Other-dog Aggression

Posted by mary123
Jan 16, 2011
I just rescued a female, spayed Border Collie (3 years old) who had grown up in a doggie day care center. Her first owner had her for a year when he could no longer keep her; the care center owners took her on and she lived in this environment until two weeks ago. She is sweet and submissive at home and is already my best friend. She is extremely shy with new people, especially men, and will try to hide from them. I take her on walks and find that she is very aggressive to any dog she meets on the walk. She fangs, snarls and lunges toward the dog. If the dog is across the street, she observes with rigid attention, but I don't allow her to focus there. I continue our walk and she is fine. But with any approaching dog she becomes aggressive. My friend who has a gentle yellow lab has been walking with us, mostly successfully. However, at some seemingly random time, when we are paused, she might snarl and go toward him. I have read many things about aggression but none seem to fit my problem. Any advice? I want to be able to let her off lease to chase a frisbee, but I don't dare do that now. I have no idea how she would react off leash with other dogs around.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 16, 2011
Hi mary 123,

Thank you for providing a forever home for the BC. I have BC mixes and they are different from yellow labs, more reserved, more protective and more alert.

Did her aggressions on walks started right after you adopted her, or just recently (like a few days ago)?

The best thing you can do is to talk to her last owner, the doggie day care center. Since she lived there for one year, she should get along with other dogs. (I assume she played with other dogs at the center).

Two reasons I can think of as the reasons of her (seemingly) aggression:

1) She got attached to you so much and she wants to protect you
2) She is not used to be walked on leash and she feels she needs to act up (because she can not get closer to other dogs)

Either case, I am pretty sure she will do just fine off-leash.

Does she have basic trainings, such as "Watch me", "Sit" and "Stay"? If so, it is better to start correcting her behaviors sooner by giving her those commands when she sees other dogs on walks. You can ask your friend's help and have the lab sit and stay when your dog acts up.

Anyway, the best bet is to discuss this with her last owner, who knows her the best, good things and bad things.

Your dog will be such a loyal companion as long as she lives Congratulations!
Posted by mary123
Jan 16, 2011
Thank you for your quick reply. Lexi (my BC) lived in the day care center for almost 3 years. I have spoken to the owners of the center who tell me she got along great with the other dogs, though when I went to pick her up and asked to see the center, all the dogs were in their cages for 'nap time'. Lexi seemed comfortable there, but no other dogs were out on the grounds.
I know that they said she was not good walking, but that was in the heart of the city. I live in a suburb, pretty quiet streets. She is nervous at things like oddly shaped trees, big rocks, mailboxes jutting out and such, but the more we walk the more relaxed she is becoming.
I will at some point try her off leash, but I don't feel comfortable doing that yet. She is great with basic commands: sit, stay, come, down... all the basics. She was obviously well cared for before I got her; she just never had a real family to love her.

I will try giving her basic commands like 'sit' next time we walk and approach another dog.

If you have any other advice, please send it my way.

She is my second BC. My first I had since puppyhood and she was the friendliest dog you could ask for.

I love Lexi to pieces. She is smart, sweet, fun. I am hoping we can get relaxed enough to go out to fields to throw frisbees without my fearing her attacking another dog. I will ask my friend with the lab to do a back yard test with me.

Thanks again.

PS. She began her aggression on leash with our first walk.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 16, 2011
Hi mary123,

As you said Lexi is a little confused with the change. Give her a couple more weeks and she will be just fine. Let me give you my 2 cents about adopted dogs: you don't need to feel a pitty on them. A lot of people tend to think that their rescued dogs deserve a lot of attention and love at once to make up for the hard time and indulge them so much that they get out of control. Rules and boundaries are different from family to family so it is best and the least confusing for your dog to be given from the very beginning.

I always find this the most difficult timing between giving my foster enough time to get comfortable with me, and start reprimanding them. However, most of the cases, dogs are pretty sensitive and you don't even need to give stong "NO" but just "Uh Uhn" is enough to let them now that the particular behavior is not appreciated here at my house.

You are lucky that Lexi has been trained by the previous owner so you won't have to reprimand very often.

It will be a great idea to let Lexi and the lab play in a backyard or somewhere fenced all around.

Practing recall is very important too. Even inside the house, call her out of sight, like from the kitchen when you are cooking and throw her a piece of treat or a piece of carrot/apple, etc. when she comes. Use the command "Come" only for good causes and followed with praise (Good girl!) and prime treat so that Lexi will input "coming to recall=roast beef plus praise". Again, for a BC, I would assume she will be very attached to you and won't have much problem with recalls, except for a case that she has obsession with squirrels, etc. She might not have had a chance to see squirrels in the center of the city.

Enjoy your new companion!!