Hello everyone. Advice needed asap. My black lab who is now 2 years old used to love playing with other dogs, however over the last 4 or 5 months he has gradually become more weary of them. Instead of running up to them to play like he used to, if we ever see any dogs his tail goes down and he walks really cautiously to them, then while they sniff each other he then becomes aggitated. Then he starts to growl at the dog and sometimes he even chases them away growling. He doesn't bite them but i am worried if i don't do something it might lead to that. The strange thing is, he gets quite nasty and his nose twitches but at the same time his tail wags?? I was told it may be because he was sleeping in our bed and he thinks he is up there with us on the hierachy and he feels he has to protect us so we have stopped him sleeping in bed with us but nothing has changed. He hasn't ever been attacked by one so i don't know why he suddenly doesn't like other dogs!! please help!!
It is not because he is sleeping in your bed. Is he otherwise respectful or you as alpha (i.e. gets out of your way if you are walking in the house, lets you walk in and out ahead of him...)?
What do you do when he starts to growl (or better yet before that?)
Have you taken an obedience class with him?
Is he neutered? He is coming into maturity and without proper guidance that could have an impact.
Was he even in a negative experience with another dog (even if it was just bullying?)
Wagging tail does NOT mean happy dog. If hte tail is high in the air (up straight) that is not a happy wag (low or straigth back wags are better signs). If his body language is stiff, hairs up and ears up then no, NOT a good natured wag.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
oh - I highly recommend working with a trainer (not one that uses a heavy hand as that can make things) who will show you what body language to use, what to do and when (as you need to be talking to your dog BEFORE the growls even start). You also need to get your boy to have some good dog experiences but that needs to be properly set up and supervised otherwise it will make things much worse.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
Yup...I agree with Tanya...is he neutered?
Dani, Rider & Rookie
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Everything Tanya said.
You could really benefit from working with a behaviorist, if you can find one - someone who could teach you the proper way to handle these meets and greets with other dogs. What you do, your attitude, and the way you orchestrate these will have a very direct effect on shaping his behavior in the future.
For example, don't give him a leash correction when this happens with other dogs. This will just work to further convince him that the presence of another dog is something dangerous and to be dreaded.
Instead, when you see another dog approaching, try lots of happy talk and treats...long before the other dog is close. If the dog gets closer and you see your dog starting to go into that mode, say something like, "Uh oh!" (this is my word for, "that's not what you're supposed to be doing) and turn and go in the other direction, still happy talking.
I have two who used to be leash-reactive with other dogs on walks. Only on walks - not at our dog club, or anywhere else.
We have been working hard with Simon for the past year. Whenever I see another dog coming on a walk, LOTS of happy talk: "Ohhh, lookie Simon! Another doggie! Yes!" And the whole time, I'm giving him lots of treats. So many treats, one after another, he doesn't have time to focus on the other dog. I will happy talk and treat him like this all the way past the other dog. I am completely focused on him, and do not even look at the other dog or person. This helps Simon know that he is supposed to be paying attention to me, and also discourages the other person from approaching us with their dog because we look extremely busy.
So what I'm going for with this is creating a dog who automatically interprets the presence of another dog as "happy talk time with Mom." His default behavior, after practicing this over and over and over and over, will be to look at me when he sees another dog, in anticipation of all the praise and treats.
Last edited by AngusFangus; 07-24-2009 at 12:37 PM.