Dog on Dog Aggression

Posted by dougsuzi
Feb 29, 2008
Our problem is dog on dog aggression. What we would like to accomplish to be able to safely have our dog on or off leash without worrying about him attacking another dog. My wife and I rescued a 2 to 3 year old white boxer mix from the streets of Mission Texas a month ago. He is very friendly with people and has a relatively lay back character with everything except other dogs. We do not know anything about his background except what we could surmise from his condition when we found him. He was a starving stray with significant signs of neglect and abuse. He has obviously never been socialized with other dogs. Our vet says he is a fear biter and never should be punished as he has apparently been significantly punished in the past. From his condition, the way he attacks another dog, and from the location we found him, it is possible he has been encouraged to fight with other dogs. When he is ready to attack it is very hard to read him. Other than the fact that he focuses on the other dog, he gives no other signs of aggression. Sometimes he will bark excitedly and jump, but it is reminiscent of when a dog wants to play with another dog. Other times he makes no sounds. His ears do not change. He has a bobbed tail and it is unreadable. No scruff goes up. He walks up to the other dog and when he gets about a foot or two away he lunges and tries to bite. It doesn’t matter how large or small the other dog is. It doesn’t matter if the other dog is friendly or if it is a female or a male. Actually he shows more readable signs if the other dog is growling and barking, then he returns the same behavior. But if the other dog is well behaved he shows no signs that we can read until he lunges. My wife and I live in our RV, travel and stay at a variety of RV parks. In the RV community there are a lot of dogs, mostly small. Aggressive dogs are not allowed. We need to break him of this dog on dog aggression. We realize we will have to neuter him, and train him and have already started the training. He learns quickly and we believe we are quite clearly establishing that we are the alpha. He is not our first dog. We have off leash trained two labrador retrievers and a lab mix (with the help of a trainer in a training class), however none of our other dogs have had problems with aggression. We understand we may have to take him to a trainer or behaviorist if we can’t do this on our own. Unfortunately he is starting heartworm treatment and it will be at least two months before we can do anything that gets him excited or that is strenuous. We also can’t neuter him until the heartworm is taken care of. How do we break him of this dog on dog aggression so he can be safely around other dogs? What can we do now, when he has to be relatively sedentary, and what do we do once he is back to an active schedule?
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Mar 1, 2008
Hi dougsuzi:

I understand very well how you feel about your rescued dog. We had a similar problem with Noah, our rescued dog. He actually bits half a dozen dogs at the dog park and was scared by some of the dog owners. I also never had an aggressive dog for any reasons so I was very shocked and felt clueless. Here is my posting about Noah for your reference. The only difference with your dog was I could clearly see the signs of Noah going to attack since he always showed his teeth.


Noah's aggression started a few months after we adopted him and it will have been almost one year since then. I am sure Noah didn't have enough socialization when he was a puppy. I read a lot of books about fear aggression and learned that it is most effective to get him used to other well-behaving dogs. We had 2 other dogs and Noah could get along very well with them. His aggression was only towards dogs he wasn't familiar with. I still took him to the off leash park along with my other dogs and taught him to move away from the dogs he was fearful with, instead of fighting with them.

We also put him in the doggy day care for a few hours a week. The evaluator and the workers there knew that Noah was basically a nice dog so they all helped a lot for Noah to rebuild his confidence.

Now, we are fostering dogs and Noah has been doing great with those new dogs. It has been a long time (almost 10 mos) but he has definitely gone a long way. Please be patient and help your dog build a self confidence and esteem.

Good luck