Dog to Dog Aggression –
Why and How to Stop It

When dealing with dog-to-dog aggression, it is important to listen to our dog.

There are many reasons why a dog may act aggressively toward another.

  • He may be afraid.
  • He may be stressed because his space is being violated.
  • He may feel the need to dominate.
  • He may be protective of us.
  • He may be very curious.
  • He may just be over-excited.

Sometimes, what we perceive to be aggression may be the result of hyper energy, eagerness, or natural inquisitiveness. Therefore, in dog-to-dog aggression cases, it is important to understand what our dog is feeling, and what he is trying to say.

When my dog meets a new dog, I observe both of them carefully. As soon as my dog starts to get stressed, I step in and interrupt before the situation escalates.

For dog aggression issues, it is best to take a dog’s age, health, temperament, and preferences into account, while coming up with appropriate solutions.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 1

Be calm and decisive.

Dogs are very sensitive to what their human is feeling. My dog picks up on my emotions and reflects them, except with much more intensity. Sometimes, I am not even conscious of feeling nervous or stressed, but my dog notices it and starts to act up. Once I consciously calm myself down, his behavior also improves.

A common mistake when meeting other dogs is to tense up, and get fearful of what our dog may do. If we are afraid, our dog will pick up on that fearful energy, and that will likely trigger an aggressive reaction.

Be careful not to put undue or continuous tension on the leash. Also, do not pull the dog straight back, as that will likely cause a lunge forward response. To remove my dog, I pull him to the side and quickly walk him past the other dog.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 2


Ignore, Ignore, Ignore – Teach our dog avoidance.

When I see another dog, I usually just ignore him and move along.

I have found that avoidance is most effective when I avert my eyes from both dog, as well as owner. I keep my eyes forward, and keep walking at a natural pace. In this way, my dog learns that when we see other dogs, we avoid rather than confront.

Be careful not to crowd our dog while walking. If he feels trapped between us and the other dog, he may think he has no choice but to react aggressively. Do not stand still while trying to tug our dog away. Move away, and he will come along with us. At the same time, we are creating space so that he will not feel trapped.

I do not let my dog obsess or stare intensely at other dogs. Sometimes, my Shiba Inu will drop into a stalking-down-position, stare, and wait for the other dog to pass. Some people think that he is such a good boy for doing a Down, when other dogs are coming toward him, but he is actually just waiting to pounce.

Do not allow this bad behavior, do not let our dog practice it, do not even let him think about it. Just move him along, and ignore. If the other dog is somehow blocking us (e.g. if the owner is unable to control his dog), then walk away in a different direction. Do not stare the other dog down and do not confront him, either through posture or by physically engaging him.

Challenging unknown dogs is a good way to get bitten.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 3


Create space or block the other dog.

We can do this by moving across the road or into a driveway, and waiting for the other dog to pass.

We may also move our dog behind a barrier, for example a car. If there are no barriers available, we can try blocking the dog’s view with our body.

By doing this, we avoid a head-on, more confrontational passing.

I have tried all of these blocking techniques, but what works best for me is to create space, and quickly move past the other dog. Whenever I wait for the other dog to pass, my Shiba uses that time to start obsessing.

Dog treats and trying to get his attention do not work at this point, because the other dog is too close, and Shiba Sephy is no longer listening. The advantage of walking Sephy briskly past the other dog, is that he has less time to stare. In addition, he cannot fully obsess, because he must partly focus on walking.

However, using barriers and blocking may work better for a fearful dog.

Some trainers suggest turning and walking away when we see another dog, rather than passing him or waiting for him to pass.

There are two problems with this method:

  • If we turn away, the other dog will be following us. This may cause some dogs to keep looking back, to make sure that the follower is not a threat. I have tried this, and indeed my Shiba keeps looking back.
  • If we keep turning away, we may meet other dogs and get boxed in; especially if there are many dogs in our neighborhood.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 4

Create neutral experiences.

I try to create as many neutral dog-to-dog meeting experiences as possible. If every time my dog sees another dog, we just pass by and nothing interesting happens, it will become a non-event.

Being consistent with neutral greetings will build our dog’s confidence. Through repetition, we are teaching him how to behave (just avoid and move along), and how not to behave (get over-excited, frustrated, lunge, and pull). He will be more calm because he is not waiting in anticipation of a highly charged encounter, either for play or for confrontation.

I try to set my dog up for success, and do not let him practice aggressive behaviors when meeting other dogs. The more he practices, the more aggressive he will be.

If my dog becomes agitated during a walk, I try to end the outing as soon as possible. Once in this mode, his adrenaline levels will be high for a fair duration, and he will likely react aggressively to all the dogs that we meet. In this state, he will no longer be capable of learning, and will only be practicing dog aggressive behaviors.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 5


Protect our dog from rude dogs and rude people.

I usually keep my dog away from people and dogs with weak energy (e.g. fearful, excited, or frustrated energy). In addition, I also try to keep other dogs and owners from coming into my dog’s space. I say a quick ‘hi’ to the people I meet, and move on.

If people with weak energy stop and want to meet my dog, I ask them nicely to please move on, because my dog is easily excitable.

It is fine and good to let a dog meet people with calm energy, but make sure to let them know how to best meet our dog. In particular, turn away when he jumps, no quick movements, and no petting from above.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 6

Use positive interrupts and keep encounters short.

While greeting another dog, we want to positively interrupt our dog every so often, and get him to refocus on us. Do this as many times as necessary, so that our dog does not get over-excited, and lose control of himself.

Whenever my dog is meeting a new dog, I interrupt him after a very short duration (2-3 seconds). I quickly move or jog away from the other dog, while giving the positive interrupt command, e.g. Hey, hey. Initially, I may have to lightly tug at my dog while moving away. I make sure to treat him well for moving toward me on a loose leash.

If our dog is too obsessed to move away and is strongly standing his ground, then we have waited too long to initiate the interrupt. Positive interrupts are also useful for dealing with human greetings, and getting our dog away from a dirty or unsuitable area.

The key to successful positive interrupts is to catch a dog early, before he starts to obsess on another dog or object.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 7

Be aware that our dog’s natural look may trigger an aggressive reaction.

Some dogs, for example Spitz-type dogs, have a natural look that may appear dominant (ears up, hair out, tail up). This dominant look may instigate other dogs to respond in kind, and start posturing as well. Conflicts may occur, and if neither dog is willing to back down, this may lead to a dog fight.

If I am unsure about a dog greeting, I just move on. Better to be safe than sorry.

Dog-to-Dog Aggression Tip 8

Desensitize our dog toward other dogs.

The problem with dog-to-dog aggression issues, is that in regular situations the “other dog” stimulus is too strong, and environment is too unstructured for any learning to occur. Often, our dog overloads quickly and becomes reactive, because the other dog is too close, is staring, is hyper, or is charging toward us.

In the desensitization process, we do training in a quiet, enclosed environment, and start with a very weak version of the problem stimulus. In terms of reactivity toward other dogs, we can use distance to weaken its effect.

In this way, we also weaken the strength of our dog’s reaction, so that he will be calm enough to listen and learn. This is necessary, to create opportunities where we can begin to teach our dog to be calm and relaxed, while in the presence of another dog.

I did quite a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization sessions with Sephy, when he was young, at our local SPCA. The trainers there had many balanced, friendly dogs, that we could do training with.

First, the trainer would engage the other dog in training exercises, so that he stays in a fixed position, and is not focused on Sephy (i.e., no eye-contact). Both dogs are on-leash.

I take Sephy a far distance away, far enough away that he is still calm and able to listen to me. Then, I get his attention by calling his name. If he looks at me, I praise, and treat him for behaving well. Sometimes, I also ask him to do very simple commands, e.g. Sit.

I let Sephy sit and watch the other dog as long as he is calm, and willing to give me his attention when I ask for it. Once we are both comfortable with this, I move one step toward the other dog and repeat the Focus and Sit exercises above.

Do not move too close to the other dog, too quickly. If we move forward too fast, our dog may become reactive, and will no longer be able to give us his attention. At this point, I no-mark Sephy (uh-oh) and move back a few steps. Once we are far enough away, I try to get his attention again. When he gives it to me, I stop, praise, and treat.

Note – for desensitization to be successful, we want to keep our dog below his instinct threshold as much as possible.

I always try to make sessions short, fun, and rewarding. This helps our dog associate other dogs with being calm, and with positive experiences. I make sure to stop before my dog shows any obsessive behavior, and long before he becomes aggressive. Once a dog becomes reactive or aggressive, it is usually best to end the session soon after.

As we make progress, we can slowly increase the strength of the problem stimulus. For example, we may allow the target dog to start moving around, or we may allow him to play with his handler.

The desensitization process can be long and difficult. Dogs with lower instinct thresholds (the point at which they lose control and switch to instinct) will be harder to desensitize. However, consistent practice will also help to raise this threshold.

What to Expect from Dog-to-Dog Aggression Training

Do not expect too much, too quickly, from our dog. Make sure to treat and praise him very well, if he voluntarily engages in avoidance maneuvers, when there are other dogs around. This includes looking away from the direction of the other dog, smelling and exploring the environment, or looking at us for direction.

Initially, treat and praise even small avoidance moves, for example looking away for just 1 second. If a dog will not accept treats from us, then he is too far gone and it is best to lead him away. Treats are only effective for shaping behavior when our dog is still thinking, and not operating on instinct.

If we keep practicing desensitization exercises, and teach our dog how to behave with other dogs, he will improve. As he matures, he will become more confident, be less dog aggressive, and be more comfortable around new experiences.

For aggression issues between two family dogs, please refer to Introducing a Second Dog into the Home.

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Comments

  1. A Shively says

    Thanks for your generous and sensible tips for avoiding dog-to-dog aggression. Our 2.5 year old rescue Westie is 85% perfect, but barks and lunges at most strange dogs when we are out walking (city dog, always on a leash). We’ll try the avoidance methods you suggest and perhaps find a trainer with some friendly dogs he can work with. Thanks again!

  2. says

    I have a 6 mo old (male) Wheaten Terrier and a 6 year old (male) Chihuahua — both are neutered. They exhibit a great deal of aggression towards one another – both wanting to be dominant. The puppy more wants to play and my chihuahua has always been a dominant aggressor — however the other day the puppy drew blood on the chihuahua in a few places. I desperately need some tips on how to help them get along, seeing that they have to live together
    thank you!!!

    • shibashake says

      What daily routine do they have? What kind of training are they used to? How much daily exercise do they get? What kind of rules are they used to in the house?

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, I manage their excitement level, and I supervise them closely during play, meal-time, etc. In this way, they know what to expect from each other and what to expect from me. If need be, I use management equipment such as baby gates, leashes, and more to keep things safe for everyone.
      More on what I do to help my dogs get along.

      It is important to note, however, that dog behavior is very context dependent and each situation is different. This is why in cases of aggression, it is usually better and safer to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  3. Ninette says

    Congratulations and many thanx for sharing, your precious wisdom. Other “experts” don’t. I see lots of similarities between your Shiba Inu and my 2-year-old male Dobe, particularly this “stalking” lying position, rings LOTS of bells in my ears. I’ve been complaining trying to explain to outnumbered “trainers” that particular posture and my Dobe’s refusal for treats “when he’s like this” but no one seemed to even listen! You have resolved the riddle! I’ll stick to your simple techniques and I’ll revert. I’ll try it when we’re obliged to confront cats and see what happens. Thank you indeed.

    • shibashake says

      Thank you Ninette. I had a lot of problems with my Shiba Inu when he was young, so we had a lot of “fun” experiences together, and our neighbors were very entertained.

      It took me a while to see that my dog is not perfect, and I am not perfect, but that is ok. I still make mistakes, but once I started trying to understand things from my dog’s perspective, and setting him up for success, things got a lot better. I think the key lesson that I learned from my Shiba is to listen more to him, and less to my “expert” neighbors. :D

  4. says

    Thank you for this post! Really helpful tips and reminds me we have to be patient. We’ve been dealing with leash reactivity for 4 months now and the progress is very slow. Keeping the intensity threshold low is so important.

    Many thanks!

    • shibashake says

      Keeping the intensity threshold low is so important.

      Yeah that was key with Sephy as well. At the time, I thought he was never going to get better, but now, he is actually the most calm of all my dogs. Hang in there!

      Btw, love your idea with the fan by the door. It blows away whatever scent there is, masks out the outside noise, and prevents obsessing type behavior. Super clever!

      Big hugs to Marvin and congrats on your new place. :D

  5. Emma says

    Hi i have a 10 year old male dog who is a medium sized dog who is neutered and the last 3 years he has become unfriendly towards dogs that are bigger then him even if there male or female, how am i able to stop this? He was attcked a couple of years ago by a german shepherd who is bigger then him could this have triggered his fear? He is fine with smaller dogs and dogs that are his size

    • shibashake says

      Negative and stressful interactions can certainly make a dog wary, anxious, or fearful of other dogs. My Husky has gotten a bit wary of large dogs because we have been charged by a few of them, and some of them try to bully her.

      I do my best to protect her and to keep dog interactions positive, or at worst neutral. Luckily, many of the owners are now keeping their dogs properly secured. We avoid places that regularly have unsupervised off-leash dogs.

      With my Shiba Inu, I did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises, to help him be more comfortable around other dogs. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      However, it is very important to note that dog behavior is very dependent on context. I can make very good guesses about the source of my dog’s behavior because I know their temperaments very well, their routine, environment, and more. Once I know the source of my dog’s behavior, I can come up with a plan for retraining it.

      We also visited with several professional trainers to help us with Sephy’s dog reactivity issues – which was mostly due to over-excitement. A *good* professional trainer can observe Sephy interacting with other dogs, evaluate his behavior, give me insights on what is causing the behavior, and help me develop some good and safe strategies for retraining it.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  6. Taylor says

    Hello,
    I have a husky, Shepard, lab cross. She will be one in March. In the past couple months she has become very aggressive, mostly to smaller dogs and once they show aggression towards her it’s almost like she thinks well I’m bigger than you I’ll win, this causes a major problem when we are at a farm and they are not on leashes. If the other dog is fine mine is fine, just eager to play. Any advice on how to help her over this?

    • shibashake says

      As I understand it, dogs, like us, have a tolerance threshold. When pushed beyond this limit, they will react. Some may choose to run away, some may choose to fight, and some may choose to submit.

      For example, my Shiba Inu a has pretty low tolerance for social rudeness. If overly provoked, he will issue a verbal warning. If that is ignored, he will do an air-snap. I manage him carefully, choose his dog friends carefully, and step in before things escalate into anything more serious. During play, I supervise and manage his excitement level, because that can also cause things to get out of control.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with him, which helped to raise his tolerance threshold. However, desensitization is a slow process and during retraining, I had to make sure not to expose him to any negative encounters.

      Recall training can also be helpful. There was this Australian Cattle Dog that we met when we went to the dog park and he had superb recall. Every time some trouble was about to break-out, his owner would call him back and put his leash on. In this way, he never got involved in any trouble.

      However, the tolerance threshold never goes away, so I still manage Sephy carefully and prevent anything from escalating out of control. I also stopped going to the dog park because the environment there was not structured enough for him and there was too little supervision. For safety, I both manage Sephy’s environment and supervise him when he is interacting with other dogs.

  7. Andura says

    Hello. I have very much enjoyed your articles. I am hoping we can use your tips working with my mother’s dog. She has a female English Bulldog that’s about a year old. Maddy was a gift and is the youngest of my mom’s 5 dogs. We’ve had her since she was about 3 more months old. The other four are rescues, a female Boxer, a small mix breed female, a male poodle/Lhasa mix, and the matriarch Heddie Bess, a small Chihuahua/pom mix about 10 yrs old.
    For months there has been no problems except at feeding time, Maddy is very aggressive with other dogs over food, but mom feeds Maddy separately, and dishes are taken back up after eating, so that is not an issue now. But about 2 months ago the Maddy began attacking Heddie at every opportunity. She has injured her.
    For now, the dogs are separated into different rooms, and are not let outside at the same time. But whenever she can, Maddy will dart out the door, and if Heddie Bess is outside she doesn’t stand a chance. Mom can’t stand the thought of parting with either one, but they can’t be allowed to be in the same area together.
    I had hoped that putting a gate between their areas of the house would help with the dog to dog desensitization, basically help them get used to each other again. If Maddy comes near it Heddie Bess begins barking and growling non-stop (of course she is terrified and is just reacting), but Maddy just completely ignores her. If you saw them standing by each other with just the gate between, you would never guess Maddy would get aggressive with her. She will sniff at Heddie through the gate, no barking, no aggressive stance, nothing at all But if they are out at the same time, or get into the same room together, Maddy will try her best to rip Heddie Bess to shreds.
    She attacked the male once, but hasn’t since, and the other two not at all. She is not the least bit aggressive toward us, or visitors, but I’m afraid her aggression will escalate to other dogs or children. Mom wants to use a remote shock collar, for aggression toward Heddie only (not for any other behaviors), but I’m hesitant until we’ve tried everything else. She loves these dogs so much, but it is becoming a very overwhelming situation.
    Thank you,
    Andura

    • shibashake says

      Hello Andura,
      Dog behavior is very dependent on context, and dog-to-dog aggression can be the result of many different things including over-excitement, fear, frustration, resource conflict, and more.

      The first step that I take in terms of changing my dog’s behavior is to observe him carefully and try to identify the source of his behavior. I also make sure to carefully manage him so that he stays safe, my other dogs stay safe, and the people around him stay safe. I use management tools such as leashes, gates, and muzzles as necessary, according to my dog and my situation.

      What is Maddy’s daily routine like? How much exercise does she get? Did anything unusual happen 2 months ago? Was there a change in Maddy’s routine 2 months ago? What training is she used to? Is she good about following house rules?

      Based on what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer. Especially in cases of aggression it is very important to start on the right foot, otherwise, the situation could get worse.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

      As for shock collars, they are very risky and can frequently increase aggression in dogs. I briefly considered using a shock collar on my Shiba Inu when I was having troubles with him, but after doing some research on it, I quickly decided not to go there. Here is why.

      Shock collars *should not* be used to break-up a dog fight. Introducing more pain and stress into such circumstances is very dangerous and will likely make matters worse.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/dog-shock-collar-good-bad/comment-page-2#comment-78125

      Desensitization

      The key with desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques is to only expose my dog to a very small amount of the problem stimulus to begin with. It has to be small enough that my dog is able to stay calm and listen to me. I talk more about how I did desensitization with Sephy at the end of the article above.

      It is important during retraining to always try and keep my dog below threshold. I want to maximize successful experiences so that my dog learns to be more calm around other dogs and learns to reassociate other dogs with positive events. For this to happen, I need to be there to manage the situation, teach him what to do, and properly reward him for staying calm and following commands.

      Changing my Shiba Inu’s dog reactive behavior required some understanding of where the behavior is coming from, careful management, consistency, time, and patience. I read up a lot on dog behavior and dog training so that I could read Sephy better and pick better trainers.

  8. michelle says

    Hi I am hoping you can help me. I have an 8 year old female boxer. I got her when she was 4. When I went to meet her I noticed that her teats were still sagging from her having pups. I asked how long it had been since her last litter and they told me it had been about a year. Her teats have never really gone back to normal so I am presuming that they had used her as a breeding machine!!
    I had her neutered when I got her. The main problem is that she is very…and I mean very protective in and outside of the house. If someone even walks past the window she goes mad and when I take her out she is a nightmare!!! She gets aggressive with all dogs even if we are not near them and she just sees them.
    When I take her to the vets I have to leave her in the car until its time to take her in and then hope there are no other dogs in our way to get her straight out and into the car.
    Last time I took her to the vets my friend came with us and sat in the car with her while I went back in to pay the bill. When I got in the car my friend said she wouldnt come with us again, as a couple had walked past the car with a dog and she thought Kiya (my dog) was going to put the window through to get to this dog and it frightened my friend to death (bless her).
    My dog as never bitten anybody or another dog as I dont let her get close to other dogs. It is just a shame that I cant take her for walks like normal people because she is like this.
    Any advice would be very appreciated

    • shibashake says

      Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises helped my Shiba Inu to be more calm around other dogs. With desensitization, I start small, with a very weak version of the stimulus. It has to be weak enough that my dog is able to stay calm and listen to me. In this way, he can learn to refocus on me, and be rewarded for his behavior. Once he is comfortable with this, I can *very slowly* increase the challenge and build up from there. I talk more about what I do at the end of the article above, in the desensitization section.

      During the desensitization process, I want to keep my dog below threshold as much as possible, so that I can slowly teach him to re-associate other dogs with calmness and positive events. I make sure not to expose my dog to situations where he will lose control and become reactive. The more successes we have, the more confident he becomes and the more calm he is around other dogs. The more reactive encounters we have, the more likely he will repeat the behavior in the future and set back our desensitization training.

      Also note that dog behavior is very context dependent. As such, especially in cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from good professional trainers. With Sephy, we consulted with several professional trainers, and some of them were helpful. In fact, we practiced desensitization exercises with a bunch of different dogs at our local SPCA, under the direction of one of their trainers.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  9. waz says

    Hi,
    I have a black Lab who lunges at everything and I mean everything, dogs, cats, even statues of Loins and giraffe’s. I take him for a two hour walk every night but he still wants to attack every other animal. I have taken him to 2 dog aggression trainers on multiple occasion’s and each time he just sits there and does nothing even when they took him to a dog park he was perfect, I bring him home take him for a walk, he goes nuts again. I don’t get it don’t understand it he is perfect at home, I can even bring other dogs home and he is fine…….I am out of ideas.

    • shibashake says

      Was he on-leash or off-leash at the park? Does he only show this behavior when he is on-leash? Does he walk properly on-leash in the backyard? If you put a new statue/ornament in the backyard, does he get reactive when off-leash? on-leash? Does he also do this when someone else walks him? Is his behavior the same while walking in different locations – e.g. a more quiet and low stimulus area?

      Some things that come to mind-
      1. On-leash aggression.
      http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/dogs-who-are-reactive-leash
      http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/handling-lead-aggression

      2. People energy.
      My Shiba Inu was very sensitive to my energy. If I get stressed or frustrated, he would pick up on that, and get stressed-out himself. This, in turn, would cause him to get reactive.

      3. Past experiences.
      Has he always acted like this? Did anything unexpected happen during walks in the past?

      It could also be a combination of those things or something else. Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it is difficult to say without having any context. When dealing with such issues with my dog, I first try to identify the source of the problem, by looking for commonalities, and doing some structured/controlled exercises to test the behavior. Once I better understand the behavior, I can develop a management and retraining plan to help him overcome it. What did the trainers say/suggest?

  10. Joseph Zahnen says

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate the article! I have a 205 pound Euro Great Dane. He is so good with strangers, kids, sharing resources with my other pups, etc. But when it comes to strange dogs I never know what to expect. Sometimes he plays, sometimes he ignore them, but more and more often he postures himself strongly as dominant. He has never bitten another dog but its only a matter of time before this behavior causes a situation to escalate.

    What I was looking for was a good method of conditioning him to correctly behave in these situations. Negative reinforcement was the only thing I could think of and I know it is counter productive in these situations. Both me and Moose would be so sad if I had to start leaving him at home on our trips to the Dog Park.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I also had issues with my Shiba Inu (Sephy) in dog parks. Dog parks are often a big challenge because there are all types of dogs that appear there. Some of them do not want to play at all, some of them only want to play with their family and start guarding family members, some people bring kids there (even though they are not supposed to because of the risks), etc.

      Sephy plays well with other playful dogs, but if another dog postures or challenges him, he will not back down. He is bold in that way, and that is part of his personality. We went to all the ones that were in our area, but soon realized that the environment was too unstructured for him. He was also starting to learn a lot of bad habits there. Here is more on our dog park experiences.

      In terms of conditioning, dog-to-dog desensitization exercises were helpful in getting Sephy to be more calm around other dogs, in more structured situations. For example, during walks and in smaller, more structured, play-groups. I talk more about our desensitization experiences at the end of the article above.

  11. Barbara Watson says

    I enjoy reading these articles and have tried many of the methods with my male GSD/Ridgie mix and am still stumped! I have also watched both Victoria Stillwell and Ceasar Milan and think both are excellent, although I prefer Ceasar’s more direct approach in most cases.
    The problem I have is that my male shep/ridgie mix gives no indication before he bites. Sometimes, he tries to be dominate at the dog park and most dogs just ignore him-although a Great Dane has put him in his place! LOL! No injuries -just seemed to embarrass my brat dog! But he has attacked 2 collies- the first one was an old dog coming to greet all of us. I felt at the time that my dog -Brudder -was being protective of my friend -a quadriplegic who was with us at the time. The second time Brudder attacked a collie was at a dog park, and the only thing I could figure was that it was too close to Brudder’s “sister”. But there were other dogs around at that time, so maybe he has a fixation about collies.
    There are several collies in my apartment building and he has met them all and he has shown no sign of aggression to them-until today. We were returning from our morning walk, and there was the old collie just sniffing away at a post so I allowed Brudder to go sniff his butt. They’d met several times before, and Brudder had even tried to play with him. Today, we were all relaxed and yet suddenly Brudder nipped the dog in the side! No warning, no upraised or stiff tail- just bit him! I immediately pulled him away and made him lay down, while the other dog was pulled away. Brudder obediently laid there focused on me until I let him up. We then came home and I put him in the bathroom (his replacement crate) while I fed the other animals, then when they were done, I let him out and fed him. They’ve just gotten over Kennel Cough and started interacting with other dogs again, and I have been sick for several days so Brudder could have been stressed, but he appeared relaxed as this was after a run through the woods.
    I can’t afford to have an unpredictable dog! This is not the first time he’s just bitten a dog out of they blue-and he doesn’t seem to do any physical damage. But he has been in 2 serious fights which occurred when he ran up to greet 2 other dogs- a female ex fighter Pitt, and an unaltered male spaniel type dog. He’s much more obedient than my little female chow/border collie mix, and he loves people! He is fearful of thunder, fireworks, etc and he indicates that he’s ready to go in to avoid the things he’s afraid of. He’s also fixed. He follows my female when running through the woods, but he does a role reversal and dominates her in play, at the dog park and here at home over his chew bones (although she couldn’t care less about the rawhides!) I think that he is a dominant/agressive/insecure dog and I don’t know how to deal with his nipping other dogs when he show no signs!

  12. Marciel says

    Great article. I am having so many problems with my reactive rover. I am hoping to use all your tips. Thank you.

  13. Risa says

    Hi. I wonder if you could help me. We have an 8yrs old pom-spitz dog that suddenly starting to attack our 1yr old daschund. It’s the only dog the he attacks. He doesn’t attack the other dogs and he doesn’t attack any other dogs before. But, when our golden retiever died he started attacking the daschund. Do you have any advice on how we can tame him? Currently he’s on the leash or inside the cage just to prevent him attacking again. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      What were the dogs doing right before the attack? Were there any food or toys nearby? What are the dogs’ routine like? What other dogs are there? Are there any other changes in behavior with the dogs? Is the Pom showing stress, changes in energy level, changes in eating behavior, or anything else? Do the attacks usually happen at a particular time or place? What things are there in common?

      When there are aggression issues between my dogs, I first try to identify what is triggering the aggression – for example is it over resources, from stress, physical issues, or something else? Once I identify the source of the aggression, then I can work at managing it and helping my dog overcome it.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent and there are many things that can trigger aggressive behavior. For complex situations like the one you describe, it may be best to consult with a professional trainer who can visit with the dogs, and see their behavior first-hand within the context of the surrounding environment and routine.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  14. Maria says

    Hello, I was wondering if you could help me with a problem I’m having.
    I just got a 14 week old Shiba Inu puppy and am having some trouble with her and my other dogs, a Mini Schnauzer and Bichon Frise. The first day she just ignored them, probably because she was scared, but the second day she started barking and nipping at their legs and tails. I tried to intervene by standing between them and saying “NO” in a firm voice, but that doesn’t seem to do anything. So the next thing I tried was “timeout”. When she started nipping at them I would pick her up and take her to a crate in our basement, leaving her in there for 5 minutes at first, and then after the third time, 10 minutes. But that isn’t helping either.
    I’ve done research and read that instead of a discipline system, you should try a reward system by giving your dog treats for good interactions with other dogs. I thought this sounded good for my Shiba since she reacts better to rewards than discipline but the problem is that there is NEVER a good interaction between her and my other dogs. As soon as she sees them she goes after them.
    I’ve had her for 4 days now and my other dogs are just so afraid of her that they hide from her, and stay in our basement all day, trying to avoid her. It’s really disappointing because she is such a great dog. She’s very smart, and I love her so much. She is already potty trained, after only one accident, I have taught her “sit” and “lie down”, and she walks great on a leash. She is a wonderful little thing, but a nightmare to my other dogs.
    I would very much appreciate any advice you can give me! Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      1. Crate
      I train my dogs to associate their crate with calmness and positive experiences. Crates are very useful for transportation and other training tasks, so I want them to like going into their crates and to enjoy their time there. This is how I do timeouts.

      2. Reward Training and Aversive Training

      Here is more on how dogs learn.
      More on operant conditioning.
      More on how I train my puppy.
      More puppy training stuff.

      3. Helping my dogs get along.

      To help my dogs get along-
      a) I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and teach them what the rules are. In this way, my dogs know what to expect from each other and what to expect from me. If there are any issues, I step in and resolve them. I try to be very consistent about consequences and I try to be very fair. Timing, repetition, and consistency are all very important in training my dogs. It takes time to change behavior.

      b) I minimize bad encounters. I supervise my new dog closely and make sure that he follows the rules and does not bother my existing dogs when they do not want to be bothered.

      c) I try to create as many positive learning experiences as I can. For example, I will start training my new puppy by using very high priority rewards. This will usually attract my other dogs over, at which point I will do obedience commands with all of them. I make sure to reward them *very very well* for being calm together and doing work for me.

      Here is more on how I help my dogs get along.

      My Shiba does well when there is a fixed routine, a consistent set of rules, and structure to his daily life. I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs.

  15. Niki says

    Hi

    Your article was really helpful and I’ve read through the comments and although some are similar to the issues I’m having – I wondered if you could help?

    I have 2 JRT, (14yr and 3yrs) both rescue. I’ve had the 3yr old – Kato a Parsons since he was 6months, he is also a tripod (his rear leg was amputated before I adopted him due to hip dysplatia)

    He’s fine at home and with people, tho still territorial towards strangers in the home during the first meeting. We moved to the city from the quiet countryside and now with all the city noises and as soon as he hears or smells people/dogs outside he barks.

    My dogs get on great together and the older one, cleans Kato daily – tho the favour isn’t returned!

    He is a nervous dog – which I’m working on. The main issues is walks, he has got to the point where as soon as he sees another dog he lunges, barks and growls. I can only let him off the lead if there are no other dogs around, or once he has got to know them but he’s still very weary and growls if he feels invaded.

    He can’t stand other dogs around my older dog and gets really stress and barks/growls – my other dog just ignores him.

    I use to be able to let him off around our local parks, but I can’t risk it now, he had never bitten a dog just barking and growling.
    He has been attacked by other larger dogs on several occassions, some occassions he has barked at them other times he has only gone to say hi a which had undoubtly nerved him and made his behaviour towards other dogs worse. staffy type dogs especially set him off – yes he has been attacked by two.

    If I walk him in the countryside or on visits to my mums I can walk him off lead around other dogs and he is absolutely fine, he’ll go and sniff them then carry on with his walk – different dog!

    He responds well to his ball and I praise him for good behaviour around other dogs when he doesn’t growl. I’m following your advice and also that of my dog walker who cares for them when I’m at work. Who says its nervous aggression. My vet also thinks that because he only has 3 legs he knows he is more vulnerable which could explain his behaviour and also why he has been attacked by other dogs.

    I am trying to stay calm when walking him but I know I’m tensing as soon as I see a dog approaching, I change our daily walks but he’s still not improving and I’d love him to be more friendly and social with other dogs, he’s fine with my friends westie when he does see her, tho he’s even getting aggressive towards dogs we normally meet on walks that previously he’s been fine with.

    How can I stop his jealousy (?) when my other dog is with/greeting other dogs and his reaction in general to other dogs an the causes?

    Thank you

    • shibashake says

      Initially, I leash train my dogs separately. They get a lot more excitable when they are together, so I leash train them singly first. I start small, in a quiet, low stimulus environment, for example my backyard. This allows me to get my dog comfortable with walking on leash and paying attention to me. After my dog is totally comfortable, then I *very slowly* increase the environmental challenge.

      In this way, I maximize successful walks, and this helps us both to enjoy our time together and to build confidence. The more successes we have, the more improvement I see in my dog’s behavior. The opposite is also true. Therefore, in addition to maximizing successes, I also do my best to minimize bad encounters where my dog starts to show reactive behavior. The more reactive behavior he practices when he sees other dogs, the more likely he is to repeat those same behaviors in the future.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu, which I talk more about at the end of the article above. We practiced a lot at our local SPCA, in a structured environment, with certain chosen dogs, and under the direction of one of their trainers. Visiting with a good professional trainer was helpful for Sephy, and for me as well.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  16. Rick says

    Hi:

    Any tips on how to reduce/avoid aggression when my dog is at the dog park? She is fine at home with the cat and two other dogs and 99 times out of 100, she’s fine at the park too. But once in a while she just worked up and pins another down and won’t release. Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs the key is to manage their excitement level so that they don’t get into that over-excited state. That can be difficult to do at the dog park, especially if there are many highly excitable dogs around, with no rules, and very little supervision. My dogs do better in smaller, more structured playgroups, where I can properly supervise, have breaks, and manage their level of excitement.

      A bit more on my dog park experiences.

  17. Amber C says

    Hi there, I adopted a 7 year old German Shepard, female, from my local shelter at the end of July this past year. She is extremely laid back, great with kids and cats. When we first got her, for about a month, she paid no attention to other dogs. Would sniff them and keep walking. But after that month she started barking aggressively, and even tries to attack them. She is an only dog here, but it’s gotten bad to the point where I can only walk her at night (my complex has a lot of dogs that are walked during the day) out of fear that something bad may happen to her or another dog. I do one day want to add another dog to my family, but I want her to not be afraid of whatever it is that’s bothering her. I tried an introduction with my friend’s dog and even that didn’t go well. Please help!

    • shibashake says

      Did anything happen with other dogs during that month? During that month, is she the one who approaches the other dogs or is it the other dogs who get into her space? Does she bark at all dogs or just some dogs? How near are the dogs before she starts to react?

      Each dog has different tolerances when it comes to other dogs. I think dog-to-dog tolerance, in large part, is based on temperament, past experiences, and surrounding context. For example, Sephy, my Shiba Inu was very reactive towards other dogs when he was young. He would get over-excited, and then frustrated when he was restrained by his leash. He then released his frustration through barking, jumping, and leash biting. This is very different from Shania, my Husky, who is wary of big dogs because we have gotten charged by large dogs before, and it was not a pleasant experience for either of us.

      I did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy to help him stay more calm in the presence of another dog, and to help him re-associate other dogs with positive experiences. The key with Sephy is to start small (we start from a long distance away and in a very structured environment) and to go slowly. I make sure to go at a pace that he is comfortable with, and to manage things so that his other dog experiences are either positive, or at worst neutral. I talk more about desensitization at the end of the article above.

      My energy is also very important. If I am stressed out, fearful, or frustrated, Sephy will pick up on that and get even more crazy with other dogs. Therefore, I always try to stay very calm.

      I also pick Sephy’s friends very carefully, and we only do greetings that will be positive and successful. At other times, we create neutral experiences and ignore other dogs. It was very important with Sephy to minimize negative greetings, as they made his behavior worse. At the same time, I created opportunities for positive greetings in a structured environment, through desensitization exercises.

      It is also important to note that introducing a dog in neutral territory will be different from introducing a dog in the house. Some dogs, especially guard dogs, may guard their property from new dogs and strangers.

      In short, there are many variables involved, and each dog is different. For safety and accuracy, it is usually best to consult with a good professional trainer, especially in cases of aggression. We visited with several for Sephy, and did desensitization training at our local SPCA under the direction of a trainer there.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  18. Nina says

    I’ve adopted a (supposedly) two year old female Chihuahua in late May of ’13. She is a very laid back dog in most situations and I can bring her anywhere I go.
    But recently she started to get aggressive when other dogs approach her. She will do the exact same thing as your Shiba Inu when the other dogs want to sniff her (and especially her butt).
    What worsens the situations is, that she will get circled, almost run over by bigger dogs, sometimes two at a time. It had male (unfixed) dogs follow her obsessively though she was neutered in April. It’s not hard to see why she’s getting agitated. The other dog owners NEVER have called back their sometimes very boisterous dogs back to them. This is rude, right?
    (With a Chihuahua most people seem to judge me – young woman + small dog = Paris Hilton. That’s why I feel bad about her doing that. I try be more relaxed, but so far I still have to work hard on my attitude. Currently I’m looking for a trainer/supervised play sessions.) After reading your posts I think my dog is not anti-social but is a bit overboard with her reactions. Did I get it right?
    My issue is, that most dogs we meet are off leash, the paths were I walk are narrow with no escape. Even with leashed dogs, they are allowed to get closer, lunge forward or get in our way. I was hesitant and too ashamed to ask the dog owners to keep their dogs away or adress it in general as I thought my dog was behaving badly.
    How should I handle the situations with the other dogs?

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba I tested out several different hiking trails, and we go to the ones that are more quiet, with less foot traffic, and has more space so that I can redirect him away and get him to do something else. I usually also go during off-hours. I like the quiet myself, so it works out well.

      As for untrained off-leash dogs, that is a difficult issue because it is more of a people problem rather than a dog problem.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/off-leash-neighborhood-dogs

  19. shalynda says

    So I have a 7 year old border collie and she acts like a puppy. She is great with other dogs. However we just rescued a 7 year old neglected malamute she growls at my other dog all the time. Doesn’t attack just growls. This dog was obese and unsocialized she is amazing with my cats and kids. My kids are 2 and 3 months. She let’s my 2 year old ride her and sleep with her but her and my other dog don’t get along. My border collie is submissive and will fight back but she just tries to walk from my room to the living room and gets growled at even though my border collie ignores the malamute. What can I do to encourage my malamute nakita to play or stop growling at my border collie. I am a stay at home mom and am willing to put work in

    • shibashake says

      Here are some things that I do to help my dogs get along-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      I try to create and maximize positive and successful together time, while minimizing negative encounters. I make sure that each of my dogs has a quiet place to go to when they just want to rest. If a dog is resting or just wants some alone time, I make sure the other two does not go near to bother him.

      I also set up a fixed schedule and a consistent set of interaction rules for my dogs. In this way, each dog knows what is expected of him, what to expect from the other dogs, and what to expect from me. When introducing a new dog, there is a lot of stress and uncertainty, so having some consistency really helps.

      Big hugs to your two girls!

  20. bronwyn says

    hi i have 3 dogs (and sometimes look up to 5 dogs) and we are having aggression issues with our middle dog as we have just had a new puppy so he is always telling him off with food and toys and also when we look after my brothers dog he often has a go at him over food and toys. my mum is looking into neutering him and i am looking at training for him but i was wondering does having 1 neutered dog mixed with 2 other un neutered dog cause problems?

    • shibashake says

      Aggression between dogs can have many different causes. As for neutering, here is a relevant excerpt from an ASPCA article-

      Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
      ~~[ASPCA]

  21. Brittany says

    Hi! I have a couple questions about dog on dog aggression. I recently moved in with my boyfriend who has a husky and a husky/lab mix. I have a vizsla/pitbull mix. It was very stressful with all three dogs when I first moved in. We have had to seperate the vizsla and keep him in another room due to the husky/lab being overly dog aggressive. The vizsla and the full husky get along outside and can play without a problem. But recently, the vizsla has become extremely overbearing and guards everything, He literally thinks every toy in the house is his!! he will growl a viscious awful growl and will lunge and attack the full husky who he can normally play fine with! Nevermind the husky/lab which gets nervous and bites or nips just about every dog she meets. I don’t know what to do anymore and am becoming so frustrated! I’ve gotten two trainers, one who uses only positive behavior techniques which don’t seem to be working at all and the other trainer I set up blew off our first meeting and haven’t heard from him since =[. Any advice?

    • shibashake says

      What did the trainer recommend? What have you tried and how did the dogs respond?

      One thing that was very important with my dogs is to control my own energy. If I got frustrated, stressed, or angry, my dogs will pick up on that, get even more stressed and anxious, and become even more reactive towards other dogs. When I supervise my dogs, I always try to stay very calm, and I make sure that I have multiple plans of action. This helps me to be decisive, consistent, and in-control.

      Other things that help with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and a consistent routine. This helps to create more consistency and certainty, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety with my dogs.

      2. Supervision is very very important. During the training period I supervise all interactions with my dogs. If I am unable to supervise, then I separate them. Each dog also has a safe and comfortable place that they can go to relax without being bothered by the other dogs. I make sure to keep everyone safe and to manage the environment so that there is as little stress as possible.

      3. I try to create as many opportunities for positive, structured together time as I can. At the same time, I try to minimize stressful and bad interactions. The more positive experiences my dogs have with each other, the more confidence they build, and the more they learn to see each other as being part of the same pack. The more negative experiences they have, the more stressed and anxious they will become, and their behavior will worsen as a result.

      Here is more on what I do with my dogs-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      Finally, finding a good trainer can be a big challenge. During my difficult period with Shiba Sephy, we visited with several different trainers. Some were bad, some were ok, and some were quite good. I learned something from each of them (some more than others), and at the same time, I also did a lot of reading on dog behavior.

      In my experience, getting help from a trainer can be very helpful, especially in the beginning. None of the trainers were able to fully “fix” Sephy’s most problematic behaviors, but they each contributed to my knowledge, and helped me to get to a point where I could combine what I have learned, to get to a better place with my dog.

      The key, I found, is to control my own energy, stay calm, reduce stress, establish a fixed routine, and focus on doing what is best for Sephy. As I learned more, I felt more in-control, and things slowly started to get better.

      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  22. Cheri says

    Hi there,
    I have had my chihuahua since she was born and she is now 6yrs old, she is a very loyal and laid back dog, a couple of months ago I adopted a 8 weeks old german shepherd, husky cross. They were very good together, they could eat out of the same bowl and my pup would let me take her bowl or bone off her. When she was 3 months, I was out walk on her and she got attacked my a rotweiller, she had very major surgery and was in the vets for a week. Since she’s been home she’s has been growling my other dog of she walks near her when she got her bowl infront of her or when she is eating, and she has been growling with her bone aswell, I have tried some things and been working on her trusting me and taking her bone or food away and she doesn’t really growl me anymore only the odd occasion but hopefully I can stop that complety but I have no idea how to stop her growling my older chihuahua, cause she is a lot bigger and could really hurt her if she wanted to! Pls help me!!

    • shibashake says

      Some things that help keep the peace at home with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. During the training period, I supervise my dogs closely whenever they interact, and I slowly teach them what the rules are. I establish the rules, and I enforce them in a fair and consistent manner.

      2. I create as many positive experiences as I can. As you have observed, bad encounters with other dogs cause stress, fear, and loss of trust. Similarly, properly managed positive encounters can help to create trust and reduce anxiety. I start by doing dog-to-dog desensitization exercises (which I talk more about at the end of the article above), and later I also do group dog obedience training sessions with my dogs. In this way, they learn to stay calm and work together for me. I make sure to reward them very well for being calm together, and I create as many positive but structured together time as I can.

      The key with my dog is not to push things too quickly. I always start small, for example with desensitization. Then I only move on to more advanced together exercises when I feel that my dog is ready. With my dog it was always very important to not only maximize positive experiences with other dogs, but also to *minimize* bad encounters, where my dog starts to show reactive or aggressive behavior. The more aggressive behavior my dog practices, the more likely he is to show aggression in the next encounter. Similarly, the more calm encounters there are, the more confidence he will build, and the more likely he will stay calm.

      3. Supervision is very important. In the beginning I supervise all interactions between my dogs. If I cannot supervise, then I separate them to keep everybody safe. I also manage their energy and excitement level by controlling the environment and throwing in obedience breaks.

      I talk more about what I do with my dogs here-
      http://shibashake.com/dog/second-dog-introducing-a-second-dog

      Note however, that dog behavior is very context dependent. Given what you describe, it is probably best to get help from a professional trainer who can visit with the dogs, get to know their temperament, and read their body language within the context of their environment and routine. In cases of aggression, we want to keep everyone safe, and a trainer can also help with that.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  23. gc says

    Hi, I found your blog recently and all the articles you wrote are so helpful! Really appreciate your kindness to share all these valuable tips. I have 2 dogs, both are about 2 1/2 year old and fixed. One is germen shepherd and another is rottweiler mix. They bond with each other so much and there was times when they escaped they always stayed together. They don’t go out much because we have a huge yard for them to play and run, but recently they have escaped from the yard and now it becomes a habit when they go out they cross the street! It is definitely my bad not taking them out. I tried to walk them before but the problem was: whenever my 2 dogs were together, and they see another dog, my female germen shepherd started making some noises and ear up, tail up, then instantly looking at my rottweiler, and soon they start fighting with each other. It is very hard to pull them apart. I really don’t know how to deal with it, but every time it happens, my female will look at my rottweiler first and they start fighting. And it is not only for walk, whenever there’s something that causes them to be alert, my female germen shepherd always look at my male rottweiler like she’s waiting for his cue or something. Now, I decided to walk them again and whenever I have noticed the germen shepherd started become alert(she certainty knows there’s dog nearby in one of the houses in neighborhood), I instantly turn around and walk back and want her ignore it. And after she’s calm, I walk them again to the same place, and repeat. Am I doing this right? Or should I walk them separately for easy training individually?? My rottweiler is calm most of time, whenever I walk him ALONE, he’s fine, but if my other dog is around, they start reacting with each other. Thank you so much for your time!

    • shibashake says

      When retraining dog reactive behavior, I walk my dogs separately. They get a lot more crazy together because they amp each other up, so I always start small and go in small steps. Only after my dog is doing well in single walks, do I start walking two of them together. In the beginning, I get a friend to walk one, while I walk the other. In this way, I can better control and train the one that I am walking.

      With Sephy’s dog reactive behavior, I found that it is necessary to not only create structured opportunities for calm greetings, but also to minimize bad encounters where he becomes reactive. My first goal is to manage our walks so that we have neutral encounters, and Sephy doesn’t become reactive. I do this by using distance, barriers, and more, which I talk more about in the article above. I also did shorter but more frequent walks at the start. In this way, I minimize bad encounters and at the same time I create positive encounters through controlled desensitization exercises.

      The more Sephy practices dog-to-dog reactive behavior, the more likely he is to repeat it. The more calm greetings he has, the more he learns to associate other dogs with being calm.

      Based on what you describe, it sounds like there may also be barrier frustration issues, combined with redirected aggression.
      http://www.kathysdao.com/articles/Leash_Aggression_in_Dogs.html
      http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-do-i-manage-my-dogs-barrier-frustration

      However, dog behavior is very dependent on a dog’s temperament, surrounding context, past experiences, and more. This is why it is often helpful to visit with a professional trainer, especially in dog-to-dog aggression cases. A trainer can meet with our dog, get to know his temperament and routine, and can read our dog’s body language within the context of his environment.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  24. Corey W says

    Hello, I just recently adopted a german shepherd, st bernard retriever mix named Harley from my local SPCA about a month ago. I regularly attend a place in which there are dogs on a daily basis. Harley has been aggressive toward other dogs and in few circumstances has actually bit other dogs. He will not react being in the presence of another dog and usually will ignore them and extend attention toward me when doing so. He will act excited when confronting another dog but will then result in lunging and trying to bite the dog upon nose-to-nose confrontation. I would like advice as to what to do to have him be less aggressive upon these confrontations. most of the dogs he is in contact with are friends dogs and dogs he sees almost every day. Id like him to atleast be comfortable approaching and being in contact with dogs as he is a very sweet loving and well behaved dog aside from this issue. He is nuetered as well and i admit i have been a bit on edge when hes around other dogs but have since learned to calm myself, yet his reactions have still been the same. Any Advice I could get in regards to this issue would be very appreciated.

    • corey W says

      Also i would like to add that he is four years old which presents me with the fear that I cannot break him out of this habit. It is my belief that his previous owners had not had him socialized around other dogs which could possibly be the catalyst for his behavior now.

    • shibashake says

      What helped with my Shiba Inu’s dog-to-dog reactivity issue is to start small and in a very controlled environment. I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy by using distance to weaken the “other dog” stimulus. In this way, he is calm enough to listen to me, and calm enough to learn.

      The key with Sephy was to not only create positive and successful situations with other dogs, but also minimize bad encounters where he loses it. The more Sephy became reactive, the more likely he will repeat this behavior on the next encounter. The more calm experiences he had, the more likely he will stay calm on his next encounter.

      I talk more about the desensitization exercises I did with Sephy at the end of the article above. In fact, when Sephy was young, we did a lot of desensitization exercises at our local SPCA with appropriate dogs there, and under the direction of one of their trainers. Consulting with a trainer can be helpful in dog-to-dog interaction cases, especially where the trainer has balanced dogs that he can use in the training session. Our trainer(s) were also able to read Sephy’s body language, and give us good insights into his behavior.

      Have you talked to the people who cared for Harley at the SPCA? Did he get along with the dogs there? Were there particular types of dogs that he got along with? They may also give special training rates to their own dogs.

    • Corey W says

      I did in fact talk to some associates at the local SPCA about Harley’s behavior prior to adopting him and they had said that its the hyperactive dogs that he particularly doesn’t like, which is understandable with the fast movements toward him and all. I have gotten him to atleast have a positive experience with my friend’s 1 year old black lab, whom for his age is well trained and although he growled at him did not bite. I will arrange a controlled meet with harley and my friends dog though that is a good idea. Another positive instance happened last night. my friend has just adopted a 7 week chocolate lab mix in which Harley was more curious and not a bit aggresive with. im not sure if its because he can pick up that the pup is merely an infant or what but that was good of him. Thank you for all of your advice i really do appreciate it and i hope to nip his behavioral issue in the butt. Happy Holidays!

  25. olivia says

    please help me my dog (that is deaf)when ever she sees a nother dog she cant stop looking at him nothing will move her away,when she gets to the dog and sniffs him she bites him and then will not move ,i loooked every were on google to find some help but there is nothing there ,i really wont her to like aver dogs what do i do??!

    • shibashake says

      How old is your dog? How long have you had her? Has she always displayed this behavior?

      Some dogs may feel more vulnerable due to a physical disability. For example, my Husky Shania is a three legged dog. She absolutely loves people because she has had very good experiences with them. They give her affection and sometimes, dog cookies. :D

      She is a lot more wary about other dogs, especially big dogs because she feels more vulnerable around them. Also, we got charged a few times during our walks, and those encounters were not pleasant for either of us. Here is a good article by Suzanne Clothier that talks more about this-
      http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/he-just-wants-say-hi

      I do controlled desensitization exercises with my dogs to help them re-associate other dogs with positive experiences. I did a lot of this with my Shiba Inu at our local SPCA, under the direction of one of their trainers. I talk more about this at the end of the article above.

      With my dogs, I try my best to only let them meet other dogs that I *know* they will be successful with. All other times, I create neutral encounters and teach them to ignore. I also try my best to protect them from rude dogs, so that they learn to trust me to take care of things, and need not do it themselves through aggression. The more successful encounters my dog has, the more calm he became with other dogs. The opposite is also true.

      However, dog behavior is very context dependent, and each situation is different. This is why in cases of dog aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  26. June says

    I have a dog that I have had for two years and a dog that I have had for six year I got the two year old when she was four weeks old and my other dog raised it and now the two year old tries to attack the six year old now and I don’t understand why

    • shibashake says

      What are the dogs doing before the start of the behavior? Was there any food, toys, bedding around? Was one trying to protect something? What were the people doing? What was happening in the surrounding context?

      Did anything change when the behavior first began? Is there any other unusual behavior? Are the dogs eating, drinking, and doing everything else normally? Sometimes, when dogs are in physical discomfort, they may feel more vulnerable and may use aggression to protect themselves.

      What are the dogs’ daily routine like? Have there been any changes there?

  27. Poula says

    hi !
    My father, as much as i love him, is a terrible dog owner. He owns a german shepherd – that he loves very much (almost 3 years old)
    The dog is scared of other dogs and will run over and leave a warning bite and run away with his tail between his legs and has actually bitten a small dog that lives nearby, that keeps barking and teasing my dads dog though the fece, badly enough that it needed to be stitched back together. also he has the usual problems of an underexcersized dog – nipping, jumping and barking. i know what most of the problems are, but i can’t get it though to my dad that he needs to walk the dog instead of just letting him out in the yard to pee.
    - however my biggest concern is the dogs fear of children, so far nothing has happened other than warning growls. but i actually, and i’m not proud if it, had to threaten to put his dog down if he ever attacked a child before my father agreed to never let the dog of leash again in puplic.
    also my dad is so concerned with the dogs comford that he lets the dog get away with everything and is annoyed that when i visit i bring a special leash and walk his dog with it. i’m not very strong and can’t hold this big dog back if he decides to run. (it is a head collar, so his head will turn if he pulls)
    His dog doesn’t even mind the odd leash, he’s just happy to be outside.
    All that being said, he is a well behaved dog as soon as he is with my dog (a one year old pekingese mix) for some reason, he is on best behavior as soon as my dog is around – the only dog he doesn’t attack.
    How would you recommend getting a dogowner to understand how dangerous it is for him not to do something about the dogs behavior before he attacks another dog again og even worse, a child?

    Sorry for the bad spelling and the very long question.

    • shibashake says

      Heh, I don’t know, people are a lot more difficult to handle than dogs, especially family members. :)

      In my situation, I have observed that it can sometimes help to bring in a professional trainer. I think taking advice from family members can be difficult for some people, because it can be taken personally. However, getting information from somebody outside is different, especially from an experienced trainer. In this case, we are simply paying for a service, and there is no added emotional baggage.

      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  28. Carrie says

    Hi. I just came across this site, hoping to get help with my problem. I have a 6 yr old fixed male 135lb American Bulldog. He is the most gentle and docile dog I have ever met. He is friendly with all dogs and loves all people. We have had him since 12 weeks old. We also had a 6 yr old fixed female German Shepherd, and they were the best of friends as they grew up together both since 12 weeks old. She passed away this past spring and it has left a void in us all. I decided to buy another sister for Frankie ( my AB ) so he could get some of his old self back again. I bought a 7 month old female American Bulldog pup. The breeder is a very good one and well known, so this pup that she was going to keep herself for her breeding program decided I could buy her as she is a very calm friendly pup, and would be perfect for Frankie. I have had her for a week now and everyday since I brought her home, she has attacked Frankie. She is the perfect puppy in every other way. When she walks by him, she will just strike out growling and go for his neck or face. This happens everyday, She is fine when we go on walks, they eat together in kitchen and they are fine. It seems to be whenever the mood strikes her. She is not play fighting, she is real fighting. I for the life of me can not understand this. I have gotten to know her face expression when she is going to attack him, so a firm NO will usually distract her, and she wanders off. Frankie being the gentle giant he is, just turns his head away from her when she comes near, and after the attack will walk away from her. Yesterday she went up to him and I thought she was going to try to attack him, but she laid down beside him waking her tail, and I think wanting to play. This time Frankie growled at her loudly, got up and walked away. He has never growled at another dog in his life. This has me worried. Last night after our walk, she attacked again, only this time Frankie was going to fight back. Being the size he is I am sure he would do a lot of damage, I got them apart in time. I don’t want to be unfair to Frankie, so I really don’t know how to handle this situation. Does anyone know why this little girl is attacking him all the time. Like I said she is a very good mannered pup, except for this. On walks she just wags her tail at other dogs we run into., and has never attempted to attack them. Please help. Thank-You.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Carrie,
      Congratulations on your new puppy. Introductions can sometimes be tricky depending on the personality of the new dog and our existing dog. Surrounding context and past experiences will also come into play.

      Did Frankie’s behavior change in Spring? How was Frankie’s behavior before the Puppy? Was he back to his old self, or did he still seem sad/subdued?

      In terms of introductions, here are some things that have helped with my dogs-
      1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules right from the start. When my Husky Lara was a puppy, she would always be trying out new moves on my other dogs, so I always supervise her very closely. If she does something she is not supposed to, I no-mark and redirect her into doing something else. If she redirects, I make sure to reward her well for it with a game and other rewards.

      2. During the training period, I put a lead on Lara when she starts interacting with my other dogs (only with a flat collar and not an aversive collar). In this way, I can quickly and easily stop her from harassing them, and I can teach her what interaction behaviors are acceptable and what are not. When my adult dogs have had enough of Puppy and just want to rest, I make sure that she does not disturb them. Sometimes, my adult dogs just want some alone time. Setting up a fixed routine really helps because it establishes some consistency and certainty, in a period of change, which can be stressful for the dogs and people in the house.

      3. During play, I manage all my dogs’ excitement level, to keep things safe and under control. I do this by throwing in many play breaks.

      4. I try to create as many positive interactions as possible between the new puppy and my resident dogs. For example, I start by doing obedience training sessions with my puppy with *very very good* rewards. This will get my other dogs to join in as well, then I can reward all of them really well for being calm together, and for working with me together. In this way, they learn to stay calm and cooperate rather than compete with each other for resources. They also learn to see puppy as a plus to their lifestyle.

      5. In addition to maximizing positive interactions, I also try my best to minimize negative encounters. If there are any conflicts, I make sure that I am there to resolve things in a fair and consistent manner. In this way, my dogs learn that I will settle conflicts and they do not need to deal with it themselves through aggression.

      Here is more on what I do when introducing a new puppy.

      Hope this helps. Big hugs to Frankie and his new sister!

  29. Roper B says

    Hi, I have a almost 2 yr old husky wolf hybrid named Deuce. He’s very sweet and loves everyone but when it comes to other dogs that’s another story. When I first got him up until about when he turned one, he was great with other dogs and listened really well but now he’s super aggressive toward any animal he sees and as soon as he sees them you cant get his focus back. It’s really weird because we have 2 other dogs, a border collie/cocker spaniel mix and a pure bred poodle, and 3 cats and he’s perfectly fine with them. He even lets the cats bathe him every morning. The first time i ever herd him growl was this last summer and it was the first time he had ever shown aggression. It was toward the neighbors dog which is a blue heeler mix and since then its just been down hill, he’s rolled and fake bit the other neighbors toy poodle, he’s gone after the blue heeler multiple times, the chihuahua down the road that travels to our yard to harass him, and any dog we meet walking. It’s getting out of hand cause now i’m scared to even walk him for fear he’s going to attack another dog. What makes the situation even weirder is a random husky showed up out of no where and they cuddled and loved each other it was adorable, but no aggression? So why is he vicious toward all other dogs? I’ve tried bring calm dogs around but he ends up being aggressive. Any suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, different dogs have different tolerances to other dogs, and this may change with maturity and experience.
      http://www.badrap.org/dogdog-tolerance

      For example, I used to take my Shiba Inu to the dog park. There was very little structure at the park, so he learned all sorts of bad behaviors during his time there, and his behavior with other dogs got worse. He does much better in smaller, very structured, and highly supervised playgroups. With small groups, I can manage his excitement level, and teach him what are acceptable interaction behaviors and what are not.

      Otherwise, he thinks everything is ok, and that there are no rules.

      With Sephy I did highly structured dog-to-dog desensitization sessions at our local SPCA with one of their trainers. We used distance to lower the strength of the other dog stimulus, and we did the training in a very controlled environment. In this way, Sephy was able to stay calm and we were able to slowly reduce his dog reactive behavior. I talk more about it at the end of the article above.

      Other things that help with my dogs-
      1. I pick their playmates carefully.
      2. I supervise all their play sessions, set up clear interaction rules, and I enforce those rules (usually by stopping play briefly, or with short timeouts).
      3. I manage their excitement level by throwing in many play-breaks.
      4. I try my best to protect my dogs during walks and keep away rude dogs. It is really unfortunate that many little untrained dogs are left to roam about freely, and they get to harass other dogs with impunity.
      http://shibashake.com/dog/my-dog-is-friendly
      5. I try to not only maximize positive encounters with other dogs, but also to minimize negative interactions.

  30. Joan Austin says

    Have a rescue corgi, 6 months now, may be 3-4 years old, has notched ears so has been in fights in the pass. After trying many techniques listed, am now using a WATER SPRITZ BOTTLE. A miracle after attempting to lunge at another approaching dog, a spray stopped the action and she now looks to see if I have the bottle in my hand and stops immediately or looses interest.Whether she had been sprayed in the past, don’t know . Do know she dislikes water in her face and walking her is a pleasure now, although I will create distance between dogs as we have only been using the spritz bottle 2 weeks.

  31. jody hewitt says

    I have an Queensland heeler mix that i adopted a few months ago, she loves people but just the sight of another dog raises her fur and she is very mean and aggressive with other dogs even puppies in neutral areas, plus she doesnt like horses either, what should i do?

    • shibashake says

      I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with my Shiba Inu. Desensitization and counter-conditioning was helpful in terms of teaching him to be more calm around other dogs, and to build his confidence. I talk more about this at the end of the article.

      My general strategy is to maximize positive experiences with other dogs, and minimize negative encounters. I do this by using distance, barriers, staying calm and planning out my own response. I make sure to start small (e.g. shorter but more frequent walks, in quieter environments with few dogs) and to go at a pace that my dog is comfortable with. In this way, our walks will be successful, and with each success, my dog will gain more confidence.

      Consulting with a good professional trainer can also be helpful.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  32. Alina says

    Hi,

    I just discovered your articles and I find them very very useful. I have a mixed breed dog that is 8 years old and have brought to live with me recently. However, in 4 days he has been attacked twice by 2 smaller dogs without a leash. We just met them, all of a sudden, and as I am not sure with myself and not leader of the pack I stopped and the first dog, without any warning, just attacked him. Today, I stopped again thinking they will sniff each other but I saw the other dog become rigid and he attacked. My dog was very nervous after this, barking and growling. What can I do to prevent such attacks? In my country stupid people walk small dogs without a leash and muzzle and they attack. My dog likes to mark his territory. Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, off-leash neighborhood dogs is a difficult issue because it is more of a people issue rather than a dog issue. To truly fix it, we need to influence people behavior and that is much more difficult to do, especially without enforcement of leash laws by the authorities.

      I currently carry an air-horn with me. At the very least, it would get the attention of the people around if there should be any trouble.

      Here is a discussion of loose neighborhood dogs.

  33. Derek says

    I have a 6 month old Gsd and he sometimes jumps up and bites my clothes while I’m walking an also jumps at snaps at me. What should I do.

  34. Tony Kretz says

    we just recently adopted 2 shiba’s. A 4 year old male and his half-sister which is almost 3 years old. Our 4 year old male gets extremely stress when he sees comes into close distances with other dogs. Part of it seems he is trying to defend his sister but his sister has very little dog aggression. Our male dog has a mean bark and wants to attack instantly. We were had the vet and while sitting there, he had a strong growl and bark and would constantly show his teeth. Also, if walking and he sees another dog he will jump around constantly to free himself from his leash to catch the other dog. If I to pet him and calm him of the situation he will whine and try to slip himself out of his leash. Please help with any advise to teach this old dog some new tricks.

    • shibashake says

      How does the male react to other dogs when the sister is not there? Is he very friendly or still somewhat wary?

      My Shiba, Sephy, is also very protective of our Husky Shania. When a friendly new dog comes to visit, I first let Shania meet the new dog and make sure that they are getting along fine. If everything is going well, I get someone else to supervise Shania and the new dog. Meanwhile, I bring out Sephy on-leash, and we go a far distance away from the two dogs. For enough away that Sephy is able to stay calm.

      I do some focus commands with Sephy and simple obedience. I reward him well for working with me. If everything is good, we move one step close to the other dogs and I repeat.

      I also did a lot of dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy (without Shania there). That helps him to generally be more comfortable around other dogs.

      During training, I walk Sephy and Shania separately. This is important because I want to maximize calm and successful walks while minimizing bad encounters with other dogs. The more Sephy practiced his reactive behavior, the more reactive he became. I talk more about what I do during walks in the article above.

    • shibashake says

      It did not really help in Sephy’s case because he was too highly charged, and aroma is not a strong enough counter stimulus (for him). Desensitization exercises using distance, in a controlled environment, worked best for us. Perhaps adding aroma could help during distance desensitization, but it did not seem necessary in our situation.

      I imagine it also depends on the type of dog. Scent hounds, for example, are more attuned to smells.

  35. Will says

    Hi there,

    Our shiba inu turned 2 yrs old back in June, and ever since then, he’s started becoming leash aggressive towards other dogs. 50% of the dogs we meet on our walks he’ll take a bite at, where it’s to the point that I avoid most encounters.

    However, he still seems to love playing with other dogs and definitely wants to go meet them, so I feel a bit bad for avoiding these social situations.

    Off leash, he’s perfectly fine and plays with most other dogs etc.. He’s also good with people as well, since we socialized him a lot growing up. We still go to dog parks and shiba meet-ups pretty often and he’s great there.

    Any advice for another shiba owner? I’m hoping it’s more of a phase that he’ll grow out of, but who knows? Your comment on sensing owner tension might be adding to the aggression as well, so I’ll keep that in mind.

    Thanks!
    Will

    • shibashake says

      Desensitization exercises helped with my Shiba. It really made a big difference for us to do exercises in a controlled environment because a lot of the dogs that we meet during our walks are reactive as well, so it is difficult to do training in such a situation. Also, the more negative encounters Sephy had, the more reactive he became, so I always try my best to not only maximize good encounters, but also to minimize bad ones.

      I know what you mean with feeling bad, because Sephy also really likes playing with other dogs. However, bad encounters can really set back his behavior and cause him to learn bad habits. In the long run, it worked out much better (in our case) when there was more structure, and when I am careful about only letting him meet dogs that I know he will be successful with.

  36. Cheri says

    I have 3 dogs, a 12 yo male Golden Retriever (Bos), an 8 yo female Pug (Cera) and a 1 yo make miniature Dachshund (Max). The two older dogs have been spayed and neutered. Max has not been neutered. We have had all our dogs from weeks old. We noticed before we got Max that Cera would on occasion nip at Bos’ ears and he would just take it & yelp until we would get after her to leave him alone. Now that we have Max, Cera doesn’t seem to bother Bos as much but instead when Max runs to our front door and barks, Cera will attack at him and Max defends himself so the two dogs fight and we need to step in and break them apart. None of the dogs have ever been aggressive to the people, only to each other. I know there must be a reason why it’s happening, I’m not sure what to do.

    My vet has mentioned jealously, since Cera has always been the dominate dog and now she has another who will not cower down like Bos does.

    I should also mention that we have 2 cats. Both cats cane to us as siblings only 6wks old. Max has always pestered the cats, sometimes barking at them. Could Cera be acting out after Max because of how he acts with the cats? I didn’t think this could be the issue, since Cera will sometimes follow Max & join him in chasing after them.

    Do you have any suggestions? I need to do something soon before this gets further out of control.

  37. chuck says

    Hey, i would like some advice. I have four dogs and two cats the four dogs i have had for 3 years + and they have always gotten along but recently my bulldog mix has been aggressive and jumping on my yellow lab mix and my Sheppard mix and this morning jumped on one of the cats. I dont know what to do he is a great dog older but very loyal and protective of my family. Can you help?

    • shibashake says

      What were the dogs doing before the jumping behavior? Were there any resources (food/toys) around? Has anything changed recently in the dogs’ routine and environment? Did anything occur during their outside walks? Sometimes, aggression can also be the result of some physical issue. For example, a sick dog or a dog that is beginning to lose his hearing may become more protective of his personal space because he feels more vulnerable.

      When my dog starts to act differently, I first rule out physical issues. I do a vet visit if necessary.

      Once I rule that out, I observe him very closely to see what are the triggers that cause his behavior change (e.g. another dog getting close to him when he is working on a chew toy, another dog getting close to him while he is sleeping, play getting too rough, other dogs barking outside, dogs coming onto the property, etc.). There can be many reasons why a dog shows aggression, so I start by trying to identify triggers and similarities between each occurrence.

      Once I identify the source of the behavior change, then I can take steps to redirect and retrain my dog.

      Consulting with a professional trainer can also be helpful as it brings in a fresh pair of trained eyes, who can observe the dogs and observe the jumping behavior as it occurs.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  38. Ashleigh says

    HI, I wonder if you had any advice for us as we are in a terrible position currently. We have 2 Staffordhsire bull terriers, Saffron, female, who is almost 9 and we have had since she was 12 weeks old and Diesel, almost 5 who we have had since he was 12 weeks old also. The 2 dogs have grown together. They eat together, sleep together and play with each other beautifully and they have always been like this. Yesterday, we let them in the garden and within 10 seconds, heard awful growling and aggresive dog noises, we ran out and Diesel had Saffron by her neck and we struggled to get him off of her. She needed a number of stitches in a large tear and spent some time at the Vets. She has not been back to the house yet and is staying with our sister who will look after her. Diesel has been very quiet since the incident and it is clear he knows something is not quite right. This happened once before about 3 weeks ago also and we are terrirfied that it will happen again, to the point where we currently do not want to put them back together at all, which will mean re-homing Diesel which we really do not want to do, if we can help it. A point to note is, our next door neighbour has always had one dog, but recently got another and they bark through the fence (6ft fence, they cannot see the neighbours dogs) at our dgos, which I believe does agitate Diesel somewhat – he has never been brilliant with other dogs. Our neighbour confirmed that their new dog was in the garden at the time of the attack. Any advice for us? Is there hope for Diesel and do you think a pet behavioural specialist may be able to assist here? Please help :-(

    • shibashake says

      It could be barrier frustration combined with redirected aggression. One of my neighbors has two Labs and they are pretty reactive toward outside dogs and noises. Whenever anybody passes by their sidewalk, they would start banging at the gate and then one of the dogs would turn on the other one out of frustration.
      http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/how-do-i-manage-my-dogs-barrier-frustration

      Does Diesel charge at the fence? Does he bark back at the neighbor’s dogs? Does his behavior change when the neighbor’s dogs start barking? What is Diesel’s routine like? How does he react to other neighborhood dogs during walks?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so it is not possible to say what is triggering the behavior without meeting the dogs and seeing things firsthand.

      I think getting help from a qualified behavior specialist is a good idea. It can be a challenge to find a good one though. The dog training area is not well regulated, and anybody can claim to be a trainer or behaviorist. The APDT has some good resources on how to find a trainer/behaviorist.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

      What I did to find a trainer for my dogs.

  39. iggy says

    I have just adopted a 4 yr old terrior mix and she did wonderfully with my dog that ive had since she was just a pup and now shes 4, and the first night that we’ve had her here in our home, i guess what im asking is, because she was so excited coming to a new home and having so much in the first day happen, can her being over excited cause her to be aggressive tord the other animals in the house, and if i lower the excitment levels in our home, will it help her adjust to everyone around here.

  40. Victoria says

    Hi there, I came across this page because my nearly two year old American Staffy displayed some aggression to another dog today and he has never done that before. He has always been happy to meet other dogs, wagging his tail and sniffing bums but today when we were walking in the park, there was a boxer coming towards us and my dog Budda suddenly started slinking along like he was stalking the other dog and when the dog was walking past, his whole body went stiff and I told the owner of the other dog to please walk away. I have never seen this behavior from my dog before. The other dog was bigger than him but it was not pulling on its leash, it was very calm so I don’t know why my dog was so aggressive towards it. My dog is a rescue dog, I adopted him at five months old so I am unsure of his past. We had a trainer a little while ago but her method of ‘punishment’ did not work and it was scaring my dog. Why is my dog only now showing aggression to other dogs and why only certain dogs?

    • shibashake says

      Just like us, different dogs have different social tolerances. Each of my dogs is different when is comes to meeting other dogs, and what causes them stress. For example, my Shiba Inu does not like unknown dogs sniffing his butt. My Husky Shania is cautious of large dogs (likely because we have been charged a few times by off-leash large dogs in the neighborhood), and little Husky Lara may get overly excited during greetings.
      Interesting article on dog tolerance levels.

      A dog’s social tolerance may change based on past and current experiences with other dogs. The more successful “other dog” encounters my dog has, the more confident he becomes, and the more he associates other dogs with being calm and positive. The opposite is also true.

      Finally, dogs communicate with each other through a variety of methods including their body language. Since we rely a lot on verbal communication, we are not as practiced at reading body language, and catching these “non-verbal” exchanges that may occur between two dogs. It may be a change in posture, a hard stare, a tensing of the mouth, and more.

      My Shiba Inu, for example, is a stubborn dog. He is friendly with playful dogs, but if another dog challenges him, he will not back down. He does not do well with dogs who want to bully him because he will absolutely not submit no matter how large the other dog is. This is why, in general, we just ignore unknown dogs and create neutral experiences. Sephy does best with friendly, relaxed dogs, so those are the ones I choose to be his playmates.

      I observe each of my dogs carefully, so that I can learn their social boundaries as well as their language of communication.

      More on what I did to find a trainer for my dogs.

      Some articles on how to assess a dog trainer -
      1. Dog Welfare Campaign
      2. Association of Professional Dog Trainers
      3. Vet Learn

  41. larry says

    have a 9 month akita male very nice dog 1 great dog he and my 15 year old male dog are great and each other he will play with other dog that he know , but when walking him if he see another dog he become very wild like he want to go after the dog not sure if it to play or that he just don;t like some dog and the person with the other dog don’t want to find out which one it maybe and i realy can understand there feeling i would feel the same, would like to stop him from doing it

    • shibashake says

      My Shiba Inu was also very reactive to other dogs when he was young. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises helped a lot with my Shiba. We used to go to our local SPCA and do training exercises with their dogs (under the supervision of a trainer).

      I talk more about desensitization exercises and what I did with Sephy in the article above.

  42. Melissa says

    Hello,

    I have a two-year-old pit bull mix, I rescued her when she was 4.5 months old. She and my older cat tolerate each other, she’s great with all people and she used to be great with most dogs. Friends brought their own pups over and they would play for hours, I could take her to dog parts and she immediately got along great with strange dogs and old friends. However, she was attacked three different times over the course of a year and now she doesn’t have any tolerance for dogs anymore, new or old friends. She’ll approach with tail wagging and a friendly demeanor but all of a sudden she snaps. She’s never connected her bite or drawn blood but it’s definitely an aggressive snap.

    because of this change in behavior, I have kept her away from other dogs, practicing the ignore technique. She’ll wine and pull towards the other dog but I’ll calmly have her follow me in the other direction. Today, she backed out of her leash and charged another dog. Luckily she was muzzled so not much damage was done, but she still got a bit of the other dogs cheek and drew some blood. She would not back off when I asked her to, I had to pull them off of each other. I feel so horrible, especially for the woman and her poor dog, and I have no idea how this happened or what to do about it. Nor do I know what measures to take to prevent it from happening again.

    Please, help with any suggestions or advice you can give.

    • shibashake says

      Yeah, I took Sephy to enclosed dog parks as well when he was young. However, I noticed that instead of becoming more social, his behavior toward other dogs actually worsened. This was because the park environment was too unstructured and chaotic for him. Here are some of our dog park experiences.

      Did your girl get attacked at the park or during walks? Was it loose dogs that attacked her? Are there a lot of loose dogs in the neighborhood?

      With Sephy, I did dog-to-dog desensitization exercises together with creating neutral experiences. The important thing with Sephy is to maximize positive experiences with other dogs, as well as minimize bad encounters. I create distance as soon as I see another dog, and *before* Sephy loses control. I also needed to stay calm and control my own energy. If I got stressed or afraid, Sephy would pick up on my energy and he would become even more reactive.

      At the same time, we did a lot of structured desensitization exercises at our local SPCA (under the direction of their trainer). Desensitization and counter-conditioning exercises helped Sephy to stay more calm and in control while in the presence of another dog. He also learned to re-associate other dogs with positive events. I talk more about what I did with Sephy in the article above.

      The more positive experiences Sephy had, the more confident and calm he became with other dogs. The opposite is also true, which is why it is crucial to minimize bad encounters.

      However, dog behavior is very dependent on the dog and the surrounding context. Timing, body language, our energy, and technique, are also very important. This is why in cases of aggression, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  43. Mandy says

    I need help! I have a 4 year old sweet chihuahua, about 11 months ago I got another chihuahua. The younger one is very aggressive and kind of picks on the older chihuahua. If I give them a treat he scarfs his down and then chases after the older one and tries to steal the others treat, he gets jealous when I give the older one attention. I do not know what to do… I don’t want to get rid of the younger chihuahua I just don’t know what I need to do. Please give suggestions..

    • shibashake says

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I *do not* let them steal from each other and there is no humping or bullying. I supervise my dogs and use leads, gates, and other management equipment as necessary, so that I have better control and can keep everyone safe.

      Here is more on what I do when introducing a new dog.

      However, dog behavior is very dependent on the temperament of the dogs and the surrounding context. Timing, reading body language, and technique are also very important. For cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a good professional trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  44. Jennifer says

    I feel ridiculous saying this but I have a highly aggressive Dachshund. Yeap, a wiener dog. I adopted him a month ago from a shelter. He is very good with people, including children. He is quite submissive with me &, from his behavior, it is obvious he was abused.

    My main problem is that he is very aggressive with cats & other dogs. He even attacked & bit a stuffed animal that was incredibly realistic looking. I don’t want him biting another dog. Also, I worry that he will bit a much larger dog & end up getting hurt.

    I have no idea what to do or where to start. I’m an experienced dachshund owner but I’ve never seen anything quite like this…

    • Jean says

      Hello I also have a miniature dachshund who is aggressive towards other dogs I have tried everything but keep hoping for an answer to stop this behaviour, but he was attacked by fox hounds last year they broke his pelvis, I like yourself am an experienced dachshund owner. We have been to all the training classes and ernie, the dachie, has attained the KC good citizen gold award. Please let me know if you have found a way of stopping his behaviour.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jennifer,

      My Shiba Inu (Sephy) also used to be reactive to other dogs. Some things that helped with him-

      1. Dog-to-dog desensitization exercises.
      These exercises allowed Sephy to meet other dogs in a controlled environment and in a structured way. By controlling the strength of the ‘other dog’ stimulus using distance, I was able to teach Sephy what to do, redirect him so that he stays calm, and also help him associate other dogs with positive experiences. The more success Sephy had, the more confident he became, and the more calm he was with other dogs. The opposite is also true, so I try to minimize negative encounters.

      2. Neutral meetings.
      When we go on walks, I first teach my dogs to ignore other dogs. I find that this is a good first step, because it gets them to start controlling their impulses, and when they do greet other dogs, they do it from a calm state of mind. It also teaches them to be in the presence of other dogs without the excitement and stress of a charged greeting.

      Once we are familiar with a friendly dog and his owner, we may start to do greetings. I pick what dogs we do greetings with carefully, so that we usually have a positive experience.

      3. Social preferences and tolerances.
      I try to observe my dog’s social preferences and tolerances. Sephy is a more confident dog and he will rise to whatever challenge that comes his way, so he does not do well with dominant dogs. He also does not like new dogs sniffing his butt so I make sure there is no rear greeting. Shania is a more submissive dog and she is a bit afraid of large dogs. We have gotten charged by a couple of large off-leash dogs before, so now she is cautious. She likes meeting dogs that she is more familiar with, and has seen out and about on a regular basis. Lara still gets very excited when other dogs are nearby, so I use distance to weaken the stimulus, and we work on ignoring other dogs.

      I talk more about these things and what I do with my dogs in the article above. We also visited with several professional trainers who helped us with Sephy. In particular, it was helpful for us to do desensitization exercises at our nearby SPCA. They have many friendly dogs that the trainer used to help us with our training.

  45. lacy says

    hi i have a 2 year old pit bull that i adopted two month ago. When on walks if there is a strange dog he pulls on the leash and wont listen to any commands. He also lets out a whine/howl/bark if he cant get to the dog. His tail and ears stand straight up and stares intensly. I let him sniff another dog once and he snapped at her. He gets along great with my other dog and my grandmas dog its just dogs he doesnt know. Recently he tried to attack the neighbors little dog and ran over it thankfully he didnt bite it. I dont know what to do about it any advice would help. Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      What helped most with my Shiba Inu were dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. I talk more about what I did in the article above.

      We also worked with several professional trainers. In particular, we did a lot of training at our nearby SPCA. They have a variety of dogs that we could do desensitization exercises with, under the direction of their trainer.
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

  46. Kim C says

    Hi,
    What a wonderful site you have. Our 10 yr old retriever/chow mix, who we adopted from a family moving oversees last year, has attacked some of the neighborhood dogs, thankfully there have been no injuries. We live in the foothills and have 2 acres of a fenced yard but occasionally the dogs find a way out. The aggression occurs when the dogs and their owners ,usually on horseback, walk past our home (we also have a horse). He does have food aggression issues with our other dog (5yr old female shepherd mix) but feeding them in separate places helps. Both dogs are good with other dogs that come in the yard with family members. He usually seems like a big sissy, the female is the one who barks at things at night while he sleeps on our doorstep. I’ve thought of an electric fence for containment of at least the male but our yard is so big he wouldn’t have the run of it. Also the electric fence instructions say the collars should only be on 12 hours a day and these are outside dogs. Right now I’m in the process of establishing myself as the pack leader by making both dogs have eye contact with me prior to feeding. I have him tied on a long rope and let him loose or on a leash supervised a few times a day. Of course these incidents have happened when I’m not home and they don’t happen every time someone comes by. I’m concerned that while they escape they may target other peoples dogs or animals. I know I’m rambling but I guess I need a starting point/ plan of correction. i don’t want to be one of those that gives up :-). Any advice is appreciated.

    • shibashake says

      Daily walks really helped a lot with my Husky Lara.

      I think a problem with the backyard is that it is not very interesting from a “smell” perspective. The only people and animals who go in there are members of the family, so after a while, the smells are always the same.

      Sometimes, a skunk or raccoon will pass by our yard, and my dogs will get excited and go explore all over again. My Huskies will sometimes hunt for rodents, but I think the rodents now stay away from the property.

      My dogs use the backyard to sun themselves when it is nice out, or we play games out there together. For exploration purposes, they love their daily walks a lot more, because the smell-scape is much more interesting and dynamic. Outside, it smells like many different dogs, many different people, cats, wild turkeys, and more.

      In addition to increasing her daily exercise, I also made sure that my fence line is very secure. Lara escaped by digging under the fence, so we put in concrete blocks all along our fence line to prevent digging. Some people build a smaller but more secure dog run to prevent escapes, especially when there is no one home to supervise.

      Here is more on how I deal with dog escapes.

  47. David Sullivan says

    I have a spayed five-year-old German shepherd female we got when she was four. I bring her everywhere with me; to my office, for rides in my vehicles, etc. From the very beginning, she showed extreme aggression toward other dogs, no matter the circumstances. Walking her in the city immediately ceased due to her attempts to fight any dog she saw, no matter the size of her potential opponent. While she is with me in my truck and I have the window partially down on her side, she will see a dog being walked by its owner; the same applies to dogs she sees on my side, which can potentially result in my loosing control of the truck, since she tries to get out of either window to fight. When a dog walks on the street by my office door, my dog will attempt to break through the door to attack it. She is fine with humans after an initial barking at them.

    The previous owner sold me the dog after it saw dogs being walked by their owners and went over a five-foot chain link fence and tore up two dogs to the tune of $1,000 in veterinarian bills for the victims. She got away from me once and that vet bill cost me $350.00

    She was trained in the Czech language and responded to commands very well for the first few months. However, she no longer rapidly responds to commands in any language unless they are repeated several times. The command, “Not say,” Czech for “heel” is no longer a command, but a suggestion she generaly ignores, especaily when the command is contrary to what she wants to do.

    Suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      For serious cases for dog aggression, I would get help from a good professional trainer-
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

      My Shiba was pretty reactive to other dogs when he was young, and we did a lot of training with him at our local SPCA. They had a great variety of dogs that we could do desensitization exercises with, under the direction of a trainer there.

  48. David says

    Hi, I have serious problem which I’m hoping someone can help me with. My 6 year old black lab/bordercollie cross Rufus is showing aggression with other dogs and people. I think he’s trying to protect me. He is also very insecure. My wife is pack leader, our cat is 2nd fiddle , Rufus and I are duking it out for 3rd. He never shows aggression when my wife walks him, only with me. He hasn’t bit anyone yet but I’m hoping to correct it before he does. I use a power wheelchair and Rufus thinks I need special protection. Do you have any advice?

    • shibashake says

      What helped most with my Shiba Inu were dog-to-dog desensitization exercises. I use distance to weaken the ‘other dog’ stimulus, and paired it with positive experiences. I describe more of what I did in the article above.

      Another thing that was very important with my Shiba was to control my own energy. I used to get somewhat stressed while walking him because I was afraid that he would start to act out. Sadly, this only made his behavior worse because he would sense my anxiety, get anxious himself, and become even more reactive towards other dogs. After I learned to control my own energy and remain calm, Sephy’s behavior improved as well.

      I talk more about what I did with Sephy in the article above, and in my pack leadership article.

      We also visited with several professional trainers, which can be helpful. Much of it depends on finding a good trainer, which is not easy, because the field is not regulated and there is a lot of misinformation out there.

      More on how to choose a trainer from the APDT
      http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/

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