I Need Help With My Dogs Behaviour


New Member
Hi im 28 and have harry who is 18 months old. He is a cross jack russell and shitzu. I got harry from a rescue home at 5 months old and by his 5th month i was his 5th owner so I knew I was taking on a little dog that has been a liitle hard to handle.
Over the last year i have tried everything and i mean everything, i have had dog walkers, dog trainers, groomers,boaders all tell me not to bring harry back as he is too much hard work:-(

Firslty Harry like most dogs tugs on the lead but so much so his two front legs go from under him all the time and his snout hits the ground he keeps tugging and tugging until he cannot breath and i have to pick him up, and doing this he goes nuts and squirms and bites til i let him back down and then he keeps tugging and tugging like a demented dog.

Harry hates other dogs, its safe to say that he is not just looking to sniff them or play with them... He wants to fight them whether they are a small dog or a massive dog, he sees one coming a mile away and goes mental. He dosnt care wat i say or shout or tug on his lead its like the whole world stops still and he wants to fight this dog or cat or s quirrel or child in a fury hooded coat. He barks like crazy and sometimes gets away off his lead and just attacks the other dogs. Thank god this hAs never happensed to a child. I have had hundreds of alt
Ercations with other dog walkers shouting at me, telling me to have him put down, drown him its so bad that my professional dog walker has rejected walking him and ive now resorted to walking him late at night to avoid other dogs.

He never listens to me at all.... If i command him to do something he stares and just does watever he wants. He eats the house down food wise and wants all my food off my plate. He never ever gets it but will always sit staring at me. I have thought hime how to make me aware he needs his toilet so he is clever i know he is.

He has never ever been off his lead outdoors in the 13 months ive had him as he cannot be trusted. He got out of the house on occassin and took me 3 hours to get him back and i ended up in the next town before i got him back.

Ive tried treats on walks but he is so desperate tugging to gt forward he cannot hear me offering the treats and if he does come back he eats and runs to tug forward again. If i start to walk other way he runs that way too and sometimes takes flight in the air as he runs so fast when the lead stops u shoots into air.

So many times i think he has to go but i refuse to give up on him but a the same time its not healthy for him or me to be in this situation. Im not looking for a perfect dog but i am looking to find a common ground with harry so i can teach him and build a proper relationship with him. Surely he doest think his walks are enjoyable. Hes never been off his lead and he spends his walks in agony and out of breath plus he has to listen to me threatng him with the dogs home.

He cannot be groomed properly by a professional as they wont do him as he is too stressful for them, his behaviouris shockingly bad, no dog walker will take him after the first walk and ive been revused training school on more than 2 occasions.

I know i am 100% to blame for harrys actions and the way he is but i need some guidance on how to fix this for him.

If anyone can help or offer some advice i would be grateful as i dont know what to do anymore.


Pawtential Unleashed

Experienced Member
Wow sweetie - that's tough. There are lot of people who can help you with this here - and more than one person has dog aggressive dogs so you are in the right hands.

I am on my way out the door so I will just give you a quick bit of advice but tigerlily is really great at these replies that need indepth answers so hopefully she will be around before too long.

So first bit of CRUCIAL advice...STOP MOVING! Seriously... Do not walk him, do not let him move forward if he is hard at the end of the leash. It sounds weird but hopefully one of these videos will help....dog walking in this high of an aroused state are not being exercised but are practicing behaviors that could get them killed...you are right to seek help and I am so sorry no one has taken him on before now...where are you? maybe we have a local trainer near you?

Actually most work begins before you even get the leash or open the door:

Kikopup is a favorite reference point for all of us here:

The only thing I will say is that with a dog like yours that flies from end to end of the leash - turning and walking the other way is not going to help - you literally need to firmly root yourself and give them a chance to get their brain back in their heads and acknowledge you. This will be a long process and hopefully you will find the answers you need here...


Experienced Member
This does sound hard.

The videos and advice that Pawtential gave you looks great. I would definitely review and implement her suggestions. I would even go so far as to say get a chair and root yourself that way (I read that in an article by Sue Ailsby). Read a book if you need to to pass the time. Just let him wear himself out. If you're worried about him choking himself, maybe use a harness. I know harnesses are supposed to encourage pulling, but I would rather that my dog not choke himself or damage his trachea.

What kind of exercise does he get? Excess energy would not be helpful in your situation. Can you play fetch or frisbee with him to burn some of it off? Swimming? Anything else?

I would also try to give him some mental stimulation. Clicker training and dog tricks or obedience. Start with simple stuff like sit, but he might enjoy some more complex tricks as you advance. Try to capture a natural activity that he enjoys and make it a trick. Or maybe a spin or roll or walking on his hind legs. Other mental stimulation might be puzzles. You can make a simple one with a muffin tin and cups over the holes with treats in some of them. Or you can give him a plastic soda/water bottle with treats in them that he has to get out.

Does he have a Kong or something to chew? Some dogs like to relax with some good chewing. You could try a Kong with some peanut butter inside.

How do you feed him? Maybe you should try the zen method, I believe it's called. Feed him piece by piece from your hand. He has to calm down and sit and not mug your hand for the food. It will take quite a bit of time, but at least he is interacting with you. You don't really do anything but wait for enough calmness to give him that piece.

If he were not so dog aggressive, I would suggest agility. Agility is a great way to build a connection. You can contact your local agility school and ask if they have any advice or classes that you and he might take. (I have had more success with my agility school than with local trainers in helping with problems.)

Just brainstorming here. I don't know what is appropriate for you and your dog, since it can really vary. I hope others have more suggestions for you.


Experienced Member
First off ... you are NOT 100% responsible .. I think there are at least 5 people ahead of you who have contributed to where he is today. But congrats on not giving up like so many have done before you. I think there is hope, and a lot of hard work ..but as they said above just STOP. Stop and breath. and remember NOTHING for free rule. For all his food he must depend on you and do must always something for it ... and I mean all of his food. You'll get a lot of great advice here ... just dont expect miracles to happen overnight but they may happen when you least expect it.


Honored Member
//He barks like crazy and sometimes gets away off his lead and just attacks the other dogs. Thank god this hAs never happensed to a child. I have had hundreds of alt//

AWwwww my friend, i understand, but, you have to make stopping all dog fights your #1 priority. Every dog fight is harming your dog's mind inside.

Don't be hard on yourself, these gangsta dogs are not easy! I have one too, and i have also made mistake of not preventing a full on dog fight, once. It's a horrible thing to go through, but this can be prevented from now on.
But i learned from then on, better strategies to prevent such a event from ever ever occuring again, and you can do this too.

get him a chest harness,
or a "gentle leader head halter", to better be able to control him if Harry is getting out of his leash.
NO dog-aggressive dog should ever be allowed to attack other dogs.
btw, a gentle leader, takes a while to get a dog to "like" it. If you get one, follow the video instructiosn carefully on how to introduce this item to your dog. It's HARDER THAN IT LOOKS to get some dogs to "like" their Gentle Leader head collar:


^Few dogs can "pull" in head halter, so it might help Harry stop pulling as well. You have a lot of things to work on, so all the handi things you can find are probably good ideas for this situation.

Make sure it is fitted properly, at Petsmart, some employees know how to fit it to your dog's head. (IF your dog is safe being handled by strangers, if not, the item comes with detailed instructions on how to adjust it to fit your dog's head.) Only take harry into petsmart on daytime weekdays, (less dogs) and only for very briefly, that place is too overwhelming for a da dog. You might do better fitting it yourself, it's not that difficult to do.
If your dog has a very very short snout, (like Pugs do) you can't use a Gentle Leader)

another thing, never ever ever yank Harry when he is in a gentle leader head collar. You could hurt or snap his neck. Harry has no choice but to follow you in a head collar, but, go slow and do not hurt the dog.

You do NOT have to put this dog down. You can love and adore this dog, and he can love and adore you. You can help this dog become a calmer dog, and you can help reduce his dog-aggression, and learn better strategies to manage it.
and you can help this dog have a good life, and most all the problems you list are solvable, and all of these issues CAN BE made BETTER.
but, it's not easy, there is no easy "instant" fix.
It is a journey. but you can do it.

and don't let passersby make you feel bad about your dog, i also have a gangsta dog, and i find, lots of passersby do not much understand dog-aggressive dogs. But yes, above all, you must prevent actual fighting from occuring, by getting a better, more secure leashing system,
while you learn what all you need to do to help Harry reduce down his gangsta stuff.;)


Honored Member
YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING, by seeking out help. If you can afford a POSITIVE ONLY TRAINER, that might be a good idea. Make sure this trainer has ACTUAL EXPERIENCE with aggressive dogs.
not all trainers know much about this, and some will say they do, but, they don't.
Some trainers might ROCK at teaching tricks, cues, agility, etc,
but not have a clue about dog-aggression. SO DO ASK, if they have actual HANDS ON experience and success with this issue, it is sort of a "specialty" area of dog training, imo.

Go WATCH the trainer in action----------working with an aggressive dog BEFORE the trainer ever meets your dog. (leave your dog at home for this).
Stay away from any trainer you see who yanks dogs,
kicks dogs
scolds dogs
forces dogs onto floor "alpha rolls" and the like,
or otherwise hurts, scares, intimidates the dog. These methods are NOT helpful for aggressive dogs, and could even make the dog worse.

STay away from any trainer who recommends shock collars, choke chains, prong collars, etc. ASK them if they recommend such items, it saves you from wasting your time.

If you can not afford a trainer, you CAN train your own dog, don't give up,
i couldn't find a trainer who knew squat about dog-aggression, either,
so i had to learn from others, how to manage my gansta dog, how to help him turn it down, how to prevent fights,

and how to get him safely exercised without endangering other dogs, -----i run him offleash in FENCED IN ancient cemeteries,(no one visits 300 year old graves, and neither me, nor my dog believe in ghosts, so this works for us):ROFLMAO:
empty fenced in school yards, fenced in fields, etc. If your dog won't come when you call him, or could fit through the fence, this option won't work for you yet).
Of course, bring poop bags to leave area as clean as you found it, esp for school yards.


Honored Member
Also, first easy cheesy step.
Teach your dog a trick.

ANY TRICK will do. It can "sit", "rollover", "beg", ANY trick.
Doing this will HELP you and HELP your dog... in more ways than i can list. It's a great start. Sounds stooopid, i know, what does teaching tricks have to do with reactive dogs??:confused:

Just do it.;) hee hee!!!:ROFLMAO:
Look around, pick a trick (don't pick hardest trick you see, just some easy trick)
and commit yourself to having a five or ten minute lesson on that trick, twice a day. EVERY day.
We are all here to help you, all of us, we all teach each other, around here. If you have trouble teaching the trick (WE ALL DO now and then!!:ROFLMAO: ) post about what the trouble with the trick is, and we'll help you.

for real, just try it.:D:D I feel reallly bad for you, i would not lie to you. Teaching your dog tricks might sound stupid, but, it is a great first step in learning how to manage a gangsta dog. The stuff you learn by teaching tricks, you can use later on down the road to help Harry learn how to be calm about seeing unknown dogs.

All you do, is, reward Harry when he does right thing, or reward when Harry makes move in right direction,
and ignore wrong moves.
Keep lessons SHORT.
end with a play session.

this will help you learn even the basics of training a dog,
helps you bond with Harry, helps Harry bond with you,
helps Harry begin to learn how to become better at listening to you,
helps you learn what motivates Harry best,
plus, it's just FUN with you dog!! Even gangsta dogs can learn tricks!!


Honored Member
I found working with my gangsta dog to help him learn to stop barking at dogs behind fences, to be one of the easier things to do.:)
It is not "easy" all the time, but, it's easier than say, keeping Harry from reacting to dogs he passes on walks.<---THAT'S HARD, so start with easier stuff, like dogs behind fences.

If there is a dog in your area, that is often behind a fence,
THAT is a great place to start learning how to reward Harry for being calm.

Succeeding at this, or even seeing the first inklings of progress,:D might give you some needed encouragment.

find a dog behind a fence, get some YUMMY treats, keep them SMALL, like size of raisen, to avoid a fat dog, or a full dog,
and begin far enough back that Harry CAN be calm:

There are several ideas in this video.
Let us know how it's going, and don't give up. All dogs are unique individuals.



Honored Member
//I know i am 100% to blame for harrys actions and the way he is but i need some guidance on how to fix this for him.//

yes, yes, you WILL be told that, and read that, alll over. Most everywhere you look for advice, will say if a dog is dog-aggressive, it's cuz the owner did something wrong.
I disagree. Entirely. The dog-aggression is NOT your fault. at all, imo.

but you CAN make a dog-aggressive dog, BETTER:D
depending on how you manage him. I know i KNOW you CAN make Harry BETTER!! i know it.

Here is a thread, which may be overwhelming to you at this piont,
on "7 things that helped my gangsta dog":
http://www.dogtrickacademy.com/members/forums/threads/7-things-that-helped-my-dog-aggressive-dog.4413/ <--------maybe, maybe, there might be some ideas there that you can use for Harry, too.

ALL DOGS are unique individuals, what helps one dog, might not help the next dog. There are MANY ways to help Harry, so dont' give up, if one thing fails, don't think, " oh no, nothing works" cuz, it's not true.

ALSO----you've probably noticed by now, ONCE Harry HAS reacted to a dog, for next 30 minutes or so, Harry is wayyyyyyyyyy more likely to react again, as he is now chockful of adrenaline, and it won't take much to set him off til all that adrenaline fades back out.
the reason THAT is good to know, is,
if you ARE working with Harry, trying to help Harry learn to be calm when he sees unknown dogs,
and Harry loses his mind,
all your efforts for next 30-60 minutes, will be in vain, most likely. Some dogs take even longer to even their bloodstreams back to normal again.
Just avoid all dogs for next hour if Harry has lost his lil mind. (even if you are actively working on desensitizing him to looking at enemy dogs, just end for the day if Harry loses it)

but don't make mistake and think it is the method not working, IF HARRY HAS JUST LOST HIS MIND A FEW MINUTES AGO, instead----it's Harry still being all jazzed up on adrenaline.
see? see my point there? this is good to know, so you can more accurately evaluate, what IS helping Harry, and what is not. okay?


Honored Member
//He eats the house down food wise and wants all my food off my plate. He never ever gets it but will always sit staring at me//

THIS ONE, is not that hard to fix.
Tons of ways to solve this one!! See, Ray, i sense you are discouraged, so i really want you to SUCCEED at something easy, and soon,;) if only to help encourage you in your own ability to help Harry become his best possible self.

the food thing, is going to be wayyyyyyyyy easier:D than pulling, reacting to dogs, etc. (those ARE challenging to any dog owner, you are not alone).

Staring at you during dinner time:
FIRST Off, never EVER give Harry even a single bite during your meal time. never. (if you want Harry to stop staring at you during mealtimes.) STOP sharing your food with Harry, altogether, for now, if you want Harry to stop staring at you when you eat.

You can teach Harry "go to your mat". do this in a friendly, all positive way, as shown in the video:
(only first few minutes are about "go to your mat" the rest of video is about more advanced stuff)

Then at dinner time,---AFTER HARRY KNOWS THIS TRICK---------- have Harry go to his mat, and REWARD AND PRAISE that. It's fine to give Harry a frozen kong or bone, etc, for staying on his mat while you eat dinner.

NOT HARD TO DO, takes several lessons, so take your time. almost no trick can be "learned" in one or two lessons, so realize that this is something you teach several times, over and over, okay??

How to teach "leave it" (part one, you can easily see part two in sidebar of this video on youtube)


Well-Known Member
Allready a lot of advice giving in this thread.
Can't add much, accept to follow your feelings a bit when it comes to a choosing the right trainer. Look how he treats another dog and picture yourself doing this. If you don't like what you see, don't even start. Look at how the dog he trains or his own dog is behaving. Sometimes I see dogtrainers with a dog crawling next to them ... NEVER a good thing.
I sometimes help with "problem" dogs and I need to control the dog in all situations. But at NO point do I hurt a dog or damage his trust in me.
You want a confident dog that receives "clear" leadership, not a insecure dog that fears you.


Honored Member
To amateur, i'd take him in a heartbeat!!
but, i really believe, that Ray can also learn how to manage this dog, too, not the easist thing in the world, but, i KNOW Ray can help this dog get better,
nope, not overnight, nope, but overtime, i know Ray can do it.


Honored Member
Hi Ray and welcome. You've been given so much fabulous info, not sure that I have anything more to add. Only more words of encouragement. I also have a dog-aggressive dog. I have (well, HAD) the German Shepherd version of yours. I know I'm her 3rd home, not including the shelter or the rescue org (so does that count as 5?) I had that terrifying German Shepherd who'd spot another dog a block away, and who'd be up on her back legs, snarling, barking, lunging, etc - totally terrifying to everyone (including me - cuz I kept thinking .. what if she breaks lose?). I knew I couldn't go it alone, and found the most fabulous positive-reinforment training facility. We went thru what's called "Feisty Fido" classes - classes for aggressive dogs and their owners. It was the best thing we ever could have done. She'll never be a dog-park dog, but we take wonderful walks in the neighborhood, at the beach, etc. I'm telling you this to give you hope. Please don't think this is your life. It's not.

Where are you? If we knew where you were (exactly), perhaps we could help you find a training facility or trainer similir to the one I went to, who offeres a similar type of class. In it you'd learn to read Harry's body language, how to manage all kinds of different situations, different behaviors to teach Harry which will help him out in the world, etc. In the class, dogs are also worked with trainers and other dogs, all learning how to cope in the presence of other dogs and humans (since some dogs have people issues, some dogs have both). All dogs are worked "under threshhold" - meaning, under that level at which they aggress. In the class, dogs aren't stressed to the point of aggressing. The whole point of the class is to give people the knowledge to manage their dogs, and set dogs on the path to learn how to cope in the world.

Let us know where you are, and we'll see what we can do. And you - take a deep breath. Help is on the way!!!


Honored Member
Wonderful advice has already been given; I hope I didn't miss anything and end up repeating what has already been said.

I have a dog reactive pit bull so I have spent some time and money researching and trying various methods of addressing the DA issue.

First thing, I think you said he slips his lead sometime. That is the first thing that has to be addressed because if ever he seriously hurt another dog, you could be forced to euthanize him. I would use a collar and a harness and attach the 2 with a "lily's Lead" from ella's Lead.

or you could use a coupler attached to a short lead:

I know some people with very DA dogs that really "mean it" and they just use 2 leashes. Better safe than sorry.

As far as training methods the main methods I have come across are:
1. autowatch
2. Look at that (LAT)

Which is from Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed, which is full of good ideas for reactive, impulse control impaired dogs:

I use the above 2 methods I would say quite successfully but not 100% Recently I have been making a concerted effort to keep her underthreshold instead of pushing the envelope (to be able to get closer to dogs that are themselves reacting in some way) and it seems to be helping tremendously.

I am also looking into:
3. BAT
4. CAT
5. Abandonment training


Honored Member
wow, thank you Pawtential!:eek: you kind words humbled me, and shocked me, too. It really gave me a boost, cuz, there's a handful of regular posters on this site who won't even so much as click "like" on*my* posts! :ROFLMAO:no matter what i've said. :LOL: so your kind words probably gave me more of a boost than you know.
I hope this thread is giving Ray a boost...? Many ppl in desperate situations post stories like Rays, and never come back, and i always wonder what happened. Ray sounds like he is/was willing to try things to help Harry, hope he does not give up on Harry.
Like others on this thread, it's the same for me, once you love a dog-aggressive dog, you DO want to try to encourage others who are where Ray is now, cuz, we've been in similar situations, maybe overwhelmed and confused, and wondering, is there any hope? is it really my fault? what things can be tried? etc etc.
Dogs can ALWAYS be made better, always. There is always hope.
And it's such a great and heartwarming thing, when you witness a dog getting better.:D