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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19766
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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I have a black short haired retriever she's 13 months old

Customer Question

Hi, I have a black short haired retriever she's 13 months old very happy does have a lot of separation anxiety issues, and she's extremely protective of us. We had a fantastic day yesterday and in the afternoon went to the beach and she had a swim. All was good. Got home. First child had a shower, second went in. Heard some dogs go off in another yard first child comes to back door with a head band with cat ears on she's 9. My chihauhau had a bark as she does she usually barks at different things. Retriever went mental and tried to attack her (child). After half hour managed to settle her down, she was petrified. Tried to get her to come out without headband. She did it again. She even lost it at her again this morning through closed glass door with her dad there beside her.
I'm so confused. I don't know what to do with her or about this.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year 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. Your question was just transferred to the dog training and behaviorist category. I apologize for the delay in responding as we can not answer or even see questions in other categories.

This is meant to be a back and forth discussion, so I'm going to give you my thoughts first and some things that might help. You read over the suggestions and respond with questions, concern, etc. Again I am sorry this wasn't sent to the training category to start with.

I'm going to send my answer in several posts to avoid any system issues.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

It sounds like the dog was already aggitated and then your daughter came out with the ears on and startled your dog and she redirrected her aggression toward your daughter. Now she is either a little scared of your daughter or wants to reprimand her for the perceived wrong. Dogs often will redirect aggression toward another dog if they can not reach the object of their aggression. I'm surprised she didn't snap at the chihuahua.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

It's been a couple days already it looks like, but hopefully your daughter is calmed down and you have kept them separate. You are going to need to obedience train the retriever. It doesn't have to be formal class training but has to be structured regular training. 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.

In addition, keep a leash on her and each time she reacts to your daughter whether it is barking, growling, lunging, even staring, give her a tug on the leash to break her attention and a firm low toned NO of reprimand. You should also get a basket muzzle for her to wear anytime children are around her or strangers. That prevents any bites from occurring until she is under control.

As soon as she isn't reacting to your daughter in that manner anymore, you should have your daughter start training her as well. Start this after you have taught your dog basic commands like sit and down. Your daughter can help by going over these commands 4-5 times in a row and when te dog obeys, she can toss her a tasty hot dog sliver for a treat. As she obeys your daughter, it will make her a little more submissive toward your daughter even if she does it for the treat. Dogs do not reprimand or show aggression to dogs to those they see as more dominant and the bosses. Don't use boring store bought treats.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

The BAT method might be something you want to look into as well.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Since there are medical conditions that can trigger aggression such as hypothyroidism, you will want to have your dog checked over by your vet. Read more on these conditions below.


If she isn't spayed, I'd have that done as well. If the behavior does not improve with the techniques I've supplied, you might try a professional in person behaviorist. You can find one using this site.

However, this is your child that the dog has aggression toward. If she can not be brought under control quickly, you may need to rehome her for your childs safety. In addition, if your child remains scared of the dog, you may need to rehome her anyway.

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.