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We're still working on our rescue's dog aggression issues. We took her on a camping trip this past weekend, and aside from one incident, she did fantastically well. She was able to walk past/sit with other dogs on the trail and not react at all, as well as tolerate them in the general vicinity (although she was very alert and whined occasionally).

The problem we had was when an unattended off-leash border collie decided to start circling us. It looked friendly to me. Basically my dog's ears and tail went up and she started trying to drag me towards the other dog. She was rearing up and snapping her mouth open and shut- wide open, not snarling and snapping with her front teeth. She looked like she wanted to pounce on the other dog and bite. This whole thing was completely silent. So silent that when the owners showed up, they had no idea anything had happened. Usually if another dog is bothering her, she will give 3-4 warning barks and then she settles down. This is the first time I've seen her try to get in a fight on leash, if that was indeed her intent. I had her by the collar and wasn't going to let her start anything.

What does this behavior mean, exactly? I've always read that dogs will use loud aggressive behavior to try and scare the other dog off and avoid a fight. Is this an extreme form of fear or something else?

FWIW, the only dog she has ever gotten in a fight with was an Aussie/Border collie type dog. It was a really bad fight, also silent. Other dogs she is either okay with or she is just really reactive in an annoying but harmless way. I might try an experiment with video recordings later to see if this is something breed specific.
 

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We're still working on our rescue's dog aggression issues. We took her on a camping trip this past weekend, and aside from one incident, she did fantastically well. She was able to walk past/sit with other dogs on the trail and not react at all, as well as tolerate them in the general vicinity (although she was very alert and whined occasionally).

The problem we had was when an unattended off-leash border collie decided to start circling us. It looked friendly to me. Basically my dog's ears and tail went up and she started trying to drag me towards the other dog. She was rearing up and snapping her mouth open and shut- wide open, not snarling and snapping with her front teeth. She looked like she wanted to pounce on the other dog and bite. This whole thing was completely silent. So silent that when the owners showed up, they had no idea anything had happened. Usually if another dog is bothering her, she will give 3-4 warning barks and then she settles down. This is the first time I've seen her try to get in a fight on leash, if that was indeed her intent. I had her by the collar and wasn't going to let her start anything.

What does this behavior mean, exactly? I've always read that dogs will use loud aggressive behavior to try and scare the other dog off and avoid a fight. Is this an extreme form of fear or something else?

FWIW, the only dog she has ever gotten in a fight with was an Aussie/Border collie type dog. It was a really bad fight, also silent. Other dogs she is either okay with or she is just really reactive in an annoying but harmless way. I might try an experiment with video recordings later to see if this is something breed specific.
Depends on the dog. Would need to see it in action. My female snaps her teeth when i get home from work and say her name, or when I'm about to feed her, or when I get out of the shower, or when I hold her toy over my head out of reach. For some dogs its just excitement. For others its trying to bite.
 

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Depends on the dog. Would need to see it in action.
yepyep

IMO that's one of those ambiguous signals that you need to know the dog to read correctly. Some dogs do it as a signal meant to induce play, some do it out of frustration, some intend it as a warning signal before a fight.

Crookytail, for some reason, does silent air snaps when he's completely relaxed and happy. It doesn't really look like a silent lunge/snap -- it's a super slow motion version of that -- but it just adds to my conviction that this is a highly variable signal that can mean a lot of different things depending on the dog and the total context.
 

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Thanks hunterisgreat and Merciel!

I could see it as a warning signal or frustration, if those are possibilities. She used to air snap at the cat before we got them to get along. This dog is tough to read. She always looks excited and interested, but it could turn into reactivity, biting, or just sniffing- depends on the dog. So we play it safe since I know she is capable of serious damage. The three trainers we have been to didn't agree on what was going on with her, but all seem to think she's "borderline," whatever that means.


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Zoey does it out of excitement when I pull out a ball or the flirt pole. There is a very audible clacking noise though, definitely not silent, I'm afraid she's gonna break her teeth.
 

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Zoey does it out of excitement when I pull out a ball or the flirt pole. There is a very audible clacking noise though, definitely not silent, I'm afraid she's gonna break her teeth.
Hans did it, too, when he was a puppy.
I have to say I miss the air snapping. :crazy:
 
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