Over-socialization??

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by katiemay, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. katiemay

    katiemay New Member

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    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!
     
  2. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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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"?
     
  3. katiemay

    katiemay New Member

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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.
     
  4. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    My first thought is pedigree, is he reg'd? Certain lines are very well known for some serious unstable issues.
     
  5. Sekah

    Sekah The Monster.

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    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.
     
  6. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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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.
     
  7. MafiaPrincess

    MafiaPrincess Obvious trollsare Obvious

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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
    So its not 'abnormal behaviour' as you have tagged it. I think I would find better "pros".
     
  8. Gempress

    Gempress Walks into Mordor

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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: Aug 3, 2011
  9. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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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.
     
  10. katiemay

    katiemay New Member

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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!
     
  11. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    If the change was so sudden then a trip to the vet for some blood work should be in order, also I would get a CERF on him.
    Good luck
     
  12. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    If you haven't done a FULL vet check (full bloodwork and everything), have that done ASAP. Even if nothing appears to be wrong, stuff like blood sugar, thyroid, and lyme's can cause those problems.

    That said, are you positive it happened as quickly as you thought he did? Many people (even trainers) have difficulty noticing some of the warning signs. Not every dog is growing to growl, stop playing with other dogs, or act flamboyantly stand-offish before they become DA. For example, before my JRT gets into a fight (a full blown trying-to-kill) whatever dog he has been playing with, he will repeatedly turn his head to the side instead of looking at them straight on, his barks changes pitch *slightly* into a higher-pitched bark, and he'll straighten his front legs.
     

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