Aggressive Australian Shepherd Towards Strangers

by Deb
(Pinetop AZ)

My dog Tucker is a male 4 year old Australian Shepherd that broke his leg as a puppy. He was caged to limit his activity for around 2 months, missing a lot of socialization.

My family members that were here the day he broke his leg and the ones that were living with us at the time are welcomed excitedly when they come over. Strangers or anyone he has not seen in awhile is a different story.

My husband is in his 60's and has health issues. I am in my 50's and have tried walking the dog but when a person gets near he is protective and I am unsure that I can hold him if he decides to be aggressive.

He has to be put in a kennel when strangers or friends come over and barks constantly. He will occasionally quiet down, but the slightest noise or door opening causes a repeated barking session.

I am fearful to take him to the vet for his upcoming shots because of this aggression. People dressed in black with hoods or hats make him horribly aggressive.

We have had this dog since he was a puppy and to my knowledge no one has abused him.

I am very afraid he will bite someone and I am seriously considering having him put down.

We purchased a play mate for him last summer in hopes it would calm his behavior down. It has to a point but he is sending her mixed signals.

My family members are worried that he is going to teach her bad manners. She is a black tri Australian Shepherd with a mellow personality, rarely barks but she is getting skittish around new people. He acts like he wants to attack and she seems confused. When he is kenneled she warms up to people and is fine unless they move quickly or startle her.

Recently we had a family visit that had an 11 year old daughter that was bent on being friendly to the dog one minute and charging her the next. I thought at this point my well mannered lady dog was going to bite her, I then kenneled her.

This is not fair to my company and not fair to my dogs. The mothers comment was we train our dogs not to bite kids. My dogs have not been subjected to kid behavior and this is all new to them.

We are confused. I love my dogs. I do not want to put my Aussie down. But I do not want him to hurt someone because his aggression goes unchecked.

My husband and I both work and I am afraid that his health issues and my strength issues are going to mean that we must put this dog down.

Everyone suggests going to obedience training and that is fine except I can't take the chance that he would bite the trainer or worse yet another person trying to train their dog. I am afraid we have waited to long to address this situation. It is not like I could give him to someone else to train and put in a new home.

I feel responsible for his behavior problems and it will be my responsibility if he bites someone.

He has already jumped at a family member that was wrestling another family member. He took it as an aggressive stance and tried to protect the family member.

He did not break skin but did go for her face. I think we are down to the last straw.

If this behavior is not corrected we will need to put him down. Then I fear that he will bite the vet that has to administer the last shot. Is there a way I can do this at home to protect the people that he may hurt.

I love my dog, He is fine with me for the most part he listens to me but strangers make him crazy. And in the mean time I may lose my best friend.

Thank you for Listening.

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Sep 23, 2017
Similar situation
by: Anonymous

We adopted a 6 year old Aussie rescue and had very similar experience with reactivity and fear aggression. Your dog is not aggressive. He's fearful and insecure and without guidance or proper positive training will resort to managing his own environment, which you don't want him to do.

My husband and I had to educate ourselves-ALOT to help our dog. He has done a 180 degree turn as a result of working with the RIGHT trainer and using treats to reward the positive behavior. We started with a pinch collar and I regret it to this day and yes we worked with a trainer who recommended it. While it "controlled" him it didn't teach him garbage about which behavior I wanted him to exhibit ( the positive ones).

Killing a misunderstood, untrained, and fearful dog is a sin. He deserves a chance to be properly exercised, mentally stimulated and positively trained. This takes a lot of time and effort. Killing him doesn't- it's the easy way for you to rid yourself of a problem he didn't create.

Do right by the dog and find a loving home or no-kill rescue that is willing to work with him. These are very smart dogs and can be trained very easily. You should manage his environment and not expose him to the "triggers" that cause him to react. Learn what they are and remove him from the places or people that don't respect his space or needs.

My dog is not perfect. He has bit people but we have learned how to manage his environment and he has come light years in being less aggressive and more tolerant because of positive/ reward based training.

Killing him is not the answer.

Dec 27, 2014
Aggressive Australian Shepherd Towards Strangers
by: Anonymous

Hi. I have a nine month old male aussie. I have also been having problems with aggression towards strangers. Even after we can let him out and he is calm, he will eventually start barking and charging them without provication. I cannot tale him for walks because he will bark and lunge at people, kids especially. The only thing i see that is different from your situation, is my dog was stolen for a little over 24 hours and when i got him back, he started showing signs of aggression over the last few months and it is slowly getting worse.

Jul 17, 2014
aggressive breed
by: Anonymous

This particular breed is in affect an aggressive breed. They make great farming animals for herding sheep, cattle etc. However it is a dangerous breed; too aggressive to be reliably considered harmless in normal urban type environments. Even when walked or handled by owners or owners friends or family, this breed is known to turn and show extreme aggressiveness including biting without warning. It is rare to hear from an owner of this breed to have never experienced any incidents involving at the least nipping at other harmless pets or people. This pet should have a large fenced yard at the bare minimum. And visitors or children need never be subjected to one which is unrestrained; as this breed is plagued with sight and hearing problems and voice commands to halt or hinder aggressive attack will not always register to them. Do not allow them to have free roam without fence or harness.

Jun 03, 2014
Dog aggression/ protection
by: Anonymous

Well, to put a dog down because of this is just plain wrong. Do you have a back yard where he can go when company comes over? Put him up for adoption to someone that can train him and love him and spend time working with him, he is a working dog, he won't be happy until he feels useful. Killing a life because he is too much trouble is never the answer for a good and loving dog... Better training and a life of exercise for smart dogs is.

Jan 06, 2011
There is hope!
by: Adam

Hi, Deb:

You need to start dog obedience training with this dog, asap. Buy a muzzle. Get your dog used to wearing it.

Buy a pinch collar and a six foot leash. Learn how to give your dog a motivational correction. There is hope, but you're going to need to get out and work with your dog-- with the muzzle on.

If you don't feel that you or your husband have the physical strength to correct the dog, then I would look into getting a remote e-collar. I recommend either Dogtra, Sportdog, Innotek or TriTronics.

- Adam.

Adam G. Katz is the author of, "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!" -- which you can find at

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