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Dog bully

(3 Posts)
Djwkin Fri 15-Feb-13 23:16:00

I have an eight year old lurcher. She has an issue with bullying other dogs. She had a poor start and was nervous as a pup. Her aggressive behaviour started at about 8 months, snarling and intimidating young puppies with rough play. I considered keeping her on the lead then, but decided against it as I knew that she was nervy and could develop fear aggression if under socialised

. This behaviour gradually escalated, until at two or three she was consistently attacking adolescent dogs (6 months to two years), holding them at bay, pinning them and snarling. I will stress she never hurt another dog (no injuries). At the same time, her behaviour towards young puppies became more normal, occasionally telling them off but clearly aware that they were not fair game and needed to be treated with tolerance. At the same time, she started to play with children very gently, as if aware of their special status, whilst still ragging and barking with adults.

As the years have gone on, her behaviour towards adolescent dogs has also calmed down, as if she is no longer concerned with dominating them. However, if she meets a shy, submissive or nervous dog, she launches into a snarling attack that is very frightening for the owner and dog. I can anticipate these situations 95% of the time, as I can see other dogs' submissive behaviour a mile off and I then put her on the lead, but there are still occasional incidents. The other dog is never hurt, but the submissive behaviour clearly excites Inca and presents as a bullying opportunity. She is also

On the rare occasions she mistakes the signals and the other dog retailates, inca will move away and will consistently ignore that dog in future. In addition, she never attacks an aggressive or dominant dog. Aggressive dogs she will slink away and avoid, and dominant but friendly dogs she will flirt with and act in a coquettish fashion (mostly entire males), initiating play. Neutrally calm dogs she will ignore, or will play (fairly roughly) with calmly submissive dogs.

She will also bark at people (not children under 12/13 though) who are clearly afraid of dogs and will try to hold them at bay as we'll, though this is much milder than with dogs and not a concern.

As I said, she has never hurt a dog (although dogs do squeal in fear) and never crosses the line into causing injury. As she is a lurcher, people with small dogs assume it is classic prey drive, which I was concerned about when she was younger, but not so now. Even when dogs have emitted shrieks like a rabbit, she has never gone in for the kill, and can do it to a mastiff as well as a yorkie. Smaller dogs she goes for more often, but this is because they are more likely to give off nervous signals when approached by a bigger dog, and there are lots of toy dogs (chihuahuas and yorkie s) that she interacts well with. She is also more likely to attack a single dog than a dog in a group, and will attack a dog with a nervous owner and not with a calm owner ( there are some dogs she attacks when with the man but not with the woman and vice versa).

She is more likely to behave badly if under exercised and had had back problems which have limited her exercise at times. Anyway, what I would like to know is if there are any things I can do to make these situations less socially embarrassing, and also if I am alone in having a dog who clearly understands dog body language but clearly enjoys bullying? I can't see this as fear aggression, although I recognise that with her personality and bad start that if she hadn't interacted with other dogs she would have become fear aggressive.

Djwkin Fri 15-Feb-13 23:22:17

I also appreciate that it may have been about boundary setting, but her poor start and intermittent back problems (shes had surgery) made it hard for me to do so. She's not hugely food oriented, so positive reinforcement (though beneficial) hadn't fully solved the problem. Also, she is very stubborn (if you go one way and she wants to go the other, she will lock down even off the lead).

Djwkin Fri 15-Feb-13 23:47:23

I've just seen that I belong in the Bastard Dog club!

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