Is he fear-aggressive and what can I do?? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Is he fear-aggressive and what can I do??

Zeke was always a very sociable puppy, but when he was about 10-11 months old he started to change. He has become a pretty dominant alpha male, but was always very well-mannered with other dogs and more submissive. I knew that might change as he got older, and it's gotten to the point where I don't trust him off leash with other dogs. I used to take him to the dog park, and he never had a bad encounter, nor was he a trouble maker. I haven't taken him since he was about 10 months, since I started noticing his dominant behavior.

I would like to bring another dog into the family, but I'm afraid Zeke will be too fixated on dominating it and fighting with it. Yesterday my mom brought over her sweet, female, fixed, whippet mix and they played well for about five minutes, but then things escalated. I think Zeke starts to feel scared that the dog is trying to hurt him and he gets defensive. They were running and playing, but she started to nip at him in a playful way and he immediately became uneasy. She never actually nipped him, it was only an "air-nip" :P He just takes things the wrong way it seems.

The last few encounters with dogs have gone poorly and I'm very concerned. I want to bring in a female puppy, in hopes that Zeke won't feel threatened. I'm currently considering an Irish Setter or a Spinone, but have an open mind. He has done well with puppies, but the interaction was limited. Do you think he just needs more play time with friendly dogs so he can be less skeptical of their intentions? Or do you think he's not ready for a dog buddy? He has always hated rough-housing with dogs, but he does enjoy playing chase. Oh, and he will be 14 months old in a week.

Mara

<span style="color: red">Markos Ezekiel vom Spartanville (Zeke)- Born July 2008</span>
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 01:09 PM
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Re: Is he fear-aggressive and what can I do??

Hi Mara,
I love Connie's dogs so don't be surprised that I enjoy watching your Zeke growing up by reading your posts. What confuses me is that you call him dominant alpha male and then fear aggressive because just from the limited info you provided I see neither. Could you explain a little more how his dominant behaviour or his aggressive or fearful behaviour manifest itself?

Dog has the right not to love all other dogs, and I wouldn't be concerned if he doesn't want to tolerate 'playful sweet nipping'. Also remember that it's your job to put a stop to any game if he feels uncomfortable.


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 01:12 PM
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Re: Is he fear-aggressive and what can I do??

Rather than a puppy I would try and find another dog that is neutral. I always introduce my puppies to other dogs that won't give them the time of day. This allows them to build their confidence around dogs and satisfy their curiosity. Puppies can be very "in-your-face" and some dogs really don't like their bad manners. You have to be careful because your dog could be the "traumatic experience" in that pup's life.

I also don't feel that strange dogs should play together. My dogs all get along very well in my house and that is what I ask of them but I don't expect them to play with strange dogs and change their pack rank based on who I see that day. I do expect them to ignore strange dogs and be polite.

What makes you say that he is acting dominant? What does his posture look like? You would handle dominance and fear aggression in different ways. Dominance fights that I've seen usually start off in the greeting- they come in frontally and square, heads up, and tails up. And then someone tries to slide their head a little higher, or makes more eye contact, and there you go. Dog fight.

What you're describing sounds more like he got overwhelmed and was saying in the only way he knew how "ENOUGH, BACK OFF". I'd find a dog to work with that let's him invite play and set the pace.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Is he fear-aggressive and what can I do??

I believe Zeke has an alpha mentality not based on his interactions with this dog, but based on his behavior with me and some other dogs. I think I have posted about his behavior before, but it would take pages to explain again!

One example of his dominant behavior with dogs would be last week, when I took him to my sister's house. My sister was dogsitting a fixed male cocker spaniel. They met on a loose leash and seemed to be ok. Although Zeke does tend to go in chest out, head high, tail high when meeting some dogs. After their initial meet and greet, they ignored each other so I thought it might be a good time to play off leash. Within a couple minutes the other dog put his paw on top of Zeke's back, and then Zeke did the same to him. Zeke's hackles went up and they both took an aggressive stance. They were clearly about to escalate so I separated them at that point.

I would agree that with my mom's whippet mix, he was saying "Back Off". He doesnt enjoy that type of playing, it makes him uncomfortable. But the way he dealt with it was a bit extreme. And I wouldnt really say that he's fear aggressive, that was bad wording. It just seems like when he's around some dogs, he gets nervous like he thinks they want to start something and then he ends up starting something. He seems scared because he gets jumpy when they make a sudden move, his hackles go up, he won't take his eyes off of them, and he gets ready to nip them should they get their mouth get to close to him. It's really tough to explain in writing.

I know I have to find a dog that is naturally more submissive and neutral. I have been visiting the shelters too, that's definitely a possibility.

I guess I want to know if any of you have had experiences like this with your dog, and if he/she was able to live happily with a new dog in the family.

Mara

<span style="color: red">Markos Ezekiel vom Spartanville (Zeke)- Born July 2008</span>
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 03:49 PM
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Re: Is he fear-aggressive and what can I do??

I can only tell you what happened to me. I have a very dominate female who is also fear aggressive. I brought in Balto when he was 12 weeks old. They all got introduced through the crate bars on a 10 hour ride home from the airport. My female was very cautious for the first couple of days, but then she was fine. She never tried to bite him, but would only try to sniff him.

I'd go ahead and do it and don't allow them together for the first few days, and then just limited interaction while the puppy is in the "annoying puppy" stage.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-11-2009, 04:08 PM
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Re: Is he fear-aggressive and what can I do??

I know that you know your dog the best since you interact with him every day but sometimes it's nice to have an objective assessment from outsite competent trainer. Also it's really important to remember that we are not with out dog just to observe but to be proactive. I had a fear aggressive female and I brought a puppy home, she was determined to kill the puppy but after two weeks she started tolerating him. Lots of crating and rotating and 100% supervision, separate one on one times, separate walks, plays, socializing, classes for well over a half a year until they got along (they still prefered to play with me and not with each other).

Quote:
Originally Posted By: MLou
One example of his dominant behavior with dogs would be last week, when I took him to my sister's house. My sister was dogsitting a fixed male cocker spaniel. They met on a loose leash and seemed to be ok. Although Zeke does tend to go in chest out, head high, tail high when meeting some dogs. After their initial meet and greet, they ignored each other so I thought it might be a good time to play off leash. Within a couple minutes the other dog put his paw on top of Zeke's back, and then Zeke did the same to him. Zeke's hackles went up and they both took an aggressive stance. They were clearly about to escalate so I separated them at that point.
I wonder what did you expect your pup to do, roll over? He didn't start anything, he asserted himself, it's not a dominant behaviour. I would be in front of the spaniel the moment he put a paw on my pup.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: MLou
It just seems like when he's around some dogs, he gets nervous like he thinks they want to start something and then he ends up starting something. <span style="color: #FF6600">More socializing without interacting with dogs would be helpful.</span> He seems scared because he gets jumpy when they make a sudden move,<span style="color: #FF6600"> turn around this moment </span>his hackles go up, he won't take his eyes off of them <span style="color: #FF6600">remove him from the situation immediately now without a word</span>, and he gets ready to nip them should they get their mouth get to close to him <span style="color: #FF6600">why is he still there, left to deal with the situation that is obviously way too overwhelming? </span>


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