North Shore Animal League America’s
Dog Training Manual

z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575


North Shore Animal League America, headquartered in Port Washington, NY, is
the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization in the world. Since
1944, The League's mission has been saving the lives of pets through
adoption, rescue, spay/neuter and advocacy initiatives. Every year, the League
reaches across the country to rescue, nurture and adopt nearly 20,000 pets
into happy and loving homes. To date, the League has placed close to 1
million puppies, kittens, cats and dogs into carefully screened homes.
There is no one that loves pets more than North Shore Animal League
America. We certainly understand that the love of a pet can be one of the most
precious and rewarding loves one ever knows. We also understand that
bringing a new pet into your family can definitely have its hurdles.
It is a huge responsibility with many different issues that can possibly arise.
We would like to make your new pet experience as smooth and enjoyable as
possible. We’ve picked the brains of our various esteemed experts and
assembled a New Pet Training Manual to aide you in your new pet endeavors.
We wish you the best of luck and know that armed with this helpful guide, you
will assimilate your new family member as easily and as stress-free as
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Establishing Yourself as the Pack Leader 1
Opening the Lines of Communication 2
Crate Training 3-4
Housebreaking 5
Paper Training 6
Appropriate Toys 7
Appropriate Play 8
Socialization 9
Fearful Dogs 10
Introducing a New Dog 11
Living in Harmony With More Than One Dog 12
Dog vs. Dog: Living Together 13
Preparing for a New Baby 14
Dealing with Behavioral Problems 15
Behavioral Problems: Prevention, Distraction 16
Behavioral Problems: Corrections 17
Fabricating Situations 18
Solutions to Common Behavior Problems 19-20
Submissive Urination 21
Separation Anxiety 22
Barrier Frustration 23-24
Protective Behavior/Guarding 24
Running Out the Door 25
Object/Food Possessiveness 26
Exercises for Food Possessiveness 27
Training Tools 28
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Asserting dominance:
Dogs often go through major changes in their lives. Their homes, families, and even names can
change. The one constant in their lives is the social structure by which they live. Dogs are pack
animals that live by a social hierarchy. When a dog enters a new home, he is looking for that
structure. It is important for obedience and stability that the dog sees all the people in the family as
dominant over him. If the dog does not see the owners as authority figures, he has no reason to
listen to them. If there is inconsistent behavior on the part of the family, the dog’s behavior will also
be inconsistent. If there is no clear pack leader, the dog will assume the role in order to ensure the
integrity of the pack. The following is a list of guidelines that will help you and your family to
establish yourselves as authority figures.

Do not allow the dog on the furniture:
If the dog is on your bed or on your couch with you, eating popcorn and watching TV, he is your
equal and not your subordinate. To correct this, keep your dog tethered when you are home.
(A tether is a 4-6 foot long cotton rope that you attach to the dog’s collar to hold or grab
when necessary instead of grabbing the dog.) This provides you with control over the dog
until you can establish control with your voice.If the dog gets onto the furniture, use the tether
to direct him to the appropriate bed. When initially introducing it to the dog, it may be necessary to
soak the rope in strong mouthwash to deter chewing. It is also a good idea to first introduce the
tether along with the regular leash and take the dog out as a distraction. Have a special bone on
hand to further distract the dog from chewing. A tether is lighter than a leash so the dog feels that
he is free. Cotton is absorbent (for the mouthwash) and less likely to hurt your hands. The tether
can gradually be made shorter by cutting it as you begin to gain to control of the dog with your
You go through the door first:
Teach him to “wait” at the door. “Wait” is different from “stay,” which means to remain in one spot
in one position. “Wait” simply means don’t follow. When the dog is waiting for you to open the
door say “wait,” praise and give a treat. Control the dog by using the door. Open it slowly. If the
dog goes to move say “NO” and close the door (not on the dog). When the dog is waiting again,
repeat the above. As soon as the dog seems to be cooperating, open the door, treat him for
waiting, and give him a command such as “let’s go” if you are going with him, or “Go” if you are
letting him out. The dog will soon learn that he does not go out unless he waits and is given a
The pack leader is the first to eat: gesture feed:
The pack leader owns the food and is the first to eat. Stand in front of the dog holding his bowl of
food. Eat a cracker as though you are eating from the bowl. When you are finished have him sit
and give him the food. Pick up the food as soon as the dog walks away. Food should never be left
down. Whoever feeds the dog moves up a few notches in the hierarchy of the pack. This can be a
useful way of empowering someone whose dominance is questionable.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Training by interaction:
Dogs communicate with body language and learn through consistency, repetition and attention.
Any attention is potentially a form of reinforcement, positive or negative. For example: puppies
will often jump for attention. As the dog is jumping, the owner is saying “off” or “down” (giving the
dog the attention he was seeking.) The dog learns jumping up gets attention, so the behavior
continues. It is better to ignore the dog (no feedback) and avoid all eye contact. This is called
“Extinction.” He will get off eventually. When he does, seize the moment by saying “off” (always
attach a word to the behavior) and praise the dog, “good off.”
Building a vocabulary; attach the word to the behavior:
Dogs attach your words to their actions. For example, your dog is about to sit, you say “sit.” The
dog will soon attach the word to that action and sit when told. This is true of all actions; when the
dog is waiting at the door say, “wait.” When he is eliminating say “empty,” etc.
Tone of voice is important:
Never use the dog’s name in a negative way
Never call the dog to you for a negative reason (scolding) or what the dog perceives as negative
(brushing or bathing). The “come” command should always be a positive experience.
Never hit a dog!
Dogs communicate through body language. A motion that appears subtle to you is exaggerated to
a dog. A smack on the nose is equivalent to a punch in the nose. Hitting may cause the dog to
become hand shy, fearful or aggressive.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Dogs are “den” animals. This means they like to have their own small space to go into or under.
The crate (cage) is a den-like enclosure where the dog eats and sleeps. The crate serves as a
housetraining tool since dogs are clean animals and do not like to eliminate where they eat and
sleep. When introduced properly, it can serve as a training tool to address and avoid other
behavior problems such as chewing and separation anxiety.Never use a crate as punishment.
Choosing a Crate
There are a variety of crates on the market. There are plastic “airline” crates that have solid sides
and are more enclosed than the metal crates. They do not provide as much ventilation. The
amount of time the dog spends in the crate and the temperature in your home should be taken
under consideration when purchasing an “airline” crate .This type of a crate is a good choice for
fearful dogs and those suffering from separation anxiety. The metal crates have bars and a
removable plastic tray on the bottom and are easier to clean. They come in silver, gold and black.
Some of these crates fold to be easily transported or stored. This type of a crate is an excellent
choice if you travel with your dog or have limited storage space.
The crate should be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around and lay down. When
purchasing a crate for a puppy, get one that comes with dividers that can move to accommodate
your growing dog.
The crate should be in a centrally located area in your home. Never leave a dog in an isolated area
such as a basement (even a nicely finished one) or a laundry room. Do not allow children to play in
the crate or bother the dog while in the crate.
Dogs have a strong instinct to keep their “den” clean. Bedding of any kind can absorb urine,
leaving the crate “clean“ in the dog’s mind. Do not provide the dog with bedding in the crate until
he has proven to be clean.
Food and Water
Dogs do not like to soil where they eat. Initially feeding the dog in the crate will reinforce his instinct
to be clean. Pick up the food after 1⁄2 an hour. There should always be water in the crate. A cage
cup that fastens onto the cage will help to prevent spillage. The water can be taken away at
bedtime for housebreaking purposes.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
Introducing the Crate
Supplies Needed:
~ Along lasting chew bone;
~ Soft treats;
~ A ”Kong” with a piece of rope knotted through it and stuffed with really good treats. (Examples:
canned dog food, easy cheese or peanut butter);
~ Cage cup; and
~ Time and patience.
Step One-After showing the dog the “Kong,” tie it to the inside back wall of the crate, and place a
trail of soft treats from the entrance to the back of the crate. Close the door so the dog cannot get
to the treats. The dog is outside of the crate longing for the treat inside.
Step two-When the dog is sufficiently interested, open the door. The dog should enter on his own,
say “inside” when he does, and give him another treat. Allow the dog to go in and out at will,
repeating “inside” and treating when he does.
Step three-Once the dog is comfortable going in and out, give him a long lasting bone, close the
door, praise and give treats .If he whines or cries, turn away and ignore him until he is quiet then
praise and give treats.
Step four- Walk away, count to ten and go back and praise. Gradually increase the time away from
the crate. Return, praise and treat for appropriate behavior.
Whether you use a crate or confine a dog behind a gate, confinement should be introduced
and utilized when you are home for short periods as well as when you are out. This will
insure the dog does not associate being confined with being left alone.
Never confine a dog behind closed doors or in an isolated area.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

1 - Confine your dog in a small (den-like) area, with water and a proper chew toy. This should not
be in an isolated area in your home. Use a training crate or a gate for confinement and NEVER
isolate a dog behind a closed door.
2 - Do not give the dog bedding in this area until you know he/she is holding his urine. If the dog
has an accident, the bedding can be pushed aside, maintaining a clean den.
3 - Pick up the papers! Unless you are training a very young puppy, it is not necessary to use
paper training as a means to house break your dog.
4 - Clean soiled area using 50% vinegar/water solution or an enzyme cleaner such as "Natures
Miracle" or "Eliminate." This will prevent the dog from being drawn back to the same area.
5 - Maintain a consistent schedule for your housebreaking routine. This will help your dog
anticipate the time he/she is going to need to eliminate and help you to predict as well. For
example morning, afternoon, evening and before bed.
6 - Feed him/her a Good Diet the same time every day. Leave food down for a half hour at each
meal and feed in confinement area to reinforce cleanliness. Do not leave food down for your
dog all the time. It will cause his/her elimination habits to be erratic.
7 - Dogs must be supervised when out of confinement area with a leash or a tether attached to his
collar at all times. This will make the dog more accessible and help prevent accidents.
8 - When changing diet, gradually introduce food in 25% increments.
9 - Pick up water one hour before bed time.
10 - Begin to enlarge the confinement area when you notice your dog is regularly clean. Do not
reprimand for an accident you did not see occur. If you witness an accident, give the dog
verbal correction (NO) and bring dog to the proper place.
11 - Always take your dog out the same door, using the command "out." The dog will then learn to
go to that door to let you know when he needs to go out.
12 - On a leash, bring your dog to the same spot each time, stay there until he/she eliminates.
Attach a word to the action such as "empty" and always remember to praise verbally.
13 - Most importantly, dog should be in confinement area when not 100% supervised. This will
prevent uncorrectable accidents. Confinement should be supplemented with plenty of
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
The choice to paper train or housebreak depends on the age of the dog, Paper training is
generally used when the dog is too young to have the muscle control to hold his urine for more
than a few hours. The general rule is that a dog can hold his urine for an hour longer than his age in
months, example: a two month old can hold it for three hours. This is a general rule. Dogs are
individuals and this may vary from dog to dog. When the dog remains dry overnight you can begin
to housebreak him. There is no way to predict how long this will take or how long
housebreaking will take because of individual differences in the dog and his environment.
The difference between housebreaking and paper training is the toilet area and method of
Dogs are clean animals; they do not like to eliminate where they eat and sleep. They prefer to
eliminate on absorbent surfaces. This prevents them from standing in a pool of their own urine.
Confine the dog in a small area free of carpet using a gate. This should not be an isolated area
such as a basement or a garage.
Provide the dog with water, something to chew and a bed on one side of the room. The dog should
be fed in this area. You may use a crate with bedding as long as the door is left open so the dog
has access to the paper. Put paper on the other side of the room.
Feed the dog the same time everyday. Only leave the food down for 1/2 an hour. The dog should
have water all day until after dinner or before bedtime.
Make sure the dog is supervised when out of this area and has access to it. If the dog has an
accident in front of you, say,” no” and bring him to the paper to show him the proper place to go. If
you find an accident just clean it up using an enzyme cleaner such as “Eliminate or Natures
The four most likely times for a dog to eliminate are after eating, exercise or excitement and upon
waking. Attach a word to the action of eliminating such as “empty”. Do this AS the dog is urinating
or defecating not before or after. This will ease the transition when teaching the dog to eliminate
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
Appropriate toys are toys that cannot harm the dog or teach /reinforce any undesirable behaviors.
Make sure the toy or bone is an appropriate size for your dog. It should not be small enough to fit
completely in the dog’s mouth, making it possible for him to swallow it and choke. Do not
overwhelm the dog with toys. Rotate them to keep his interest. The dog should always have
something to chew. Keep in mind anything new to a dogs’ system may cause diarrhea.
Appropriate Bones:
Processed marrow bone: this is a real bone that has been sterilized. It is white and shaped like a
tube. Stuff it with canned dog food (this is less likely to affect the dogs stomach or housebreaking
routine). Keep a few of them in a zip lock bag in the freezer to have them on hand. As the dog gets
older you can stuff them with peanut butter or cheese (use the canned “easy cheese” with the
whipped cream like nozzle).
To clean, use a bottle brush, the hose on your sink or, the dishwasher. You can also boil these in
bouillon for added flavor.
Compressed rawhide: this is safer than regular rawhide. It is less likely to cause choking.
Pig Twists: these are shaped like a retriever stick but are safer since they are made from pig skin
instead of rawhide.
Nylabones: these come in an edible variety or hard, plain and flavored nylon.
Knuckle bones: these are real bones that are very messy and should be restricted to a crate or
washable floor to avoid any remaining residue.
There are a variety of animal by products on the market such as pig ears and cow hooves. These
products can stimulate the dogs “prey/killer” instincts which lays dormant and cause some dogs to
display aggression or guard the item. These are not appropriate for dogs that exhibit this behavior.
Inappropriate Bones:
Rawhide: most rawhide is processed in formaldehyde. Rawhide can also cause choking.
Poultry, fish or chop bones (lamb or pork chops): these can splinter causing injury.
Appropriate toys:
Kong: this is a hard, hollow rubber toy shaped like a beehive. It can be filled with food or treats.
The Kong manufacturer has a variety of hard rubber toys including a treat ball.
Crazy Ball and Buster Cube: are activity toys that dispense treats as the dog plays.
Hard rubber balls or donut shapes and sticks
Inappropriate Toys:
Rope toys, clothing such as shoes and socks or anything fabric
Stuffed animals-Exception: If you have a dog that likes to carry something soft in his mouth but
does not chew it, you can provide him with a nondescript lamb’s wool stuffed animal made
specifically for dogs.
Toys with squeakers; if the dog chews and is left unsupervised, the squeaker can get lodged in
the dog’s throat.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

People often make the mistake of getting the dog riled up in the name of play. Then when the
person wants to stop, the dog doesn’t understand, continues to “play” and ends up in trouble.
Play should have a clear beginning, ending and rules. It is important that no bad behavior is taught
or reinforced by play. Example: Play that entices the dog to jump or use his mouth such as
throwing a ball when the dog jumps for it or playing tug of war.
Retrieving exercise or Fetch; You are going to “name” each of the dog’s behaviors as he does
them.This builds a vocabulary, but doesn’t set the dog up to disobey
because you are not tellingthe dog to do anything. Use two identical
tennis sized balls that squeak. The dog should not see these balls at
any other time and should not be allowed to play with them by himself.
Squeak one ball, the dog will run to you, say, “come” when he comes.
Have him sit by holding the ball close to his nose and bringing it back
to his forehead. Say “sit” when he sits. Throw the ball. When he goes
for it say “get it”. When he picks it up say “take it”. When he runs back
toward you say “bring it here.”
If he doesn’t, entice him by throwing and catching the other ball.
When he gets to you, squeak the second ball. This should cause him
to drop the first one, and you will say “drop it.” This is a confidence
building exercise that teaches the dog to relinquish objects to you. It also teaches the functional
task of retrieving .You can later apply the same words to any dropped object.
Hide and Seek; Hide with *treats in various locations, gradually building on the level of difficulty.
Example: First hide behind a chair then behind a door. Say “Jake, you can’t find me?” When the
dog finds you say “come” (naming his action). Have a second person hiding and set up a relay
between the two. If there is only one person available or if the dog follows you give him a longer
lasting treat such as a hard biscuit so you have a chance to get away and hide again. If the dog
knows “stay” have him stay then go hide.
Variations: “Go Find” where the dog goes to find a certain toy or a person.
*Good treats to have on hand to reinforce desirable behaviors should be long and soft so you can
break off one small piece at a time that the dog can eat quickly. Example: Waldbaum’s brand
“Masters Choice” beef or chicken jerky for dogs.

Tug of war:this teaches the dog to use his mouth. It can also reinforce
dominance if you let go first and he wins. Exception - tug of war is sometimes
used as a confidence building exercise for an exceptionally fearful /timid dog
Any play that reinforces wild, undesirable behaviors such as jumping or
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

More dogs are euthanized for behavior problems stemming from lack of socialization and
lack of exercise than they are for the diseases they are being inoculated against. It is okay
for you to take the dog out on your own property or in the car.
It is very important to socialize your dog to a variety of people, places and things.
If all he knows is your home and your yard, he will not know how to act appropriately in new
situations or environments. He will either be fearful or suspicious of new things or be overly
Appropriate Methods of Socialization
~ Have friends and neighbors over.
~ Bring him in the car:Do not leave the dog alone in the car.Be careful with
automatic windows. Do not allow the dog to stick his head out the window, the car
provides a secure area from which the dog can become accustomed to the outside
~ Bring over to the homes of friends and relatives.
~ Introduce to another dog:It is important to limit a young pup’s, exposure to a lot of
other dogs or areas frequented by other dogs until he has all of his shots. You can
introduce him to another dog as long as you know that the dog is healthy and
vaccinated. Remember to introduce them on neutral territory. The other dog will tire
him out and correct him for inappropriate behaviors such as mouthing too hard.
*Inappropriate Methods of Socialization
~ Do not have a lot of company over at one time; this can be overwhelming.
~ Do not take out to a dog park or any area frequented by other dogs until fully
inoculated(such as if you live in an urban area like Manhattan).
~ Do not leave the dog in the car unattended.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

There are many reasons why a dog may be fearful. A dog may be genetically predisposed to
fearfulness, poorly socialized or been frightened by a specific situation or experience. The cause
does not necessarily affect the treatment but may affect the success of the treatment. It may not
be possible to change the way a dog feelsin a specific situation; but through obedience
training, it is possible to change the way the dog behavesin that situation.
Signs of Fear:
A fearful dog may display submissive body languagesuch as his tail tucked between his legs, his
head down with ears held flat and will avoid eye contact. They may urinate submissively or loose
control over their bowels and bladder.Yawning, panting or salivatingcan all be signs of stress.
Some dogs will barkor growl. Some will “freeze;” others will try to escape.They all must be
handled with gentle guidance and patience.
~ Obedience Trainingand structure to build confidence (see “Establishing Yourself as The Pack
~ Desensitization:Gradually exposing the dog to low levels of the fear inducing stimulus and
praising for calm appropriate behavior. Reward with extra special treats and couple them with
a specific sound such as a clicker or a specific word like “yes.” This way you can eventually
praise the dog for acting appropriately even without the treat or from a distance. It is important to
graduallyincrease the exposure to the fearful stimuli. The dog should not become fearful
during these exercises. You want to give the dog the opportunity to act appropriately in the
situation.Reward the dog at the end of each exercise by taking him away from the stimulus.
Gradually get closer with each exercise.
~ Use a Jolly Jingle: Establish a jingle you sing or whistle to the dog whenever you are playing
and he is happy. Once a positive association is formed,sing this when in the company of a
fear-inducing stimulus.This is the equivalent of the affect the ice cream man has on a child
crying. The child knows something good is coming and stops crying.
~ Practice Obedience:While at a comfortable distance from the stimuli, practice obedience using
treats and positive methods. This will cause the dog to focus on the task required of him.Do
not use leash corrections or punishment. You will know if the dog is at a comfortable distance by
his body language and whether or not he will take treats. Dogs do not typically eat when
Never scold the dog in the company of the fearful stimulus. Be patient. Never force a dog
into a fearful situation.
If the dog is fearful toward a person in your house (typically the man of the house), that
person needs to become the primary care giver. They should feed and walk the dog with as
little interaction as possible. The rest of the family should ignore the dog. Being a social
animal he will seek the attention of the person with the most interaction with him – the
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Dogs are territorial animals. Always introduce dogs on neutral territory(somewhere neither dog
has ever been). Whether you are introducing a new dog into a home with an existing dog, having
company that includes a dog, or setting up a play date, introduce the dogs on neutral territory
beforehand. This is an ounce of prevention that is well worth the trouble.
Have both dogs on leashes until you feel comfortable that there is no aggression. Do not
introduce the dogs “head on.” Walk with dogs parallel to each other. Allow the dogs to sniff but do
not stop. Proceed to a confined area and drop the leashes, but keep them attached to the dogs’
collars for accessibility, should a problem occur. If possible change to a short piece of a leash (a
tab) to avoid the dogs becoming tangled. Have water or noise corrections such as a marine air
horn or pot lids on hand in case a fight breaks out. Use these corrections as soon as a fight
starts to stop the dogs long enough to safely separate them. Keep in mind there are all different
types of dog verse dog aggression. Some dogs are only aggressive when on a leash because they
feel vulnerable (restrained) or behind a fence because they are frustrated. Fights typically break out
between dogs of the same sex. It is always best to introduce dogs of the opposite sex if there is
any doubt.
Signs of aggression:
Dogs play so rough it is often hard to tell the difference between play and aggression.
The hair running down the back of a dog is usually raised when meeting another dog. This is a
defense mechanism to make the dog appear bigger in the event of a perceived threat; it does not
by itself mean aggression.
When two dogs meet, they sniff and circle each other. Typically one dog will mount the side of the
other as a sign of dominance. If the dog being mounted accepts this display, he will growl and or
lunge to “correct” the offending dog. If the offender backs off, there is no problem; if he doesn’t, a
fight will usually break out. When looking for aggression, look at the dog’s whole body. When a
dog is aggressive, his entire body typically stiffens and all of his weight is shifted forward.
More obvious signs of aggression such as growling and showing teeth usually accompany
Breaking up a dog fight:
It is much easier to prevent a fight than it is to stop one. In the event of a fight, never use your
hands or physically get between fighting dogs.When fighting, even the most placid animal is in
a heightened state of arousal (fight or flight) and will not differentiate between you and the other
dog. You will get bitten.
Use something to startle the dog so you can safely separate them as mentioned above. To
separate them, throw something (such as your jacket) over the dogs head, put a chair or similar
item between them or* loop a leash around the dogs rear to pull them apart.
*This is very dangerous be sure to be quick and start to pull the dog side ways so he needs to side
step and can’t turn toward you.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

When considering a second dog, your first concern should be compatibility with the existing dog.
Most dogs find it easier to accept dogs of the opposite sex. This does not mean that dogs of the
same sex can’t get along. Introducing a dog properly is an important factor in the success of
the relationship(see Introducing Another Dog).
Remember that dogs are pack animals. People should always be at the top of the hierarchy.
The dogs will have their own pecking order under the people. Trouble starts when there is
confusion as to who is in charge. The owner can help by maintaining position as the pack
leader (see Establishing Yourself As The Pack Leader) and supporting the dominant dog. This
may not be the one that was there first, the older one, the male, female or the one you want it to
be. It is not always immediately apparent which dog is more dominant .Watch the dogs’ body
language as they interact. The more submissive dog will back off when corrected by the dominant
one and may display submissive behaviors such as avoidance, exposing his belly or licking the
underside of the other dog’s muzzle.
Supporting the Dominant Dog
The dominant dog will be referred to as dog #1 and the submissive one will be dog #2.
Dog #1 is first to get any attention.Be careful not to abdicate your position as the authority
figure while supporting the dog.Example ;You are alone petting dog # 2 and dog #1 comes in
and pushes into you demanding attention. Ignore him and continue to pet dog # 2. Have dog #1 do
something such as sit, and then praise him for complying. In this situation, dog # 1 is trying to tell
you what to do, and that is unacceptable.
Dog # 1 is fed first. Have tethers attached to the collars of both dogs. This ensures access to both
dogs to help break up any scuffles if necessary. Put #1s’ bowl down just a second before #2’s.
When preparing the dogs’ food, place a Kong (see Suitable Play and Toys) filled with some of the
dogs food in dog #1’s bowl along with his food. This will cause him to eat slower and give # 2 a
chance to eat in case #1 comes to steal his food. If he learns to take the Kong out than use a large
Dogs living together are like siblings. It is not unusual to get on each others nerves or get into
scuffles. Let them work it out. Only intervene if bloodshed seems inevitable. If you interfere as
soon as you hear a growl you are taking away the importance of that growl. This may force
the dog to go to the next step which would be to lunge or bite.
Be sure to provide each dog with time to himself and time alone with you. This would be a good
time to practice some obedience or play a game of fetch.
Never confine dogs together in a small space.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

When experiencing aggression between two dogs living together, it is important to maintain a
strong leadership role through everyday interactions and formal obedience training.
Obedience training gives the dog clear information that you are the authority figure and teacher.
This helps the dog to understand his place in the hierarchy of your household by opening the lines
of communication and establishing clear rules. Practicing obedience provides the dog with both
mental and physical exercise as well as time alone with you away from the other dogs.
Make sure it is truly aggression rather than rough play before interfering. Dogs growl when
they play. Yelping or crying indicates things are too rough, and it’s time to tell them to take it easy
using a noise correction. Aggression is typically marked by stiffening of body language,
showing of teeth and consistently inappropriate bite pressure causing injury. (See Introducing
Dogs). A “Spray Commander” citronella collar or a “throw chain” are excellent corrections that will
only affect the aggressor.
Asserting yourself as the pack leader through everyday interactions and obedience takes time.
There are things you can do in the mean time to help prevent bloodshed.
~ Support the dominant dog.(See Living in Harmony with More Than One Dog)
~ Keep the dogs separatedwhere they can’t see each other (to avoid barrier
frustration) when you are not home.
~ Keep tethers or leashes attached to the collars of both dogs when they are
~ Depending on the severity of the problem, you may want tokeep a “Gentle Leader” head
harness on the instigator with a tether attached. The dog will still be able to bite but you will
have control of his head. The head harness instantly gives the dog the message that you are the
leader and takes him down a few notches in the hierarchy of things. Make sure it is only when
you are home. Having the “Gentle Leader” on for long periods of time can cause chaffing of the
dogs muzzle. To help avoid chaffing apply “mole skin” under the band that goes on the dog’s
muzzle. This is available in the “Dr. Scholl” department of a drug store.
~ Use a deterrent to keep the aggressor away from an area of the victim’s body.
1. A natural flea collar has a very strong odor and may keep the aggressor away from the
victim’s neck.
2. “Bitter Apple Gel” can be applied to the victim’s ears.
~ Provide the victim with body armor.Get aleather collar with large spikessticking upward. A
“prong collar” put on inside-outwith the spikes sticking upprovides excellent protection for
the victim’s neck.
Be aware of situations that may cause an aggressive incident.
~ Feeding time: (See” Living in Harmony with More Than One Dog”)
~ When giving treats or bones or playing with toys
~ When someone is at the door/ when family members come and go.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

(With or without previous obedience training)
Dogs are creatures of habit. Make any major changes before the baby arrives. Get the dog
into a routine of feeding, exercise and play at the same time everyday. This should be the
dog’s special playtime for interacting with you. This gives him something to look forward to each
day andprovides stability when everything around him is changing. The father should do this
so there is no change when the baby arrives.Teach him to fetch using two balls that he only
sees at playtime. In order to teach the dog to fetch, get two identical balls that squeak. Squeak
one ball to get the dogs attention. Hold it close to his forehead and bring it back toward his
shoulder; this should cause him to sit. When he sits, say “sit,” and throw the ball. When he runs
after it, say “get it.” When he picks it up in his mouth, say “take it.” When he comes back toward
you, say “bring it.” When he gets to you or near you, squeak the second ball. This will make him
drop the first ball; then say “drop it.” Then start the exercise all over again. You always have a ball
and so does the dog. Fetch is an easy game to play while you are pushing a child on a swing or
while relaxing in a chair.
Get a doll and treat it like a baby. If you have access to a real baby, get soiled clothing that
smells like the baby (without excrement) to dress the doll in. Tape record crying and other baby
sounds and strap a small recorder to the doll. This affords you the opportunity to be
comfortable while the dog is close to the baby (near the feet-never the face or head) without
him sensing any apprehension that could be misinterpreted.
When the baby arrives home, have whoever the dog is closest to go into the house first. That
person should greet the dog put on a leash and take him out since the presence of leash will make
him anticipate a walk. Bring him back in the house or remain outside andhave the other person
introduce the baby. The dog should be on a leash and calmly praised for appropriate
behavior. Show the dog the baby while maintaining a comfortable distance. If all goes well, the
dog can eventually sniff the baby’s feet.
Do not make the mistake of giving the dog attention only when you are not occupied with the baby.
You want the dog to get more attention when the baby is around; not when the baby is
sleeping or out of the room.
If the dog exhibits any inappropriate behavior or you have any concerns, please contact the
behavior department and speak with a professional trainer.
(516) 883-7900 ext. 243.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

North Shore Animal League America understands that owning a pet is a big undertaking. In
addition to being one of the most rewarding experiences, being completely responsible for a life
can also feel rather stressful. There are many issues that come up that can make us doubt our
parenting skills and leave us scratching our heads thinking, “What am I doing wrong?” A winning
recipe of love and discipline is key to pet owner success, but isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Behavioral issues are common occurrences with a new pet, so don’t be surprised to experience
some hitches at first. To assist you with some of the more common problems that can arise with
your new family member, North Shore Animal League America has assembled some common
behavioral problems along with tips and advice to correct them. We would like to help make your
new pet experience as smooth, stress-free and pleasant as possible.
Being pack animals, dogs live according to a social hierarchy. When the dog leaves the litter and
moves in with you, your family becomes his “pack” or “litter mates.” In order to address any
behavior problem, it is imperative that the dog has respect for all members of the family as “pack
leaders.” If you are not an “authority figure,” the dog will have no reason to listen to you. Since
dogs do this to get your attention, you first have to make sure all of his needs for attention are
being met.
The dog should be on a schedule that includes: feeding, toileting, exercise, socialization and
appropriate play. This will ensure that his needs are being met but on your terms. The dog will be
less likely to do things to get your attention since his needs are being met. Knowing that his needs
are being met, you can justifiably correct inappropriate behavior.
To a dog, any attention may be better than no attention. Because bad behavior typically draws
more attention than good behavior, make sure to praise your dog for appropriate actions. These
may include lying down and being calm, otherwise he may do things just to get attention.
Not all corrections work on every dog. In order for a correction to work, it has to be effective
enough not only to stop the unwanted behavior, but also to make the dog think twice about doing
it again. When dogs want attention – even eye contact could potentially reinforce the behavior. The
best course of action would be for a correction to happen that does not involve your attention.
It’s important to remember that it is easier to prevent behavior problems than it is to correct them.
Behavior problems are best addressed using prevention, distraction, correction and the fabrication
of situations.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

~ Do obedience training to open the lines of communication, establish yourself as an authority
figure, and provide the dog with mental stimulation.
~ Maintain dominance over the dog by establishing clear rules.
~ Provide for the dog’s needs by keeping him on a schedule for housebreaking, feeding, exercise
and play.
~ Teach an appropriate form of play such as fetch or hide and seek.
~ Get the dog accustomed to being confined either in a crate or behind a gate in a puppy-proof
~ Provide suitable toys. (See Appropriate Toys and Play)
~Be careful not to inadvertently teach bad behaviors.If the dog jumps up for a ball, don’t
throw it until he sits. If he jumps on the door to be let in or out, do not open it. Do not give the
dog attention for inappropriate behaviors such as barking or whining. If the dog cries or barks in
the cage because he wants to get out (and all of his needs have been met), do not let him out or
you are reinforcing the behavior.

~ It is often better to distract than to confront. Distract the dog to stop unwanted behavior and
redirect the dogs’ attention. Save “NO” for big deals and use distractions to interrupt the dog’s
1. If the dog begins to mouth (play-bite), pretend to sneeze (let out a big AAAH-CHOO) this will
startle the dog, thereby stopping the behavior so you can offer a more suitable object for the
dog to chew on.
2. Have one special squeak toy that you have enticed the dog with (by letting everyone in the
family play with it in front of the dog) but have not given him. Keep it away from the dog; it is
your toy not his. When the dog goes to do something inappropriate, make a sharp noise to stop
the behavior. When the behavior has stopped, redirect the dog’s attention by squeaking your
toy. The dog will come running. Say “come” as he is approaching. When he gets to you, make
him sit using the toy. Only let the dog play with the toy for a very short time (2 min.) then “trade”
him a treat for the toy.
It is very important that you first stop the behavior before using the toy to redirect the dog’s
attention, or you will be praising the behavior instead of stopping it. There are times when it is
better to distract than confront. This exercise allows you to stop unwanted behavior while
reinforcing positive behavior. It also teaches “trade” and reinforces “come” and “sit.”
~ Ask for a different behavior. Have the dog do something else such as come or sit.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Never hit a dog or use negative hand gestures toward the dog(such as shaking your finger in
his face). Dogs communicate through body language and learn through hand signals. They should
see your hands as a positive. If you hit a dog, he may become hand shy and will learn to avoid you.
Hitting can cause a dominant dog to become aggressive and a submissive or fearful dog to
become a fear biter.
Remember dogs do things for attention, therefore even negative attention can reinforce the
behavior. If the dog is exhibiting a behavior to get your attention, and the behavior cannot be
ignored, a correction must occur without giving the dog attention.
~ When a dog is a nuisance at the dinner table, if you correct him, you are giving him attention. But
ignoring him won’t work because he also wants your food. Have pot lids or a shake can (See
Appropriate Corrections) on the table and as soon as the dog acts up nonchalantly, slide the pot
lid or can off the table without saying anything or looking at the dog. The dog will learn as soon
as he is a bother at the table this thunderous noise comes out of nowhere.

The element of surprise is important when using many of these corrections.
Noise Corrections:
~ Shake can – 20 pennies in an empty soda can.
~ Throw chain – ultrasonic noise correction
~ Pot lids
~ Party favor horn
~ Motion detector (can be purchased at Radio Shack or through pet supply catalogs under the
name “tattletale”) this can be used to keep dog off the furniture, stealing and digging).
~ Water Pistol - this should only be filled with water and should be small and remain hidden when
in use.
~ Garden Hose- To be squirted at the dog for digging, barking or escaping from the yard.
~ Balloons- bury in holes where dog digs to act as landmines or taped onto doors to prevent
dog from jumping on them.
~ Clear Packaging Tape/ Double Stick Tape- put on objects to deter stealing and chewing
~ Clear Plastic Carpet Runner (sold in hardware stores such as Home Depot).- This has teeth or
a prickly side that may cause discomfort when touched. This can be used to keep dog off
furniture, counters (cut a strip and secure it to the front of the counter using “fun tack”). It can
also be used to keep the dog away from things such as the Christmas tree.
~ Leash Correction– A leash or tether (cotton cord) is attached to either a regular, flat collar or a
training collar (choker, check choke or Martingale collar). A correction is an in and out jerking
motion that goes in the direction you want the dog to go in as you simultaneously say “no.”
~ Spray Commander– Remote Control Citronella Collar – sprays citronella under the dog’s
muzzle. The sudden smell, sound and sensation are what stop the dog. There is also a button
that emits a beep that can be used to reinforce positive behavior.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Fabricating a situation means setting up the dog to exhibit a behavior at a time that you have
set aside to address it instead of being blindsided by it. If you know the dog consistently
exhibits a certain behavior under certain circumstances (such as jumping on people entering
the house or chasing your children when they run by), you are in a good position to work on
that problem.
There are a number of ways to address any given situation using obedience, desensitization,
counter-conditioning, flooding, baiting, extinction and corrections (see Solutions To Common
Behavior Problems).
Examples: Have your children run past the dog (you are baitingthe dog). If the dog knows
obedience, have him “sit.” This is a counter-conditioningexercise meaning the dog cannot run
and sit at the same time. If the dog goes to chase the children, use a leash or noise correction.
Desensitizing– coupling what the dog loves in large doses with things he is afraid of or takes
exception to in small doses. Example: If the dog is afraid of being outside, sit and relax in front of
your home where the dog can see and hear different things but is at a comfortable distance from
the activity. Give the dog a special bone, and after he relaxes reward him for the appropriate
behavior by bringing him inside. If he will not take the bone, he is too stressed, so you may need to
start in the side or back yard. Always reward the behavior by taking him away from activity and do
not go closer until the dog is consistently comfortable at the current distance.
Flooding– overexposure to something the dog is afraid of or takes exception to.
1. If the dog is wary of men have only the men of the household give the dog care and attention.
2. If a dog overreacts to the sound of knocking-knock all day long or tape record the sound and
play it all day long.
Extinction– Ignoring a behavior in order to extinguish it. Example: Jumping or whining. Keep in
mind extinction will not be effective for self-gratifying behaviors (behavior the dog derives pleasure
from), such as barking.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Positive – If the dog is barking appropriately (someone is near the property) let him bark 3 or 4
times while you say “say” then give him a long lasting treat. As he is quietly eating it, say “quiet.”
Now you can use “say” as a command to bark (say ”hello,” say “goodbye”) and “quiet” will mean
the absence of noise.
Corrections:Noise, water or leash correction depending on the reason for the barking.
Chasing moving objects:
Positive– sit, stays, praise when the dog’s attention is on you.
Correction:bait with water pistol or noise correction coming from stimuli (i.e. car, bike) and leash
Positive– give your dog more exercise; feed him twice a day (depending on his age). Supply with a
long lasting chew bone, such as a marrow bone filled with cheese or you could use interactive toys
like a Kong or Buster Cube. Confine him in the crate with bone and water. Leave the music on.
Correction:bait as with stealing, water pistol, noise correction and leash correction
Digging in yard:Dogs will dig outside if they cannot see out of a fenced-in yard, if they are tied,
hot, stressed or bored. Dogs are originally bred to hunt small game and have a natural instinct to
Positive– Make sure dog gets enough exercise and is not left outside without supervision. Dogs
mimic – do not garden in front of them. If possible, provide a separate appropriate area for the dog
to dig, such as a sand box filled with dirt. Walk the dog and take him in the car to socialize him and
provide a change of scenery
Correction: Bait the area where the dog digs by burying his stool or balloons. Dogs do not like to
dig in their own excrement / balloons will act as landmines startling the dog. Hide where the dog
cannot see you, as soon as he starts to dig douse him with water from the hose or startle with a
noise correction.
Eating Feces/ Coprophagia:This is not an uncommon behavior for dogs especially puppies. Soft
warm stool resembles the first solid food that mom regurgitated for her puppies.
Positive:Have him checked by a veterinarian to rule out possible medical causes such as parasites
or inadequate diet. Make sure the dog isn’t eating too fast which can lead to digestive problems.
Putting a tennis ball, Kong or other heavy object in the middle of the food bowl will help slow him
down. You can also give him gradual amounts of food instead of giving it all at once. Keep toilet
area clean and immediately pick up stool. Try adding a bit of meat tenderizer or a teaspoonful of
spinach or canned pineapple to the dogs’ food.
Correction:Teach the dog” leave it.” Use a leash correction or noise correction.
Getting on the furniture:
Positive– establish his own suitable “bed.” Keep the dog on a tether. Remove the dog from the
furniture and bring him to the appropriate “bed” and praise. Bait area with clear packaging tape,
sticky side up or clear plastic carpet runner with teeth up.
Corrections:leash correction, water pistol.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
Jumping the fence:
Positive– Get to the root of the problem. Can the dog see out? Exercise, socialize and supervise.
Correction:fabricate and bait as with digging.
Jumping on people:
Positive– Dogs jump for attention (any attention), so ignore him, and when he gets off say “off”
and praise. Teach an alternative behavior such as sit stays.
Correction:Water pistols, leash correction, stand on leash/tether.
Positive– Maintain dominance. Do not physically get on the dog’s level. Exercise and neuter your
Correction: leash correction; noise correction, water pistol.
Positive– Never teach a dog the power of its mouth. No tug of war, keep hands away from mouth.
Teach “leave it.” Leave / remove yourself as a playmate if your dog chooses to mouth you. Put the
dog with an older dog to correct. Cry like a puppy and redirect the dog’s attention to something
Correction:bait with strong mouthwash, leash correction away from hand.
Dogs usually steal to get your attention and play “catch me if you can.”
Positive- Puppy proof and supervise when not confined. Never feed from table or counter. Give
the dog suitable toys, no fabric, shoes, or stuffed animals. Feed consistently two to three times a
day depending on the dog’s age. Take care of the dog’s needs for attention and exercise by
establishing a routine.
Correction: You need to correct the dog without giving him attention. Have the correction come
from the source by baiting objects and making stealing undesirable.
1. If the dog steals from the counter, use fun tac puddy to attach a strip of clear carpet runner with
the prickly side up along the edge of the counter. This will make it uncomfortable for the dog to
have his paws on the counter.
2. If he steals magazines, take one and cover it with double stick tape. Leave it in an area the dog
would typically steal it from, it will stick to him.
3. If he steals paper towels, attach paper towels to a shake can (see Appropriate corrections).
When the dog goes to steal the towels, the shake can will fall and startle him.
4. Put black pepper on socks left on the floor. Dogs have a very good sense of smell. This will be
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

It is important to understand that submissive urination is not a housebreaking problem.
Puppies will urinate when they are very excited simply because the muscles controlling elimination
are not fully developed. This behavior usually subsides as the dog matures but can continue in an
adult. Ignore the dog until he is calm.
Some dogs, those that are shy, lack confidence, are fearful or have been abused will submissively
urinate in the presence of a person or dog they see as dominant or as a threat. These dogs are
basically saying “please don’t hurt me.” This is an involuntary act; do not scold the dog it will
only make it worse. Your aggression will only cause the dog to behave more submissively. If not
dealt with in an appropriate way, this behavior will continue as the dog matures.
If upon arriving home your dog urinates when he greets you, it is important to ignore the dog
until he is calm. If you need to take him out to relieve himself, do it with as little interaction as
possible. Do not bend over him; this is a threatening, dominant gesture. Do not touch him, or make
eye contact. Talk to him only if you need to in order to take him out. After the dog relieves himself,
you can greet him calmly. Bend down to his level. Pet him under the chin not on the head. If you
consistently greet him in this manner and the urination subsides you can gradually start rewarding
the behavior. Continue to ignore him when you first arrive home, but reward him for being dry in
your presence by giving him a treat, not attention. It is difficult for a dog to eliminate and eat at the
same time.
If your dog urinates submissively when company comes, they must ignore him so the behavior is
not reinforced. Put a sign on your front door informing guests that the dog is in training and should
be ignored. The sign prepares your guests before entering and avoids explanations which
inevitably would draw attention to the dog. It sometimes helps to have the dog walk in on the
company instead of the company walking in on the dog. Try putting the dog outside or behind a
gate and bringing him in after the company has already entered. The company should continue to
ignore the dog until he is calm. If the dog is fearful or shy he should continue to be ignored by the
company and be allowed to approach when he feels comfortable. The owner should praise the
dog for any appropriate behavior. Eventually the dog should be taught to sit and stay at the door
when greeting people. If the dog is taught to sit and stay, he needs to concentrate on maintaining
that command and is unable to get into an excited state, which leads to the urination.
If the dog is shy, fearful or has been abused, patience, stability and confidence building are
needed. Deal with behavior problems in a constructive way, do not hit or shout at the dog.
Dogs are pack animals and live according to a social hierarchy. This social structure is the one
constant in a dog’s life. Seeing you as the pack leader, knowing their place and the rules of the
household enables the dog to be stable and obedient. Obedience training opens the lines of
communication and builds confidence. Establishing a daily routine for feeding, housebreaking,
exercise and constructive play (such as fetch) gives the dog something to look forward to, and aids
in the dogs stability. Fetch is also a confidence building exercise. Agility training is also an excellent
way to build confidence and socialize the dog.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Separation anxiety is a real emotional disorder. Dogs are highly
social pack animals. Some dogs react in a distressed manner when
left by their human “pack.”Depending on the severity, this can be one
of the hardest behavior problems to resolve. It requires patience and
understanding. The dog cannot help himself, the behaviors are not
deliberate.Common behaviorsassociated with separation anxiety are
destruction (typically by doors and windows), elimination and
vocalization. These dogs can also appear overly needy.
Building confidence and providing stability:
~ Establish and maintain a clear social hierarchy(see “Establishing
Yourself as the Pack Leader).
~ Establish a daily routine for feeding, walking and playing.“Retrieving / Fetch” is a good
confidence building exercise (see Appropriate Play).
~ Practice formal obedience.Obedience opens the lines of communication and builds confidence.
~ Establish a secure comfortable confinement area(preferably away from the door you leave from).
This should be used at times when you are home as well as when you are out (so the dog does
not associate being confined with you leaving). The dog should have a long lasting bone or
activity toy while in this area as well as water.
~ Don’t make a big deal about going or coming.Ignore the dog for a few minutes before leaving
and returning. Don’t give him attention until he is calm.
~ Discourage any needy (attention getting) behaviors by ignoring the dog.Be sure not to give the
dog constant attention, because when you leave, the dog will not only miss your presence, but
miss the attention as well.
~ Teach “stay” gradually working up to you being out of sight.This will stop the dog from
constantly following you and teach him to relax when you are not in sight.
~ Take Away Cues– Everyone has a routine from the time they get up until leaving the house. Dogs
communicate through body language. They pick up on these “cues” and begin to become
anxious. Make a list of the things you typically do before leaving the house (brush your teeth,
close a certain door, pick up your keys, etc.). Keep this list on your refrigerator and do these
things at various times during the course of the day without leaving. The dog will no longer
associate these actions with you leaving and won’t have time to become anxious.
~ Use Music as Therapy– Play the same music or a specific artist initially only when you are
relaxing and petting the dog. After doing this daily for a week or so the dog will have a soothing
association with that music. You can then leave it on when you leave.
~ Keep Him Company– Make a video or audio tape with your voice and the sounds of a typical
day in your house and leave it on when you leave.
In some cases, anti-anxiety medication coupled with behavior modification may be necessary.
There are also herbal anti-anxiety products such as “Rescue Remedy.”
Speak to your veterinarian.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

As social animals, dogs have a natural desire to explore and make contact with people and other
dogs. A dog that spends all of his time in the house or the yard, has limited interaction with
different people and dogs. Exposure to outsiders is typically restricted to those passing by the
house. The dog is behind a barrier – either a window, a door or a fence – making it impossible for
him to act on his instinct to investigate. When the dog is repeatedly unable to fulfill this need to
explore, he becomes frustrated.
If the dog’s only experience with strangers is limited to this frustrating situation, he will begin to
associate bad feelings with strangers in general and become agitated at the sight of them. This is
one of the reasons a dog acts aggressively toward the mailman. If socialization is delayed, when
the dog finally has the opportunity to meet strangers or other dogs he may become over
stimulated and may act aggressively.
Frustration may be displayed through hyperactivity, barking, lunging or aggression toward people
going by the house, yard or, car, coming to the door or into the house, or when the dog is on a
leash, tied or in a crate. This is often mistaken as “protective” behavior.
This behavior problem can be addressed in the following ways:
• Take the dog for walks regularly to diversify his environment. This may involve obedience training
and finding a training tool that gives you control over the dog. Make sure your dog is
accustomed to any collar or harness as well as a leash before beginning this program. There are
a variety of no-pull harnesses on the market. Premiere makes a body harness, the” Easy Walk”
and a head harness,” the Gentle Leader.” Obedience training provides you with the knowledge
and confidence to walk calmly with the dog, which is important since the dog picks up on your
feelings and reacts accordingly. Through training the dog learns to look to you for direction
instead of reacting to his feelings. You may not change the way the dog feels but you can change
the way he reacts to those feelings.
• Always have the dog ”wait” * at the door while you go through first, and then tell him to “go
through.” This shows that you are the “pack leader” and own any territory you are entering. It
also provides you with control over the dog before you leave the house. Never allow the dog to
walk in front of you. You are the pack leader, not the dog.
• Teaching “Wait” at the door: In order for a dog to understand what a word means, you need to
connect the word to the dog’s action. When you go to the door, the dog typically follows and is
waiting for you to open the door. Make sure you are closer to the door than the dog is. Say ”wait”
and SLOWLY start to open the door. If the dog goes to run out, say ”no,” and close the door in
the dog’s face, NOT ON THE DOG. The dog is now waiting again. Repeat the above. The goal is
to be able to open the door wide enough for the dog to get through while he remains waiting until
given the command to “go through” or to “heel.” This should be done even if you are letting him
out into the yard without you. Using treats when the dog is waiting will help to hasten the
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
• It is important to establish a clear hierarchy in your household with all family members being
dominant over the dog. Please see attached, “Establishing Yourself as The Pack Leaders” found
in the “Starting off Right“ literature.
• When meeting people for the first time, it is important not to allow anyone to push themselves on
the dog. The dog should be allowed to approach and investigate in his own natural way.
• Counter-conditioning and desensitizing exercises should be incorporated to build a positive
association with people and other dogs. Distraction should be used in place of correction when
appropriate if the dog exhibits any barrier issues. A correction would tie a negative association to
something the dog already perceives as a negative. However, when using counter-conditioning,
the dog has been taught obedience, a correction should be implemented if the dog disobeys a
direct command. An example of counter-conditioning would be the use of the “sit stay”
command: the dog cannot lunge at people if he is in a “sit stay.” He must learn to focus on your
direction, not react on his own. Desensitizing would be tying a positive to what the dog perceives
as a negative (see attached literature).
• When faced with situations the dog is uncomfortable with, you should always act calm and
normal. This way the dog can read your body language and feel that perhaps the situation is not
a threat after all.

(“Starting Off Right” literature should accompany this hand out)
Dogs go through many changes in their lives. Their homes, families and even names can change.
The one constant in their lives is the social structure by which they live. Dogs are pack animals that
live by a social hierarchy or pecking order. When a dog enters a new home he/she is looking for
that structure. It is important for obedience and stability that the dog see all members of the family
as dominant. If the dog does not see the owners as authority figures, he /she has no reason to
listen to them. If there is inconsistent behavior on the part of the family, the dog’s behavior will also
be inconsistent. If he/she does not see a clear pack leader, he/she will assume the roll in order to
ensure the integrity of the pack. This means he /she is in charge and may feel the need to protect
the rest of the pack. If not properly socialized, he/she may begin to see strangers outside of the
pack as a threat. It is important for all members of the family to establish and maintain a strong
leadership roll.
Establishing dominance can be done through everyday interaction with the family, (please refer to
the enclosed literature titled, “Starting Off Right). Obedience training is suggested to further
establish dominance as well as opening the lines of communication.
Desensitizing and counter conditioning exercises may be necessary depending on the severity of
the problem.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
Your dog should always be on a leash when not in a confined area. As the “pack leader,” you
should always go through the door first. If the dog goes through first without your permission, he is
claiming the territory he is entering as his own. If you do not have control over the dog before
leaving the house you will not have control whenyou are out of the house.
Teach the dog to “wait” at the door. Wait is different than stay. Stay means to stay in one spot,
in one position. Wait simply means “don’t follow.”
Wait:In order for a dog to understand what a word means, you need to connect the word to the
dog’s action. When you go to open a door, the dog is typically there waitingfor you to open it.
Have a soft or small treat available. You should be closer to the door than the dog is. Say “wait,”
and give the dog a treat as you slowlystart to open the door. If the dog goes to run out the door,
make a sharp noise like “eh” and close the door in his face. Wait a second, and the dog will be
waiting again. Repeat the above. You want to be able to open the door wide enough for the dog to
get through while he continues to wait for the command to “go through.” If you are going out with
him, go through the door first and then tell the dog to “go through.” If you are just letting him out
into the yard and not going with him, still make him wait and then say “Go through.” This exercise
requires no obedience training just persistence. You are using the door as a training tool. This
exercise teaches the dog to wait at doors and to only go out when given the command to “go
Once the dog understands he only goes through the door when given the command to do so, you
can justifiably bait him for running out the door.
Baiting for running out the door:Make sure you initially practice this at a door leading to an
enclosed area or have a long line on the dog for safety.
Set up the situation that would typically cause the dog to run out (such as when someone comes
or goes or if the door is left ajar). Hide on the outside of the door against the house with pot lids.
The second the dog’s’ nose comes through that door, bang the pot lids or throw them down in
front of him without saying anything. The dog will quickly learn that when he goes out the door
without permission a thunderous noise comes out of nowhere.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
It is a natural instinct for a dog to guard his resources; it is not an acceptable behavior in a home
environment. It is very important that you practice obedience and assert yourself as the pack
leader through everyday interaction. As the pack leader, you own all the resources – not the dog.
The dog should be made to work for everything including attention by complying to a command
such as “sit” before being given anything. If the dog tends to guard stolen objects, you need to
address the stealing (see Solutions to Common Behavior Problems). Bait the type of objects the
dog tends to steal or save items he has already stolen or destroyed and use them as bait. Do not
give the dog bones or objects he tends to guard. Avoid chew products that are obvious by-
products of animals such as hooves or pig ears. The “prey killer” instinct in a dog lies dormant.
These products can cause the dog to become aggressive when he has them.
Commands to Implement When Dealing With Object Possessiveness
Leave it – this means leave it alone, whether the dog is going
for an object or sniffing someone inappropriately. There are a
few ways to teach this command. Remember the dog needs
to know what the word means before it can be used as a
command. You build a vocabulary by naming the dogs
‘behavior as he is doing it.
1. Show the dog an object such as a biscuit. Place the biscuit
under your foot (make sure you are wearing hard shoes).
Let the dog try to get the object but make sure he can’t reach it. When he stops trying say
“leave it” (naming his behavior) and give him a better treat from your hand.
2. Have the dog on a leash and drop some sort of food (such as small pieces of bread) on the
floor. Try to make it appear like an accident. When the dog goes for the object pull him away
making a sharp noise like “eh.” When he leaves it, say “leave it” and give him a better treat from
your hand. If he looks at the object on the floor but doesn’t go for it say “leave it” (since he is
leaving it) and give him the better treat from your hand. After a week of daily practice doing this
the dog should know what “leave it” means, and you can start using it as a command.
Introduce items he typically steals such as tissues. Pretend you are blowing your nose and
“accidentally” drop the tissue or place the tissue where he typically steals from. If he goes for
the item, say “leave it” and praise when he complies.
Drop it.
Fetch using two identical balls that squeak is the easiest way to teach “drop it.” (see Appropriate
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575

Sit Stay
Have the dog stay while you put his food down
Gesture Feed– This is an easy way to communicate to the dog that you are the pack leader and
own the resources. Pour the dog’s food. While the dog is watching, you stand with the bowl in your
arms and eat a cracker as though you are eating from the bowl. When you are finished, have the
dog sit and put the bowl down (he is subservient, he gets your leftovers). As soon as the dog walks
away and is a safe distance away, pick up the food.
You Provide the Food
Feed the dog starting with an empty bowl and gradually adding his food by pouring it from a
standing position. Make sure the dog has on a leash or tether for safety.
If your dog is displaying aggression or you are not comfortable with his behavior, contact the
Behavior Department of North Shore Animal League America to set up an evaluation with a
professional trainer.
z2007 North Shore Animal League America
25 Davis Avenue
Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575
There are a variety of training methods and tools on the market to suit the needs of the individual.
Remember that regardless of the method of training chosen, all dogs live according to a social
hierarchy. The dog must see you as a pack leader or authority figure through your daily interactions
(see “Establishing Yourself As The Pack Leader”).
Dogs learn through consistent repetition and reinforcement. Reinforcement is anything that
motivates the individual dog, examples;* attention, treats, balls, toys etc.
* Most dogs do things for attention. Any attention can be reinforcing, even negative attention
is better than no attention at all.
Recommended Leashes– The leash should have a toggle clasps that is pressed down to open
rather than a clasp that you push in to open. A clasp that pushes in can too easily open
Leather Lead– this is strong and comfortable. It will not hurt your hands and will usually last the
lifetime of the dog.
Canvas Training Lead– this is lightweight but strong and will not hurt your hands.
Size– six feet is a comfortable length. This provides control while allowing the dog to walk on a
loose leash at your side when taught to heel. A comfortable width for most people is 5/8” wide.
Recommended Collars(should only be on when you are home)
Check or Modified Choke–this looks like a regular flat collar but has a section of chain for “give.”
When enforcing a traditional “corrective jerk,” the collar closes on the other side of itself without
compromising the dog’s neck. This is especially good for pups, and timid dogs.
Martingale – this is similar to the Check or Modified choke but the section providing the “give” is
cloth not chain.
Traditional Training Collar or Choker – applies a corrective jerk when necessary while
simultaneously saying “no.” The direction of the correction tells the dog what is expected of him
(not recommended for pups under the age of 4 months, toy breeds or breeds with long torsos such
as Basset Hounds or Corgis.
“Spray Commander” Remote Control Citronella Collar– this is a remote control collar that
sprays citronella up under the dogs chin (not in his face) to stop unwanted behavior. The sudden
smell, sound and sensation are what stop the dog. There is also a button that emits a “beep” that
can be used to reinforce positive behavior.
Recommended Harnesses
Gentle Leader Head Harness– this is like a bridle on a horse. This works by prevention and
direction rather than correction. Go to or further information.
No-Pull Harnesses– there are a variety available. Examples: the SENSE-ation and SENSE-ible
dog harness ( or the Sporn No-Pull.
*The Pet Boutique at North Shore Animal League America
carries many of these products.
25 Davis Avenue Port Washington, NY11050 516.883.7575