Protective Boy And Leash Aggressive Girl

Discussion in 'Training Challenges' started by marsala, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. marsala Active Member

    Hi, I thought I reopen this issue for more questions altought I know this matter has been discussed probably earlier. I hope this message is in the right area for I think this is something to do with training but could also be behavioral. Please advise if I need to move this to another section in the forum...
    The thing is, after reading threads and trying to figure out what is going on is that my boxer boy is doing the "resource guarding" - puts himself between me and other dogs. The interesting part is that he does not do this when he is walking with my husband which leads to a question if he is protecting his "mother" for some reason?
    He is not good with other dogs - long story short, he has always been with our rescue staffy mix girl who is not that keen on other dogs (I think she thinks she is a human) anyway so they only play with each other. My Staffy goes to see other dogs but doesn't really interact with them and I guess My Boxer has learned that from her. He is not comfortable with big dogs, nosy dogs, too friendly dogs, too playful dogs, too dominant dogs etc. He can deal with smaller dogs but even then does not really know how to play with a dog - it is like my dogs just do not understand other dogs at all?
    The problem is that he has never had much confidence for some reason - he is better than he was when he was a puppy, but still he gets really nervous around other dogs. IF a dog comes to sniff him and it is a bigger dog, he slinks down, hair on his back raises up, leg goes between back legs and he tries to get away but unfortunately other dogs just keep going after him (just being friendly) and he starts growling. If the other dog doesn't get the "hint" he snarls or barks and immediately, if his "sister" is around, she will come to rescue and they gang up on this third dog and chase it away quite aggressively.
    She is fine on her own, he is sometimes fine on his own but together they are just a bunch of trouble. Unless they have their balls and playing keeps on going to distract them. I always carry leashes with me and usually if it looks like situation gets out of hands, I leash at least him (difficult to get them both when alone with them) and immediately she usually calms down. I am just wondering if I am causing or aiding this somehow even if I try to stay calm and use happy voice to call them when other dogs bother them and keep encouraging them to follow me ? When I leash him I feel I am enforcing the idea in his head that he really needs to protect me? Am I completely wrong? They are not aggressive towards humans, he really loves other people but they just do not like other dogs. She is better but if she is leashed, she has really leash aggressive behavior and she seems to go all "bring it on..!!"mode.
    I am not very confident person with dogs even though they do obey me quite nicely (maybe it is for I use my native language to train them and it is bit more harsh sounding by nature) but it does not make them behave any better with other dogs and it is quite embarrassing and terrifying for me because I do not want them to hurt anyone.
    They are both otherwise submissive, she seems to have been beaten up when she was small (before we found her) for she still expects to be beaten or sth if she is been told off (she hunches down scaredly, shows belly and acts like we beat her which is awful for we never touch them but with love) even if we have never used physical force on them. He mimics her and if he has done anything wrong, he hides and just shivers there...

    My husband is really dominant, I am not so and get nervous and even scared with these situations for I do not like any aggression around me. We love and cherish them for they are our "children" but feel bad when they act like that towards other dogs. I wish I could teach them to ignore other dogs completely - I have seen that kind of dogs and truly admire them.... Can you please give some insight on this for I can't really give them time out outside when we go for a walk... Thank you!
    marsala, Jun 7, 2013 Report
    #6 Reply
    brodys_mom likes this.

  2. MaryK Honored Member

    You're right about your boy, he's fearful of other dogs. Both are rescues aren't they? One from a shelter and another from a bad back yard breeder, if I recall?

    First, I can understand how you feel, it's not pleasant, but with time, patience and loads of love, he'll learn to over come his fear. And thank you for taking on two rescue dogs, that's wonderful!(y):)

    What I would do is this. For a while, I would take each dog out separately, on the leash. This way you can give your full attention to that dog. It's very hard to train two dogs together without any issues, two with issues is extremely difficult and not advised at all. At the dog school I train with (and am also a trainer), they will not permit two dogs from the same household to be trained together, nor even in the same class, and this is for dogs without any issues.

    With both your dogs having issues, one will make the other worse. Both dogs need one on one work to over come their respective issues.

    Your boy is more seeking protection from you, rather than protecting you. He's scared of other dogs and presses back onto you for comfort.

    Do you use a clicker? If not, them I strongly advise getting one.

    I would first, in your own garden, teach him 'look at me' - ask for eye contact and the second he gives you eye contact, even fleetingly, click/treat/praise. Then when out, ask for it anytime you see another dog around. And always have plenty of treats on hand. When a dog is eating his brain 'switches' modes Victoria Stillwell has a wonderful articles about this on her site. Go to the Positive Reinforcement area, and click on the philosophy.

    If possible walk in areas where there aren't too many dogs, especially off leash. I realize this may be difficult for your, as not all countries have strict regulations about dogs being leashed in a public place, but try to find the quietest area you can.

    Turn and walk away too before your boy has a chance to react. Don't make a big deal about it, just quietly turn around and walk off.

    Please do not go to Doggy Parks, worse place possible for a fear reactive dog.

    If you have a friend with a good, calm dog, ask them to work with you. Just have BOTH dogs on the leash, then ask your friend to keep well away - far enough away so that your Boy is still calm and relaxed - then quietly walk your boy past the other dog - keeping your distance all the time. Loads of treats and praise of course. Do this for as long as it takes (maybe more than one session keep the sessions short please) then gradually, keeping your boy under threshold, move closer each time. If you see any reaction, widen the distance again, and keep it wider until he's totally calm.

    No you're not reinforcing him feeling he has to protect you. Dogs love being on their leash as it gives THEM a feeling of security, hey Mom's got my back. Do use your leash at this stage, he needs to know you're 'there for him'.

    What type of collar/leash are you using at present? You may feel better using a front harness, that gives you a lot more control, or a halti/gentle leader.

    Also, at home, work on the basics, like sit and work on heel work with them - not together but one on one. I have two dogs, so what I do is work with one and have the other one sit and stay (and feed loads of treats to the one not working, so they know they're being good by just sitting still).

    Take confidence from the fact that dogs obviously love you, they're smart cookies and know who loves them, who they can trust, remember that to gain more confidence yourself. Because as I said before, dogs will respond more readily to a confident person - NOT a dominant one - dogs should never be dominated!

    It's going to take time and a lot of patience to help your boy and he may never be a social butterfly dog, but will with lots of training, be able to face other dogs without fear.

    Don't feel embarrassed either, just work on getting your two lovely 'fur children' to become the best dogs they can be. So lovely to hear you speak of loving them so much and LOL kids are kids and always manage to embarrass us at times, even the most well mannered Dogs can have their moments when you blush like mad!:rolleyes::)

    With your girl, use the same techniques, she sounds more dog aggressive, that too can also be fear based, and will need the same type of one on one training as your boy.

    Anything you're not sure about, please ask. I'm a little slow at present in answering, because my youngest dog is very sick at present, so he's taking a bit of looking after. And I am sure others here will also be able to help you too.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Are these other dogs off-leash with their owners, or just running around on their own? I have the most trouble with Brody and other dogs when he is on a leash, but the other dog is not. That is a quite common problem, because the leashed dog has no option to flee, and is forced to fight. You might also keep their leashes on, but just have them trail behind so you can step on them or pick them up quickly if you see someone approaching. We have started using the Halti head collar, which has a muzzle feature which activates when the dog pulls on the leash. This can have a calming effect on some dogs, as well as keeping their mouth closed so they can't bark or bite.
  4. marsala Active Member

    (long post) Thank you MaryK for your advise - truly appreciate! I hope your youngest dog is feeling a bit better already and full recovery is only a days away :) And Brody'sMom, wise words - yes, the problems are biggest when our dogs are leashed and others are not! Off leash she is just fine, he gets aggressive if the other dog stays around too long (and his patience is about 5 seconds)

    Yes, Lucy is from the pound (saved in a very last second) and Archie is from a backyard breeder and Yes, they are spoiled with love and affection for I wanted them to only have the best and forget their past.

    I have introduced walking them separately and we have had few mornings now when he takes one and I take the other so we can focus on them better, nothing major, just walking and strolling. Not that there is much difference apparently and my husband says that a) Archie has not that kind of behavior at least as bad as he has with me and b) when Lucy is not around Archie is a lot calmer for some odd way (so it seems they fuel each others problems).I bought these harnesses for them the other day,useful for her for she keeps pulling (so excited to go to walks, every time) - he used to be really good with walks but now he has started to pull too. I also spoke to buy a head collar or a muzzle for him, just in case ( I know what the reaction is when other people see him wear it, it will make him the "killing machine"). My husband is not so "strict" with these as I am, he just lets them pull but does not walk faster (:coffee: drives me crazy). Oh and with being "dominant" I meant he is more confident with dogs and doesn't stress so much if they get a bit growly or misbehave, he says "they are dogs", he is really relaxed and has authority (dominant was probably wrong word). I stress about everything so sometimes I think I am the biggest cause of this.I have so many questions and really do not know where to start.

    Archie definitely is scared of dogs and tries to keep dogs away from me and shows all the signs of scared dogs when others approach him (unless it is a small, timid dog, then he gets all mighty high). If there is a dog approaching, he will place himself between the dog and me. And he stays there until I have walked pass the other dog. He blocks dogs from moving (I see it as bullying) - he decides that you are not going anywhere and the poor pup just stands there confused when Archie denies all access to any direction. Am I right to think this is bullying behavior? The worse situation is if the dog manages to get near me, Archie will lose it immediately. As he is powerful dog I really fear that he will hurt the other dog - so far it has been more of a snapping, growling and chasing though but it does not look good for the other owners... :oops: I am just so scared that we end up in trouble because of this for other dog owners do not seem to get that we prefer NOT to play with their dogs. Then again small dogs are automatically picked up when they see us for our dogs look a bit "different" (yes, they would probably be unapproved dogs in some states in USA just because the way they look).

    I have been reading about the positive reinforcement and I feel that there are cases where I have gone wrong. Specially when they on leash or off start lunging towards other dogs growling, I growl at them to get them back. And once they do what I want I praise, use "happy voice" and give them treats and direct their focus on something else. Not sure if this is the right approach but feel the growly part might not be the proper way to do this...:confused: I try to keep my voice always happy and joyful when I want them to do something and surely they seem to respond and they are so much better than they were in the beginning (specially Lucy who did not obey anything at first).

    Anyway, today I had to walk them together for my husband had to leave in the middle and it was too far to turn back to take the other back home..too exciting for me for I really stress these situations. All went well though almost all the way. This is quite not about the leash aggression btw, for they were lose this time.I am a bit shaken still and need to tell you to get some ideas how to continue from here...

    When I let them lose on our nearby football ground for it was empty (I tried to pick a time when there is no others - yeah, good luck with that) and we did some obedience training - just basic stuff to get them listen. Once I was on the other end of the huge field I saw a guy with 4 dogs entering the area from the opposite end - I got immediately anxiety, took my boy's leash ready but thought that it would be cruel just because on the far end there are other dogs and it might alert him unnecessarily, so we continued happily on our way, I kept them occupied with my voice and petting them (cursing myself for not taking the balls for them with me - which every now and then actually is worse for it "invites" other dogs to join!), playing with them and we kept on walking. I tried to keep our distance with the other lot as much as I could to avoid problems. But yeah, this guy did not. His dogs ran all the way from the far end of the field to us!!!

    I was completely of guard for they came from the direction I was not looking and they were quite big dogs (one being labrador, one or two some sort of hunting dogs and one, maybe a mix?) and they just came in one big gang in one go full can imagine how scared I got (realized I am a bit scared of such dogs and situation) but I decided to keep walking, kept my happy voice going, tried to pull all my confidence up and keep an eye on all the 6 dogs. I saw Archie starting to stress, his back hair was up but he still came next to me (did not call him btw), I could feel him pressing against my leg as we walked forward - Lucy does not get bothered by other dogs by the way when she is off leash, she is lucky that way, she just goes around and only gets aggressive if Archie starts growling - I kept walking, praying the owner would call the dogs away for we were getting really uncomfortable. Finally he called them from the other end of the field and 3 of the dogs left...I kept walking, hoping the last one would bugger off...and after some calls ,he did but it was enough for Archie and he took some steps after the dog growling - I called him off and come, he came nicely, sat in front of me and same did Lucy. I was so relieved that he behaved so well, he only lost it in the very end....I wonder, should I have leashed him straight away when he came to me scared? I am so afraid of enforcing any kind of aggressive behavior you see...O_o This is really tricky for me, a true puzzle. He was fine next to me and started to relax while we were just walking but when the fourth dog just ran past us, he lost it.

    The other thing I am concerned is that my happy voice and manners actually interest these other dogs too so they keep happily following us?!? Or the treats, there has been cases where I give treats to my dogs to thank them and keep them interested and the other dogs just happily step in line to get theirs?! And since I do not know them I of course do not give them any but this situation creates stress to my dogs who clearly state "what are you doing here trying to get my treats???". Am I to not give treats to my dogs as long as there are others around? Should I change my way of speaking my dogs if other dogs start paying attention??:censored: Advise?

    I was a nervous wreck and counting my stars...phew... this is something I really dislike, people not keeping their dogs close enough..I mean sure they can wander around but to run on the other end of the huge double football field??? I like to keep what I call "mental umbilical cord" with my dogs so that they are never but maybe max 10 meters away from me so they can hear me and respond fast. Is this exaggeration ? To be honest I would love to have my dogs only few meters away from me all the time and play when I say it is ok. And this play thing works for they break up when I ask them to come. Am I looking for perfection that does not exist?

    In our town we have several off leash (or on leash, one can decide) areas like fields and beaches where dogs can interact and run around, and as they are not puppy parks as per se, they are very free areas - but of course problematic to us. The other day I had to ask a lady to call her dog away when it ran to Archie (leashed) for he is not good with too excited, happy, jumpy, in-your-face dogs anyway. One day we walked them on a leash on the same football field and there were heaps of dogs unleashed while kids were playing football. And of course one puppy ran to Archie!! :confused: And he and Lucy went crazy... I knew it was a mistake to bring them with us for there were way too much happening for them to be able to digest - yet are we to be always choose solitary? I guess my monsters have a bad name already in our neighborhood :barefoot:

    I just want them and us to have relaxed time and other people realize that we do not leash them for they are aggressive as per se automatically but to prevent accidents and hope they would respect that. Oh well, we got lucky again....step by step . Thinking of asking help from dog whisperer with Archie though for I do not have any friends here who have dogs to train with and we do know few people with dogs but we are not "friends" as such. We need to become more social to solve this I know. Ask people if we could train with them. That training you suggested would be so awesome!! I can definitely see how much good it would do to Archie. But with the dog whisperer, what do you think, would it help? I know she can bring a dog with her or take ours to be assessed to her place. Our local K9 clubs are not that inviting and welcoming to be honest, they are pretty posh and made it pretty clear that our pups are not welcomed unless they pass some other courses.... :( I just really need some help.
  5. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I have some similar problems with Brody. You need to do some work on their reactions to other dogs before you can let them get close. This is called "managing" your dog's behavior until you can teach the dog to control himself. If you are afraid Archie might injure another dog, or possibly a person who gets in the way, he should be wearing a muzzle if there is any possibility of an interaction. Who cares what other people think, you are doing the right thing. Personally, I use a Halti, because Brody is very fearful, and muzzles can increase their fear if they know they can't defend themselves. The Halti is a head collar that has a slip loop over the nose. It pulls tight to close the mouth if the dog pulls. BUT, this only works if you are holding the leash. He can play fetch with it on, so I just let his leash drag behind and keep a sharp lookout for any other dogs/people entering the area where we play. If you want to let your dogs run free, don't take the leash off, just let it drag on the ground. You can get really long nylon leashes or if you are good at tying knots, get a nylon cord and tie that onto your leash. You want to be able to pick it up and leave if you sense danger, rather than catch your dog and try to snap the leash back on. As you say, this might alert him unnecessarily. Simply picking up the leash and saying, "let's go" in your cheery voice, and calmly as you can , walking away from the other dogs shouldn't alert him too much. Practice doing this at random times when there are no dogs around, so he won't automatically suspect anything is wrong.

    When you are on the street and your dog(s) are on leash and see other dogs coming, you can do the same thing, just say "let's go" and change direction or cross the street if necessary. I am always looking out for dogs and people in front and behind, so I know if I need to duck into a parking lot or driveway or whatever if I can't just turn around because there is someone coming from behind. You should find some books and videos (kikopup on YouTube is great, or her website on desensitizing and counter-conditioning. You can search those terms on the DTA as well, to find lots of threads that will help. Charmedwolf and Tigerlily and many others have helped me out tons already.

    I also believe it is very important that you and your husband have the same rules about walking the dogs. Kikopup and others have videos on loose-leash walking that are very good. Neither of you should be letting your dogs pull on the leash. This also can get them aroused and make them more likely to react when they see a dog coming. They need to learn to be relaxed on the leash. Also, if the leash is loose, the dog can't feel your tension. If you always keep the leash short, he knows there is something to be afraid of, even if he can't see anything. It takes time and consistency from everyone who will walk the dog in order for this to work. It takes time, but it is worth the effort.

    You have made a great start just by coming on this forum. As long as you are willing to learn, mistakes can be corrected and progress will happen. Just keep at it, keep asking questions, watching videos, and reading about positive reinforcement.
  6. marsala Active Member

    Thank you Brodys Mom...we are making small successful steps here and there but there is a lot of work to be done. We have figured out a lot of our dogs - for example keep them distracted when another dog passes by on a leash (all leashed) with balls and toys and if they are running free and it seems Lucy is the problematic one when there are other dogs around. Leashing her has made Archie more relaxed to actually try and play with other dogs. And there fore we have made a plan to (when walking them together as a whole family) we leash Lucy first if there seems to be other dogs that might affect on how Archie behaves... and that is what I tried to day only finding myself back home crying my eyes off.

    As it happened, due to a disaster at home, my planned walk was delayed over an hour so I took them both - I have had to do this some times when I get home in the evening and husband is still at work and it has been fine for the field next to us has been empty. So there we went, happily strolling around the field in the dark, I was holding a torch so I could see and be seen. And as we head to the last round I could hear people coming so I called Lucy to leash her first but by that time Archie was full on fighting (well, growling and comotion) with another dog...that startled me and Lucy slipped from my hands to join the fight as she is really protective of her brother. There it was, I ran to break the fight only to realize it is our neighborgs dog (who my dogs really do not like) and fairly soon Archie kinda backed down but Lucy kept on going (She does not like other female dogs) - I was growling and trying to get the dogs off from each other, feeling like a complete idiot and failure. My yelling worked what seemed to take ages but was probably less than a minute and my dogs were slinking away....neighborg was a bit upset and surprised for Lucy has been good for so long with her dog (apparently they just saw each other at the beach during day time without any problems). I tried to explain that must be the darkness that must have startled Archie not to recognize the other dog as familiar one so he just got scared and defended and then Lucy jumped in to defend him. Neighborg gave me a snide comment about isn't Archie old enough to fight his own fights (what??? no dogs should fight in a first place!!!) and yet again I kept apologizing as I was gathering my dogs and my lost confidence... all we had worked for, all plans just went down the drain.

    So I walked with two very well behaving dogs back home sobbing my eyes out..... i know my fault was relying in the fact that for there has not been anyone before, surely there is nobody now and that I would have time to leash them..and others would keep their dogs leashed in the dark if they see someone in the field with light and dogs. I should have yelled them to keep their dogs leashed and leash ours and carry on the other way with them. I should have not taken them both...I should have not let them too far from my side when playing fetch...should have this and that.... and I am devastated. I am so scared that our dogs are been reported as aggressive dogs.

    I am so stressed now and just don't know what to do, trying to explain to myself that it was an accident due to many small things and the darkness that got Archie scared. He has been so good lately with other dogs - just the fact that he finds courage to try and play with them is a HUGE thing. And that leashing Lucy has helped to come through situations which used to be really stressful. I feel so horrible and bad and blame myself for all that happened and that all that might happen because of this error in judgement. I want them to have happy walks where they can play and run their hearts out, specially Archie who has so much energy. I do not want to be stressed and scared to walk them, alone or together. Being constantly alerted if there are other people or dogs. I blame myself for it all and honestly do not know what to do. I am heading for a really busy workload which means I am not home almost at all and my husband is the one training the dogs. And we are still debating over certain things. is a mess..... ANY WISE WORDS ARE NEEDED.... :(
    brodys_mom likes this.
  7. marsala Active Member

    Ps. (since edit button is missing) just to let you all know that usually I do not take them together but try to follow the MaryK's advise of separate walks unless hubby is with me so I do not have to try and control two dogs at the same time. And finally hubby is agreeing on things with training so I can be a bit more relaxed for the upcoming weeks when he is alone with them.... phew.. and I even put an enquiry to our local area newspaper flyer seeking for a buddy to help our dogs to interact with other dogs far no luck there...
    brodys_mom and southerngirl like this.
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Don't have much time, so will only add my short two cents here very briefly. As one with a fear-aggressive rescue girl (pictured laying down on the right) - I know she doesn't do well with other dogs. We've been working on this now for years. We work on her behavior every single time we leave the front door. I don't *ever* take her to places and let her run free - for all the reasons you've mentioned above. The very second I do, guaranteed, someone with other dogs will have the same idea and come with their very friendly bunch running up - and you can bet she'd take 'em all on! :eek: We've been working SOOO very hard to turn her behavior around, so that she can be calm in the presence of other dogs, I don't do anything to risk harming that work. Sure, I'd love to let her rip at the beach or a park - but it's not worth it to me, and I don't ever want to put her in a position where she feels she needs to fight. We've built such a strong bond over the past several years - Makena knows I won't put her that position, I'll always keep her safe (from other dogs). Yes - no matter the size, the fear is still there - it doesn't matter if it's a Chi or an Irish Wolfhound. I want her always to feel safe, especially when she's with me.

    We play in our yard at home, and I can take my boy anywhere - but sadly, Makena's life outside our home is strictly on-leash. And I don't take her places where dogs are running free - I can't risk dogs running up to her. She can't handle it. It scares her. A lot. And I don't want her to be scared, especially if I can help it.

    I certainly understand your frustration, your feelings of helplessness, your tears, anxiety, the list goes on - I've been there, and felt it all. Especially at the beginning of our journey, Makena got into her share of scuffles - and they were usually things I learned could be avoided ... if only I had .... done things differently. For years, I walked my dogs separately. Years. No way could I walk them together. Ever. Ever. I couldn't, because if I did and heaven forbid, we saw another dog, Makena would redirect onto Alfie, and take him down, right then and there - and I'd have my own two going at it - the dog she saw wouldn't even be around. So - no excuses - I walked them seperately out of necessity - for years. And yes, we had to forgo walks every once in a while. They lived. Sometimes life did get in the way - but most days, I did two seperate walks, one then the other. And worked really hard with her. And it's payed off in spades. She's SOO much better now - we walk together now, and it's wonderful. I have a thread called "Makena's Big Day" - she walked with a dog group, it's taken years to get us to this point, but all the work has paid off big time.

    Don't push your dogs farther than they can go - and right now, that's what you're doing. If you insist on taking them out to open spaces, and you see other people with dogs coming, immediately leash your dogs and yell out - "please wait, we're leaving!!" Most people will respect that, they don't want their dogs hurt. Avoid any and all chances that your dogs will fight, don't give them the opportunity. We all get really good at things we practice. The more they react, the better they'll be at it. You want them practicing good behavior. So you see other dogs, time to leave. No harm done.
    southerngirl and brodys_mom like this.
  9. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I'm so sorry this has happened. I know too well the feelings you are having, only our situation is with people more than dogs. We all make mistakes. You can undo the damage, if any, it will just take a little time. I know it is difficult to balance your other responsibilities with walking/training your dogs, but maybe walking them one at a time is still better than walking them together, even if one of them has to wait. Can you let them out in a yard to relieve themselves when you come home, then put one back inside while you exercise the other? Some dogs do become more reactive in the dark, and maybe the neighbor's dog was guilty of this as well. I think I would still keep each of them leashed at all times, and especially if it is too dark for you to see your dog or anyone else in the area. If you are playing fetch, then you can attach an extension line and just let it trail behind, but it gives you something you can grab onto to pull your dogs back if you need to. Can you exercise them early in the morning rather than after dark? I have started doing this with Brody since it is summer here and there are people and dogs out and about until quite late. I take him out to our school ground before 6:30 am, so I avoid kids and most other dog walkers. Even so, if your dogs don't come when you call them, always leave the leash on so you can pick it up. It's okay to have it dragging behind them. I have even tied knots in the leash so if I have to step on it, it won't slip away. It also helps with gripping if you need to pull your dog away.

    What I am learning (slowly), is that my dog is who he is. I can wish all I want that he would be a very sociable boy that I can take anywhere, anytime without worry. My previous dog was like that. Brody is not. At least, not now. Maybe someday in the future. But for now, he is a fearful dog. He needs time to warm up to people and other dogs. My responsibility is to keep him under threshold for fear and anxiety, and to protect people and other dogs from him. These are the most important things. This means I have to manage and prevent bad situations from happening until I can work on his fears and help him understand that people and dogs are not threats to his safety. It isn't easy, but it mostly just takes some planning. If you are not able to play in the football field, are there public tennis courts nearby? I have heard of people using these, and taking a padlock along so they prevent anyone from just walking in. We also play fetch in the yard or the house. Granted, it isn't as good as a large field, but it is better than nothing, and way better than running into other dogs who they will want to fight with.

    With Brody, I have also worked a lot on impulse control and making better choices. When other dogs bark in our neighborhood, he wants to join in. I started interrupting this behavior before he started, and redirected him to a tugging rope or a soccer ball that he could grab and shake, rather than barking. He does this on his own now, without being told. I am teaching him a protocol called SAW, which means Sit, Attend, Wait. He learns to sit, look at me and wait for me to tell him what to do next. You start by teaching these at home in low distractions, then take them outside under gradually more distracting conditions. The idea is that the dog learns to sit IMMEDIATELY whenever you stop walking. It becomes their default behavior. When in doubt, SIT. Then they look to you, it doesn't have to be in your eyes, as some dogs don't like that, but at your face. Then wait for you to tell them something. You could offer a toy or treat at this time to distract from another dog, or just change direction and walk away. When they become calmer, you can ask for a Down, but this can be very difficult for some dogs when other dogs are present.

    Above all, you need to be learning about positive reinforcement training in dealing with dog aggression, leash manners, and basic obedience. The more you know and teach your dogs, the more confident you will be when you are out with them. You will also be able to read their body language and understand how they are feeling when they meet other dogs. Sometimes what looks like fear and aggression could be playfulness, and vice versa. What sounds like fierce fighting can also be normal play behavior. (Were any of the dogs injured in their recent encounter, or was it all show?) Take the time to watch YouTube videos on dog body language as well, as reading about it doesn't always help. Be patient. Go slowly. Take deep breaths. Asking for help is very important, listen to the voices of experience (I am NOT the most experienced person on this forum by a long shot, but I am asking a lot of questions and working really hard at doing what others have recommended) and err on the side of caution if you are ever in doubt.

    P.S. I was typing this at the same time as Jackienmutts, but she got her post in first, LOL.
    southerngirl likes this.

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