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Thread: dog aggressive? advice.

  1. #1

    Default dog aggressive? advice.

    Sorry, guys I need some advice urgently...I feel like I'm at breaking point with these dogs.

    So, my partner who I recently got in a relationship with has two dogs, one american staffordshire terrior and the other is a cross of the same breed. When we were just friends I knew she didnt take her dogs for walks and when I questioned why she always said it was because one of them was too aggressive with people and dogs and they were both just uncontrollable. The first time I met the dogs Anaki the female had killed a cat in the backyard and I guess despite my not liking of them not being taken for walks it didnt give me much sympathy for her (I love cats).

    Then now that we are together, I feel a personal responsibility to these dogs...I've been taking them for walks and to say its been difficult is an understatment. I first started by taking them to the park. One of the dogs, the full bred female Anaki is very dog aggressive and is kept on a lead but every walk I would get major anxiety because even seeing another dog in the distance because it will cause her to go into hunting position and want to attack. And if a dog runs up to her, I'm not sure what I would do. She was then taken away by the council for a week because she escaped the backyard and was barking at the neighbour, I felt bad but that week was such a relief. I could take the other boy on walks, occasonaly he would be aggressive on walks if accompained by Anaki but alone he was a dream. Completely submissive with dogs and really good with people and any other animals...he was just very relaxed at home and wouldn't misbehave. Then we got Anaki back and I had to try and tackle walks again with both...I took them to the park just the other day (I take them on a daily basis) and since I hadn't taken her for 2 days because I'd been at my own house she went absoultely nuts at the park...pulling on her lead and she is a VERY strong dog, I was scared I wouldnt be abel to hold on. Eventually Romper got into it and they started fighting and bleeding and I felt extremely overwhelmed. I vowed to not take them to the park anymore and stick to the streets. So I did just that and just today there was a cat that ran by way too close too her and she lunged to attack, since she couldnt get the cat she started fighting with Romper and going nuts...I didn't know how to control it and I wanted to break down in tears. I'm scared of walking the streets incase a cat by chance comes too close. I don't know what to do, I want to do the best for these dogs because they deserve to be walked but Anaki cannot be controlled and I can't afford a special trainer right now.

    Also, even if they've already been walked they now wont let me leave the house because they are used to walks ...they will bark, growl at me if i try and pull them back to let me leave and even (softly) bite me. Its out of control and I had to end up taking them for another quick walk even though I was late.

    What can I do? I want to walk them but it gives me so much anxiety and I'm scared for other dogs and animals if I do. I want them to have a quality life but no amount of no and treat rewards seems to curve their behaviour
    Last edited by msmely; 08-06-2012 at 11:26 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    Firstly I suggest that you muzzle the female when you walk her, to at least stop her from doing any damage. Is it possible for you to walk them separately? When training, it is much better to work with one dog at a time.

    What is Anaki like around the house? Does she respond to food? Games? If she is ok around the house, it may be worth spending some bonding time with her, getting her to trust you, then starting some basic obedience training.

    Do either dogs have any training? This would be the place to start. Amstaffs can be difficult to socialize and needs lots of positive socialization early in life if they are to be good with other dogs. It might be worth getting in a professional trainer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010


    Well, good on you for stepping up with these dogs and realising that it's not OK for them to behave this way - any more than it's OK for your girlfriend to ignore their behaviour.

    I'm not sure where abouts you are located, but the reality is, is that you need professional help with these dogs. Socialisation is going to be very important, but having these dogs trust you first is key, and a good trainer that specialises in bad mannered doglets will see you on the path to success. Hopefully Hyacinth or Newfsie will comment here as they both have excellent advice and experience with tricky doglets, and should be able to give your some links to trainers that will be able to help.

    Good luck, AND Good On You.

  4. #4


    Pinkest and Asrais are right, you need professional help and a muzzle. Aggression towards other dogs is a very difficult problem that sometimes can't even be fixed 100% by experienced dog people. Powerful breeds such as Amstaffs are known to have problems with dog aggression if they aren't socialized extremely well. What you're doing at the moment is great, but try taking them seperately so the docile one can enjoy a walk without stress, and the crazy one can gain experience with other dogs without playing up for her friend. It is possible to make these dogs ok with other dogs, but it will take a lot of hard work.

    One thing I absolutely suggest is draining Anaki's energy somehow before you bring her into contact with other dogs. Treadmills can be a good way of doing this, if you don't mind the cost and the space a treadmill will take up. It sounds to me like this dog has been going slowly crazy in her backyard prison, and she now thinks attacking everything is the only way she can expend her energy.

    The second thing I suggest is being more alpha with these dogs. They are powerful working dogs who are incredibly bored, were taught no manners, and obviously have no source of authority or structure in their lives. Unfortunately that job of leader now falls to you. Do not let them get away with behaviour that you don't like. If they don't let you leave the house without a confrontation, growl at them loudly and tell them "gettoff!" If you see Anaki fixating on another dog, pull sharply on the lead and tell her "NO!" Keep the reprimands short, sharp, and authoritive. Think of an authority figure you used to respect as a child, and try to channel their energy.

    You have to be the top dog in your house and that means getting into a state of mind which makes you feel in control of everything and ready for whatever they can throw at you. If you feel anxious or stressed by their behaviour, they will sense this and they will know that they are controlling the situation. If you are about to walk them, don't even let them leave the house unless they wait for you to exit first and follow you in a calm manner. Do not let them take you for a walk - the more they pull on the lead, the slower you walk - the less they pull, the faster you walk.

    Along with your sharp reprimands for bad behaviour, make sure you give them approval and pats for good behaviour, when they don't do something bad, especially something they would usually do. They will soon get the hang of what is expected of them inside the house.

    I like you already man, you obviously have a strong sense of responsibility. Even though these dogs aren't yours, you've taken on the work of making their lives better. Not many people can say they would do that, go buy yourself an expensive beer, you're a good person.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    It sounds like this might be too big a problem for you to tackle on your own. I don't blame you at all for feeling overwhelmed! But I know you said you cannot afford to pay a trainer right now.

    What I would do in that situation is basically what has already been suggested. Muzzle Anika for starters. I have a colleague who recently started doing this with her small dog and it has made her and the dog relax so much more on walks. Think of it as a temporary solution and for the protection of the dog in case another dog runs up to her. Because if she kills another dog, she signs her own death sentence.

    I would also try walk them separately if possible. I know that is a lot to ask, but I think it will be necessary until you have more control over Anaki and her behaviour improves.

    And start basic training from scratch. Sit, down, stay, come and basic manners. Never give in to them because they try to push past you, bark or bite you! It sounds like they are very lucky indeed that you came into their lives, but they have to realise that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Attention, walks, play and food should only be given if they behave appropriately.

    That is just a start... I personally think it is highly unlikely that you will ever be able to socialise this dog now without professional help. But I do think this dog lacks leadership and is lashing out because of that. And I believe you can change that. If there is one thing I have learnt from this website it is that you can teach an old dog new tricks...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009



    Like the others, I applaud you for stepping up for these dogs.

    I'm a bit worried that your partner is not interested in helping. They are supposed to be her dogs and her responsibility.

    I think you need professional help with these dogs to get some one on one training for you so you know what to do and when to do it.

    I would suggest - if you are in Victoria contacting Julie aka Nekhbet at
    Home - InLine K9

    And she could recommend someone in your area or provide some assistance herself - for a fee.

    If you are somewhere else - it would be helpful to let us know your nearest big city and we can try to recommend someone. Though not all will work with aggressive dogs.

    I think in Anaki's case - I would do a lot of training at home before I took her out again where she could meet other dogs and cats.

    I agree about muzzling Anaki if you do need to go out so you reduce the chance of severe damage if things go wrong and it also encourages other people to keep their distance - the sensible ones anyway. Some seem to think that a muzzle means no harm which is untrue but you'd have a better case that they were letting their dog harrass yours if you've done the right thing.

    Don't just shove the muzzle on, practice encouraging Anaki to put her face into it in exchange for the yummiest treats and do the training (2 to 5 minutes of this and maybe 100 treats - tiny bits of chicken or sausage etc) before Anaki's dinner time.

    It is possible to train a dog to be polite around other dogs - but it's more than I can help with on the internet when it comes to the more powerful dogs like Amstaff.

    You really need to start with some basic obedience - in a controlled environment with no distractions - eg your bathroom or bedroom then the back yard, and build up to outside environments with lots of distractions like the street or park. If you've got no control in your back yard, not much point hitting the street.

    It is possible to train a dog to walk on a treadmill. That might be a solution until you're more confident with her outside. And do lots of trick training and obedience training at home - to exercise her mind.

    First trick - "go to your mat" is what I'd train so you can get out the door when you need to. I don't know if these dogs are resource guarders or fight over food - but I'd be giving each a treat that takes longer than it takes you to get out the door (eg deer antler or cow hoof), for being on their mat, and then you leaving. I would not ever let the dogs boss me into taking them for a walk.

    And I would be walking them separately ie Romper gets to go out, Anika gets 30 minutes of your undivided attention in the bathroom then back yard.

    With different dog strengths and attitudes I'd suggest a front attach harness like the sensible or sensation from softouch concepts but - I'm not sure this would work on an Amstaff with cat killing on its mind and very little respect for you and what you want.

    Yelling at either dog, any dog, when it sees something it wants to attack, usually gets interpreted by the dog as encouragement.

    And if the dog has seen its target and is way too excited to respond to anything you do, the only hope you have is to wrap the lead around a pole or tree and hang on. Food / reward based training would only work at sufficient distance from the target, that the dog can still respond. Sometimes - that's two football ovals distant with you blocking the view to the target. Certainly the other side of a driveway would not be far enough away.

    Sometimes three house blocks enough - for my dog to start getting excited about a cat. But she's still responsive to me at that distance. Sometimes she just sits and says by pointing her nose - "look Mum, a cat!!!". Phew. Helps if the cat is not moving. But it's taken a lot of work with me spotting the cat first and from a fair distance to get to that point.

    Get some help. Get your partner to pay for it.

  7. #7


    Thanks guys so much, I was close to feeling like giving up but your advice has made me more confident.

    Asrais Anaki is okay around the house (except she jumps on beds), she's a very affectionate dog with Romper and people who live in the house and although aggressive with strangers loved me from the moment she met me so we're already quite bonded. She gets more excited to see me than her owner really. But I feel like, she doesn't see me as having any authority...she walks all over me so to speak with the way she behaves (demanding walks etc) whereas she is not like that with my partner at all. It might partially be my fault, I have only had my golden retriever and have never had to deal with being a huge authority figure and get quite nervous about how I should respond to her. I've never had to deal with a breed like this, or a dog aggressive dog..... I'm going to try training her on my own and playing with her more, she loves playing with her toys inside but it is always tug of war that she wants to play and I'm worried about letting her win tug of war sends the wrong message? and yes, she pulls a lot on the lead...she is VERY strong and I'm not sure how to stop that.

    Hyacinth I will try the treats for the muzzle, I noticed Anaki would never let me get her harness on but since making her sit for treats, I can actually get the harness on relatively easily (within 5 minutes instead of 20)

    I will definitely use a muzzle and walk them separately...I'm pretty sure this would help since Romper only brings out his aggressive side around Anaki and I think Anaki gets VERY frustrated at the dog park seeing Romper off lead when she can't be so it causes her to act out even more.

    Yes, I'm in Victoria so I'm going to try and talk to her seriously about training, I know she could afford it... I can't, I'm a student. It's just hard because she loves her dogs, their like her kids but goes about looking after them the completely wrong way and its a sensitive topic between us. I just hope with me doing this more, it'll rub off on her.
    Last edited by msmely; 08-08-2012 at 07:53 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    I have a puppy who likes to tug (granted she only weights 3.5kg, so it's not a real problem!) - I have been training her to drop on command. It's ok to play tug, so long as she releases the toy when I ask. I did this by offering her a treat when she comes to me with her toy, when she releases the toy (to take the treat) I say "drop". If she still won't release and continues to try to tug, I will walk away and the game is over.

    I think it would be a good idea to take more control over the affection and set some rules. Don't allow her to decide when she gets pats - if she comes demanding, ignore her, turn your back, or push her off - don't speak or make eye contact. When she is quiet and well behaved, call her to you for cuddles.

    If she wants to go for walks, make her work for it - even if it's just making her sit before she leaves the house. If she pulls on the lead, stop, turn around and go the other direction, pulls again, same thing. It will mean that you don't get very far to begin with, but she will understand soon enough. Perhaps you could look into getting a different harness that will give you more control - some one with a big dog here will advice you better than I can - but I believe the ones that the lead attaches to the front are supposed to be good.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Geelong, Vic


    contact me we can work something out if you're in a distance I can reach (I go to ballarat, melbourne etc)

    meanwhile it cannot hurt reading Leerburg Dog Training | 16,000 pages of dog training information, 300 free dog training streaming videos, free eBooks, podcasts, by Ed Frawley and Michael Ellis as a beginning. I strongly advise not to take Anaki to the park and walk them separately at all times until you get some professional help. Sometimes it can also be good to get an outside opinion, I know usually from someone else it's a bit more palatable

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia


    Can i add, that with my very aggressive rottie adoption. Being strong and Alpha resulted in a collapsed confused dog that was very unpredictable.

    My dog was fear aggressive and would attack to escape supposed threat if necessary. (threat being a magazine on sofa!) We started with basic obedience, a oval away from where the local dog training group practiced. We used method very similar to BAT. His reward for not going off at dogs, ie. looking to see the dogs on oval, then refocussing it with "look at me" stuff. We edged closer and closer over weeks. I used lots of calming signals in his training, approaching and leaving other dogs in a arch, lots of lip licking and looking away. Helped enormously! and friends who were also dog mad, who allowed me to train using their great calm dogs.
    We had him assessed by animal behaviourist/vet who told us he was virtually blind on one side, which partially explained why for some reason, this dog always wanted to be on my right. Not my left. So his blind side was by me, with seeing side on outside of us.
    4 yrs of training later with a trainer: dog non responsive to most other dogs. Till one day........
    incident, put to sleep. The bad genes, the poor start in life came home to roost. I nearly lost my face.

    Please call in a expert. As this is what i needed to get as far as i did with my rottie. Bomb proof in house, lethal to intruders, but non reactive on walks.

    Also call in a expert - Because there may come a time when you need that expert to tell you to stop trying any more.

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