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Increasing Aggression To Non-Greyhounds


Guest Domino
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It seems as though our greyhound (6 year old male, has been with us almost a year) is becoming more aggressive to smaller (small and medium sized) dogs. He never really seemed comfortable with dogs that were not greyhounds, but he would abide them with the occasional low growl. Now he has begun to growl, snarl, and he has pushed another dog to the ground in a dog park, recently. He doesn't actively go up to other dogs, but if they come to him to meet him, he will first snarl, then growl, then lunge. I'd like to at least get him comfortable meeting other dogs on the street. I'm afraid to take him to the dog park except when it is empty, anymore. He doesn't mind cats at all. I was wondering if anyone could suggest specific training or conditioning techniques. Thanks!

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

from your very vague description of events i would say his reaction is probably from other dogs running up to him and meeting him face to face, is this correct? If so, there is nothing wrong with his reaction, when dogs meet, the sniff butts and make wide arcs around each other, not rush face to face. Face to face meeting is considered an aggressive act. i would say the park isnt a place for him since the other dogs may not have appropriate manners.

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Guest greyhound_in_LA

 

and he has pushed another dog to the ground in a dog park, recently. He doesn't actively go up to other dogs, but if they come to him to meet him, he will first snarl, then growl, then lunge. I'd like to at least get him comfortable meeting other dogs on the street.

 

Your Greyhound, like mine, is picky about dog manners and hate dogs without manners. Plus, he is middle-aged and less tolerant.

 

If he doesn't enjoy the dog park when other dogs are there, don't make him go anymore. Go at other times.

 

Straight-on face-to-face greeting is not natural for dogs although many today never got a chance to learn that and just pull and run to another dog. Usually dogs offleash will come at each other in an arc or wider angle then tighten up the arc and sniff obliquely.

 

If you want him to be comfortable meeting dogs on the street, avoid straight-on greetings.

 

I will only allow other people with dogs to approach my Greyhound if their dog is NOT leash-reactive and is CALM. I won't let them come within a few feet if they are pulling so hard on the leash that the owner is having trouble. No to lungers as well. Fine one second, then lunging the next: NO THANKS.

 

I have no problem telling people this: "My dog doesn't want to meet. He doesn't like reactive dogs." Many dog owners these days don't even know what a leash-reactive dog is and that their dog is one! LOL. They never took their dog to a basic class or leash training. They think pulling, barking, lunging, snarling are normal.

P.S. It's not aggression. Your dog is telling the other dog to get OUT of his face.

 

The other dog should know these signals, but sadly, there are so many dogs today that never learned social skills because they weren't socialized and ended up with "autistic" behaviors like being unable to read other dogs' social cues, body language, verbal warnings, etc.

 

Do NOT punish your dog for growling; it's a warning. When you eliminate growling, the dog will escalate to snapping and biting. Growling means "I do not like THIS."

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The times in the past when he's growled at other dogs, did you respond by raising your voice, tightening up his leash, or forcefully pulling him away? Almost every owner dealing with leash reactivity makes these mistakes, and it inadvertently makes the problem worse. It's a very easy mistake to make. The owner's reaction is to get them separated ASAP before a fight breaks out. However, by doing this, you send the message that 'every time I see other dogs, I get a correction that I don't like.' And the dog starts to regard every other dog as a potential aversive.

 

The best way to 'correct' the behavior is through positive association and reinforcement. Start slow- 15 feet away- reward for calm behavior and try to get him focused on you. Gradually get closer and closer. If he makes a mistake, go back to the last place he felt comfortable. There are several threads on this board that can offer more detailed training regimens regarding 'look at me' and 'look at that' exercises. Accept the possibility that your dog may never feel comfortable doing face-to-face introductions, and that's okay too. It does make him a bad dog. The 'aggression' is not macho behavior or his way of dominating others. It's almost certainly the result of apprehension, insecurity, and one too many bad experiences.

 

I hate to say it... but absolutely no more dog parks. Lots of people love them ('I just love watching my dog run!), but trust me, it's probably more rewarding for you than the dog. If he's snarling and lunging, the behavior has escalated to a level that is dangerous for everybody. Be an advocate for your dog, and try not to set him up for situational where he's bound to fail. Leash walking gives you the ability to better control the situation. A dog park, on the other hand, can be highly unstable for dogs of different ages, training levels, personalities, and play styles. In your case especially, it sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

 

Good luck!

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