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What's the best way to handle mild (?) dog aggression?

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  • Original Poster

    #21
    I'm not considering the muzzle. Don't worry about that!

    To be fair, only about 10% of the dog owners are a problem but it seems like I've run into all them in the last week. The worst was someone who accosted us when I was getting her out of the van and we had nowhere to go but between the cars. That lady would not take no for an answer because my dog was "only" growling and she seemed to think she was a dog whisperer. The dog was very nice and I think it would have been fine if she'd just given us a little more time and space. I WANT her to meet as many dogs as possible so I always try, unless I can see from far away that it just won't work. Or, I don't have the opportunity to say no thanks for whatever reason.

    She was on crate rest for heartworm treatment and then limited activity for a hip so a lot of the winter has been spent close to home. Things we have overcome are passing other dogs at a reasonable distance and keeping the focus on me, going to the local pet supply store and not worrying about dogs in the next aisle or checkout line and not getting worked up because there is a barking dog in someone else yard or at their windows. An outdoor cafe is next on this list and I don't think it will be a problem because she is fine in the vicinity of all other dogs after some time to adjust.

    This is a very dog friendly area, too, and most people are happy to just spend time with their own dogs and ignore us. The biggest problem in my own neighborhood is that very few move in or out, everyone knows everyone (I've managed to stay under the radar for 7 years) and a new dog is the equivalent to having a baby. I'm also guessing people assume that since she's good with kids, she must be fine with everything.

    So... She's come a long way in a short time and I can handle most of what goes on but that 10% where she is made uncomfortable has been an issue lately. We can see 3-5 dogs on the way to and from school (not counting the ones at pick-up) and that's pretty common everywhere else we go on a nice day. I'd like to control all her encounters but that's just not realistic if we want to enjoy the other 90% of our life with her.

    I don't think a training class is right for her now, and this is the only issue besides her being built like a tank and a little heavier on the leash than I'd like, but I'm registering her for a nursing home program next month. Mostly because I think she would be great at it and also because I'm hoping to meet more people with appropriate boundaries and calm dogs to widen her horizons. Agility is definitely not something she would excel at but I'm considering that, too.

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by CrazyGuineaPigLady View Post
      I'm not considering the muzzle. Don't worry about that!
      whew. Glad to hear that.




      The biggest problem in my own neighborhood is that very few move in or out, everyone knows everyone (I've managed to stay under the radar for 7 years) and a new dog is the equivalent to having a baby. I'm also guessing people assume that since she's good with kids, she must be fine with everything.
      yes, dogs (and especially pretty dogs or if the people know the owner) are a draw for many.


      Mostly because I think she would be great at it and also because I'm hoping to meet more people with appropriate boundaries and calm dogs to widen her horizons. Agility is definitely not something she would excel at but I'm considering that, too.
      that's a very good idea. Therapy dogs are required to have a certain demeanor and ability to handle stress and change so that would be a great place to use as a training ground.

      And I gotta say this CGPL, this dog is lucky to have found someone who is so aware of what she needs, and gives her the space and time to get to where she can handle the world around her.

      Good on ya.

      Comment


      • #23
        you're talking about on-leash meetings? in my opinion, leashed dogs should NEVER meet. Ever. The presence of the leash scares many dogs into being "reactive", so that's one good reason to avoid it; and the other is, when your dog is on leash, you want to teach the dog that he's not going to be going around meeting other dogs. If your dog knows this and understands it, you will be much happier in the long run. Many a person has to fight with their lunging dog as it tries to meet n greet every dog it ever meets anywhere.
        What you want is a dog who will calmly ignore strange dogs and just walk past them.
        One of the items on the CGC test (a test of very basic dog manners) is: can your dog calmly walk past another leashed dog without getting excited/scared/trying to meet the other dog?
        So if you're out walking your dog on a leash, just say NO when people ask if their dog can "meet" yours. You don't have to explain, nothing, just say NO and keep going.
        Dogs do enjoy playing with their special friends, though, so if you can find somewhere where it's safe for your dog to engage friends off leash, that's nice.

        Also keep in mind that many of those "friendly" in-your-face dogs you meet aren't actually being "friendly": they are being RUDE. The doggy equivalent of some stranger coming up and grabbing you by the shoulders and giving you a big smoochy kiss. There's no reason to expect that YOU would enjoy/tolerate strangers doing that to; why would you expect your dog to tolerate such behavior? a normal dog's reaction to such rudeness is fear/anger, and responses such as trying to run away, or snapping/biting at the rude dog, are perfectly normal dog responses. It's not YOUR dog that is "in the wrong" in such a situation, it's the OTHER dog who is behaving inappropriately.

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        • Original Poster

          #24
          Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
          And I gotta say this CGPL, this dog is lucky to have found someone who is so aware of what she needs, and gives her the space and time to get to where she can handle the world around her.
          That means a lot to me because I don't recall you throwing out compliments willy nilly.

          It's been an adjustment to go from an entire life of (mostly) well rounded barn dogs to dealing with leashes and clueless dog owners in suburbia. Unfortunately, that's our lot in life and we both have to work it out. My irritation is likely rubbing off on her so it may take a bit longer.

          I rarely post anything that includes pictures of my kids or personal life (and baby talk!) but here is the dog in question a few days after we got her. I would say she's more "unique" looking than pretty but everyone is drawn to her and she loves the attention, unless it comes from a strange dog. She does sit on command without treats now.
          Last edited by CrazyGuineaPigLady; Mar. 24, 2012, 11:46 AM. Reason: Removed video

          Comment


          • #25
            Martha is adorable!!!
            What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

            Comment


            • #26
              She's adorable! What do you think she is? She looks like a Bassett/pitt cross or Corgi/pitt cross to me. I love her smile!

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by CrazyGuineaPigLady View Post
                That means a lot to me because I don't recall you throwing out compliments willy nilly.
                nope, only those that deserve them get them. And you do.

                what an ADORABLE and nice little dog Martha is! Love that constantly moving tail. Bet most of the time that is her deadliest part! Give her a scritch and a smooch for me.

                I can see why her looks draw people in....white dogs with cute spots would draw me in too! Good luck with her, she is just as cute as can be!

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                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
                  What do you think she is? She looks like a Bassett/pitt cross or Corgi/pitt cross to me.
                  Martha was picked up off the street so her breed mix is a guess. My last dog was a Basset and I know that's in there, without a doubt. Because of her size (just under 12" tall/30 pounds is too fat) and ears, we originally thought half Jack Russell. Her super fine coat and jaw width say Pitbull and that explains some behaviors I've never dealt with before but there are some occasional JRT traits showing up. My vet really wants me to DNA her and I'm waiting until it's a freebie.

                  Here is what led up to that video.

                  Do you think she could be the next big agility sensation?
                  Last edited by CrazyGuineaPigLady; Mar. 24, 2012, 11:45 AM. Reason: Removed video

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by CrazyGuineaPigLady View Post
                    Dog is a 2-ish Basset/Pitbull/maybe JRT mix that I adopted last fall. Her temperament is mostly Basset with a little more get up and go...She has never tried to jump on another dog and I don't ever want it to go there!
                    Unplanned sidewalk meetings with unknown dogs and owners have a high potential for failure unless both dogs are pretty mellow. If both dogs are even slightly hyper, for any reason (fearful, reactive, bouncy, under-exercised, etc.) it's going to fail. One dog's a little pushy, one dog's a little wary, and before you know if, someone crossed someone else's personal boundaries and there's a snapfest at your feet.

                    You can't control or train random strangers with dogs, so the only real way to prevent "hi, I'm a dog whisperer and I'd like to chat with you while my dog behaves obnoxiously; I promise I will not noticing anything amiss until after WWIII breaks out." encounters is to choose to not have casual meet-and-greets with everyone you run across. This is not keeping your dog in a bubble. Dogs don't actually need casual socialization to be happy or content; most of the reason there's a strong prejudice toward all dogs being low-key, super-friendly, super-social pals of all the world who get along at dog parks is for the human side of the partnership. We like to hang out with other people, like to please the nice lady with the Schnoodle or the nice guy with the GSD mix, like to say "Oh, sure, come on over and let the dogs play together." That's human socialization, not really for the dogs. Dogs doesn't care if they have 30 friends at the dog park, or 5 friends in your backyard when you and your friends-with-dogs have a barbecue. You have a special consideration, in that any dog with pit bull in them is probably much safer and happier if you don't place them in situations where their DA inheritance could kick in.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      Not arguing, but what should I do? Keep her home and never try because of that 10% who ruin things? It's been proven to me that I'm going to run into them on occasion and also that she can handle it in the right situation.

                      Believe me when I say I'd rather NOT have to socialize with anyone who isn't already a friend. My world would be perfect if I could be just as anonymous with the dog as I was before I got her, but that's not how it's shaping up. Dealing with these people and their dogs is just a fact of life if I want to take her anywhere. Dog parks have not ever and probably will never be something we do, or want to do. I would just like to get her to the point where every new, well enough mannered, dog on the leash of a clueless owner doesn't set her off. If that's not feasible, we'll go to Plan B.

                      I have plenty of stories about introductions that started off badly and turned out really well, but they are with people and dogs we've seen more than once. Knowing that she is capable of working though this, I would like to keep trying and hoping that it will be a non-issue one day. Not so that she can have more "play dates" or run up in other dog's faces, but so she doesn't get as worried when it happens to her.

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                      • #31
                        Look into the book "Control Unleashed". There is a whole protocol based on the concept outlined in the book.
                        Sheilah

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                        • #32
                          OK, I get that. If some of your meetings end well, maybe it's worth continuing with it. Maybe just have a few personal guidelines for clues (about both dogs and owners) that you'll use as a "Do Not Engage" rule. You probably already know the types that most likely will end up being trouble; cut them off and you'll cut your chances of a bad outcome. Personally, I wouldn't bother with situations where things miiiight turn out okay, given optimal conditions. At least, not now. She's young. If you concentrate on meetings with dogs/owners who are likeliest to give your dog a good experience, and work on keeping her attention when she's approached by more out-of-control types, she might improve a lot over the next few years without directly attempting real meetings with those wilder types.
                          Last edited by vacation1; Mar. 21, 2012, 10:31 PM. Reason: goofed

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                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            Last night I took her to the pet supply store we always go to and had planned to eat outdoors at restaurant in the same shopping center. Long and rambling side story:

                            The employees at the pet store LOVE Martha (will take her behind the counter when too many dogs are there and I need to shop) and I told them about the Dog Whisperer. One of them has a DA dog and he's been very helpful, even if it's just sharing stories about people we've run into. I happened to remember the dog's name and it turns out she was the manager's dog and a friend of her's had stopped by to take the dog for a walk. The other employee spoke up and said everyone who was working that day complained about her for "being in the way and having boundary issues". He said the other dog was actually super nice and laid back and would have been great for mine if things had been different. He's going to tell the manager about my experience so the Dog Whisperer doesn't put her dog in jeopardy again.

                            We walked over to the restaurant and there was a dog tied on the opposite side of the fence from the table where his people sat. Marth took notice but didn't get worked up, at all, when we had to pass him to get in. We (my family of 5) got a table and she had a nice area to lay on her rug and chew a bone. Then the waiter said dogs were only allowed outside the fence. Friday night, her first time and lots of people walking by (some with dogs) so I didn't think it was the right time and brought her home. She was really good, though, and I plan to try again at a quieter time.

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                            • #34
                              Originally posted by threedogpack View Post
                              I may have BitchFactorHigh written somewhere across my face.....
                              . Me too. My forehead blinks NO. JUST. NO.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                CGPL, sounds to me like you're doing great. Keep up all the playdates and new intros with appropriately behaved dogs, and don't allow people with overenthusiastic dogs near. Remember, you are under no obligation to allow a stranger or their dog to approach you. Throw your palm up like the grouchiest crossing guard if necessary. You will be doing the Clueless out there a favor.

                                I missed seeing Martha's video..

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                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by CrazyGuineaPigLady View Post
                                  Friday night, her first time and lots of people walking by (some with dogs) so I didn't think it was the right time and brought her home. She was really good, though, and I plan to try again at a quieter time.
                                  Good for you. In a recent post, Denise Fenzi talked about how sometimes you are further ahead to quit for the day than to try and push it.

                                  You recognized that and did what was best for your dog.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #37
                                    I'm all about trying again when and if the stars align. The weather has turned back to cool so we're getting a break from dogs all over the place, for now.

                                    If you are still interested lovey, I could PM the videos. I'd hate to deprive anyone of Martha.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by CrazyGuineaPigLady View Post
                                      I'm all about trying again when and if the stars align. The weather has turned back to cool so we're getting a break from dogs all over the place, for now.

                                      If you are still interested lovey, I could PM the videos. I'd hate to deprive anyone of Martha.
                                      Please Please Please?

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #39
                                        By accident and what could have been a very bad situation, we had somewhat of a break through yesterday.

                                        I was taking Martha out to the van when a neighbor's husky mix (that you only see when he slips out the front door ) came running down the street and made a beeline towards us. Marth was off leash, too, and as calmly as I could, I kept her attention on me while trying to slap the other dog repeatedly with the leash. He was obviously used to that kind of treatment because he stayed just out of reach, while circling us, and eventually went on his way.

                                        Martha was a rock star! She did her usual thing at first and then just stood at my side and watched me "take care of him". Once he was gone, she hopped in the van like nothing happened and never even looked down the street to see where he went. Big change from when she used to be fired up for a good 15 minutes.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          outstanding! Being off lead might have helped a little too, but good for you for protecting your dog!

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