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Does this make my dog agressive?

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by KateandCasper, Aug 19, 2009.


  1. KateandCasper

    KateandCasper PetForums Member

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    We have a 4 yr old collie x lab that is a rescue dog, he wasnt mis treated by humans but lived with 6 other dogs and didnt like to run with the pack so he got bullied by them. We have had him a week now so not long I know.

    He is brilliantly trained, sit, stay, lay down etc and is happy off the lead, always comes when he's called etc.

    Anyway we took him for a walk the other day off the lead and he started barking at another dog as it passed him, I told him off and he stopped. We put this down to the fact that it looked very like one of the dogs he used to live with. Then on the same walk he growled at another dog and his hackles rose, again as soon as I told him off he stopped.

    We have been on several off lead walks again and he has been fine with all other dogs. Then tonight we took him out and he started barking at a little bison frisee. Later on we were sitting on the grass having a rest and he was next to me when a golden retreiver bounded up to him wanting to play and he starting barking and just went for the retriever, I shouted and he stopped and then wee'd all over himself.

    Is this usual dog behaviour? or should I be worried that his real personality is coming out and he is not as placid and it was made out? I have 2 children aged 5 and 2 so dont want any risk. Sorry for the long post but it shook me up a bit x
     
  2. Johnderondon

    Johnderondon PetForums VIP

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    Firstly be reassured that there is absolutley no correlation between dog-on-dog aggression and dog-on-human aggression so, from the description of events given, you have no reason to fear for the safety of your children.

    Secondly, there are many, many variable factors in aggression cases. Nuances too subtle for a forum and it is impossible to authoritively advise without seeing the dog first hand. You need a good behaviourist. Tempting though it is to get advice from forum it is just not possible to accurately assess the dog across the internet. The reasons behind your dog's behaviour could vary tremendously and the best approach for tackling it equally diverse. Get it wrong and you are likely to make the problem worse.

    In the meanwhile, until you source professional advice I would refrain from correcting the dog as he is as likely to associate the correction with the presence of the other dog as with his own reaction. For safety I would leash him when other dogs are around until you've got a grip on this behaviour.

    Best of luck!
     
  3. r_neupert

    r_neupert PetForums Senior

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    Speaking from some very recent experience of this (a long story)... i think it is now in your hands to make sure this doesn't happen again - if it does and this has happened previously and you've not taken any action, you and your pooch could be in some trouble. You have to think what could potentially happen next time...

    You're only just getting to know your dog, so i would really advise against letting your dog off the lead until you know it can be trusted around other dogs (god forbid if anything happened to a child too). I know this may sound OTT, but if your dog was to do something off lead which resulted in a serious injury... well i guess we know what could happen to your dog if it was reported...

    So on a more positive note, concentrate on your outside training. If you struggle, get some professional guidance.
     
  4. james1

    james1 PetForums VIP

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    No its not usual behaviour - i reckon you know that ;)

    Ive really got no idea what you do as it sound like your correcting well when he looks like he may turn - are you sure your praising when say he looks at another dog but does not attack?

    You should keep on with it as he may at some point meet a dog with equally high aggression and come off worse. He sound like hes following your commands so just keep with a good routine, maybe take him to places he has never been before say a busy market? He should have to listen even more :)
     
  5. MerlinsMum

    MerlinsMum PetForums VIP

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    With respect, James1, and I am no dog training expert but I do have some experience - if the dog is reacting like this out of nervousness or fear, then taking him to busier places could well make him worse. Kate needs some professional advice and guidance. The 'weeing' Kate described could be significant, to indicate extreme fear.... in which case subjecting the dog to even more stress will really not help.

    A vet visit to rule out any physical problems would be good, as dogs sometimes react oddly if they have pain or a subclinical health issue. And it must not be forgotten that Border Collies often can get epilepsy; a mild form of this might well produce some unusual responses.

    I would also like to reassure her that a dog which is aggressive to other dogs is not necessarily going to transfer this onto people. I've got one like that myself!
     
  6. jilly40

    jilly40 PetForums VIP

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    aww @ the end of the youve only had him a week, rescue dogs take that extra bit of time & tlc.he has to learn to trust you + he may be over protecting you? if your not sure maybe keep him on a long lead? i had to keep lucy on a lead 4 a long time yrs!! she did a runner & she is still off with other dogs on a lead but ok off now.she was 4 when we addopted her n we have had her 4yrs.dont give up hope tho xxx
     
  7. james1

    james1 PetForums VIP

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    whether its nervousness or fear it is still aggression - I dont see your point. If it goes for another dog and the other dog is aggressive - nervous or not theres going to be a problem. Its a good idea for the OP to try and sort it out now, which they are doing.
    The dog doesnt appear to be aggressive towards humans - so what it will gain from busy places would be trust that its owner is good to follow. Its highly unlikely there are any clinical issues - its simply a matter that it needs to be tought rules, if there were clinical issues it wouldnt just be manifesting aggression when coming across other dogs it would be doing it all the time and in unrelated circumstances:)
     
  8. MerlinsMum

    MerlinsMum PetForums VIP

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    It's a highly important point, and the essential reason why someone else before me came on and also recommended seeking a behaviourist. If you believe the dog needs a firmer hand, but the underlying problem is fear, you run the risk of making the dog afraid of you, and even more socially phobic. This needs professional diagnosis. Sorry.
     
  9. james1

    james1 PetForums VIP

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    as I say -- the OP should be reassuring it positively when it doesnt react.
    You cannot not correct a dog that is snapping at other dogs, it will simply continue to do it, a professional diagnosis will say that its behavioural so medical treatment will be ruled out - which leads you back to good training methods as ive already said:confused:
     
  10. Johnderondon

    Johnderondon PetForums VIP

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    It is extremely ill-advised to treat aggression without understanding the underlying cause of that aggression as you risk exarcerbating the behaviour. A training programme to cope with dominance aggression would be completely different to one for fear-based aggression. It needs professional assessment before giving advice on remedies.

    Clinical conditions are be unlikely but should be ruled out. This is more important in cases of unexplained onset of aggression but would also be useful in this context.

    You can avoid putting it in a situation where it feels the need to defend itself. You can work on the edge of its reactive distance to recondition its emotional response. You can do a lot of things that do not risk making the situation worse. Corrections may be appropriate but they may also risk association with the other dog and they may also risk suppresion of low-level warning with the result that the dog learns not to growl or snap but go straight for the bite.

    We cannot tell what a diagnosis might be from a post on an internet forum. Good training methods are methods that are appropriate for the situation. Correction may be or it may not be. The OP needs hands-on guidance.

    The poor dog has only been in place a week. It doesn't know where it is or what is happening. Give it a chance to bond and build a relationship before delibeately exposing it to added stress. Otherwise taking the dog into a stressful enviroment will only teach the dog that it gets taken into stressful enviroments. Flooding can be a useful technique but is high risk and not something that should be recommended to novice owners without having seen the dog.
     
    MerlinsMum likes this.
  11. KateandCasper

    KateandCasper PetForums Member

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    Thank you for all your responses. I appreciate it is hard to help on an internet forum but just wanted a general response as to how bad people thought it could potentially be.

    We have decided to keep him on the lead for the moment until it has been sorted as I found it very stressful and wouldnt want to experience it again! The thing I found strange is that it is very random, we have been on walks where we have passed lots of dogs and he has been fine - not even interested in sniffing them and then suddenly he is barking or growling at one.

    I will look and see if we can find a behaviourist locally and get some advice there. I will also give him a bit more time to settle in and stop expecting him to be perfect the minute he comes home! Its all a learning curve for us but we do want the best for him x
     
  12. lemmsy

    lemmsy PetForums VIP

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    Brilliant advice Johnderondon, I agree completely!

    Personally, I'd put my bet on it being a case of fear/nervousness due to the fact that he was bullied by other dogs previously and the weeing himself ( sounds like an indication of fear).What we would call fear or fear aggression. I would guess that he wants to get in there before in his eyes, the other dog hurts him because he is afraid. However you definately need to contact a behaviourist who can see this behaviour first hand.
    I also agree 100% with Johnderondon about not correcting the dog, especially as IF it is a case of fear- you will only be making more negative associations with other dogs!

    Totally agree with Merlinsmum and Johnderondon concerning a proffessional prognosis and not exposing the dog to a high level of stress especially without speaking to a behaviourist. The dog has only been with it's owner for a week.

    Totally agree with you Merlinsmum!

    I'd suggest that the OP contacts a behaviourist who employs positive methods, not correction or aversive based methods.
    APDT or APBC behaviourists are best IMO.

    Local Dog Trainers - Association of Pet Dog Trainers UK
    The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors
     
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