Dog Behaviour and Aggression Problems Preston Lancashire

Dog Aggression towards Dogs

Amongst my lessons today I had three clients who’s dogs were all displaying dog aggression. I had a 5 year old Labrador that is attacking dogs on a ‘public right of way’ across the owners land, a 5 year old Jack Russell x Poodle and 2 year old Miniature Schnauzer who also aggressive towards people.

All 3 dogs have common factors, they are all over loved and have no structure, boundaries and limitations. Every command has to be repeated, whilst the owner will sometimes give up trying to complete a task. Over loving their dogs has created an in balance in their pack structure. All three dogs believe they are the alpha leader, thus creating the need to strike out to any dog or person that approaches. As humans we feel the need to over love but all this does is create nervousness. Having no commands and bond in place has heightened the anxiety of each dog, therefor whilst the dogs have become nervous so to have the owners. Approaching dogs owners are tensing up, becoming anxious which only feed through the lead to their dogs.

During all three lessons I was quickly able to demonstrate how clam each dog could walk past my dogs without reacting. Whilst I’m able to display positive behaviour it’s important all my clients are able to relax. Training a dog is as much about training and educating the owners. Todays lessons all finished with calmer and more relaxed dogs and owners.

If you need help with any form of dog aggression please call for a chat. Don’t leave it to fester like many of my new clients do. It’s that one time your dog really does injure a dog or person that you can’t turn back.

Remember “always find and positive from a negative!”

Why it’s important to choose the correct Dog Behaviourist

Every day I receive emails the length of my arm explaining how badly behaved peoples dogs are. Dog aggression is ever increasing, whether it’s dog on dog aggression, aggression towards humans, anxiety related, nervousness aggression, fear aggression, they are all becoming a huge problem in society.When people contact me they are in desperate need of help, what they don’t want is some unprofessional, inexperienced so called dog behaviourist/trainer who professes to know about dogs.

Working with dogs everyday of my life and for 17 hours a day 7 days a week I see many dogs and owners. Aggression is something that I specialise in and enjoy working with. Seeing the smile on a clients face when the dog they own has a future after I’ve helped to rehabilitate their behavioural problem is rewarding. Therefore it really annoys me when I speak to owners who’ve had the ‘fluffy bunny so called trainer’ in, only to exacerbate the dogs behaviour. This is become more and more of a problem.

One example is an enquiry I received yesterday. An 18 month old Sprocker called Jack. The owner has done some trainer but has allowed the dog to dominate her life. Jack has become aggressive towards Joanne and her son, he’s resource guarding and recently Jack bit Joanne whilst she was stroking him. The situation had become untenable so Joanne called in a dog behaviourist. So you may ask why has she called me 3 weeks after seeing the so called dog behaviourist? The answer is simple. The dog behaviourist has made the dog worse. A 3 hour home visit and all she could advise was to throw food on the floor to distract. To me thats a copout, not only was she unable to help, she is feeding the behaviour. Throwing food towards Jack is rewarding negative behaviour, it’s like saying if your child slaps you on the face then why not give them a chocolate bar to stop them. That obviously isn’t going to help the situation.

Before you book an appointment with a dog behaviouralist, read their website and testimonials, speak with them and ensure they have the knowledge and more importantly the experience of helping with the behavioural problems you have.

Tilly the Patterdale Terrier after only 2 lessons.

I’m always asked how long will it take to solve my dogs behavioural problems, or how many lessons will I need? Dogs and owners are different, corrective training differs for every dog and is also influenced by how committed the owner is by doing their homework. Tilly is a classic example of what can be achieved in a short time with 100% commitment to achieving.

You may recall a previous blog post Testimonial – Dog Aggression Modifications through Patterdale Terrier Training about Tilly. When I first met Tilly she was reactive to dogs, people, bikes, cars in fact anything. Todays lesson was a huge success, not only have we a dog thats non reactive to dogs and outside catalysts from a distance we also walked Tilly with Harvey my Labrador to heel side by side. Debbie was certainly happy, I can’t wait for our next lesson and to see how much further they have come on their training journey.

dog training behaviour modification patterdale terrier

Nervousness Aggression with a German Shorthaired Pointer

dog aggression behaviour modification german shorthaired pointer

Dylan the German Shorthaired Pointer is 5 year old and at present is traveling around the UK with his owners in their motor home after arriving home from Dubai.

Dylan suffers with nervousness and aggression toward other dogs, something that has progressively got worse over the last 3 years. After my initial conversation and today’s lesson it was clearly visible that Dylan is hugely over loved which is only increasingly his anxieties. Loving our dogs in the correct way creates harmony, loving our dogs at the wrong time only increases their worries.

Dylan has always pulled excessively on the lead but within minutes I had him walking on a loose lead with no tension. Tim couldn’t believe his eyes, Dylan had never walked at their side. Then the test was other dogs, using my dogs I was quickly able to demonstrate that Dylan’s aggression was fed from his owners anxieties. Within a short time Dylan was walking side by side with my Labrador.

Changing a dogs behaviour doesn’t happen overnight but with help from me I know Dylan will become the confident dog I know he can be.

Over Loving Our Dogs: Part 2

Last week I blogged about the increasing trend I have noticed for owners over loving their dogs. This can be through fussy feeding, over-anxiety about their welfare, allowing them on furniture, sleeping on the bed, the list goes on and on. I frequently see the results of this over indulgence in behavioural lessons, with dogs that are anxious, aggressive and territorial.

I was interested to see this theme being picked up in the national press this week with the launch of the IKEA pet furniture range. An entertaining column in The Guardian on why we treat our pets as people comes to the same conclusions I have, our obsession with our pets is getting out of hand. From gourmet food to designer pet furniture to dog yoga, we are attributing human characteristics to our dogs that they just don’t have. A dog is a pack animal and being leader of the pack is exhausting for them – that’s the owners job. Rather than making their lives better through constant attention and indulgence, over loving our dogs makes them anxious and irritable. Let them know where they stand in the pack and you will have a happy dog and save yourself a fortune in accessories.

Testimonial – Dog Aggression Modifications through Patterdale Terrier Training

I have two rescue dogs – a patterdale called Tilly and a Bedlington whippet called Alfie.  Tilly was the main reason I called Damian for help…she was the sweetest of dogs indoors – cute, cuddly and sweet natured with anyone that came to the house. However, as soon as we went for a walk, she would pull, lunge and bark aggressively at anything (dog/cat/pigeons/cars etc) and become highly stressed, even squealing in an embarrassingly high pitched tone! (We were the talk of the neighbourhood!). Tilly was totally out of control, and as I thought, beyond control. This had been going on for about 3 yrs, with no improvement. I had settled with avoiding other dogs by walking her less often and only at times when less dog-walkers around etc. The other problem was doors….she would bolt through them when open. I felt I had to educate any visitors to a complex door system to stop the dog escaping!

Having told Damian about the problems I was having with Tilly, he had three key questions for me….Are your dogs allowed on the furniture? Do the dogs sleep with you on the bed? Do you feed them human food as treats? …the answer to all three questions was yes! Hence, in the week prior to my first session with Damian the first changes instigated….No more human food, couch replaced with floor, no more dogs in bedroom (or bed!).  The first few days I felt awful…I had a clear case of withdrawal symptoms from my dogs!

On meeting Tilly, Damian changed to a slip-lead, and within literally seconds he had her walking to heel! Not only that, with his spaniel then sat just meters away, Tilly was sat calmly looking at this dog with no barking, no pulling, no squealing – nothing! I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Obviously, it’s one thing for Damian to evoke this behaviour in my dog, but the key is for me to learn the tools. So far, one week on, it’s working! We managed to walk past a cat with no reaction today! I can’t speak highly enough of Damian and his Skills. I am absolutely amazed. If you have a dog with behavioural issues, I would thoroughly recommend Damian to you.

Well impressed!

dog aggression modification patterdale terrier

What Did You Do This Morning?

I often say that in my job as a dog trainer, no two days are the same. One of my mornings last week demonstrates this perfectly. It started with a very defiant, very dominant Labrador; of course I’ve seen lots of Labradors but no two dogs are the same and this one was certainly a challenge. Next came the biggest Doberman Pinscher I have ever seen and still a way off being fully grown. Then, you couldn’t make this up, I trained a Chihuahua, the smallest breed of dog in the world. So what’s next? A Flatcoat Retreiver…and so it goes on. The variety of breeds and personalities (this applies to the owners too…) means a day in the life of this dog trainer never has a dull moment.

No Such Thing as Velcro Dogs

Bob is an eight month old Hungarian Vizsla with no basic commands, recall or focus. He pulls his owner, Lucy, when he is on the lead and is dominant towards her. The first thing I did in this dog behavioural lesson was to swap to a lead that corrects not restrains. Bob was not happy with the slip lead, spinning, barking and biting. Remaining calm, I waited for him to settle and then  walked him on the lead to heel.

Breeds such as the Hungarian Vizsla and the Pointer are often described as velcro dogs because of their attachment to their owners. This reputation can lead owners to be over-loving towards their dogs, believing they cannot leave them alone as the dog will have separation anxiety. Quite the opposite is true: there is no such thing as velcro dogs. Just treat your dog as a dog, put expectations on behaviour and manners. Treating them according to stereotypes only causes behavioural problems, leading to the dog being confused as to where they stand in the household. Never let a dog’s perceived needs run your life; train them appropriately and they will become a great companion.

dog behavioural problems hungarian vizsla

Correcting Behaviour In Dominant Dogs

The response I get from clients when I point out during their initial assessment lesson that they have headstrong and dominant dogs never surprises me. Most of the time as humans we cover up our dogs behaviour with excuses. If that was our children we’d never allow the kind of behaviour we allow our dogs to display.

Tyson the Hungarian Vizsla is only 16 weeks and displaying dominant behaviour. When I mentioned he’d just bitten one of his owners hands, they hadn’t even noticed it. On reflection Christopher agreed and has been allowing this behaviour, thinking it was acceptable as he’s only a puppy. While they are first time dog owners, Felicity and Christopher are teachers and also own horses so they are used to instilling structure and discipline; this needs to be passed on to Tyson.

I tried a slip lead on Tyson and he reacted immediately as he did not want to do as he was told. While he became calm for me, he was defiant and argumentative with his owners. With regular lessons this behaviour will be corrected and it’s important to ask for help but basic puppy training would have prevented this defiance occurring. Owners have to acknowledge and be realistic about their dominant dogs and address it quickly: it’s easier to train a dog than correct a dog.

puppy dog training behavioural problems

Your Dog, Your Rules: Tackling Perceptions of Aggressive Dog Breeds

I’ve posted before about the progress I’ve seen with Harley the German Shepherd. He has transformed from being extremely reactive to other dogs to being a pleasure to walk both on and off lead. I frequently meet owners who, because they have a breed that may be seen as an aggressive dog, expect this behaviour from their dogs. The question that needs asking is, who’s creating this behaviour, the dog or the owner?

One year old German Shepherds Stephi and Yoshi were rescued from abroad. Walking them is very difficult for their owners. Their heel work is poor, they chase livestock when off lead and Stephi in particular is very reactive to other dogs. At home things are not much better, with the dogs fighting between themselves for dominance. As with many rescue dogs, they have been over-loved and their behaviour has been over-compensated for.

Of course it’s important to get the training right with a large breed but the same rules apply to every dog. Structure and discipline have to come first, the dog has to work to earn love. If you have a breed with a reputation as an aggressive dog and you are not confident as pack leader, you are likely to react when you see another dog. That tightening of the lead and change in pace through fear and anxiety of what your dog might do is teaching them to react to what’s ahead. If you remain calm, so will your dog. It’s not what everyone else thinks of your dog you should be focused on. If your dog is well trained, there is nothing to fear.

By the end of the first lesson, Stephi and Yoshi were walking past my dogs on a loose lead with no reaction. Taking control had allowed them to relax with their owners. It’s important not to misunderstand these breeds with a negative reputation as aggressive dogs and project behaviour onto them; with training they are great dogs and make excellent companions.


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