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Thanks for the article. I realize I need to watch dog postures and those type of physical signs as well as the vocal ones.
 

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I really liked that article. I've noticed Smokey do that and have observed another dog do that. But putting it into words makes me understand the behavior so much better and now I can look out for it in a different way.

Thank you!
 

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I LOVE her blog. You can also "Like" her on Facebook, where she will link to her blog.

Reading her stuff makes me miss temperament testing shelter dogs. Man, that was such a valuable experience.
Sheilah
 

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So many people miss this sign, including people working in the shelters. When I temperament test, this is one of the things I look for. I call it "the death stare" and it's really the only sign of aggression that I'll completely fail a dog with a cat/dog/person because there is often no verbal warning prior to attack.
 

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Love this blog.

I have a question, regarding the staring.....does it always signify potential aggression?


Echo will do this occasionally, if the dog is near enough to him for him to notice and if the dog pays attention to him (he will ignore dogs who ignore him). He has never, ever had any sort of aggressive interaction with another dog, but he does do the drive leaking occasionally if there is a dog he is not allowed to approach. If he is eventually allowed to approach (or, *groan*, if the other dog comes up to us), he is neutral and greets well and the tension disappears. We've come a long way with the sort of obsessive focusing on other dogs and I don't allow him to do it (he is never off leash if there may be another dog around, and I'm always armed with treats and ready to work on focus work), but the idea that it is a big indicator of aggression makes me very, very nervous of having a dog reactivity problem in the future.


Don't mean to hijack the thread, just thought it would be cool to discuss :blush:
 

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I have a question, regarding the staring.....does it always signify potential aggression?
Not in my experience. I've seen dogs do it to other dogs and then (literally) shake it off. But I've also seen it go the other way and turn into an all-out attack a split second later. Those are the cases where the newly adopted dog ends up killing the family cat.

It's like any other body language indicator. If I know the dog personally, I can place it in a more complete context and understanding of how that dog reacts to certain situations. If I don't know the dog (above all, if I'm evaluating one of the rescue dogs with an unknown background and no owner information), I always always err on the side of caution, because if there IS an attack, in my experience it's going to be a bad one.

I liken it to a guy holding a gun, pointing it at me, and saying in a dead serious voice "I'm going to kill you." If I personally know the guy and it's my buddy Joe who's rehearsing lines for his role as Bank Robber #3 in an upcoming theater production, I will respond very differently than if it's a stranger on the street. I know Joe's not making a real threat. I don't have any idea about the stranger, and I sure don't want to be wrong.

But some dogs do it and it doesn't carry the meaning described here. In particular, I've seen Border Collies with a lot of "eye" do something that looks very similar to the freeze-and-stare without any aggression behind it.
 

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I agree. The staring alone is not an indication and if the dog is not pressed, the potential for aggression could quickly become diffused. However, to continue to press a dog who has their head dropped, their body tense and staring will most likely end in an aggressive action.

When I test a dog with cats I especially look for this reaction. AT that time, it's a prey drive thing but in my experience, these are the dogs most likely to be unable to live with cats. I did foster one doberman who was able to adapt and live peacefully with a resident cat but most often my recommendation is no cats and possibly no small animals at all.

If I were to see a dog eyeballing me with this stance, I would definitely look for a safe exit as quickly as possible.
 

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When I test a dog with cats I especially look for this reaction. AT that time, it's a prey drive thing but in my experience, these are the dogs most likely to be unable to live with cats. I did foster one doberman who was able to adapt and live peacefully with a resident cat but most often my recommendation is no cats and possibly no small animals at all.

If I were to see a dog eyeballing me with this stance, I would definitely look for a safe exit as quickly as possible.
Interesting. I did always think it was related to prey drive for him. Oddly, he's always been great with my parents cats and doesn't even show any interest in small animals (a bunny running through the yard literally ran into him yesterday).

We actually encountered this yesterday when we were out walking around and someone else and their dog had wandered onto our property (we live in a big track of land in the middle of nowhere, with no road access but our driveway and old snowmobile trail). He was ahead of me and did the staring thing, but then laid down (in a very "alert" fashion, and continued to stare). I realized that this is what he has done in the past, as well. He came right back to me when I called him.

Our trainer used to tell me that socially, he was the kid in the back of the class eating glue. Doesn't have a "mean" bone in his body and doesn't appear to feel threatened, but still doesn't really "know" how to act, especially if he's around a dog who is unsure of where they stand as well. He does phenomenally well with very dominant and very submissive dogs.

In reading your responses, and thinking about the "laying down", I wonder if it's more of a defensive thing.
 
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