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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19829
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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I have a 3 yr old terrier with a history of abuse by his

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I have a 3 yr old bull terrier with a history of abuse by his former owner & her other pitbull. He is a loving cuddly dog at home with my 9 yr old black lab, 5 cats,1 ferret & my family. I have had the dog for 2 yrs & have noticed that he acts very aggressively when he is afraid. The vet calls him a fear biter. He doesn't like strangers or strange dogs. When people come to my house he barks but will stop when I tell him but he stays at my feet & will begin barking again if the visitor speaks to him. If they attempt to pet him, he will lunge & bite if I am not paying attention. He has bit 1 person that was in my yard uninvited. He bit the leg but didn't break the skin & then he turned around & ran back into the house. How can I help him to not see every stranger as a threat?
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is Jane. I have been working professionally with animals especially dogs in both health and behavioral issues for over 18 years. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I'm so sorry to hear that your dog is a fear biter. For a dog the size of a bull terrier, this can be a serious problem. You need to teach him a different behavior and teach him that you are his protector. If he isn't neutered yet, have that done. I'd also concentrate on obedience training with him. It helps establish you as the boss. The boss is in charge of protecting other members of the family. If you are the boss, it is your job to protect the dog, not the dog's job to protect you.
The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog in obedience. 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.
Teach him to sit when visitors come. When first teaching him to sit at the door when visitors come, you can slip the leash under your foot, have him sit and use the leash to keep him in that spot in a sit or down position as you open the door. Initially he may fight it, but soon will realize it doesn't do any good to try and move away and will stay. When he does that reward him with a tasty hot dog slice. Have visitors reward him as well.
Since it is your job to protect him, have visitors sit down before you allow him to move, then command him to sit in the corner of the room. Do not allow guests to approach him. Tell them he is in training. That usually works to keep people from attempting to pet or interact with a dog. The dog will learn that you are controlling the guests and that you are protecting him. Once he realizes that you are keeping him safe from the people, he should not be as fearful when they are around.
Formal obedience classes once he has some training will also help him gain self confidence around people as well. There is also a new training method called BAT that some are using for fear biters. You can read about it here:
Hopefully some of these suggestions should help him with his fear biting. I would try as many as you can and combine methods as well since that is usually what works the best is a combination of things. I do have to warn you that some dogs continue to be fearful despite training. Many can have that fear reduced greatly and some totally recover.
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 go 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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