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dog-agression problem?

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Took Sugarfoot to the field to play Frisbee yesterday. While she was returning with the Frisbee, about 30 or 40 yards from me, a dog I don’t know appeared from Sugarfoot’s right side. He went directly to her at a fast trot – not appearing hostile, just excited at the prospect of a possible romp. The other dog was a male, curly-tailed, yellow & white mixed-breed, about her size, and he did not slow down as he got close.


Sugarfoot’s reaction surprised me. She dropped the Frisbee, hackled up, wrinkled up her muzzle in a clear threat display – incisors and fangs showing, mouth slightly open and lunged at him. He dodged back from her and she followed but did not attempt to close. She had not bitten him. I snapped out, “Sugar! Leave it!”


She disengaged and stood looking at him as he started back to his owner, who had been a few feet behind me. Sugarfoot started to follow him again, and I repeated “leave it” and gave her a recall. She turned, picked up the Frisbee and came to me at a trot, not looking at the other dog. I gave her a perfunctory “good dog” for answering the recall and put a leash on her.


All this happened in less than 30 seconds.


I could not hear whether either dog was growling or not – but I did not read a threat in the male’s body posture – although I thought his approach was a little too abrupt, I put it down to enthusiasm rather than intent to start a quarrel.


By this time the other person had leashed her dog and was walking away, apparently unconcerned. I put the Frisbee in the dog bag, and did some brisk heeling work with Sugar and a few “puppy push-ups.” My tone was not playful, and Sugarfoot's work was serious and concentrated. Sugarfoot was pretty revved, but did everything I asked of her with precision, and then we went home. I felt that resuming the Frisbee session might not be appropriate, because of her behavior with the other dog. Ie, I didn't want to reward her for protecting the Frisbee - although the situation with the other dog and our leaving were fairly widely separated in time.


I’m a little concerned about her reaction. Can’t decide if it was resource-guarding (the Frisbee) or if she was just startled. I would have expected her to simply detour around the approaching dog, and return to me with the Frisbee. I was surprised by her response, but not exactly sure what was going on in her mind. I'm pleased that she resonded to my "leave it" and the recall, but feel that she overreacted to the other dog. In any case we will be doing some share-the-Frisbee work tomorrow. Any opinions about this exchange?

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Who knows. It's really hard to tell because you were the only one there to see it. First thing I thought though, if this dog came in "hard and fast", she could have thought of him as being rude. It doesn't *sound* like there was much politeness in the way of his approach. She could have just been irritated by that. She could very likely have been startled too, or guarding her frisbee. It's hard to tell. Sometimes dogs just don't like certain dogs either, for whatever reason. Personally, since this was the first time it happened, I would shrug it off. If it happens again, I'd compare similarities to the incidents and try to narrow down what the trigger was and work on her from there...I mean, if the other dog was just being rude, there is nothing to worry about as she was right by telling him off. If it is resource guarding, then you should work on it for sure.

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If a dog approached my dog that way, my dog would do exactly the same thing. He will not tolerate a strange dog charging fast at him; he sees that as a threat or at least as extreme rudeness that must be immediately corrected.


If there were a toy or treat involved, even more reason for correction, in Buddy's mind.


My dog is dog-reactive, and reacts much more strongly to certain everyday occurences than other dogs would. But while he reacts very strongly, I've seen lots of other dogs showing displeasure at the same sorts of behavior. They're just much more low-key about showing their displeasure :rolleyes: So, I'd say lots of dogs who don't react to strange dogs charging them are being polite.


I'd keep an eye on the way Sugarfoot responds in the next few weeks. She may show no more signs of this, or she may reveal that she's not thrilled with strange dogs charging at her. If it's the second situation, you can easily manage it: you just have to know what the story is.



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