Aggressive Dog Training – Getting Through the Hard Parts


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

Living with a dog who has aggressive behavior can be hard. There are all kinds of emotions involved: human emotions and dog emotions.

Taking on the project of helping a dog change his behavior feels complicated sometimes. It’s a process. There are details. We have to work at it. All the while, there’s the risk our dog will act out, maybe even bite.

How do we get through the hard times of aggressive dog training, especially the early days when we are just getting started?

Depend on your trainer. If you aren’t working with a trainer, hire one. Choose someone who understands how to use positive reinforcement dog training to change unwanted behavior. Pick someone who is properly credentialed, a dog trainer with a CPDT or CDBC certification. Both is better. When training feels hard, turn to your trainer for help between sessions. Let them clarify your training tasks and the overarching plan. Make sure they explain how your training relates to your specific goals with your dog.

Trust the process. Easing or resolving aggressive dog behavior doesn’t happen all at once. There are steps and incremental successes. Stick with it. Don’t give up. And, again, turn to your trainer. That person should understand dog behavior. They should also be a good human teacher and coach.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Be safe. Protect your dog from aggressive outbursts. It’s okay to avoid triggers of aggression (it is preferable, in fact) while you train. Keep things calm and stress-free in the early days of training. You’ll add stressors as you progress under your trainer’s guidance.

Focus on your wins. Attitude in dog training is everything. How you think about your dog and the training process affect your outcome. All of us tell ourselves stories about our dogs, what they might be feeling or thinking, why they are behaving the way they do. If you’re going to tell yourself a story, let it be a hopeful one. You’re smart. You’ve got this.

Remember, behavior is always changing. Sometimes it changes for the worse. More often, when we guide and influence it, behavior changes the way we want it to. That one bit of truth is so empowering. Let that inspire you and keep you going. Behavior changes. We can, and do, affect how it changes. There is hope, alway.

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in Aggressive Dog Training.

Dog Behavior Problems – Why Training Feels Hard


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

The process is simple. The project sometimes feels hard.

This is how we humans get tripped up. We focus too much on the dog training project, what we have to accomplish, the end goal. We lose sight of – or never get a clear picture of – the process of how to train our dog.

Anything our dogs can physically do, we can teach them to do it on cue. Lie down, relax the hips, rest the head on the front paws. Those are all trainable. We can even teach them to breathe slower. Go to another room. Wait quietly behind a baby gate. Those are teachable too, with positive reinforcement training.

The process, the actual science of dog training, is very accessible to humans with average intelligence and education. (Most of you reading this are well above average). Still, when we face a dog who is biting, barking, or just going bonkers, it can all feel like too much. I get it. No, really, I do.

Besides Charlie, who we’ve had just a few months, we also have a year-and-a-half old foster dog, Norman. I want them to behave nicely in the house. I want them to pee and poop outside. I want them to get along well with each other. When I look at those big, admittedly vague, project goals, I feel anxious.

When I look at the process, I breathe easier. When I actually start the process, none of it feels hard at all. Teach coming when called. Teach a relaxed down. Potty train. Monitor body language during play. Cue breaks in play. My training sessions with each dog are short, seven to ten minutes. I train one to two times daily, per dog. That’s it.

Our results have been fast and measurable, so far. My worry about big-picture outcomes (yes, I’m a worrier) reduces notably with each session.

Certainly, I don’t expect my clients to know training processes right off the bat. Teaching those is my job. New trainers also don’t automatically have great timing and mechanical stills (When do I click? When do I give the treat?). Teaching that is also my job. And it’s normal to feel some frustration along the way. You guessed it. Coaching my human clients through that is my job, too.

Bottom line: Set goals. It’s good to know what we are reaching for. Then, set those goals to the side and focus on the process. The destination is not the thing. Getting there is the thing.


Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in aggressive dog training.

Charlie, The Broken Dog


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

Every dog has a story. Charlie’s begins somewhere in Montgomery County, TX.

Someone loved him. He is brave, trusting of humans, and affectionate. That’s the nature of dogs. It’s also evidence of nurturing and of bonds made resolute. He knew people, lived with people, and loved them. Somewhere, someone misses him. Charlie went astray, got in trouble, and ended up hurt. He survived, but his family never saw him again.

Tim and I foster for Dachshund Rescue of Houston (DROH). I first saw Charlie in a group email to foster families this past October. He was broken, a front leg missing, scars on his back leg, and road rash just past his rib cage. Call me crazy, but I knew the second I saw him. That’s my dog, I thought, clicking on the photo. I’d never met him. And I knew.

Montgomery County Animal Shelter gets a bum rap like a lot of animal shelters do. It’s undeserved. They did right by Charlie. His front leg was shredded. Lots of soft tissue damage, too much to repair. They committed time and money to Charlie. The surgery went well. Caring humans at Montgomery County got him off the street and pointed down the road to recovery. An animal shelter can be a good first stop for a dog like Charlie. It’s not a place, though, for a long stay.

Good people who know good people got him out of the shelter and into the care of Dachshund rescue. Charlie learned to walk again. He moved slowly at first, but was unrelenting. Tired from the effort, he’d lay his head on my chest and fall asleep. We shared Charlie with another foster family, a lovely couple who have fostered scores of dogs. They loved Charlie as much as we did. We all agreed he was exceptional.

Something had hit Charlie, a car most likely. It rolled him. It might have rolled over his leg, the one he lost. He’d taken it hard and came out the other side stronger than most. Charlie amazed us with how fast he healed. His resilience, in fact, distracted us from yet another injury. He was favoring a back leg. A vet visit and x-rays revealed a break. Charlie had another surgery to repair it and spent seven weeks in a cast. (Dachshund Rescue of Houston absorbed the cost, over three-thousand dollars).

I’ve seen a lot of broken dogs in my time, hearts and spirits mostly. Each emerged from their own personal hell, survivors of trauma or neglect, physical and emotional. I’ve also seen dogs with exceptional fortitude and dogs who are unwavering exemplars of forgiveness. Never have I known a dog like Charlie.

Stella was gone more than a year when we met Charlie. Stewie left us seven months before. They taught me about behavioral flexibility late in their lives, through the long COVID months. Charlie, it seems, has even more to teach – broken and healing and yet, still so willing to get up and take on the full expanse of life.

I knew from the first moment I saw him. Mid January we made it official. Charlie the broken dog – King Charles – Chuckles the dog – Little Chaz is ours. And we are his.

Where will his story take us next?


Charlie is between 1 1/2 and 3 years old.  DNA analysis reveals he’s a wide variety of breeds, among them a trace amount of Dachshund. Special thanks to DROH for claiming his as one of their own nonetheless. You can follow Charlie on Instagram @travels_with_Charlie__