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Thread: Dog aggression/anxiety

  1. #1

    Default Dog aggression/anxiety

    Hi all,

    I am writing for advice after an incident with my dogs today. We have two border collies x kelpies and they are 1 year old.

    Today when I friend came to visit they opened the gate without noticing a lady walking past with her dog. Max and Ollie ran out of the gate and across the road to the other dog. Max just wanted to sniff and play but Ollie was very aggressive. Max came to me quite quickly but I could not catch Ollie and the only way he went back was when my friend took Max back into the yard and Ollie followed his brother. Ollie was completely out of control and would not listen or even stand still. Once I was near he did not try to come near the other dog again but was racing back and forth barking. It was scary for me and I can only imagine how terrified the other lady and dog was! I would have been!

    Back ground info on the dogs -

    They are brothers and are 1 year old. Max is the dominate dog out of the two. They bark at people and dogs walking past the front of the block but have been improving with this over time. Max does not really even take any notice any more, it is Ollie that still runs down to the fence but he does not always bark anymore either.

    We live on a large block and they play together regularly. They have only just turned 1 so we have only just started introducing them to running but walk them or play with them regularly. When out walking they both heel and get excited to see other dogs and try to walk in that direction but do not bark or anything. Max loves to chase the ball and run with you but Ollie is rather lazy and does not enjoy either. He will come for a walk with you but lags behind. I don't know if he would benefit from more exercise but that is another question I guess... Ollie goes to dog training (we can only take on per handler) and is completely different there. He is ridiculously well behaved, follows all commands and almost shys away from the other dogs. He will sniff at them, lie down or hide behind my legs.

    Neither dog is aggressive in any way towards humans or dogs that come into our yard.

    Please help as I am not sure what else to do...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Paul and Lisa

    If I knew where you were - I could recommend some good dog trainers to help.

    My dog - will jump my front fence to go harass any dog and quite a few people that walk past. She views that whole bit of the street and my immediate neighbours as hers to say hello to, or challenge depending on if they're strangers or not. So she doesn't get out the front of my house unless she's on lead. And I've learned the hard way not to leave the front door open when I'm packing or unpacking the car unless she's secured. She's fooled me a couple of times by pretending to be sleeping - only to blast out the door when someone goes past.

    So you have two herding dogs from the same litter - about 1 year old - when they get selective deafness and irrational fears. You don't like to take the easy path at all - right?

    Dogs from the same litter have been getting all their fun or competition with each other from birth. So they may look to each other before they ever look to a human for what to do. Sometimes - they've been fighting for resources (mum's milk etc) and they keep fighting over everything as they grow up. I think you may have dodged that bullet.

    Dogs can learn by watching what other dogs or humans do. So you could use that to your advantage - ie park one dog (tie him up or put him in a crate or get someone to hold him) while you train the other dog. Train the more willing dog first (Max?), then the less willing (Ollie). If either dog plays up - swap dogs.

    If the "parked" dog is being good - make sure they get as many if not more (when you start out) treats as the dog you're working with. Eg toss treats into the park zone or crate if he's being good. Nothing if not. If he's barking - cover up the crate or move him further away.

    The best way to stop bad or unacceptable behaviour is to prevent it and also train something else that can't be done at the same time as the behaviour you don't want - eg a sit is incompatible with jumping up.

    Fence running - it's important that your dog doesn't have access to do this. It may also be important that people coming to your front door cannot accidentally let your dogs out - ie set up access to the front door so that the dogs are separated from it or lock the front gate and have an intercom.

    My front yard is separate from the back yard. And there is a long narrow space for the back gate - which makes it difficult for my dog to zoom past anyone who opens it. There's not room.

    I think Ollie may grow out of the behaviour - if you prevent it from happening. You know if it does happen the current way to get him back - is to get Max back first - all the way into the yard and leave Ollie out there with nobody back him up or to protect from strangers.

    I think Ollie was in a state known as "too aroused to respond" or "TAR" or "over the top excited". And you need to see if you can build up this kind of excitement level when you're training him - and train on the edge of it. Ie have him learn self control even when he's very very excited. For my dog - that meant a lot of training in front of her dinner bowl or with that as a distraction.

    So you could do some training out the front with Ollie on lead so you have control - as dogs are walking past. Or use whatever gets him excited (rabbits? other dogs like Max running past? Bowls of warm roast chicken?), keep the lead on until he's able to respond reliably.

    Some reading you might enjoy.
    Puppy Development Schedule | Steve Courtney Dog Training

    Why Steve Doesn’t Recommend Getting Two Pups From the Same Litter | Steve Courtney Dog Training

    and some stuff that might help
    NILIF, Nothing in Life is Free! | Steve Courtney Dog Training

    The Triangle of Temptation | Steve Courtney Dog Training

    more here
    Knowledge Base | Steve Courtney Dog Training

    I don't agree with "dominance theory" or "alpha dog" stuff but the end result of letting a dog do what it wants all the time is the same - dogs are opportunists. If you are failing to set clear boundaries, limits and criteria - is a dog that walks all over you and makes all the decisions in the family. And dogs are not that great at making decisions in their own long term best interest.

    Your dog needs to know that the same rules at training - apply at home - and it's up to you to enforce / prevent ie catch the dog and put it where it can't fence run. By enforce - I mean interrupt and stop the undesirable behaviour but better yet - prevent it. I don't mean yelling and screaming or worse.

    Meanwhile - I'd consider locking the front gates so Ollie can't be "accidentally" let out, until you have it all sorted so he can't or doesn't bolt out. Hopefully your friends can let you know by phoning or beeping that they're there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Rural NSW


    I have 3 from the same litter and I am the boss. Yes they look to each other when alone but always to me when I am around. I have not had to strictly enforce this. Maybe mine are flukes.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    di dee

    you've been part of that "pack" from their birth and the boss with all the good stuff from birth - so a lot easier to maintain that than puppies that have fended for themselves with little human contact and then rehomed together (puppy mill specials).

    Can you remember what the puppies were like when they were 1 year old? I think it wasn't easy, if I remember right.

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