Intermittent Aggression Problem

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by phillo, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    I rescued my dog Jack off the side of the road about 4 months ago and he's roughly 10 months now. Jack is generally calm, well behaved, great with most dogs and all kids and adults. He's lived with 2 different dogs in the 4 months since I've had him and has met/played with at least 100 different dogs during walks, at various dog parks, in pet stores, at the vet, etc.

    On 2 occasions Jack has shown serious aggression towards a strange dog. The 1st time I met a dog walker with a young puppy, close in size to Jack. It wasn't apparent to me what it was but something in the behavior of the puppy flipped Jack out and he started making jungle cat noises and generally acting really scary. Both dogs were on leash and the situation was quickly diffused.

    Fast forward a couple of months to today and Jack's 2nd incident of seemingly inexplicable scary aggression. My roommate and I brought our 2 dogs to an off leash dog park in Boston that we go to a lot. Besides our 2 dogs there were 3 others at the park; an adult bull mastiff, a 5 month old golden puppy (the target of Jack's aggression) and a yippy mid size mixed breed dog. Jack and the golden puppy were very close in size and were touching noses, greeting each other with no apparent problem but it got ugly fast. The owner of the golden grabbed Jack, separated his dog and mine then let my dog go at which point Jack did his scary dog routine and actually chased after the puppy. The golden owner basically tackled Jack and passed him on to my roommate at which point I put him on leash and hauled him out of there.

    If you've read this post and have any idea what might be going on, please let me know. Or, if you need any more information please ask. Also, if anyone has dealt with something like this and has advice I'd really appreciate it.

    :eek:
     
  2. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    That's a hard one !! Most dogs don't attack puppies , just scold them if the playing gets rough .
     
  3. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    Right, and my dog has played with many puppies and the play gets rough. The incidents I described above did not involve play and occurred 1 or 2 minutes after the dogs came in contact. Today at the park Jack had the puppy pinned, was growling and generally acting scary but he did not attempt to bite the puppy. Just some more info.
     
  4. Maura

    Maura New Member

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    Teach your dog a solid sit, a solid down, and a solid recall. When you see a puppy and Jack sees a puppy, use one of the above cues. Do this with every puppy and he may learn that when he sees a puppy he should go to you. This doesn't make discovery of what his problem is, but it teaches him to stay away from the puppies.
     
  5. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    It sounds like adolescent behavior to me. I would not take him to play with dogs you don't personally know, but do schedule the time for play sessions with adult dogs who will help to teach your dog some manners. Is your dog neutered? If so, how long ago did you get him neutered?
     
  6. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    just wanted to follow up. this issue has been handled by watching jack closely in off leash situations, it hasn't happened since i originally posted. my guess is that jack was attacked/abused by a tan colored 30/40 lb dog at some point. do dogs have that kind of long term memory?
     
  7. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Yes, dogs are capable of remembering past situations.... but I think a lot of time humans are too quick to assume that because their dog doesn't act "appropriately" it's because he's been abused or traumatized in some way. This kind of thinking doesn't do anything to help you solve the problem, and in fact it usually only excuses the problem in the future. It doesn't really matter why your dog acted the way he did, or why he hasn't done it again since then; what matters is that you are prepared to handle him if you see the behavior again, and have a plan to solve the problem.
     
  8. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    that's great advice. the incident described in my op was a huge reality check. i now pay very close attention to jack's body language looking out for potential problems. i've stepped in a lot times to diffuse potentially bad situations. all were other dogs aggressively bugging jack and not reading his signals.

    jack is super polite with other dogs. i'm visiting family and they have a 3 yo female pitbull, heavier but smaller framed than jack. she is VERY dominant, and takes no bs. if jack gets too close to her she makes a low growl and he INSTANTLY backs off. doesn't cower or anything just kind of switches to a play bow or something.

    today i was at a hillside dog park between miles of trails. all the dogs here were awesome, and we probably met about 30. at one point 5 big dogs surrounded jack and he growled a little, i said his name and the other dogs gave him some space and that was it. big dogs little dogs. jack ran with this little dog, really cute black and white 25 lbs, kind of fox like. jack and this dog ran so hard, the little dog chasing jack, i've never seen him play with another dog like that. running in huge crisscrossing circles. the other dogs owner and i watched them with our mouth open. in mid run jack just collapsed and the other dog did too. so great.

    i found jack on the street in rural missouri, the ozarks. he was so terrified of other dogs, the first night i had him he growled at himself in the mirror at the hotel for 5 minutes before i covered it with a sheet. at his first vet visit he shivered in my lap at the dogs 10' from him and had to be carried to the exam room because he wouldn't walk there. the first time i took him to the dog park it took 15 minutes to go 50' because he was so scared. when we got in the park he just shivered next to me.

    of course i should be monitoring him closely, thanks for all the great feedback.
     
  9. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    Some dogs are very, VERY intolerant of puppies... personally, I think this is not natural, but it happens when a dog is terrorized or attacked when they are a puppy. When I adopted Gonzo, he was 6 months old and had scabs and hair loss that indicated that he had been picked on and attacked. He really dislikes puppies. He has no patience for them and over-corrects them, but never hurts them. He despised Fozzie for a week, and became BFF's with him the moment Fozzie realized how he had to act around Gonzo and after plenty of desensitizing and counter conditioning with Gonzo. He's good with unusually calm puppies, small breed puppies, and most adolescents. I definitely avoid him meeting strange puppies, though, as I do not want to traumatize them! :(

    It's awkward to have a puppy-hater but it happens... Even with dogs who are well adjusted and perfectly friendly toward adult dogs. That, and the fact that all of these "attacks" have been harmless displays, indicates that Jack isn't truly aggressive. He's definitely over-reacting and over-correcting, but if he wanted to harm those puppies he would have. Heavily reward him every time a puppy is nearby, and especially when he's being calm and tolerant around them.
     
  10. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    interesting, that was jack's same age and condition when i found him. scabs, hair loss and terrified of other dogs.

    that's good advice but i don't think it's puppies specifically, it's golden dogs, retrievers but puppies more so. he took down an adult golden in the woods the other day, maybe 2 x his size, scared the hell out of the golden's owner and the poor golden instantly went belly up and had done nothing i could see to provoke him, just like the other incidents.

    but he's met probably 20 different goldens in the 8 months i've had him with no problem. it's the intermittent nature of this problem that's so confusing. i requested names of trainers in the boston area in another post, i think i need a little pro assistance. my fear is not that jack will hurt another dog but that he will cause another dog or owner to hurt him.
     
  11. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    Oh dear.... Remember this??

    If you are not prepared to react when he BEGINS to have an issue with another dog, DO NOT give him the opportunity to meet another dog. Just because it's been yellow dogs so far doesn't mean it will ALWAYS be yellow dogs, and the more chances he has to attack other dogs the stronger that behavior will become. He may start generalizing it to ALL other dogs. Plus, it's SO not fair to that other dog to get attacked by your dog.... what if your dog makes that other dog afraid of other dogs so that he starts doing the same behavior as your dog??

    At this point, IMO, your dog should ALWAYS be on leash unless he's in your fenced property (if you have a fenced yard), and should NEVER be exposed to a place where there are potentially off-leash dogs. At least not until you can get a plan for what to do if you are faced with a dog your dog doesn't like, and are prepared for it.
     
  12. phillo

    phillo New Member

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    yes, i get it and the situation i described, with the poor goldy, made me get it. i've started another post asking for trainers in boston and i'm going to consult with a pro.

    i'm not a total jerk though and i've been consulting with other adults with more dog experience than me while this situation is unfolding. what has made this so perplexing is that i and my dog have interacted with hundreds of dogs, at least, and he has been great with 99% of the dogs we've met; puppies, big dogs, little dogs, aggressive dogs and submissive dogs, off leash and on... i work part time and i'm able to almost always have my dog with me. i've seen him in so many contexts, with so many dogs - and no problems.

    after he tackled that adult goldy without provocation i realized i had to keep him leashed until this situation is resolved.
     

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