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shevaun8

hostility towards other dogs... is she trying to protect me?

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Whenever I take Cammie for a walk and another dog tries to be friendly, she bears her teeth and practically jumps on the dog, growling the whole time. The other dogs are just trying to be friendly, and dont seem invasive at all. All the while, I'm right near her and it seems like shes trying to protect me for some reason. Ive come to think that because whenever I'm not around her, she just ignores the other dog.

Do you guys think that shes just trying to protect me, or is it something else?

I was also wondering if there was any way I could get her to get along with other dogs? Because most of my friends have dogs, and I can't even take her out with them. Thanks guys!

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I'm not an expert so I can't "diagnose" your dog (for lack of a better word) but I can share my experiences with boston.

 

Boston has always done the same thing your dog does. she doesn't like other dogs and for that matter people. For boston (and I'm only making reference to my experience) she's nervous. she's a fear biter from what the trainer and vet says. she's also got no self confidence. We've been working on this since we've had her and that's 2 years now. We are on our second time around in obediance class. we are only going for socialization and self confidence because she's got the obediance down pat. I also try to take her around others as much as I can aaaannnd we just took our 2nd flyball lesson. This is something that only her and I are doing. she's getting lots of praise and love and when we leave she thinks she's the queen of sheba. if all goes as planned flyball will help her with her confidence.

 

From what other's have said and I've read, the more self confidence she has the less she will feel like this and act like this. I can't say that's the case with your dog but I hope in the very least my story lets you know you aren't alone.

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It really does not matter what the reason is for her aggression toward other dogs. You must let her know that it is not acceptable behavior.

 

You and your dog will both be happier since you will be able to go more places with friends and their dogs.

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Your post is a little vague. Is she doing this when approached by other dogs while on leash, or is she doing this when off leash, or both? Personally, I don't allow other dogs to get in Lucy's space when she's on leash, unless she already knows them very well and a happy greeting ritual is mutual for both dogs. Otherwise, I teach her to pay attention to me when she's on leash with other dogs around. When dogs are leashed, they don't have the ability to move away from things that make them uncomfortable, and they are prevented from showing a full range of canine communication. They are forced to approach each other directly, which is very confrontational in doggy terms. A nonconfrontational approach is an arcing path, with a nose to butt introduction. For these reasons, some dogs get defensive when they are leashed and see another dog barreling straight toward them.

 

Here's an article that may help shed some light on Cammie's behavior:

 

http://www.flyingdogpress.com/sayhi.html

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In my experience, BCs are generally friendly or aloof towards other dogs if free, but hate being approached whilst constrained on the leash by strange dogs, however friendly. The "control freak" nature of BC, I guess. They want to decide who they want to see and whom sniffs whom first, and it has to be on their terms. If Pippin sees a new dog he eyes it and drops until the dog is within a suitable distance, then usually the greeting is friendly.

Dogs approached from behind are usually handled better than face to face encounters. Training will stop this but it will not be an instant fix.

If this apparent aggression is usual behaviour, there are several options. You can avoid close passes, by reversing or moving away from the oncoming dog, distract your BC by making your dog stop sit and be praised while the other dog passes or distract with noise (both dogs!!) using a can with gravel in it, clicker or other noisemaker that works.

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I just read all your responses, thanks again guys for the great advice! I've noticed that she only tries to bite the other dog if shes on a leash, so I agree that she wants to be in control of the other dog. I will definatly avoid conferentation with other dogs when shes on the leash. Thanks again!

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I have a BC that does the same thing...seems to be common in the breed given their controlling nature.

 

Tonight at agility class a nosy poodle ran over, got in Maggie's face, and tried to take a toy I had in my hand. Maggie snapped at him. I made the mistake of getting in the way and I now have scratch on my arm to remind me to watch where I put my arm. I'm lucky Maggie has great bite inhibition, plus she stopped and tried to make up to me as soon as she realized she had gotten my arm.

 

I guess what I'm saying is to be aware of your dog and her reactions - some dogs just don't like others and that's ok as long as you can take control of situations like the one above. I should've been paying more attention to the other dogs in this case.

 

The agbeh yahoo list has been quite helpful for me as well.

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If you cannot trust your dog to not be aggressive on a leash to other dogs, how can you trust her not to be aggressive off leash?

 

Breaking up dog fights can be hazardous to your health and the dogs' health.

 

You leash may be the only control that you have to refrain her from attacking another dog.

 

As long as your dog is on a leash and another unleashed dog gets in her face, you may not have any liablity. However, if she is running lose and grabs another "friendly" dog, you could easily have some liability......and more important you would probably feel pretty guilty for not controlling your dog.

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Living in the city with one dog who is touchy with strange dogs, I have to deal with a lot of idiots who let their dogs run up and get in other dogs' faces without ever asking if it will be OK. "Oh, don't worry, he's friendly!" If I never hear those words again, it will be too soon.

 

Controlling space is one way that dogs communicate with each other about status, so it's a really offensive move for a dog to just barrel right up to another dog, especially if the victim is leashed or confined and can't get away (i.e., context matters -- which is why some dogs are fine off leash but look like Cujo on leash or in a crate). I actually think it's an exceptional dog who welcomes head-on greetings and that it is not unusual for a dog to object. However, it's a lot easier to live with a dog who expresses her objection by, say, showing teeth (like my bitch Fly) than it is to live with a dog who immediately comes back with guns blazing. With management and training, though, it's possible to tone down a dog's response although frankly, any dog who is really space-conscious and touchy with other dogs is, in my book, a bad candidate for running around loose with other dogs -- even if you seem to get the problem mostly fixed. The exception is if he can socialize with a stable group of dogs who have a similar play style and who he can come to know well. My touchy dog can interact normally with a pack of Border Collies at my trainer's place, because he knows them and, I guess, trusts them. But I would never take him to a dog park and I don't run him near strange people or dogs.

 

When I'm in the park see another dog and owner approaching, and the owner looks like he either wants to bring his dog up to mine (why does every retriever-owning guy think every dog wants to play with his dog?) or is going to let his dogs loose to run towards mine, I either leash Solo and walk calmly off in the other direction (usually the other person gets the hint) or, if I can't leave or don't want to leave (it's public land, after all, and I was there first), I leash him, step in front of him, and ask the other owner to control his or her dog. If the other owner can't control the dog (why does anyone let their dogs run off lead if the dogs don't even come when called?), I find that it usually works to just stand in front of Solo and block the other dog.

 

I think this accomplishes two things: it prevents an altercation from occurring, and it shows Solo that I'll take care of things and he doesn't need to. It's a good idea to prevent altercations because every time your dog gets into one, he's getting to rehearse the behavior you don't like, and practice makes perfect. I have found that Solo has become much more relaxed around other dogs since I started physically interceding between him and the other dogs, and can even ignore some of the local nemeses that he used to really, really hate (like the Wheaten down the block or the big boofy Golden who very unfortunately tried to hump him down at the soccer field -- "Oh, don't worry, that's just how he plays!" -- argh).

 

I don't correct Solo for reacting when other dogs get into his face, because frankly I think he's within his rights to tell the other dog off, even if I'm not crazy about the way he does it because he doesn't hurt other dogs -- he just looks really scary. It's extremely rare that he initiates a negative interaction with another dog -- if they ignore him, he ignores them -- but the couple of times that he has, I did correct him for that. But to me, that's a very different situation.

 

Whenever he turns away from an approaching dog, I reward him. What I want ideally is for him to swivel his head toward me anticipating something good when another dog approaches, rather than fixating and worrying that the other dog is going to try to jump on his head. This is working pretty well for us.

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My bc mix is somewhat dog aggressive. She has every right to be aggressive since she has been attacked (I mean attacked) on leash about 4 times now and at least twice while off leash. These attacks have happened at flyball, petsmart, out just walking, etc... every attack has been provoked by the other dogs.

 

Her personal space is very sacred to her. She is much worse while on leash than off. I have learned how to control the situations so we can live peacefully. I do a lot of what Melanie does. I will step in front of her when other dogs come around. This usually works but sometimes other dogs are just to quick and can get around me. I will drop the leash when this happens to Charlotte can try and gain her own space. She will growl under her breath and back away. This growling and backing away is what got her attacked the last time by a male lab that is just a butthead.

 

Other than flyball Charlotte is no longer taken anywhere where I cannot control the situation if there are dogs there. She used to love going places including Petsmart. Now she only gets car rides and has to stay in the car most times. I am not sure what it is about her but dogs (male and female) seem to go after her all the time.

 

I do not correct Charlotte for growling at dogs that get in her space/face. I do correct Charlotte when she is being possesive of things and me, especially me.

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Oh yes, Melanie ? and the other phrase I sooo hate is ?It?s alright, my dog won?t bite? as their idiot dog is in your dog?s face, in spite of your having asked the idiot owner to keep their dog away. My answer is ?Well, I can?t guarantee mine won?t ? get your damned dog away!? (Politeness has gone out the window at that stage. I?m afraid.) My previous boy, Sam, was very careful of his large personal space. Only dogs he had gotten to know by a series of on lead walks with them, and then careful off lead walks, were comfortable for him. (One day he was quite relaxed with about 12 other dogs, our regular walking group, when a different dog came along ? Sam stiffened up, peering between the other dogs? legs, his whole body saying ?I don?t know *that* dog?. Duh! I?d endorse the actions Melanie takes ? it meant I could still take Sam out to various places.

 

BTW to the OP, if my experience with Sam is anything to go by, he was busy protecting himself, not me ? either way it was my job to show him that any protecting that needed doing was my job, not his.

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The last couple of responses have helped me out soo much... thanks! I always became angry at Cammie for growling or barking at other dogs who came up to her, and I thought that she was to sensitive and overprotective. But now I know that BC's need their personal space... and theres nothing wrong with that.

Next time a conferentation happens like this (which hopefully it wont) I will tell the owner to get his/her dog out of the way, and if that doesnt work, ill step infront of cammie. thanks again!

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I am not sure what it is about her but dogs (male and female) seem to go after her all the time.

 

Solo is kind of like this too -- it's not as bad anymore, but there was a period when it was really bad -- I mean, he'd be walking down the street minding his own business sniffing things, and there'd be this other dog at the other end of the block at the end of its leash growling at him. It was bizarre.

 

So I asked Solo's behaviorist to explain the "kick me" sign phenomenon. She's seen Solo interact with a number of other dogs and pointed out that while it isn't his fault (i.e., he isn't doing it on purpose) he is provoking to other dogs. He is socially awkwar and unsure of himself, and has body language that reflects this when he is in the vicinity of other dogs, even if he isn't overtly trying to send signals. (I'm sure we can all think of humans we know who are the same way.) It's natural for dogs to approach and examine things that are unusual to them, so when other dogs see this weirdo dog, they come over to see what's the deal with him, often in a forward and provoking manner (provocation allows the other dogs to elicit and evaluate social responses). This is the last thing Solo wants, so he reacts defensively, and his insecurity about other dogs increases.

 

I've noticed that since I started interceding actively, not only has Solo gotten a lot calmer about other dogs around him, but the "kick me" sign effect has more or less ameliorated. I think it's because he's more relaxed and isn't projecting the same sort of tense, weird vibes. There are still dogs who act like they want to kill him, but they tend to be dogs who are weird themselves.

 

Solo can get along very, very well with total stranger dogs, if the dogs do not approach him directly, especially if they are bitches. One guy at the local dog park has a small mixed-breed bitch (looks like your prototypical "village dog") who cruises around with Solo without ever directly engaging him. Solo loves this little bitch and would happily spend hours following her curly tail around the park, trotting when she trots, walking when she walks, sniffing whatever she sniffs. I consider them friends even though they never play, because they can just "be" together. I think that's the best kind of dog companion for a dog who is socially inept with other dogs -- it teaches calm and relaxation.

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So my Oreo is actually... normal?? Wow. She's just always been very touchy on-leash and socializing her has only helped to a certain extent. If another dog acts pushy, even in a friendly manner, she bares her teeth.

 

What peeves me is not just other people who say "Oh, don't worry, my dog won't bite," but when their dog is illegally off-leash and yours is on, and this causes a problem. *sigh* Had that happen a few weeks ago. I'm trying to control the situation and remove Oreo from the other dog's intrusiveness meanwhile the other owners just walk right on by saying, "Come on! come! Let's go!" Yeah, thanks.

 

And the response of, "Yeah, well mine does!" seems rather perfect.

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This thread has been incredibly helpful to me! It has really helped me to understand Jaye a lot more.

I posted a year and a half ago when Jaye bit an offleash dog who had run up into his face. I had only had Jaye a month! I was so distressed and I am sure he felt that. We have to walk by the dog's house almost every day. Sometimes he is out and offleash. The owner even accused my dog of being abnormal! Now I can argue that with facts.

Now I am understanding Jaye's behavior is normal and that by positioning myself with him, that can help.

I think he wears a "kick me" sign :rolleyes: but now I think I see a way to help him get rid of it! :D Thanks!!!!!!!!!

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Well, I think it all depends on what we define as "normal." Solo guards his space when other dogs intrude. I don't think it's unusual that he does this, but at the same time, Solo is definitely not normal. I expect most dogs to be better about space than he is. But, I don't condemn them if they aren't or think they're "bad" dogs. That's not the same thing as thinking they're "normal."

 

What we consider the ideal behavior may not be the statistical norm. Most dogs are not as comfortable with free-form social interactions as humans would like. Ideally, you could throw any dog into any group of other dogs at any time and everyone would get along without fighting, but this is too much to ask of the great majority of dogs. But there is also a difference between motivation and resulting behavior. When I think of the word "normal," in my head I'm thinking "not pathological." Normal or understandable impulses may lead to pathological responses, particularly in dogs who grew up without decent opportunities for socialization with other dogs. A lot of dogs are touchy about space. I think this is normal. A lot of dogs will show displeasure when other dogs intrude. I think this in and of itself is not abnormal. But not all dogs show displeasure the same way. Many respond with aggression that is out of context -- for example, a lunge and bite where bared teeth and a growl would have sufficed. I don't think the lunge and bite are normal, even if the motivation behind them is.

 

Please don't fall into the trap of excusing out of context aggression as "normal" even if it is understandable. I understand why Solo growls at strangers and lunges at dogs he doesn't know when they get in his face. But I still don't want him to do it. Anyway, this is just how I think about it.

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I've always felt very bad for having a "bad-tempered" dog, but in reading these boards I think she's not very bad at all, just seems it to people who don't know dogs. She's never started any sort of aggression unless provoked in some way (someone seemingly "threatening" me), and when other dogs make her feel uncomfortable she just growls and bares her teeth. If she does snap at them, it's a warning snap, not a bite, and only after they continue pushing after she's warned them. So maybe she's not as bad as I thought she was.

 

Even knowing that, I'm still not thrilled that she's as touchy as she is, I'm really working with her, both by making my manner as controlled and un-anxious as possible (she definitely picks that up), and by letting her know she needs to deal with her discomfort in a non-aggressive manner. Letting her loose in areas where I can do that have done wonders for her, I swear. She reacts with barely a fraction of her pre-socialization fear-aggression, simply because she's not scared anymore. =)

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My 9 year old, BCx does not Malamutes and will display agression every time he sees one, whether it is male or female. I am not sure of his past as he was adopted from the SPCA and what history he may have had with this particular breed. I have also noticed that he does not like any dog that has a tail that curls up and over their back. I am not sure of what signals he interprets by this, whether he sees it as a sign of agression by the other dog or what. I must always keep him on leash as I cannot determine when he will react and when not. He is normally a very, very, submissive dog.

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Melanie - advice heard.

I don't mean to say that I consider Jaye's behavior normal; only to say that I understand more why he did what he did. Not having had him more than a few weeks at the time, I didn't understand a lot about him. NOW, I do. I can avoid an incident like that, not set him up for that.

But no, my guard won't be down about this!

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This thread has been very informative for me. I recently adopted a 16 month old female Border Collie after losing her grandmother earlier this year. Tia was an only child and has been socialised only with other BC's. She has been fine with friends dogs and other BC's but we have had several episode's similar to those posted here in off leash areas, which I now mostly avoid. Tia does seem to acknowledge when a dog is not happy about being approached and retreats quickly, the problem has been more with dogs that are dominant or aggressive and who's owners have little or no recall or care factor. This has resulted in me becoming nervous even in on leash situations. You guys all sound so brave to me, intercepting unwelcome advances by other dogs, any tips here? I am actually quite fearful of certain breeds and really large bargy dogs and have had situations where I won't even get out of the car if one of these dogs is around because I really don't think I could challenge them. I realise that Tia needs socialisation but is it the wrong thing to limit that to dogs she is friendly with and knows? Also how do the other dog owners react when you tell them to get their dog away?

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I met up with a fellow with two very large and I mean huge dogs (pony size),in an off leash area. Because Brandon has shown some agression, as I mentioned in my note above, I held tightly to his leash and asked the fellow to control his dogs and not to approach me, as mine didn't like it and his reaction to them could not be trusted. He said, "actually it is you who does not like to be approached by strange dogs, but it appears that your dog is fine with it." This fellow told me he trains dogs and is very observant of both dogs and their persons behaviours. He felt that some of Brandon's agression may be because he felt my tension (as I was clutching the leash very tightly with my dog pressed up against my leg and on occasion have jerked him along)on the leash and felt he needed to guard me or there was something he should be afraid of. I have been attacked twice by large dogs and am nervous of those I don't know. I didn't realize that I was even doing this. Over the past few months, I have been very observant of how I approach other dogs, how tightly I grasp the leash and my own body language. I have relaxed when being approached by off leash dogs and basically walk right by and this has certainly made a difference in how Brandon interacts with them. I observe his body signals and as long as I am relaxed, he usually is as well. He greets the dog, sniffs his butt and away we go.

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My Snorri-dog doesn't like other dogs, either. We used to think that his behaviour was the result of fear, but now we think it's mixed with jealousy - "You go find your own people, these ones are MINE!"

 

Snorri doesn't attack, as such. What he does is to gallop up to what he thinks is a safe distance (usually about 3 feet) and hurl doggy insults at the "interloper", in the hope that the other dog will just go away - he hasn't got the "bottle" for a fight!

 

The "major" worries are that a) someday, another dog will take his insults seriously and give him a proper trashing and :rolleyes: we don't want to have to keep on apologising for him!

 

He's 6, and lives with his older brother (10).

 

Snorri

:confused:

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This could fall under the category of "resource guarding". You're a valuable resource to him with your opposable thumbs that can open things, grab things, throw things, and feed him things. Since he is six years old, I'm not sure that you could completely eliminate this behavior, but you could probably make a dent in it.

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