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So we just came back from agility class where we just had several "incidents." Some classes Ozzy is as laid back as can be and other classes he acts up. He is roughly 2 years old, neutered, rescue, and I would call him an anxious dog. I would also call him jealous.

I cannot pinpoint a cause for his snapping. Sometimes I think he is resource guarding me and other times I just have no idea.

I have a feeling we started out on the wrong foot when he got really tangled in the chute and it took several minutes to get him out. About 3/4 through class he snapped in the faces of 2 dogs who were seemingly minding their business. We were all in close quarters. One snap happened when I believe he felt a dog was approaching me (but he is fine other times when dogs look like they are approaching) and another snap happened when he was lying down and boxer was standing, I suppose, looking at him or me - about a 9 year old female boxer.

The snapping happens in the dog park as well so we don't go there anymore. I can't tell if he is guarding me or has a space issue.

He gets along fine with CALM dogs.

The snapping is pretty embarassing. Is this aggressive behavior or some sort of adolescent stage? Should I just make sure we always have plenty of space and not have us in cramped quarters, or can this behavior be modified?

And is this fear aggression, anxiety, or something else? When the snapping happens his ears are very much forward and weight on his front legs. This leads me to believe this may not be fear? Any thoughts???? Thank you!
 

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It's not silly or too basic, but it is being discussed on several other threads right now, so you might want to read through some of the other topics.

IMHO, if you're doing agility work, you already have the basics of positive-reinforcement training. Use that for this issue, too.

Check out Click to Calm or Feisty Fido for some suggestions.

The key is to try and connect "positive" thoughts with the presence of other dogs.

You might have to go back to square one of doing the chute and run the barrel several times without the chute fabric, always making certain he has a good experience, then try it with the chute held open, etc. I once heard/read that for every one mistake in agility, you need 20 successful repeats to undo it.
 

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I'll just say a quick word here -- two things come to mind.

It sounds as if he snaps mostly when he is hyperstimulated. The experience with the chute may have really rattled him -- and you too. No matter how reassuring you were trying to be, your body language may have conveyed to him that you were disconcerted and stirred up.

His snapping at the other dog may have been a result of him feeling anxious and worried about other dogs moving in too close, and also feeling anxious about/for you.

Same for the dog park.

The other point is that dogs can do this "Mom, he was looking at me " thing, especially when they are already a little worked up. The dogs being snapped at may have had a body posture or gesture that struck a chord with your dog, and that you simply didn't see. He may have felt he was defending his space and you against aggressive intruders -- the fact that he gave warning snaps is actually a good thing, rather than him just launching into an attack.

When things go screwy for him, you may need to take him out of class and just play with him until he's calm and having a good time. I did this with my dog--she wasn't snapping, but she was getting very wound up about some equipment. And I was getting wound up about her getting wound up. We continued doing agility stuff but in non-agility settings -- parks, at home, etc., and always with lots of rewards and just for fun. When we went back to class after several weeks she acted as if the equipment had never been a problem. She was much more settled and confident. And you know -- so was I.

Our time off reminded me just how much fun she was to be with, and what the point of agility was for me (being a better handler. I dunno about you, but I don't need an "agility dog" -- I just like to do challenging training stuff and keep us both entertained.)

In addition to the books above I'd also recommend "Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas (the DVD). It's not about handling an aggressive dog, but it is about recognizing the signals your dog is sending you.

There's another DVD that looks wonderful but is a little more spendy -- The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs. I've seen clips, and it looks like it gives wonderful, specific examples of dog language and reactions. I'm trying to get it through my library.
 
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