Leash Aggression (..i Think)

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by erufaile, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. erufaile New Member


    This is my first post and I hope I'm not being too repetitive with other threads, but I think I have sort-of a unique situation.

    My Border Collie/English Setter mix is just under 2 years old. I got him when he was a puppy from a rescue. I socialized him well and took him on walks in public areas often to get him used to people and dogs. He came to work with me and played with other dogs and we went to puppy obedience classes as well as dog parks. I'd like to think I did well with introducing him to new dogs but now I'm not so sure about that.

    A half year ago, he started this aggression thing on a leash. It's not playful and it scares some people. He lunges at other dogs (both dogs on and off leashes) with his fur sticking up and growling. He'll nip at them if he gets close enough. This started slowly, first with just some dogs who I assumed he didn't like (small dogs, usually Toy breeds), now it's almost all dogs he sees while he's on a leash (except for dogs he already made friends with before this all started). He went from a social butterfly to an aggressive dog who I can't take everywhere anymore. He still comes to work with me, but it's become a problem and I have to leash him next to me at my desk. He can't go out for playtime anymore because I never know what he'll do to another dog. Even walking him to and from the car can be a problem if there are other dogs nearby.

    It seems like a dominance thing when he goes after these dogs, but how do I stop this? Other than this, he is well behaved and I feel like I've tried everything to stop it. I've tried working with him to listen to my commands more so he pays more attention to me, but that doesn't work when he sees another dog he wants to attack. I try distracting him with treats on walks so he doesn't pay attention to other dogs but again, the second he sees a dog he doesn't like he ignores the treats and me. (This is weird because he's very food driven.)

    Any information or advise is useful, I've tried other suggestions but nothing has worked. I'd love to avoid a muzzle or corrective collar as some suggested because I don't feel that will stop the root of the problem.

    Thanks for listening!
    Jean Cote likes this.

  2. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Hi erufaile,

    I am sorry to hear about your dog's leash aggression. I know it can be stressful to have a dog that is reactive to other dogs.

    I have been working with a Bull Terrier that would lounge, bark/growl and completely lose any focus or control when he saw another dog.
    As you probably already know Border collies are working dogs and they need a ton of exercise/ mental stimulation. So I would try to give your dog exercise before trying to work around other dogs. I try to play with the frisbee or do some jumping tricks before we go on our walk where we might see some other dogs.

    I also worked on attention/ eye contact, response to his name, basic obedience, loose leash walking, targeting, leave it and changing directions before we went out to work around other dogs.

    With Jocker the reactive dog I am working with I had to find a reward I could use when he was so distracted. For him, I used petting. It was a specific spot on the side of his face that I scratched he would start to scratch and moan in delight. I would start scratching his chin before he noticed the other dog. We started out across the street from other dogs. I would tell him how good he was and alternate between massaging and rough petting as the dog went by. I tried to keep him at a distance that he could see the dog without reacting (quite a challenge).

    Weeks later he started taking really good meat treats. So I reserved these special treats for only when I saw a dog. (Typically I would see another dog first.) If at any point he started to react I would move him farther a way. I might even run in the opposite direction to get his focus back. But the goal was to keep him distracted enough the whole time so he didn't react at all.

    Once I got him to the point that I could pass another dog without him reacting I started using a clicker and clicking and treating when he looked at another dog without barking.
    Once he got really good at that we worked on sitting while the other dog walked by.

    Jocker is doing really well now but he has a threshold of about 20 feet. He does not do well if the dog gets too close. However we can walk by several dogs that are across the street without a reaction.

    I am going to look for some of the resources I looked at when I was first starting with Jocker.
    Good luck and don't give up on your boy their is hope for him!
  3. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

  4. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

  5. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

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  8. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

  9. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I hope you find these links helpful.
  10. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    This video looks good too. I would just not get your dog that close to other dogs at first. Take your time and give him space. Increase attention on you before decreasing space between your dog and other dogs.

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