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Ask the Trainer: When My Dog Gets Excited, He Attacks My Other Dog

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“When my dog Major gets excited he attacks my other dog even when they are out walking.  HE NEVER attacks other dogs what can I do?” – Sylvia

Hi Sylvia,

This is actually a more common occurrence than you might think. When dogs become overstimulated due to barrier frustration, they may redirect at whatever is closest. Barrier frustration occurs when dogs are restrained (ex. at the end of a leash, behind a fence or window, etc.) and unable to get at the excitable stimuli.

This buildup of excitement causes the dog to not think as clearly as they normally would when calm. As a result, this causes them to redirect at the person, dog, or item that is nearby. This is a potential safety issue, resulting in a dog bite. If your dog is displaying any signs of aggression, contact a qualified trainer in your area.

One way I might look to address a minimal case of barrier frustration, is to interrupt or redirect the dog’s attention prior to an outburst. I can do this through the use of a food lure, leash guidance, or even a noise interrupt. The key is to catch the dog at the lowest level of excitement.  As soon as I notice the dog showing interest and beginning to get stimulated by the trigger, I must interrupt.  

Think of it like a scale of 1-10.  I want to interrupt the dog at a level 2 or 3 of excitement.  I don’t wait until they reach an 8, 9, or 10, because then I lost the opportunity to train and redirection will likely occur.  Early intervention teaches the dog to no longer react, but rather remain calm and perform the alternative behavior I am asking of them.  Instead of reacting, I ask the dog to “Come”, “Heel”, “Quiet” (stop barking), etc.    

As with all dog training, timing and consistency are essential.  I cannot let the dog “blow up” in overexcitement 50% of the time and expect them to randomly listen when I decide they should.  I need to be very consistent with training.  If your dog displays any signs of aggression, do not attempt training on your own – contact a trainer for assistance.

S.R. Dog Training offers dog training in Connecticut, Putnam NY and Westchester NY.  View client results, find out more: www.srdogtraining.com and “Like” at: www.Facebook.com/SRDogTraining.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Of J B

    J B


    This happens with my dogs, too. When the FedEx truck comes, they tear off barking at it. They are behind a fenced area. One of my dogs, the Alpha, will slightly attack Beta when this happens. It doesn’t last long at all; but, I don’t like it when he does it. He never hurts Beta – but it’s not pc, for sure.

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