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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19543
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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We found an abandoned puppy on a back road. She was about

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We found an abandoned puppy on a back road. She was about 6 weeks old. She is now almost 7 months old and is still fearful of new people coming to the house. She has also bitten the vet when they tried to put a muzzle on her. She is a mixed breed. A large breed. The vet thinks she may have chow in her. I feel she has the markings of a Tibetan Mastiff. The vet feels she will be a vicious dog and should be put down now. I am in love with the puppy and think she deserves a second opinion. I also am on Social Security and can not afford an expensive dog behaviorist to train her. Can you help at all? I live in South Jersey.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I've professionally worked with animals for over 16 years both in health and behavioral fields. I work mainly with breeds deemed dangerous by many people.
I need to ask some questions in order to give you a good answer. It will take at least 30 minutes to type up a detailed response once I have your responses.
I see you haven't trained your dog at all formally, but have you done any training of her?
Do you allow her on the furniture or beds?
Are you able physically to control her?
Has she ever growled at you regardless of the reason?
Can you describe a few instances where she has shown aggression?
Does she bark and lunge at people? If so, under what circumstances?
Are you able to work with her?
Are you trying to reassure her when she shows aggression toward people or fear?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

She is allowed on the furniture and I am able to physically control her. She has never growled at any of us nor at anyone that I know of. She did nip at the vet when she was younger and this last time with the muzzle was the worst. I think they just walked up to her and scared her. She barks at strangers when they come to the house but she hides under the table or behind me. She is not aggressive at all to them. The vet thinks she might be a sneaky dog and bite people when they turn their back. I do try to reassure her. I think I should mention that we have 3 other dogs in the home- a 9 year old male pug, a 7 year old female blue heeler, and a 3 year old female terrier mix. Cali has been stating to get into small tiffs with the terrier. I try to keep up on it because of the 3 females together. I had an accident and blew my knee. I am waiting for surgery and can't really physically do too much right now.

Donna,.Thanks for the additional information. I find it kind of strange that your vet is stating that they feel she is aggressive toward people even though the only one she has shown aggression to is the vet. Many dogs are uncomfortable at the vet office and if you know this is the case, you should have the muzzle on her before going into the office to prevent the bites. .However, many dogs do bite out of fear and from your post it does not seem like she was socialized very well. She is still a pup so there is a chance you can socialize her now but it will require someone to take her to places where there are groups of people in a controlled environment. A training class would be best as everyone is concentrating on their own dogs and not yours. It also has the added benefit of training the dog in obedience. This not only helps the dog gain self confidence which helps with fear aggression because they know what you expect of them, but also helps them realize that people are not a threat..Now I do recommend formal training classes but if you can't afford those then at least train her at home. I understand that with your knee, you are unable to control her right now. I've blown both mine and let them heal without surgery, so I know the limitation you have right now. You really can't risk twisting them or having them jerked, so have another family member take over the training. I'm going to give you a site that is very helpful at teaching owners how to train their own dog.

Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.


Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.


Get her off the furniture as well. Dogs that are allowed on furniture (even if put on the furniture) tend to feel that since they are elevated to your level or higher if on your lap, they mentally feel elevated as well in the pack order and thus may start feeling they are better suited to be the boss. She is already challenging the terrier to move up in the pack. Since she is a large dog, she is better suited to be the alpha, so once she rules the rest of the dogs, she is likely to start on the humans. Keeping dogs on the floor can help lower them mentally back to a submissive position in the pack. So the first thing is to not allow her higher that the humans or even on the same level. Attach a leash and use it to remove her from the furniture. Give a correction in the form of a quick tug and firm "NO" when she attempts to get on and a treat when she starts not trying to get on the furniture. Thus you are providing negative reinforcement for the getting on the furniture and positive reinforcement for the desired behavior (not attempting to get on the furniture).


Do not reassure her when she is displaying fearful or aggressive (barking) behavior. When you show her positive attention (petting, talking soothingly to her) it encourage her to repeat the undesired behavior. It is better to ignore her behavior or give a reprimand of a short tug on the leash and a firm "NO". It is much better to keep some tasty treats like hot dog slices handy and when visitors come in, have her sit and when she obeys, give her a treat and then let the visitors give her a treat. This starts her thinking that visitors are a good thing and she is rewarded for sitting and acting good when they are there. You have to be consistent with her.


Right now you are not 100% and are injured which may cause her to potentially try and protect you from visitors so getting training started is very important. She needs to see that you are still in control.


Work with your dog in this manner and see if this doesn't help with the situation. It isn't an overnight cure, but can help. If you are worried about her biting visitors, you can put a basket style muzzle on her when children or visitors are there to prevent problems until you have her trained. You do want to get this done before she is an adult as the closer she gets to adulthood, the more likely she is to challenge the other dogs in the pack and eventually the people even if she is a bit fearful by nature.


I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .


If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.



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