Dog Aggression w/another Dog?

Posted by Mayas-Mom
Jul 26, 2008
A few days ago I adopted a one year old boxer/lab cross from a rescue centre. She appears to be a really nice dog with lots of energy and some basic training. I was told that she was good with other dogs and cats? and didn't chase deer or other animals. Sounds too good to be true? Well, I'm guessing maybe. Today I met a woman with a small terrier X (10 months) at the area where dogs go to play. This is only the second encounter with a dog when I've been with Maya. The first went alright is as much as there was some growling and posturing but no snarling or biting. Today with this little dog, they both sniffed and all of a sudden Maya grabbed him and really lit into the poor little guy. She had him by the throat and was shaking him back and forth. She weighs 62 lbs and he about 20. We finally got them separated and he ran off. The owner phoned me later to say that he was ok. Shaken and missing a few hairs. I thought Maya was fighting to kill. So my question is how do I introduce her to other dogs without starting another fight. I will be stepping up her training in basic commands and will address possible dominance behaviour home. Is there anything else I can do? Thanks.
Posted by eyeluvdogs
Sep 3, 2008
Thanks for your post regarding your new dog Maya. This must be a very distressing situation for you!

Often, in cases of dogs acting aggressively towards other dogs, the situation can be helped by getting your dog to respond to your commands straight away. Fortunately there are a number of methods that can be used to make a significant difference in your dog’s behavior.

We here at SitStayFetch are strong believers in teaching a dog in at least basic obedience. This training can also be used to help your dog learn to tolerate the presence of other canines. I recommend that you start training your dog on a regular basis and under a variety of conditions.

Please use the progression below as a basis for your training. Begin with undertaking the training sessions in a familiar environment so that your dog is relaxed, and gradually introduce different environments and distractions.

You will also be the best judge of when you should move on to the next step, but I would recommend that you move on when your dog completes a 5 to 10 minute sit-stay and a 5-10 minute down-stay. If you move along too quickly you will have to go back a step, so it is important to be patient with your dog and takes things slowly:

1. inside, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
2. outside, on-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
3. outside, off-leash, with no other dogs or people present,
4. outside, on-leash, gradually introducing dogs and people to the vicinity,
5. outside, off-leash, gradually introducing dogs and people to the vicinity.

I recommend that until you have finished the abovementioned training that you avoid allowing Maya to interact with any other dogs that she is not familiar with, so as to avoid any potentially bad situations that will hinder your training of her.

Once you have completed the training, and you are satisfied with Maya’s level of obedience, you should try socializing her with other dogs. You should preferably seek out dogs with calm, confident temperaments.

If you think that your dog may react badly by biting or fighting then consider using a muzzle.
Again, this will have to be a gradual process where the new dog is introduced at a neutral venue and from a distance. By that I mean you should get your dog to sit and have the other dog in your dog’s sight but a long way away. You want to keep your dogs focus and attention on you as your friend gradually brings the other dog closer. If your dog makes to move from the sit then have your friend move back to reduce the distraction.

Alpha Dog
I would strongly encourage you, and any other family members, to read the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". This book will give you a good understanding of the hierarchical nature and behavior of your dog, and will demonstrate to you how important it is for you to teach your dog that YOU are in charge, and not her. At the moment, Maya probably believes that she is defending you as pack leader from any potential threats. She needs to learn that you are the Alpha and therefore it is not her job to protect you.

When out walking, a Gentle Leader or similar kind of leash is great because it will give you more control over your dog’s movements. Be very careful when you are out walking, however, that you do not inadvertently reinforce your dog’s behavior.

If you see another dog approaching and you instantly react by tightening your hold on your dog’s leash, or speaking sharply to your dog, you are sending a clear message to your dog that you are very wary of the approaching pooch. She will not realize that you are actually afraid of HER reaction! Her tension will suddenly increase and she will most likely become aggressive towards the strange dog.

Instead, when out walking remember to hold a slack leash at all times. If you see a strange dog approaching, speak to your dog in a happy, confident voice, step in between her and the other dog to break any eye contact, and then ask her to sit and follow some commands.

If she ignores the other dog, praise and reward her. If she becomes aggressive, growl a guttural growl (AAHH) and move her away from the other dog. If she stops growling, praise her straight away. Practice this as much as you can for best results.

Good luck!