Dog On Dog Barking And Lunging! Please Help.

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by cssl29, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. cssl29 New Member


    I have a 6 months old German Shepherd Dog (GSD), who seems to be very weary of other dogs. At normal distances, he is fine and can look and watch other dogs (but he is still suspicious). However, at closer distances he will get hype up which results in barking that is high pitched, lunging (not to bite the other dogs but to just move forward).

    His hair at his back used to stick up due to I would assume fear when looking at dogs at close distances however, nowadays he seems to exhibit the characteristics described above. I have tried socialising, make him look at other dogs and feed him with treats, distract him with toys and many various methods.

    I wonder if he does this because he is excited to play with the other dogs? fear them? aggression?
    Do anyone have a method or suggestion that they could give me in order for me to help my dog just to ignore other dogs without getting hype up when passing one?

    Thanks, it would help me greatly.

  2. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Sometimes it can be very difficult to tell whether our dogs are excited or scared. There are books and videos that show the difference in their body language, looking at the position of their tail and ears, how low or high their head is, etc.. This may be useful to you. Do a google search on "dog body language".

    The other thing is to pay attention to the distance where your dog has seen the other dog, but is not yet reacting, and reward them then. Don't continue moving closer. Turn and walk the other way. This rewards the fearful dog for not reacting. Eventually, you can decrease the distance between the dogs, but it should be done slowly. If you were to go to a behaviorist, they would use another person with a very calm dog who would appear at the safe distance and stop, giving you the opportunity to reward your dog for calmness and then move away. The point is to not let your dog get to the stage where they are lunging and screaming. These types of behaviors signify a release of chemicals in their brain that take hours, if not days to dissipate. It can affect their behavior for the rest of the day.

    You can also google the term leash frustration, as this is a very common problem for dogs. Has he ever been with other dogs off leash?
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  3. ackerleynelson Well-Known Member

    This behavioral issue is so common. Dog trainers and behaviorists refer to this issue as on-leash aggression. Any behaviour issue that puts dogs and people at risk of injury is serious. Get the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviourist that prescribes the following:
    • Manage the environment – do not allow your dog to rehearse the barking and lunging. This means maintaining distance from other dogs while on leash as you train.
    • Change the dog’s emotional attitude towards other dogs – This is best accomplished by feeding your dog high value food like cheese, hot dogs, steak, chicken etc each and every time he sees a dog while on leash.
    • Train an incompatible behavior – If you train the dog to look at your face and lock on when a dog approaches, it now has something to do other than bark and lunge.
    summerkat likes this.
  4. running_dog Honored Member

    I agree with the outline of the methods you suggest to tackle the problem however to my mind a good trainer would refer to this as "reactivity" at least until the actual intention of the dog has been identified.

    Not all the causes of this behaviour should be labelled as "on-leash aggression". A few of most common of the many possibilities are:
    • The dog may be playful and be frustrated by the restraint of the lead
    • He may be leash aggressive - for instance after having had verbal or leash corrections in an attempt to stop him pulling towards other dogs and this can then mean he thinks he is supposed to scare other dogs away or attack them - either to stop the corrections or because he is almost mimicking his owners behaviour.
    • He may be on-leash fearful (eg/ if he has been attacked while on leash he may feel out of control and unable to escape from other dogs so he tries to get his own bite in first).
    • He may be naturally fearful leading to fear aggression in all contexts
    • He may be genuinely aggressive in all contexts
    • He may be high prey drive rather than aggressive
    While much of the counterconditioning is the same for many of these you will find subtle but vital differences in the detail which is why they should not ever be lumped under the title "on-leash aggression".
  5. summerkat Active Member

    Gosh :unsure: Leia  9 weeks 1 day 004.JPG (running dog ) I am sure you have nailed my issue on the head, dog may be playful ect ect. But she needs to socialize, I know she wants to just be free run around play like others but I have been reading today that GSD under 18 months should never be let of leash.

    The other issue is no matter where I walk with her there are dog walkers. I have took her at 1.30am thinking we would be alone yet still manage to come across dogs.
    running_dog likes this.
  6. running_dog Honored Member

    Not off leash until 18 month old!!!!???? Why ever not? Because of health or because of behaviour?

    Zac and Gus regularly play with a young GSD off leash and have done since... I think probably for long as Marley's been coming out for walks and certainly before he got this big:
    At that stage in the photo he spent a lot of time with his owner keeping out of trouble (his owner let him stand close but did not give him any comfort that would have suggested there was anything to fear). Now (he's maybe a year?) he will lollop over and try and persuade Zac and Gus into a chase game. He and his older GSD buddy are fantastic dogs and the owner seems very sensible and knowledgeable about both health and training. I know the owner wouldn't do anything to knowingly risk his dog's health and training - he's one of the few people I meet that understands when I'm working through issues with my dogs in a positive way and he is neither overly stressed nor negligent about health issues. If it is an obedience issue I can assure you that last year I saw the older GSD (who has also been off leash since he was tiny and allowed to play and tussle with other dogs) successfully recalled when running towards a female dog in season.

    You do need to find a way for your gorgeous girl to meet dogs without being frustrated, I'd go stir crazy if I was tied up through all my childhood and not allowed to play with any other kids LOL. We caused on leash reactivity problems for Gus by restraining him too much when he wanted to play with other dogs and the only thing that stopped him having even bigger problems was that he was getting a lot of off leash time with other dogs too - and he loved them. Your dog has to get a chance to spend time playing off leash with other dogs and to learn dog language, it really is absolutely essential!!!!
    brodys_mom and kassidybc like this.
  7. running_dog Honored Member

    As for no other dog walkers there are sometimes unexpected quiet times if you look out for them - like the time just before the lunch time dog walkers come out (in my area it's often like a bomb scare in the park between 11:30 and 12). Or there's the time just before the early to work dog walkers go out (in my area that window would be about 5-6am).
    brodys_mom likes this.
  8. running_dog Honored Member

    Another thing your dog is almost certainly NOT "aggressive" as that does not usually show until about a year old. She might be fearful BUT I think from what you've said she is just really really really really really frustrated :(.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  9. summerkat Active Member

    Thank you for such a informative reply ( running dog ) I know she is nor agressive I know she is frustrated as just wants to run/play/sniff but where I am from there us no such thing as dog parks I walk Leia 4 times at least a day 2 so she got to know the sounds of the outside world cars. 1 to let her sniff meet dogs really just go at her pace & the other is for her to run that energy & keep fit.

    I always go irregular times to the ( what is classed as peek times).

    The Internet in so contradicting.

    I even called a dog trainer last night & I have never heard such tripe in all my life.

    He told me my dog is not house trained ....

    Because she wees on the grass & NOT in the grid.
    Well I was rude told him really do not think he is the right kind of trainer for my leia.

    So this is what I am up against

    So called experts, Me who leia is my first ever of any breed.

    BECAUSE she wees on the grass and NOT in the agrid
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  10. running_dog Honored Member

    There are no dog parks in the UK that I have ever found, nor wanted to, no dog parks doesn't mean you can't find a safe place to let your puppy off leash to play. You say that she wants to run around "like others" so where are they off leash? Other dog walkers don't necessarily mean you can't let Leia off. When I meet other dog walkers I tend to leash Zac unless I already know them, if they are strangers we might meet once or a couple of times, talk a little and if our dogs seem friendly toward each other and it is safe I will ask if we can try them off leash together. What about inviting a dog owner you have met a few times (and like) back to your place to let your dogs play in the yard together? Other dog walkers don't have to be the enemy :giggle:

    I honestly think you will cause MORE problems if you don't let her meet dogs off leash than if you do - but that is my opinion and you have to make up your own mind. I believe pups need a chance for other dogs to teach them some basic dog language that they can't learn on leash. Dogs act in a different way off leash compared to when they are on leash. Few dogs will attack a young pup, it is a built in natural opportunity for pups to learn how to interact with other dogs without starting a fight. Dogs give gentle/moderate corrections (that can look scary but are mostly noise and an occasional nip) so that the pup learns manners - "don't bounce in my face", "don't steam roller me", "I've had enough, back off"... this means that the pup knows how to be polite with other dogs by the time they are big enough for doggy rudeness to trigger a fight.

    It is hard to find a good trainer and maybe not necessary but a puppy socialization class might help you a lot.
    Ripleygirl and brodys_mom like this.
  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Where are you from, summerkat? What do you mean "wees on the grass & not in the grid"? Are you supposed to train your dog to wee down the sewer drains?
    running_dog likes this.
  12. running_dog Honored Member

    Did I really use a triple negative?!?!?!?!
    That is bad! :oops:
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  13. brody_smom Experienced Member

    And yet somehow it worked!

    I have the same problem (not with grammar :D). Other than official dog parks, the places most people let their dogs run off-leash in my area have posted signs saying "no dogs" with a by-law number and attached fine. I resisted using these areas for my past dog (I always feel that if anyone is going to get caught doing something that everyone else can get away with, it's going to be me!), but have used them for Brody because he is much younger and needs the freedom to run at top speed. After one incident where another dog owner entered the field and Brody didn't recall well, I have stopped using it altogether and have yet to find a suitable substitute. He has never shown any problems with other dogs, but he is afraid of people, so that's why I shy away from the typical off-leash parks.
    summerkat and running_dog like this.
  14. running_dog Honored Member

    Brodys_mum - From her intro Summerkat lives in the UK. There is certainly no law about this in the UK so the trainer was being a bit odd to say the least.

    In the UK there are not all that many restrictions on where we can walk our dogs, and that is a privilege which is worth fighting to keep. The reason we don't have dog parks is because our dogs are still integrated into society as a whole rather than segregated. Our leash laws are few - legally a dog should be leashed beside a road and they may be excluded from a few areas eg/ a growing number childrens play areas exclude dogs (rightly) and some beaches have restricted areas or times. There are sometimes signs near footpaths etc saying a dog should be leashed or under close control. Our rules on poop scooping attempt to be more rigorous in public spaces and there are posters all over the place with threats of on the spot fines etc.

    Summerkat - Whereabouts are you in the UK?
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  15. summerkat Active Member

    Hi all sorry not been on, school holidays, madness. That is exactly what the trainer in question said to the word,HIM Your Pup is NOT house trained as tell me where she wees >>>Me well she wees in the back garden on the grass, HIM well your Pup is NOT trained as she should be weeing in the grid YES he ment that tiny little square hole that has the wastewater running out of it. Such TRIPE. I live in Cheshire, Altrincham. Oh and I did let her of leash on Sunday it went swell my ex-husband encouraged me as he came with me but haven't done it on my own. Also the added problem now is I am worried she may be having her first season AS SHE IS ACTING VERY STRANGE. ( running dog) Mmm people aren't really like that where I live I have asked a couple of people I know and they just say there dogs would eat her. All very complicated indeed. xx
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  16. summerkat Active Member

    Great advice have been trying this out on walks cheese hotdogs work great. x ON RECALL
  17. running_dog Honored Member

    How very annoying! Keep trying though, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Try walking different places and you might meet a different set of people to ask. I find some parks are quite snobby (people and dogs:rolleyes: ) at certain times of day and I don't make many useful contacts there while other places the people (and dogs) are really nice.

    What kind of dogs did the owners say would eat Leia? (I'm not interested in judging the breed but rather the owners choices and perceptions of breed)

    I'm glad you've been letting her off sometimes. Well done, it is a really scary step and you have taken it :).
    Ripleygirl and brodys_mom like this.
  18. ellieh Active Member

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