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Dog Aggression
  • hondruhondru
    Posts: 529
    So, I thought I'd start a new thread. I hope everyone who has any experience dealing with dog aggression weighs in, because I by no means consider myself an expert.

    Let me start out by saying that Rakka was never severely dog aggressive. She has never been in a serious dog fight. I define serious as resulting in injuries beyond little knicks, bumps, and bruises because I am of the opinion that if two dogs get into a scuffle and MEAN to do serious damage to one another, they will. If they both walk away unharmed, then I classify as an "argument" rather than a "fist fight". The worst fight Rakka was in would be with Tojo where they both had knicks on their faces and front legs. These were only tiny little cuts which hardly bled. The face and front legs are common places for accidental injuries even during playtime, so a heated "argument" can result in them quite easily.

    At any rate, I do say that she had dog aggression issues when I got her because it was hard for her to get along with other dogs and she was always tense and agitated with another dog around. She would growl and lunge, and for a long time, she wouldn't let Tojo do anything without trying to bully him. She seemed to have trouble drawing the line between rough-housing and just being rough. She still does sometimes.

    I would say I managed her by control and example. Control because I didn't give her much chance for bad behaviour. Managing a dog pack requires being very mindful of all the dogs' limits and which situations can desolve into quarrels. I tried to always set the relationships between the dogs up for success by not giving them things to fight over. Basically, I think any time a dog has a confrontation with another dog, it sets them back, so it's really important to just ensure there aren't any incidents.

    Second, by example. This was partially by being predictable and fair with all the dogs myself, but mostly by the example of Loki and Tojo, who are cool-headed and intelligent. Loki was the definite boss-dog when he was still alive and Tojo took his place and started acting a lot like him when he died (it was actually really cool, because I could tell that Tojo was following Loki's example). ALL pack members are important, though. I think being around a well-adjusted dog does wonders. In fact, I would say that living in a pack 24/7 has been the best thing for Rakka by far. If you don't have any other dogs, I would definitely consider a play date with a calm, friendly dog. Even just a walk together where they're both under control and not interacting would do wonders, in my opinion. Dogs can be therapy dogs for each other!

    Anyway, as far as dog aggression with strange dogs, I don't really know how to deal with that, because Rakka seems totally fine with strange dogs now, and she hasn't actually been around many strange dogs since I got her since we live in the middle of nowhere. I don't think Rakka was ever a severe case, though, as I said. I think all she needed was a lot of time. I never did any structured training exercises, just consistent day-to-day things that managed her tendencies and desensitized her.

    Today was really great for Rakka, though. She did so awesome at the dog run and then when we came home, all the pups were very happy to see each other.

    So yeah, I would REALLY like to hear from everyone on this issue. Obviously, dog aggression is an issue a lot of people deal with and it can be so frustrating. We should probably all put our heads together and come up with an awesome article (or articles).

    [mod edit: re-categorized due to addition of new category]-Heidi, with Rakka (shikoku) and Sosuke (kai ken)
    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 15:53:24
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4784
    Regarding dog aggression, it's easier for me anyway to prevent a fight before it starts instead of reacting to a fight and having to give lots of corrections. Beebe has problems with other dogs when they get in her space (but not shibas). When she enters anyplace where there are a lot of dogs waiting in a group around the entrance, she tends to make a big noise and her hackles are up but she bolts right thru them and seems to run it off. The bigger problem is at Obedience class when we practice our competition runs which involve many well trained dogs sitting/in down stays for several minutes, or when doing weaving exercises around other dogs. If she is suprised by another dog rounding a bend and suddenly in her face, she lunges and bares teeth. Likewise, her hackles are up and she may unexpectedly lunge while passing a dog comming towards her which is unacceptable behavior in competition and gets us ejected from the ring faster than my head can spin. The solution for me, is to always have her watching me or focus on my eyes or hand instead of the other dogs. She will ignore many more distractions and has developed a greater tolerance threshold by me simply working on her focus so I rarely need to correct her for inappropriate interactions because she is too busy looking at me to focus on other dogs. Follow this with gradual desensitizing, for me, being around lots of dogs in class and at work really helps. Once they reach that threshold and begin to wig out, though, where they are unable to cope effectively with whatever stimulus, then it's too late, so stop what you're doing and take a break. Correcting after the fact I have found is counter-productive and just escalates Beebe even more, and it's negative. I think it's easier to have the dog learn to focus on you, you're not doing any corrections this way, it's positive, and it's more fun than pulling your dogs apart in a fight. Hope this helps."Common sense isn't so common"
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    Aggressive vs. Reactive

    From the time I got Jazz until just a few months ago, I've called Jazz aggressive. Jazz is a super-cute dog who prefers humans to dogs. She does not like rude dogs (ones who go for a butt sniff before being introduced) or one that bounds into her space. She has several different growls that usually give me a clue on response. Her first one is a low rumble that sounds very grouchy and like a grumble. I think of it as "Crap! The human has brought me back to the dog park and this idiot dog thinks that I find it fun for him to be all up in my business." The second one is a correctional growl that is of medium sound and usually backs a dog off fairly quick. It's the third growl that isn't good and is the one that gets her the reactive label.

    It's as though she's channelling the growl/snarl/bark from a Tosa. It's a huge sound (Rachael & Dave can testify) and within a second or so of it finishing, she's lunging. I'm quick to correct on that one - sometimes I am able to redirect her with calling her name and having her focus on me, but it depends on the other dog. At times, I have to pick her by her harness, which is why I have one that supports her chest when I pick her up. When we were in training classes, the most useful thing that Jazz was taught was focus. She does fairly well on that and that will usually take care of the issue. I would recommend teaching a dog that one without a doubt.

    Jazz also takes melatonin when we are going to the park or to meet other dogs. This has helped in calming her down enough to get past her initial reactiveness. I mentioned in another thread about the "wrong way" that I used to help Jazz overcome her fear (for those that don't know - I picked Jazz up and held her when entering stores, strange places, etc - many consider this coddling and reinforces the behavior and in most cases this would be true, however it worked with Jazz), I still do this when I go into a dog park or even to someone's house. It allows Jazz to get accustomed to new smells & environment in her safe place (me). It doesn't take as long as it used to and she's getting better and better.

    Lastly, finding a friend who has a friendly dog who can deal with the grumbles is great. I've seen a marked improvement with Jazz after playdates at Rachael's with Niko & Sasha. Smaller settings outside of your dog's comfort zone (house) is the best way instead of the overwhelming dog park.

    Sorry for such a long post...
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4784
    No, that's a good post. I think Beebe is reactive similar to Jazz and does the growl than lunge, so the focusing exercise is mos def the best training tip for us so far. I have seen many shibas do the same thing when other dogs "invade the bubble". I tried picking Beebe up and holding her once while at the park during an episode I thought was fear/over reaction to a couple of loose dogs that got in her face, (she was beyond soothing at that point but immediately calmed once we left...)"Common sense isn't so common"
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    I am fortunate that Jazz is willing to be held, I know several shibas that don't do so well with that. The other part of this is making sure that your dog is confident in you as their leader - they've got to trust that you will protect them.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    Great post, all!


    Heidi - did you try a muzzle for Rakka? I only ask because I'm considering one for emergencies and desensitization.
  • LJ you bring up a good point about aggressive vs. reactive. A great many Shibas are reactive as are a number of other spitzies. There is no soothing once the tolerance threshold has been tipped.

    The focus exercises are one of the most essential tools that help in keeping a situation from escalating.

    I have one similar to Jazz that grumbles and rumbles at unknown dogs or multiple dogs rushing her.
    However, she is fine with dogs she has gotten to know and have learned to understand her cues.

    Reactiveness and aggression are complex and all items have to be weighed in context of the situation. Some animals are aggressive or reactive with other dogs in differing circumstances .i.e. On leash but not off leash, ok with one dog but not three, fine with multiples but not one type or breed....the list could go on.

    The important thing is gathering some command tools in order to work with the particular issues of each dog. Second is learning the threshold of the dog and then conditioning to extend that. This takes some time and expert input in some cases, particularly since what we humans see up close in proximity to events is perceived very different than what observed far away outside of the event. Dog to dog behavior all happens so fast in a flick or blink of an eye and easily missed. Dog to kid behavior equally as fast. So there is a lot to juggle mentally and physically as owners. So at this point it is really tough to bring in a blueprint as a simple solution set via a forum. Most behaviorists will tell you the same thing. That’s why they don’t advise on line.

    I have found that muzzling is an extreme measure and for Shibas it does not work well. It is one more item that causes reactiveness. Also the muzzles don't really fit that well and usually end up coming off.

    Feisty Fido by Patricia McConnell is a good small book to review. As is feeling outnumbered.

    Snf
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
    I thought about a muzzle with Jazz (in the beginning) - I think I may have even asked on here...I'll go back and look on my posts. My basic reasoning was...at least I'll keep Jazz from biting the other dog...when in fact all I'd be doing was making her more frustrated. I did look at muzzles, but couldn't find one that I thought would do well for Jazz. Since Jazz was agreeable to being held, I did that - the first two meetups I was at, Jazz spent nearly the entire time in my arms (2-3 hours). We have slowly gained ground and now she spends approx. 20 mins in my arms over the course of the meetup.

    Ironically, at the last meetup, we had a newcomer who has a very reactive dog. His owner held him 99% of the time and any time he caught sight (only has 1 eye) of another dog, he grumbled/growled. The only dog he didn't do this with was Jazz. Jazz didn't grumble back and we had them within a foot of one another. I'm always curious when Jazz doesn't react. I watch the dogs that she doesn't react to...hoping I'll figure out what is so special about them.
    LJ - owned by Queen Jazz, a Shiba Inu, Atlanta, GA
    CSC_0144
  • hondruhondru
    Posts: 529
    I agree, great responses.

    That is so true about your dogs being confident in you as a leader. I think people are often accustomed to the idea that our dogs protect US, which is true to an extent, but it's important to remember that we are responsible for protecting them from other dogs. If they trust us to protect them, then they'll be a lot more confident.

    Yes, I have used a muzzle with Rakka. I have the basket kind, that allows her to pant, drink water, bark, and so on. I wrote a product review for it, actually. It calms her down quite a bit. I think use of a muzzle should be done with care, though. I know all of YOU guys know not to do this, but I think some people are tempted to just put the muzzle on them and toss them into a situation. I think that just makes it worse.
    -Heidi, with Rakka (shikoku) and Sosuke (kai ken)
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4784
    That's true for scary situations your dog encounters in general. I think that's why a reactive dog on a leash with lots of other dogs around it can be worse because it feels trapped and can't get away or defend itself, like if it was wearing a muzzle so you have to step in and protect him."Common sense isn't so common"
  • I agree it is our job to step in based on our own pets needs.

    Like LJ I carry my one girl into the dog park and she sits on the park bench to get her bearings and if there are few dogs I let her loose without lead, it works out if she feels she is not bombarded and the other dog gets a clue on how to greet.

    Below is an article by Suzanne Clothier that completely applies to the Spitzies. The reactive behavior is often mistakenly pinned as aggressive. While there are some aggressive dogs out there, a great many are not, but require a different acclimation method other than throwing all dogs in a social group together and expecting harmony.

    (I post the long link to the pdf here since it is copyrighted.)

    http://www.livingwithdogs.us/articles/He-just-wants-to-say-hi.pdf

    or

    http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:AKcODILKz6oJ:www.livingwithdogs.us/articles/He-just-wants-to-say-hi.pdf
    Post edited by [Deleted User] at 2008-10-28 18:56:28
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2240
    I thought about that article too. I love that article, that is one of the most helpful articles for any Nihonken owner, imo.

    Thanx for posting it Patrice!

    ----
  • hondruhondru
    Posts: 529
    Yeah, that is a great article.

    Hey Brad, you know more about this subject than I do and you can probably even correct me on a few things. You should write an article on dog aggression!
    -Heidi, with Rakka (shikoku) and Sosuke (kai ken)
  • asiaasia
    Posts: 875
    That was extremely informative! Thanks!
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2240
    I think you did a great job, I read what you wrote and nothing came to mind that I felt I needed to add. Then Patrice posted that link and I think this subject is covered! :o)

    All I would add, and it's really already been said, is that I would stay away from any of the BS "alpha" techniques - especially if you have a reactive, fearful, or aggressive dog. Those types of techniques will only make things worse.

    ----
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2240
    I have been thinking a lot about "aggression" lately and what causes it in a normal dog. By "causes it" I don't mean what event, in a dogs life, can be linked to re-activeness, but instead I mean what innate qualities in a "normal" dog that trigger an "aggressive" response. I have read a lot about "aggression", the old theories and the new ones, and I have read a lot about working dogs [fighting, hunting, guarding, etc.]. I have also studied my dogs, and I have always tried to break-down the "triggers" behind certain behaviors - but there are always some behaviors that I couldn't put my finger on a "trigger" that doesn't end up just being labeled vaguely as "aggression".

    For example, Ahi is not tolerant of a strange dog being around our fence. Ahi is a Shikoku, a breed that is [generally] not categorized as being a guardian/watch dog. Loa is a Shikoku too, but shows not "aggression" towards dogs/people that are close to the our fence. Why such a different reaction from two dogs that share a very similar bloodline? Does this make Ahi "aggressive"? What innate quality in Ahi "triggers" this guarding instinct? Interestingly, this instinct didn't appear till we moved to our current home where she has a large property to "guard", why? These types of questions have lead me too creating theory...

    In thinking about this, and other situations, I have come up with 3 general categories that I feel can help define the "trigger" for these types, and other types, of "aggressive" displays.

    ----

    Here is my theory and thoughts...

    There are 3 categories all aggressive behavior falls into and sometimes they overlap. I have added some notes under each category to give some examples/reasoning:

    >> Offensive [Prey Triggered]
    - A dog chases another dog and pins it: Prey Instinct, a high prey drive dog will chase anything that moves.

    - Ahi/Kona charges the fence at the smallest sign of something being on the other side: Prey Instinct, they are pursuing prey. The do this for birds and for dogs.

    - In breeding fight dogs they are selected for "chase", aka prey drive. They have to have a high prey drive to go after a dog that runs from them to keep the fight going. action/reaction - that's all it is.


    >> Defensive [Fear Triggered]
    - Basic "territorial" behavior: an unknown dog/person in a dogs territory is threat to their livelihood [food, water, toys]. They guard - this is a fear-based response.

    - Ahi/Kona barks/growls/postures at a dog on the other side of the fence after they have charged it.

    - Maui snaps at a dog that gets to close to his food: Fear-based resource guarding.

    - Fuji barks at an umbrella in the park: She shows fear-based "aggression" towards an object she has never seen before [she is under socialized with umbrellas].

    - A dog at a dog park chases another dog and grabs it [prey drive] - the other dog responds defensively by giving a harsh correction and defending itself [fear] - the dog that gave chase responds to the the correction with a defensive action [fear] - this leads to a "fight".

    - An under socialized dog falls into this category - they are fearful.


    >> Biological [Hormone Triggered]
    - Lani attacks Kaia for no apparent reasons - nothing to guard and Kaia isn't moving. Kaia shows no real threat to Lani. Lani has a thyroid issue that causes her to be chemically imbalanced.

    - Maui is extremely fearful of noises: Poor breeding leads to the selecting of imbalanced dogs.

    - Hilo guards Lani from Kona - Lani is in heat - Hilo is acting on hormones that are triggered by Lani's heat. This is also a form of resource guarding and therefore is fear driven [fear of not being able to mate].

    - Ahi growls at me when I touch her leg - she is guarding her leg because it is hurt and she is fearful of the pain.


    If your dog shows "aggression", examine the event. Was your dog potentially acting on prey instinct which lead to another dog being defensive? Was your dog guarding a recourse? Was it a correction to/from an under socialized dog? Is your dog potentially reacting from some type of biological issue?

    I have noticed our dogs are less interested in fighting than a lot of people think. Generally, our dogs will give up a resource before they will "fight" over it. In a real-world "pack" scenario if a dogs fought every time there was a disagreement they would not make it as a "pack" and would starve or kill each other.

    If you want to reduce a chance of a dog fight, eliminate any thing that could cause a reaction that falls into any of these three categories above. I realize that is probably not possible, but it is possible to be aware of the "triggers" and therefore make educated decisions that can help prevent a confrontation between dogs.

    ----
    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2008-11-26 17:02:13
  • CrystalWolfCrystalWolf
    Posts: 235
    So i am looking for some advice, and I am not sure what to call the response my dog is giving. Riku loves going to the dog park and gets long with all the dogs there, he will chase the other dogs mostly, sometimes he will lay on his belly and wait for another dog to get close and then pounces on them being a bit vocal, but this is all in play. If the other dog doesnt like him pouncing and he realizes this he backs off and leaves that dog alone.

    However there was this incident with this chocolate lab puppy at the park. Riku my dog is a yr and 3 months and neurtered, the lab is a bit bigger than him but not by much as she is 6 months and spayed. We were already at the park when they got there he ran to greet them and immediatly tried to hump her then as the owner and her dog joing the bigger group of people in the back of the park riku would follow her and growl at her and try to bite her which sometimes he does in play too so i was unsure what he was doing the other dog clearly did not appreciate this or like it so i made him back off and he played with a few other dogs there, sometimes breaking off to follow the lab which i would immediatly redirect him.

    Today it was just us at the park and then the owner of the lab pulled in, with the way riku acted with the pup last time i was unsure how this would go so i pciked him up and waited for them to come in (he was at the fence and jumed on it and did a little growl as they were walking up) the lab walked over not all bouncy or exicted just a normal walk to greet us i set riku down to see how he would do and he immediatly went to get her, i assume to attack her. i pciked him up apolagized for riku being a bully and went to the other fenced in area.

    What is he doing, why is he doing it and can I correct this? He is not a mean dog and I do not want him to be seen this way.
  • I was told NOT to pick up your dog in social situations as it may be seen by other dogs as a sign of weakness.

    Here is what a quick google search uncovered.

    http://www.city-data.com/forum/dogs/587494-people-who-pick-up-their-dogs.html

    http://www.hollywoodonaleash.com/dogparketiquette.html

    =)
  • CrystalWolfCrystalWolf
    Posts: 235
    thanks I will look into those links, I picked him up, so the other dog could enter the park as my dog already seemed ready to jump her, i wanted to stop a scuffle before it happened

    **after reading the links about picking him up i think you misunderstood what was going on. I was the only person there, this was a dog riku had tried to bully before so i was sitting ona bench and put him on the bench next to me to allow the other dog to enter**
    Post edited by CrystalWolf at 2014-05-29 13:07:44
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3481
    @Crystalwolf

    I agree with Banjo, don't pick up your dogs in those situations. As per what you wrote

    "i set riku down to see how he would do and he immediatly went to get her, i assume to attack her. i pciked him up apolagized for riku being a bully and went to the other fenced in area."

    Don't pick up your dog to go on the other side. I never pick up my dogs at the dog park. I usually 1) get between them and the other dog. 2) walk the other direction and recall them or 3) leash them up to walk over to the other side.

    Some dogs get triggered if they get picked up, and some dogs get triggered when they see other dogs get picked up. So overall, I think that should be avoided.


    Edited to add in response to avoiding trouble:

    Try the following methods to avoid a fight:

    - get your dogs attention
    - make him sit / stay / leave it
    - grab ahold of their leash/collar
    - block your dog from seeing the other dog he's so fixated on
    Post edited by Bootz at 2014-05-29 13:17:14
  • CrystalWolfCrystalWolf
    Posts: 235
    Ok well he was in my lap before they got there. That is still a problem? I only set him down after they entered and grabbed his collar when he went after her.

    That aside I still need my other questions answered. What is he doing why is picking on this one dog and how can I correct it.
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3481
    @CrystalWolf I would avoid having him in your lap. Some dogs resource guard their owner, which will make them anti social and "aggressive"

    In terms of my experience with dog parks, I think owners should act like Referees. They are there in the shadows and only intervene when the situation calls for it.
  • CrystalWolfCrystalWolf
    Posts: 235
    Ok I see I will not do that. However I really think he would have hurt this dog. What is cause this behavior and how should I make him ok with this dog. With their first encounter on Saturday I thought he was being a bully because she was so passive. But today she was not being passive and wanted to greet him. I know he remembered her from before because of how he acted while they walked up to the gate. Is it something that can't be avoided he just doesn't like her and I should go somewhere else when they enter?

    I was also thinking of asking the owner if she would be open to them going for a walk together?
  • The second option (the joint walking) seems like a good idea!!

    Some dogs just don't like each other. That may be the case here.




  • jennjenn
    Posts: 856
    Yeah, Rigby has an arch nemesis at daycare. They can't be around each other, and that's that. Sometimes dogs (like people) just don't like each other, or another. I would avoid allowing Riku to play with that dog at the park, and keep an eye on his interactions iwth all others, which it sounds like you are doing!
    Jenn, Shiba Slave to Rigby / http://hellorigby.com
  • CrystalWolfCrystalWolf
    Posts: 235
    Hmm that's to bad. But I can't blame him, but as you have mentioned even as people there are certain people we don't like. And dogs can be the same way I guess.
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1587
    Good post by McConnell, sort of a follow up to her SPARCS presentation.

    http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/is-territorial-aggression-a-useful-term

    For myself, I tend to think the term aggression is misused/overused. Too many times referred to as the problem, rather than a symptom of a bigger issue. Treating the aggression does nothing if you don't cure the source of the problem, be it fear, reactivity, mental issue...and so on.
    "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1587
    Another great post by McConnell. Offers analysis, tips and solutions to help deal with aggression related behaviours...

    http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/canine-aggression-case-study-fall-2014
    "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

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