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What do you suggest to control his aggression?
Pidoe K-9 Advisor Says:
You have mentioned that Rupert is a lab-shepherd mix dog, knowing that, we can look on the possibility that your dog’s strong aggression could have been inherited from the genetics of a German Shepherd, that’s why it is so important to know its parentage, I’m not saying that German Shepherds are bad, in fact they are one of the best breed there is, but naturally they are protective of their masters, and their aggression is one way of instilling fear on people or dogs alike they feel as a threat or harmful. However with proper training this aggression can be controlled and commanded at the right time.
Another possibility of the cause of your dog’s unbecoming behavior, could have been inflicted during his puppyhood, I have an article about the importance of socialization. I said in that article that dogs need to have a constant interaction with different people and animals, in various situations and environment. And most importantly it should be a positive experience for the dog especially when he/she is still a puppy. Although, I have no idea of what it’s like for your dog when he was growing up, since you have not mentioned it. What I’m saying is, your dog must have lacked the socialization he needs during the early stage. That explains why he is so suspicious and nervous or better say uncomfortable with unfamiliar things or people that surrounds him. He is confused how to react to such situation, so he decides to display dominance thru aggression to counteract his fear.
Learning those two possibilities, the first thing you should do is train your dog to get used to his environment, by spending more dog walks with him. You need to use a training collar (you can choose between a choke collar and a prong collar, you can research on these on the Web) to correct any of his unnecessary behavior, and get his attention that you are the Alpha, Master and Leader. Your dog should know his position in the pack; he's the follower and you’re the Leader, A simple rule of the thumb in the Dog World.
Another thing when walking, don’t let your dog go ahead of you, so start with a short leash first during your walks, (you can read the article about the proper dog walk) so he stays close to you as possible especially when you come across another person or dog, in this way you can easily get control of him but make sure you’re getting slack in the leash, so it goes loose-tight-loose, your correction will be a sudden quick pull on the leash which will make the collar tight for less than a second. The objective is associate a negative reinforcement to a negative behavior so as not to repeat what took place. You'll know when it is motivational when she stops that bad behavior, and looks at you or submits every time you do the correction. You will have to be consistent on this until your dog gets accustomed to the surroundings and situations you used to avoid. I would suggest that you walk with other people, who walk their dogs too, its one way of getting your dog socialized with them, its called a “pack walk”. The dog will only consider the people walking with you as members of your pack as long as you the “Alpha Dog leader” allow it.
Practice the sit-stay command, if your dog has no obedience training yet, you can check the videos I have on my blog and watch how it is done. It is best that you make her in the sit-stay position while other dogs walk around and smell him. If he decides to lunge or bark, correct him with the “No!” followed by a quick pull on his leash then repeat the sit command. He needs to stay relax on a sit position until you give him the release command.
Always use positive reinforcement, like rewarding your dog with a treat, toy or a simple praise for every positive behavior he does. Let your dog play with other dogs, you can start with the dogs his familiar with.
I hope that helps. Good luck to you and Rupert.
Your K-9 Advisor