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Territorially Aggressive Australian Shepherd

A black tricolour Australian Shepherd
Image via Wikipedia

Re: territorially aggressive Australian Shepherd Cross

Our family has an incredibly difficult 2 year old territorially aggressive Australian Shepherd Cross (Lab) named Bones, that we have had since he was about 6-7 weeks old. We began private puppy lessons and then group lessons when he was a little older. He learned quickly. For the next year he was a great dog. We would take him to the dog park and for long walks around our area and everyone loved him. He allowed everyone to pet him and we had no problems. After about six months he was becoming toy aggressive. Then he stopped allowing the neighborhood kids to play with him and he began barking at strangers. Last week he got out of the house and yard and chased someone who was riding their bike. He ended up tearing the pads off of both his feet while attempting to eat the bike rider. He is now incredibly aggressive towards anyone that is not in our immediate family. He not allow anyone in our house and attacks anyone that walks by him. It is becoming nearly impossible for anyone in our family to walk him. We are afraid that we will be forced to put him down.

– K.

Hi K.

Here’s what you can’t do with a territorially aggressive Australian Shepherd. You can NEVER leave them in a yard unsupervised nor can they EVER be left alone for any amount of time where they can see vehicle or pedestrian traffic through a window or a door. For some reason retrieving breeds crossed with herding breeds can produce overly territorial dogs that make Charlie Sheen’s crazy train look like Thomas the Train. (If you don’t have little kids, google it.) Here’s what you HAVE to do with these dogs. Spend a lot of time with them in the yard and where they can see vehicle and pedestrian traffic through a window or a door and correct your territorially aggressive Australian Shepherd Cross’s bad behaviour and reward his good behaviour. They have to be taught and reminded until the day they die that, “This is your house and they just get to live there.”

There are studies used to support the use of all positive dog training that claim correcting a dog for aggression will make the aggression worse. However the only thing that study proved is that bad science is alive and well and can be a tad cruel. It can be made to be true by structuring the study so a poor dog is essentially dumped into a charged situation and while its attention is fixed on the target of its aggression a “correction” is “applied.” No real trainer works with aggressive dogs that way. They would first look into the dog’s history, look at exercise and mental stimulation available to the dog etc. They would address the window/yard issues and show how to develop a proper working relationship foundation. After about 30 days of the latter they would in short succession likely exercise the dog to the point of happy exhaustion, do a quick review of the foundation exercises learned and then immediately introduce an incremental exposure to the red zone stimulants. They would both correct bad behaviour and reward good behaviour to help your territorially aggressive Australian Shepherd Cross understand more clearly where it was going wrong without any risk of increasing aggression and unless the dog has a screw loose every chance of getting it under control if not extinguishing it entirely.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

(File: territorially aggressive Australian Shepherd Cross)

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14 thoughts on “Territorially Aggressive Australian Shepherd”

  1. Ronda Lake

    U was told that my puppy is an Alaskin Shepard cross with Lab. Her name is Sophie. I along with my 8 years old daughter and her daddy are the only people in the house. She likes anyone that will rub her belly but she bits at anyone(not aggressively) but enough to feel it a little. I had her house trained so I thought until the last two days she irinated in the house so I trapped her on the nose after showing her what she did wrong and put her in her cage. She’s knows when she does something wrong. She’s not leaning to me like she use to and now that she’s 4 months I’m beginning to worry that my mate wants to get rid of her. We love our puppy but I need help and at this time we can’t really afford a trainer. Why tips can you help us with so, we can have a loving dog?

    1. I don’t think anything can replace some time with a good trainer but when that’s not in the budget I point people to buying my dog training book. You’ll find it on this site in the books sections. It’s an ebook and affordable.


  2. Danielle Faulk

    I hope you can help me. I have a black lab/Aussie shepherd mix that is a little over 9 years old. His behavior seems to be getting worse the older he gets and I don’t know what else to do. He and my male GSD grew up together (both neutered) but the older they became, the more aggressive he became to the GSD. He would try and bite me when corrected. I finally had to separate them and let the lab/Aussie stay with my mother until my GSD recently passed. I have brought Kilo back home and now he’s turning in my 2 female dogs and the cat. Attempts to bite me when corrected again and I have had to start kenneling him again. If o let him have outdoor time he barks non-stop until I let him back in and he’s constantly trying to mount one of my female dogs (spayed). He’s been to the vet and I have tried everything possible to no avail. He tried to bite a friend yesterday through the kennel when they hugged me bye. My mother took him to her vet several months ago and he told her that he had one mixed the same breeds and finally had to have him put down at 10 because he’d become so out of control. I am afraid I’m going to have to do the same. I’ve made attempts to re-home him with someone who had no other dogs or animals but no one wants a dog his age. I love him but I am at the end of my rope and cannot do this anymore. I’m afraid he’s going to seriously hurt one of the girls, myself or company. Please, if you could email me and give me some insight, I would truly appreciate your help.

  3. Jasmine

    I have an Australian Shepherd greyhound mutt (we think) that is just the sweetest dog. She is 2.5 years old and recently showing aggression at our apartment dog park. I thought perhaps it was territorial at first because she has lived here since she was 3 weeks old, and there have been some new dogs move in, but now I think it is a behavioral change in general. If another dog comes running up to me at the park she will lunge and attack. If they look like they are going to touch her toy she will attack. She doesn’t raise hackles or anything and will play nice with the dogs before and after. She has also started barking and strangers around our apartment complex when on the leash. I have not seen any of these behaviors outside of our apartment complex when I take her for hikes etc. Help me to stop this behavior before it ruins my sweet dog! Thank you! (P. S. This is my first dog)

    1. Not all dogs do well in a dog park environment. It’s like dropping your children off downtown and saying, “Go make some friends.” Before you subject your dog to other unfamiliar dogs it’s a good idea to make sure your dog will listen to you. Most people have very little influence over what their dog does or doesn’t do outside of for a treat and a brief moment in time inside their own homes so you might want to pull back on risking your dog or another getting injured until you’ve got more of a teacher/student relationship as opposed to a ‘room-mate’ relationship.

      – John Wade (

  4. Hi… help!
    My 18 yr old daughter and her boyfriend have a yr old male Australia Shepherd and a 10 month old golden doodle. They live in a small apartment. The Australian shepherd is not fully house broken. They occasionally take the dogs park to play. The shepherd is not nuetered. He has viciously bitten me once, and yesterday bit my daughter for the 2nd time sending her to the ER requiring stictches. She was breaking up the dogs fighting. Only now at this point are they considering training..which they cannot afford. Im hoping I can forward your expert advice to them. Thank you.

  5. Ronda Lang

    Our family just adopted a 11 month old Aussie mix from our humane society. We just brought him home yesterday….he seems so smart and fits into the family well including getting along with our 8 yr old shitzu.
    We are making sure that he gets plenty of exercise and stimuli.
    My husband brought home bones for both dogs and he got In a little skif with the shitzu. And then a friend stopped by and he acted a little territorial, barking and carrying on…we told him “no” on both accounts but now after reading your site this seems wrong.
    We really want to start off on the right foot. What should we do? He’s probably feeling a little overwhelmed in a new environment.
    We had a Aussie for 10yrs and he was the best dog. We are hoping this one can be too.

  6. I have 4 puppies who are a Redbone/ Aussie Cross and for some reason 3 of them took down the 4th and tried to kill her. This happened 2 days in a row same dogs attacking same dog the pup Can you tell me why they would attack their litter mate in this fashion? They are 4 1/2 months old all play and sleep together, then boom they turn on that one particular dog. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      I’m afraid I don’t have enough information to be fair to the pups or yourself. You’re using words like “tried to kill her”, “boom they tun on”, “attack” and I don’t know whether you’re being hyperbolic. Pups can play pretty roughly, and even have serious spats, all pretty normal, but also – usually under the watchful eye of a mother. If you haven’t seen what is normal, it can to a layperson be disturbing. I do find it odd that they’re ganging up, that seems a little weird. I’d start working on all of them so they understand who is living under whose roof so when you tell them to suck it up it doesn’t come across as a roommate making a request, but instead as a loving authority figure. If you need some help learning how to do that in a multi-dog household (it’s different that just with one dog) send me an email and I’ll forward some information regarding the program I think they need.

      – John Wade (

  7. Hi! I have a 3-year-old Australian Shepherd and a 5-year-old Weimaraner. My two dogs are the bestest friends, and it sometimes causes issues but normally with the 5-year-old and not the Aussie. Over the course of my Aussies life, it has been very rare that we are able to allow another dog outside of our household to come over without him immediately showing aggression. He has gone to dog parks, trails with other dogs, and a boarding/daycare facility where he has no problems at all with other dogs. He only has issues in our home. He has bitten two other dogs and it could have been more, but it was prevented. I have tried a slow interaction with both pups on leash and my other dog put away but he immediately starts to snarl and lunge at the dog with increasing anxiety. I don’t know what to do anymore, and I feel like I’ve tried everything. Is this territorial aggression? Is there any way to resolve this?

    1. Hi Abby,

      Yes, it is likely territorial. I have prepared a detailed pdf for people with dogs that need to get used to each other. It provides guidance, and if anything is overly cautious in approach. I’ll send it to you via the email address you’ve provided.

      – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

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  8. My son and his girlfriend have
    8 year old Aussie and 1 year old Aussie. The 8 year old goes after the 1 year old now.
    This started when the girlfriend found out she was pregnant. The 8 year old won’t let the 1 year old get around pregnant girlfriend. How do you fix because the dogs are fighting all the time. The 1 year old defends herself and usually wins the fight.
    How would you handle this situation?
    Thank You for any advice.


    1. Hi Edie,

      It’s really difficult to advise and be fair to the dogs and their owners with the limited amount of information. I’d need to know a lot more. Taking just a stab in the dark; it could be a few things, or a combination of a few things. It might be the pregnancy, but it is also possible that the younger dog is moving into adolescence, and the older dog reduces tolerance for transgressions and is attempting to put the younger in what he has decided is his place. This could be exacerbated if the dogs’ owners aren’t making it clear each and every day who is living in who’s home. This creates more opportunities for resource-guarding type conflict, where the girlfriend is considered “a resource”.

      When you say they are fighting, are these trips to the vet for stitches fights, or are they having a dramatic tussle? The latter isn’t that abnormal in multi-dog households, particularly when the dogs are the same gender, and when one is approaching adulthood.

      – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

      Visit For A Free Weekly Newsletter
      & FREE Brain Drain Activity Guide For Your Dog

      PS Don’t forget if you find that the many free resources I provide companion dog owners via Ask The Dog Guy website ( and elsewhere (YouTube, newsletter, etc.) inform, save you time and, or money, why not buy me a coffee? Click the link to Buy Me A Few Coffees

      PPS You can also become a Patron and support spreading the word about science and common sense in companion dog training by clicking on the membership link instead. Click the link to Become An Ask The Dog Guy Patron (Various levels of sponsorship have benefits for you as well.)

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