Aggression to other dogs
#11
I would have to consider Ember reactive, honestly. She is very shy, very pressure sensitive, and just wants to be left alone. But she loves other dogs too - most of the time.

Just yesterday she got really upset when I was loving on another collie. It honestly looked like resource guarding - the more I reached for this dog (or a dog reached for me), the more Ember tried to lunge as I held her back. But I had to step back and take a look at the situation. I had to hold Ember away with one hand just so I could pet these super loving dogs with the other - and the more the non-collie loved on me, the more upset Ember got.

This is how I had to analyze what happened:

- There were 2 dogs with this guy
- Both dogs were high energy due to being crated while the guy worked
- Collie was super submissive, so her energy was exerted in a very quick wiggle on her back
- Other dog was crazy vocal and super jumpy but very focused on one thing at a time (either me or Ember)
- Both dogs had jingling collars/harnesses (tags/metal hooks/ etc)

And there are a few things about my dog I have to be aware of:
- She is very uncomfortable with lot of energy - tries to shut it down as quick as possible
- She is very uncomfortable with the sound of metal
- She is also apparently a "bully" to submissive dogs - if a dog goes submissive, she will not allow them to get up, and tries to herd them into a corner.
- Every time the non-collie jumped up at me, Ember snarled. But if I pet him and he calmed down (mainly because he had my attention), she backed off.

You really have to pay attention to all of the body language in an encounter to figure out if it's resource guarding or something else. In my case, it was the other dog's energy that Ember was reacting to - it just happened that it coincided with classic guarding issues.

Now, as for what to do - you have to learn your dog's threshold. I blew Ember's threshold away yesterday, and that wasn't good. It didn't end poorly, but it did end with Ember having a strong sense of insecurity about the entire encounter. So next time, she may be even stronger to react.

For starters, I'm going to use a key word here: "Interact". By this I mean whatever your dog loves to do outside - treats? Play? Which of those is highest value (without going over threshold). I would use something here like bland boiled chicken or cheese - something yummy but not the highest value. If you are playing, don't play something like tug or fetch, as those are naturally high arousal games. You are wanting to do something like self play (play without toys).

Have your helper with the other dogs stand in one place with their dog. Make sure the dog is mellow and not reacting itself - all dogs feed off of other's energy. Start with your dog not even aware the dog is there (so, maybe have this person across the street from your house, and start by bringing your dog out into the BACK yard).

Now, starting as far away as you can, watch your dog. Bring them out to where they can see the other dog. How far away does he have to be before he doesn't react? Can he "Down" when he knows the dog is that far away? Find the point at which he DOES react, and then step back a few feet. Ask for a Watch or Down - anything incompatible with staring at the other dog. The moment he turns away from the other dog, reward that with interaction. Work at this distance for a while, take him back inside.

Next time, start where you were, and then try to move up just a few feet. Get that Watch or Down. If he can do that, heavily reward, do what he likes best. Try to move up another few feet closer to the other dog. If at any point he goes reactive (or even just starts staring or goes stiff), take several feet back away and try again.

Keep these sessions short and give him breaks by taking him where he can't see the other dog and can calm down.

Goals:
1) "Hey, there's a dog - but I don't care as much about him as what Guardian has!"
2) "Hey, there's a dog - something goods going to happen!"
Optional 2) "Hey, there's a dog - I'm supposed to Down or Watch!"
3) "Hey, there's a dog - but he means good things, so I'm going to turn back to Guardian!"
4) "... oh wait, that dog's been there all along!"

From this, you will work up to being able to walk with the other dog at a distance, and with each walk, bring that other dog closer.

This can be a very slow progress as you are changing the entire connotation of what another dog means to your dog. But he may pick it up fast too. It all depends on his state of mind. And some days he may be less reactive than others. Do some research on body language, and look for the signs of discomfort - and immediately step back several feet. Stiffness, alertness, staring - all of these are even better tattletales than "can he take food".
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Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
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#12
so so helpfull thank you! I will get my cheese ready! we had a great walk yesterday afternoon, met a couple of dogs (she was off lead so just has a sniff and moves in quickly) I satyed calm and in between that we did a lot of down stays, waits, find it (with cheese on the ground at a distance) and calm heel work past the school (took time but just perservered).

I feel much less stressed and much more sympathetic towards her now I know she is reacting out of fear and not dominance. she is very obedient so i think the exrices you suggest will work as we nuild up.

I live rurally, we are not constantly meeting dogs so sometimes they take her by suprose.

She does the exact same thing with resource guarding and good to understand the issues.

Anyone tried Bowen technique ion their dogs? I have a friend who is qualified in canine bowen nd wondered if anyone has tried it :-)
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