that are fast and effective. They work in harmony with your dog’s natural drives to get the best possible results.

There are many success stories posted here from clients who needed help with their aggressive dogs. Here are a few recent ones:   

  • “Other trainers had given up on Dewey, but we decided to keep trying. Phil was the first trainer who was able to explain to us why Dewey had bitten. He said that in Dewey’s case the biting was based in fear. He gave us specific things we could do to help manage the situation, but more importantly, he gave us things we could do to help change Dewey’s frame of mind. Dewey is much happier and much more relaxed now – and so are we! His whole attitude has changed. He acts differently when people pass by outside. We have taught him to sit politely in his place when people come to the door. We definitely see a positive change in Dewey.”
  • “I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for the new Sophie! She is a totally changed dog thanks to you.  It’s been six months since we began the training and we have not had a single incident. We are following the program to the letter and it has really paid off.”
  • “As you know we’ve been working with Max every day practicing the exercises you gave us. Although things have always gone smoothly during these planned practice sessions, I always had it in the back of my mind that I hoped this really would work if we were actually faced with a situation like the ones where Max had growled at us in the past. Well yesterday it happened. Lori accidentally knocked the remote control off the coffee table and Max grabbed it and ran off. But this time I calmly approached him, just like we had practiced, and said “OUT” and he instantly dropped it!  No growling! Needless to say we are now even more motivated to continue the training. We finally found something that is working for us. Thanks again for everything."
  • ”I know it's been a long and tiresome road, but I wanted to let you know that the efforts are definitely paying off. I can't thank you enough for the help you've given me with Wrigley. I was walking him today and we were joined about halfway through by Julie and her dog. Wrigley never even flinched. I was so proud of him. I came home right after and felt like I needed to let you know. The change I've seen in him over the past few months has been nothing short of miraculous. I know there's a lot of work still ahead of us, but I want to thank you for never giving up, for always giving encouragement and for always being there, even when my questions were small ones. Thank you so much for your teachings and your support. Your program is awesome."
  • "Kevin was very skeptical about the idea of dog training. He was just waiting to challenge you. Thank you for bringing him around. If he didn't see results in that first session, I think he would have given up immediately. He is still talking about how it only took five minutes of walking Cujo to get him under control. He called his brother right after you left to tell him about it. They're getting the dogs together tomorrow to test our new skills."

If your dog is aggressive toward humans or other dogs, we have programs that can help. 
Please contact us  for more information.  

Meanwhile, here are a few simple steps you can take: 

  • Don’t make excuses for the behavior. It is often useful to study the “ABCs” of aggression (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence), but this does not mean that one can excuse or accept the behavior.
  • Safety first! Provide close supervision of the dog at all times, especially around children.
  • No physical punishment. 
  • Require that the dog defer to you (usually with a simple “sit” command) for everything it wants – food, toys, going outside, etc. 
  • Ignore all demands for attention made by your dog. Dogs should be given lots of love and affection, but they should never be permitted to demand play, petting, toys or attention.
  • Avoid situations which have triggered previous attacks. 
  • Do not tie the dog outside for extended periods of time.
  • No rough play, chase, keep away or other inappropriate games.
  • There are no quick fixes. Taking advice from well-meaning friends, relatives and neighbors, or trying a technique you saw a TV show, will always make things worse.
  • In order for medication to be effective, it must be given along with behavior modification. Medication alone is never effective in treating aggression.

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