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Small dog aggression

February 10th, 2010, 06:41 PM
Here my problem and I'll try not to make it too long.
I adopted a 1.5 yr old Rottie mix male from the pound, hes fixed of course, about a year and half ago, so hes 3 now. I brought him with me everywhere at first. Including the dog park which is where all the problems started. I might have posted about this a long time ago. He seemed to be getting attacked by other male dogs quite a bit and I should have listened to people and stopped bring him but he seemed to love it. Then about a year ago he was attacked by a large male boxer, and though no skin was punctured it was obvious it was serious and my dog had lost. His collar was ripped off his neck by the boxer. Since that day, same day, he has had issues with small dogs, mainly fluffy ones. He has attacked 3 little dogs in a 2 week time span after that and one was quite serious. He has never had a problem before this. I had him thyroid tested and that was normal. Pretty much since then he never goes with me if I know there might be other dogs around. He goes around other dogs but only ones hes knows. And if i had any hope that time had healed him he was at the vets a month or so ago and a girl walked up with a small white fluffy thing the same time the vet tech was bring him out to me from the back. He lunged at the small dog and almost got it.
I would thing this would be a prey drive thing but he was fine with small dogs until this happened. plus he lives with a smallish dog, plus a cat, and use to live with a ferret. I'm think he is possibly insecure, as he pees on everything, and hes trying to pick on dogs he knows he can handle before they get him? Hes normally fine with larger dogs, some issues with other males if they start it.
This is coming about cause I really would like to be able to take him places with me again. I bring my puppy everywhere that he use to go, it makes me sad I can't bring both.
I was going to start brining him to the park, normal park, in hopes of seeing smaller dogs that I could rewards him for good behavoir with. Just walking pass of course. But any other ideas? I'm afraid I'll never be able to trust him again =(

February 10th, 2010, 07:02 PM
Karu'sMama, this sounds a lot like "I'll get you before you get me" syndrome. Are you able to get any professional help? Are there any classes for reactive dogs in your area? It may be something you'd find interesting and helpful.

Please don't take him to any parks until you've learned to deal with his want to keep others, and him, safe. Also, please slowly introduce a well-fitted muzzle, one that allows him to breathe and pant through his mouth.

Please don't feel bad about not taking him along with you and your other pup. What he needs is one on one time right now. How about training? Teaching him games/tricks? Fetch in a well-enclosed yard? Short/frequent walks along your street or in quiet areas(without your other dog)? I'd suggest a harness that a leash attaches to at the chest and a leash attached to his regular collar if he's a very strong dog and tends to lunge. You're going to need to take baby steps with him. Please don't put him in a situation where he'll become highly aroused.

Let us know if you need help finding someone to work with you.

February 10th, 2010, 09:01 PM
I dont think he is as bad as you think. He does not lunge at most dogs. It is only small fluffy dogs, and hes only done it about 6 times. But that is because I am normally on guard with him when he is around other dogs. He is very well behaved and if I see the dog ahead of time and say leave it he will act like he doesn't notice it. I have never had a problem with walking him. Everytime it was a dog that (was) walked up to him and I had not noticed.

And I could get professional help but I really can't afford it. I would like to make that a last resort.

February 10th, 2010, 09:02 PM
It's odd though LP that he isn't generalizing this to all dogs.

All the same, this doesn't sound like something you should (and possibly can) on your own. Specially since it's now an ingrained behaviour for him.

I know I got some invaluable advice from a behaviour specialist when I was dealing with dog-dog aggression issues with one of my grrrls (who, like your dog became aggressive after being attacked several times). And much of the advice was about me and what I was doing and what I should be doing. Even if you can afford only an assessment/ one visit, it's worth the $. Particularly as you are dealing with a Rottie mix and we all know how Rottie's have been unfairly labelled as violent and predatory. It would only take one person to call the animal services folks...

February 10th, 2010, 09:41 PM
I guess I misunderstood "hes trying to pick on dogs he knows he can handle before they get him?" :shrug:.

The problem with taking him to parks is this "Everytime it was a dog that (was) walked up to him and I had not noticed." Unfortunately, we can't always control other dogs and their people.

The "leave it" command doesn't work for you when there are little dogs present, only large dogs?

Honestly, I think professional help should be your first resort :shrug:. As Mx3 said, even one session is worth it. We had/have issues with one of our dogs and I learned that what I was doing at the start wasn't helping the situation. Someone to work 'hands-on' with us helped tremendously. If I remember correctly, a 2 1/2 hour assessment/consultation cost us 180$ with unlimited follow-up phone calls and proved invaluable to us.

February 10th, 2010, 11:10 PM
The leave it command works great for most everything, including small dogs. He wears a head collar also in public now. He didn't back then and the day at the vets he was just out of surgery so he didn't have it on then either.
I do not have a problem with him as long as I can be aware of what is going on around me. But I would like to be able to trust him without keeping my eye on him and everything else. I would like to go to dog social events like i use to with him (not dog parks). I realize that may not be possible but I will like to at least try to get him to trust dogs again. I'm just asking if anyone had suggestions for this. Yes I know the trainer would be best but I can not afford one, maybe if I had a guarantee it would work.

February 11th, 2010, 02:48 PM
What do you mean by a "head collar"? A Gentle Leader/ Halti type ? If so, I would NOT be using this with a dog who may lunge. There's a very real possibility of damage (as in broken) to his snout as well as neck/ vertebrae.

I appreciate where you are coming from money-wise but it really isn't a one-size fits all thing. I can tell you that you need to make sure you aren't projecting your fear (the source of most aggression) onto your animal. But how I do that in my body will be different than how you do it in yours.

I can tell you that you need to understand that the minutest changes in your dog's body language can mean something (or not!). For instance, I know how to read Bridie (my dog). Walking behind her I can tell the difference between happy versus protective versus curious versus aggressive tension in her hinds, back, head, ears and so on. Looking at her head-on I can tell when she is going tolerate another dog and when she is not just by the way she positions herself and her "look".

I can also tell you that you need to understand how you physically, mentally and environmentally (where you go, when you go there and who/what else is there) contribute to this fear and aggression.

That's what the behaviour specialist did for me ~ by watching me with my dog they allowed me to "step outside" of myself and see the aggression from a rational (when A happens and you do X, Bridie is afraid and gets snarly-faced) and a dog-centred (when you hold the leash that way Bridie senses the need to on guard and protect) point of view.

It just ain't that simple my friend.

February 12th, 2010, 06:20 PM
Please consult with a behaviourist as prev. suggested. As the mum of 4 small dogs any dog thats aggressive with others is a nightmare for me, especially when the little ones can be severely injured or killed, they don't stand a chance.