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worried: on-leash aggression?

kayla
July 25th, 2005, 06:46 PM
Lately (over the past 2-3 months) Kayla has developed a weird habit. When Iím walking her and sheís on-leash and sees another dog she starts growling and barking and her hackles are all raised and she sounds really aggressive. At the same time her tail is usually wagging and if she actually gets to meet the dog she stops growling and wags her tail and is very friendly. She does the same thing when she is inside the car and sees a dog on the outside that she canít get to. Other than this she has never shown any aggressive tendencies, never gotten into a dog fight, and is very playful with other dogs. She only does this with other dogs, and only when she canít reach the dog. It often freaks the owner of the other dog out too, and I donít blame them her growl is fierce! Itís like sheís doing it out of frustration or something. I donít know how to deal with it though because she does not listen to me when she gets into these states. Itís weird too because if she is off leash and sees another dog and starts running towards it and I call her she almost always comes back right away (before sheís even gotten to the dog), sheís really good at recall and usually listens to meÖ :confused:

Iíd really appreciate any advice someone can give me on this, itís really gotten me worried as I feel like I canít walk her on the leash anymore because of her little freak outs! Also sheís only one year old and can this be a possible sign of future aggression? :(

Prin
July 25th, 2005, 06:53 PM
She only does this with other dogs, and only when she canít reach the dog. I'm glad she is doing it to other dogs only and not to herself.. Hee hee, just kidding...

Have you tried distracting her as you pass by? Either with a piece of food or just with your voice?

kayla
July 25th, 2005, 07:00 PM
I'm glad she is doing it to other dogs only and not to herself.. Hee hee, just kidding...

Have you tried distracting her as you pass by? Either with a piece of food or just with your voice?


Sheís not food motivated (unless itís tuna but Iím not about to carry an open can around with me :p ) so food wonít work. Iíve tried distracting her before she sees the dog but as soon as she does she goes crazy and nothing distracts her. Occasionally if I have a toy I will play tug with her while I walk by which sometimes works, but I canít do this in the car when Iím driving, and donít always have a toy with me when Iím walking.

Prin
July 25th, 2005, 07:15 PM
That's probably why the toy doesn't work well- you have to be very consistent. Bring a toy on all walks and distract her every time.

In the car it's going to be harder. My doggies had long leashes on in the car, and I pulled them into the middle, between the two front seats so they couldn't see out the side windows anymore. It's a lot easier with two people in the car...

StaceyB
July 25th, 2005, 07:21 PM
Yes, it can develop into aggression. A wagging tail does not always mean happiness. It is body language as a whole. Each signal on its own can mean more than one thing
Think back to the very first time this happened. What was going on around you, think of the details. Has she met other aggressive dogs on leash? You need to take back control. The way you react during her fits can add to and make the behaviour worse. Before you approach the other dog, make her do something, such as sit or down. If she doesn't listen, she doesn't greet. Whatever you do don't sit there and comfort her or pet her to calm her down.
Once she has calmed, allow her to greet. You may also want to consult an experienced trainer who can help you deal with this in a positive manner. I have certain techniques that I use with my students that are dealing with aggression/ social issues but I teach, supervise and do constant assessments with them to make sure that the parents are having success on their own and whether the techniques are working or need to be adjusted. All techniques I use are positive. Choose a trainer that has had success in dealing with aggression. I know some trainers that are just not experienced enough in dealing with this type of behaviour so do your homework and choose the right one. There are also trainers out there that use aversive techniques, many put fear into your dogs and cause more trouble for you in the end, usually a dog who now doesn't trust people as well as dogs.
What kind of equipment do you use? Is she fixed?

Good luck,
Stacey

kayla
July 25th, 2005, 07:37 PM
I was using the Halti for a bit but it seemed to make the problem worse (or so I thought) and I feel like it makes the other person more nervous too (most people think it's some sort of muzzle) so I just use a plain collar and leash. One trainer showed me a way to put the leash around her body which I do if she pulling particularly bad, so her throat doesn't get damaged.

I never pet her to calm her when she's like this. Should I tell her "no" or ignore her when she's growling? Usually I calmly say no and just hold her back but that doesn't seem to be working.

I can't think of when it started. She's never had a bad on-leash experience. She's always been very excited to see other dogs and pulled on-leash. I hired a private trainer once who tried to help me with her pulling but just ended up labelling her a "chronic puller". :confused:

StaceyB
July 25th, 2005, 08:24 PM
Spend some time thinking about when it started. It may be the key. Unfortunately you haven't found very good trainers. Pulling is a habit that can be broken with some direction and work. The gentle leader I find works better than the halti even though they are the same type of tool. It needs to be sized correctly and used correctly to work.
When you get it, throw out the book that comes with it. It tells you to put it on and let them run around the house with it. Unless you want them chewing it to bits, I wouldn't recommend it.
To size it, set the neck piece the same as your regular collar, two fingers flat between collar and neck. The nose piece should have one inch from bottom of chin to the black buckle and then lock it. This will ensure that it is not too loose where it pushes up over the eyes or to tight where it corrects all the time so your dog will not feel anything different when she pulls.
When you use it you must not hold the leash tight. Hold the leash by the handle or make sure that there is a loop between you and dog. If the leash is kept tight it will put a constant correction on the dog and she will fight to
get it off. This is just a tool, you need to teach them not to pull. All it does is helps control the pulling.

Back to the leash aggression. Pick a word that you use as a correction word, wrong, eheh, no is fine as long as you don't use it for everything. Have your dog sit and watch you for 5-10 sec before you greet. If she really wants to see the other dogs she has to listen to you and behave first. Do you get nervous when she behaves this way? If so you may be encouraging this behaviour.

MIA
July 25th, 2005, 08:32 PM
My two MinPins are leash aggressive and while most thinks it's easy to deal with a snarly 8 pound dog I don't think and plus it's totally embarrassing! I taught my dogs "watch me" I did it in the house, in the yard and then while on walks. All my dogs are obedienced trained so while out on a walk if another dog was coming I would put them in a sit and say watch me, worked like a charm the other thing to do is start working your dog when this situation comes up, ie change direction, ask for a heal, sit, down whatever you want but make the situation about YOU not the other dog. It's all about day to day training, work on it all at home, healing in the yard and perfecting the basic commands as they make situations like these easier. Remember TONS of praise, even if your dog is only "good" for a second the first few times, if you keep at it, it can only get better.

The other thing I want to mention is I am guessing, because you are human, when you see the other dog coming you tense up, which goes staight down the leash to your dog and may actually causing some of the issue, breath deep and think about what you are going to ask your dog, be as non-reactive as you can and proceed as calmly as you can.

Lucky Rescue
July 25th, 2005, 08:37 PM
Great advice MIA! :thumbs up

StaceyB
July 25th, 2005, 08:46 PM
Unfortunately there is a little more to not showing your fear by trying to hide your fear. When you get nervous or scared, chemicals in your body change. Your dog can smell fear as well as detect changes in your behaviour so it is not so easy to hide from them. You actually need to be calm.
While trying to get your dog to work for and focus on you as hard as it may be will actually help to calm both of you because you are placing more focus on each other rather than the other dog.

Schwinn
July 26th, 2005, 09:30 AM
Daisy has been like this since almost day one. We actually first noticed it when she was in her pen, and my parents dog went by, a dog she got along fine with. Suddenly she was snarling and snapping, acting like Cujo on crack. We talked to the vet who informed us she does the same thing there sometimes. It was explained to us that it was because she's afraid of other dogs, and when she's restrained, it heightens her fear. It's her way of saying, "Back off! You won't be able to take me!", kind of like walking through a bad neighbourhood and puffing up your chest (for a man, anyway). We've been struggling with this for almost 5 years, and it is slowly getting better.

Dogastrophe
July 26th, 2005, 10:29 AM
Monty acts the same way when on lead. He is generally a very mild mannered dog but when he sees another on lead, particularily one the same size or larger, he will start to huff and puff, which in turn gets my other two all worked up. If we walk by a house with a dog in a fenced yard he will just look and keep walking like they were not even there.

He is def worse when he is walking in his pack than on his own. To counter this, I often will take him out alone and walk a trail that I know other dogs will be on. When he first gets sight of the other dog, I will immediately get him to focus on me by doing a series of commands: sits, heels, paw, etc. When we get some successes, I will go home and get one of the others (usually Jack) and repeat the walk. It is still a work in progress but is getting better.

When we are out of their territory, they are far better walking together with other dogs around. We had them at a Dog Jog a couple of months ago where all the dogs (~60+ dogs) were on lead and had no problems at all.

To follow up on Stacey's post, owners will often contribute more to the dogs behaviour than not. For example, when I have Lucy out alone (she tends to lean to the dominant side) she will approach other dogs that we meet. Her approach is a very in your face one where she will rush up the last two or three paces and give a stare sometimes accompanied by her talking (kind of a combination between a bark and a growl and a howl). She sounds far worse than she is but it causes many ppl to immediately pull back hard on their leads, which will often cause their dog to rear up, which Lucy interprets as a direct challenge, causing all sorts of noise. In cases where the other owner lets thier lead slack just a bit, Lucy generally will go into a play bow or will just sniff and move on.

kayla
July 26th, 2005, 12:31 PM
Spend some time thinking about when it started. It may be the key.

I was thinking about this and I think it started when I moved to Vancouver for the Summer. When I moved here I started a full-time office job and she spends the days in a little enclosed area with plain view of the back alley and all the dogs that pass by. Sometimes she just barks at the dogs, sometimes, barks/growls/etc. She gets taken out on a group walk when Iím at work but other than that spends the day in this area.


The other thing I want to mention is I am guessing, because you are human, when you see the other dog coming you tense up, which goes staight down the leash to your dog and may actually causing some of the issue, breath deep and think about what you are going to ask your dog, be as non-reactive as you can and proceed as calmly as you can.

I do definitely tense up when I see other dogs coming down the street. Itís very hard not to be tense but I will try my hardest!

It was explained to us that it was because she's afraid of other dogs, and when she's restrained, it heightens her fear. It's her way of saying, "Back off! You won't be able to take me!", kind of like walking through a bad neighbourhood and puffing up your chest (for a man, anyway). We've been struggling with this for almost 5 years, and it is slowly getting better.

It makes sense that she would be growling from fear, could being tied up make her feel less secure? Is there a way I can get her to trust me more? Could it be a lack of trust in me that makes her feel threatened on leash?

I did some obedience classes a while back and the trainer there said she was an odd mixture of high/low stress. Low stress= the type of dog to run up to everything and is scared of nothing, high= type to be fearful and run from something. He thought this because although she was very friendly and outgoing she was scared of a few of the objects he used in an obstacle course (a tunnel and tire hoop) which Iím guess is because she was a little scared of enclosed areas because when she was about 4 months we got rear-ended in a car. Nothing serious but she was frightened and threw up right after (and constantly threw up in cars following the episode). Since figuring that out Iíve done a lot of work with her and cars and now she loves going for rides and never throws up anymore! Anyways a little tangent there but I thought it may be a possible reason she may not trust me so much?

Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it this has gotten me quite stressed out, she's young and I don't want it turning into something worse!

twinmommy
July 26th, 2005, 12:51 PM
I think Mia'a got it bang on. ("What she said!!" :D

I get the most results from my dogs the more I maintain eye contact. Get them to focus on you and stay focused while the other dog is passing..(baby steps of course: the first times may not work so well, but keep at it :)

good luck!

MIA
July 26th, 2005, 01:10 PM
It makes sense that she would be growling from fear, could being tied up make her feel less secure? Is there a way I can get her to trust me more? Could it be a lack of trust in me that makes her feel threatened on leash?

With my dogs I actually think it's the opposite, they have me aka confidence on the other end of the leash so they used act all big and snarly!

The best thing you can do is train, train, train! Work with your dog, create a partnership of trust. My dogs still work daily, even though they are all well trained. It's good for thier brain and our relationship.

If you are in Vancouver, there is a great trainer named Jaime at www.absolutek9.ca and working in a group situation might be healthy for both of you. Classes aren't overly expensive.

Prin
July 26th, 2005, 01:27 PM
Dogs always overreact when on the leash. Some of the worst injuries at our dog park occurred when an owner came in with his dog on a leash and didn't take it off.

Either way, whether it's fear or aggression, the dog feels that he has to react stronger because you are holding him back. He isn't free to defend himself or even present himself the way he wants to, so he reacts like a mad dog- a preemptive strike.

What I also find useful, when Boo is particularly bad, is I cover his eyes...