Dog suddenly a twat (reactive/aggressive), help

(7 Posts)
JesusInTheCabbageVan Tue 21-Apr-20 20:06:22

Dog is a 3yo rescue lurcher. She's extremely gentle and loving towards people, but her relationship with other dogs is more complicated. She's always been reactive on-lead and can play too rough with smaller dogs, but she has a gang of big friends and will run around and blow off steam with them quite happily.

Since lockdown, our normal route (quiet except for a few regulars who she knows and plays with) is crawling with unfamiliar dogs, most of them small. So she has to stay on lead a lot more. I noticed she was getting rougher when playing with her friends, and today she attacked an unfamiliar dog while off-lead sad The dog wasn't injured but it was horrible.

I'll obviously be keeping her on the lead the whole time after this, but that will mean she can no longer let off steam or socialise, and I worry this will lead to worse and more entrenched behavioral problems down the line. She's a mix of three sighthounds, so I feel she does need to do a certain amount of running to be properly happy.

I'm not sure there even is a solution to this, but any insights or advice would be appreciated (btw no dominance theory bollox please).

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frostedviolets Tue 21-Apr-20 21:04:11

My (non professional) opinion is she is stressed by the presence of dogs she doesn’t know and there may be an element of predatory aggression with the small ones.

If you can find a quieter route or keep off walks for a few days until she calms down I’d still let her interact with her friends but no one else.

I also have a reactive dog and I find that far from making the problem worse, limiting contact with other dogs makes her far less likely to react when confronted by the odd loose dog.

Re ‘dominance theory bollox’, the idea that dogs form solid packs and are constantly seeking to overthrow one another has been disproven yes, but, humans aside, I think you’d seriously struggle to find any social animal who doesn’t have a hierarchy of sorts within the groups they live in, you do get dogs who have ‘overbearing’ personalities and want their own way and to be in control and they do need firm handling.

And I think you’d struggle to find any social animal who doesn’t communicate displeasure/unacceptable behaviour without aggression.
This whole gentle parenting, ignore the bad praise the good is a very unnatural way of behaving and not something you’d see within a group of domestic dogs.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling off your dog though I know many will jump in and say there is.

jinxpixie Wed 22-Apr-20 10:30:38

I think she will be grateful that she will not have to socialise as she is showing signs of stress in the situation.

Is is possible to walk at quieter times _(I totally understand this issue as it is one we are experiencing too during lockdown never seen so many people!)

If not do not be worried if she is not having so much exercise,she may well be calmer and more relaxed if you do decrease the walks for a bit.

If she is having an Adrenalin burst every time she sees a dog no amount of exercise will bring this down and calm her.

It is the hardest thing to not take your dog for a walk but as long as she still has the same amount of time from you ,you may be surprised
at how tired she is.

If you walk your dog 1.5 hours a day spend the same time with her (not necessarily all together) . Play scent games, tuggy games,hide and seek games, tricks, sniffing games let her stress levels drop.

I am totally with your with the "dominance bollox"

This whole gentle parenting, ignore the bad praise the good is a very unnatural way of behaving and not something you’d see within a group of domestic dogs. this is not the flip side of dominance bollox

frostedviolets Wed 22-Apr-20 11:02:59

this is not the flip side of dominance bollox

I was trying to make the point that although dogs don’t constantly wish to overthrow one another and be the ‘dominant’ as dominance theory would have you believe they definitely don’t follow praise the good ignore the bad either, they correct each other for what they perceive as bad behaviour.
There is nothing wrong with correcting dogs for behaviour that is unacceptable.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Wed 22-Apr-20 12:50:37

Thanks jinx and violets.

My gut feeling is it's stress as well. While she seems happy enough, her quiet little routine has been upended and I think she has a lot of nervous energy that she's struggling to find an outlet for.

Another big part of the problem is that she's terrible, and I do mean terrible at reading other dog's body language. She 's quite sophisticated at reading humans, but with dogs she gets right in their faces and won't leave them alone trying to make them play with her hmm Anything short of a full on, snarling "Fuck off!" response (and sometimes even that) is part of the game for her. I don't know whether she missed out on socialisation as a puppy or she's just a born idiot, but a lot of her playing is quite puppy-like. I had made a lot of progress in getting her to tone it down and recognise that smaller dogs are a no-no, so this new development has really upset me.

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JesusInTheCabbageVan Wed 22-Apr-20 12:55:40

I have managed to find a much quieter route, so will stick to that for the time being and see if I can bore her back to her senses grin

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JesusInTheCabbageVan Wed 22-Apr-20 12:58:33

And frosted I get what you mean. Her old friends were hugely instrumental in 'training' her to be more normal, and that did include robust tellings-off for exceptional twattishness.

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