Dog Bite Prevention: Get The Help He Needs Now

dog bitesIf your dog  has a biting issue , it’s time to begin working on stopping your dog from biting now.

There may be many reasons why your dog bites.  In the case of fearful dogs, biting has worked to keep the bad things (or perceived threats) away. This fear  could be passed down from his parents. If it is not genetic, then there are two other common causes of fear  which can lead to biting:

  • A lack of socialization can cause fear. If your dog is fearful of people, it will be generally most fearful of  men, then little boys, then little girls and the least afraid of adult women. There can be other factors that also cause fearfulness like hats, beards or lumbering gaits of men, etc. that can also cause fear.
  • Learned fear. If your dog has experienced trauma or pain in the presence of a person, then he can become fearful of that person. An example might be where an owner has installed an invisible fence around their vegetable garden in the back yard to keep their dog out of the garden.
    Let’s also say that the installation has just been completed. The owner’s father is in the back yard standing over the buried wire. The dog approaches the owner’s father and gets a collar correction. Now the dog associates the pain of the collar correction with the presence of the owner’s father.  Now no matter where the dog sees the father he is fearful.  Of course the  owner called me after the incident and wanted to know how to fix this problem.

The very first thing I would do before anything else is to recognize and acknowledge the problem. The second thing I would do is to keep your dog away from the people or things that bring out his biting issues.

Then get working on the dog biting problem with a qualified, positive reinforcement trainer.  It will be well worth the investment of time. Besides, your alternative of  not doing anything to fix the biting problem, is not a good option at all.
You’ve really got to ramp up all of your efforts to get your dog to be comfortable with people around but not petting. You can worry about petting later.

Start with women first, then children followed by men. Your dog may already be okay with women and children. If that is the case, then start with men. It could be a long process and take some commitment on your part to begin this process.

Certainly dog obedience training will be a part of any successful program. Training will set a stronger foundation of leadership, fine-tune his listening skills and most importantly serve as a confidence-building tool.

You should also be aware that there are many levels of success you could achieve depending on your dog. You may completely rehabilitate him to accepting petting/affection from strange men. Or, you may only achieve a relaxed dog in the same room with a strange man – but not get him to accept petting/affection.

It will take time and commitment working through this process. It is always best to have a qualified trainer on board to guide you through the process to make sure it is done slowly, methodically and at your dog’s own pace.

This is something that cannot be rushed.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Dog Aggression – Can It Be Fixed?

Is There a Cure for Dog-Dog Aggression?

I have worked with many clients seeking a cure for their aggressive dogs. Their questions are usually the same:

Can you fix it?
What do I have to do?
How long will it take?

Can you fix it?

As much as all clients want their dog to be friendly towards all other dogs, the reality is, not every dog that is reactive with aggressive tendencies can be rehabilitated.

Here are a range of results:

  • Complete rehabilitation and a resumed and relaxed ease around dogs.
  • A controlled, on leash, tolerance to a certain closeness to other dogs on walks, thereby allowing you to be in public places with your dog confidently under control.
  • No rehabilitation is accomplished, requiring management of this problem for the life of your dog.

What do I have to do?

As you consider treatment or rehabilitating your reactive dog you must also:

Commit to 100% management of your dog during treatment. This is the physical or mechanical control needed to prevent your dog from being confronted with something he can’t handle at that point in time.

  • Obtain the services of a professional trainer or behaviorist to assist in rehabilitating your dog. Even if you are prepared, it can be very frightening on your end of the leash.
  • If you find that your dog is not treatable, you must commit to managing your dog for the life of your dog.
  • When working with your aggressive dog, understand that results can vary widely.

How long will it take?

That’s the $64,000 question! While some dogs rehabilitate quickly, it can take as long as 18 months or longer and results will vary depend on a number of factors, some of which are:

  • How successful you were at establishing a solid foundation for leadership at the beginning of owning your dog.
  • How well and methodically you performed your obedience commands.  At first you worked without distractions, and then you gradually added relevant distractions.
  • How you performed your behavior modification exercises whose purpose was to set your dog up to succeed.
  • Your handling skills, your demeanor and your confidence

I have discovered that many dogs have become reactive(aggressive)  because of previous training received that caused the dog to associate harsh physical leash corrections (with misuse of choke chains, pinch collars or electronic collars) to the very thing you are trying to get them to like – other dogs!

IF every time they see a dog, an inappropriate correction is given—then your dog’s  association is:   “Gee, whenever we see a dog, my owner yanks and jerks me or shocks me so I now know—– – other dogs cause me pain.

Rehabilitating your reactive or aggressive dog is not an easy task. It takes time, patience, expertise and a written program that takes you through very sequential steps to finally bring you and your dog to, hopefully, a successful conclusion.

Published Pet Care Services of America Journal, training section

(c) Jim Burwell

Review: Dog Bites

Dog Bites

Dog bites are a dog behavior that should never be ignored

I’m Judith Haughton my dog’s name is Sailor.    I called Jim Burwell because I was giving up on Sailor because he was biting me and he was peeing in the house.  On the other hand he was affectionate and loving with children.  I called Jim and Jim told me I was not giving Sailor the structured environment he needed.

He told me I needed to work on Sailor’s obedience skills, taking him on structured walks so Sailor learned that when I asked him for something, he gave it to me which taught Sailor who the leader is.  He also taught me how to teach Sailor “off ” when I wanted him to stop a behavior.

We worked over the course of 3 weeks and Sailor is a much better dog.  He has stopped biting me, he listens to my commands.  He also gets along well with my cat which was a big problem.

Jim’s program has given me a lot more hope that Sailor is going to fit very well into our family and be a great dog.

Review: Aggressive Dog

Aggressive dog trainingHi, I’m Meg Malone and my dogs are Shadow and Blue.  I called Jim Burwell because I was having problems with my dog Shadow, he was showing aggression.

Shadow nipped at the little 2 yr old next door and also showed aggression towards a teenage boy down the street.  So I called Jim to help me out with my dog’s behavior. She also had some bad fence aggression, barking a lot and digging in the yard.

Jim  came and we started implementing the strategies that he advised which included lots of structure for my dog, walking my dog and other strategies. All were easy to implement.

 Even in working just the first week I saw improvement in my dog.  Her attitidue, and bad behaviors were changing. This change will take continued work on my part. They are doing great – so much better that I know this works when I work the plan.

I am extremely pleased and my dogs are doing great!  I highly recommend Jim Burwell’s training program

Dog Aggression Agitates Lifestyle of Laid Back California Dog Owners

Fighting between family dogs

Fighting between family dogs

Fighting between family dogs

Fighting between family dogs

Family dog aggression precipitated an email to me from a lady in California (she found me on the internet) who is desperate for help with her two dogs.  She has 2 dogs, a 4 yr. old doodle dog and a 7 yr old terrier – both rescue dogs.

This is one of the more interesting stories I’ve heard about dog aggression.  A couple of years ago she was preparing to take her two dogs for a walk.  She got them on their leashes, and headed out the door for a typical daily walk, not knowing disaster awaited.   A neighbor had left a bag of dog treats on the front porch.  The dogs were no sooner out the door when they both discovered the dog treats at the same time. Well, you guessed it.  A major dog fight ensued and, as she so aptly explained, it was a war zone right there on my front porch.

She immediately called a trainer and began extensive dog training that lasted for a year.  This was followed by calling in a dog behaviorist, but all to no avail.  She has them to the point now, where they tolerate each other, but things are still tense and very very stressful at home.

Suggestions had been made to “re-home” one of the dogs.  The husband refuses.  If you’ve had the dogs for as long as they have, I would be hard pressed to “find another home” for one of my dogs!  I would exhaust every single avenue to fix the problem.

So, what’s this dog aggression in California got to do with me, I’m sure you’re asking.  That’s where the email comes in.  She has set up  a consultation with me, as it turns out she will be in Houston next month visiting friends.

There are still many unanswered questions, such as “why is it the wife’s responsibility to deal with the dogs 24/7?  Hmmm, something’s up there.  No husband participation?  Fights amongst dog house mates usually always occur around one or both owners and generally between (not always), dogs of the same gender.

Could it be squabbles over pack status? Resources like food or owner affection?  More will be revealed when I receive the completed “canine questionaire”.

Stay tuned as this saga unfolds and we find more pieces completing the puzzle, once again restoring a peaceful and rewarding relationship between these two dogs and their owners.

“Be as concerned about the trainer of your dog, as you are the teacher of your children.”  And remember,

“Opportunity Barks!”

Jim Burwell,

 Jim Burwell’s Petiquette


When Dogs Attack Walkers, Runners, Bicyclists

I received an email from a lady asking me about helping with training walkers, runners and bikes in deterring dog attacks effectively and safely.  Interesting request.


The actual activities of walking, running and biking (motion activities) all tend to elicit the prey drive in dogs.  While avoidance is the best cure for the problem, it doesn’t take into consideration the seemingly “out of nowhere” surprise appearance of dogs, taking you completely off guard.  And, to complicate things even worse, you don’t know the intentions of the dog.

You can break it down into two categories:  Over friendly and aggressive.  Of course the over friendly may still chase after you and nip at your heels or legs, BUT the aggressive dog is different.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t make direct hard eye contact.  Body language counts
  • Turn sideways, giving a calming signal.  DO NOT RUN.
  • Keep your arms and hands down and tight by your side

The following defensive tools may work on some dogs:

  • Air horn
  • Where legal, pepper spray
  • Direct Stop is a Citronella spray (available at PetSmart and PetCo
  • Defendabrella – a small tote umbrella to suddenly pop open to scare the dog
  • Having a “sacraficial” garment (old shirt, sweater) around your waist to offer up to the dog instead of you.
  • Always carry your cell phone and call for help if you can.

The safest is to avoid routes where dogs are known to be loose.  Change routes.  Plan you activities on routes where there are a lot of people.  The safety in numbers idea.  Have loose dogs picked up by the local dog catcher.  Make irresponsible people aware of leash laws and in Texas, Lillian’s Law  – 1st and 2nd degree felonies for owners who’s dogs attack when unprovoked.