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    Rose Dukes

    Recently, we received a message from a pet parent who is seeking help with her “super hyper” five year old Border/ Aussie mix. With permission, we’re posting her message here for our Evangelists. Feel free to add comments and questions below. 

    (Edited for grammatical purposes)

    I need some help. I have a five year old border/aussie mix, male, unaltered (I want to get him fixed, but hubby is against it – I’m slowly gaining his understanding on this). He is hyper!!! Always on!! I am alpha, my husband is NOT, he will barely correct him, but he (my dog, Sky) has been challenging me!!!

    He was supposed to be small, but he is not, weighing around 60 lbs. He was supposed to be my walking buddy, but I fell shortly after adopting him at 10wks. I fell and broke my leg and severely sprained my other ankle. So five years later, I still have problems, but we can walk about an hour. We do training and yard play, but he gets bored so quickly that after about 15 mins of anything, he is done.

    I have never laid a hand on him in punishment. His challenges come in the form of growling, no teeth bearing. If he sneaks something he knows or thinks he isn’t allowed to have, he will come out and lay on it. If I tell him to “give it” he will growl. I can defuse him by giving him other commands, as long as none involve me getting close to him. I can take it but he needs to be away from it. If you try to play with him by asking him to bring his ball, he will growl (in the house) – the game has to be started by him.

    He use to bathe great, but now when I go to dry him when I get to his neck, he will growl. He has bitten a neighbor and tried to bite another neighbor. I have no idea what to do. I am not a novice in dogs, but have owned several (a lab for 8 yrs, we placed 3rd in an obedience class judged by an AKC judge and a boxer for 12 yrs. And a few others in my younger years.)

    I also think he has some serious underlying issues. We found out after adopting him that his mom had drank from the toilet bowl which had blue cleaner in it. The amnio fluids of all three pups were blue. I know the owners of the other two siblings. One is a tiny female who is also super hyper and obsessive with Frisbees. The other is a male and he is so hyper he spins in circles to where he has to be kenneled outside, and the kennel has to be moved once a week because he works circles into the ground. Sky used to spin, but I was able to break him of it. He still does when he gets excited, like when my husband comes home or he needs to go outside.

    What am I doing wrong, am I causing his behavior? I don’t want to surrender him or worse have to put him to sleep for being too aggressive.

    Thanks, “Aggressive Border/Aussie Parent”


    (Further information from “Aggressive Border/Aussie Parent”):

    He is a great dog. We used to take him every where with us, but he is getting so unpredictable, goes from 1-100 in a second as in aggressive. My biggest fear is for my granddaughter. I have kept them in separate rooms with baby gates so that he may get used to her, but this has only been a temp idea. She is 6, but a very calm 6 yr old, so that helps. She gives him treats and quiet talks. He even obeys her commands, great sign. I’m asking anyone to give me an idea of how to correct a puppy at a 16′ distance when you literally cannot walk. But I need ideas and help – if it is me, I will alter my behavior. If it is his, I will help him. If it is both, then there, too, I will do what must be done. Thanks again!

    Deb Eldredge, DVM

    This is a dangerous dog at this point. It is good that he is still giving a warning growl (at least part of the time) but having now bitten a person twice, he will have less & less bite inhibition. I would absolutely keep him away from your granddaughter. You might want to contact the rescue or shelter you got him from but realistically, a dog with 2 bites already on his record is not going to have good options. It sounds like the entire litter is not ‘wired right” in the temperament area.
    You need to find a local trainer or behaviorist who is skilled & comfortable working with a reactive/aggressive dog. This is NOT something that can be handled over the internet or by the normal obedience trainer. I wish I could be more positive but I am concerned for you & your family.

    Deb Eldredge, DVM

    Another thought here is to have a full physical and blood work up done just in case there are some medicla issues that exacerbate his behavior. Do a full thyroid panel as part of that. Good luck!

    Kris Crestejo


    First off let’s talk about how much exercise and training this dog is getting. A 5 year old Aussie/Border should be getting around 2 hours of physical exercise per day, on top of this, he should be getting bare minimum 1 hour of training/mental stimulation per day. That’s close to 3 hours per day that a working breed needs. If you don’t have a farm where the dog is working himself, you will need to supplement this dog with challenges that are appropriate.

    Let’s say, you are satiating your dogs physical, mental, social and socialization needs (please watch this video ). Is your dogs life structured? Does he practice bad behaviours a lot? If he’s acting like an unruley dog then you need to do more obedience training/trick training to strengthen listening skills between him and you.

    In regards to alpha – humans cannot be alpha’s to dogs, you would need to be the same species in order to have a hierarchy over the dog. This hypothesis has been debunked many times by the original scientists who came up with the hypothesis

    I dont’ know why your dog is acting out aggressively towards humans, there could be a number of factors causing the aggressive outbursts. But when you say his aggressiveness goes from 1-100 in a second, that is normal for most dogs, mainly because the human isn’t watching for ALL the other signals the dog is giving BEFORE the aggression takes place. Let’s get you brushed up on Canine Body Language and go back and think if you saw anything before the aggressive outbursts? and

    Management – let’s not have the dog around people, period, until you can figure out what is causing the aggression. I would highly recommend hiring a Certified Behaviour Consultant (all over the world) or hire a Applied Animal Behaviourist (PhD) Aggression cannot be assessed via online, there are too many signals we need to watch and understand before assessing properly and putting a program together.

    Kris Crestejo, CDBC

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