Tag Archives: aggression

Controlling your dog in-home with new visitors

A very common question I receive is, “How do I control my dog when people come over to visit?” The best training techniques I can suggest would be to pattern train boundary training and target training. Commonly used in our classes, the “Place” and “Touch” commands are a great way to teach your dog what is expected during the excitement of a new visitor. When pattern trained (always performing them in that order- “Place” and then “Touch”) this further engrains the lesson in your dog’s mind.

Starting with “Place,” which is the command we use for boundary training exercises, you will teach your dog that he needs to remain in his area until he’s released. This will allow your guest to come in and settle, while your dog manages his excitement levels in his own area. You may learn how this is done by visiting our YouTube video, online. (Links at the bottom of this article)Next, once your dog is calm, you will work on the “Touch” command, which is what we use for target training exercises. This shows your dog what is expected in a proper greeting.

The combination of these commands can prevent problem behaviors resulting from both fear, and excitement. Of course, if your dog isn’t already familiar with these, she won’t remain in “place” when you go to the door tomorrow, but working these commands daily and building distractions regularly is the way to go!

To get started, you may view how-to videos on our blog, here!

Random Dog Training Thoughts (By: Amber Stacy)

Although I specifically mention Pit Bulls, I also write for all breeds.  They all need homes, leaders, guidance, socialization, training and responsible owners.

I always have wondering thoughts at the end of every day since I have become more engulfed in the dog world.  Specifically, over a certain breed that I opened my mind and home up to nine years ago.  I volunteer at a local shelter and I have a job to help people work with their dogs, which have developed behavior problems.  I teach people how to communicate and develop relationships with their own dogs.  I have seen bonds form, and I have seen bonds break when the people don’t want to change their ways.  I see the dog walking in with a crying owner, but their mind is made up even knowing there is no room for the dog, so the dog is euthanized. 

Over the weekend, a girl, was mauled by two dogs.  Now the world is in yet another upheaval and fingers are being pointed to what could be the wrong end of the leash.  While a breed ban is the answer for most people, others see it a different way.  Some see it as statistics that are far less alarming than the people victimized by drunk drivers, cancer, violence and natural disaster.  While some turn a blind eye, others are there fighting for those who don’t have voices, who can’t speak for themselves. 

Dog-fighting busts are becoming the headlines more often as well.  While some say the dogs are vicious and can’t be trusted, ex-fight dogs are now being used as therapy dogs, giving children confidence while they learn to read.

 Shelters, rescues and fosters are at their max with dogs right now no matter where you go.  Not just with Pitties, but with all breeds.  Where did we go wrong?  One is finally adopted out while two more come in.  More and more dogs are being surrendered over behavior issues.  There is no room, so the dog is euthanized, or another one that has been in the shelter for a year is euthanized because he is getting stressed and depressed, and this will make room for one more dog that could get adopted.

Even knowing about all the homeless dogs, you still want to breed or buy?  Back-yard, puppy mill, or work/show?  What’s the difference you ask?  Back-yard breeders and puppy mill breeders only care about one thing.  That’s the green.  They will continue breeding whatever is popular at the time and over produce and give these dogs to anyone.  Instead of saying what they don’t do, let’s focus on what real breeders do.  The goal is to continue a strong line of genetics for work or show.  The dogs that are chosen are stable in temperament, healthy and everything the breed is said to be.  The breeders will have you fill out paperwork, do a house check, will call for updates, will want to know if something happens and you can no longer care for the dog, what your plans will be.  They will want to make sure the breed you are looking at will fit in with your lifestyle.  They will take the dog back even to ensure it goes to another responsible owner.  They will encourage you to work or show your dog as well, as this is what they were breeding for.  The temperament and health of the next generation is more important than breeding for size, color, or quantity.  Really, not caring about temperament and health of the dog are where many genetic problems begin.

Socialization!  Puppies need to learn how to communicate with other dogs.  They need to learn how to behave around people and not be overly shy or fearful.  If they don’t learn when they are puppies, they will not learn when they are adults.  When presented with a new situation, as adults, they didn’t learn how to handle when they were puppies, the result will be a fight or flight response.  I question every news story I read and wonder if the dog was properly socialized.

Dogs are dogs!  They are prey animals, which means they will chase after anything that runs.  It’s instinct to them, and that’s something you cannot take away.  Not letting them get this energy out, not giving them an outlet for their instincts create behavior problems. 

Dogs need leaders and get stressed if they feel the need to take the leader position.  It’s our responsibility to be this leader for our dogs.  Once again, behavior problems develop if they take this role on.  Basic training is a great way to create a bond.  Hitting, screaming at and getting frustrated with your dog sends the wrong messages, and you will not be looked at as a benevolent leader.

Dogs are a lifelong commitment.  We can’t turn our backs on them or throw them away once we are bored of them, they don’t ‘obey’ you, or we realize they are more work than we can handle.  Please research before getting a dog.  Find one that fits your lifestyle.  Learn about their temperaments to both animals and people, find out how much exercise the breed requires both mentally and physically.  Open your mind when it comes to training and accept advice when it comes to crating, housebreaking, and behavior modification.

Why you should love. . .your LEASH!


Most people know an individual that has owned a dog that was hit by a car. Maybe your own dog has been hit by a car in the past. Some of you may know that I sit on the vicious dog hearing board, in the city. It only takes one incident (often an accident) for a dog to wind up on the wrong side of the table at these hearings, and ALL of these dogs are somebody’s pet. In all of the above examples, a leash can prevent tragedy.
Even when your dog is nice, friendly, and under control, if you are in a public area, a leash is appropriate. Some people don’t care for dogs, unfortunately. Additionally, some dogs do not care to meet new dogs. With a dog that’s loose in an undesignated area, others rights may be inadvertently impeded upon.

So, you need to get your dog out to RUN, and you want your dog to run free. . .because he needs it! Where do you go? If your dog is social with other dogs, you can visit any variety of our local dog parks. There’s a list of them, below. If your dog is more socially selective, it may be best to find a friend with a private field that is willing to let you use it. Have fun, and play safe!

Local dog parks:

Baltimore City-
Canton Dog Park
Clinton and Toone Streets

Locust Point Dog Park
Andre St.

Baltimore County-
B.A.R.C. Park
Located at Hannah Moore

Harford County-
Ma & Pa Dog Park
N. Tollgate Rd.

Rebel’s Dog Park
2208 Connolly Rd.


Fear-aggression, anxiety, and other doggie problems. . .

Leadership is the answer!

Most dogs do not want to be aggressive or defensive. They are much more happy and content with having structure, and a clear submissive role in the family. What happens when this role is not clear in your dog’s mind? Any number of things could go wrong, and this is the leading cause for fear-aggression and anxiety. There are several things that you can start, which will help to re-establish you as the leader in your home. This will allow your dog to let his guard down, and RELAX!

Begin with a “Nothing in Life is Free” routine (NILF). This means all food, treats, toys, and affection, MUST be earned. Free-feeding is out of the question, and the dog must sit and wait for food, being released to eat. Treats should be given sparingly. Treats must be well-timed, and for something special- like a long down-stay under distraction, etc. Toys are allowed, and interactive toys are preferable- something that you can play with your dog (ball, tug, etc.). These should also be earned, and should be picked up at all other times. Even your affection should be earned- do not pet your dog when he demands attention. Rather, ignore this behavior, and give affection for appropriate, calm, submissive behavior. Last. . .if your dog is allowed on the furniture, STOP! Normally, dogs on the furniture is not the end of the world, when they’re invited, but when there is leadership confusion present, this is absolutely a no-go.

So, let’s say you’re consistently doing all of the above. Your dog is calm, more confident, and submissive. Hopefully this has resolved any problem behaviors that may have occured in the past. If not, it is VERY important to consult with a professional, as the behavior may have progressed into something habitual, and will need some training. All hope is not lost, and your dog can be rehabilitated, it may simply need some more intense work. Aja Harris, with Mutt Magic, has extensive experience with this, and can help you and your dog regain the relationship you’re meant to have.