Can prey drive toward other dogs be corrected?
I adopted my dog about a year ago. Some of you know her story and have commented on my threads already: got her as an adult, shelter blatantly lied to me about her history, didn't know what I was doing, she attacked another dog in an off-leash hiking area, commence behavior modification. Well, she has made some really awesome progress from being reactive to all dogs to being selectively reactive to really obnoxious dogs that are too close to her (which almost never happens). I've taken her through three classes and she is very well-trained on leash now. Off-leash she is also perfectly behaved unless another dog is around, then she just loses her mind. So we don't do that.
I guess I'm wondering what to do about her prey drive towards smaller dogs. There is an element of insecure aggression here too, but it manifests itself with small dogs as prey drive. With big dogs, she seems to play nicely if they know each other already. I don't want to take a chance on having her play with anyone smaller than 50 lbs at this point. I have been able to introduce her to small dogs without incident if we take them on a walk together first and give lots of treats, but when dogs just appear out of nowhere, it's another story. Despite heeling nicely and doing what I say, she will not stop staring at them and I know what's going through her head: it's the exact same body language displayed when she wants to go after a rabbit. I know if she were off-leash she would attack them in a heartbeat. She will air snap if other dogs get too close and is dead silent the whole time.
Can this sort of behavior be cured? Or is this just the sort of case where I have to keep her in situations where we will never run into small off-leash dogs? I have some precautions (martingale collar, prong) that I use, but I can't control what other people do. I am going to be taking her to proof obedience next to an agility class so she can get desensitized to the movement. It seems like the only safe way to do things.
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