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Help! Dog behaviour change(9 Posts)
My dog is a male, neutered terrier possibly jack x Yorkie. He is 4 ish and a rescue that we've had for three years.
A few months ago he developed a hatred for a local dog a white fox terrier. He goes insane when he sees this dog who is not at all reactive, we obviously avoid this dog when we can and keep ours on the lead in local areas.
This has now moved on to any white dog. He barks in such a manic way launches himself at them and doesn't stop. A kind lady today said for me to let him off the lead to see if he calms down but no he went for her poor dog over and over again until he was panting and sweating ( my dog) No damage to her dog he doesn't bite he aggressively lunges.
He is totally fine with all other dogs and used to go out with walkers and a whole gang.
Now he has to be on the lead all the time and it's so stressful!
My last dog got bitten by a mongrel that had curly grey fur. After that, she absolutely hated dogs with similar fur, especially Westies (even though the dog that bit her was definitely not a Westie).
My dog was then always be in attack mode (not especially scary as she was a chihuahua cross breed) when we took her out, and would make the first aggressive move if a curly haired dog came near her.
Maybe your dog got bitten or just scared by a white dog...
It is a horrible position to be in, because you know your dog is lovely, but strangers aren't getting that same impression! xx
I don't know why he has developed this issue, nothing happened when I was with him, but it may have done with the walkers, who knows. But I really want to try to stop it as it's making our walks miserable.
I would guess your dog has had a previous issue with a similar dog in the past. The best thing you can do is walk the opposite direction if you meet this dog. I have the same issue with my dog. A idiot owner had his large dog off leash and it went to attack my onleash dog on more than one occasion. The owner of the dog is an idiot. My dog is an adult now weighing 35kg and hates this dog with a passion. I walk the other way if I see it and distract him with a treat. I suspect something like this has happened to your dog and its a defence mechanism.
If you know the type of dog that is going to upset your dog it might be worthwhile trying to distract your dog every time you meet any similar dogs.
When you see a white dog in the distance get ready with treats and get your dog to focus on you as the dog gets near.
Try to keep your dog focused on you and the treats until white dog has passed.
I imagine this is something that's going to take some time but I've done something similar with my dog's issues with various things over the years, motor bikes being a major one. She doesn't even notice them now.
This has now moved on to any white dog.
And the risk is that next it will be black and white dogs, then brown and white, then brown, then black - until it's all dogs.
He is already generalising his fear (applying it to wider and wider criteria). He needs help now to guard against him doing so further.
pigs suggested approach is sound but there are often more elements to desensitisation and counter conditioning than distracting with food and so it is absolutely worth getting a qualified trainer to walk with you (at least once) and show you what to do whilst observing your dog.
And be prepared for the long haul - reactivity does not go away overnight and often never 100% goes away. Though it can get better.
AmberShadesofGold Yes, I realise that my post makes it sound like an easy, simple process, which it very often isn't, but was just putting it forward as an initial idea.
But yes, a professional trainer would be the best way to go.
As I said in my pp the treat thing worked with my dog and motorbikes, and whilst it took some time it did work, also those carts that road sweepers used to use.
However, it never really worked with cats. I'd think we were getting there and then she'd start lunging and barking again from time to time.
She grew up with my two cats (both dead now) who treated her with the utmost kindness so she was never hurt by one, cats in the street, were and are, a different thing entirely.
Thanks for the advice, I'll look into a behaviourist. I don't think food will distract him but a tennis ball might, he is obsessed!
This has all worsened during lockdown; my husband is laid up with a broken leg so I've been the only one to walk him in months, I wonder if it's also guarding behaviour? He's really reactive to dogs and people getting too close to our house too.
My guess would be that it's fear. Being afraid is, in itself, a deeply unpleasant experience so from the dog's pov every time they see a white dog, some horrible happens. So they try to avoid it by telling the white dog to bugger off.
After a while, they see a mostly white dog with some brown and feel a bit nervous because it's a bit like a white dog. That nervousness is unpleasant so now they think that white and brown dogs cause somthing unpleasant to happen and try to avoid it by telling them to bugger off. And so it continues.
This is not the only reason dogs lunge like this, it just seems most likely in this situation based on the info. My guess would be that there are more scenarios than this where the dog displays under confidence or anxiety - these things all tend to together. However, a trainer would help you determine what is going on.
In the meantime, the very very best thing you can do is avoid white dogs. If you see one coming, turn around and walk the other way. Dive into a bush to avoid it. Run up onto and stranger's drive. Don;t worry about looking odd or rude to another human. Do whatever you need to do to keep your dog at a distance from white dogs that means he will not bark or lunge. This is important. Every time he reacts he takes a step further along to getting worse. Every time he sees a white dog at a big enough distance that he is not worried, he takes a step towards getting better.
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