Over-protective and Bit an Acquaintance

by Tina

From Tina... My dog, Jaxson (a Great Dane), is a little over one year old. He was 13 weeks old when I brought him home.

When we arrived home I noticed right off he was very scared and more so of men. I have socialized him a bit and he knows sit , stay, back off, and lay down , but sometimes ignores the commands.

We have a whole acre of fenced back yard that he loves to run and play fetch with any ball. He does not jump up on people but is all over them when they come into the house.

Recently my daughter and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items when we came out my friend Johnny, who is a male, saw us and pulled over in the parking lot to say hi.

As I was loading my bags into the truck my friend said "I haven't seen your dog in a while" and came up to see him. He petted him and Jax was fine, but then Johnny put his head in a little further and Jax bit him.

My question is, I love him so much and I am willing to work with him to reverse possibly, the problem. What are your thoughts...

Also he isn't aggressive toward other dogs or children.


Shannon Says...

Hi Tina,

In short, yes, behavior modification can help in most cases of aggression. As I haven't met you or your dog, I really can't say what is specifically needed.

The biggest reason for aggression is a stagnant social circle (under-socialization). A dog should meet at least ten to fifteen new people and/or dogs each week.

If not, a dog will quickly become "wary" or fearful of strangers, and fear displays in one of two ways - fight (biting, growling) or flight.

You say you have socialized him "a bit". This is not nearly enough! It is something you need to work at every day to desensitize him to strangers.

It also doesn't sound like his obedience training is very, well, consistent! I would work very hard on all of his basic commands, with an emphasis on "First Command Response" - teach him to obey your commands right away, the first time you say it, every time, no matter the distractions.

The way to achieve this is by praising him immediately when he listens, but also by giving a firm (but humane) leash and collar correction when he ignores you.

If you follow-through on commands that you give each time (don't let him get away with ignoring you), and are consistent, his obedience will drastically improve!

I recommend finding a good balanced trainer in your area to work with. Don't bother with all-positive training, as it simply isn't as effective as balanced training (especially in cases of aggression). Hope this is helpful!

Take care,

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