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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18938
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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My Cavalier of 3 years is aggressive to everyone except

Customer Question

HI my Cavalier King Charles of 3 years is aggressive to everyone except immediate family. It occurs in the house or when we go out walking. At home he is so loving, but its getting to the point where I don't want to take him out. Thanks, lisa
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: No there isn't. He was always anxious, but now he is worse than ever with strangers.
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about lisa?
Customer: No, I have tried medication as a last resort and it just made him sleepy- but still went for people.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 month 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.

Is he neutered?

Has he had any obedience training?

What testin ghas been done on him?

Is he aggressive only to people or other dogs as wel?

So is there any circumstance when he isn't aggressive toward strangers?

What have you tried so far?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 20 days ago.

Hi again,

I notice you have not responded to my request for more information. Perhaps you tried and it didn't come through. I am including the questions again an d hope to get a response so I can continue with an answer.

Here they are again.

Is he neutered?

Has he had any obedience training?

What testin ghas been done on him?

Is he aggressive only to people or other dogs as wel?

So is there any circumstance when he isn't aggressive toward strangers?

What have you tried so far?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 15 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.

Dogs can have medical issues that can cause sudden aggression. While it seems behavioral, you should have it checked out.

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/medical-causes-of-aggression-in-dogs/page1.aspx

http://www.tropicaldogtraining.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Dodman_MA10.pdf

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.michvma.org/resource/resmgr/MVC_Proceedings_2015/horwitz_02.pdf

If there is no medical cause for the aggression, then it is strictly behavioral. Dogs are aggressive toward people for a variety of reasons. It might be that they are fearful of people and thus are aggressive before the person can be. In other cases, a dog is aggressive in order to dominate the people. Other causes could be that the dog feels they are the alpha member of the pack and as the alpha member they must protect the pack (you) from threats (people).

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In addition, owners sometimes make the situation even worse by tensing up and worrying about what will happen. The dog senses the owner worry and feels that he is justified in his aggressive stance because you are obviously worried about the people. They don't know you are worried about them attacking, they just feel that you are worried and assume it is the people.

.

For a dog like this, total control is necessary. This means not only physical control but on a mental level, you must be the boss. To accomplish this, you will need to have the dog wear a basket muzzle anytime he is not in your own house or yard. This will not only prevent bites but also allow you to feel more at ease when walking him or having him loose.

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You will need to have him obedience trained. If you can, I would do group classes (with the muzzle) and let the trainer know of the problem your dog has.. Before you can get into classes, I am including a link to a great site that teaches some good methods of training. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/training_theory.html

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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.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/training_nothing_in_life_is_free.html

This obedience work establishes you as the boss and as the boss it is your job to protect the dog and not the dogs job to protect you. Now the dog will still protect you if something should happen because you will be protecting yourself and as part of the pack, he will follow your lead and protect as well. But if you are calm around someone, he will see that you are ok and there is no need to help. This is why being the boss works well.

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You will also want to keep a leash on him at all times initially to grab if he should disobey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your dog does with training. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.

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Unfortunately, at this point, I would seriously consider having a behaviorist anyway available to evaluate the dog and determine the aggression level. In the meantime, institute the techniques I have recommended.

Now if there is someone he is aggressive to on a normal basis, you might have them help you with training. Each time he acts aggressively, you give a short tug to get his attention on you and give a firm low toned NO. When he hesitates and doesn't act aggressive, reward him with calm praise and a hot dog sliver. After a few training sessions, he should be less aggressive. At that point have the person reward him with the hot dog slivers. As he stops being aggressive to these helpers, start using different helpers. It usually doesn't take long for a dog to show less aggression. Then you can ask people you haven't met if they will give him treats when he is acting appropriately. He will learn that strangers are givers of treats and be more social around strangers.

The Bat method might be helpful as well. REad about this here:

http://www.training-your-dog-and-you.com/Behavior_Adjustment_Training.html
http://www.petexpertise.com/behavior-adjustment-training-dog.html

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.

Hi Again,

I just thought I'd check in to see how things are going for you and your dog. Let me know if my answer was helpful.