Category Archives: Behavioural Advice

Dog to Dog Aggression


Walk your dog on a lead, and on pavements where you are less likely to meet other dogs off lead. You need to exercise really intense training on the lead, teaching your dog the commands Leave it – come – heel – stay. Even before you get to the stage of walking on the pavement you may find it beneficial to practice this in an enclosed field or your garden, without any distractions, working both on and off a Flexi Lead until you feel you have a good measure of control. When you have achieved all of this, proceed with the following. On the lead, on a pavement, when you see another dog coming towards you, BEFORE your dog sees it, issue the command leave it! In a firm voice and break any eye contact between the dogs by turning and walking in a different direction (use a Gentle leader and a half check collar to achieve this). Really praise your dog if he obeys and keep reinforcing the leave it command and keep walking if he does not. Keep working at this until you feel the time is right to walk your dog past other dogs at a good distance away at first and keep praising the desirable behaviour.

You will need to find a sociable dog of the opposite sex of your own. If you have a male, choose someone who has a nice, stable, friendly and fairly submissive bitch (preferably both dogs should be neutered). Dogs of the opposite sex usually find each other less threatening than dogs of the same sex. Start going for walks together. Walk on lead and parallel to each other. Gradually decrease the distance between them until they are happily walking side by side. Walk on neutral territory – i.e. places that are unfamiliar to both dogs. When you are doing this successfully, move onto the next step, which is the introduction. On long loose leads, and monitoring both dogs body language, gently introduce the dogs. When you can see they are getting on o.k. then drop the leads and back away so that they realise that they have not got your support. When you are absolutely sure that they are happy, take the leads off. Do not give either dog attention or tit bits as this may cause the dogs to tense up and possibly fight. Do this as much as you can, and preferably on a daily basis.. When you have succeeded with the first dog, try more dogs, one at a time, and then you can gradually work up to dogs of the same sex, but proceed at your dog’s pace and do not expect him to like every dog he meets. Agility classes are a good way to find other dogs to socialise with.


Dog to Human Aggression



For this programme to work, all the other programmes must be followed. (Pack Leadership, Guest Arriving, Nutrition, Training, Neutering etc.) Once your dog has adjusted to the other programmes and you feel you have significant control over him, then you can start the desensitisation programme. For indoors, use the Guest Arriving programme to teach him that people can enter your house upon your invitation and not be bullied by him. He also learns that guests are non-threatening and at the same time a pleasant experience. Once you are succeeding indoors, then you can extend this to outside your property. Walk him on a lead and preferably on territory that is not familiar to him. Arrange to meet various people on a pre=set route and who are armed with treats and toys. As you see the person approaching, tell your dog to leave it in a firm voice and break any eye contact by using a Gentle Leader and a half check collar and changing the direction you are walking in. Really praise him if he responds well and keep walking, telling him to leave it if he does not. Gradually walk him past the people, who can gently throw him his toys or a tit bit, but they must not look at him, touch him, speak to him or make sudden movements. They should also keep to a distance that your dog is happy with. You are teaching your dog that people can be a non threatening and a pleasant experience and that he can look to you for direction and be confident that you as Pack Leader can protect him. He also learns that you are in control so will respond to your commands better. Remember that you must protect your dog from getting into an inappropriate situation where he may make the wrong decision. It is unreasonable to expect him to like everyone he meets, and you should never let people invade his space or go to touch him. You must insist that people respect your dog, as you respect them enough to control your dog and not allow him to bite them.



CASTRATION can help prevent:

  • Sexual frustration
  • Indoor and outdoor territory marking
  • Dog to dog aggression
  • Dog to human aggression
  • Dominance
  • Cancer of the testes
  • Cancer of the prostate

SPAYING can help prevent:

  • Pregnancy
  • Phantom pregnancy
  • Pyometra
  • Cancer of the womb
  • Cancer of the mammary glands

From a behavioural perspective I would advise neutering your pet as it can significantly reduce a variety of problems in both male and females – especially when used in conjunction with behavioural programmes. Neutering is not however a quick fix and can take some months for you to see the benefits.

There are two instances where castration is not advisable. These are:

  1. If the dog is very nervous.
  2. If you have two male dogs living together – then only the more submissive dog should be neutered. This has the effect of widening the gap between them and so reducing tension between the pack members.

Separation Anxiety/Frustration



All members of the family should share the tasks of feeding, walking, grooming and affection, in order that no one person is the centre of your dogs’ world anymore and he has to look to several people for his daily needs.

The room your dog sleeps in at night should be the room he sleeps in when you go out and where he has his treatment. The kitchen or living room is a good choice, a room at the back of the house even better, as he cannot see people walking up and down which might make him bark.

Ignore your dog for about 30 minutes and then give him a verbal and visual signal of time out. e.g. move a plant, then place him in his room, shut the door, wait for 5 minutes initially (this must be 5 minutes of silence, with no destruction or barking). If it takes an hour to get the required silence then that is what you have to do. If you open the door when he is making a noise then you will have taught the dog that this action brings you back.

Once he has been quiet for five minutes, let the dog out, returning the plant to its original position and saying O.K. Repeat this process six or seven times a day, building up the time you can leave him until you can leave him for 30 minutes. Randomly leave him for 5, 20 or 30 minutes so that he gets used to being left for varied amounts of time. Make sure you open and close the front door whilst he is in his room, so that he does not associate the sound of doors opening and closing with you leaving.

When going out your dog should not see any of your usual signals that you are going out. e.g. putting on shoes, coat, picking up keys and brushing hair etc.

It may be helpful to leave a pair of your used socks or a tee shirt the other side of the door to the room that he is in. This can trick him into thinking that you are only the other side of the door. Make a tape of your voice talking and play it on repeat play on your machine – this to can trick him into thinking you are still in the house.

If your dog messes when you go out then get an indoor kennel, take him for a walk before you are going out, then follow the above procedure. If you are using an indoor kennel you must make this a pleasant experience for your dog. You should feed him in it, play with him in it, make sure that the bedding in it is clean and comfortable and never use the kennel as a punishment. If you are going to leave your dog for long periods then you will need to organise a dog walker.

Guest Arriving


When someone knocks on your door, before answering it, shut your dog away – e.g. in the kitchen.

Let your guest/s in and seat them in a different room from the dog, with instructions to completely ignore your dog when he is let in. Ignoring him means not looking at him, speaking to him, touching him or standing up.

Bring your dog out on a lead if he is hyperactive or aggressive so that your guests are protected. Sit down with the dog as far away from your guests as possible and tell the dog to sit or lie down. If the dog barks or growls tell him to “leave it” in a firm voice. If he continues, shut him back in the kitchen for a few minutes to let him calm down, then try again. Keep repeating this process until he is calm with your guest you can then let him off the lead. Only when he is calm can your guest acknowledge the dog by gently rolling him a treat or a toy. If he is a friendly dog, they may touch him for the first time at this point – but remember to keep the interaction between them calm. The dog will learn from this that good behaviour gets him the reward of your guest’s attention and a titbit or toy. He will learn that he is not allowed to bully people, that guests are a non threatening experience and that YOU, as Pack Leader, have the right to say who comes in and out of your territory, not him.

If your dog is aggressive, or one that likes to control entrances then shut the dog away before your guests leave.

If you have more than one dog, let the most dominant one in first to greet your guests.

Inter Pack Structure



To analyse which dog is the pack leader and which dog fits where in your pack, over a period of a week you need to observe who achieves the following first out of you or your dog.

  • Eats first
  • Demands most attention
  • Goes through doorways first
  • Wins games of possession and tug of war
  • Instigates chase games
  • Greets guests first
  • Which dog grooms which
  • Which dog has “the last word”

Whichever dog achieves most of the above is the pack leader. When you have worked out your pack leader give all privileges to the pack leader first. This means that the top dog should be fed first, groomed first, should be given attention first, be trained and played with first and allowed through doorways before your other dogs.

This clearly widens the gap between the dogs and so helps prevent tension building, as each dog is clear about his status in life and within the pack. You, as the pack leader of the entire pack, have the right to stop any bullying that is going on and this should be enforced.

Sometimes a young dog will take over the position of pack leader as it reaches maturity. If you see this happening, you should change allegiance and give all privileges to your new pack leader first. This will help in a smooth transition of leadership and reduces the stress for the dogs. Remember that in the wild it is quite natural for a young dog to take over this role as the original pack leader gets older, slower and weaker and thus able to lead the pack strongly. It is very dangerous to try and pick your favourite dog and make him/her leader.

Pack Leadership


RANK REDUCTION PROGRAMME. (Also known as Nothing in life is free!)

Put a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. Never allow your dog on the furniture, in the bedroom, on a bed or up the stairs. To be allowed to do these things raises the dogs status over you.

Always feed your dog after the family has eaten, both morning and night. Prepare his meal at the same time as you prepare yours, but put it out of his reach whilst you eat yours. In the wild, the pack leader always eats first, (always feed twice daily). Do not play tug of war games with your dog. If you lose you will have taught your dog that he is stronger than you. If you win all the time it is frustrating for your dog. Do not play chase games with your dog as you will teach him that he is faster than you and often the dog that is faster and stronger is the pack leader, or a serious threat to the pack leader. Do not play wrestling games as this will heighten the dogs aggression levels. Play carry or finding games with your dog as this will provide him with much needed mental stimulation. Please Note – the owner must always remain in control of all games.

Never let your dog use his teeth on anyone, even in play. Mouthing can develop into more serious biting if the dog is allowed to do this. If he already does this, sit quietly ignoring him with your arms folded and turn away from him until he stops. Do not speak to him or push him away as this will be giving him the attention he wants and will make his behaviour worse. If he persists, simply leave the room until he calms down and keep repeating until he learns that undesirable behaviour leads to isolation from you. You can also use taste deterrents on your hands arms and clothes so that when he mouths you he receives an unpleasant taste.

Never give your dog attention when he demands it. Only give him attention when he is working for it e.g. during training sessions, or when he is behaving as you would wish, then praise him and make a fuss of him. Ignoring your dog means paying him absolutely no attention. This includes eye contact, absent minded stroking and talking to him. You should also ignore all his attempts to gain your attention, however sweet, including resting his head on your lap, leaning against you, pawing at you and barking. If he persists, then say nothing, but either exit the room closing the door behind you, or simply put him out of the room for five minutes. Remember, you can give your dog lots of attention, but only if he earns it and always on your terms.

Interesting links to the above topic….



All members of the family should build a constructive relationship with your pet. This can be achieved by spending frequent (as many times a day as your time allows) short periods every day playing and training with him. Remember to be fun and rewarding, and keep the training session short. Use tit bits, clicker training games and toys. This gives your dog mental stimulation, builds a better bond and reduces boredom and gets him to want to work for you and please you. You will, of course achieve more control over him.

Dogs rely solely on us for their mental and physical stimulation – so they really need 2 – 3 walks a day and lots of play and training to keep them mentally and physically at their best. If you have more than one dog, remember to spend time playing and training with them separately so you can build up a constructive relationship with each one.

Puppy Socialisation Classes and Agility Classes can also be of benefit to give them social skills and mental and physical stimulation.



Teaching a dog to walk to heel


 This is a very commonly asked question. This is not a behaviour problem, it is a training issue. There are several ways of teaching a dog to walk nicely by your side. Different training classes have different approaches to this. The most common are

Using a check chain. This can damage the neck if not used properly.

Teaching the dog that if he pulls, you stop and turn and go the other way, so that he is behind you. This teaches him that when he pulls, he is getting further away from where he is pulling to. You may end up spending half an hour walking up and down the same twenty feet of pavement, but perseverance will eventually pay off. Remember to praise the dog when he is at your side.

There are several headcollars and harnesses designed to make pulling uncomfortable for the dog, and to give you more control.

I personally use a Gentle Leader headcollar and a half check collar and attach the lead to both(photo) This gives the handler head and neck control over the dog so that it cannot pull and makes the dog far more controllable.As you can see, Bella is very happy on this and can be easily controlled so that walks are fun for both Bella and Judith!