My name is Tom and my fantastic lab is called Max. Max is almost 3 and is the friendliest, happiest little fellow you could ever wish to meet. He has always got on with other dogs, big or small, old or young. I never had a worry letting him bound over to other dogs knowing that he doesn't have an aggresive bone in his body. Unfortunately this has changed over the last two or three days.
Back story is - 2 weeks ago a mastiff ran up behind us whilst we were walking in the park. Max was and always is on a retractable lead, the mastiff was off lead. The Mastiff went straight for Max and bit him resulting in a couple of puncture wounds. He is fine physically after a visit to the vets and a course of meds.
Scroll forward to this weekend. Max has started to visit the park again. We come across a dog that Max has met several times before and has been friendly with but this time the dog is very aggressive and lunges but doesn't bite. Myself and the owner talk it over, he is very knowledgable, moreso than i. He insists that his dog would not have bitten and was just trying to dominate. He mentioned that Max and his dogs eyes had met and neither had backed down, leading to the lunge. I took his word for it and moved on.
Today, we are in the park again and another dog that Max knows quite well also shows aggression towards him, lunging and growling.
I am now totally stressed and nervous about coming across any dog, especially off lead, as most are in the park. I even turned around and walked the other way when i saw another of Maxs' friends heading our way. I knew then that we needed advice.
Is Max giving off nervous or vulnerable vibes? Could it be me making Max nervous and hence making Max seem vulnerable and a victim to other dogs? Is he giving off aggressive body language after what happened?
Any help or advice would be appreciated by both myself and Max.
Walkies just aren't fun at the moment.
Thanks in advance.
a few things are going on in the above post.
if the dog, off leash, comes to your dog who is on leash, and bites him - that is ALL the other dog's fault. I don't care what body position your dog had or what look he had - he was on a leash and the other dog went up to HIM and bit him. The other guy was making up EXCUSES to make HIMSELF feel better He should have paid that vet bill no question about it and apologized. The nerve of him to blame your dog!! Don't believe everyone that "appears" to know dogs, they can sometimes be the biggest source of misinformation. especially if this person's off leash dog bites your on leash dog - then blames you. that's nuts.
It is very possible that after the horrible experience of being bit while on leash, that your dog is now afraid when he is on leash and another dog approaches. It takes just ONE incident sometimes to make a dog fearful and reactive. So you may very well now have a fearful and reactive (when on leash) dog. And yes, dogs feed off OUR energy so if on top of that YOU are nervous and anxious then he feels that ON TOP of his own possible fear (I am assuming this given you said he is now reactive - but without knowing if his behaviour started before YOUR nerves kicked in or after).
I highly recommend talking to and working with a good training. you can desensitize him and improve his confidence. but it will likely be a slow process.
Thanks for the welcome and thanks for the reply too. I have just realised what a solid wall of text i typed originally and how unreadable it is!
Just to be clear, Max has not reacted aggressively to any of the incidents. He just seems to be attracting aggressive behaviour from dogs that he previously got along with just fine (before he was bitten). I'm sure you're right and its a mixture of his own fear and mine.
We shall get in touch with a trainer. I guess until then we shall only go to the park when its raining, its always empty when it rains. Luckily it rains an awful lot here!
are the dogs reacting to him when he is on leash? when they are not on leash?
Yes indeed. Max is always on a retractable leash as he has selective hearing when he is off leash.
The other dogs, the one that bit him and the two that have been aggressive towards him have all been off leash.
They have all been male too, that is probably a factor.
is Max neutered?
Is he at the end of the retractible leash lunging or barking? Do you have the leash out to it's full extent?
Max is not neutered. I have had lots of folk tell me that that may be the way forward for him. Personally the idea of it doesn't sit well with me for some reason.
If we are approaching other dogs i will shorten his leash so that we both approach the dog together. He does get excited but his approach could never be mistaken for anything aggressive. He is bouncy and very play orientated and will invite just about any dog to join in. I always check with the other owner before i allow him so more leash so that they can interact together.
The good news is that we have just got back from the park again and although we met a couple of dogs, there were no incidents.
One of the owners had had a similar issue and reassured me that things can get back to normal.
There is no way I would allow ANY dog to bite mine. It is my duty as pack leader to defend my dog. I don't care who owns it. If another dog is aggressive towards mine, it will get a swift kick. I will defend my dog no matter what and if the other owner doesn't like it, then they can keep their dog on lead and away from mine.
♣ Laura ♣
As to neutering not sitting well with you, don't give human emotion to a dog's testicles. Max won't miss them. This is not like castrating a man. This is a dog and this is what we do to dogs who are not used as breeding stock. Just like gelding a horse. The animal doesn't miss his testicles. Unlike men, they are not that attached to them and do not feel less of a dog without them.
As dogs get older they can develop prostate problems if they are still intact. It's VERY painful for them. Neutering solves this problem. I had to neuter my stud dog last year because of an enlarged prostate. I hated to lose him as a stud dog, but it was for his own good. He's sired hundreds of puppies, but you know what? He has no idea he doesn't have testicles. He really could care less.
♣ Laura ♣
Agreed, some neutered dogs have "issues" with intact dogs unforutnately (i see it at the dog park where intact males get hassled and some dogs get down right aggressive with them).
Not sure why neutering doesn't sit well wtih you, those things mean NOTHING to the dog. But to each their own.
Honestly, if I were walking my dog and kept getting dogs coming up to me and acting aggressive I would stop walking there. You can't change other people nor their dogs. You can't even always explain it. But if the walk is unpleasant for your dog I would change something (change the time you go, the route you take, etc.)