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MackZ

Aggressive behavior

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I have the most wonderful 1/2 bc and  1/2 ausie.  She is great with the kids and with other dogs, except when little dogs get aggressive with her.  We call her the finisher... she never starts anything, but if provoked, holy hell she finishes.  She grabs the other dogs, mostly small nippers by the neck and goes at them.  She never breaks skin but she tears into them.  I'm not sure what to do, but I don't want to stop going to the dog park.  Her off leash time chasing balls and other dogs is so good for her, but I can't control other dogs behavior and if they go at her response is so over the top that we look like the jerks.  

Is this a normal reaction for a herding animal?  If not, ideas on what to do?

thanks!

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Welcome to the Boards.

No, this is most definitely not normal behavior for a herding dog or any kind of dog. And it's very serious.

First, whether you like the idea or not, you must. not. take her to the dog park or allow her to be anywhere off leash where you might possibly run into other dogs any more! This is a disaster waiting to happen and even if she doesn't seriously hurt one of these small dogs -- and there's a good chance she will; she could kill or seriously maim one by snapping its back even if she never breaks skin -- you're leaving yourself open to a lawsuit, not to mention the guilt you'll feel if she does end up doing that kind of harm. I hate to be this blunt, but if you allow this to continue and harm comes to another animal, you will be the ones who are jerks.

Next, consult a veterinary behaviorist or a certified applied animal behavior consultant. It's going to be an involved process to try to get her past this and you need a qualified person to work with.

Wishing you the best.

 

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Definitely find a vet behaviorist.   I had a bc who was fear aggressive toward other dogs.  We followed a program that, 6 months later, allowed him to be ok near and around other dogs.  He was never totally cured, never alone with nor ever unsupervised around other dogs.  I managed his condition for the rest of his life.  He learned to herd sheep and competed in AKC/AHBA herding trials.  Due to his reactivity, that was an uphill battle, but, it was so much better for his mind than chasing a ball.   There is help out there.   I urge you to to find it.  I also agree that the dog park is not a good idea for reactive dogs.  

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What they ^^^ both said. I used to take my 3 (all bc) to the dog park very early in the mornings. I'd leave if anyone else showed up. One of my dogs was definitely dog aggressive. It took me a while, but I finally figured out that I HAD to do things differently, or I'd wind up with a big problem on my hands.

I look at the worst that might happen. If your dog attacks an animal, hurts or kills it, and you ALREADY KNOW that it is aggressive with smaller dogs, you are in a world of hurt. With your dog already having 'practiced' aggression towards smaller dogs, it could even happen with your dog somewhere other than a dog park. In addition, if a human gets hurt, trying to break up a fight for example, the possible outcomes might include seizure by animal control and being kept for rabies observation, or death.

Trick training at home or in a class, agility, scent work, tracking, are all good things for smart dogs. In addition to working their brains, the training builds a stronger bond between dog and human, IMO.

I know this is hard to hear. In the long run, it is much safer for your dog to find alternate ways to engage her brain and get her exercised.

Ruth & Gibbs

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11 hours ago, urge to herd said:

...if a human gets hurt, trying to break up a fight for example, the possible outcomes might include seizure by animal control and being kept for rabies observation, or death.

Depending where you're located, this could be the outcome if you dog attacks another dog, or even a cat. I'm in NY and a dog attacking another animal can be deemed a dangerous dog and confiscated by authorities.

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I agree with all of the above replies. It is very important that you take this seriously. It could very well be a matter of life and death for your dog. A qualified animal behavior trainer, who uses positive reinforcement methods (this part is important) will be able to help you with this. As stated above, if you allow this to continue and another dog gets hurt and/or a person is bitten trying to separate the dogs after your dog piled on, it will make things exponentially worse for you that you clearly knew your dog behaves like this, and there will be witnesses who will testify to that. Please take our word for this. This is not something you want to take even ONE more chance on happening. Don't take your dog anywhere near other dogs until you have addressed this. No dog who behaves like this should ever be taken to a dog park. 

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How old is your dog and when did the behavior start? I've got another thread - I experienced something like this with my dog, and I suspected it had to do with adolescence.  She used to be totally fine at the dog park and would put up with anything, but then she gained the confidence of a teenager and suddenly stopped putting up with stuff and reacting in an excessive way. I dealt with it by stopping taking her to enclosed dog parks, at least for now. I discovered that in off leash areas she is much more relaxed with other dogs. I think it has to do with the dogs not being able to escape each other in the fenced area. They cannot get away from an annoying dog, and a bored dog has nothing to do but annoy other dogs. At the off leash areas, I have to be much more careful about keeping an eye out for things that she may behave inappropriately toward, so it is more work for me, but I have found it is much better for her and we have not had any troubling behavior for a while now. About a month(ish?) after the snippy behavior started, she has gone into heat, so I do think the hormone cycling has caused behavior fluctuations. I do not know what fluctuations may occur following the heat, and I can't say what her "normal" behavior will turn out to be at this point. But I do know that fences made things worse, so I would also suggest that the fenced dog park is not best, at least for now.

A lot of bigger dogs seem to have issues with small dogs. Small dogs tend to be quick to aggress, possibly because they feel threatened by larger dogs. Or it could be that your dog feels dominant due to size, and is more willing to throw her weight around with an opponent she knows she can overpower. To me, I feel that I can't expect my dog to completely ignore rude or aggressive behavior from another dog (especially stuff like mounting), but I also feel that there are appropriate and inappropriate reactions. I agree with others that I would not risk putting a dog in a situation where it is likely to cause harm to another animal. If this is a chronic problem, or if you truly feel that injury is likely, then I would heed the advice in these responses about finding a behaviorist.

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Thank you for the insight.  I don't think any of it is location based.  It could happen anywhere...  a very over the top reaction to aggressive behavior.   Its just weird that she plays, wrestles, and chases tons of other dogs at the beach and in the dog park, but goes insane when someone nips at her.  She will run with dogs playfully mouthing each other, but as soon as one try to establish dominance with charging and biting, she looses it.  I'll seek help.  Thank you.

 

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