Training Border Collies – My dog is Aggressive Towards Strange People.

by Paula
(wales)

A Guide to training Border Collies.

I have a 14 month old Border Collie he was bought from a farm and although he was wary of strange people as a puppy he was never snappy or in anyway aggressive. However, about 9 months ago my husband was out with him throwing a ball and a neighbors Staffordshire Terrier went to attack him, with the neighbor having to wrestle the his dog to the ground. Although no contact was made between the two dogs Oli’s behavior changed almost instantly he began being increasingly wary of other people, snapping at other dogs if they came within his space. He then started growling and going for people who we tried to introduce him to. We tried dog training but the longer we took him the worse he got to a stage when he even started to go for me if I tried controlling his actions, and so after 3 month of training we called it a day. He is not at all challenging if we go to take his food or toys, and we can take for walks in public and he is great off the lead fetching balls etc and it doesn’t bother him when people and other dogs walk past as long as they mind their own business, it is only on approach and confrontation. Any help you could offer would be hugely appreciated as I have a 2yr old boy and would hate for him to suddenly turn on him as they are so fond of each other. Just for further info I did have Oli castrated back in July which has not made any difference.

Our Response


Hi, I’m sorry to hear of your problem – your dog must have been very frightened when the occurrence happened with the Staffordshire Terrier and your dog has started to associate frightening experiences with all dogs and now people. Unfortunately the only way for a dog to show his fear is either through running away and defensive body posture or reacting in an aggressive manner through growling or snapping. I am sorry that you had a negative experience with a dog trainer as this is unusual and I would certainly try again as they do work and one on one dog training is the key to solving the problem. However, I am going to give you some basic training techniques that may help you to solve this quite common problem.


Focused Attention Dog Training

Ok this is a very effective dog training technique and is often used to stop dogs attacking or showing aggressive behavior to other passing dogs specifically when out for a walk. The premise behind this technique is to use a simple and practiced technique to instantly focus your dog’s attention on YOU and NOT the other dog.

1. Start with a treat – have the treat in one hand.

2. Call your dogs name and MOVE – fast to one side.

3. As soon as your dog moves with your give him lots of praise and the treat – you can use a Clicker too as this is an instant way to capture the behavior – you need to do it straight after your dog has moved with you.

4. Don’t let your dog see the treat as you need your dog to focus on you and not the treat so as soon as you whip out the treat give it straight away.

5. When you give the treat – you need to hold it at the same level as your eyes and your dogs eyes so he has to look at you to get the treat.

So practice…

1. Call the name
2. Move
3. Praise
4. Treat

Practice this in a sequence of five – it needs to be fast. The more you practice the better your dog will become. Start by moving one way then the other and keep this in a sequence of five. Following the 1-4 list above.

Can you see the effectiveness of this training technique – as soon as your dog sees another dog on the walk you can use this technique.


Dog Training Classes


This is something that I really feel would benefit your dog. It not only gives you the opportunity to meet other owners and ask questions but it also provides you with the opportunity to speak to a professional dog trainer. Dog training classes is a great way for your dog to socialize with other dogs of different sizes and breeds – not only will this provide your dog with the opportunity to become better socialized you will have a dog trainer on site to support you with any behavioral problems that might occur. Speak to the class dog trainer and mention the problem and agree to work together – it might be that your dog will need to wear a Halti to start with or a leash might be fine. The bottom line is obedience training socialization and lots of it.