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Selectively Dog Aggressive

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I've been fostering a female probable bc/jack russell mix who is @ 6 yrs old and on the small side. She has been through at least 2 owners before ending up in rescue and in her last home had been kept in a backyard 24/7. She's not the slightest bit shy and in fact is great w/kids, adults of all ages and genders, and cats. However, she is selectively dog aggressive. Since I routinely have a couple of fosters as well as my own dogs, I have noticed a pattern to her dog aggression; it is directed primarily towards smooth or short haired dogs - both male and female. The more submissive they are to her, the more aggressive she is with them. If she's upset over something (such as a reprimand), she will whirl around and w/o warning attack the most submissive dog short haired dog in the house. When she attacks, she doesn't go for the head or ears, she goes for the throat and doesn't let go until I grab her collar at which point she immediately stops. The only time she has tried to bite a long haired dog is if the dog tried to join in the fight she was having w/a short haired dog. At the moment, I have no short haired dogs in the house and she has not shown any dog aggression for a few weeks. However, a friend stopped by w/her short haired dog dog today and my rescue immediately went for the dog - I got her stopped and in a crate before she got w/in 6 feet of my friend's dog.

 

Other than the dog aggression (which is a big issue), she is a sweet dog. No resource guarding issues over food or toys; in fact, she will let the cats eat out of her food bowl. Absolutely loves kids, even toddlers. Actively solicits bellyrubs from anyone who pets her. She'd make a great pet if we could just get her past the dog aggression.

 

Any training suggestions? Thanks.

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First, make sure there isn't a medical problem, like thyroid.

 

Second, it's not unusual for a dog to redirect its frustration and bully a "weaker" dog. Happens with humans too, just think of a high school, which people are routinely bullied? The ones that appear weaker and don't fight back. Targeting smooth coats and short hairs is a learned behavior most likely.

 

At six, it's going to be more difficult, but you have to teach her a better way to express her frustration. Usually, I recommend a mix of BAT/CAT and CU techniques in situations like yours (mind you this is without seeing, so *shrug*), Look at that game, circular walking, etc. Chances are, it'll never be "fixed," but it can be managed to a certain extent.

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Since I routinely have a couple of fosters as well as my own dogs, I have noticed a pattern to her dog aggression; it is directed primarily towards smooth or short haired dogs - both male and female. The more submissive they are to

Do you think it's fear or a territorial thing? Something combined?

 

 

Brodie has been reactive since he was a tiny pup. A bad experience with an Aussie cemented his issues and if he spots my niece's rough coat collie, he's on the end of his leash, though he doesn't attack - he's more warning the other dog to not come near him.

 

He's not truly fond of any other dog (other than his half sister, with whom he romps) but he reacts least to Beagles, and oddly, German Shepherds. I took him to the local SPCA and to a Karen Pryor dog club where we used clicker training and "LAT". It just so happens that the pound was chock full of Beagles. We socialized him with a bit with a very patient German Shepherd so he's marginally okay with them too. When we go for a lesson and there are other Border Collies around, he's so focused on the sheep that unless they break really far into his comfort zone, he pretty much ignores them.

 

In the last week or so, he's started squabbling with Robin but it's a territorial thing - he's finally challenging Robin's right to "own" all the fence posts! Once their morning grrs are over, they are the best of friends again. So I make sure that I praise them to the skies whenever they greet each other in a friendly fashion. It's helped.

 

I've made up my mind that I will always have to manage his peculiarities (he's 2 and a half now) as the strange dog issues have to do with how close the dog is and whether or not it is coming right at him. I do continue to use LAT and clicker training when I get the opportunity to be around another dog.

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