I think I may have noticed something with Kaiser and I wanted to run it by you more knowledgeable types
Kaiser will get all huffy puffy on our walks too, but we rarely encounter dogs that way (only occasionally). Most of this behavior occurs at the dog park on the RARE occasion that other people show up. As some of you know, the dog park I go to is not heavily used and the people who do show up don't do so on any sort of schedule (at least not during the winter months). So, I'll use his behavior at the park for my following post.
It seems, in my opinion, that Kaiser initially reacts to a dog (not ALL dogs, but quite a few) in two different ways:
Way 1 (most dogs): Growling and/or huffing and puffing then barking following by throwing out his chest (who's the baddest dog now kind of attitude), raised hackles, charging the fence or pulling to the end of the leash.
Way 2 (only a few dogs): Apparent serious attempt to "get into it" with the dog. Much more aggressive in his behavior. Starts with the above but very quickly escalates to almost an utter hatred for the other dog.
So, how I deal with the first scenario is this: If we are going TO the park and there are already dogs there, we do obedience up to the gate and he MUST show indifference to the other dogs (or at least a diminished level) before he is allowed in. If we are already in the park and a dog comes up to it, I try to distract Kaiser with the ball, frisbee, or whatever I have to get his attention away from the dog.
With this, it seems I am able to get Kaiser back under the threshold for reactivity. Once he realizes the new dog isn't going to challenge him, steal me or Dakota away, or whatever his reasoning was to at all big and bad to begin with, he is absolutely cool with playing.
For the second situation, I literally have to drag Kaiser away from the other dog and put him in time out before he calms down. Nothing else I do, aside from putting hands on him, will break him out of his aroused state. In other words, that threshold has been completely breached and he is so worked up that nothing else I say or do will snap him out of it.
My first question is this: What has spurred his reaction with some dogs and not others? (It used to just be dominant, aggressive males...now he reacts to most dogs)
Second question: What KIND of aggression am I dealing with? Two different kinds? It seems like the most prevalent form (scenario one) is fast acting but goes away once he gets calmed down. He is able to then play with that same dog he initially reacted to. The second scenario is a no holds barred reaction and he will only act sensible after quite a bit of time has passed and if I don't allow him back near the other dog. For example, a white dog attacked him a few weeks ago because he was "protecting his owner" (so claims the owner). Kaiser saw this same dog come to the park a few days ago and absolutely blew a gasket when they came to the fence. They went to the adjoining park (for small dogs, even though the dog wasnt small) and Kaiser FINALLY settled down (after a time out) after about 10 minutes of watching the other dog play fetch. I did do some leash work when they left, walking Kaiser by the dog hoping to desensitize him (and working on "leave it")...which worked somewhat (he still growled) but I think he was so tired from playing that his initial knee-jerk reaction was muted.
Third question: How do I deal with this and how do I learn more about his thresholds?
Gosh that was long and probably a bit scatter-brained. Please let me know if I need to clarify anything. Thanks!