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lunging at other dogs

(13 Posts)
DessieLou Mon 04-Mar-13 04:12:17

Our 4½ year old boxer (rescued at 16 months old) has started lunging & pulling to get to other dogs. She has always been excited when seeing other dogs but nowadays I have to stop the pushchair (have a 3 month old) & get Sasha to sit. Her bum will hover over the ground until the dog gets near then she'll lunge. Sometimes her hackles are up & if she gets close enough there can be a noisy scuffle. I'm no expert (first dog!) but it seems to me she's trying to protect us as it's only really become a problem since the baby came along.
She did get attacked by a German shepherd a few times last year and since then has been wary of other dogs rather than her usual bouncy playful self. Sue would occasionally have a warning scuffle with a dog after this but now she's funny with every dog.
She is fine with people apart from occasionally jumping up with excitement.
Sorry for long post but if anyone has any tips I'd be very grateful. I'm concerned about this behaviour carrying on and dd getting in the way when she's older.

RedwingWinter Mon 04-Mar-13 20:19:17

Hi Dessie, this is a common problem in dogs. It's possible that it all started when she was attacked last year, and has developed from there. You are right to do something about it. This kind of problem can be completely fixed but it does take time. You will get the quickest results if you consult a behaviourist, someone who uses positive methods (i.e. force-free). Maybe you could find a member of the APDT near you.

Essentially you can work on a 'look dog' technique. To begin with when you see another dog you say look dog and give a treat. Over time she will learn to expect a treat on seeing another dog, and so you can get her to turn towards you to receive the treat. Another method that can be used is called BAT, which uses increasing distance as a reward instead of a treat. The key thing though is that when using either of these techniques, you stay far enough away from other dogs so that she does not react to them and is still comfortable. Over time she'll get more used to them and you'll be able to move closer.

It's best for her if you can do this when you can just concentrate on her. A behaviourist will really help you get started on this and will make much faster progress than you could on your own. They will know the best method to use for her and help you to understand her body language better, which will help you manage situations. best of luck.

worley Mon 04-Mar-13 20:26:44

I have border terrier who's started this for the past year.. (he's 5 now) started after he went to kennels last year.. he is fine when were out but as soon as a dog comes he barks non stop until other dog or we have managed to get past him. nightmare. I don't dare let him of the lead anymore due to this behaviour sad
will watch this tread for ideas!!

RedwingWinter Mon 04-Mar-13 20:37:52

Some dogs are bad on-lead but fine off it, because the lead inhibits their natural behaviour and hence they get stressed. But obviously if you think he is a threat to another dog, or don't have good recall, then you can't take the risk.

DessieLou Mon 04-Mar-13 22:53:58

Redwing thanks so much for your advice. She is a canine dustbin when at home but not remotely interested in treats when we're out. Too much excitement for her! I will google APDT and see what's available. I think a behaviourist would be our best option as I have no one to look after the baby so it's difficult to get the time.
Thanks again. :-)

ThunderboltKid Tue 05-Mar-13 03:18:04

I had a behaviorist consultation yesterday for a very similar problem! (4 month old baby here & dog aggressive springer!). It was money well spent; so glad I did it. She said that as our dog had only been doing it for a few months we can train her to 'unlearn' that behavior.

Definitely get help sooner rather than later!

lotsofdogshere Tue 05-Mar-13 08:32:44

This is very interesting. My gentle 4 year old labradoodle has on 3 occasions recently shown aggression to labradors (not other breeds). Two things have happened,that I think may be contributing. Our 15 year old dog died and the young puppy hit the 10 month old mark. The doodle has been very protective of the pup since he joined us last May, she is gentle and nurturing with him, but does set limits when needed. It it too fanciful to link the aggression shown to 3 dogs in recent weeks down to her bereavement and changes in the pack order. I have begun calling her if we see dogs approaching that we don't know, her recall is good and I treat her as she walks past ignoring the other dogs.

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Tue 05-Mar-13 09:53:01

Does your dog likeballs, OP? My dog isn't a massive treat fan when we're out, but he will perform miracles for a good squeaky tennis ball. I have one on a rope which I whip out in times of trouble and need his full attention.

FloatyBeatie Tue 05-Mar-13 09:58:29

I do that, chicken. It's got to the point where my dog will look at me in excitement whenever he sees another dog, because he knows the heavenly squeaky ball will come out of my pocket.

It has been a really successful solution. It distracts him entirely from the other dog (unless it is one of his Very Special Enemies) and it changes his whole mindset in the presence of other dogs, keeping him largely relaxed and happy.

Unforutnatley, though, I don't think it will actually unravel his habit of being lungy with other dogs unless distracted -- if I forget to bring the ball I am back to square one.

I'd love to be able to give him experience of being off-lead with other dogs, but I feel I can't take the risk. Iknow by putting him onlead in the presence of other dogs I am entrenching his inability to socialise more confidently. It is catch-22 sad

gymmummy64 Tue 05-Mar-13 10:51:43

I've got the distraction down to a fine art too (treat based), but now that Gymdog is offlead some of the time obviously I can't distract him until I recall him and that is definitely a new level of challenge.

If he's not feeling threatened/interested by the other dog he'll come bounding back straight away for his distraction treat. But if he is, then he'll bark and possibly do other antisocial things before coming over. It's usually ok if I spot the other dog first and with enough time, but we're not there yet. I'm still sticking to open fields where I spend my time obsessively scanning the horizon for dog-shaped moving objects.

I was reflecting this morning that my hazard perception whilst walking is probably now sharper than whilst driving!

Floaty I do find that Gymdog's Very Special Enemies list is a bit of a moveable feast at times...

baileysmam Wed 27-Mar-13 15:53:05

gymmummy64, that post could have been written by me!!! Ha ha. smile
Scanning the horizon, yes i know that well. I've actually replied to a post you sent to me re problems with my own dog so i wont hijack this one, but good luck DessieLou and all other dog owners who are experiencing problems.

CatelynStark Wed 27-Mar-13 15:55:11

I do the scan the horizon thing too!

SlowlyFallingApart Mon 01-Apr-13 03:43:52

And me! I find taking my dog for a walk quite stressful as she lunges & snarls at all other dogs when she's on the lead. It's out of anxiety but because she barks & snarls & is aggressive, other dogs react & the situation escalates. If she'd just walk past calmly, she'd realise that most dogs are nothing to be scared of.

We've done 1-1 training with a wonderful trainer & continue to work on this every day.

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