Help. I rescued Ryan 4 months ago. He’s a very good dog…except he is showing signs of aggression toward other dogs. He did not behave this way at the shelter…but over time with me….he becomes quite the handful. I took him to training classes….that seemed to make it worse. He’s learning to walk on a leash without pulling…(he’s come a long way)…until he sees a dog in the distance. The closer the dog gets….the more Ryan reacts. I’ve determined… I think it’s a fear because of the way he tries to back up and escape….being on a leash he has no where to go….so he tries to attack. I now take him out in open fields where I hope nobody is out with their dog. When we see a dog we go the other way. It’s very stressful to go for walks….anybody have any thoughts?
Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time. Sometimes dogs don’t show their true “colours” until they start to get used to who they’re with. Training classes may have been too much for him, especially if it’s fear based as you think. Backing up and trying to escape is a good clue as you have noted. It’s good to train him but perhaps not in a situation where he will be stressed.
What you are doing – the avoidance – so far is a good idea for strictly walk and exercises purposes until you have a plan. No point in making things worse.
Best case scenario to do behavior modification when you aren’t stressed, rushed or distracted anyway!
Are you starting to get to know the distance threshold where Ryan will react vs where he won’t react possibly? To start to try to improve the situation, you will need to have a good idea of where this distance is more or less. It’s at this border where you can do your behavior modification.
Coming from someone who has done some anxiety work both with dogs and myself, you want to work with the anxiety when it’s very mild and it’s possible to calm yourself (or in this case the dog!).
For that you need 2 things – how to read your dog’s body language (calm vs stressed), relaxed vs agitated) and also what it means to relax and so it on cue. You can teach this to dogs – might be a bit too much for this post to go into in detail but I think there is a download somewhere on this site for training that.
Anyway, if it’s done right, the anxiety starts to go ease up a bit as you/dog become desensitized to the situation, and then you can move a little closer and repeat the work. Ideally its fun and rewarding for the dog at the edge and you don’t overwhelm him. Your dg may never like other dogs, but I’m guessing you just want life to be easier rather than have a social butterfly.
But before that, are you seeing any other signs of anxiety – any of his other behavior unusual or outside of normal in your opinion? Because if he has a generalized anxiety or an anxiety disorder, it can be extremely difficult to make any headway without medication – not that the medication can fix it on its own – it can’t. Just that if your dog is in a state of dread al the time, he will be unable to relax.AuthorPostsViewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
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