I know this is going to set off a firestorm of controversy, but I had to do it. I have a 2-yr-old boxer mix who has become increasingly ---aggressive?---dominant? He is attacking one of his kennel mates every time we let them out of the kennel. It never escalates to a full-blown fight but I think it's just a matter of time. After the initial attack they all run off to play and run in the woods together. Now he has started jumping on one of the other dogs, and is constantly mounting my female boxer. But he leaves everybody else alone, incl. another female boxer.
He is 2 years old and was neutered as a pup. He is about 75% boxer, but according to his DNA tests he also has some American bulldog and argentine dogo and Munsterlander genes.
He was a rescue.
I would never shock a dog when obedience training would work, but I believe it's time to fight aggression with aggression. If this doesn't work he will probably have to go, because he is too powerful for me to handle alone.
I believe there is some intelligent life in there, but discipline doesn't seem to stick.
I will use the shock on the lowest workable setting, and only if necessary.
Shock collars can work, IF they are in the right hands, used at the exact correct time and for the right circumstances. Usually used to startle and redirect attention away from a behavior (before it starts or gets close to beginning) as in excessive barking or establishing territory limits.
Otherwise you are more apt to just escalate any residual aggressive behavior, as the dog does not know who controls the shock, and assume the other dog/dogs are causing it? I would consult with a local dog behaviorist, before using one.
It might be that your dog (he has just reached his adult maturity) would just do better in a single dog household?
Son has one on his dachshund strictly because when we turn him outside, if he sniffs a varmint trail (generally rabbit), he is gone. He is so excited - he does not hear you call him back. He was gone one time for over 20 minutes. We live on 10 acres in rural northeast Texas. Neighbors have big dogs. Coyotes roam at night. This little dog cannot stay "lost" overnight.
So, when we are outside Kirk (dachshund not son ) is either on a leash (which is a shame since we have 10 acres he could roam on), or son turns the collar on and whenever Kirk gets to the fence line...blips the button. Kirk immediately turns back.
In the morning, when I get up I walk Kirk off-leash around the house to do his business. He's just fine then.
I am not against shock collars and I can understand your frustration and concern but I worry about using it in this instance. Now, I am not saying no. I just wonder if it would make everything worse. Is there any "expert" you could just ask a few questions. (I wouldn't know of anyone but maybe you do.)
Could you possibly stand right next to him when they come out and as soon as he does what you don't want, kennel him up if only for a few minutes till he settles down. Then try again. Keep repeating that till he gets the idea that that behavior means he can't come out and play.
I know this is easier said then done but I think it may produce better results.
I'll try to answer some ?? But can't see them and reply at same time.
I can't stop him o ce he comes out the kennel gate--he's too powerful. I've tried letting him out by himself for a few minutes but it just continues to escalate, and all the other dogs get excited. This is wild, loud, attacking kind of behavior, and the other dog responds, but never seems to attack back. My thought is to shock theo when he starts this behavior,before the other dog comes out, so he won't think it's coming from the other dog. I would also do it when he mounts Grace.
Same thing if I leave him in the kennel and let the others out--it continues to escalate.
Single dog household is what I've been thinking too, but I have to try everything I know to try first.
It sounds like maybe a shock collar is your only option. You can't let it go on too long. Please let us know how it goes.
Hi Lady's Mom, Just wanted to let you know how to do something. I had to figure it out, too when I joined the boards long ago.
When you reply to a post, the little box comes up, right? Up in the top corner is a minus (-) sign. If you click that, it will minimize your reply box so you can go back and read the other replies.
Then when you are ready to type again, just bring your box up from the bottom of your monitor (click it). You can minimize/maximize as often as you want to.
Something else I have done before when trying to answer a lot of quesions is have a notebook/paper in front of me and I would jot down some basic words (so that I understood) before replying back.
Either way, once you catch on, it is very easy.
Regarding the shock collar. I do not have dogs, LM, so all I can add is what I've heard others discuss. I know you hate to do this but maybe there are appropriate times to do so.
I was wondering though...have you ever tried taking a treat or food out with you to get his attention? Not sure if this would work or not but using a command word like "no" or "watch me" along with the food to keep his focus on you instead of the other dogs would be a suggestion. I do know that most animals respond well to food during training so it might be worth a try.
There are others here with way more experience than me who might also have some thoughts.
I do think that most (like you) really don't prefer to use them unless it is the last resort.
"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened"
Have you tried a professional trainer for the behavior? I am just wondering if a trainer can come to the house to witness this to offer suggestions or obedience training for the particular situation.
Have you asked your vet about the collar for this purpose?
Lady's Mom, This is really a great question so I am glad that you posted it. You are right that just saying the words "shock collar" brings up an immediate response on the part of many people.
For myself, as many know, I don't currently have any dogs but I grew up with many of them. In fact it's only been the last ten years or so that I haven't had a dog...
Probably had several dozen when I was younger (all working cattle dogs or family pets) plus 3 registered Irish Setters, an abandoned black Lab, a neighbor's German Shepard who chose to live with us instead of staying home when I was a little older and, in the last few years, my Mom's Shih Tzu after my Mom passed - "Buttons" - who had a serious problem with incontinence which was solved when a rigid schedule of in/out was implemented.
But none of them ever presented the aggression you have described and THAT sort of aggression can be dangerous. I agree that a boxer of that size can be more powerful than you; so much so that trying simpler training methods as suggested might not be in your best interests.
Before doing anything else, I would suggest a vet appointment. As crazy as it seems, sometimes something is "missed" in the neutering process; so check it out and make sure that isn't the problem.
Then, if it isn't a medical situation, I agree with you to utilize the shock collar as harsh as that might sound to some...
I know that you are an intelligent, caring and thoughtful dog owner who wants only the best for the dogs in your care; you will use it prudently, carefully and wisely if it comes to that to enable him to remain part of your pack. If not, a single-dog household might be best for all involved.
Hope you are able to prevent that last alternative, Lady's Mom, and if it takes a shock collar to do so, well, then, it will be worth it.
Best of luck to both Theo and you. Let us know how it goes....This message has been edited. Last edited by: Idaho Resident,
I've tried using treats to get his attention at this time, making him sit. No.
Most of the things we've thought about involve using two people:
Keep house dogs inside while we deal with kennel dogs
Let Theo out of kennel, get him to sit/stay and give treats
Let other dog out of kennel
Continue to distract Theo
Let rest of dogs out of house
Take everybody to the fields for their exercise.
I'm getting too old to handle this by myself safely, and DH is away a lot on business.
We will try the shock collar beginning this weekend and see how it goes.
As far as bringing a trainer in, I live in a rural area and getting professionals to come here is terribly expensive. I've tried it and was not happy with experience at all.
Theo is a quick learner, and understands that he is being disciplined when he jumps on the other dogs---he gives me that boxer look that says so much---but he doesn't retain it.
Update: we have used it twice now, with good results. But we have to use the shock--he doesn't even feel the vibration.
My husband puts the collar on him in the kennel, and then leaves. He goes back a few minutes later and opens the door. As soon as Theo goes into aggressive mode we hit the button. He stops but goes back to jumping and barking. Repeat shock. He stops. Maybe repeat. Then no more. Each time he jumps back and looks at his rear end, like he's looking for a bee. He is very calm afterwards, not fearful. He is quiet and therefore so is everybody else.
I hope I can get him to respond to just the vibration soon, but right now it does nothing for him.
We take the collar off after a few minutes, so it doesn't get lost or wet on the run.
Thank you for the update. Sounds like it is working and he is not blaming the other dogs. Yeah!! Keep us posted on how it goes after a couple weeks.
Lady's mom, I agree with metwo and thank you for the up-date...
I'm glad to hear that the preliminary use has been positive since I know that SOMETHING had to be done when you have an aggressive dog such as Theo. I can't imagine just how tough it is to deal with the situation but, I knew, that if any one could do it, you could.
Glad to hear that you are doing it very carefully and judiciously AND taking the collar off immediately after when it is no longer needed ~ think that might be where "shock" collars get the bad name they have. People don't know how to use them properly but sounds like you are doing so...
Sending good thoughts your way with hopes that Theo continues his progress ~ keep us up-dated.
Still going well. Yesterday (third day) I only had to use it one time and he immediately walked away from Bear. There were no other confrontations, and they played and ran together. After a few minutes we took the collar off.
There is another dog, Oreo, who gets very excited when the "fighting" starts, and he also starts barking and chasing. But since Theo has stopped Oreo just stands back and watches.
You just cannot imagine how quiet my back yard is now! It's amazing.
We will try to go down to the vibrate only mode soon. Don't know how long this will take, but when you see instant results it makes it easy to keep going with the training.
Great! This is all going so much faster than I would have expected. Fast learner. Some dogs are. Don't get upset if he reverts one day; he just may be testing you. As long as you always react the same it will be fine.
Keep us posted. It is so good to hear of your success.
Sometimes it is another dog that can instigate or get things going...although not directly involved..like Oreo?
Pack behavior is certainly interesting, and sounds like you are handling the retraining well.
I'm just wondering if any of you have ever put the shock collar on to see how it feels???
My husband felt it first. It's on the low setting, and is such a quick shock it's about like a bug bite. We tried vibrate only, but Theo is such a big powerful dog he didn't even feel it.
Does it vibrate prior to the shock? Many do, so the dog becomes conditioned to anticipate the shock and it is no longer needed.
I have also felt them, and they are not pleasant (especially as a surprise), but when used as a training tool to distract and redirect behavior (not as punishment) they can be successful. No different than a pinch collar, or double ring training collar....as long as these "tools" are used properly and humanely.
Glad to hear that Theo is making progress but I suspect it will take several weeks to achieve the ultimate goal of no more aggression which can be so dangerous.
Although I suspect that very few would agree with using a "shock collar" as a matter of principle, most everyone would want you to be able to keep Theo in "your" pack. What a difficult line to walk.
Personally, I agree with your choice and am glad it is working so far. Please keep up-dating....
We didn't use it yesterday because he was wet. It's definitely going to take some time.
It's an odd kind of aggression---hTheo and Bear get along just fine any other time. It's just that first minute or two of opening the kennel.
With training - you have to think of the lessor of two evils.
An aggressive dog can attack another dog leaving both injured.
Or you can give them a light twinge with the collar with reinforcement training to end the problem.
Same thing with son's dachshund. When he is on the rabbit scent, he goes deaf. That light twinge when he gets to the fence refocuses his attention. It is better to keep him on our property than for him to get lost and a neighbor's big dog or a coyote get him.
1st husband had several hounds. Every so often we would get a digger. If the dog(s) dug out, they could get to the road. He put a fence charger attached to one wire around the inside perimeter of the pen. It was used only to train a new dog. And yes, husband touched the wire himself. The idea is to train, not to be cruel.
Oh good to hear the updates! Was hoping for the best in your situation.
Was also wondering how they felt. This is totally unrelated but one year, someone gave us this tennis racket thing that was actually used to bap at bugs/insects. Well, we tried it a few times on mosquitoes and boy did it do the trick. So one day, me (having one of my ditzier curiosities) decided that I would lightly touch the surface to see how it felt.
It was like....a BIG surprise to me!! So I can see how it would definitely get the attention of an animal.
I know you care very much for your pets and are being aware of when it might be needed and when to set them free.
Good luck with the training.
"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened"
Well, it worked for awhile, then we had to go to a higher level. But once he starts his "thing" nothing stops him except his own brain. It does seem to stop, never escalates, but that's only because the other dog doesn't engage, I think.
Our no-kill shelter is not the place for him. I'm going to look at a bigger agency---I know their rules, so I will make sure they have space for him first. Maybe he can go to a good person who only wants ONE dog.
That's the first time I've put it in words.....so strange, so sad.
Oh, LM how sad you must feel. It sounded like it was going to work.
Our shelter director is looking into adoption transport north.
We've had very good luck getting some dogs placed that way.
So sad. Hopefully he will be placed in a one dog family.
Lady's mom, I, too am sorry to hear this; it sounded as though the training was coming along well. Did something happen that caused you to make this decision? In any event, I know that you have only Theo's best interests at heart....
Just that he got used to the shock, even on high and it didn't stop him. He goes into a "red zone" and doesn't obey anyone.
Lady's mom, I'm so sorry and know you will do the best for Theo.
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