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Incredible Aggression to Only Some Dogs


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Hello everybody,

Stanley my 6 y/o has sporadically demonstrated the following behavior for as long as I can remember but it seems to be getting worse. 

Some dogs he sees from a distance and his body language is soft and happy. If I let him get close to said dog and assuming the other dog is well behaved, they will sniff each other and move on. 

Some dogs he sees (and probably a majority) he stiffens, hair stands up and he gets an extremely angry tail wag. Then cue the barking and growling. Even worse, if we are walking he will pull to the point that he is choking himself. This happens until the other dog is out of sight. 

I have looked for patterns, small vs. big, M vs. F, fixed vs. intact and there seems to be no consistency. 

Say Stanley broke away from the lead during one of these episodes I trust it would get ugly. 

I'm sure the only way to temper this behavior is through some sort of training, but I don't know that I am skilled enough to pull it off. 

Does anyone have insight on what may be going on here and if they have had success with changing the behavior? 

Thanks as always for your help! 

 

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Others who are more experienced will probably have other suggestions, but have you tried a quick tug on the lead, not a constant pull, and a very firm NO as soon as he notices the other dog and keep on walking?

Grace used to have a keen interest in cats but using this method she only now looks but doesn't try and chase them.

Grace (Ardera Coleen) born 18 June 2014
Raced at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton UK - 68 Races, 9 wins, 5 second places
Gotcha Day 10 June 2018 

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A few years ago my boy Star (now at the bridge) was the same way. I took a class for reactive dogs and it helped me hugely.  I went to one by Emma Parsons, who I think is great.   Her basis was working with your dog, with high quality treats, at the very first sign of any reaction - not waiting until he is barking/lounging. She published a book "Click to Calm".  If you check it out, don't get turned off when you see it's for working with aggressive dogs.  (Star was not aggressive in any situation except as you describe with your dog.) Her methods  worked for me with Star. If you can find a trainer (positive methods) in your area I think that would be very helpful.   

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I am a working K9 handler. 99.9% of our training and opinions are that once a dog is truly dog aggressive he will be that way his whole life.  It is pointless to try and change him.  The main thing it comes from is that said dog was at some point in his life attacked by another dog. From that point on they themselves become dog aggressive-even though they were not before.  This is one of the reasons that it infuriates me when irresponsible people let their rogue dogs run loose and then they attack an innocent dog being leash walked etc.  because it can turn a quiet social dog into a seriously dog aggressive dog just from that one occurrence.  It can also come from people letting puppies play too soon and too rough with adult dogs.  If that pup gets 'hurt' (bite/foot stepped on etc.) JUST ONCE it can make him dog aggressive his entire life.  I don't have to tell you the implications of that and IMO it is a tragic occurrence.  Your dog was most likely attacked at some point and as a result he is now dog aggressive.  It is NOT his fault. He did nothing wrong and is doing nothing wrong.  HE is the victim here. Now, it is a management issue for you but not a training issue for him as the damage is done.  This is what our trainers have taught us and what experience has shown us. Just want you to know the truth as it would most likely be an exercise in futility to try and change that behavior now. The genie is out of the bottle.

Edited by racindog
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Sweep used to do this and we have successfully managed it with the command "look at me" (or "watch me" if you prefer). I always carry a bag of treats on walks and as soon as I see another dog in the distance I will hold the treat up to my face while saying "look at me" and that distracts her long enough to get us safely past. I still allow a wide berth if possible, stepping off the sidewalk and putting several feet between the dogs. She now looks for her treat as soon as she sees another dog. (Of course this will only work if your dog is sufficiently food motivated.) I don't take the chance anymore of whether she will be okay with a dog or not; we just avoid them all unless they're other greyhounds, which she's always happy to see. 

I would also suggest switching to a harness if he's pulling to the point of choking. Sweep used to do that and a chiropractor recommended that we switch. The Freedom No-Pull Harness is a good one. 

 

Edited by ramonaghan

17369590311_3d5eeef92f.jpg

Rachel with Sweep and kitties Olive and Momo.
Always missing my boys Mud and
Henry

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2 hours ago, racindog said:

I am a working K9 handler. 99.9% of our training and opinions are that once a dog is truly dog aggressive he will be that way his whole life.  It is pointless to try and change him.  The main thing it comes from is that said dog was at some point in his life attacked by another dog. From that point on they themselves become dog aggressive-even though they were not before.  This is one of the reasons that it infuriates me when irresponsible people let their rogue dogs run loose and then they attack an innocent dog being leash walked etc.  because it can turn a quiet social dog into a seriously dog aggressive dog just from that one occurrence.  It can also come from people letting puppies play too soon and too rough with adult dogs.  If that pup gets 'hurt' (bite/foot stepped on etc.) JUST ONCE it can make him dog aggressive his entire life.  I don't have to tell you the implications of that and IMO it is a tragic occurrence.  Your dog was most likely attacked at some point and as a result he is now dog aggressive.  It is NOT his fault. He did nothing wrong and is doing nothing wrong.  HE is the victim here. Now, it is a management issue for you but not a training issue for him as the damage is done.  This is what our trainers have taught us and what experience has shown us. Just want you to know the truth as it would most likely be an exercise in futility to try and change that behavior now. The genie is out of the bottle.

@racindog this is interesting insight, but how do you explain that he is only reactive to some dogs? For instance he loves my sisters Pomeranian, he was ok with my neighbors husky and he absolutely detested my neighbors doberman. 

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I second the use of a harness. It makes it much easier to control your dog in any situation that you want to remove him from. I also read that if the dog chokes himself by pulling when he sees another dog, he will begin to associate other dogs with being choked and may react to them. It’s a vicious circle.

We have also had some success with our reactive dog by first training him to look to us when another dog comes near (we had unwittingly started training him to do this by making a noise when we gave him a treat, so we could just make that noise to get his attention). Eventually we could get closer to other dogs and then give him a treat and lots of praise when we had a good encounter. So now he associates being nice to other dogs with a treat and looks for a treat when he’s been good. I still wouldn’t trust him near a bull terrier and he really doesn’t care for dogs with ‘herding’ personalities, but our walks are much less stressful. I just accept that there are some dogs that he will never like, just as there are some people that I would prefer to avoid!

Living with Buddy Molly b. 5 November 2010. Welcomed home 16/6/2018 ❤️

Won 17/112 races at Romford - our champion Essex boy

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/8/2020 at 7:32 AM, racindog said:

I am a working K9 handler. 99.9% of our training and opinions are that once a dog is truly dog aggressive he will be that way his whole life.  It is pointless to try and change him.  The main thing it comes from is that said dog was at some point in his life attacked by another dog. From that point on they themselves become dog aggressive-even though they were not before.  This is one of the reasons that it infuriates me when irresponsible people let their rogue dogs run loose and then they attack an innocent dog being leash walked etc.  because it can turn a quiet social dog into a seriously dog aggressive dog just from that one occurrence.  It can also come from people letting puppies play too soon and too rough with adult dogs.  If that pup gets 'hurt' (bite/foot stepped on etc.) JUST ONCE it can make him dog aggressive his entire life.  I don't have to tell you the implications of that and IMO it is a tragic occurrence.  Your dog was most likely attacked at some point and as a result he is now dog aggressive.  It is NOT his fault. He did nothing wrong and is doing nothing wrong.  HE is the victim here. Now, it is a management issue for you but not a training issue for him as the damage is done.  This is what our trainers have taught us and what experience has shown us. Just want you to know the truth as it would most likely be an exercise in futility to try and change that behavior now. The genie is out of the bottle.

thank you so much for this.  We have sisters, 8yo.  Always sweet as can be and still are with ALL humans, even humans I'd prefer they be more cool toward.  Recently both have begun to show real anger at some dogs on our walks, dogs they used to pass without a notice now cause them to bark, pull and lunge.  They get each other riled up tremendously.  The more alpha one WAS attacked by three off leash dogs on our regular walk about six months ago. It is now on our regular walks where they exhibit this behavior.  it's sad that there may be no cure but it is sure satisfying to learn (perhaps) why they have started acting this way.








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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/26/2020 at 10:14 AM, mikefc said:

thank you so much for this.  We have sisters, 8yo.  Always sweet as can be and still are with ALL humans, even humans I'd prefer they be more cool toward.  Recently both have begun to show real anger at some dogs on our walks, dogs they used to pass without a notice now cause them to bark, pull and lunge.  They get each other riled up tremendously.  The more alpha one WAS attacked by three off leash dogs on our regular walk about six months ago. It is now on our regular walks where they exhibit this behavior.  it's sad that there may be no cure but it is sure satisfying to learn (perhaps) why they have started acting this way.

Yes it is very sad! That is one of the reasons that people that let trash dogs run loose infuriate me so.  They can literally ruin another dogs entire life with regards to sociability after an attack.  But never forget it is not your dogs fault. Your dog was victimized and the new terrible behavior is a result of the bad dogs irresponsible humans that let him run loose and victimize other dogs. The penalties for letting dogs run loose need to be substancially increased to reflect the seriousness of it.

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On 1/8/2020 at 10:30 AM, busfrsr100 said:

@racindog this is interesting insight, but how do you explain that he is only reactive to some dogs? For instance he loves my sisters Pomeranian, he was ok with my neighbors husky and he absolutely detested my neighbors doberman. 

As a K9 handler my first thought would be that we'd  'have to ask him'.  Sometimes we cannot determine their exact triggers.

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