I've only posted a few times on this forum, but I have something I'd like to get some other opinions on. I have a 7 year old chocolate female named Meadow. Firstly, aside from the few instances I am about to share, Meadow is by far the best trained/smartest dog I've ever had or been around. She is normally very mild mannered for the most part. Most people that haven't seen this occur, don't believe it. She heels well, stays close by and never, ever runs off. I can do yard work and leave her off the leash and stays near me or lays down under a tree. People can walk by with their dogs, kids, whatever, doesn't phase meadow...she just chills in her own yard.
Over the last few years, there have been isolated incidents where she has been around other dogs (like our friends dogs, etc) and we can be having a gathering and the dogs have been playing for hours together and all of a sudden a fight breaks out. It's happened a couple of times with friends and family's dogs, and Meadow has always been the common denominator in the equation, with various other dogs being her oppenent.
I really started to read up on it and pay attention more when we were around other dogs. Any time another dog sniffs her too long or is just up in her business too long, she'll give a little snap. I'm guessing as a 'back off' mechanism. If that other dog doesn't back off, the stuff hits the fan. I found great success running interference, even if it's not physical. If I see a situation progressing, I can say something like, "Meadow be sweet" and talk real gentle and usually that calms her nerves and nothing happens. But I have to keep a close eye on her around other dogs.
Now, it's not like she's going around attacking everything. I can count on one hand the number of times it has happened over the past couple of years and it's never been like a bloody fight. It's a lot of growling and teeth showing, but nobody's ever drawn blood. I kind of thought i had it under control until this morning. I was putting out a sprinkler in the front yard, i let her come with to do her business. I see a person walking their black lab down the street and they are just about to pass in front of our house, I look at meadow and she's not paying them any attention. I can usually tell if she's interested/frightened in another dog as she'll give a stare down and a straight tail. The next thing I know, she is running at this other dog and for lack of a better term, attacks it. The other dog was up for it too and they went at it a few seconds before she heard me yelling and backed off.
The other person was really nice and not near as pissed as I would've been had the roles been reversed. Obviously, her off leash privileges are revoked, but I don't understand why she is seemingly becoming more aggressive in her old age. I've read alot about pack mentality and how she may think she is the leader of our pack and must protect us. Just not sure what I can do so that she is more friendly around other dogs.
Thanks in advance!
Dogs may be like some people. As we age, we are often times less patient with the youngsters. It sounds like perhaps she needs to have her training reinforced. When you tell her to back off (or whatever command you use), she should be listening to you.
Sophie DOB 04/13/2011 6 mo
Sophie 15 months, with Skye
How well was she socialized with other dogs when she was younger? If not well - she is probably not going to be great around them now as she heads into her senior years.
You could work on socializing her with a select dog one on one and see if she can develop dog friendships. But know that not all dogs want or need the company of other dogs. I would not put her in the spot of being subjected to other strange dogs in social situations until you do the work of socializing her with one known friendly dog at a time.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
First of all, I am not an expert--not a trainer or behaviorist.
I will tell you what a trainer told me when I took Teddy in to see her. She works with reactive dogs--and Teddy is leash reactive. She watched him for a bit, we talked about the situations where he reacts, and her conclusion is that he is reacting to rudeness by the other dog. If another dog is approaching and staring at him, he reacts strongly. She said that in the dog kingdom, a prolonged stare is very rude. First she brought in a life size stuffed dog that had that "hard stare" sewn into its face. Teddy reacted to it just as he would have if it was another dog. Then she had me distract him as she walked her pit bull around in the same room. Teddy did not react to the pit bull at all.
So the other dog may be doing something that Meadow perceives as a challenge.
I told her that Jefferson is my mellow fellow--he doesn't bark or react in a challenging way even if other dogs around him are snarling and barking at him. I can walk him any where and he is great. Other dogs bark at him and charge the fences, etc. and he looks but never reacts. She suggested that the other dogs were reacting to his staring at them. So just because the other dog isn't the one charging, doesn't mean that he did not do something to provoke the incident.
Anyway, I would go to a trainer that specializes in reactive dogs and get an assessment.
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I know that as Bella has gotten older (now 12 1/2) she's gotten less tolerant of dogs who do not follow proper doggy etiquette. She's calm and happy to politely greet dogs she doesn't know if they follow the rules, but she's more likely to tell the stranger to back off (in no uncertain terms) if she doesn't like their body language.
I have similar issues with Koivu. He has been very well socialized since he was a puppy and has never had an issue at daycare, but there have been times at the dog beach or park when he gets into it with another dog. It upsets me much more than him and I have ended up keeping him out of group situations. No injuries have occurred on either side of the altercation, but he will not back down.
As the previous 2 said, it usually seems to be a response to the other dog's body language - too stiff, too much staring, too much licking in the face - but is has left me feeling uncertain when we encounter a new dog on our walks. At some point I probably need to get retrained more than he does.
Thanks for all the replies, very good insight. To answer some of the questions, yes, Meadow has been and continues to be highly socialized with other dogs. She is very good around all the dogs she sees on a normal basis and come to think of it, she sees the same core, handful of dogs all the time, over and over again. She has never gotten a real variety of other dogs, except when we go to the dog park where should could care less about almost any other dog (oddly enough). All of the aggressive instances we have seen are with other dogs she either doesn't know at all or hasn't spent a whole lot of time with.
I think there is something to the other dog doing something that challenges Meadow. I also think it has something to do with her getting older, more assertive and just generally less accepting of BS...kinda like people do as they age. It's just wild to me that she will practically ignore 50 dogs at a dog park, but if she sees a certain one dog on the street, she can become aggressive towards it. I wish I knew what was going on in that noggin of hers sometimes...
Thanks for all the replies.