Olliver’s Story – Food and Dog Aggression Issues

Oliver, 3 years old, affectionate, loving and playful.

Oliver has  a very playful and goofy kind of personality.                                            He was brought to me for some behavior training. Oliver’s owner did an amazing job with her fur pal’s obedience training. He would sit, down and stay on command with no issues. He even had a pretty good recall. Her love for him is still endless today.

Oliver’s behavioral issues were food aggression and intermittent dog aggression. Oliver also had a habit of leading his handler and leaning heavily on his collar. Being at my home with many other dogs Oliver was fine for the most part. Got along well with the dogs including my intact male German Shepherds.

Evaluation Week is where it all begins.

Within his first week at my home Oliver began to show his food aggression. At first he would allow us to take his food bowl and fill it with food. He was even ok if we pet him while he was eating. Then on day three Oliver decided that nobody was allowed to look at him or move around him in the room while he ate his food. This went on intermittently during the first week.

Then his intermittent dog aggression showed itself. While he was playing nicely in the kennel area with other dogs, our female German Shepherd, Annie, jumped down from her cage. As she was coming down, Oliver moved like lightning towards her. By the time we even knew what was happening Oliver had dragged poor Annie across the room, by her ear.

Then he was great again for a few days until once again his dog aggression flared up and he attacked my intact male German Shepherd Scout. Luckily fast thinking was on our side and we were able to break up the fight within the first 30 seconds of it beginning. Fortunately nobody incurred injuries.

This was scary because it was totally unexpected. At this point we began to make him wear a muzzle when we had him out with other dogs. Oliver was a great dog but the more time we spent with him the more I thought he had a Jeckle & Hyde personality.

Time to lay out a plan.

We needed to figure out what was triggering the aggression in Oliver. He was other wise a gentle and fun filled dog. Unfortunately his behavior issues were harder to correct because of his age.

At this point, Oliver has had over three years to form and practice his habits, good and bad. Until we could control Oliver’s aggressive tendencies, he needed to wear a muzzle in the presence of food and other dogs. 😔

My assumption was that Oliver’s owner didn’t have the knowledge to fix the aggression issues when he was young enough to do so safely and effectively. Most owners with similar issues think this behavior to be cute until they get scared or an accident happens.

When playing with other dogs Oliver was a strong and aggressive player but well mannered. Until his play drive turned to prey drive and then to fight drive. Once you have a combination of fight and prey drive backed up by the power this dog possessed it was game over. He wanted to fight and overpower the first dog he could grasp on to once he got too excited. Thankfully we had the evaluation period to see his aggressive tendencies

Oliver’s food aggression fix

Oliver was beyond the average learning curb of 18 months. He was set in his ways so I decided to start at ground zero with him. We muzzled him for food aggression training sessions. I sat on the floor with a bowl full of his food. I fed him one kibble at a time and made sure that he understood he was eating because I wanted him to.

It took Oliver 4 days to accept my hands in his food bowl and then only wagged his tail as I was serving him with my hand in his bowl after 6 days. It was now time to test him with no muzzle again. Oliver did well for several days after the muzzle was removed. Then one morning he decided this was wrong. He stared me down and was sending me clear signals that if I didn’t back off he would attack me.  I literally felt the hair raise on the back of my neck.

Once I was safely out of his attack proximity, I immediately went to get the muzzle. I was completely baffled by this set back. We had gone through several days with no food aggression at all. So once again we started over with the muzzle.

Oliver’s unpredictable and intermittent dog aggression resolve

I also applied similar methods with Oliver to teach him that dog aggression was inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately Oliver needed to wear a muzzle when around other dogs because of his unpredictable behavior.

Combined with muzzled play time I applied relaxation massage to Oliver and any other dog who was on the road to getting too rowdy. Even with the muzzles on both Oliver and Scout got into a fight in the first week of this therapy. With the muzzles on it is much less dangerous to pull the dogs apart . It still took three people to separate them. You have about 6 seconds to stop a dog fight before it becomes more than arguing in high drive dogs .


Each time the dog begins to get too rough he is given a time out in a down position. I massaged Oliver until he was completely calmed down and submissive.

This was done in the field with all the other dogs still playing. The can’t leave this position until he has established a calm and collected mind set.

This still is the most effective method that I have found to help in these issues. This method taught Oliver that he could not get out of control and trust that I would not allow another dog to hurt him.


After 42 days in total training and evaluation days, Oliver no longer pulled on leash. Oliver would heel, stop, stand, sit down and return to heel position if asked. He was accepting of me feeding him his food and putting my hands in the food. The massage therapy to keep him in a calm state when playing with other dog kept Oliver 100% fight free for the last 3 weeks of his visit here at DK9S.

Oliver was sent home with a proper collar and his owner was taught how to use it properly. They also received a muzzle for when he went to the dog parks. Last but not least they were shown how to apply relaxation massage to help keep Oliver calm at the park.

All of this aggression could have been avoided.

To the best of her knowledge Oliver’s owner did everything right by him as a young puppy and growing up. Oliver was well socialized, playful, obedient and loving. However, he was not given solid boundaries to respect.

If Breeders were more conscientious and have a plan set out for the puppies adoptive parents this wouldn’t happen so often. The breeder needs to follow up and ask the appropriate questions. They should also provide a guide of what to do and not to do with their puppy when they go home. Would providing a list of local trainers too much to ask?

Puppies need you to teach them


  • should learn the recall without fail. It is one of the simplest commands to teach and I have had pups as young as 6 weeks learn it.
  • get fed when mom says and unless she says otherwise the puppies have no right to the food in her possession. So this rule should carry on to the adoptive parents.
  • should never bite the hand that feeds them.
  • need to learn to accept the human touch and manipulation of his body parts.
  • must also know that it is unacceptable to fight other dogs, steal food from your plate, or bite people.

All of the above are things that require no age to start training but are the foundation of respect between you and your dog. The establishment you are acquiring your puppy from should offer a support system teaching you the basics that you need to know. A short training guide encompassing a list like the one above goes a long way.

If you do not have the support you need and choose to acquire the puppy regardless, speak with a dog trainer. A good dog trainer can offer you advice and training for your puppy from 8 weeks to 6 months.

This stage of training is all about manners and a must. It is the basis of respect between the dog and the handler. Behavior training starts at birth with the puppy’s mom. Then needs to continue with adoptive parents for the rest of the puppy’s life. From 8 weeks to 6 months you will do behavior training. Nest you will start basic obedience training a 6 months and so on. Each training period is needed for your puppy to develop into a well balanced adult dog.

Pet safety Plan When You Dial 911

The loss of beloved pets still lingers.

It is in light of a news story stating a civilian dog had been shot by police in the city of Edmonton, AB that I decided to write this story about pet safety. With the goal of hopefully preventing a civilian pet from being harmed by emergency services in the future I encourage all pet owners and professional working dog handlers to read my story. At the end of this story I have inserted a link to the story that inspired me to write this one.

Like many people watching the story on the news that night, I was angered, hurt, in disbelief and even confused about how it could happen. There are many similar cases to this dog shooting in North America and seem to be more every year.

This story hit me harder than the others I had watched or read about before for some reason. Perhaps it is because I have a perspective from both ends of the leash having worked my security k9s in Edmonton myself. I believe this Shooting could have been prevented.

This scenario below is fiction and in no way compares to Jax’s shooting in April of 2015. It has been written strictly to help prevent such an incident from happening again.

Fear wakes you in the dead of night.

So, you hear a noise at 3 am and your dog is barking. You realize somebody has broken in to your home and you dial 911. The person or persons who are breaking in have left hearing your dog. Police are on the way and you are waiting.

At this point you are scared and your dog feels that fear and anxiety in you as it is transferred to him. Yes dogs can feel your emotions and they tend to feed off of them which makes them more edgy.

Now what should you do?

Have you notified the police that you have a dog on the premises? Consider that your pet is a distraction. He may be at risk or put officers in a compromising situation in the confusion of an emergency. Should a k9 officer arrive with police for tracking purposes the risk is even greater?

Most of us won’t think of these things in a moment of stress such as an unexpected intrusion. So, just like we all have a plan for a fire, we should for when calling police. These are some steps that you can follow to ensure the safety of your civilian dog, other pets and all involved in the instance that a k9 officer and police arrive.

The Pet Safety Plan.

  1. When you dial 911 notify the person answering that you have a companion or civilian k9 on the premises. Once you have given all details about the issue at hand tell them they must notify police that you have a companion dog in your home.
  2. Watch for the police to arrive and place your companion dog in a crate or a room where they will be out of the way and safe. Then allow the police to do their job.
  3. Ideally your dog should be in a crate as the officers may want to check the rooms and you cant be sure of how your pet will react to them given the circumstances. No matter how friendly you dog is in your everyday life he may not be the same dog you usually know in this case.
  4. You must let the police know where your dog is located so they can do their job safely.
  5. When officers want to see the room where the dog is located, show them. Remember, you are expected to be in control of your dog or pet at all times.

Never underestimate how stress will effect your pet.

I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. When in a stressful and unexpected situation your dog or pet may surprise you. His reaction to the police, no matter how docile he has proven to be will likely be quite different from what you are accustomed to. You are responsible for your pets and need to make sure that they are unable to bite or threaten an officer.

As stressed as you are about the break in your dog will be more so. Dogs react in instinct and some have more intense drive (emotion related to stimulated instinct) than others. They also sense your emotional state and will feed off of that.

Then you have police (strangers to your dog) who are in your home. In some cases adrenaline is rushing when they arrive causing yet another stimulation for your dog to feed off of.

Last but not least the k9 officer…

This is a dog with high drive, in a working mind
like his handler and other
human officers on arrival. His adrenaline will be rushing. Dog to dog stimulation is even stronger than human to dog stimulation. Other critters, pets, noise and even smell will offer distraction and stimulate the
k9 officers drives.

All of the above can be a catastrophe waiting to happen. There must never be a communication breakdown between you and the police in an emergency situation. Be clear and concise when providing your information.

Hearts of gold.

Your dog or other pet is your companion. Like most, you love him or her like it was your child. Your investment is mostly emotional and your pets value is priceless.

The police invest enormous amounts into k9s for care and training. They need to protect that investment. The handler, like the civilian has an emotional bond with his k9. He knows his k9 officer will give his life to protect him. So, it is his duty to protect his K9 as much as it is yours to protect your dog.

My experience as a professional K9 handler.

As a K9 security guard myself,  I learned very quickly what value my working K9 carried in me. The bond we share with a k9 partner is strongly based on trust. We have each other’s back and nobody can get near us unless we allowed this as a team.

My k9 keeps me safe and alerts me of everything approaching. I have encountered people hiding behind vehicles and dumpsters in alleys. The risks we are subjected to in public security services are scary and unpredictable. We are confronted by drunk people, people on drugs, situations of domestic abuse and more.

I have held the hand of a girl who was drugged and allegedly raped. Another of my Security guards and her K9 saved a young woman from a potentially deadly beating. Her boyfriend had recently been released from prison. Our K9 partners keep us and others safe from potential dangers and offer us comfort after a bad night or event.

How do we work together to prevent future civilian dog shootings?

She is part of a family unit.

We must protect those who protect us and our four  legged companions. Please take ownership of your responsibility as a pet owner. Police equally must take ownership of their responsibility in deploying a k9.

It is in everybody’s best interest that nothing distract the police or their k9 while working. Due diligence is required here as home and pet owners. Pets and critters must be locked away safe and out of the way when the police arrive.

Prevention is the best medicine.

As a k9 trainer I have work with many breeds. Most have been working breeds such as German shepherds. I have also trained both civilian and security k9s for obedience and protection. For more information on my training services click https://www.facebook.com/ddangiek9services/

Part of the k9 training that I do is in a pack. This helps handlers learn dog body language. Knowing our dog’s body language helps by making prediction of his next move second nature.  I think everybody who owns or handles a K9 should study the body language of dogs in a pack. It is crucial in predicting and preventing accidents.

It is hard to find a school that trains dogs in pack. Most trainers don’t have large groups of dogs on hand to work with. However, I believe that this type of training is essential especially for a professional working dog handler. You are the ones who serve the public and work with the public all the time. Part of that public happens to be our pets.

I also believe that working and training in pack is advantageous in circumstances such as those in Jax’s story. If you are working professionally with K9s you should be required to partake in this type of training. You should also be trained on how to separate a dog fight.

It is of my opinion that this type of training could have prevented Jax’s death.

Please continue to read on Jax’s story by clicking on the link below.

Edmonton woman whose dog was shot by police plans to sue