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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 18817
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have a 3-year old black lab mix. He has been very

Customer Question

Hi. I have a 3-year old black lab mix. He has been very friendly, and never had any aggression problems in the past. He, as matter of fact, LOVES other dogs at the dog park. About 2 months ago, we got another dog, small pischer mix. He is about 1 year old. They became instant best friends and inseparable. But now, when we have other dogs around, they act very aggressively. The other day, the black lab's best friend dog visited, and he was even aggressive toward him to protect the little one. It is difficult to walk them, because they bark at other dogs now so much. How can I fix it?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: No wounds
JA: What is the dog training's name?
Customer: I don't have a dog trainer
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Dog Trainer should know about the dog training?
Customer: I don't think so
Submitted: 9 days ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 9 days ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

Both dogs are male, correct?

Are they neutered?

What obedience training have they had?

Has either dog been attacked by another dog?

Customer: replied 9 days ago.
both dogs are male. The 50-lbs black lab mix is Blue Moon, and The 18-lbs pinscher mix is Mr. Lucky. They are both adopted and neutered. They haven't had any former trainings but they are both extremely well-behaved dogs and never attacked any people. Blue Moon got attacked by another dog once at a dog party and injured. And he is scared of people on skateboard, so he normally barks at them aggressively. Mr. Lucky was friendly with all other dogs at the shelter, but now seems to get really aggressive toward other dogs. But I'm not really sure, because we only have him less then 2 months. Blue Moon has been always liking other dogs at the dog park. I think he still be okay with other dogs if we don't have Mr. Lucky with him.
Customer: replied 9 days ago.
I may also add that we have 2 small children in the house, and they are both very friendly with them or any other strangers entering the house. We have to admit, since we adopted Lucky, because they play together and running around together so much in our big backyard, we have been walking them less. It also seems this aggressive behavior might have triggered by a visit from Blue's best friend, Kuma. One day, Kuma (also male) visited our backyard, and Lucky freaked out. This dog is a huge dog and a bit intimidating. As Lucky went barking frenzy, Blue got confused and became very protective. He even tried to fight with Kuma for our surprise. Since then, it seems Blue looks more guarded and barks at other dogs on a walk.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 9 days ago.

Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful.

I'm sure you have heard that dogs are pack animals. Animals in packs often behave differently than dogs on their own. Likely Blue (I had a rottie named blue moon) didn't have any cause to act aggressive before lucky came. Once Lucky came, he felt that he had to show Lucky that he was the alpha of the pack. The alpha has privileges such as getting attention first, fed first, etc but it also comes with certain responsibilities too such as protecting their territory and other pack members. So it is possible when Kuma came to visit, Blue was showing Lucky that he was boss and when Lucky showed aggressive behavior toward Kuma, Blue did his duty and protected Lucky.

Since Blue is older, larger and already lived with you, he should have been the alpha. However, Pnschers are often very dominant as a breed regardless of their size so it is possible that Lucky became the alpha. In that case, Blue would be following the alpha's lead. Lucky would be leary of all larger dogs and possibly aggressive first to help keep other dogs away.

Now on to how to correct the behavior. The most effective method is having both dogs obedience trained. What obedience training accomplishes is that the dogs see you as the ultimate boss and learn to look to you as to how they should react around other dogs. It isn't an overnight fix but each time a dog obeys a command even if it is for the tiny hot dog sliver treats, they become a bit more submissive to you and then see you as the decision maker and protector. Of course you have to protect them meaning you will need to step between them and any potential threat.

The following site is helpful in helping owners train their 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.

Now once you think you have them trained, I would then enroll them in a class to finish their training around other dogs in a controlled atmosphere like a class where everyone is focused on their dog and all dogs are on leashes with their owners.

In addition when you walk, you should not tense up or pull the dogs back when you see another dog approach. When you do, the dog feels your worry and thinks you are worried about the other dog and not them attacking. As a result they go ahead and become protective of you. So it is very important that you remain calm when they are on leash and not tense up.

I would restart you walks again and might consider walking them separately so you can work on their behavior apart from one another first. It will also help you determine if indeed Lucky is the catalyst for the behavior. This will also allow you to work with Lucky one on one easier.

You will need to get both of them walking fairly well on leash first before working with them again together. They may indeed revert back to the old behavior when together but then you focus on letting them know what behavior is unacceptable with low toned NO reprimands and using the treats to reward desired behavior. Keep the treats paper thin so they don't get filled up.

The BAT method may be helpful as well. REad about that below.


You should also learn body language so you can see if the other dogs or tey are transmitting aggression or dominance with their body posture. Read more on this here:


I am not a fan of dog parks. Too often a normal happy go lucky adjusted dog will go to a park and be fine until another aggressive dog attacks them. At that point they start feeling like they need to be aggressive first to prevent dogs from even getting close enough to attack them. I find it is better to find people with similar sized dogs of the opposite sex to be playmates on a weekly basis. Now you might find a smaller female as a playmate for Lucky and see if Kuma and Blue will regain their old relationship if Lucky is contained during Kumas next visit. Often once the relationship has turned aggressive, it needs a lot of work to repair.

I hope this information is helpful to you. 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 do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 7 days ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Jane Lefler
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Hi. Thank you for your advice. I did suspected everything that you said and it made sense. I think we should have been more careful about the first visit of Kuma.It has only been a few days, but I have started walking each dog separately. I also took Blue Moon to my office alone as I used to do. I think I can see the progress. They are both not aggressive alpha types to begin with, so I walk them separately, they are a lot calmer. Blue can do all commands, and all around good, if Lucky is not around. But he loves Lucky to death. He gets over-protective when Lucky is around. I don't think Lucky ever had a leash training before we adopted him, and he needs to gain confidence when he is alone. He is a happy dog, so I think he can do it. I have started teaching him commands and he has been doing okay. Once Lucky gains confidence, Blue should calm down too.We have this can that we put few coins in that we can shake, when Lucky gets jumpy. We use it to train him not to jump up to people, and seems like working. If there is a situation such as we take both dogs somewhere together, and they get tensed up with other dogs walking by, should we use the can to distract them? It could be really difficult to walk away, when both dogs get tense up. What is the best method when they get upset together, because they tend to feed their nervous energy off of one another?Thank you.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 days ago.

You are very welcome. I hope you take this opportunity to rate my answer favorable.

Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Do you have an answer for my follow-up question? Or it will have to be extra charge for you to answer?
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 6 days ago.

Oh. Im sorry. I missed that. I tend not to use cans of coins for distraction as they eventually start ignoring it. I use the hot dog slivers for training, they generally do not ignore that food reward. As you get them more under control, set up situations where both dogs are together and likely to act up so you can train specifically for that situation. The can will work short term, but the treat method tends to work long term as they are never positive that you don't have a treat for them. One reason it is a good idea to carry treats in a fanny pack all the time you have your dogs with you. It is extremely late here and I need to get up in just a couple of hours, so if you have additional followup questions, I'll respond first thing in the morning.

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