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dominent aggression towards puppy

1402 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  abooot99
I have recently posted on my 18 month old dog lunging at another dog at CGC class. Since then, the only other episodes were with another dog in the class constantly trying to lunge at my dog so needless to say, we survived CGC class and he passed without further aggression from him. Thank God. So, at our christmas party last week, my highly trained dog (kindergarden-Advanced and CGC) was out of line and I wanted to strangle him. Here's what happened. We frequently visit my mothers house and her boxer alot. I think he is territorial at her house too- so my aunt got a new puppy GSD- cute 8 month old very petite baby and brought her over. So, stupid me, decided that they should meet outside first so there is no issues indoor. I took him by the collar which was my first mistake because the leash was MIA. Brought him outside when he spotted the pup on a leash fifty feet away in the driveway. He immediatley started growling and barking so I put him in a sit and stay. Then once he settled down in that position, I thought he'd be fine with me just releasing him so they could do the doggy thing and sniff each other and since she seemed so laid back and nonaggressive, I thought he would be fine. Then disaster hit. He went charging over to her with his hackles up and barking like he was going to rip her to shreds (maybe it sounded worse than I thought) and what seemed like he crashed into her and of course this scared the crap out of the poor puppy and the puppy reacted and tried to hide behind her owner. She did growl I think or something because they exchanged snaping at each other. I ran and grabbed him, put him in a sit/stay and walked over to the puppy and patted her. I felt sooo bad. After the initial meet, they ended up loving each othe and played outside all day. He was amazingly patient with her puppy anctics and let her walk all over him and beat up on him. Anyone have any idea of what this behavior was and how I should have better handled it? I have a good idea but I would like to know what everyone thought of this behavior and do I have a vicious dog killer here and how do I train him not to crash into another dog? I felt pretty discouraged.
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Control initial meetings with other dogs 100%. This means on lead. He is a bit reactive and postures at first sight of another dog, so you need to let him know it's YOUR job not his to assess threats and decide who is friend or foe. You cannot do this without a leash. This initial behavior can be damaging to the puppy, and is not fair. At least he relaxed later on.
To me this is almost certainly not dominance aggression. The fact that he got defensive from a distance but later was fine with her says to me that he's afraid of strange dogs. Dominance manifests really differently. Sounds like your dog is reactive and fearful of other dogs, but takes his fear on the offense, which I know is counterintuitive. You would think if they were scared, they'd shy away not lunge towards but for some reason many do exactly what he does. I see this a lot in small dogs but I've got a 90lb foster here who is the same way.

Dominance aggression is very often incorrectly diagnosed with really serious consequences; be very careful of "trainers" and some training books that will encourage you to practice "alpha rolls" or harsh corrections and the like with him when your dog reacts. In all likelihood this will just scare him further and exacerbate the whole situation. A dominance-oriented program like NILIF on the other hand, can still help a dog like yours because it's about helping him understand what is expected of him and that you are in charge - not only of the resources, but also of protecting you both and knowing what's a threat and what's not.

I agree with John 100% that he needs to understand that you are on top of the threat situation so he doesn't need to get upset and that future interactions need to be really carefully controlled - because you could be setting the other dog up to develop a similar fear.

In my experience most dogs can get over this and do very well but when you're dealing with a large dog who could seriously hurt another dog, that certainly makes it harder to do the necessary socializing safely.

If you can do so, I would encourage doing a lot of positive-based obedience in an area where there are other dogs around but where he isn't interacting with any of them so he learns to relax with other dogs, though I guess he's already had this. What's he like normally during obedience class?
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When we pull into the trainers driveway and he sees other dogs, he barks a bit, hackles up or down, not aggressively, just regular. Seems to get excited. I get him out and he may have his hackles up. Then I once tried to stand near the exit with him in a sit/stay while previous class leaves and he was barking a bit, growling a bit and whining alot. But once we settle in class, he is fine and doesn't act up. He is mostly focused on me. He realizes the other dogs are under control and he minds his own business. He did lunge at another dog during one class- I posted anothe thread earlier about that but that was it. He settled down. I don't get why he may be "afraid" of other dogs. I have had him since 8 wks and he has gone to daycare ALOT and has never really had any issues with aggressive dogs. He walks around in class sometimes at the beginning with his tail up but eventually it comes down and he gets comfy enough to roll on his back for a belly rub. It is stange dogs he gets worked up over. AND, for my fiance, he acts pretty calm and doesn't seem aggressive. He can go over his friends house a few times and mingle with their unneutered boxer male or golden female at his brothers house no problem. With me, he is protective, or so it seems.
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Sometimes dogs are just more reactive than others, even without a prior bad experience or reason.
And you mentioned that in your earlier class a dog lunged at him? I've seen some dogs stir up trouble with other dogs and then get snapped at themselves, but still end up being scrared by it. It's like they go in expecting trouble, they create trouble, and then they're like "See?!? I told you it was scary!" Come to think if it, I know kids like that too!

Reading back over your posts, I have a theory - and please don't take this the wrong way or as me blaming you because I mean it to be totally constructive and you sound like a great and very observant dog owner - but it may be that he's picking up on a nervousness vibe with you that he doesn't get from your fiance and that's coming down the leash and making him more nervy with other dogs when it's just the two of you.

Is it possible when you get to class some part of you is going "Oh geez! Here we go! I hope he's going to act ok!" and then once you get in and get settled you relax so so does he?

I have noticed that some of my dogs/fosters are WAY more likely to get into scraps with each other or act up with my husband than with me. With him they sense that he's a little nervous and worried and that makes them a little nervous and worried; with me it's like "Oh, mom's the biggest baddest dog in town. She's got it covered. I can go back to sleep."
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Puprescq, I totally know what you mean and am not offended in any way. I definately think he senses my nerves as I get into class because I am nervous which makes him nervous. Once the first part of class is up, we both settle down. I also think that he is super protective of me and not so much my fiance because we have been together, most of his life and more than one person has told me he is protecting you, even when he was 10 weeks old. Thats when I signed him up for all the classes and tried to stop that from further happening. I get nervous when I introduce him to another dog, not knowing if he is going to try to bite him or wag his tail and like him. Both situations have occured and now I antisipate that an unexpected snap is going to happen and then we are at square one. Anyone know of any safe methods of introducing a dog? I hold his leash tight but I get worried I won't pull back fast enough if he acts out. I am making him sound like a killer...he goes to daycare and they have no issues with him for the most part....I think it is mostly me just being too nervous......
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