Fear Agression

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by 2SpoiledAussies, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. 2SpoiledAussies Well-Known Member

    Toby is fear aggressive. It is much worse with bigger dogs and when on leash. And it's getting really serious Last Monday in class, we were doing a 5 minute down-stay. One of the dogs in it adolescence stage (who makes some of the least aggressive dogs in our class seem aggressive) was jumping around. He jumped too close to (almost on top of) Toby and Toby attacked. It lasted only a few seconds but it really scared everyone. He was going for the face, but I knew he wouldn't hurt the dog. I have a lot of control when on leash, but can't help it when he is off.

    First off, I have ordered a dog to dog Aggression DVD to fix his aggression, but the root of the problem has to be fixed first. I believe he is like this because of his sister, Hannah. Hannah is toy protective. She tries to take Toby's toys, and will growl at him if he has any. Toby used to just trade off toys with her, because she was never satisfied. But then they started fighting (going for the face, niether have ever hurt each other). We have kept this to a minimum by not getting out toys unless they are alone. But they will still do this with anything they decide to carry around. Neither of them are aggressive to people, not even if they are taking a toy/chew from them. So it is almost like a sibling thing that has gone further with Toby. This might take a while to fix, but does anyone have suggestions? Do you think it is possible to cure Toby's aggression before I've fixed the problem with Hannah and him?
    MaryK likes this.

  2. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi 2spoiledaussies

    I wouldn't characterize that as a fear aggressive response. I'd say that he told off a rowdy adolescent who was behaving rudely. Space is very important (meaningful) to dogs, and the other dog was inappropriate and not properly restrained by his guardian. Have you read this article by Suzanne Clothier?

    The fact that Toby didn't injure the other dog is good. I'd rather he gave a snark/snap than made such a ruckus, but a few seconds of noise ain't such a bad response to nearly being trampled, esp. when you're 'off-guard' and your attention is somewhere else.
  3. 2SpoiledAussies Well-Known Member

    That was a great article. After reading that I'd have to agree this response was what she was talking about. But in class he does lash out on dogs on a normal basis. He is on leash, and they're 5-6 feet away and aren't even looking at him most of the time. This doesn't seem like what she is talking about. And doesn't really seem like a space problem. He's not accepting of almost any dogs when on-leash, but is much better when off.
    MaryK likes this.
  4. MaryK Honored Member

    I agree with A & C, that was just putting a young adolescent in his place.

    With other dogs. Is this just in class or outside on the street as well?
  5. 2SpoiledAussies Well-Known Member

    Both, but I believe it's worse once he's seen the dog week after week, so class is normally worse.
    MaryK likes this.
  6. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member


    Actually the on-leash stuff is also a space issue, in that on-leash dogs can't control social distance and when they're uncomfortable, they actively tell other dogs to back off. Kind of like you making a different decision if you encounter a creepy guy in an elevator, than you would on the street. (You might choose to tell the guy to watch himself in the elevator, but simply move away if you were outdoors.) So there's definitely a dog-dog issue there, and it's also definitely enhanced by the space issue.

    You might really like Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed Puppy Program book (not just for puppies). She has techniques which are geared for high-strung (vigilant) working breeds like Aussies and BCs. For example, one of her 'games' is Look At That -- the dog gets rewarded for pointing out the thing that makes him uncomfortable (other dogs, roller skaters, etc.), and the goal is to replace the unwanted behavior (barking "hey you git outta here!") with a more reasonable behavior ("Dog spotted at 2 meters 3 cm, Ma!"). Working dogs love to work.

    The other thing that might help is to use functional rewards i.e. real-life rewards rather than treats. If space in class permits, you can reward calm behavior (looking at a dog nearby with calm body language) by moving away. When a dog feels crowded, even stringy cheese isn't as powerful of a reward as getting un-crowded. For more information, see any of Grisha Stewart's Behavioral Adjustment Training resources. It's basically classical conditioning using in-the-moment rewards.

    Hope this helps. Please keep us posted.
  7. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Don't have much to add, A & C has covered this one beautifully. Great article, it's one of my favs. I think I posted that link/article here a few years ago, and have given it to so many to read - it's packed with info, and just has so many great reminders in it.

    I will say .. just hang in there. As one with a 'recovering' dog-aggressive dog, yes, there is hope. For a long time, we couldn't even go to classes - she couldn't be in a room with other dogs (besides the one she lives with). After lots of work, and a huge amount of trust developing between us (big point in that article - protecting your dog from their fear, and them knowing you've always got their back) my girl has come a long long way. Be Toby's biggest advocate, always. Don't go any faster than he can go, be patient (and your patience will be tested ... over and over and over), and you may end up on one of the best journeys you can ever imagine. Truly.
    MaryK likes this.
  8. MaryK Honored Member

    A & C and Jackie have covered this beautifully. All I can add is that, with a recovering from a bad dog attack dog, which caused him to over react whenever another dog so much as barked, you really do need to allow Toby space.

    My boy, in just six months, is really do well, but the other night a dog almost over a low fence (we were attacked by a dog jumping it's fence) and going totally crazy, barking and really growling etc., confronted us on our walk. I did ask the owner to please keep her dog back a little, explained briefly my boy was afraid, but was just told to bleep off! So I turned around and walked the opposite way, taking the longer route home, and giving Ra Kismet his 'space' as he was on the verge of having an over reaction moment.

    As Jackie says, you need to make sure you've always 'got his back', be his advocate and DO NOT allow anyone, anywhere to tell you other wise! In this case the woman said just walk past - right and set Ra Kismet back after months of hard work - no way prefer to be abused than do that.

    Hang in there, it doesn't happen over night, but Toby will settle down eventually. Just stay patient and as Jackie says, you may just end up with one of the best journeys you'll ever have. I know, I have learned so much since the attack, and it's changed my life a lot.

    And please keep us posted:)
  9. 2SpoiledAussies Well-Known Member

    Thank Guys, you have been so helpful! So, would you guys say he reacts with big dogs more because they are more intimidating to him? And definitely looking into the recommendations!
    MaryK likes this.
  10. MaryK Honored Member

    It maybe that the bigger dogs are more intimidating to him, watch how he reacts to a smaller dog and compare the reactions.
  11. Deovann07 Active Member

    Yeah! that's right watch and compare how he reacts from bigger dogs and smaller one. Aggressive behavior in dogs can be exhibited in different ways.
    MaryK likes this.
  12. Deovann07 Active Member

    Seek professional consultation as your pet dog will not outgrow this kind of behavior.
    MaryK likes this.
  13. 2SpoiledAussies Well-Known Member

    So I've been working on his attention a lot recently. He has only growled at dogs since this, and I have gotten him to pay attention to me and to stop. A few times dogs even went running across the ring! And we have even done figure 8s with the dog and handler as the poles, with no problems! I've been trying to go on walks in the woods, but when it rains I can't. He lashed out a few days ago, but I got in under control quickly!

    I found the binder my dad got when he took my dogs through puppy classes. Turns out they gave us the "He just want to say Hi" article. I was kind of impresses, it doesn't seem like something all the trainers there would agree with. Maybe it was more for the purpose of owners not being scared when their dogs get "assaulted" by older dogs.

    There aren't and dog schools (or trainers) near me that use 100% positive reinforcement is the only reason I haven't done this. I always train my dogs at home, and make sure I don't train the way I do.
    MaryK and southerngirl like this.
  14. MaryK Honored Member

    Fantastic progress!!!!!!!!!!!! Now you can quickly get him under control, he will start to stop reacting much more quickly. I've found with Ra Kismet that since he's responded and reset himself quickly, he's also stopped reacting to any other dogs, except the most rowdy/annoying ones and even with those he's resetting very quickly. I can see a marked improvement every time I walk him now, and we have to walk where there are other dogs, it's as if he's 'accelerating' his learning/response. It's a grand feeling that's for sure!

    I know what you mean about finding a school which only uses Positive Reinforcement. I couldn't find one here for ages, so 'home schooled' Ra Kismet after walking out on a school 2.5 weeks into the course. They claimed to use P+ but didn't use ANY P+ training, real old school. Fortunately, just found one, a bit of a car ride away but not too bad, so he's going back to school - be more like 'finishing school' I guess:)

    Try to get him around as many dogs as you can, that will help.

    Like that, it's just a puppy wanting to say "Hi", you're right not many trainers will say that, though it's true some pups are just more into saying HI than others.
    2SpoiledAussies and southerngirl like this.
  15. threenorns Well-Known Member

    i just wanted to add - since i've been guilty of this myself - is that make sure you check your own attitude.

    dandy's not aggressive to other dogs, but other dogs DO come after him from time to time (i think it might be bec he's part border collie - he doesn't do it all the time but when something catches his attention, he gets The Eye thing going). particularly guilty of this is a husky and a miniature schnauzer that live right here in town. the schnauzer's owner is one of those "aw, gee, shucks, 'oo's a bad puppy then?" while picking up and caressing her snarling, frothing demonspawn after detaching him from dandy's bottom lip (from which the little freak was literally hanging in the air) but the husky owner has been actively working on his dog.

    the thing is, whenever i saw those dogs, i'd be "oh BEEP - there's that nasty little BEEP BEEPBEEPBEEP!!!!" - and *that* became the trigger: dandy would tense up and go right stiff and i'd immediately do a 180 and high-tail it out of there.

    my daughter was 4 at the time and she's the one who alerted me to the real problem by asking "why do you always run away when you see that dog?". i flashbacked back to my favourite trainer (that everybody else loves to hate) and realized that the past few times, the husky had behaved excellently so it had to be something else setting dandy on guard and the only other factor was me.

    after that, i worked hard at setting the past in the past and while the two of them will never be "bros", at least we can pass each other on the riverwalk without incident.

    the schnauzer?

    i seriously hope dandy eats him one day.
    brodys_mom and MaryK like this.

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