7 Things That Helped My Dog-aggressive Dog.


Honored Member
Also, Ripley, teaching my dog proper loose leash walking, and throwing out the extenda-leash, made HUGE difference for *my* dog, like i explain in Step #1.

can't explain why, but just doing THAT knocked his lunging down by 90% right there.

Can Ripley walk nicely in loose leash, or even a heel? If not, teaching Ripley how to walk loose leash, and that pulling is just NEVER ever gonna get her anywhere, that is great 1st step, too.


Experienced Member
Thank you so much for your replies Tigerlily! Ripley is 2 & 1/2 now and we've had her for 1 year. She walks lovely to heel now 90% of the time except when she wants to meet a dog and we are only walking past. I have spent hours and hours with friends dog just doing the pass by thing and when in session she ends up ok by the end of it and then by the next walk she 'chooses' to forget it all again...! She is bright and knows what she is doing but the boxer part of her is very stubborn and the malamute just wants to run so her over excitement gets the better of her and the training hours seem to be forgotten - this is partly my fault as I paid so much attention on, firstly when we had her, changing the habits she was in (i.e. destroying, nipping, jumping up, eating and digging up the garden, eating any and all shoes and clothing that were left within her reach, etc) and once we got over some of them (partly by positive reinforcement and partly by just simply giving her the exercise she had always needed!) we then worked on recall predominantly as well as loose lead walking, all of which she has mastered on top of which trick training was partially added in as well and teaching agility in my yard but now I have partly overlooked the fact because recall was going so well she gets to play off lead with dogs and so it has grown to she thinks that every dog wants to play (not the case as we know..!). The bit I cannot get over is that because her recall is so good I can call her away from any dog when she is off lead but I cannot calm her on lead! I am working consisitently on this as I've said but it doesn't seem to be getting through...


Honored Member
Well, Ripley, it sounds like you are doing a ton of things right!!

I still think you can conquer the pull to dogs, the same way you conquered the pull to fire hydrants.

Let Ripley know, pulling to dogs gets her nothing.
and only calmly following you gets her to the dog.

Do not let Ripley meet any dog she has lunged or pulled about, that is, in fact, rewarding her lunging. My dog found it much harder to get a full on lunge going when he is on short, 6-foot leash, even that alone reduced his actual front feet up lunging by 90%. OH, he'd still react, but *my* dog could not quite escalate to a full-on lunge on a short leash.

It really is same thing, really, teaching Ripley she can't get to the fire hydrant by pulling, and teaching Ripley she can't get to the other dog by pulling.

I don't really think it is a breed thing, lots and lots and lots of dogs, of all breeds, do this. I see this every day, owners being dragged by their dogs who pull to meet an oncoming dog. All breeds, all sizes. -------------The owners complain out loud to me, as their dogs pull them over, "I can't teach my dog to stop pulling towards dogs." apparently unaware, they are rewarding the pull by letting the dog meet the other dog.

EVERY TIME the dog is "rewarded" by actually getting to meet the dog,
the pulling behavior IS re-enforced, whether you realize it or not. NO negative stuff needed, just do it the same way you did fire hydrants.

Maybe if YOU just see oncoming dogs as "fire hydrants"
and just do what you did to teach Ripley that pulling gets you NOTHING.

^kikopup has several other videos on loose leash, as well as the barking at dogs on a walk video which i already posted in reply #11. DON'T GIVE UP!! This is not easy, Ripleygirl, but you CAN do it!!

Your Ripley, who is NOT a DA dog, might not need to be given calming signals, but my DA dog did.
For dogs behind fences, and oncoming dogs, I worked on this for a year or more, til Tx_cowgirl told me about doggie-language calming signals,
which helped *my* dog a LOT.
It took some practice, both for me, and for my dog.
It's worth a try, although, i think, in Ripley's case, it's more a matter of you being consistent that pulling will NOT NOT NOT NOT ever ever get Ripley over to the other dog.
Teach Ripley that "Pulling Just NEVER works".

Like i emphasize in "Step 3" of this thread,
calming signals have to be done AHEAD of time, and seem useless once the dog IS in full on reaction. At least, that is how it is for *my* dog.

If i give Buddy the calming signals AHEAD of his reaction, at very very first, earliest signs that Buddy is about to react,
then-----------RIGHT THEN---------is when to do it. I pull over, ask for a sit,
tell Buddy to "look at me"
give him the slow blink, and yawn,
and then, Buddy is free to look whereever.
I usually wait a lil while, and then resume walking. If oncoming dog/dog behind fence is also reactive, i wait to see if Buddy will offer his "Fake Sniff" described in "STep #3, and if he does give a fake sniff, Buddy is allowed to lead after that, not me, til we are past the other dog. If Buddy offers his fake sniff, i allow Buddy to choose if and when we move forward.

If you wait until Ripley is lunging, etc, the calming signals are way less effective, at least, that is the case for MY dog.

(see, this IS different, than the non-stop "look at me" so often used on reactive dogs, where the dog is prevented from even focusing on other dog at all. In this exercise, the dog only has to look at you long enough to SEE the calming signals).


Honored Member
you might even set up an exercise, with a volunteer pal and her dog,
where you begin to teach Ripley the concept that ONLY his calm walk will get him over to sniff the other dog.

Each time Ripley pulls, follow the steps outlined in the video above on how to stop pulling.

You might even be surprised how quickly Ripley grasps the new idea, how quickly Ripley "gets it"----------------->
"OHhhhh, if i want to sniff Fido there, i have to not pull......ohhhh."


Staff member
Brillant post, Tigerlily!!

I started "Look at me" a couple weeks ago with Jinx and Isis. Isis took to it like a duck to water but Jinx was a tad bit confused "What you don't want me to offer strange behaviors?". I think in a little bit Isis will be able to add more distraction but Jinx might take a little while longer.

Both of them have had their fair share of interrupting a reaction recently as it's getting warmer out and people are out and about so we've had practice with that. I'm hoping by the end of summer I'll be able to have them glance at a person at the very least.


Honored Member
thank you!
Cwolf, i really believe your one dog who is the one who more afraid of humans will be easier for you to get calm around dogs, i really do.:D Now i have forgotten which of your 2 dogs is the one i felt was more towards the 'shy' end of the spectrum, but that dog will probably be markedly easier to get to be calm to dogs, than your other dog, who i felt was primarily a DA dog.

I have learned so much the hard way...
one thing i really learned the hard way is,
how "look at me" when used to prevent reactions,
doesn't do a lot to change the dog's inner attitude. :( Oh, it helps prevent reactions, oh, yes it does! and preventing reactios IS a most worthy goal,:D cuz i feel every reaction feeds that loop/that habit.
and preventing reactions is a great way to start.

but, having a dog "look at me" nonstop, does not change the dog's inner attitude much at all. but it is a great thing to do, and it is VIP to learn how to do it, imo. and it is a great starting point for anyone working on this issue.

but having a dog look right at his 'enemies' ----from whatever distance that particular dog needs to be able to not react----and rewarding his nonreaction for looking calmly at his enemies,
that really does help change the dog's inner attitude. Of course, to do that, with MY dog, i had to have Buddy "look at me" for him to observe my calming signals, then after Buddy sees my calming sigansl, then he could look around at whatever.

Sometimes, i have to repeat it,:rolleyes: (giving Buddy calming signals) if it "wore off" so to speak, if Buddy began to re-tense up again. It took some practice,
and it doesn't work every single time,
but it really can and does help reduce their overall reactivity, when we begin to lower their threshold.
(my dog used to be overthreshold at 400 feet away:rolleyes: ....now he can usually get to within 5 or 10 feet, and sometimes, no reaction at all)


Honored Member
Katzand, does your dog react only to dogs, or also to humans? good luck, and do hang in there and don't give up! We CAN help these dogs become their best possible selves!! We CAN help reduce their reactions.

We can help reduce
~the severity of the reaction,
~the frequency or number of reactions they have
~the distance the dog reacts to another dog
~the duration of their reaction
~and the dog's inner attitude can be improved. it can.

(my dog's reactions, if and when he does have one, have shifted from a screaming, wild eyed, breeching, foamy mouthed, viscous, leaping to attack, ---- down to a "bark, bark" which is often followed by Buddy automatically stepping away from the "enemy" dog after years of "Let's Go' whenever he does have a reaction)

We can increase
~our ability to manage, prevent, interrupt reactions
~our ability to help our dogs learn how to calmly observe an "enemy" dog
~our dog's ability to calmly observe an "enemy" dog
~both our dog's security and confidence, and our security and confidence when an "enemy" dog is coming along.


Honored Member
Although i usually always mention this in emails to me and to posts from newbies arriving to DTA with complaints their dog is either
a shy dog reactive to unknown humans,
a dog-aggressive dog reactive to unknown dogs,
(or a dog who has escalated to have BOTH targets)
i did not mention in THIS thread,
that a great first step for anyone dealing with a reactive dog, of any type,
is DAILY training.
Begin with tricks training, if you are brand new to this.
the key word here is "daily" training lessons, even if it's only a five minute lesson once a day, (twice is better)
this will help both you,
and your dog.
DAILY...or some type of training, DAILY.
even five or ten minute lessons, but DAILY.
TWICE A DAY is even better, even just quickie lessons

I can barely put into words
the difference i can spot in Buddy,
on how much more successful i am when i give him DAILY tricks lessons:D
than on days i don't.:(
My efforts to keep him always below threshold,
his focus on ME, everything is harder if he did NOT get his tricks lessons that day....i'm just sayin, send the owners of reactive dogs over to DTA, LOL!

It sounds stooopid, but, tricks training IS one tool we can use in helping reactive dogs....
I think training OF ANY TYPE, helps a dog develop focus, (on whatever, be it a scents or doggie dancing:rolleyes: or agility or tricks or anything )
and develop a longer attention span,
learn to follow their humans cues better,
helps the human learn how to motivate the dog better,
satisfies the dog's urge to do something/use his mind/figure something out,
helps the dog be more contented,
helps strengthen the dog/human bond,
gives the owner of a reactive dog a chance to have FUN with their dog,
helps prevent boredom/gives a dog a chance to blow off steam
helps the human hone their ability to teach a dog things, which IS key, imo,
develops and hones the dog/human communication and two-way understanding,
just tons and tons of possibilities,
on why training reactive dogs to do anything,
and advancing that to training amidst distractions,
helps the human have easier time to reduce this dog's reactivity.

only thing sadder than watching a reactive dog,
is watching a reactive dog who is NOT getting daily training of any type...

wow, on days i have skipped Buddy's lessons that day,
he is now much harder to manage, he escalates on days he gets NO lessons.....it's THAT important to a reactive dog.
or, at least, it is for mine.

You teach the dog tricks, advancing to tricks amidst distractions, or agility, or doggie dancing, or flyball, or nosework, or herding, or whatever,
but DO give a reactive dog at least one quickie lesson per day,
and two lessons are even better.


Honored Member
Even tricks training
will help both YOU and YOUR DOG.
Tricks training helps a reactive dog, but, i can only make guesses at WHY it
maybe it's cuz it gives a dog a "job", something to do, so he is more contented,
maybe it helps cuz dog becomes more adept at learning how to follow your cues,
maybe it helps cuz you become more adepts at learning how to motivate your
particular dog, and gives you a better understanding of how dogs learn,
maybe it increases the bond and adds to the fun you share together, making
interacting with you something to look forward to even more,
I can not say i fully understand all the "why" of how tricks training, or sports
training helps, yet, i can vouch with all my heart, that teaching tricks or sports or any type of DAILY training
help a reactive dog, and DOES help the owner, as well. IT'S CERTAINLY WORTH A
TRY, to add to one's repertoire of tools to use for reactive dogs.
No harm done anyway!

I even want to add,
that when my life gets too busy, and i neglect tricks training, my dog defaults
back to 'harder to manage'.:(
When i have daily lessons, or better, twice daily lessons, THEN my efforts to
manage and desensitize my dog are way easier,:D and more successful.
Maybe i can not fully guess or explain WHY that is, but, it's true, for my dog
at least.


Honored Member
TIME WITH THEIR DOGS---------IT'S US!! rofl!

If it is NOT fun---for both YOU and YOUR DOG---you are doing it wrong! so this IS a great tool to add to your arsenal of tools for reactive dogs.

SO Teaching your dog tricks, is great first step to do, when you begin you working toward rehabbing your reactive dog, so that when you DO approach desensitization with your dog,
you will already be adept at training your particular dog,
your dog will already have the basics of following your cues.


Honored Member
Here is an example of an amazing moment i got using dog language. This was the day i decided using 'dog language' on my dog was the way to go for *my* dog.

Buddy has 4 types of reactions, and Buddy's "chihuahua reaction" is one of his Most dramatic. This "chihuahua"
reaction is given to all skinney, short haired dogs, like MinPins, etc. Buddy grew up in a rat infested barn, with rats being his only entertainment ever, so maybe skinny dogs trigger this dramatic thing in my dog, who knows?

I suspect this particular reaction has some type of predator/prey thing mixed in with his dog-aggression, and it is horrible to watch, IF Buddy is even allowed to have the reaction---------he almost resembles a seizure,
just wild eyed,
whirling dervish, outa his mind, just horrible, horrible, horrible, making just
UGLY blood curdling sounds that sound like from another world.
Buddy is SO outa control during his "chihuahu" reaction, that Buddy does not usually even move TOWARDS the other dog, but, instead, just whirls about like a
crazy dog....weirdest thing.

So, we are walking along, and up ahead, is a yard, with three----------count
them THREE-----, chihuahuas in the front yard ahead, and all 3 are barking away at Buddy's approach. My dog is also MORE likely to have trouble not reacting if
there are MULTIPLE dogs (BUddy is better with one dog at a time usually, so this
is REAL challenge for *my* dog).

I pull Buddy aside, and have him sit, and "look at me". Buddy has NOT yet begun
to react yet....not yet...

I offer him a big noisey yawn, and slow blinks. BUddy slow blinks back to me,
and turns his face away.

We take several more steps towards the yard full of chihuahuas who are leaping
and barking their heads off in protest of my dog coming along.

We are now in front of the yard NEXT to the yard of chihuahuas, who continue to
leap about and bark.

Again, to be sure, knowing Buddy has a very severe thing about chihuahuas, to be
safe, i again, pull Buddy over to the side, and ask him to sit, "look at me"
(JUST so that Buddy can SEE my cues to him---NOT to keep him focused on me
nonstop) and while Buddy looks at me---i offer Buddy fairly noisey yawns and
slow blinks. These are dog language for "calm down".

Buddy NOW stands up, takes a step or two to position himself, and pushes his
nose down into the grass. I smile hugely:D and do nothing.

He is now telling the chihuahuas to "calm down, i'm no threat, i'm just over
here minding my own business" kinda thing.

Buddy is giving the chihuahuas his famous "fake sniff". My heart is beating
fast with joy, cuz Buddy's 'fake sniff' always works. I do nothing, i stand and

I can tell it is a Fake Sniff,


Buddy is doing this in response to seeing another dog,

Buddy keeps his Side towards the other dog,

does not inhale deeply,

does not blow out and re-sniff,

does not move about to follow the scent,

does not take one step,

..............just stands there, like a dog statue, with his nose pushed down
into the grass.

We stand there a while, while BUddy does his 'fake sniff' pose.....AMAZINGLY,
the other 3 chihuahua dogs see BUddy's "message", and ALL THREE sit down, and
stop barking.:eek:

Once the other 3 dogs have stopped barking, Buddy begins to walk along, his nose
to the ground,

and continues walking in this pose,

right past the 3 chihuahuas, who all sit respectfully while my dog walks by
their yard.......not a peep outa the other dogs.

My heart is beating so fast, i almost have tears in my eyes. NOw, to any
onlooker, it just like an ordinary moment, just looks like some lady walking her
dog, while 3 other dogs watch. But to me, it felt like we'd climbed Mount Everest.
Having an aggressive dog might be difficult, but, i never felt joy like this:D
walking my 'normal' dogs, ha ha!! So there ARE REWARDS that we who love
'special' dogs can enjoy, that those with 'normal' dogs might miss out
on....moments like this one.

This was first time i'd ever really used 'dog language', and this story is old
story now, but i remember I almost ran home, and told my guy, "Honey, i just
talked 'dog' to BUddy, and Buddy agreed!" My guy could NOT believe our Buddy
walked by three chihuahuas!! AND got THEM to 'calm down' too!!!!!!!!!!!:eek:(continued below)


Honored Member
arrow up iconb.gif So, see what happened there? I told Buddy to "calm down", he agreed, and then,
BUddy told OTHER dogs to 'calm down' and then= no reaction from anyone at all! :eek::D:D:D

{by the way, the yawns/slow blinks are of NO use once Buddy HAS begun his
reaction, HAVE TO be done Prior to the reaction,well, for *my* dog anyway,
giving the 'calming signals' has to be done PRIOR, NOT DURING a reaction.}


Honored Member
ONCE A DOG *HAS* JUST REACTED---------he is now chockful of adrenaline, (even if he appears calm soon enough)
and it
doesn't take much at all
for him to RE-react to whatever, for next 30 to 60


cuz, if you are working on method "A" to help your dog become calm,
but you lose (you will now and then, especially in the early times)
now alllllllll your efforts for next 30 to 60 minutes,
are pretty likely to fail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

but it is NOT that method does not "work",
it is NOT you are doing it wrong,
it's just your dog is in his "post-reaction state", full of adrenaline, almost
like a bomb right now, and it wont' take much to set him off, IF he has JUST
reacted, see?

so knowing *that*---knowing that your dog IS chockful of adrenaline after any
major reaction,
can help you not waste your time/feel like failure,
or knowing this CAN help you sort out more accurately, what is working and what
is not.
cuz you can factor in, "oh yeah, my dog had that reaction about 15 minutes ago,
no wonder this effort of mine is failing right now!"

^this is good to know. GOOD LUCK! AND DO HANG IN THERE, you CAN help this dog become his best possible self!!


Well-Known Member
OK Tigerlily, let me say that this is an AWESOME post :D. I did not know about the "FAKE SNIFF", but I have seen it. Now that I am aware of it:cool: and what it means, I will be on the look out for it.

One thing that I did not see on this thread that has helped my dog immensely is to tire :sleep: him out before a big outing. I know that everybody knows that exercise is important, but I believe that it is even more important for the reactive dog. It really seems to help lower *MY* dog's threshold for other dogs. I use my bike to really get Kato tuckered out;). While I have not used in in conjunction with daily training sessions (I have used one or the other) I would imagine that using BOTH would be even more useful (y).


Honored Member
//" that has helped my dog immensely is to tire :sleep: him out before a big outing."//

Abby, that is a GREAT tip to add here!! THANK YOU so much! Who knows how many other owners you may be helping by adding that tip!

I was hoping when i first posted this thread,
that it COULD BECOME sort of combination of various ppl's tips,
with more ppl adding in what DID help their dog. SO THANK YOU ABBY!!

Abby, not to be a wet towel, but, some experts say dogs under about 18 mos old aren't supposed to be running very very far, to protect their joints, which are not yet fully hardened...the concern there is,
that since the young dog's skeleton is not yet fully hardened, til they are about 18 mos old, some say not til 24 months old, some say 12 mos old for some breeds,
that nonstop repetitive motions, like super long walks, or long runs, or jumping, or standing on two legs for very long,
could stress the still-soft joints,
could possibly lead to increased chance of having joint problems in the older adult dog. this may be less of a concern to a smaller breed, though...


Honored Member
OH, JUST THOUGHT OF ANOTHER THING that helps my dog-aggressive dog,
there is an area in our local lake, way out in middle of lake,
is a small island, 'dog island'
which is almost custom made for dog-aggressive dogs.:D:D:D

There is a shallow area there, a sandbar, and next to it, is an island. Now, the island is surounded by DEEP water, a drop off between the sandbar and the island, so dogs can NOT just run up onto the island, but, instead, have to swim to get onto the island, so any dogs on the island, can see Buddy coming,
and can easily ditch Buddy by jumping into the water again.:ROFLMAO:

My dog can NOT catch other dogs in the water, never.:D Even small dogs easily outswim Buddy.

If YOUR dog IS a good swimmer, this tip won't help you.
but water does slow down even the best swimmers somewhat...

MY dog is lousy and weirdly slow swimmer,
and although there are occasionally multiple dogs there, by 'dog island'
BUT my dog can't "get them" and i have wayyyyyyyyy more control on Buddy there,
than i have on land.
Especially if Buddy is wearing his lifejacket with a handle on the back. If he DOES head over to some dog he wants to yell at,
it's a two-finger job for me to turn his direction using the handle on the back of his lifejacket.:ROFLMAO: I can be holding a cocktail,:LOL:
and easily manage my dog-aggressive dog in water that is about 2 feet deep or more.

My dog is SUCH a lousy swimmer,:rolleyes:
that it is super easy for all the other dogs to avoid Buddy if they want to.

There, in the water-------- Buddy can NOT just run over and start up arguments,
and through the sheer power of water,
plus me doing desensitizing efforts,
Buddy pretty much gets worn out, and gives up, and ends up sitting there calmly observing how dogs play. He gets rewards for calmly observing the dogs,
every once in a blue moon,
Buddy even joins in and plays nice, too!!:eek: