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vanelokz's avatar

Any suggestions on what I can do about my dogs aggression issues?

Asked by vanelokz (423points) May 2nd, 2009 from iPhone

I have a two year old American staff. My concern is that every time I take him out he wants to fight other dogs. One time he somehow pulled away from me and actually started fighting a pitbull in the middle of the street. I really don’t know what to do. He doesn’t really listen to me because he was my brothers dog and I recently got him.

Any suggestions on what I can do before be gets seriously injured? Or vice versa…

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37 Answers

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NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Whack him with a newspaper?

vanelokz's avatar

How is getting a cat going to help?

justwannaknow's avatar

They are easier to handle. (lol) actually the dog is probably having issues from having a new “master” Just be firm with him and give him all the attention you can. He will learn that you love him and are still the boss. He may settle down then.

crisw's avatar

AmStaffs have been bred for generations to fight other dogs. It is no more unusual for them to fight than for collies to herd sheep or retrievers to fetch balls.

As for what you can do- be a responsible owner. Start by neutering him, if you haven’t already, to lower his testosterone. Take a good, positive-based class and learn how to control him safely. But realize that he will never be safe around other dogs.

A great resource is the Bad Rap website. They know what they are talking about!

YARNLADY's avatar

Make sure your dog is under your control at all times. He should never “accidentally” get away. With an agressive dog, the owner must be on guard at all times. If you cannot be a responsible owner, do not keep this dog. There are several methods that can make the dog listen to you better, but you have to be the one in charge.

rooeytoo's avatar

Training, training, training is the answer, for you and the dog. I don’t know your dog so I will not say that positive based training is the answer, it is not what all dogs respond to. I think you need to find a trainer who has experience in working with your breed of dog. I would google breed specific organizations and see if they can recommend a trainer.

I have akitas and this is a constant problem. You must be aware of your dog’s tendencies and always be alert to possible dangerous situations before they occur. Dogs who were bred to fight are never easy to own, they are like loaded guns and you must keep that in your head at all times.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I’ve had a lot of dogs but never had a problem with dog aggression. I think your problem unfortunately originates and has been established in your dog since he was a puppy. Rooey pretty much said the best thing, take him to a trainer, work with your dog and the trainer together. Your dog needs to learn social skills. Doing it by yourself could create some very bad results, another hurt animal, and your dog may just get worse if you try to train him incorrectly.

ratboy's avatar

A taxidermist has a calming effect on animals.

Darwin's avatar

One of our dogs was a Katrina refugee and a pit bull. Boudreaux was very aggressive when he first came to us. He is a very dominant dog and it was vital that I convince him that I am more dominant than he in our pack. We did go to training of a form locally called “boot camp.” It was quite intensive but was focused first on one basic thing: to get your dog to accept that you are his pack leader so what you say goes.

The second part of the training was concerned with teaching the dog to “speak” English; that is, to understand various commands and what they mean for him to do. The third part was working with the human to get them to understand how dogs think.

The result of this training is that if I tell him to “Leave it!” Boudreaux stops dead in his tracks. He might continue to growl lightly but he does not continue his attack. Boudreaux also knows to Sit, Stay, Come, Go outside, Get down, Get up, and several other commands. He is thoroughly bonded to me and will follow my commands. Of course, training didn’t stop when the class ended. It was important that I keep working with Boudreaux all the time, not just for a couple of hours three times a week.

I strongly suggest that you find a good trainer and work with the trainer to get your dog to bond to you, to get him to consider you to be dominant over him, and to make sure the two of you speak the same language.

Bully breeds can be wonderful pets in that they are bred to please their humans. However, you need to explain to them in ways they understand what it is you want them to do.

SeventhSense's avatar

You have to become the Alpha pack leader to him. Coming as an inherited dog from your brother you may think that that’s an impossible task but there are techniques you can use that will show him who’s boss. Cesar Milan is the best in the industry and any DVD or book by him will steer you in the right direction.

crisw's avatar


Don’t get me started on Cesar Milan…he is an uneducated fool whose methods are unsupported by either research or truly reputable dog trainers.

SeventhSense's avatar

I’ve met many educated fools who like to imagine that bears are like Winnie the Pooh and animals have human traits.
Wherever there is an extremely succesful person in his field there will be a large component of extremely jealous people. I have used his exact techniques to outwit a large German Shepherd that ran at me snarling for blood. As to his being inhumane, there is nothing at all cruel or inhumane about his techniques. He is the most loving owner. Dogs are animals that respond to specific instinctive responses. The alpha male will demand that the pack members understand his authority. He is basically capitalizing on this natural instinct and creating happy well adjusted dogs who feel safe. His understanding is brilliant and is readily seen by his success. And next time you approach me make sure you’re tail is between your legs,don’t make eye contact and roll over and show your belly. I will gently but firmly bite your neck and then you can whimper and lick my face. :)~

rooeytoo's avatar

I have been working professionally with dogs since 1980. In those early days Kohler was the guru of dog training and his methods or slight derivations thereof were used by every trainer I knew and most dogs who went to obedience training came out with socially acceptable manners. As the years went by the Dr. Spock generation decided their methods of child rearing should be applied to dogs as well and the soft approach came into vogue. Now I have not studied statistics but from my own personal experience dog attacks on humans in general and specifically those of us who work with them on a daily basis, have increased dramatically. The dogs that I personally come into contact with, went from being trained and manageable to instead being praised and clickered and having no idea of what dogs are not allowed to do.

Dog owners tell me the dog is trained, will never bite, but they never make the dog do anything it doesn’t want to do. When the dog is commanded to behave in a certain way, it growls and may attack, not too bad with a chihuahua but a 100 pound dog is a different can of worms.

For every article you have deriding the tactics of Cesar Milan there are many more recognizing his ability. My only observation is that in some cases I think he should be more forceful.

There is a difference between discipline and abuse, somewhere the 2 have become confused!

crisw's avatar

Ad hominem arguments don’t count for much.

crisw's avatar


I’ve also been working professionally with dogs on and off since about 1995. I also have extensive training in behavioral modification with both animals and humans.

“For every article you have deriding the tactics of Cesar Milan there are many more recognizing his ability.”

Of course you can find articles praising Milan- but few, if any, of them will come from veterinary behaviorists or other people who actually have any scientific experience with animal behavior. Most of them come from people who haven’t the foggiest notion of the enormous amount of research that is out there on animal behavior and what really does work, as opposed to what is unfounded traditional superstition.

SeventhSense's avatar

Ad hominem arguments don’t count for much.
I’ve done no such thing. The popularity of his methods speak for themselves. He put people out of business and these people are pissed.
As to scientific experience with animal behavior
Who better than dog owners to reflect the methods of effective training? A lab or kennel is hardly reflective of a dog’s behavior in the home.

crisw's avatar


“The popularity of his methods speak for themselves.”
Fallacy of appealing to popularity.

“He put people out of business and these people are pissed.”
Please review the list of links that I posted and let me know which of them was “put out of business” by Milan. You made the claim, now back it up, please.

“A lab or kennel is hardly reflective of a dog’s behavior in the home.”
Who said that any of the people with scientific expertise in dog behavior were only working in labs?

rooeytoo's avatar

I am basing my opinion on my own experience and again for everyone animal behaviorist who derides his tactics there is another who lauds it. Vets are not behaviorists and not experts in dog training. And I am not basing my opinions on unfounded traditional superstition. I don’t even know what that refers to, but I do know what works in dog training.

As I said, it seems as if discipline and abuse have come to mean the same thing. It is creating a culture of misbehaving children and dogs that are out of control.

SeventhSense's avatar

From the NY TIMES article
“The typical wolf pack,” Dr. Mech wrote in The Canadian Journal of Zoology in 1999, “is a family, with the adult parents guiding the activities of a group in a division-of-labor system.” In a natural wolf pack, “dominance contests with other wolves are rare, if they exist at all,” he writes.
This is an accurate portrayal of the social order and nowhere does Milan reflect that there should be excessive displays of dominance or abuse. Subtle clues are enough. And most of your sources are competition to him plain and simple. They fail to take into account a hierarchal mode of relating to animals. And carnivores who do not view you as a more capable species will make it known who is. If you want to see the end result of that look at THE GRIZZLY MAN . That clown was eaten by a bear doing what he does-natural selection at work. Of course you can’t blame the Grizzly Bear for eating this nice couple. It reminds me of the gal who was mauled when she went into the Polar Bear exhibit at the Berlin Zoo. Yea, I’m going to play with the big fuzzy white bear! That bear was like- “Oh my God is it my birthday?” “And look at the marbling on that creature!” Dogs are well trained and highly domesticated animals but nevertheless- animals

syz's avatar

Get yourself and your dog to a qualified trainer. If you’re dog has serious aggression issues, they may refer you to a behaviorist. Some dogs can not be trained out of aggressive behavior, but you will be able to recognize what’s going on earlier and hopefully have more control of the situation. In today’s litigious environment, you need to take precautions as a dog owner.

As to the whole dog whisperer question, he’s a fad, just like so many before him. If you want information and resources on animal behavior, look to the experts, not someone who sells himself and his books on cable tv.

crisw's avatar

“again for everyone animal behaviorist who derides his tactics there is another who lauds it. ”

I haven’t found any professionally-trained ethologists or veterinarians who are board-certified in animal behavior that condone Milan’s methods, Who are these behaviorists? The names of those who have spoken out against Milan sound like a roll-call of the most respected experts in the dog behavior world- Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Pat Miller. Karen Pryor, Nicholas Dodman, and I could go on and on.

rooeytoo's avatar

Saying all vets are experts in dog training and behavior is like saying all MD’s are qualified to be behaviorists and shrinks, it just ain’t necessarily so.

And as I say I am basing my opinion on personal experience. Dogs trained in methods such as Milan advocates as well as Bill Koehler are more reliable in their training than dogs trained with complete positive reinforcement. There are a lot of police departments and military trainers still using the old tried and true methods. Shelters are full of large working or herding dogs who were never properly disciplined and have no boundaries.

I have no problem with people selling their methods on cable tv, it just means he is market savvy and has the charisma and looks to do it. The others all have their books out, is writing a book okay but tv is not????? The ones who speak out against him are losing book sales, no wonder they have a gripe.

YARNLADY's avatar

The International Association of Canine Professionals awarded Cesar and his wife, Ilusion, with honorary membership in March 2006

On September 6, 2006, the American Humane Association issued a press release criticizing Millan’s tactics

crisw's avatar

“Saying all vets are experts in dog training and behavior is like saying all MD’s are qualified to be behaviorists and shrinks, it just ain’t necessarily so.”

Could you please point out anywhere that I have said this? I have repeatedly stated “veterinary behaviorists,” not “veterinarians.”

“Dogs trained in methods such as Milan advocates as well as Bill Koehler are more reliable in their training than dogs trained with complete positive reinforcement.”
Please provide any scientific documentation- not anecdotal evidence- that you have showing this to be so.

I’m curious if you have ever studied any of the work of Marian Breland Bailey and Bob Bailey, who had extensive well-documented experience training military animals. In addition, you might look into the training information from Steve White, whose methods have revolutionized police dog training in many departments in the U.S. Also, it’s interesting to note that most of the dogs in some of the most demanding jobs in the US, calling for the highest degree of reliability- assistance dogs, search and rescue dogs, and drug/explosive detection dogs—are trained with positive reinforcement methods.

crisw's avatar


I just want to point out that the The International Association of Canine Professionals is a business group that has no particular experience in dog training and exists to help dog “professionals” market their businesses. Milan, to them, is a cash cow.

SeventhSense's avatar

Please someone explain to me how a tight collar is damaging and inhumane to a dog.

crisw's avatar


Oh- missed this the first time around:
“The ones who speak out against him are losing book sales, no wonder they have a gripe.”

I asked you earlier, when you made this assertion about trainers, to name even one for whom this was true. You didn’t.

So I will ask you it again in reference to the authors.

Please, if you are going to make statements like this, provide some evidence. I have tried to back up my assertions with documentation, can you please have the courtesy to do the same?

SeventhSense's avatar

Here’s what you do when your pit bull is getting real frisky and snarling and biting another dog…you lean down real close and whisper in his ear how you love and support him unconditionally..then you lick his face…all while shaking a maraca at him. Of course this will make you his bitch and may in fact get you mauled,

rooeytoo's avatar

@crisw – you win, since you are making rules of how I express myself, I will say I hate to research, I am not a master googler. But I have heard many people whose opinion I value speak out in favor of him. Don’t know if they were academic enough to impress you though. I tend to stick with people who have the hands on experience instead of the ones with pens in their hands. I did look at your list though and they are all losing book sales, makes you wonder!

So I say again, I am basing my opinions on my experience of handling thousands of dogs over the years as well as the experiences of my peers, some of whom do have a lot of letters after their names but haven’t written books, they just handle and train dogs on a daily basis.

The shelters are full of dogs who have been handed over because their owners can’t control them, people are being attacked and mauled daily. If all the new training methods are so much more successful then why is this happening, in your opinion?

crisw's avatar


“If all the new training methods are so much more successful then why is this happening, in your opinion?”

Because no method, no matter how successful, can work if it isn’t used. In the U.S. at least, few people bother to even try to train their dogs, and people want and expect instant gratification. If the dog is an inconvenience, it gets dumped. Even if people do bother to take a class, they often don’t work with their dogs between classes.

In addition, going back to the instant gratification thing, most dogs here are not well-bred. Truly responsible breeders are probably a fraction of a percent. People don’t want to wait two years for the puppy that’s right for them, they want one NOW. So they go to pet stores and get the latest fad breed, or go to backyard breeders who don’t know OFA from offal.

And, of course, people don’t know how to choose a breed that is right for them. They buy what they see on TV or in the movies. (Let’s see how many puppymill Porties show up in pet stores and get dumped into rescue in a year now that the Obamas have one… thank goodness he at least did not get a Labradoodle!) People don’t understand that a young golden retriever will chew and mouth and bounce off the walls. They just can’t be bothered to do research.

So you combine an ill-bred dog in a family ill-suited to the dog with ignorant owners and the result is disaster for the dog.

rooeytoo's avatar

I can’t disagree with too much, although the best bred dogs still chew and destroy as pups.

In my business I have met many dog owners who took their dogs to obedience classes and the results were abysmal. These are the new methods of training. When I was holding classes based on the Kohler method, and when that was the primary training procedure, the rate of success was very high. Cesar uses a softened version of Kohler so I can’t fault it. I want to be dominant over my dog, I don’t want it to be my cohort.

You have said nothing that changed my mind and obviously I have said nothing to change yours. Guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. But we both love dogs and would probably join arms to fight PETA so that is the important thing!

A lot of Portugese water dogs I dealt with were already on the verge of flakiness so I am sure the breed will go down hill quickly now.

Krag's avatar

buy a 22 rifle. Or if that isn’t you try a bowl of anti freeze. PS you will also need a shovel

vanelokz's avatar

@krag- I really hope that was a joke. And even so it wasn’t very funny.

05doberman's avatar

Purchase a muzzle, put this on your dog every time you take it for walks. It is NOT inhumane or cruel, it is you taking responsibility for your dog!
My friend has 2 German Shepherds they bark more than they bite when we go hiking they wear muzzles- they do it as a SAFETY PRECAUTION! go to a Pet Co or any pet store with your dog & have it properly sized, they should still be able to pant and eat and drink with this on.

vanelokz's avatar

That’s a great idea! Thanks!

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