Dog Aggression

POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:03 pm

So, before I say anything else, let me just say that the dog I have is perfectly under my control, he's extremely well trained and well behaved besides the one problem, he know's I'm boss, and he can't get out of his pen in the backyard because it's locked whenever he is left alone. He's a perfectly happy dog, and he has no problems listening to me.

So what I want to figure out is this, my dog has a small problem with aggression towards other dogs. He never just goes up to another dog to attack them on his own accord, but if another dog gets in his face he goes for the hard bite. He's never had an incident under my watch, because I have a good reaction time and can read his body language. I have had him on leash within 2 ft of other dogs being walked with no problem, but with other people, he has gotten into fights.

So, I want to know if anyone has had any experience dealing with dog/dog aggression, how they dealt with it, if what they tried worked, etc. Do you know the best way to deal with this problem? How to desensitize him to other dogs, if it's possible. Any input would be appreciated! <3
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:27 pm

Hi Corrie! I'm not a dog trainer but I've had my deal with that behaviour, and can only offer my experience.

I try to keep their stress at bay by walking them in pairs. That way they have a familiar face to distract them when they get near other dogs, especially if the other dog is more sociable. One of my dogs is outright aggressive towards big ones, so I brig a tamer female with him to keep him at bay.

Also, they tend to stress a lot near busy streets. We solved this by walking them out at home sparsely and instead bring them to a forest trail every so often for heavier exercise. No dogs, lots of space to run, we all love it.

Now, a tidbit of information. It is much easier to teach a dog to do something than to stop it from doing something. Maybe you could teach him to grab a toy or a bone in his mouth when he sees other dogs, or make him sit and reward him so much that he forgets he was even angry at this other dog. Again, not a dog trainer, but it's worth trying? :/ A vet could probably help!
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:53 pm

I'm not a dog trainer but I have a very dog aggressive bodercollie and have taken her to several classes.
Read a book called click to calm very good read.
An obedient listening dog does not have time to be aggressive. (This is probably why you do not have the same issues with him as others) our trainer works with very aggressive dogs and had a few herself. She can only say this that a dog who listens doesn't have time to react.
I have a small pack of three dogs and two of which from time to time fight. While once engaged, you need to break them up if you see the cue before hand you can end it before it starts. Once a fight starts they can't and don't hear you.
I highly suggest target training and teaching those who deal with him target training. Their way if you see a dog or something that will cause an aggressive response coming you ask them to touch your hand do a trick something . This forces their attention on you allowing the agitation to pass without them reacting.
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:58 pm

My rescue Border Collie was extremely reactive when we first got her and is now perfectly fine playing off lead at the park with other dogs.

We worked with a trainer to put a plan in place for her which was mainly Behaviour Adjustment Training (BAT), so you might want to give that a search?

I'm reluctant to give practical advice over the internet, I really think you need a trainer who can actually see your dog and how he reacts.. but I will say it was very important that we kept Kizzy under threshold which meant avoiding "unknown" dogs for a long time and working at a distance where she felt comfortable (her reactivity was fear based). Gradually we were able to get closer to other dogs (we played the Look At That game a lot, whereby if she saw another dog in the distance and didn't react we would reward her, but timing was really important) and as I say she's fine with the vast majority of dogs now.

You could also look up Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt as I know a lot of people have had success following the exercises in that book/DVD.
Click To Calm is meant to be good, but I haven't read it personally.

I'd agree that if your dog is focusing on you and perhaps given something to do (a trick, a hand target, a sit, anything that is incompatible with "kicking off" at another dog) that you can then reward, that can help.

My Corgi is fine with other dogs unless they get in his face, so I put him in a sit or a down when other dogs approach and then reward him. Kizzy has the BC "eye" so I tend to ask her to do something that means she can't stare at the other dog. A hand target (nose touch to the hand) is a good one to teach.
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:02 pm

I am not a dog trainer either.

I have been attempting to work with my mother's extremely anxious and fearful pitbull who has developed dog-aggressive anxiety. He is naturally willful and distrustful of people and won't listen to commands when he doesn't want to.

You mention training him to do something at the time of seeing another dog/nearing approach. My dog goes over threshold like immediately. How do I get his attention quickly enough to train him to do something? He won't listen to any commands the moment another dog enters the vicinity and all I can do is keep him moving on or remove him from the area. Not to mention he does not trust anyone enough to obey commands he knows well once something makes him anxious.

Sorry to add on to the topic and not offer any advice myself! I am just also interested in techniques to try to help curb dog aggression.

*edit* woops! Didn't see Rat's post before posting. I will deffo check out those books! Sadly I am not in an area replete with dog trainers/behaviorists so it hasn't been easy finding help, and I want to try to help him myself too! Rat, I would love to hear in detail what steps you took with your collie, cause those issues sound similar to my own dog's. Thanks!!!
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:44 pm

Thank you all for sharing your experiences, I really appreciate it <3

It's funny you guys all feel the need to begin with "I'm not a dog trainer" xD I actually have a certificate in basic obedience training and I've participated in training sessions with an extremely reactive fearful dog. The dog I got was housed at the school that I went to for the training course, because it had a kennel downstairs and I had been working with him nearly every day for the full 10 weeks.

San, basically, what I've learned is in order to gain the trust of an anxious dog, you really have to change the way you project yourself. You have to be calm, non-threatening, and also dominant in the dogs eyes. When you're training the dog without distraction, you need to make it so the dog know there is no choice in the matter whether or not he obeys the command. Don't be afraid of utilizing the leash as a corrective tool, but also give plenty of praise and rewards after the dog completes the action(even if correction was used to get him to do it)

So once the dog is really well trained without distractions, you need to ad the distractions (very slowly). Before that happens, train the dog to make eye contact with you, by holding a piece of food up by your face and giving it as a reward each time eye contact is made, if they dont look, give a little pop on the leash to get their attention, and just train them to do that really well.

Eventually, you'll have to move on to rewarding the dog for being unreactive around another dog (so you may need an assistant with another very calm and unreactive dog). You have to get them close enough to the point where your dog is just becoming alert/reactive, and literally wait until he stops and then reward him when he stops and have the other person walk away e~e it takes a long long time but it should desensitize your dog into being calm enough to start training in the vicinity of another dog ^^ hope it helps~

My dog is very calm, he just uh.. doesnt like other dogs in his personal space, at all >_> He's calm enough to the point where I used him to help another extremely reactive dog to get used to training in the same room as him
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POSTED: Thu Jun 16, 2016 6:13 pm

Our bordercollie came from a shelter, she was a puppy mill dog and had little socialization. While she is fantastic with humans I do not trust her around other dogs. I have brought her many places and she has actually been attacked to the point I had to fend off dogs as owners just watched me struggle to free her.
She's a great dog, so we work around everything and life works and accidents happen but I can't count on her not being put down or dumped giving her to someone else or a shelter.
We are at the point where reactions really only happen with dogs that come at her. We can ignore just about anything else. (I swear one day my neighbors dog might get eaten) she has it out for little dogs that charge at her and I always have to stop the over dog in its tracks.
Everyone started out a little insane But we learn pretty quick how to fake it for the game
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POSTED: Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:39 pm

I just wanna say I went and finally bought the Control Unleashed book, and even just reading the first 50 pages has been completely eye-opening to my dog's behaviour and I am really excited to start getting into the exercises! Definitely worth it!! Thank you Rat for the recommendation! :D
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POSTED: Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:21 pm

At the risk of sounding crazy I recommend an animal communication expert (Nancy Windheart is a prominent example but there are many others). They aren't a joke or a scam, it's a legitimate skill that has helped countless people and animals. I don't have any personal experience doing sessions with any of these people, but I have spent a lot of time researching and learning about it. I haven't dedicated myself to learning it (yet) because it takes commitment to master the art of animal communication, but I dabbled briefly in it and was mind blown from the get-go.

Anyway, it's a viable option if you have the means to use it. Otherwise I wish you the best of luck with your pup!
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