Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Dealing with aggression using hands-off or positive/negative methods

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by alphadog, Aug 4, 2009.


  1. alphadog

    alphadog PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,629
    Likes Received:
    84
    I'd really like to hear how people who are adverse to using water bottles, rattle bottles, pet correctors, physical interception etc, deal with aggression between two or more dogs. I'm not thinking about the run up to an event(s), where you can train and demonstrate to dog(s) how to behave around their peers, but more about incidents that catch you unaware.

    How would you stop a fight?

    Have you had to put it into practice?

    What success have you had?

    What have been the long-term results?

    Cheers, rachel



    (ps. please can we steer clear of referring to CM, I'm sure we're all sick to death of hearing about him now! :D)
     
  2. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    4,781
    Likes Received:
    163
    I think the answer from the positive reinforcement camp is clicker training, clicker training and more clicker training! l0l :D
     
  3. Guinevere13

    Guinevere13 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    1,082
    Likes Received:
    44
    I've only had experience of dog fights when I was a kid I'm afraid and it was wade in and separate them. They were exceptional circumstances and I have not been in that position again, thank goodness, but I know I would do the same, even with a whole book of knowledge on what to do and what not to do as I usually act on instinct. Naughty me! Don't do this at home folks! :D
     
  4. JSR

    JSR PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    4,207
    Likes Received:
    317
    Surprisingly I've not experienced many real dog fights, obviously I've had the few 'handbags at dawn' thing (all teeth,spit and noise) but a real dog fight I can honestly say I've experienced once.

    For the little spats a quick 'Hey' or 'No' will stop my guys because they know that means back off. Having possession of a fairly impressive voice usually stops most dogs before they get going.

    When Tiz attacked a whippet (many moons ago said whippet came from no where and decided boinging an on lead dog aggressive butch bitch was a clever idea:rolleyes:!!) I will admit all pretence of hands off training went out of the window and I put both hands between them and pulled Tiz off by her back legs. If I hadn't she would have killed the other dog as a whippet couldn't defend itself against 25kilo of muscle and no fear.

    The only real way to stop a fight is to not allow it to happen in the first place! Dog aggressive dogs shouldn't be off lead unless muzzled. Dogs with no recall or social skills should not be allowed off lead until these skills are learnt (these are the ones that cause the majority of problems). All dogs should have basic recall so they will return once commanded no matter what the distraction and if you think for one minute your dog isn't going to behave in a certain situation then put it on the lead. It ain't rocket science and you can avoid most situations if you are responsible. I cope with 2 very dog aggressive dogs and 1 who's idea of saying hello to another dog is to bark in it's face, and apart from the whippet I've never experienced any problems.
     
  5. james1

    james1 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Messages:
    3,070
    Likes Received:
    67
    Im in a training class now with working breeds and 1/2 of them all have aggresssion issues - I mean walk past them and they will attack. Most are GSD's, some Rotties, some staffs. The trainer is excellent its just when he hands them back to the owners that they go mental again. He uses a pretty much hands on approach and they settle down well but again they are still unpredicatable and bare teeth at other dogs and people at the slightest chance. Theres one whos been going weekly for 18mths and has had 1-2-1 training. The thing is just nutts, theres no helping some I dont think :)
     
  6. Nonnie

    Nonnie PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    17,138
    Likes Received:
    9,697
    Out of curiosity, are they muzzled?
     
  7. rona

    rona Guest

    That's cos everyone avoids you :001_tt2::D
     
  8. JSR

    JSR PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    4,207
    Likes Received:
    317
    Very true..I used to think they were avoiding the pack of dogs that come with me but now know it's the mad witch that walks with the dogs they are crossing the road for!!!:001_tt2::smilewinkgrin:
     
  9. james1

    james1 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Messages:
    3,070
    Likes Received:
    67
    some are some arent - some use haltis with muzzels some use just a halit or a muzzel
     
  10. r_neupert

    r_neupert PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    14
    Be interested in the answers here, because i have that problem. Guess it's not real fighting per se, but it's definately not always friendly ;)

    I use duh duh daaah a water bottle when it gets bad, but i find nothing else stops it dead like that. I wouldn't say i'm either solely just a positive or negative reinforcement person.

    However i do feel that there should often be consequences to actions, and they shouldn't solely be one or the other, this is how we all learn right from wrong - how can you know something is wrong unless you are told? Saying this i'd never lay a hand to my dog, so don't take me for someone who'd beat my dog for pooping on the floor!! By this i mean things like time out and saying the word "No". Time out isn't a positive reinforcement - however in my opinion it shows the dog that bad behaviour does not get good things. However if my dogs were to be doing a positive behaviour, or whether i was training them to do something, i would always reward.

    However as per some peoples advice from the positive reinforcement camp, i do try other things to stop it/avoid it rather than charging out with a water bottle ;)
    • Time out
    • Standing up, saying no, then making them sit, then treating the sit
    • Teaching them to play nice in the first place
     
  11. r_neupert

    r_neupert PetForums Senior

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2009
    Messages:
    420
    Likes Received:
    14
    Oh just to add to that - i wouldn't use a negative reinforcer without then getting the reaction i was after then rewarding it...

    I guess my confusion to the matter is, if i were to break up a fight between my dogs, make them sit or whatever then reward them. Will the dogs then think they need to fight then sit to get a treat?

    So my reasoning would be that you need to let them know something is wrong by whatever method, then show them what is right by rewarding it. Maybe i'm looking in too deeply to it.... but it seperates the two behaviours.
     
  12. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    37
    this is an interesting thread, as i am helping my partner with her dogs (who is extremely dog-aggressive caused by fear, due to having been caged during puppyhood with adult aggressive dogs that picked on her - in an overcrowded dogshome...).
    anyway, i'm going off the topic...for quite some time i have tried with some success a slow and painstakingly walk about the origin of her fear, and limiting her possibilities of aggression through limiting boisterous interaction with nearby canines.
    it has been a long roller coast ride with some success, some misfortune and a lot of "let's start again... more there is to come... i am sure of that!

    however during fights...i don't think you could do more than physically separate the dogs. some scientific research have shown that dog fights are in the most caused by excitement (i think the paper i'm referring to is by Roll and Unshelm, 1997 from the University of Munich in Germany...but i might be wrong )...so i suppose keeping excitement under control is the first hand off technique. when the dogs are at the height of their excitement (i.e. they are fighting) i suppose only imposing a physical barrier between the contestant is viable ( perhaps a light a screen...)
    in the few fights that have taken place between the dog above (circa 30kg) and mine (some 60kg), the only chance i had to separate them was to use my body as a screen knowing perfectly well that they would not take it on me (please do not try this if you are not 100% sure that your dogs will not harm you no matter what the level of excitement!!!! it can be very dangerous). the aftermath of the fight has been a cooling off period of a few minute, a drink of water, and then supervised reintroduction...friends as before! i would add: in separating them make the dogs feel your presence winning your space between them by walking in the fight... please please please without shouting, or even talking as familiar voices are sources of excitement/encouragement and would only precipitate the situation.

    i have read of some reports of people that leave the dogs to fight and resolve the situation amongst themselves. the caution therein reported were that dogs were not fighting dogs (hence only a scuffle) and they were in open space and off the lead (this seems very sensible to me... but won;t never ever have the courage to try it by myself). the report (i do not remember the source at the moment...) showed diminished aggression in the pair however the "winner" became bolder in demeanour and behaviour. also this seems perfectly in line with the principles of animal behaviour sciences...but, once again, i don't have first hand knowledge of this and would never do that (or encourage to do that) myself.

    hope this contribution helps.

    and if you have any suggestion on my little problem that can be incorporated within my routine, please do not hesitate to post or send them to me
    thank you
    d
     
    #12 dimkaz, Aug 4, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  13. alphadog

    alphadog PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,629
    Likes Received:
    84
    Thanks for the replies, some interesting stuff here.

    I currently have two small dogs with BIG attitudes (a Border Collie x terrier and a Parsons Terrier) and even though they have lived together in the past for nearly a year, they have always had interbitch aggression. I can see it brewing and to a degree I know when to intervene and when to roll with it, but there are flash points between them that are totally unpredictable and all hell breaks loose.

    Often these are handbags at dawn type scuffles, but sadly sometimes they get out of hand. They are both trained (in the main) using positive methods combined with withdrawal of privellages for bad behaviour, but I struggle to separate fights without the use of a pet corrector (which never leaves my pocket). Because they are small, fit and very tenacious, it simply is not possible to get hold of them or get in between - they move too fast and are like bars of soap with sharp teeth.

    Of course I take every precaution to avoid fights, I am extra careful at times I know will cause tention (feeding, access to me, doorways/gates etc, playtimes, the list goes on) and I raise my game accordingly, but I know from experience that these two don't go for long without a spat, so it's interesting to hear other people's experiences.
     
  14. Nonnie

    Nonnie PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    17,138
    Likes Received:
    9,697
    I think dealing with aggression and dealing with a dog fight should be dealt with entirely different.

    A fight isnt part of training, so i think any way of getting the dogs apart is acceptable (within reason), but its how you deal with the dogs afterwards that is key i think.

    Alfie was attacked by a choccy lab about an hour ago. She really laid into him and meant business i think. Neither myself nor the other owner panicked or yelled (i think there was a quick OI from each of us) then we both just grabbed our dogs. Alfie was on a lead so it was easy enough for me to grab his collar and restrain him while the other owner got hold of his lab. We then made all 3 dogs sit within a few feet of each other until the grumbling had stopped, and then we walked for a few minutes together.

    Whilst i like and prefer positive reinforcement, distraction methods and physical methods have their places. I have no qualms about giving my dog a smack or a kick if he was attacking another.

    Today they both got praise when calm and quiet.
     
  15. JSR

    JSR PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    4,207
    Likes Received:
    317
    Nonnie brings up a very valid point. The majority of owners panic if a fight breaks out, I know I've done it myself!! BUT it's essential to remain calm, absolutely do not shout or scream, as I had one silly woman do which resulted in her dog biting her out of shock! If the dogs are determined to fight then there really isn't a massive amount you can do without actually physically intervening (sp).

    To be honest if the problems are between family dogs then I would call in a behaviourist to give you one to to one in home training. It's way to complex an issue to attempt yourself and there could be factors contributing to the fights which you do not see but an outside trainer could spot.

    My pack are 100% together, I never have spats or fall outs even over food. When my JRT became a permanent member of the pack he tried a couple of times to push his boundries but I do not allow it and he soon learnt who was in charge of the pack and not to push it. So I would always always recommend getting outside advise if dogs within the same family are not getting along.
     
  16. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    37
    to some extent i agree with Nonnie saying that aggression and fighting need to be dealth with separately; however, most fights happen because of aggressive behaviour, out of fear, poor socialisation, discomfort in one of fighting dogs (i.e. in pain or hormonal unbalance) and escalated by excitement, while the last cases are difficult to assess and need vet intervention, other cases require appropriate management and some calming techniques as to keep under control excitement hence prevent fighting.
     
  17. Nonnie

    Nonnie PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
    Messages:
    17,138
    Likes Received:
    9,697
    What i meant (i think) is that an aggressive dog can be trained and rehabilited using postive methods. But a dog fight can not be. You cant stand there giving a dog a treat everytime it stops biting.

    If a dog is known to be dog aggressive, then steps have to be taken to avoid putting the dog into a situation where things can escalate. Rehabilitating a dog has to be done by professionals in a controlled and safe environment.

    The fight my dog was in last night had no reason that i could see. Maybe there were subtle changes in behaviour that only each dog could pick up, but to a human it looked like an unprovoked attack by the lab.
     
  18. dimkaz

    dimkaz PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    37
    well, i actually confirmed your view on the subject aggression/fight.. steps to be taken to avoid...and rehabilitate etc are part of aggression management and behavioural therapy.

    if you are interested in this subject I would suggest the following books:
    Baheviour problems in small animals: practical advice for the veterinary team by Bowen and Heath, Elsevier, 2007 and canine behaviour: a guide for veterinarians by B.V. Beaver, (2007 as well i think) they are quite pricey but that's because they are for the professionals and years and years of research has gone into writing these books.

    i would instead leave on the shelves books written by so called experts without having the proper rigorous training on matters of behaviour; such so called experts can (and usually do) more damages that good.

    i am only an amateur and, as a researcher myself tend to use the tools of my trade to gain some knowledge on these issues, although i only have little hand on practice, i feel that starting with the serious literature is always a good beginning. Calling in a properly trained professional to do the job and learning from them by asking as many questions as possible...without irritating them - hehehe - is the next necessary step.
    :)
     
  19. bird

    bird PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    8,177
    Likes Received:
    230
    I'm afraid the only time I had to deal with this was many moons ago when I was a thick teenager, I did totally the wrong thing and waded in to seperate the dogs in question and got bit for my thanks. However it wasnt too bad (no stitches) and both dogs stopped fighting at once. While I wouldnt recommend it I am probably daft enough to do it again should the need arise, as we came close a couple of months ago when Arnie was playing with a GSD that changed its mind and decided not to play but be aggressive and yes I waded straight in :rolleyes: the GSD's owner was next to useless
     
  20. james1

    james1 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008
    Messages:
    3,070
    Likes Received:
    67
    wow!
    personally id never put a boot to my dog - and i doubt hed even get a slap if he bit another :eek::eek:
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice