7 Things That Helped My Dog-aggressive Dog.


Honored Member
HERE ARE SEVEN THINGS THAT HAVE HELPED ME PREVENT REACTIONS and reduce aggression from my own dog-aggressive dog about other dogs.
THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS TO WORK ON REDUCING DOG AGGRESSION, these are just 7 things that helped *my*dog. I am writing another thread on shy dogs who aggress towards humans, THIS THREAD is about persistent, inappropriate, ongoing aggression from your dog-aggressive dog towards other DOGS.

I'm not a pro, just someone who loves her dog-aggressive dog, and this might not help with your dog. I hope others also post what has actually helped their dogs reduce their aggression.
I think tricks training is GREAT for dogs with issues, it helps strenghten the bond, and makes focusing on you easier.

Helping your dog reduce his aggression takes a bit of practice, and gets easier
for both me,
and for the dog,
the more i use it. It’s really not that hard, but it does take ongoing efforts and consistency.

Be sure to look over #6, too, for “general desensitizing” to dogs in your own neighborhood. And i hope all ppl who are NEW to working with any aggressive dogs will read #7 about growling dogs.
The first 5 are ones I use to keep Buddy calm while out on a walk. Buddy *used to* react at 300 feet away, very vicious, he'd bite any dog he got close to,
and now, we are down to about 5 or 10 feet, and often, no reaction at all. And his reactions are NOT as severe, briefer, less often, easier to interrupt, etc. His reactions USED TO be crazed, wild eyed, insane lunging and screaming and he’d totally attack any dog he got a chance to.

Besides having actual doggie friends now, Buddy can now walk calmly by *most* unknown dogs in his neighborhood, *most* of the time. (see #6) Buddy has even made several canine pals, some of which he LOVES now, and has also been desensitized to most of our friends’ dogs, many that he wanted to kill at first.

MOST ANY DOG THAT I HAVE REGULAR ACCESS TO, I can usually desensitize Buddy to, sooner or later. Not all, but most.

He’s NOT cured, but, he’s better, and easier to manage and I’m still learning, and my dog is still improving.

#1) First off---------PROPER LEASH FOR THE TASK---------
--- i threw out the extenda-leash, and taught Buddy to heel on an ordinary 6 foot leash. I tied a knot to hold in my own hand, to mark where he should be beside me, so i don't have to look to see where he is. The leash is slack, and he is right beside me, not in front.
That really really helped my dog, but, can't explain why, but, it DID HELP!!! A LOT!! (who knew?) I think all dogs should be able to heel upon request anyway. He still gets his full speed runs in empty, fenced-in cemeteries and empty fenced-in school yards or empty parks, but now he walks on a short leash.

I wish I had realized LONG AGO how detrimental that extenda-leash was for *my* dog’s ability to stay calm…………sigh.

If your dog is still breaching on end of leash, consider using a chest harness instead of a neck collar. But walking in a heel---just doing THAT---cuts breaching down by like, 90% !! for my dog anyway.
Google “kikopup loose leash” for help to begin to teach heel or loose leash walking: (it’s not that hard, do it!)
Many people use head-halters for dog-aggressive dogs. If you DO choose to use one, it is VIP you take the time to desensitize your dog to the head-halter itself, and never ever ever pull or yank on a dog in a head-halter, as you could hurt their neck.

#2) secondly-----------KEEP YOUR SELF CALM------------

To help your OWN SELF stay CALM if you see oncoming dogs that your dog might react to:
Try a yawn. Has to be a REAL yawn, though, fake it til you make it. This can relax YOU. I also use this if I am worried about an appt, etc, it truly works if you can muster up a real yawn.
Yawning releases relaxing hormones into your bloodstream, like a shot of valium.
I do NOT think us being calm prevents reactions, nope, not at all........ but if we DO freak out, that WILL or could exacerbate our dog's fears, imo. But my dog has reacted when I was so calm, that I wasn’t even paying att’n:ROFLMAO: ………… and my dog has stayed calm when I was nervous,:eek: so it’s not like your dog is an extension of you. The dog IS his own separate being. But you being afraid won’t help you make best choices.
ALSO, When i see oncoming dogs,
I DO talk to the other human, though, almost every time. But, i'm very outgoing, this is very easy for me to do.
in happy, calm voice, "Oh, what a cute dog, how old is it?" kinda thing, or, "Isn't this weather great?" etc etc. So Buddy can Hear i am not afraid.

I really never ever get nervous nowadays to walk my gangsta dog by unknown dogs now, (oh I USED TO!) Now, I am used to it. Some days we win, some days we lose. What is the worst that can happen? So my dog barks away like a gangsta while we leave, how bad is that. Big noisy moment. So what. No big deal. It’s no big shocker, I already know he is my lil gangsta, doing the best he can.
We are all doing the best we can. And dog-aggression is genetic, shows up at about 9 mos old. We can make them better, or worse, but their brains are different on MRIs. (another thread)
#3) THIRDLY------------------USE DOG LANGUAGE-------------
I DO USE DOG LANGUAGE to help Buddy stay calm. This has to be done PRIOR to a reaction, AT FIRST SIGNS of reaction. So far, for me, it’s fairly useless once Buddy is in the middle of a full reaction, but PRIOR to a reaction, it’s very effective.
I ask for a “look at me” and when Buddy looks at me, i give him SLOW BLINKS, and a noise-y yawn. THE DOG HAS TO LOOK AT YOU TO *SEE* THE SLOW BLINKS AND YAWN, but once he has SEEN your slow blink and the Yawn, the dog does NOT need to stay focused on you after that for this exercise.
I learned this trick from Tx_cowgirl, and it's also in a book, "On Talking Terms with Dogs/Calming signals" by Turid Rugass, and from Kikopup on youtube, LIKE THIS:

YAWN/SLOW BLINKS, deep slow sighs - THAT MEANS “CALM DOWN” in your dog’s OWN language. Often, Buddy will yawn or slow-blink back. Sometimes Buddy turns his head away, that is good, too.
THIS really helps my dog. a lot. OF ALL THE THINGS I HAVE TRIED, using “calming signals” works the best for *my* particular dog.
I've even got a handful of miracles to report using those calming signals…yes I do!
I told a pal to try this YAWN/SLOW BLINKS, and she did, BUT, SHE DID THIS FROM BEHIND HER DOG and her dog had no idea she'd slow blinked or yawned:ROFLMAO: , and i busted out laffin when she told me.
SO IT WILL *NOT* HELP IF your dog doesn't SEE you slow blink/yawn---------- thus, you need a solid, "look at me" just to give the calming signals to the dog.
If you ever do this, and your dog then stands and starts to fake-sniff the ground, with his side towards 'enemy dog'----------- leave your dog alone, wait silently, he IS doing the right thing.


Just wait. And feel secretly happy about it.
YOu will know it is a fake sniff,
~they do it when they see an oncoming dog
~they don't inhale deeply,
~they don't blow out their nostrils to re-sniff
~and they don't move about to follow the sniff, not even one step.
They look like dog statues, posing with their noses in the grass, not moving, not breathing deep, = a fake sniff.
THIS IS BEST POSSIBLE ANSWER your dog can offer,:D:D:D but most ppl miss seeing it happen and drag the dog along when he is TRYING to do the right thing here. So DO watch for the FAKE SNIFF, and be very happy about this “answer” to your yawn. When my dog does his fake sniff, he can even calm down OTHER reactive dogs, if *i* do not interrupt it.
HOPE YOU EVER GET TO WITNESS YOUR DOG OFFERING A FAKE SNIFF! It means "i'm just over here minding my own business, i'm no threat".:D
All nearby dogs calm down, and me and my dog just walk by calmly then. Often, Buddy will walk by still in a sniffing position, as he passes by the other reactive dog. That’s okay, let him sniff his way right by the other dog.

I do not offer Buddy yawns just for NO reason.------ But, i DO make him stop, and 'look at me' randomly, so when i need to use "look at me", he won't "alarm".

ALSO, you have to TEACH “look at me” just like you teach any other cue. Many ppl try to TEACH the “look at me” cue WHILE their dog is upset. (?) No one would try to teach “rollover” when plates are being thrown on the floor,but yet, many ppl try to TEACH how to “look at me” to a dog who is over the threshold/while the dog IS reacting.

Steps #4, #5, #6, "desesensitization,
and #7"growling" are below in replies.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!!! I hope i might be helping others get inspired to keep on trying!!? DON’T GIVE UP, we CAN reduce the aggression in our dogs,
And we CAN raise the dog’s threshold. We can help our dogs get over their dog aggression, one dog at a time. And each dog they DO get used to, also seems to reduce their overall aggression.
And you CAN help your dog become his best possible self, and even live a happier life.
PLEASE POST WHAT HAS HELPED YOUR DOG HAVE LESS dog-AGGRESSION?? There are lots of other ways to work on this issue!!!


Honored Member
#4) FOURTH--------------HAVE DOG LIE DOWN if he does NOT do the Fake Sniff after you give him calming signals.
This one is just worth a try, it works for MY dog, might not work for YOUR dog. If Buddy is still staring at oncoming dog, I pull up into a nearby lawn a few feet. Even moving a few feet into the lawn is sort of calming to Buddy, even though he is only a few extra feet away from the street.
First I make him sit, then lie down, if Buddy does NOT do the fake-sniff (SEE #3)after i yawn at him. I squat down next to him, massage his back, offer him yawns and give him treats for watching enemy dog go by. My squatting down next to him seems to help.
If Buddy doesn't do the fake-sniff, well, THEN, i make Buddy lie down. it works for Buddy. He rarely reacts then, which IS *my* goal. Occasionally, he will stand up and THEN react, and if so, we leave, "Let's go".

This lie down and get treats for watching the enemy go by, is only for preventing reaction while passing dogs on walks, is not for having dogs MEET, which is further down, in #6.


Honored Member
#5) LAST RESORT-----------------------(when all else fails, and it will now and then) USE “LOOK AT ME” as last resort, or use “Let’s go”.
ALSO, most dogs once they have reacted, are chockfull of adrenaline, and he will react to ANY dog for next 20 minutes or so. So if your dog has JUST reacted to Dog#2, is real good chance you might not have great success if you pass Dog#3 within next 20 minute or so, so don’t feel like failure, it’s the dog’s adrenaline are at top levels, it’s not you. Once Buddy HAS reacted, I usually just avoid all dogs for next 20 or 30 minutes til he has settled back down inside.
So then, IF Buddy has recently reacted, or IF I am ‘losing’ Buddy and he is beginning to react-------- I resort to “LOOK AT ME”. Buddy either has to stay focused ON ME, nonstop, eyes on me, I squat down to help keep him focused and sometimes speed-feed treats nonstop to keep him focused on me……………… often this nonstop “look at me” is less difficult if your dog’s BACK is towards the enemy dog. Otherwise, it is more challenging for Buddy to not look over my shoulder at that enemy dog going by.
---------I use the nonstop “look at me” to Prevent Reaction while enemy dog goes by,
we just do "Let's Go"
This is easier to TEACH the cue when the dog is NOT upset, you teach “let’s go” like any other cue, when dog is calm.
Buddy and I do “let’s go” all the time, so when he hears “let’s go” he knows “I am going to follow mom in another direction NOW”.
Buddy and I have done “Let’s Go” so many many times, that he now begins to walk AWAY from dogs he has barked at ON HIS OWN, before I’ve even got the words out, my dog is used to leaving after he barks. Doesn’t sound like much, but it sure beats dragging away a dog against his will barking and lunging.

ANYWAY, i hope i've helped someone who is struggling with Preventing Reactions ON A WALK. Maybe this will help them too???


Honored Member
I’ve also used the techniques above, especially #3 and #4, (NOT #5) to desensitize Buddy to looking AT other dogs. Not at me, but looking directly AT the other dogs, or being around other dogs. THIS REALLY HELPS. I wasted a whole year, using ONLY "look at me" :rolleyes: but once i began rewarding Buddy for looking AT the enemy, we made faster progress.

We approach a dog behind a fence in our neighborhood, for example,
and BEFORE Buddy reacts he gets treats for calmly observing the dog, calmly LOOKING DIRECTLY *AT* THE ‘ENEMY’--------NOT at ME……….. more treats treats, and then we leave, “Let’s Go”. That’s it, slowly shortening the distance, and lengthening the time there.

Buddy can look anywhere he wants, just seeing a dog and getting treats for that helps. I mean, sometimes, Buddy looks at the dog, but every once in a while, he begins to look around here or there, and gets treats for that, too! My point is, he isn’t looking at ME, he is learning how to be calm around other dogs.
KEEP ALL TREATS TINY, to avoid a full or fat dog. If your dog won't take treats, he is over his threshold, back up some more. Use real meat, hotdogs, cheese, homemade treats, all cut up about raisen-sized.

Sometimes, I also ask Buddy to lie down, too, and reward that, too, as *my* particular dog self-calms by lying down.
We USED TO have to stop at 300 or 400 feet away!! We could BARELY SEE the dog!! But each week, we knocked off about 5 or 10 feet per week, and Buddy was kept below HIS own personal threshold the entire time. He learned, “I look at the scary dog, I get treats, we leave, i'm safe” and did seem to develop more security about the whole dog thing. Dogs = TREATS!
Each day, moving a bit closer, but, always stayingbelow Buddy’s threshold. You can do this OUTSIDE of petsmart or OUTSIDE of dog parks, by yards with dogs in them, at DISTANCES WHERE YOUR DOG IS STILL CALM, even if it is 100s of feet away.

By doing these desensitizing exercises, moving closer each day, I can now walk Buddy past dogs in our neighborhood that Buddy USED TO react to, but, doesn’t anymore. This does take time, is not a quick fix, and might not work for all dogs.

JUST BECAUSE YOUR DOG REACTED TO AN UNKNOWN DOG IN JULY, doesn’t mean your dog can’t be brought to walk calmly by the same dog in AUGUST……….or September…heehee. Dog-aggressive dogs tend to react to most of the UNKNOWN dogs, but often, once the DA dog gets to know the other dog, even just by observing him, the DA dog’s aggression reduces. My point is, DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR DOG.

Using these methods, I have been able to get Buddy to either accept or even LOVE many dogs he previously “hated”. It just took a while.

Don’t get discouraged, if after you have you successfully desensitized your dog to his enemy, Fido,:D if you find out your dog still reacts to Max. :(
DA Dogs don’t much generalize dogs. Dog-aggressive dogs go through the world, “one dog at a time”:ROFLMAO: ha ha! But, with EACH dog that Buddy HAS befriended, it has reduced his overall aggression in general.
BUDDY WAS VERY SEVERE CASE, was covered in blood when I met him, and he bit every dog he saw, and he IS much better now. Not 100% cured, NO, but better. He even has several doggie pals now that he loves to play with.
DO GOOGLE “KIKOPUP BARKING” she has a series of FIVE videos on barking dogs, one of the five might help your dog.


Honored Member
#7) ------GROWLING----------
NEVER 'correct' a growl, never do it.
Teaching your dog to skip his warning growl
does NOT make your dog "nice",
it only makes him “silent”.

Then you are left with a dog who is harder to read, and has learned to skip that VIP warning growl, and goes straight for a bite....which is last thing you want.

if your dog growls, calmly remove him away from whatever it is he is growling about, but do NOT scold a growl. Most dogs would prefer to growl than bite. I’m very grateful that Buddy growls, it helps alert me to the fact Buddy is losing it, if I wasn’t even paying att’n, well, I am NOW!

Ppl who scold growls are the ones who post stuff like, “You can never tell when Fido is going to go off….one minute, Fido is fine, next minute, BAM! He’s biting and attacking.” Somewhere along the line, Fido was taught to skip his warning growl…so he does.
See also a reply below, on the “Bathroom Trick” for growling dogs, below.


Honored Member

If your DA dog (dog-aggressive dog) begins to growl if another dog approaches you, you can try the “Bathroom Trick”. I’ve ONLY used this on dogs Buddy HAS accepted, who ARE his friends, but Buddy still doesn’t like them approaching ME. I have never tried this with unknown dogs and Buddy, only with his doggie pals.
No, it’s not Buddy is “being protective” when he growls at other dogs approaching me……..it is Buddy telling the other dog, “claiming” me, as “his” possession. As in “his chewbone…his mom..” kinda thing. AS IF Buddy gets to decide who is next to me.:rolleyes:

I never ever “correct” nor scold a growl (see #7 above). My dog has a right to growl, but I also have a right to growl-free kitchen.:ROFLMAO:

Here is what I tried, and it has worked. Others here on DTA taught me this trick years ago, and it still works everytime, whenever Buddy tells other dog, “Back off, Fluffy, she’s MINE”.:mad:

I have Buddy wearing his leash, but I don’t hold the leash.
When Fluffy approaches me, if Buddy growls, I silently, calmly take Buddy’s leash, and calmly silently lead Buddy away, and put him into the bathroom, (or any room with a door) and close door for 30 seconds. 30 seconds is a long time to a dog.

Then, I calmly, silently bring him back into kitchen. I drop the leash.

Yes, Buddy growled again, each time Fluffy approached me, but, I just kept calmly, silently removing my lil gangsta dog out of the room, calmly silently, putting him into the bathroom for 20 seconds, and bringing Buddy back into the kitchen.

Yes, yes, it took many times, :ROFLMAO: but finally, my lil gangsta realized, “Ohhhh, mom doesn’t seem to appreciate my lil gangsta routine here….and mom is not my possession, and I guess, if I want to be in here with everyone else, I have to be a gentleman.”
And so he was.:)
Each time I’ve used it, it takes less trips to the bathroom for Buddy. By evening time, I was fawning all over Fluffy, while Buddy calmly watched; he was now fine with it, NO problem, Buddy was fine and happy. He was not in charge of who gets near me after all.
(Buddy is still is appropriately protective, though, even on his own, he once snarled and growled at a stranger in our window.) But now Buddy knows, he does not have to “claim” me as a possession to other dogs.


Honored Member
Be aware many dog-aggressive dogs have triggers.
Many DA dogs are more likely to react if they have JUST recently reacted in past half hour or so. It’s almost guaranteed with *my* dog.

Other triggers include:
~doorways (doorways are worst possible place for DA dogs to meet other dogs, imo)


~narrow hallways


~anything that can be perceived by the dog to be a doorway, such as gates, openings to rooms, etc

~food and chewbones, etc.

~being cornered, and/or small spaces


~leashes. (many dogs are worse when on leash, but safety first)

~their owner being approached by the other dog. (see “Bathroom Trick” above)

~seeing dogs running can set off a DA dog to blow his lil fuse...

~being in overwhelmingly exciting places, like Petsmart, dog parks, etc, can bring some dogs to the top limit of their threshold already, just by being IN these places.


Honored Member
One more point I want to make,
That I learned the hard way, is,
There IS a difference between desensitizing a dog,
preventing reactions. It’s often two different things.
We who work with our aggressive dogs, will use both, but they have different uses, and different goals.

I spent a whole year, using ONLY “look at me”. During that year, my dog-aggressive dog’s inner attitude did not improve a whole lot. Oh, we got to be masters at “look at me”, but it wasn’t doing a lot to help Buddy’s inner attitude, but wow, he sure did get great at focusing on me!
Preventing all reactions IS a great goal, yes it is. We should all strive toward preventing all the reactions that we can. And sometimes, that is all we CAN do, is get the dog’s focus off of the other dog.
It wasn’t until I branched out into step #6, (above) “General Desensitization”-- working on rewarding Buddy for looking AT the enemy dogs, that I began to make progress in helping him develop new skills, new associations to looking AT the enemy dogs, from HIS comfort zone at however many hundreds of feet away that was. He got rewarded for looking at or towards the enemy, without reacting.
THAT really helped Buddy begin to re-wire his brain a lil bit, to begin to think that looking AT the other dogs was a great and safe thing to do. THAT was when I began to see some changes in Buddy’s overall attitude, his threshold was improving, I saw a marked decrease in his aggression levels, a big improvement in how close he could get to his enemies and stay cool, etc, and even his reactions themselves were not as violent as they used to be.
But we DO need to learn how to do all three things---------
~ Ways to PREVENT reactions, like “look at me”,

~Ways to interrupt reactions, like “Lets go” (kikopup barking video #3)

~Ways to desensitize the dog to looking AT and being around the enemy dogs. (like in step #6 above).


Honored Member
Do not force your dog to have contact with dogs he is signaling he does not like. This will NOT help your dog “get over it”, and, it may make your dog less trustful that YOU can and will protect him. And it could lead to dog fights. Every minute my dog spends reacting, I see it as a loss, or set-back, so I strive to prevent or interrupt ALL reactions that I can.

To work on step #6 above, the “Desensitizing your dog to other dogs” part,
This is best done when your dog IS BELOW THRESHOLD. You are trying to help the dog associate seeing other dogs with being calm and safe.

Places like INSIDE of Petsmart and INSIDE of Dog Parks are NOT good places to work on desensitizing your dog, and it may actually be dangerous, the dogs could fight and get injured both physically and psychologically. Having an actual fight is a huge set back for dogs working on their issues. Many dogs are over their threshold just to BE in petsmart, etc, so asking them to be calm, in the most exciting place of all, when faced with “enemies” is not the best approach nor the best place for most dogs with aggression issues.

Save petsmart for when you are reeeeeally advanced, and CAN manage or prevent most reactions in less exciting places, like in your yard, or out on a walk, and even then, make trips BRIEF, go during weekday times when there is less traffic, and stay away from other dogs. Many dog aggressive dogs do NOT enjoy petsmart, or only for a FEW MINUTES. Too many smells, etc. Many ppl with aggressive dogs just skip Petsmart altogether, as wayyyyy too overwhelming for their dogs to enjoy—it’s just not fun for the dogs.

Dog-aggressive dogs should not be brought to dog parks, it is too risky.

Beginning on walks is good place to work on desensitizing your dog, or sitting in your front yard during “dog walk hour” (often this is 5 to 6 pm). Brief encounters, at a distance YOUR dog is comfortable, is how and where you pick the spot to begin. If it is 500 feet away, it if 500 feet away. Don’t be discouraged, over time you can and will shorten the distance you have to work from. Rushing this process is not a good idea, you are trying to help your dog develop a new association to seeing dogs,
“I see scary dogs, I get treats, I am safe, and I leave” is good first step for beginning to desensitize your dog to seeing other dogs. Not petsmart or dog parks. I mean like on a walk, or in a yard, when your dog is safely leashed, is what I mean.

AGAIN, KIKOPUP on youtube series of five videos on ‘BARKING’ are very helpful. Each one is only about 5 minutes long. Especially google “kikopup barking video episode three”.


Honored Member
cool, now i can just link this thread, and/or refer to a certain post in it.
Not that i am great at dog-aggressive dogs, but it can be so exhausting to try to help and encourage others to not give up, to keep trying, and to help them avoid making mistakes that i have made, which can make a DA dog even worse,...so much work to try to help them get pointed in right direction, that sometimes, many ppl don't much participate in those type of threads at times.


Honored Member
Staff member
Nice thread Tigerlily! :)

Some additional tips that have helped with my shy boy and my aggressive dog who passed away a couple years ago...

When you think you're ready for an indoors public place, be smart about it. Find out when those places are the least busy, and try to schedule your visit at that time. You don't want to make aaaaaaallll kinds of progress with your dog and then happily rush up to Petsmart Saturday afternoon when they are insanely busy and there are dogs and people all over the place. This will NOT be good for your dog, you will most likely have a bad experience and your dog will regress--this is too too much for him. Find a time that they are less busy--make it easier on him! Less stress for the both of you. Build up to busier times. Also, plan out escape routes---it's easy to get trapped on small aisles, and both you and your dog will be concerned. If you have to buy something down a crowded aisle, have a helper with you to go down the aisle while you and your pup DON'T, or plan another trip without your dog. Your dog needs to know that you will always keep him safe--so make sure you do that. Plan your visits wisely so that you can set him up for success. :)
You can also find various dog friendly places other than Petsmart/Petco that have less traffic so you can begin the "public places" phase of his training somewhere easier. 99% of dog owners know that Petsmart/Petco allows dogs. Tons of people bring their dogs here. But, not as many people know that some hardware stores, hunting stores, outdoor cafes, and some other stores also allow pets. If not as many people know, there may not be as many dogs there---you have dramatically decreased your chances of your dog having a reaction to another dog, because there are less dogs there. Some days there may be none, and some days there may be a few, but probably not ever as many as pet supply stores. So this is easier for your DA dog. He won't be as crowded by other dogs and it will probably be easier for you to escape, if need be. So make some phone calls and find lesser-known places that allow pets, where he can get some exposure to other dogs but not be overwhelmed. It's a great way to prepare him for Petsmart/Petco.


Experienced Member
Great thread, Tigerlily! Having been through the DA dog thing previously with two of the collies I have had, I think I would have given anything to be able to read this post when I was at the start of trying to desensitise them, to get tips and encouragement (which anyone with a DA dog knows that encouragement from others is all consumingly good sometimes when dought creeps in) and know that I am going along the right path. I have also used the look at me (my cue is 'eyes') and lets go ever since I got Ripley, partly because I wanted her to know these, DA dog or not, as I didn't know much of anything about her when I had her from RSPCA & because I did know that she had never been walked or out of the house she had been kept in until she was rescued, so the big wide world was, obviously, very scary to her. So I taught them around the house and then used them for anything she wouldn't pass or got scared of (i.e. trees and other inanimate objects too), she was a very exciteable dog meeting dogs to begin with and that could tip over the edge sometimes to barking, whining, lunging as she was so desperate to meet. Which is obviously not ideal, to her or the other dog, so very handy cues for calming excitement as well as agression. We still have on lead issues with excitement on meeting other dogs (although she has learnt to calmly meet dogs when off lead?!:confused:) but we are working on it calmly and methodically and your thread has given me some great new ideas too, any other ideas for this would also be appreciated from anyone. As I said brilliant thread... Well done, Tigerlily.(y)

Point to add - I am very aware that on lead excitement can often lead to dog agression if not desensitised in the correct way - which I am trying to do but would appreciate any other pointers from anyone that has experienced this.


Honored Member
One thing i think a lot of us new to rehabbing DA dogs get mixed up on is, the differences between
a) Preventing reactions (things like "look at me" for entire time unknown dog is going by)
b) Interrupting reactions (things like "Let's Go" if dog begins to react)
c) Desensitizing the dog to the sight of unknown dogs (things like eliciting calm behavior at the sub-threshold level while DA dog observes unknown dogs)

I used to ONLY do a) for an entire year, and my dog didn't get much better, but, we did rock at "Look At Me" but my DA dog's inner attitude did not improve much, until i began using c) also. (for whatever that is worth.) A lot of ppl only hear about a) and only use a), but, there are other things we can do to help the DA dog change his inner attitude.

So Dilly, your dog is mostly just lunging towards dogs, when he is ON leash? He also whines while doing this, you say? My particular dog only whines when he "likes" the other dog, to ME, my dog whining is a great sign.:ROFLMAO:
It might be that your dog just has "leash issues" then?? Your dog is okay when meeting dogs if he is off leash, is that right? Not sure that your current dog IS a dog-aggressive dog, *might* not be at all. :D Of course, no one can really evaluate a dog via online anyway, really.

Does your dog get plenty of exercise? Is your dog a high energy dog? If a dog does have any issues, if that dog is not getting enough exercise and training, that build up of unspent energy can easily excaberate unwanted behaviors, and make dog harder to control, imo.

Is your dog a 'shy' dog, prefers to not be touched by unknown humans? Or, no problems with unknown humans at all??
How old is your dog?


Experienced Member
One thing i think a lot of us new to rehabbing DA dogs get mixed up on is, the differences between
a) Preventing reactions (things like "look at me" for entire time unknown dog is going by)
b) Interrupting reactions (things like "Let's Go" if dog begins to react)
c) Desensitizing the dog to the sight of unknown dogs (things like eliciting calm behavior at the sub-threshold level while DA dog observes unknown dogs)

I used to ONLY do a) for an entire year, and my dog didn't get much better, but, we did rock at "Look At Me" but my DA dog's inner attitude did not improve much, until i began using c) also. (for whatever that is worth.) A lot of ppl only hear about a) and only use a), but, there are other things we can do to help the DA dog change his inner attitude.

So Dilly, your dog is mostly just lunging towards dogs, when he is ON leash? He also whines while doing this, you say? My particular dog only whines when he "likes" the other dog, to ME, my dog whining is a great sign.:ROFLMAO:
It might be that your dog just has "leash issues" then?? Your dog is okay when meeting dogs if he is off leash, is that right? Not sure that your current dog IS a dog-aggressive dog, *might* not be at all. :D Of course, no one can really evaluate a dog via online anyway, really.

Does your dog get plenty of exercise? Is your dog a high energy dog? If a dog does have any issues, if that dog is not getting enough exercise and training, that build up of unspent energy can easily excaberate unwanted behaviors, and make dog harder to control, imo.

Is your dog a 'shy' dog, prefers to not be touched by unknown humans? Or, no problems with unknown humans at all??
How old is your dog?
Hey, Tigerlily. My only problems now are when she is on leash. She is 2 and half years old now and we've had her since 18months old. When we had her she didn't know what the outside world was ( ie scared of trees, ducks, grass, pavements etc etc...). Unbelievably she is 100% with humans (not over excited meeting them (after 1 year of having her) but not scared either) just a very balanced dog with humans (new or familiar) and 90% with dogs (no dog aggression off leash, plays with anything that wants to play with her (familiar or not)) but due to her excitement still - when on leash she lunges, whines and barks if she cannot meet a dog immediately. She is not a DA dog now.... But having owned 'proper' DA dogs before I would never, never, want that excitement to change to agression due to the fact that I have pre-desposed nervousness with her being over excited meeting dogs on leash due to the fact I have experienced dog agression before (ie me being too tense on the end of the lead). She gets at least 3 hours, out and about, exercise per day (including 60% plus off leash) plus general training with me and my hubby and trick training. I don't feel in any way she lacks exercise (mental or physical). She is high energy and as I have said previously on here I would love to get her into more agility but cannot find a club where I live (but I do work on her in my back yard with my own equipment). She gets all different walks so is not bored of the same walk everyday. Training is constant (always positive and always rewarded). She is not destructive in any way now ( which she was massively when when first had her (digging, chewing, destroying & stealing). The only thing (and I mean only thing) is her over excitement on leash. I do not want to create a DA dog when I know I am the one to have to pull her back and calm her, but if she lunges at the wrong dog (even whining in excitement, which I do agree is a good sign!) I know, as I have been on the end of the leash of the 'wrong dog' that it can turn out bad! I am working with this every day, as I said before, calming and positively, and I am not saying I have a DA dog in any way shape or form now. But have experienced rehabilitating actual DA dogs before and would not want to create a (even partly) aggressive dog on leash because I havent managed to curb my dog's ethusiasm to other dogs. I would just appreciate any pointers from other owners having experienced this and from you as you have been through so much with your dog too and as I said wrote an amazing thread here that, although about dog aggression, I feel can fit into dog over excitement too! Thank you! Beth


Honored Member
Yeah, Beth, i didn't think your dog sounded like a DA dog, cuz DA dogs don't fare much better off leash than on, as you well know, plus the whine didn't sound like a DA dog, either.

Well, cool!! and whew! and don't worry, you can't really 'create' a permanently DA dog, that persistent, permanent. lifelong kind of DA is a genetic, neurobiological disorder. (which is why it's about impossible to "cure" 100%, and the 2 or 3 stories of complete "cures" i've ever heard of, i always have questions about "cures" in such dogs:rolleyes: )
but anyway,
i think you could try subthreshold desensitizing, to help teach Ripley how to be calm, and to teach Ripley you do want that.

Til Ripley gets hang of it, you will still want to interrupt and prevent all reactions that you can manage to interrupt or prevent.

Desensitizing the dog is Step #6, ("reply #4")
and Step #3 at top of this page.
You could have Ripley on leash, wayyyyyyy back at whatever distance Ripley needs to be able to stay calm,
if it's 100 feet, it's 100 feet away.
Use doggie language calming signals (step 3) to help Ripley stay calm. Heavily reward, treat, and calmly praise Ripley, then you leave.
that's it.
Next day, try a few feet closer. slowly slowly, overtime, helping Ripley learn how to be calm when she is on leash.

This might help Ripley learn how to be calm on a leash. You could work outside of dog parks, outside of petsmart, or outside of yards you know have a dog in them, always staying at whatever distance Ripley needs to stay calm, and ever shortening it.

that does work. There's probably other ways, too, but that is what i did with my DA dog, and he can often walk by unknown dogs now with no reaction at all. (not always but often). so if it works on a DA dog,:ROFLMAO: it might also work on just overly excited dog.:D

How old is Ripley?



Honored Member
ALSO watch the video in "Reply #11", too, on Barking on Walks, too. I'd love to see her doing that with an actually reactive DA dog,:ROFLMAO: but, still one can get idea of how it'd done.