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Old 08-03-2011, 12:37 AM
katiemay katiemay is offline
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Default Over-socialization??

I have a 9 month old Jack Russell who has recently been showing some pretty serious aggression towards unfamiliar dogs. I work as a trainer and he has been going to work with me everyday since he was 8 weeks old. Until just a few weeks ago he had such a stable and reliable temperament with other dogs that we have been regularly using him in behavior evaluations and to help socialize clients dogs.

However, he has changed a great deal in this regard in a matter of weeks. Most, but not all, new dogs he comes into contact with send him into an explosion of aggression with very little warning beforehand. He has become very unpredictable and somewhat of a liability. He has been fine with any dog that he already has a relationship with even if it's been months since he's had any kind of contact with them, and still LOVES to party and play with dogs he knows.

I have talked to a number of people, both professionals and non-professionals, and everyone seems to be a little befuddled by this behavior. At this point I see no signs pointing towards it being caused by a medical issue, he has never had any unpleasant experiences with unfamiliar dogs (to my knowledge), and obviously going to work with me everyday has been very well socialized with a great variety or breeds, ages, and temperaments. My concern is that being around so many dogs everyday he may have been over-socialized to the point where a constant influx of new dogs is stressful on him.

Has anyone ever seen or dealt with anything like this? Any advice or thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:57 AM
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Have these dogs he's been meeting in evals been aggressive with him?

Basically, has he learned to "bite them before they can bite him"?
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:06 AM
katiemay katiemay is offline
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Never have used him to test aggressive dogs. Only shy, insecure or undersocialized ones. I have never seen another dog go after him; he is usually very submissive and non-threatening with new dogs.
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:17 AM
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My first thought is pedigree, is he reg'd? Certain lines are very well known for some serious unstable issues.
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by adojrts View Post
My first thought is pedigree, is he reg'd? Certain lines are very well known for some serious unstable issues.
Aye this. Dog aggression isn't uncommon in JRTs. I have a friend who is working through this with her pup (who started exhibiting reactivity around 9 months) and has been making good progress using basic counter conditioning and desensitization techniques, as well as some Behavioural Adjustment Therapy.

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Old 08-03-2011, 11:08 AM
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9 months is quite early, but not unheard of with JRTs. I am surprised that you say pros are baffled. JRTs are quite well known for being DA. Not all or even most, but dog on dog issues are very common. Heck the JRTCA official site talks a lot about them being DA. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows the breed.

That said there is a lot you can do. Make sure you aren't using any aversives (punishment) Click to Calm is an excellent book.
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Old 08-03-2011, 03:13 PM
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I too am surprised your 'pros' are befuddled. You have a JRT.. Short of seriously undrivey dogs DA/DR is a likelihood your breeder should have warned you of, if you needed or wanted a dog to stay happy go lucky with other dogs.

From the jrtca Jack Russell Terrier - JRTCA - Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Home Page
Jack Russells are often aggressive with other dogs. Same-sex aggression and aggression towards other breeds of dogs is well documented with this terrier.
So its not 'abnormal behaviour' as you have tagged it. I think I would find better "pros".

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Old 08-03-2011, 03:43 PM
Gempress Gempress is offline
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What everyone else said. It may not have anything to do with a behavioral issue or socialization at all. A good number of breeds, especially terriers, are known to be prone to aggression towards other dogs. This type of aggression usually starts to show when your dog reaches maturity, generally around 6 months to 18 months of age. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your dog! It's a part of the breed's natural personality and characteristics.

What kind of professionals are you asking?? I'm surprised they don't know that some dogs are naturally prone to aggression towards other dogs. Like I said, terriers are pretty famous for it.

I also want to say that just because your dog is showing aggression to other dogs doesn't mean he'll start becoming aggressive towards people!! Dog aggression (DA) and human aggression (HA) are two completely different things. I myself have a dog who is DA towards other male dogs, yet is the most gentle dog around people.

Last edited by Gempress; 08-03-2011 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 04:28 PM
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He probably isn't over-socialized....he's a teenage terrier. His behavior doesn't sound abnormal at all.

Keep trying to have positive experiences, and there are plenty of activities you can do to help him tolerate strange dogs. He might not ever want to be best-friends with a new dog, but you can certainly teach him to behave himself in their presence. For now, avoid putting him in situations where he becomes aggressive, and make sure you know his warning signs (a change in the way his tail wags, stiffening postures, going wall-eyed, etc.)

I second reading Click To Calm, it's a great help for people with DA or DR dogs.
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:27 PM
katiemay katiemay is offline
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He's actually not a purebred JRT, he has a little bit of something else in him as well. He was a shelter pup and his exact mix is still unknown but he definitely has the terrier temperament.

I am aware that a lot of terrier breeds have a tendency towards aggression directed at other dogs but the thing that has surprised myself and the other trainers I work with (as they know him almost as well as I do) is that it happened so suddenly. Literally, one day we were using him in a training evaluation and the next he was lunging at any new dog he crossed paths with. There was really zero transition period. He has always had a very submissive demeanor around other dogs, and while I am aware that some of his natural puppy submissiveness will start to wear off around this time in his life it seems strange that it happened so quickly. It's almost as if overnight he became a different dog.

I have continued to allow him to be around dogs while at work with me but I keep a very close eye on who he comes in contact with and pretty much just don't put him in any situations that would be setting him up for failure.

I will definitely look into that book "Click to Calm". Thanks!
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abnormal behavior, aggression, socialization

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