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Zoe

Appropriate correction for unprovoked aggression towards another dog

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I will try and be brief. I should also add I have read everything about aggression that I can on the Boards including Joe Anne's thread about Phoenix which I found most interesting. Dylan tried to pick a fight with a dog that was minding its own business. Both were off leash. I was caught off guard by this. The dog completely ignored Dylan ( thank goodness ), and I managed to call Dylan off after what felt like ages. Also, thankfully, Dylan didn't do any damage - just a lot of in your ( the dog's ) face stuff.( He did a "play bow" at the end but he wasn't playing ??..). He was put in a down stay and given a time out by me. He has done this once before and was ignored by that dog also. Dylan will be 3 in May - he was neutered at 11 months. He is the biggest wiggle-butt when it comes to people and is ok with most dogs - he has several un-neutered friends the same breed as the dog he tried to fight with. I've talked to my agility trainer about what happened. He said that I have to correct Dylan if he ever tries to do that again by intervening. If I don't, then I would be condoning Dylan's behaviour. And it could be dangerous, if not fatal for Dylan and/or the other dog. I know this. I feel terrible. But I have to act. I'd like your feedback on what my trainer suggested. He said he has had several situations of people asking him for advice re: aggressive BCs. He contacted 3 people in the UK who have working BCs for advice and got the same advice from all 3. Which was : a physical correction - one person was rather harsh in his recommendation..... I don't regard Dylan as being an "aggressive dog", although he obviously "is" because of what he did. He has been threatened by other dogs on several occassions and run away, I actually regard him as a bit of a scaredy cat, but he will try to return aggression on occassion. And there are dogs which I can tell he doesn't like, but I can distract him or dissuade him with an "ah-ah!". Dylan will listen to me and I have good verbal control over him. But I want him to have self control. I've been thinking about this for several days and I suppose Dylan may be an insecure dog - outside the home. Anyway, my trainer has said that I should force Dylan into a down and hold his snout and be very firm and VERY calm about telling him no. The staying calm part and meaning it is very important. I'm not sure I have explained things very well - I think a correction is important if he tries to do this again. Do you think I got good advice ? I don't know my trainer too well, but he has fantastic dogs and I have the feeling he is right. Have you ever experienced this and how have you dealt with it ? If I have left anything out, please let me know. I should also say that I don't think Dylan is a "soft" dog and that he can take a correction. And that he trusts me. I think ... feeling like a bit of a failure at the moment.

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Correcting an insecure dog harshly?! Bah! I'd disregard that advice personally.

 

You might want to check out the book "Fight" by Jean Donaldson as it goes into much more detail about dog-dog aggression and how to treat it, but all I can say is that corrections made Maggie worse around other dogs. Counter conditioning was the trick for her, and though she still has space issues, her problems were much bigger than Dylan's appear to be.

 

Could you describe what happened in more detail? I'm still not convinced that this was true aggression since it ended w/ a play bow and the other dog ignored him. It could just be rude behavior.

 

Also remember that no one expects a human to like everyone they meet - why should we expect all dogs to get along? There is something to be said for giving your dog the benefit of the doubt and working with him w/ other dogs a bit more in controlled settings, but why should dogs be expected to like every dog they meet?

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I agree with your trainer. Dylan is leaving behind his pupyhood and testing how far can he go with other dogs and with you. But you are the leader of the pack, you are the only one with the right to spread discipline and punishment and any other kind of agressive or dominant behaviour. He could not be so insecure himself, but be insecure of his acts and as long as he have success, it will reinforce itself. On the other hand, being insecure or not, staying calm as your trainer adviced will demonstrate him that you have control of the situation. You are not just gonna be angry with him if he take things on his hands (paws... jaws... you understand...) you are the big alpha that is able to take control of the situation if it gets ugly, so he doesn't have need to be agressive. If you overreact, scream and get too nervous Dylan will feel that is his duty to watch over both. He could show submissive to you, but react even more agressively upon the other dog.

 

And don't feel it like your failure, remember that Dylan it is still maturiting, and they have the habit to surprise and test us every day

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Well, it's true, we don't like every person we meet, but we don't go punch them in the nose when we meet them! I don't expect my dogs to like every dog they meet, but I don't want them picking fights either. The first time Jackson ever showed aggression was when he was about 11mos. We were at a training clinic. I was sitting with him on a stump and a woman who had her dog over in the advanced field came in with her dog off leash. The dog was very friendly. Anyway, the dog went between me and another person, but the dogs head was level with mine, and all of a sudden, Jackson growled and went for the dogs face! I had Jackson on lead, and I just reacted without thinking. I jerked on his lead and sternly said NO! He lay back down and had never done that again. However, once when we were at the Freightliner shop getting our truck worked on, another driver brought his dog out. This dog was very friendly but obnoxious! It kept yipping and straining at the lead, trying to get in Jacksons face. I kept Jackson away, and tried to tell the guy nicely that Jackson didn't like other dogs, but the big idiot kept saying, oh, everyone loves my dog. Then, I FELT Jacksons very low growl through the lead. I said to myself, this guys an idiot and this could get ugly. So, I just took Jackson to another part of the place till we could leave.

 

Correct the dog, yes. Force them to be with a dog they don't like, no.

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I would be afraid of putting him down, because that would just make him prey to the other dog wouldnt it? Sounds a bit like an alpha roll, and I'd not advise anyone to do that if they dont know for sure what they're doing. Im not an expert by any means, but I would think putting your dog down on the ground in front of the other dog would make him prey if they were fighting.

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Some sort of reaction by you is necessary...as Dixie Girl said, we may not like everyone, but we certaily don't go picking a fight with everyone we meet, either. My preferred method of physical correction is one that the dog innately relates to--the scruff shake. Same as the mamma dog does when disciplining her babies, you grab them by the scruff of the neck b(side of the head), give it a good shake while telling the dog "no" or whatever words you want to use to let it know that that was not appropriate behavior, again, calmly, not angrily, but definitely in control. If possible, I'd set up that situation again and be ready for it so you can teach himn what is and is not appropriate.

Anna

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Ok seriously - why do something that may make our dogs associate others with bad things happening???

 

As Zoe said, Dylan tends to be relatively meek around dogs in general and this is a new thing - he's not a dominant dog picking fights and he's 3yo, not an adolescent emerging into adulthood and testing boundaries.

 

An insecure dog DOES NOT need to be taught that seeing another dog = mom behaves crazy and gets mad, therefore dogs = bad. In all likelihood, punishment in this case will make the problem worse. I've seen it happen with my own dog people!

 

Heck, we just covered the use of positive punishment (aka adding aversives) in my 400 level Applied Small Animal Behavior course taught by one of the top vet behaviorists in the country and he distinctly said that punishment should not be used in insecure/fearful dogs nor in most cases of dog-dog aggression because of the potential for bad connections between the punishment and other dogs.

 

BTW if you do use punishment, it needs to be done within 0.5 *seconds* to be effective and I have yet to see someone who can correct that quickly when dogs are fighting off lead...

 

edited to add: This is not to say that you ignore the fact that your dog is fighting w/ another. When Maggie has gotten into with another dog, she is immediately separated and if I can, I walk away leaving her tied when she acts aggressively in other situations.

 

What needs to happen now is to identify potential triggers and work to diffuse them, hence my recommendation of Jean Donaldson's book - it's absolutely wonderful for problem solving dog-dog aggression issues, if indeed that is what is going on, which has yet to be determined since none of use was there.

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I think for dogs with generalized aggression a desensitization program is wise. But I think that for dogs being jerks, a correction is apt to make them think twice about doing it again. The problem is, most people don't know the difference between a problem and a jerk. The dog knows though.

 

RDM

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Personally, I would not follow the advice that your trainer gave you.

 

Realize that if you try to force your dog into a down when your dog is aroused and you fail to do so perfectly, you could get bit yourself. And then your dog has a bite history and you can never undo that.

 

I would also carefully consider what could have provoked your dog into that kind of behavior. Especially since you observe that your dog is normally appropriate with other dogs.

 

A correction of some sort might be appropriate if your dog truly instigated that conflict, but if that is not the case, I would chalk it up to bad chemistry and simply separate the dogs and keep them apart in the future. If contact cannot be avoided between the two of them, I would find someone to help with a desensitization program.

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It sounds like Dylan has a similar problem hat my boss's Doberman has.

 

See if this sounds familiar...

 

The dobe sees a dog either with a toy he wants, or playing with another dog, or ignoring him. He wants toy/attention/playmate so he runs up, in the other dog's face, and barks, LOUD, continuously, all the while lunging and growling, most of his lunges ending in play-bows. He's 10 months old, 80lbs, and OUT of control most of the time, and it exhausts us when his owner simply states he is trying to play....*sigh*

 

If this sounds similar to what Dylan was up to, it sounds like he needs some correction when this happens. I'm no trainer, or educated expert, but with any situation like that I've had with my dogs, I bellow their names in the "voice of death" to get their attention that they've displeased me, and proceed to immediately remove them from the situation, usually snapping a leash to them and enforcing a close heel. I'll spend the next ten minutes acting totally disgusted with them, not looking at them, not facing them, not touching them, avoiding all eye and physical contact, and not allowing them to enage with any other dog/human for that 'time out' period. This usally sends them into fits of wiggles and sad looks, trying to appease me and make up for whatever they did wrong. This may not be in any training book or school lesson, but I don't have to use physical punishment, and at most this technique has only been used twice to correct a certain behavior, and 90% of the time it only takes one time. The key is to be RIGHT on top of them and catch them in the ACT of whatever you're punishing them for, or they wont relate it well.

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First of all - thank you for all your replies. I know there have been lots of threads with regard to aggression and I hate to be playing the same record over.

Maybe, as Erin suggested, I should explain more. It was at agility class. My agility class is actually a seminar and spread over a few hours. Dylan and the dog in question had been in down stays a few metres apart from each other on several occassions while us handlers walked the courses and talked with the trainer. They hadn't shown any interest in each other. We had been taking turns and playing with our dogs in between. But this time I was sitting with Dylan who was lying down, and the other dog/handler walked in front of us to the "start line". The other dog's focus was completely on his handler. That dog didn't do anything wrong. Dylan just took off. My trainer watched the whole thing and his interpretation was that Dylan was being territorial and trying to stop the other dog from running. It certainly looked something like that - but I can't be sure it was. In any case Dylan's behaviour was unacceptable. My trainer has 35 years of experience with dogs...so it is difficult for me to question his interpretation even if I feel some concern over his recommended course of action.

I would like to read the book Erin recommends. Thank you for that. I didn't say Dylan was meek, he is actually rather outgoing. I've just been thinking that maybe he is insecure because of what happened and he responds sooo differently to every dog he meets. He has run away when he felt under threat but he will return aggression and when I say I can divert his attention from dogs he doesn't like, I should probably say that if I didn't, he may try to be aggressive.

 

An insecure dog DOES NOT need to be taught that seeing another dog = mom behaves crazy and gets mad, therefore dogs = bad.
I don't think this is right - first of all, the whole point is that I would remain completely calm and not get crazy. Secondly, it wouldn't happen when Dylan was "seeing" another dog but trying to start a fight with a indifferent/friendly dog.

 

Anna, my thought was that I would have liked to set the situation up again. Not easy to ask for, though ! And I'm not sure I could cope with it. I think I would prefer your style of correction although I have never done that.

 

RDM - I'm probably one of those "most people".... I'm curious as to what kind of correction you would use if you thought your dog was being a jerk ?

 

Kristine - that is whay I posted this - I am not really confident I could do that to Dylan and I am afraid that it may freak him out.....

 

Sarah - I would say that Dylan is a very different dog to your boss's dog. Dylan is under control at all times except on rare occassions.

 

Hmmm.... I knew i would probably get the kind of responses you have given me. I have been thinking of this non-stop. I'm actually thinking of a behaviourist.... The boards are the only place where I can talk about Dylan fluently ie; in my own language, but I realize that it is very difficult for you to help being where you are and not knowing us and more about our situation. I'd like to talk more about how me and Dylan "are" in our neighbourhood and how people with dogs in cities cope with dog-dog interactions on a daily basis, but I think I should post seperately about that. Thanks again. Lots of thinking to do......

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My first thought is that Dylan is resource guarding you - it's kind of the same behavior Maggie has exhibited on occasion. Perhaps a correction is warranted, but I'd suggest something along the lines of the "two leash" method.

 

What this involves is setting up the dog with two leashes, one tied to a sturdy pole and one on your hands. Have a dog walk by him in the same matter as what preciptated his lunging. When/If he lunges, IMMEDIATELY drop your leash and disappear. When he calms down, reappear and resume your original activities. Rinse and repeat - generally this method will start working in only a few reps, but given the unpredictability of eliciting this behavior since he's only done it once, it make take a few set ups.

 

Hopefully the dog he reacted to has an owner that would be ok using his/her dog as "bait" given that Dylan is securly tied.

 

HTH

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Originally posted by Zoe:

My trainer watched the whole thing and his interpretation was that Dylan was being territorial and trying to stop the other dog from running. It certainly looked something like that - but I can't be sure it was. In any case Dylan's behaviour was unacceptable. My trainer has 35 years of experience with dogs...so it is difficult for me to question his interpretation even if I feel some concern over his recommended course of action . . .

 

Kristine - that is whay I posted this - I am not really confident I could do that to Dylan and I am afraid that it may freak him out.....

 

I hope that you will continue to question this because it seems that your inclination is to try to find another way to deal with the issue.

 

Last year, Speedy started to get fearful around other dogs again after having gained a ton of confidence over the years. The advice given to me by a trainer I trust was, "he's playing you - don't let him do that, be tough with him."

 

Well, I felt that was not the best way to go, but I respected my trainer's experience and I went with it.

 

I ended up with a dog that was more severely fearful than he had ever been. When I stopped trying to "be tough" and not worry about him trying to "play me", I was able to start him back on the path to confidence. It took many, many months to regain his trust, but going with my gut feeling on the matter worked.

 

I know your situation is very different, but what is similar is that I got training advice from someone that I respected that was ultimately not right for me or my dog. I'm not saying offhand that your trainer is wrong, but if you really are uncomfortable with following that advice, I would seriously seek other ways to handle the situation. There might be a way that is more suitable for both you and your dog.

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I don't think Dylan was "resource guarding" you or being territorial - I think that like many border collies in agility, he was feeling keyed up and when the dog started to move, Dylan's instinct / desire to chase kicked in. My dog would be on a leash in this situation, so if he jumped up to run, he would have been caught up real short, real fast. Now that you know that sometimes this can happen, just keep him on a leash in agility class unless you are running. If he tries to take off after another dog, tell him to knock it off and lie back down.

 

I personally think you are blowing this out of proportion to what it really is. This isn't aggression, IMO, this is just a keyed up dog giving into a chase desire and letting off some steam. Completely different scenario than what you first presented.

 

There is a wee bitch in one my classes that can't stand it when Tweed runs and she periodically yanks tufts of hair out of him if she can grab him in time. She is a very nice dog otherwise. Conversely, once every couple of years Tweed gets it in his mind that a passing jogger needs a little chase. A "get out of it" stops him dead in his tracks. It's like his little foggy brain just clicks into chase mode for a minute and he gives in to that desire. 99% of the time Tweed looks at me when he sees a jogger because he knows darn well chasing joggers is not allowed.

 

There is absolutely no reason why you can't or shouldn't correct this with a simple leash reminder and a verbal "knock it off." Then redirect his attention to you. This was a dog giving into something he felt like he wished to do that was inappropriate for the situation. It's not a case of severe aggression waiting to explode out of your canine

 

RDM

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Agree, totally, RDM!

 

That's not to say that I don't also totally agree with Erin & Kristine's stance on correcting aggression, but I just don't think it applies here as much as what RDM observed.

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I agree with RDM, too, based on all I've heard.

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Zoe,

 

I agree with RDM too. How many times has Dylan done agility? You know in SAR training, all dogs get 'jelous' and really pumped up when they see another dog running a problem. My quiet calm Jazzy would bark, whine, and start shaking if she's out on a leash. She's done the same when we went to herding lesson.

 

Unless we didn't hear the other occasions like this (or maybe I missed your other threads), I don't think it's aggression that you should be that concerend about. You have a good control over Dylan. But any dog can be unpredictable in different/new situations.

 

If I were you, I would go to the class again and set up so that both dogs are in the same situation as before - but outside the agility course. See how he reacts to it. That could possibly 1)eliminate the agility as reason 2)correct Dylan's behavior if he still lunges.

 

Don't feel so bad about this!

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Cherokee acts like a prissy little jerk and will jump on the other female (both spayed) and just go to beating the hell out of her every once in awhile. The last time this happened was Sunday, bloodied the poor cattle dogs face and punctured her leg for no reason other then to act like a bitch. I agree with Mr. Snappy that sometimes they act like jerks and need to be reprimanded for it and it needs to be done quickly and fairly. For Cherokee it was a grab of the scruff (and probably some yelling by my daughter) and then she went and kenneled her. Poor Lila came into the house was cleaned up and played up her injuries for the rest of the day. That night they all got let back out and Cherokee was back to acting like she was submissive to Lila, licking her in the mouth, rolling around on the ground and then proceeded to give Lila a bath. Kinda like having my daughters fight with each other one minute they hate each other the next they are helping each other.

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I agree with RDM. With a little more light on the situation it just sounds like he got too excited about what the other dog was doing...

 

Rune does this when she tries to 'herd' other dogs, she'll dart after them and either air-snap in their face, nip their shoulder, or circle around them and eye them into a standstill if she can. Very rude, and totally unacceptable, yes, although re-directing her attention and teaching her a solid 'leave it' command has REALLY helped.

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Yea RDM's thoughts on the subject do seem more apropo now that I think about how a typical agility class goes - Maggie sometimes gets hyped by all the running, but has never out and out lunged and is on leash when others are running, so we've never run into this type of issue really.

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Several hours of being asked to maintain periodic down stays (i.e. exercise self control) can be tiring for a dog, especially when there are other dogs present that yours does not get to interact with but does get to watch racing around an agility course. At many half-day or longer agility seminars I've attended, the instructor *requires* that dogs be returned to crates when they're not working. This gives the dog a chance to relax when it's not their turn, rather than having to suppress any desire they might have to break a stay and/or express frustration, whatever the cause.

 

I generally agree with RDM's advice if you *want* to react to this event, but it seems to me that you may be asking Dylan to exercise more self-discipline in this situation than you necessarily need to. In mixed groups where dogs are not required to be crated between runs, there are usually a few people who chose to crate theirs anyway, for all sorts of reasons, and I see nothing wrong with that.

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I am so glad I posted about this. I feel rather silly but so much better. It is late and I am relieved/a bit upset . I'd like to say a proper thank you and respond to what you have all written tomorrow.

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I just wanted to respond to what you have written. Erin, thanks for coming back ! I really don't think Dylan was resource guarding me. He has never shown any jealousy even if I pet or play with other dogs - and a lot of people have commented on that. But, I can see how my description would have led you to think that. And thank you for your description of dealing with resource guarding. I do think Dylan may have some issues with regard to other male dogs and it is nice to know of that method. Also, I am going to order the book you recommend. It doesn't hurt to know as much as you can.

 

Kristine - I am sorry you had to go through that with Speedy. thanks for sharing your experience. I think Dylan may be fearful of male dogs he doesn't know.... I need to think and post about this some more.

 

RDM and Alaska ( sorry to lump you togetehr ! ) - I think you are probably right with regard to Dylan in that sutuation. Thanks for putting it into perspective. I think Alaska was right when she says Dylan was asked to do too much. It was only Dylan's 3rd time and there were distractions that he had to cope with. One of the "problems" was there were only 2 dogs in the class and it was fairly intense and difficult for Dylan. He wasn't allowed to greet the other dog before they started - I would have preferred that they had been allowed to say hello for Dylan's sake. Then I think he could have relaxed more. In the other class, people were walking their dogs from their cars to the practice field off leash and there were other people practicing stuff in another place...... I did keep Dylan on leash near those areas because I felt there were too many distractions which he is not used to. And we did have a break and I did put Dylan in his crate ( which he likes ), for a while. BUT, you are right - I should have had him on leash more - and after "that incident", he did go back on leash in between runs. When we were doing SAR all dogs except those working were crated in the car - that suited us fine. I'm not sure this is the best place for us to study - another post !

Paula, Ruth, Colaradogirl - thanks !

Inu - thank you too ! I will pm you soon !

Sarah - thank you for your description of Rune - it sounds like what Dylan did.

 

Well, we have class tomorrow - and I plan to go. I'm a bit nervous but will not act nervous when we get there ! I love the BC Boards !

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