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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19590
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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My 3 year old Aussie has nipped two people. No one in a year

Customer Question

My 3 year old Aussie has nipped two people. No one in a year but I want to put him in dog agility and both he and his brother are Leary of strangers. The brother is in the agility classes and is doing fine. but I was told I can't put the brother in until I fix the problem and I don't know how to fix the problem
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. The first thing that should be done is to rule out a medical cause for the sudden aggression. You can read about these here: If there is no medical cause for the aggression, then it is strictly behavioral. In that case, there would need to be a lot of changes made in order to bring this dog under control. 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). In this case, it seems to be a lack of socialization. .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. You can take him places without the fear of him biting in order to socialize him. However, start with places where he won't feel so uncomfortable which should be places where there are fewer people or people he has come into contact with before. If he is acting in a non aggressive non fearful way, you can reward him with tasty treats like hot dog slivers or his ball if he is ball driven. This will help him associate people with the things he likes such as treats or a favorite toy. Reducing any fear will reduce the urge to bite. .I am assuming that you have had him obedience trained since you are in agility classes. You will want his obedience training perfect. This will mean working with him twice a day at least. I would do group classes (with the muzzle) and let the trainer know of the problem your dog has.. This is another way of getting him around other dogs and people in a controlled atmosphere to help socialize him. Some dogs never get over fear unfortunately so working him in agility may not be viable for him or may take a long time for him to feel comfortable completely around people. Working him on obedience instead may be a better option for him to learn self control and be more socialized as well. I want to give you a great site that goes over different ways of training dogs 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. 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. This obedience work establishes you as the boss and as boss it is your job to protect the dog and not the dogs job to protect you. He learns that you will protect him from people and not allow them to approach him and instruct them to stop a certain distance away and let him approach them if he is open to interaction. if you are calm around someone, he will see that you are ok and there is no need to fear them. This is why being the alpha boss helps with fear aggression..You can read more on socialization and fear aggression on this page as well. Unfortunately, there is no way of absolutely guaranteeing that something won't trigger that fear again while in training or in the ring and result in a bite. Most states in the US will allow a dog one bite without consequences but many will seize a dog that bites a second time. I wouldn't take a chance with a dog I owned. So I would start with more socialization using obedience training as well as taking him to places wehre there are a lot of people but where you can control the amount of interaction he has with them. Some people might suggest "flooding" or exposing your dog to the same situation that triggers the aggression but in most cases I don't find this to be an effective way of correcting fear aggression. Now exposing them to similar situations that are not as intense can help a lot, but forcing a dog to confront the situation that triggers the fear can backfire and make the situation worse. I hope that his aggression can be corrected and he can work in the agility arean, but you do need to be prepared in case that is not a field where he can compete or even train. Obedience or tracking may be an alternative outlet for him. Aggression is an issue that is often addressed by in person behaviorists as they can evaluate the dog in person and study the situation, body language and determine what type of aggression is being displayed and what triggers the aggression. Body language training may help you determine this as well. Learning about body language may help you detmine the cause yourself and learn to difuse the situation or avoid the trigger or even desensitize your dog to the situation that makes him uncomfortable. Of course, you can set up an agility course of your own to work with him away from people as well. This can help him learn to run the course without the stress of outside influences and help him learn to focus on the task at hand rather than the people. Once he is more focused on the course, you can add spectators a few at a time or fake "judges" to help him learn to ignore them and keep focused on his "work" in the agility arena and keep his stress levels down which should also help any fear based aggression. It usually isn't too difficult to set up at least a small course in a typical yard or find an area where you can practice that is closed in such as a fenced tennis court that isn't being used that you can set up your jumps, tunnels and teeter totters up in. 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.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
if i respond or give you more info is there additional fees
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.
No additional fees. In fact, you can go ahead and try some of what I've suggested and see how it goes and then come back and ask followup questions. Even if you rate, you can come back and ask followup questions and discuss things that may not be going as well as you like.
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Jane Lefler

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