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Old 01-12-2009, 02:50 PM
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Tazwell Tazwell is offline
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Default Archie's Dog Aggression

I think I've posted about this before-- but I'm looking for more info.

I adopted Archie last December, after fostering him for about 5 months. He's 10 years old.

He's improved with other dogs, but this is where we're at now.

Other Dogs in the home, and dogs that belong to my friends that he's familiar with, He tolerates. He doesn't submiss, he doesn't dominate, he just ignores. He could care less. With him, there is barely pack structure. The other dogs ignore him just the same.

With friend's dogs, he can tolerate them, but if they annoy him, get in his face, or obnoxiously bump him he'll put his ears back, raise his lips, put his head in the air, widen his eyes, and growl. Sometimes if it's bad, Open mouth warnings, so to speak. It never lasts. He just moves away and that's it. He's never bit down on another dog, except for when one of my foster dogs ( 70lb shepherd) mounted him. I kind of feel that was warranted

That's handled easy enough--

But in the store, or around strange dogs, his behavior is hard for me to read. He can walk with me just fine, and ignore other dogs in the vicinity. Probably up to about 5 feet away. He may stop and look, but then continue right along. He's pretty good with focus work, It's very easy for me to get his attention on me. He will stay with dogs walking near him.

But if we're closing in on a dog, or the dog is walking towards us whining or barking, he'll perk his ears up as if he's interested, and try to pull towards the dog. Once he gets to the dog, he'll immediately open his mouth and "RRrrrrr!!" over the dog. Ears back, tail down normally. It's some sort of aggressive warning thing, I don't know. There's no lip-lifting or growling or warning of any kind.

This reaction really only happens every once in a while, if he's worked up. He'll get excited when he sees another dog, I can see it in his posture. Sometimes he'll go greet the dog by sniffing it's face, and then turn to me for a reward.

The way I've dealt with his "aggression" is by working on focus, ignoring, and rewarding him for all good behavior around other dogs. And nice greetings. If he's getting worked up, I will simply walk him in the other direction, and he's fine. Sometimes when he sees another dog, being crazy, he'll get tense, then turn to me and sit right down, purposefully ignoring the dog to get his reward.

I fear that maybe through rewarding him everytime he politely looks at another dog, he gets too excited when he sees one. I'm just not sure how to treat this behavior, I can't really read whether it's anxiety/fear based, or just plain aggression. His behavior seems mostly nervous, especially around the more familiar dogs.

What does it sound like? Should I videotape his behavior? I can't afford a behaviorist, but it doesn't matter since It's not affecting either one of us at all. All of the above described behavior is very mild, at best. He's in Pet stores with me at least 4-5 times a week.
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Old 01-12-2009, 06:51 PM
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It sounds like Archie's a dog that just simply doesn't like other dogs. I don't think it matters whether it's a dominant thing, aggressive, fear-based, or whatever, I think the important thing is that he's just not comfortable and not exhibiting acceptable behaviors. I think you're doing a great job rewarding when he ignores the other dog, or turns away from them and toward you. I think maybe when he does start to get worked up around another dog, maybe you should be turning around a little bit sooner before he really gets worked up. Then after you turn around (still in the vicinity of the other dog, just not facing him), start rewarding Archie for focusing on you and being calm and quiet. Then when he's calm, turn back around and face the other dog and reward him for being calm then, if you can; if not, turn back around and work on focus and calm facing away from the other dog.
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Old 01-13-2009, 04:20 AM
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Thanks! I'm happy with his ability to stay calm in most situations, He's very easy to handle while we're in public. He's wonderful. I would just like to work on his confidence around other dogs a little bit more, which is why I want to know how his aggression is based. Today at the store, he met two small, calmer dogs, with no issues. But a Minpin was lunging at the end of the leash at him, and I'm sure he would have probably snapped at it, so I pulled him real close to my side, and hurried him along past it

I'd like for him to feel calm, especially with all the foster dogs that I may bring in. He's been in a few tough situations with me, and he has done VERY well with them all. Here's a few--

We were once bombarded by two off leash labs (ones that I knew, but he didn't) one at 110lbs and one at 160lbs, in a parking lot. They were jumping all over me and him, and I kept up on his focusing, and he handled that really well-- that was our BIG breakthrough, that happened this summer.

Another one was when we picked up a loose cocker spaniel into our car, he smelled it, sat down, and kept quiet in the front seat.

And the one that was stupid on my part, but humorous now that I look back on it-- We were driving down a busy, busy road with 7 lanes of traffic, and a Collie mix was darting in and out of the road. I pulled into the right lane, opened my door into traffic, and slipped a leash over her neck, and she jumped in the car-- The dogs smelled each other, and she jumped right into the backseat as if to say "Oh, excuse me-- I'll get in the back!" And then I let out the biggest sigh of relief I've ever sighed!
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:40 PM
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You should also check out the book "Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons. It teaches us how to use clicker training to effectively teach our dogs to be calm in scary situations. I used the methods in her book to teach my dog to be calmer around other dogs, and it worked wonders!
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:03 PM
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I have that book. I've applied those methods in many situations, and Archie's benefited from it as well.
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