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Thread: Can You Train Dog-Aggression Out Of A Dog?

  1. #1

    Default Can You Train Dog-Aggression Out Of A Dog?

    I know most mushers don't waste their time on a dog-aggressive dog. Is that simply because a dog-aggressive malamute is impossible to train out of that behavior? Or is it just too much work to make it worth it? I have a team of dogs, but only one is highly dog-aggressive. She was raised around other dogs, but she takes being the dominant dog very seriously, and will literally fight to the death if another dog challenges her- or if a dog she doesn't know walks into her territory. She's very submissive to humans, but will not tolerate other dogs. Can this behavior be deterred? If so- how? I've tried everything up to this point including shock collars, asserting dominance myself, and a week-long period of 24/7 supervision. She's fed separately from other dogs. Has her own tie out line. Her own dog house. She gets plenty of attention and is run often. She doesn't fight over food or even territory- she just fights, because she wants to fight. She has no reason to be so aggressive, it's just in her nature. I'd really like to find a way to train her out of it, but I'm at a loss at the moment. Any ideas?
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
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  2. #2
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    I don't have a lot of experience with dogs. What I have found with most animals is the older they get the meaner there are.
    If you have kids around you do not want a aggressive dog.
    Good luck

  3. #3
    Member 2jumpersplease's Avatar
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    I'd read some stuff from this website: http://leerburg.com/articles-dominance.htm

    It sounds like a problem dog that is a risk to your other dogs and maybe people. My mind would be evaluating the risk of keeping the dog first, then if you still want to try I would see whether there are an options you haven't tried. If not, eventually you have tried everything. If the dog really has no issue with humans, a one dog home could be a good option. Good luck.

  4. #4

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    My dogs run, but they're also my pets. I don't intend to give her up. I've had her for four years. Thanks for the input though, guys! I'll definitely look into that article, 2jumpersplease. She's a great dog. Honestly my best friend and the one I have the closest relationship with. She's just a sh**head when it comes to other dogs- especially ones she doesn't know.
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
    Lover of arctic fox and northern lights.
    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
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    Member akiceman25's Avatar
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    Gypsy.. took a little hiatus from the forum did ya? Welcome back!

    I know exactly how you feel about a loyal and loving pet that has an aggressive nature.

    I had an Akita that turned more aggressive with age. I would justify keeping him because "he hasn't hurt anyone or anything yet, maybe he won't."

    Several years after his aggression first showed itself, he did, and I immediately regretted my decision.

    He was put down and it was my fault. If I had found him a suitable home, minus children and other dogs, he may have continued to live his life the happy dog he was.

    Not trying to tell you what to do by any means. Just hoping someone else can learn from my poor decision.

    Again, welcome back :-)
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

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  6. #6
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Yes, there is help, it starts with removing yourself from the situation emotionally. Your thread is is slightly irritating. If these dog fights continue to upset, send off the dog. Most dog mushers don't know how to deal with Malamutes, they are better off with little purse-sized race dogs. I have been training malamutes for about 5 years now, which is nothing. If your other dogs are not malamutes, get rid of her, she will be too big for the other dogs, and could kill the small dogs in a split second. Malamute are not pets, so disregard advice from people who don't hook up malamutes to sleds. Also, malamutes aren't race dogs, so disregard advice from mushers who have never ran a team 150-200 lbs animals down a trail.

    I have a 175 lb female malamute that will fight to the death. She is the most dangerous creature I've ever hooked to a sled. BUT, this is typical, and I don't care whatsoever, you want to know why??? Because I run the show. That's the attitude I have. Never give an inch, everytime she goes into attack mode, beat her over the head with a cut down hocky stick. With a very aggressive malamute, it'll take about a half dozen good blows. It could take about a year of tough love, before she chills out. You have to be mentally able to handle that. After one year, she'll learn to respect your tough love. If you think this is bad, you should see how violent their closest relatives are to one another: WOLVES.

    *** Disclamer to the bleeding heart clowns who play Sara McLaughlin music while making commercials about skinny animals: Beating a Malmute (in attack mode) over the head is not dog abuse, Malamutes will kill another dog in a matter of minutes.***

    Beating sticks can't be dense, or you'll knock the dog out. They have to be light. Hocky stick handle with the ends rounded off is perfect. If you want to be a feminist about it, wrap it in shock absorbing handle wrap. But, usually those kind of gals volunteer at animal shelters, and send pitbulls off for adoption until they bite children, then take them back to the animal shelter, and send em off to another home. So try not to be that kind of gal.

    Here is why I keep my 175 lb psycho female malamute on the team: She a typical malamute in that her heart melts around small children. Dozens of children and adults have fed her, and visited with her. The natives who created this breed, sculpted them to love people. You can imagine in a village of ancient times, the dogs had to love people, or they were killed, and taken out of the gene pool. She is gentle with people. Dog-on-dog aggression stinks, but I've not had a single incident in over 8 months. They learn to respect the alpha human with the hocky stick handle. Will she attack again? Yes.

    I apologize for being such an unpolished Alaskan Malamute myself, I do howl at the moon, I love to pee on trees, and in my younger years before I learned to respect the human hocky-stick handle (which is our criminal justice system), I used to LOVE to FIGHT as well. I hope this advice helps!

    Also, I have a man crush on Joe Henderson. His books on the Malamute, are the REAL DEAL!:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nso-c7onuA
    http://www.amazon.com/Malamute-Man-B...erson+malamute

  7. #7

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    akiceman: Thank you for the welcome back and for sharing your story. I appreciate the input, but I can't give the little girl up. I remove her from situations where she'd kill another dog. She'll never have the chance to do that; I wouldn't ever allow it. We don't go to dog parks. She isn't let run free around dogs she doesn't know. She's not unsupervised around my other dogs. I'm not irresponsible in the way I handle her. I don't feel like she needs a different home. That's not at all what I was trying to get out of this post. I was just looking for recommendations on decreasing the dog-on-dog aggression.

    mainer_in_ak: Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it, but all of my dogs are malamutes. She's the smallest one. She has the others tricked into thinking she's the dominant dog and they refuse to challenge her. She can't hurt them though. Try as she might, she can't do much more than get slobber on their fur. She is very tame with humans- great with kids. She's a village breed, as are all my dogs. They're not racing dogs. They're work dogs and my pets. If loving an animal is a little discerning to you, I apologize- but ya, my pets have my respect as much as I have theirs. She's never attacked and hurt a human. I'm just trying to get her to settle down when it comes to other dogs. All of my dogs are village rescues. All, trust me, have been humbled down by humans (mostly doing a lot of what you're talking about- hitting the animal down). This has made her extreme submissive to any human- kid or adult. But the dog aggression isn't subsiding. Are you suggesting that I knock her down when she's being aggressive towards another dog? I guess I just feel like there must be a more ethical way than beating a dog with a stick. I just wouldn't feel comfortable doing that But, if you look at how dog fighters train their dogs- a lot of the aggression they bring out of their dogs is taught by beating their animals. I, personally, just can't even beat my dog with a stick- and statistics have shown that it would actually make the aggression worse.
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
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    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Well, good luck to yah, Hopefully I didn't waste my words. Almost all of my malamutes were pure-breeds left to the adoption shelters, whose owners were overrun by their dominant, violent aggression. Every one of them is now peaceful, and 100 percent better than when the owners dropped them like flys. But......follow whatever statistics you like. Maybe a Sara McLaughlin song might help you find answers.

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    Member 2jumpersplease's Avatar
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    One other thought to consider. Self diagnosing can be tough when it comes to something like this. Diagnosing issues from a few paragraphs on the internet is probably impossible. Bringing an experienced musher or other dog handler out to observe the situation might help point out some subtle things that could improve the situation. Rescues can be tough cases that's why many experienced folks aren't willing to take them on, but they are probably willing to share their experiences. Again, good luck.

  10. #10
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    nothing's impossible. Plain english here:

    1. The dog has a bond with the handler, and is closest to the handler over the other dogs.

    2. This enables the dog's negative attributes to prevail, whenever the dog wants. Because of this, the dog is further empowered by all the extra attention it receives when the handler segregates the dog from the others.

    3. The dog gets away with not being a team player, empowered by all the extra attention. The dog views all the other dogs as lesser than her.

    5. The dog doesn't respect the verbal commands or any other lesser method of punishment. The dog doesn't respect the expectations of her handler. Some Alaskan Malmautes are too strong willed to obey verbal commands, they understand the hocky stick handle, it's an equal reaction, and it's VERY JUST in this situation.

    6. This is all the failure of the handler in not realizing this. Some people are too thick in the skulled to admit it.

    **Until the handler realizes that she must stop empowering this dog's negative attributes, and challenge the unacceptable aggression at every single moment, with a surgically precise beating on the head (the only thing that will take them out of fight mode). There is no hope.

  11. #11

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    2jumpersplease: I actually have talked to a guy in Bethel who was willing to come out and work with her as an experienced musher and dog handler. I was hoping that would help as well. Thanks for the tip!

    mainer_in_ak: I can see you are obviously a malamute expert. Good for you. But, you still have a lot misconstrued. My dog does listen to verbal commands very well. And in terms of if she's beginning to act dominant to another dog in my household and I yell 'stop', she knocks it off immediately. The only time she doesn't is when a dog within the household starts a fight with her (essentially I think trying to take her dominant-dog position; challenging her) or with dogs she doesn't know- which is where I'm trying to figure out how to deter the behavior. She does not receive special or extra attention. All of my dogs are equally cared for and receive equal treatment. There is no 'favorite', although she is the one I have had the longest and because of this, tends to be the one I am closest to. I love all of my dogs though, and none are treated more special than the others. But- I would like to give you credit; you gave me an idea to look up 'wolf habits' and assert those onto my dog. The most common being that the dominant animal flips the lesser wolf onto their back with the scruff on their neck- or pulls them down to the ground with an ear or the side of their cheek.

    I started doing this with my problem dog last nigh in combination with some tips from the articles that 2jumpersplease shared. I'll keep you guys updated, but thus far it's proved pretty effective. I asked my neighbors to bring their dogs into my yard with my dog safely secured away from their dogs. When she began barking aggressively, I took her and flipped her onto the ground (not hard, but literally just picked her up and set her down). She'd get up, I'd do it again. I began holding her to the ground on her back even as she was struggling to get up and bark at the other dogs. Eventually she learned I'd let her up if she didn't bark. We did it quite a few times and by the last time the dogs were getting about 5 feet away from her without her being aggressive. That's a huge improvement from her barking aggressively when they were a good 10 yards away. It seems to be rather effective, but I've only tried it once. I'll continue working on it. Even so, she's a quick learner and I think she'll catch on. Now that I know how to totally take away her 'dominance role' when she's in attack mode, it's helped a lot. When she's in a submissive position on her back she doesn't want to bark and act aggressive. She struggles and fights it, but she isn't focused on attacking the other dog- which is great. We shall see how this plays out. She's a stubborn little thing, but I think I can break her out of it. Thanks for the tip on the natural-wolf behavior mainer_in_ak. And 2jumpersplease- those articles proved very helpful!
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
    Lover of arctic fox and northern lights.
    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
    Find me online at www.lonealaskangypsy.com and at fairs, markets, and festivals around AK.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    good luck with that, reaching in there with your hands when dogs are hooked up to a sled. Sounds like you supposedly got it allllll figured out now.

  13. #13

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    The second day of training went really well! She learned pretty quick. I had my neighbors bring the dogs into the yard again and this time she didn't bark. She knew if she started acting up I would flip her over- so she just sat and whined and stomped her feet on the ground. lol. BUT! No barking! Which is a pretty big improvement for just a day.
    Lone Alaskan Gypsy
    Lover of arctic fox and northern lights.
    Reader of arctic runes. Alaskan storyteller. Handcrafted trinket trader. Grower of organic plants.
    Find me online at www.lonealaskangypsy.com and at fairs, markets, and festivals around AK.

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    Member akiceman25's Avatar
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    That's good to hear! :-)
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2K7sV-K74

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    Remember, you are sharing the trail with other mushers, most of whom do not run 120 pound dogs. Your aggressive dog may not be able to hurt team mates but might easily kill or hurt a dog in a passing team. The show of aggression could damage another teams leaders ability to lead/pass even if no physical damage is done.

    There is a simple answer you have indicated you do not want to hear. Meanwhile your efforts to restrain the aggression are disrupting the teamwork of all the other dogs.

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    Wrote the previous comment because we had a team dog ripped open by a dog in a team during a head on pass a few years back. Only a few seconds but ripped the dog open and cost the other musher $1500 in vet bills.

    Have also had leaders hesitant to do further head on passes after passes with aggressive leaders and teams.

    Have some experience with malamute teams. Listen to mainer in ak

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonealaskangypsy View Post
    But- I would like to give you credit; you gave me an idea to look up 'wolf habits' and assert those onto my dog. The most common being that the dominant animal flips the lesser wolf onto their back with the scruff on their neck- or pulls them down to the ground with an ear or the side of their cheek.

    I started doing this with my problem dog last nigh in combination with some tips from the articles that 2jumpersplease shared. I'll keep you guys updated, but thus far it's proved pretty effective. I asked my neighbors to bring their dogs into my yard with my dog safely secured away from their dogs. When she began barking aggressively, I took her and flipped her onto the ground (not hard, but literally just picked her up and set her down). She'd get up, I'd do it again. I began holding her to the ground on her back even as she was struggling to get up and bark at the other dogs. Eventually she learned I'd let her up if she didn't bark. We did it quite a few times and by the last time the dogs were getting about 5 feet away from her without her being aggressive. That's a huge improvement from her barking aggressively when they were a good 10 yards away. It seems to be rather effective, but I've only tried it once. I'll continue working on it. Even so, she's a quick learner and I think she'll catch on. Now that I know how to totally take away her 'dominance role' when she's in attack mode, it's helped a lot. When she's in a submissive position on her back she doesn't want to bark and act aggressive. She struggles and fights it, but she isn't focused on attacking the other dog- which is great. We shall see how this plays out. She's a stubborn little thing, but I think I can break her out of it. Thanks for the tip on the natural-wolf behavior mainer_in_ak. And 2jumpersplease- those articles proved very helpful!
    Full disclosure: I've never owned or worked with the mushing dogs (husky, malamute). But I do have some experience with other working breeds (German Shepherd).

    OP, the technique you are referring to is called the "alpha roll." At one point it was a technique used by police and military K9 handlers to establish their authority over uncooperative dogs. I couldn't tell you if that technique is still used but I do know that there are plenty of stories out there where dogs got irritated by this technique and flipped out on their handlers (sometimes inflicting horrendous bite wounds on the handler). I've also heard from numerous trainers (mind you these are guys/gals who don't have a problem with administering physical corrections if the situation calls for it) that advise against using the alpha roll because of the dangerous potential for backlash from the dog.

    I realize that Malamutes and huskies are very different in terms of temperament from the dogs used by police and military. I know that these sled dogs are trained to be much more submissive and accepting of humans, but at the end of the day they are still dogs, and I wouldn't risk using such a physical and close-in technique on a dog. You might get away with it for a few times, but you won't realize that your dog has had enough of these types of corrections until he is already in your face biting whatever is in his reach.

    I won't get into the effectiveness/ethics of using a hockey stick to break up a fight and/or correct a dog. Everyone has their own view of how dogs should be trained and socialized, and some people treat them more like working animals than actual pets. IMO, as long as the dog is well fed, medically and mentally in good health, well-exercised, then the dog already has a much better life than many other dogs who live neglected lives in some crappy home or an animal shelter. If you don't want to be the one physically correcting your dog, then I would recommend getting a shock collar...they can be quite effective and dissuading bad behavior (when properly used of course).

    But whatever you do, I would stop using that alpha roll technique ASAP. Wolves and some domesticated dogs do it to each other, but they are canines and have the behaviors, temperaments, and instincts to work through that kind of situation. Though you might be their master, you're not a dog, and your furry companions know that.

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