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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9187
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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I just adopted a 20 pound terrier mix who is aggressive toward

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I just adopted a 20 pound terrier mix who is aggressive toward large male dogs. I have a 110 pound male rotti akita mix, 90 pound rotti female and female BMD. The new dog is OK with all the dogs, I just have to keep an eye on him. If my male is on my lap, the little guy will start growling, then that attack happens. Its a frenzy. My question is: can this ever be cured? I've been squirting him with water when I see any signs of aggression. When he sits quietly with my male, I give him treats and reward him. Am I wasting my time? Should I return him to the shelter or keep trying?
Hello, thank you for using this site to help you with your problem. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have been in the dog field for 25 years. It will be my pleasure to help you today. Please understand that I may send an information request so that I may gather what I need to better help you with your problem.

I just want to be clear. At this time you have tried squirting him with water and giving treats when he is acting appropriate?

How long have you had Ralph?

Is Ralph allowed on furniture?

What commands are you using with Ralph? How often daily are you training Ralph in obedience?

Are there toys, bones, food dishes around when Ralph acts out?

What have you noticed that usually precedes the fighting? Meaning what do you think might be a trigger?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I squirt him with water when he is barking or growling. I give him treats when he sits quietly with my other dogs.


We have had Ralph for 3 days. Yes he is allowed on the furniture.

Currently we are only working on Sit. I ask for a sit for everything.


He does not like male dogs so he doesn't like my male rotti mix. I'm hoping that I can condition him to calm down and not attack other dogs.

Thank you for that information. The problem with using objects such as a squirt bottle, or in some cases humans will just shout no at a dog, is that it only interrupts the behavior, it does not tell the dog how you would like him to act. This is why when a behavior we don't want to see emerges we redirect the dog to a different behavior right away then praise and reward that behavior because that tells the dog what you want to see out of him rather than growling or snarling.

You are only 3 days in so he may change as he gets used to you other dogs and their behavior. When we adopt we never know the full history, could he have had a bad encounter with a larger dog that causes him to be this way or is this his personality normally? This is what you have to ask yourself and since he is a small dog I would do temperament testing on him which will give you an idea of his personality.

He could alpha aggressive , possessive aggressive or fear aggressive but all of these can be changed with time. It will depend on how much time you want to spend training him daily. I always suggest training for about 15 minutes several times a day so to the dog you seem consistent in what you expect. So it is not so much just teaching commands as it is that the dog see how you rule the home and how you expect each dog to behave in your home.

What I would do is the nothing in life is free training which means your couch/furniture is off limits to all dogs so they are put on an even playing field. When a dog is allowed on furniture this makes them feel above the pack. If more than one dog is allowed on furniture then you may begin getting infighting to establish themselves as higher up but this should be reserved for the humans in the home not the dogs. There are many instances where people allow all their dogs on furniture with no problems, but they are usually very well balanced dogs who do not want confrontation. So you have a dog that is looking for confrontation so keeping everyone off the furniture at this time would be a must. I am going to direct you to a site for the full training of this diet so you can see why and how it works.

I would do daily obedience training such as clicker training as it is positive based and always a better route than negative punishment.

You want the dog to always listen to voice commands because you are not always going to be walking around with a squirt gun or other item but you will always have your voice. some commands to work on and get down 100% would be Leave it (as this can stop trouble before it starts) sit stay and down stay. When you put a dog in a stay, it means the dog should stay in that place until you give a release command such as "Ralph Okay" which tells the dog the stay command is over. You will have to keep the stays short at first until he learns it and gradually build up the time and distance you are away from him and he is to remain in the down stay.

I will direct you to a site that will take you step by step in clicker training. the clicker costs about 3 dollars and a treat bag cost about 5 dollars. I use a higher value reward such as hot dog slivers but you can use what you know your dog likes. Keep the reward very small so there is no chewing involved or the attention is taken off of you and put on the treat and you don't want that.

If you need more help with this hit reply, if not once you have rated my answer I would like to schedule a free follow up with you to see how things are going. If you feel you need help with a new problem please contact me via this link and ask your question. Referrals to friends and family are welcomed and appreciated.

Clicker training/positive method training

video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos
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I am just checking in to see how training is going for you and Ralph.


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