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Growling at other dogs when out

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My BC boy, intact btw, has decided that he needs to growl at every dog we see when we are out. I believe some of his hostility to other dogs has come from our former apartment, where we had access to a dog park, and some dogs liked to hump and be mean to him, so he has learned that a growl usually makes other dogs back off. (Or sends lazy owners into a frenzy that my dog is going to kill their dog... but that's a whole other issue... ;) ) The only problem is when we are out for a walk, he is on a leash, and is not near the other dogs. And it only happens if the dogs are say on a long line in the front yard, loose in the front yard, or out for a walk as well. It never bothers him if they are behind a fence, even if he can see them. We don't even go to the dog park where we live currently, he does not play well with others and I'd rather avoid that whole situation. I'm not sure how to correct this behavior other then tell him leave it, which he knows, and keep walking. Any suggestions?

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Neutering may or may not help. It may change some dogs reactions to him, so that he then doesn't react back. It may take the edge off his reactions so that you can work with him easier. However, if this is an established behavior, I've found that more than just neutering is needed. If he follows a "leave it" command then you can just continue to do that, and it's kind of a quick fix while you're taking a walk. If you want to try to change his attitude towards other dogs, than that takes more work. Here is a good article about how to go about doing it. I've used several of the techniques.



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I read through some of the article posted and agree that it has great information.


Is your dog just growling or is he pulling/lunging at dogs?


When I first got my guy he would just do a low growl or sometimes show his teeth to dogs when we were out walking. He wouldn't pull, just would look out the corner of his eye and snarl. Mostly it was towards out of control dogs-ones pulling on leash to meet him, whining, barking, dogs, etc. He didn't care either about dogs behind fences that were going crazy.


I did some of what the article talked about, rewarding him for looking at a dog but not reacting. I also got him neutered. Then started introducing him to other bomb-proof dogs I knew well. Over time the growling stopped. Taking him for walks with other dogs really helped as well, get together with family or friends and do group walks together. You don't have to let the dogs meet, just walk together.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Have you tried a bit of counterconditioning and desensitization?


Is there a distance where he doesn't react at all? That's basically your threshold. Anything across the threshold is where he will react. Even fixation by staring at the approaching dog is too far. What you can do is make your dog focus on you, eye contact. Start working from far distances, put a name to having the dog look at you like watch or something and when he keeps his eyes in contact with you, treat, walk around with varying paces, sudden turns, etc. with him focused on you.


Eventually go closer and closer and keep working on the same exercise. IF he starts growling again, he's too overstimulated and over threshold, remove him from the situation and work at a distance not quite so close to another strange dog.


It works really well for desensitizing reactive or dog aggressive dogs. Nia is dog reactive as well, barks at them and tries to pull towards them. I use the same method.


Here's a great video showing how to use this method properly by vet and behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin. I really like a lot of the methods she uses.


I don't know how to embed videos here but...


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