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Aggressive Behavior
Old 12-07-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
Ellie NY
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Aggressive Behavior

Hi All! I haven't posted in a long time but do come into the forum every couple of weeks to check out what's going on. I continue to learn from all of you and I hope you can help me.

I've tried my best, given my hectic schedule, to socialize Eli but think I've probably done an inadequate job of it.

Eli has always been shy with strangers but just before his second birthday Eli began to display particularly aggressive behavior toward large dogs and small children (guess they appear about the same size from where he stands). It only seems to be getting worse. He seems to be OK in a crowd setting. For example, when I take him to the park filled with kids and dogs he seems to tune them out - curiousity but no aggression. When I take him with me to pick up my son from school he doesn't react to large groups of kids in the school yard.

Normally, however, I walk him around the neighborhood where he comes into one-on-one contact with dogs and kids - that's when he gets aggressive. He appears to go on the attack, barking like mad, pulling his leash and (apparently) trying to jump and bite his "prey". When I walk him at night, he will sometimes react the same to adults walking toward us. The thing is, his behavior isn't consistent. Sometimes he will react and sometimes he won't. He's totally unpredictable. That's why I'm not sure how to address it. I hate to cross the street because I think that's not helping the situation but I don't want to anger other dog owners or scare small kids - especially because sometimes he gets it right and I want to encourage that behavior. Anybody dealing/dealt with this and have advice?

BTW, when new people come to our home he will bark at them for a bit but pretty quickly lay off after given the "quiet" command. He doesn't display the same aggressive behavior as he does with strangers he meets outside. Generally, he's super sweet and has an awesome disposition.
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:21 PM   #2
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A friend had this same issue when walking her dog-he would go crazy when he saw another dog. She had him sit whenever she saw another dog coming and treat, treat, treat until the dog passed. And then "good boy". This way he associated other dogs approaching with good things. And guess what? It worked!
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Pipersmom View Post
A friend had this same issue when walking her dog-he would go crazy when he saw another dog. She had him sit whenever she saw another dog coming and treat, treat, treat until the dog passed. And then "good boy". This way he associated other dogs approaching with good things. And guess what? It worked!
That's a very good strategy. It does TWO things. It teaches the dog to pay attention to the owner, even under stressful situations and also, over time, gets the dog to associate the strangers with the pleasant experience of getting cookies.

It's not a quick fix, though... it will take LOTS of CONSISTENT work, probably over a fairly extended period of time. Then, when he gets to the point that he's staying relaxed around strangers, you will still need to reinforce his good behavior with intermittent rewards... possibly for life.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:21 PM   #4
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there's lots you can do., but sometimes it's best to get someone to show you exactly how to do it. There's a fine line between helping him and maybe making things worse. I would recommend a trainer for one or two one hour sessions, .Let me know if you would like help finding one, you are in a good location in Brooklyn. If this is not possible, email me and I will send you some articles, but I still think a trainer is the best route.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:50 PM   #5
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Hi Ellie, just know that you are not alone! Ozzie has the same problem and it has been getting worse When he was little he came close to being attacked by a large dog on a walk in the neighborhood and it has been a challenge getting him socialized with other dogs ever since. He is 1 1/2 now and I realized I better get off my butt and do something to help him (otherwise he is totally perfect ) Yesterday he had his first session with a private trainer (he is so reactive to other dogs I couldn't see a group situation working) We are going to practice the exact method Julie mentioned...treats, treats, treats!!! We practiced yesterday with a stuffed Rottweiler I learned a lot of other things too and really look forward to his next session. It is expensive to get a private trainer but I think every penny is worth it if helps your dog live a happier life!
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:03 PM   #6
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I went through the same thing with Fred. He got very reactive to big dogs after his knee surgery. I hired a trainer, who was very unprofessional, but her training did work. Exactly what Julie said. You have to start treating before they react. So when I saw a dog approaching from far far away, I would wait for fred to see it. The instant he looked at the dog, I would click and treat. then I would wait until he looked again and I would click and treat. I would keep doing this until the dog walked by.
I also noticed if I pick him up and start talking to the person approaching, he would not react or his reaction would be mild. I would say, he's nice but he might bark. Is your dog nice etc. By the time I would get to the other person and their dog, he was pretty calm. If their dog was nice I would put Fred down and all went fine. Don't know if this is a good thing to pick them up, but it sure works for Fred
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:04 PM   #7
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I'm going to try the "click and treat" method and see how it works over the next couple of weeks. Eli is very food driven so I think he'd be distracted by treats. If that doesn't work, I'll try a trainer. I'll keep you posted. Thanks All!
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lfung5 View Post
I went through the same thing with Fred. He got very reactive to big dogs after his knee surgery. I hired a trainer, who was very unprofessional, but her training did work. Exactly what Julie said. You have to start treating before they react. So when I saw a dog approaching from far far away, I would wait for fred to see it. The instant he looked at the dog, I would click and treat. then I would wait until he looked again and I would click and treat. I would keep doing this until the dog walked by.
I also noticed if I pick him up and start talking to the person approaching, he would not react or his reaction would be mild. I would say, he's nice but he might bark. Is your dog nice etc. By the time I would get to the other person and their dog, he was pretty calm. If their dog was nice I would put Fred down and all went fine. Don't know if this is a good thing to pick them up, but it sure works for Fred
I do the same thing with Zoey. I think she is just scared of people and other dogs and maybe it isn't good to hold her but it works. I cant afford a personal trainer so its nice to read up what others do. We have been pretty recluse here lately and need to get out and do more socializing.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:15 AM   #9
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I think it's fine to pick up your dog if it calms them down. One thing I love that that the trainer told me was to always be an advocate for your dog. If they growl or don't want to go to someone take their side and don't make them. Also, distance is your friend...keep space between the things that scare your dog. I have been doing some things totally wrong
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:05 PM   #10
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Its a big problem for every dog owner, Our dog is doing this every time when he saw any dog start barking and become aggressive disturb all the environment. My grand mom become angry due to this behavior of jony.
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