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Old 09-20-2010, 12:04 PM
jbigg jbigg is offline
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Default Socialization issues

Our dog Avery is a 3 year old Dachshund/Yorkie mix that we adopted a little over a month ago. The history on him said that he had lived with other pets at one time, but his last owner before us was an older woman who lived alone. He seems to warm up to people very quickly. Not instantly, but quickly. He seems to love teenagers especially. He'll roll over for belly rubs right in front of them within 2 minutes of meeting them.

The problem we're having with him is other dogs. This behavior seems to vary depending on whether it's my wife or me walking him. When I walk him, he doesn't pull toward other dogs. If my wife is walking him, he does pull. Once he meets the other dog, the reaction always seems to be the same. They sniff each other for a few seconds and then our dog snaps. We're at the point now where we just won't let him get close enough to sniff anymore for fear of the inevitable. You can see his tail start to stand up vertically when he gets close to sniffing distance. I know this is pretty much a telltale sign of trouble.

I've wondered about the differences in his behavior when my wife walks him vs me walking him. Although he loves everyone in the family, she is his favorite hands down. Is it possible that he thinks he's protecting her from the other dogs on walks?

We've talked about adopting another dog, but we don't dare until we can get Avery to the point where he can be nice to other dogs. Any thoughts?
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jbigg View Post
I've wondered about the differences in his behavior when my wife walks him vs me walking him. Although he loves everyone in the family, she is his favorite hands down. Is it possible that he thinks he's protecting her from the other dogs on walks?
Could be—or it could just be that he feels more comfortable being himself around her. We've got a similar situation with our Alaskan husky Katya. It's like night and day whether my wife and I are walking her, and in part it's because she's still intimidated by me.

In any case, I'm glad you noted the tail position. That's a great "tell," and one you can use. Avery has got to be desensitized, to stop associating greeting other dogs with snapping—so he's got to be allowed to greet and sniff, but not snap. The bulk of the work is going to fall your wife on this one, I'm afraid; teach her what to look for, then advise a quick correction tug-plus-verbal-signal whenever the tail starts to go vertical, followed by a "heel" command if the situation escalates.
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:37 PM
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If I were in your shoes, whether it's your wife or you, when your dog is at a distance where he is not getting too alert to the other dog, but still sees it, I'd reinforce with a yummy treat and praise, but keep on walking at this stage....not let him get so close as to sniff. Start making a more positive association with other dogs by pairing them with a good time....never punishment. Try to remain relaxed and don't anticipate problems, as that can be picked up on by your dog and then his mood gets more anxious. Your dog is probably not being protective of your wife, but more likley possessive. Or he may sense more nervousness in her than in you. (?) It's hard to say. But whatever the reason, building confidence in your dog would be a good idea. You can Google some confidence building exercises and games. Remember to not inadvertantly reinforce this behavior by making a fuss over him one way or the other while he's acting up. But do prevent that the best you can by keeping some distance between him and the other dog. Go at it gradually and reinforce at distances where he is successful at maintaining some composure.

Are there any tolerant dogs of friends or neighbors who you might be able to arrange a nice walk with? Sometimes just walking parallel to another dog, relaxed, enjoying the adventure helps dogs to get comfortable with one another. No nose to nose contact, just a group walk with the dogs on the outside of each person.

I recommend the book, Click to Calm, by Emma Parsons. It's very good and will explain a systematic desensatizing program to help your pup. I think if you get another dog, it might be different. (no guarantee) But after a warming up period, where your dog gets a chance to realize that the other dog is part of the family too, he may well begin to like having another dog around. Most dogs get to that point, some very soon, some after a while. But there are some that never seem to get along. Again, making positive associations beteen the two is important, doing things gradually to introduce them, utilizing neutral territory to start out is helpful...stuff like that. If you get a very young puppy of about 8 weeks, most puppies are well tolerated by adult dogs until they're about 4-5 months old. Then they lose that "puppy license." LOL. When they live together and are handled well, they usually learn to like each other. Keep high value stuff away from them when they're together. There are some other things you can do that you can find out about if that time comes that you're going to get another dog.
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:13 PM
Maura Maura is offline
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Is the dog on a loose leash when he greets other dogs? If your wife is pulling up on the leash this will make your dog feel more vulnerable and more likely to want to strike out. During greeting, leashes need to be loose, and your wife needs to stand as far away as possible.

I also would not use punishment of any sort.
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Old 10-05-2010, 02:54 PM
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"Since your dog is a fully grown adult and still has socialization problems, you'll want to work with progressive training with a specific goal in mind: keeping your dog relaxed. Many people who have a problem with a dog's social skills often find that they don't set boundaries of influence for their dog. A dog shouldn't feel like it has to protect you - you should be your pack leader. This means correcting a dog when it gets too aggressive and not letting it dictate how you act or feel."

That excerpts I think is the best answer to your question. I stumble upon it in my few brief reading.
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by LearnDogTraining View Post
"Since your dog is a fully grown adult and still has socialization problems, you'll want to work with progressive training with a specific goal in mind: keeping your dog relaxed. Many people who have a problem with a dog's social skills often find that they don't set boundaries of influence for their dog. A dog shouldn't feel like it has to protect you - you should be your pack leader. This means correcting a dog when it gets too aggressive and not letting it dictate how you act or feel."

That excerpts I think is the best answer to your question. I stumble upon it in my few brief reading.

Bad advice.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 10-05-2010, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by LearnDogTraining View Post
That excerpts I think is the best answer to your question. I stumble upon it in my few brief reading.
Sounds like you may need to do more reading. Chaz is a good place to start!
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:32 PM
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That spammer isn't trying to answer any question. It's just a sneaky way to slip in his/her link to his/her website....must think we only read briefly too and hopes we'll click on that link so we can get "educated" on how to correct our dogs and how to be the "alpha" to our "omegas." LOL.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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