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Growling At Other Dogs During Walks - How To Respond?

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I have had Shuffler for a little over a month and she has been a great addition to the family. She's very loving and sweet with people, but I've noticed she seems to have an issue with other dogs (not greys) when we walk. I live in an apartment complex, so there aren't a lot of options for places to walk and we often encounter other dogs.


Sometimes she ignores them and we keep walking. Sometimes she notices them, but I just keep walking and say "come on" and we go along...this is all fine and well. The incidences that concern me are when she sees a dog and lunges/growls/barks and the hair behind her neck stands up. We often see smaller dogs, but this has occurred before with larger dogs as well.


I don't know if she's doing this out of aggression or fear, and like I said, it's not a constant. I typically shorten up the leash when we go by other dogs anyway and now I become a little bit tense because I am anticipating what her reaction may be. When she starts growling and lunging, I pull back on her and say "no" or "knock it off" and try to get her to keep walking. The owners of the other dogs often make some commentary about how Shuffler must not like their dog - and she's all black, so we have that stigma going for us too.


After all of that text, I guess my question is, am I responding appropriately to the situation by pulling up on the leash, telling her "no" and trying to move on? Or should I give her a "stop" command (which she'll do and stand there until I start going again) when I see another dog approaching and wait for them to pass? Or turn and walk in the other direction? Like I said, Shuffler and I have only been together for a short time and I want walks to be enjoyable for both of us, but it has started to become very frustrating and makes me a bit anxious. Any suggestions are appreciated.

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Peggy will sometimes do that to medium and large dogs with conflicting body language but without her hackles going up. Her bark is more of a 'roar' which with Greys is part of having fun and initiating a rough chase. What she really will not tolerate are Border Collies going down flat and putting the evil eye on her. Her hackles are still down but her tail can be straight, so she's ready for trouble. I just say 'No!' and walk on. Just letting a little of the tension off the lead can help, just a tiny bit as you don't want lunging. You can put your dog on the other side too, but then they know why you just did that.

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We've had Sweep for three years and she's still this way with many (non-greyhound) dogs we see on our walks. We've had some success with "watch me/look at me" training and carrying treats with us on walks. The trick is to distract them before they cross their tolerance threshold into lunging/barking. Often it's easier to just avoid other dogs altogether, so we will change course if we see one up ahead. That reduces anxiety for both hound and human. :)

Edited by ramonaghan


Rachel with littermates Doolin and Willa, feline rivals Tootie and Richard, and squatter cats Crumpet and Fezziwig.
Always missing gentlemen kitties Mud and Henry, and our beautiful, feisty, silly

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What has worked for Gilly is me being very aware of any other dogs in the area and alerting him to their presence before he can get worked up. We will cross the street or change directions to keep a comfortable distance between the dogs.

In a very cheery voice I also assure him everything is fine and all is good. I sometimes point out something about the other dog: i.e. ‘oh look at the cute coat that puppy is wearing’ or something equally silly. When he doesn’t react I generally say ‘easy peasy, slice of (insert changing names of) cheesie!). I also treat and praise him liberally for not reacting. Gilly has gone from a whirling, barking, lunging dervish at the mere sight of one dog to being able to tolerate multiple sightings in a long walk.

I try to keep the leash loose and not telegraph my concerns to him — the keeping my feelings to myself was the hardest. The more relaxed he is the more relaxed I am and vice versa, so it becomes a win-win situation.

Also try not to let your pup stare for more than 3 seconds. It gives the dog a chance to see what is up but not the plan world domination! Look at me or touch are good distractions, or even placing yourself to block the sight line.

As a friend of mine who is a trainer says “patience, praise, and practice”.

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A month isn't long. You need to find out if you have a truly dog aggressive and not small dog safe Grey (your adoption group can help you with this) or is it just that your Grey has no experience with other breeds and her insecurity leads her to adopt an aggressive defense when she encounters the unfamiliar. If you can take her on walks with other breeds of all shapes and sizes that may be the best strategy. Not easy to arrange but worth a try. She needs to have the opportunity to see that nothing bad ever happens with other breeds. Having another confident Grey along is also helpful.

Edited by KickReturn
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