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I live in a city in Indonesia - in a little gated community where there are several dogs behind fences. We have a bit of a situation that I'm trying to remedy with a large male german shepherd who gets overly worked up around new dogs and can get aggressive. Here's the situation:

Dog number 1:
We got our first dog, Bulan, a few years ago - she was picked up from the street as a puppy and looks a bit like a border collie mix. She is very smart and her number one drive (before delicious treats like roasted chicken) is running free and chasing critters. She still has a bit of a street dog personality. She's a scavenger from her puppy-hood so she loves to roam and find trash to eat and she is quite shy with new people but does fairly well with new dogs. She mostly just ignores them if she doesn't like them. She doesn't like puppies for some reason and she has growled and snapped at them before.

Dog number 2:
We got Atlas (the large male GSD) two years ago, partly because we both love big dogs and grew up with GSD mixes, partly to keep Bulan company, and partly to be a deterrent from robbery and assault (my partner was transferred to another city for work so it's just myself in the house and the area isn't the safest in the world for women). We chose him because he was the calmest of the puppies in the litter of 8. He was 3 months old when we met him. He sat and watched us intently while his litter-mates were going crazy barking and jumping. When we brought him out, he followed us and fetched a stick for us happily. He didn't fuss when picked up.

They meet:
When we brought Atlas home we took him for a little walk with Bulan right away to help them get acquainted on neutral ground. Despite this, Bulan still didn't like him and mostly just ignored him, but on occasion did snap and growl at him. As Atlas and Bulan have been growing up and older together, they get along better, but they still aren't very close. They play well together at times, but still fight a bit on occasion and won't snuggle together at all. Bulan can still be growly if he is in her space or near her food, though she's not as bad as she was when he was a puppy.

The problem behaviors:
Atlas started growling at other dogs on our walks at a pretty young age - just 3-4 months. Another funny thing is that sometimes when we were trying to socialize him with friendly dogs, he wouldn't even growl, he would just lunge at them to bite them (on two occasions he accidentally drew blood on me because i stepped in front of him when he lunged out of the blue to bite another dog who was just sitting there).

To deal with this, I tried just redirecting him by moving him away from the dogs, and when he wasn't growling i gave him treats. I tried to make every experience he had with other dogs positive and only let him close to the friendly ones, but on our walks we inevitably would have to pass by some fences where some pretty aggressive dogs were barking and growling at us. I just tried to move past them quickly and distract him with balls while doing so. There are 5 houses with aggressive dogs on our road, some on each side of us and one directly across the narrow street from us. They've never had direct physical contact with Atlas but they can be scary and some have attacked Bulan before when they got out of the fence.

Despite never having any violent physical contact with other dogs aside from Bulan, he has developed dog aggression that is apparent when he barks and growls and lunges at other dogs (and street cats, and squirrels) if he sees them. However, on two occasions when we took in foster puppies, he was ok with them (we did this when there was no other place for the puppy - it was in an abusive situation, and we introduced them very slowly with scent mingling first). If introduced slowly, he is actually very good with puppies - at least the two we introduced him to. He plays with them, cuddles them and doesn't growl or bite.

My amateur opinion is that his dog aggression is fear-based, but I'm not completely sure, because of the strange occurrences when he silently lunged to bite without warning signs (growling, raised hackles, etc.). We tried a professional trainer before but after a month of him being trained every day, he only got to the point of ignoring one dog that they introduced him to. They used the pinch collar and some treats, but didn't socialize him with multiple dogs like we asked. I would love to try another trainer but we can't really trust them here. I also have a feeling that Bulan is not helping matters because whenever we take the two dogs out together on walks Atlas completely loses focus with her around - his state is heightened and he won't stop pulling on the leash.

There is one community here that does dog pack walks where people can bring their dogs to socialize and walk together. We brought our dogs a couple times (Atlas with a muzzle to be safe) and he was able to cope a bit with some of the dogs if we had some balls or frisbees to distract him, but he still lunged and tried attacking some of them without warning.

Anyone out there have any advice for us? If I lived in the States or other western country that was more dog friendly I would take him to a professional trainer and try to find a place that does socializing well, but we just don't have much of that kind of community here so I'm doing the best I can. I hope I can get him to the point of at least ignoring, if not playing with other dogs. I have hope that he can, based on how he is with puppies. We got him neutered a month ago to try to help the problem (he was 2 years old). Haven't seen a change in behavior yet. We were also trying to use the pinch collar for a while (per the trainer) but have since stopped because I'm not sure if it's the right tool for his particular issues... It does seem to work for quick fixes sometimes, but I'm concerned about the long term
 

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:wub: Atlas is so handsome and Bulan so pretty! As your post mentioned, Atlas seems to act up and be less attentive to you when you are walking both dogs together, so I would suggest if possible to limit those walks and instead walk each separately which would provide a better learning environment for Atlas. I agree with your theory that Atlas's behavior could be fear based, so I would suggest to start with keeping your distance from other dogs. Even if the dogs are behind a fence, don't get close, cross the street. Find the distance that Atlas is comfortable with and then as he keeps doing well, start to get closer. It helps to curve away from the other dog. I would work for Atlas to be calm and not except him to be sociable. It is an excellent point in his favor that he did so well with the foster puppies.
 

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Welcome to the forum, your dogs are gorgeous! Had you asked for advice with this problem when your dog was still a puppy it would have a lot easier, but it's never too late! It's just that (a) puppies are smaller and typically easier to work with, and (b) it's harder to break a habit your dog has been practicing most of its life.

That being said, the answer to most behavioral issues is obedience! If this were my dog I'd focus on teaching him to heel, to "leave it", and work on impulse control. This latter can be taught in many ways, but the simplest in my view are things like not exiting the house or car until released, working on longer and longer duration down stays, and sitting nicely to let you put on the leash before a walk. To learn how to teach your dog any of these things Google Stonnie Dennis on YouTube. He has a ton of videos that show how to teach your dog, and he does a really good job of explaining the process!

My previous dog was a rescue that came to me at 1 1/2 yrs old, and at that point she'd had very very little training, and had never even seen a leash, let alone walked on one. She also was dog reactive onleash at first. But when she was about 3 yrs old, I moved from the country to a big city, so teaching her to heel and to ignore other dogs became a necessity! So we worked hard on all of the things I mentioned above, at home until she had them down pretty solidly, before venturing out into the neighborhood to practice further. For this part of her training I actually sought out places where I knew there would be barking dogs behind fences, to practice. It takes time and patience, but once you get your dog to focus on you and perform commands with a dog or dogs barking at them a few feet away, you're golden!

As for getting your dog to be comfortable around other dogs, that may or may not be possible, all dogs are different. Some just need to learn that they're not a threat and they calm down, others never will. But most dogs can learn to behave around other dogs...given time and patience and consistency!
 
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Oh wow, handsome dogs! Atlas looks so much like my boy.

I grew up in Indonesia myself, and I grew up with dogs ever since I was 4. So I know the situation there, even now, it's hard to find a legitimate, good veterinarian, let alone a dog trainer. Our first family dog was a female Dalmatian that we raised since she was a tiny pup. She was out first and none of us knew how to raise a dog. She was aggressive to everyone except us 5 (my parents, me and my siblings) and 1 caretaker. Looking back, it was our fault because of lack of knowledge and training, and that we raised her to be the 'ultimate guard dog' without knowing how to limit/control her behaviour. And That she was, the ultimate guard dog who only loved her family and no one else, she was also loyal to death. But... If the family isn't around, she was out of control.

I'd agree with you, if Atlas CAN get along with dogs that have been introduced beforehand, then his behaviour might be fear-based. And I do agree with the others, the answer is obedience. Obedience not only train, limit, used as a tool to have our dog under control, but it also boosts their confidence level. Why? Because GSDs LOVE to please their owner! Why are they so obedient? Because they're more than capable! And everytime a GSD obeys his owner, I like to think that they take pride in that and that serves as a motivation for them.

Most dogs in Indonesia, at least in the capital, are guard dogs who the owners let loose in the yard, and is expected to bark when they see someone walk by. Don't let your dog get fixated on that, instead, continue walking and ignore. My pup used to pay attention to other dogs when we walk, but I've trained him the 'Leave it' command and correct him when he gets interested (read their body language too). Now at 17 months, he ignores dogs when we walk.

Same if a dog is walking towards us. From 10 months-14 months my dog would lunge at them. I don't let him anymore. I set boundaries and let him know that it's NOT ok that he does that. Even got to a point where I stop, have him sit and stay, and let the other dog pass by us. After that, I praise and praise.

As for his fights with Bulan, honestly I don't have a lot of experience. When we brought home a golden retriever pup and introduced him to the dalmatian, the dalmatian didn't mind and she became sort of a surrogate mother to him.

Two things I do know is that first, some dogs just don't like other dogs... And some has really low tolerance on them. Second, there might be a trigger for the fights. For example, my dog doesn't like sharing toys with other dogs so whenever he's playing in a group, I don't allow any toy.

Living in a less dog friendly countries is honestly hard. But it's doable. Some parts of Indonesia like Jakarta and Bali, you MIGHT find a good trainer. But I don't know the price range. You can try and ask around and see if there's a professional help that you can use to your advantage.
 
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