Help: Aggression with puppies (long)
Two days ago I took Kaiser and Dakota to the dog park. As many of you who have followed Kaiser's exploits may know, this is a very rarely used park even though it is the ONLY off leash fenced-in area. Most people just let their dogs loose on the beach. As expected, nobody was around when we arrived so the dogs were unleashed and sent to play. After about 30 minutes a lady with a small mutt showed up. I leashed Kaiser, walked him to the other end of the park, and initiated obedience. After the dog had entered the park and about 10 minutes had gone by, I began to play fetch with Kaiser again. He knew the dog was there, ran by him numerous times, and stopped briefly to get a "drive-by" sniff. No issues whatsoever.
About 20 minutes later, another dog shows up. This time, a 14 week old chocolate lab puppy. Again, I took Kaiser to the other end of the park, and he was doing well with his heeling and sits and semi-ok with his focus. All of a sudden the puppy comes barreling toward us and Kaiser flips out. As he was on-lead with his pinch collar, I was able to control him...but he was going ballistic. I know the pinch collar was making the situation worse by increasing his aggression after he reacted, but it was either put the pressure on the collar to prevent him from going after the puppy or, well, allowing an attack to occur.
To share my reaction: I walked Kaiser away as calmly as I could each time the puppy changed directions and got closer. The puppy had NO clue what Kaiser's reaction meant and the closer it got the more pissed off Kaiser became. The lady was finally able to get a hold of her puppy and walked him away. The small older dog that was there also ran over to check things out. He bayed a few times but showed no aggressive reaction (he looked more curious). Kaiser tried once to redirect on that dog (who would not return to its owner, despite her pleas for him to come) so I asked my fiance to pick him up and move him away from us. About 10 minutes later, after I continued to work Kaiser with sits, downs, heeling, and focus, we were able to move closer to the puppy (who had been moved into the APPROPRIATE small dog area) without Kaiser reacting. Kaiser was able to settle (laying down calmly) about 8 feet from the fence that separated the large and small dog area. I let Dakota in with the puppy because she is stable and a wonderful role model for puppies and Kaiser watched the two of them play without reacting.
After about 20 minutes, I released Kaiser and he went into play mode. Ears forward, tail happy wagging (not stiff or slow), making his play wimper noises. He did one of his infamous 180s, going from kill mode to I want to play mode. Of course, I did not allow him in with the puppy and Dakota.
The lady was apparently a dog trainer and told me that she was impressed with how I handled Kaiser throughout the incident. She said that she felt that that there was hope for Kaiser and that, in her opinion, he was trying to protect me.
This is something that I've considered and talked with my current trainer about. I just don't understand, however, what is basis for reaction is...as it is NOT consistent from dog to dog. He has quite a few doggy pals who he gets along wonderfully with. Puppies, however, he seems to have a violent reaction to. He sometimes reacts to large dogs, sometimes small. Sometimes he wants to play. Sometimes he's indifferent. Its frustrating!
The puppy thing though...no dog should try to hurt a puppy. I understand that some adults don't prefer puppies, but Kaiser's reaction is wholly inappropriate considering the puppy is not a threat in any way. I understand trying to walk away, maybe baring teeth or other posturing to tell the puppy to hit the road, but blowing up into full-out attack mode is horrible.
He has done this before...at the training center. A golden retriever puppy was inside the pen rolling around submissively to EVERY dog that walked by. I had Kaiser on lead (loose) working on some obedience outside of the fence. When we walked by, the puppy belly crawled over to sniff at Kaiser and Kaiser snapped. Ugh. The trainer said Kaiser had a screw loose (this was several months ago).
Just a little more about his behavior:
Kaiser and Dakota eat next to each other. In fact, they oftentimes try to switch bowls or eat out of a bowl together. No issues there. I can take bones away from Kaiser. Dakota can take bones away from Kaiser (and vice versa). But on several occasions, maybe 3 or 4, the CAT has walked toward Dakota or Kaiser's food bowl (that still had food in it) and Kaiser started to growl and stare her down. He got crated immediately for that each time. So, ok, he's resource guarding kibble from the cat (and yet the cat will drink out of the same water bowl, at the same time, as Kaiser). Also, Kaiser tries to chase and play with the cat all. the. time. His chasing, while totally annoying, is not the result of him trying to hurt the cat. He literally wants to play with her, chew on her, lick her ears, and then chase her some more. If I tell him to stop, he generally will, but you can tell its hard for him to contain himself. So...maybe that prey drive is kicking in for the chasing...but again, he's not trying to hurt her.
Ugh. At least the two ladies at the park were understanding of the situation with Kaiser, but I really do try to go when nobody else is around. He NEEDS the space to run and exercise, and I can only go early in the morning or sometime after work. Mental exercise isn't enough to wear him out physically and he gets restless after too many days of inactivity.
Anyway, thoughts on this puppy crap? Yes, I can manage his contact "in the real world" with other dogs as best I can (aside from on walks and at the park) but this NEEDS to be addressed because there will be another puppy (many years down the road) while he is still here.
some dogs dont like puppies. some do. some dogs are DS- Dog Selective- they like some dogs and dont like other dogs. you never know which dog they will like or not like.. its not the end of the world, its just the way he is.. you can manage it and keep training like you are doing and dont beat yourself up over it.... (i have a DS dog here that has to be managed, i know his triggers and for the most part what type of dogs he likes and what he doesnt - he prefers calm dogs who are not spastic and hyper and inyourface type dogs.. the calm ones he gets along better with. the other out of control no space inyourface puppy biting jumping rude behavior dogs he doesnt like... he wont make a scene in public, but i know what would happen should the other dog meet him)
keep working on his obedience like you have been- what you have done so far is great work, and keep at it..dont be upset by this incident- its just a bump in the road, and now you know he doesnt like puppies rushing him... its OK .... just keep training him the way you are and teach him to ignore other rude hyper dogs/puppies...
I think you could have left when the second dog showed up.....by that time by your account, your dog had plenty of training and exercise.
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