"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Boxing Match

– Posted in: Aggression, Behavior Problems, Columns

Boxer From AboveHi John,

I have friends who are at their wits end with their 2 adult boxers, Alice and Ralph who can’t seem to live in the same house. For no apparent reason, they get into ferocious, vicious fights, where blood is drawn and people sustain injury trying to pry them apart. They’ve had a “dog whisperer” out to the house and were given a regiment of shuffled outdoor time, and staggered time out of their crates. They are also given drops to “calm their minds”. I think this is just a crock. Their dogs have never had proper training, and I think this is the root of all the trouble. I’m afraid someone is going to be severely injured trying to break them up. The vet we all share thinks they may need to be put down.

C.T.

Dear C.T.

I’m glad my ultimately unsuccessful marriage counselor didn’t subscribe to that particular vet’s relationship advice. Just because they can’t live together doesn’t mean they have to be put down.

Some dogs can’t live together. Some could if their owners would just leave them alone to work things out. The problem is that a dog fight is a pretty disturbing thing to see and the normal inclination is to get in there and break it up. The downside is the dogs never figure out who’s “more qualified” and the tension builds until they get such a hate on for each other one or the other have to go.

Before I’d even start teaching these two pugilists to get along I’d focus on getting the owners to start training the dog’s minds and bodies. “Drops to calm the mind.” isn’t going to cut it. I’m not opposed to naturopathic treatments but that “Dog Whisperer” must have had a few drops themselves before showing up for that appointment. I have never seen any of the various “preparations” have any significant effect on this type of dog to dog aggression. The rest of his or her program seems to have amounted to “Let’s just avoid contact.” It’s not working in the Middle East and it’s not going to work here.

Before the aggression with each other is addressed, these dogs need some serious training and exercise as individuals. Here’s what I mean by serious. For most dogs the command “Down!”, means just that, lay down and that’s good enough but with dogs like this it’s going to have to mean, “Hit the ground so fast, you’ve got grass stains on your chest!” “Come!” means, “I better not have to blink more then once.” and “Stay!” means “Pretend you’re in a coma until I come up with a cure.” Exercise is not shuffled outdoor time. It’s daily off leash time, running until they’re tripping over their own tongues.

The obedience and exercise serve to develop respect, calm the mind, and of course respond to direction like it’s a job and not a trick. This isn’t going to solve the problem, it lays the groundwork. Most owners don’t have the skills or the motivation to get that far and so one or both of the dogs pay the price and have to go before there is a more serious, even fatal outcome.

See if they can find a better trainer or alternatively I’d recommend calling a breed specific rescue as they’re almost always the best bet for finding a good home when it’s a pure bred dog. The volunteers, love the breed, know the breed and know what sort of people do well with the breed.

Pawsitively Yours,

-John Wade

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