On the park, as usual, this morning with a couple of dog walking friends, throwing a ball for the dogs. A woman walks past with a schnauzer on a lead; see her most days and she always says hello, my dog and her dog growl at each other if they meet in the street both on a lead, but my dog has always completely ignored hers when off lead and playing ball so I've never really worried about it.
However, this morning, my dog just flew past me, ignoring my shouts (very, very unlike her) and attacked it. It was all pinning down and noise, no damage or blood or anything, but I had a right job getting her off and resorted to slapping her arse with the end of the lead to get her to back off. I apologised to the elderly owner, who burst into tears and checked her dog was ok, but I was very shaken up, as she's never done this sort of thing before and I'm not quite sure what was different today in comparison to pretty much every morning for the last 3 years.
I've always had problems with my dog being a big growly when she's on a lead and tends to get fixated with dogs, but she's generally ok when off lead. She's been attacked herself several times, so she tends to be a bit wary of other dogs, and will defend herself if another dog has a go, but she's certainly never run over to a dog with the intention of attacking it before.
I'm not sure what I should be doing to stop this happening again? If I have to muzzle her or keep her on a lead, I might as well write her life off now, as the thing she enjoys the most is running with her friends and chasing a ball and she'd just be miserable. She's generally well behaved; walks nice on the lead, good recall, good basic sit, down, fetch, wait, stay commands, as we practice these regularly. I'll obviously lead her if I see this particular dog again, and I tend to do this when we meet strange dogs anyway, just in case, but any advice on how to stop this happening again would be welcome!
No point in muzzling her if she did not bite the other dog and a muzzled dog can still injure a dog if they attack.
This behaviour will not go away if you ignore it but will get worse and more frequent so you do have to do something about it.
You need to contact a qualified behaviourist who can assess the situation and give you a behaviour modification programme to follow.
There could be several reasons and I could comment on them but not seeing the situation in RL that could just cause your more problems.
I would keep away from all other dogs for the time being until you have had an assessment. Do not put her in a situation that makes her growly on lead so turn around walk at different times to avoide dogs etc.
APBC link hereis a good place to start you will need a referral from your vet and that should be your first port of call to check that she has no physical reason for her behaviour - then when given the all clear get a referral
My dog is a bit unpredictable with other dogs. I walk him in the least dog populated areas I can, and pop him on the lead if we have to walk past another dog. I feel for you OP, it's very distressing. It doesn't sound as though she drew blood or did any damage though?
Even keep her away from the two dogs she walks and plays with every morning? She's always been lead aggressive with some strange dogs (not all, bizarrely, and I've never been able to fathom a common denominator in the dogs that she decides she doesn't like!) but never had a problem with her off the lead (she's 6 btw, so not a youngster). We're at the vets later this week anyway, for something else, so I'll mention it to him and see what he suggests. Really can't afford a behaviourist at this minute, as just lost a job, but will bear that in mind when my situation changes (hopefully next week as I have an interview - fingers crossed!).
I'm sorry, I'm not understanding what I've said to provoke that response? All I said was that it's very hard to avoid dogs; just got back from her last walk (on the lead), in the dark, and, on my street alone, there were four other people walking dogs in each direction. Unless I can perfect the art of levitation, I couldn't avoid passing at least one of them, which, for the record, we did without her savaging any of them. In fact she wagged her tail when we passed one.
She doesn't get mega stressed all the time. When she's playing with a dog she is familiar with, as she does every morning, she is happy; tail wagging, bouncing around etc. It would feel like I was punishing her if I totally stopped her mixing with dogs she gets on with. It's just odd dogs she doesn't like when on the lead, and, until today, she's always been perfectly ok with other dogs when not on the lead. I may be missing the point, but I don't get how stopping contact with EVERY dog, when she gets on with most of them ok, is going to stop her growling at a few, or attacking one, randomly, in 6 years. I've said I'm prepared to contact a trainer, when I have the funds to do so, and I appreciate the advice I have received, but it's neither practical or fair on her to stop her playing with her friends in the meantime, when there's never been an issue there whatsoever.
I would indeed stop her from mixing in public places in the short term, both for her safety and that of the other dogs. Of course, if she has a dog friend and both you and their owner are happy for them to play away from a circumstance where she could take it upon herself to see a dog she didn't like and decide to attack it, then that's your choice. So in your garden = fine but at the park = not ok imo. Definitely no on lead greetings at all. They clearly stress her and more bad experiences will make her worse. Cross the road if you can or tuck her into a driveway etc and block access from the oncoming dog, getting her to watch you/take treats if crossing is impossible. If necessary, turn tail until you can get into a driveway or similar.
Get her vet checked as a first instance.any sudden change of behaviour could indicate pain/illness, so it's good to rule that out. In any case, vet referral may be needed for the behaviourist, which is obviously the next step
Unfortunately you need to keep your dog on a lead for now. Is there some well fenced, private area you could use for off-lead exercise? If not, then you just have to cope with on-lead exercise (may be take up running or cycling?).
There is some decent advice online on BAT which may give you the basics to start re-training with until you can afford a professional.
To be honest lead aggression is a sign that is best dealt with asap as it can and does escallate.
My dog is extremely aggressive with other dogs now since being attacked herself. Sought behavioural therapy but the course of action was thwarted by other dogs coming up to her while she was on the lead.
I have now and resigned myself to the fact that she doesn't get off the lead At all now, this also means I have to walk my two dogs separately as the young dog is fine off the lead and its not fair to my old girl to see him bounding about. It sucks OP but it just has to be done. (Until I win the lottery and buy a big ass field for her all to herself)