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Rhodie
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31-01-2010, 01:01 AM

Labrador - Hackles Raised on Meeting other Dogs - Advice Needed

Sometimes, not always when my labrador spots another dog in the distance she rushes towards it at high speed, tail upright, hackles up usually above the shoulders and at the base of the tail, and as she closes in, she lowers her front body, emits a low growl, tail still up, skidding to a halt, potentially knocking the other dog over. She then sniffs the dog, and if there is no response from the other dog, losses interest and heads of back to sniffing something else. She doesn't do this all the time nor does she seem to have a pattern such as dog size/sex. If the other dog responds, she will have a go back and is not keen on backing down, though I have never seen it end up in a fight.

I have been trying to correct this behaviour for several years and I am at a complete loss as to how to deal with it.

She was 18 months when I got her. She pulled like a train on the lead and had limited social skills. She now walks to heel off leash, and does a load of other obedience activities. She lives with another dog and is constantly socialising with other dogs.

A local trainer told me that she was frightened because her hackles are raised (fear - aggression) and it may be a response to me. My dog had this behaviour when I got her and she exhibits this behaviour with my partner and it bears no relationship to where she does it. She is off lead most of the time, and certainly over the years, my response has changed from annoyance, to positive re-enforcement of cheerfully doing recall with her. Her recall has improved such that most of the time I can call her back, but then as soon as the other dog is within reach, she's off again. If I am getting stressed with these encounters I am unaware of it, as I have developed tactics on how to deal with it and in some cases, she's off without me even realising. Other times, she completely ignores any other dogs. I have even tried going places where there are lots of dogs, to try and teach her to focus her attention on me while walking passed them and I am now doing agility classess with her, again, when surrounded by other dogs. Does it make a difference? No! She has her good days and her bad days.

I would like to find someone who would be able to help me sort this problem out, but as its so specific, I am reluctant to pay money to someone who can't convince me that they have the expertise to resolve the problem, and I am quiet open to the point that it may have something to do with me.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this?
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youngstevie
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31-01-2010, 01:15 AM
Haven't a clue...will be interested in the response you get though as our Bruce does this...although doesn't run upto other dogs, he just puts his hackles up when they come to him, has a sniff...hackles go down and off he goes
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Phil
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31-01-2010, 02:30 AM
Originally Posted by Rhodie View Post
she rushes towards it at high speed, tail upright, hackles up usually above the shoulders and at the base of the tail, and as she closes in, she lowers her front body, emits a low growl, tail still up, skidding to a halt, potentially knocking the other dog over. She then sniffs the dog, and if there is no response from the other dog, losses interest and heads of back to sniffing something else.
This just sounds like 'bravado' to me.

My youngest dog Breagh (lab x pointer) does the same thing.

If there's no fighting then I'd say she's communicating OK and there's no problem. It's worth making sure you can recall her though just in case you meet a nervous/agressive dog or 'funny' owner.

Labs are greedy sods so are much easier than other breeds to clicker / treat train for recall.
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madmare
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31-01-2010, 07:57 AM
Firstly owning a fear aggresive dog myself and having encountered dogs like yours while out with her, I have to say take responsibility now and don't let her off unless you can recall her back, or unless you are somewhere you can make sure you can see if anyone else is likely to appear and get her back on the lead first.
If I met you out I would be furous as you would put me back months of hard work and because my dog would react and you say in that circumstance your dog would go back then until you caught up then I would be left to deal with it myself ruining our walk.
I do not let my girl off in public places as I don't want her doing the same thing as yours, I spent months finding somewhere I could hire to let her off away from other dogs.
I am pleased you have decided you must do something about it, but until you get someone to help you with the problem please don't give her the opportunity to go hurtling off into the distance after another dog and then having a go at it if it objects to your dog invading its space. Its not going to help your training as she is just learning thats what she can do, you have to break the cycle and start from scratch with a long line, so when she sees another dog, you call and she has to come back, and to a reward of course.
Good Luck with the training and please remember your dog could badly scare an elderly person or a young child behaving out of control like this or injure a child or another dog when she knocks into it and bowls them over and be reported under the dangerous dogs act and I wouldn't like to see that for either of you.
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tokiayla
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31-01-2010, 08:20 AM
Stone used to be exactly like this - definitely 'bravado' with him.

Spot on advice by Madmare - you have to break the habit.

I started to recall him EVERY time I saw another dog. I would then suss out the other dog - if it remained off lead and was coming to us I would release his collar gently at the last minute, so that he didn't have the room to charge. Then I would keep moving and call him, so he only had time for a quick sniff and move on. I also didn't let him say hello to every single dog we passed, so he has realised that he doesn't HAVE to approach them, especially when the other dog is minding it's own business.

I'm certainly no expert, but this has worked for me, and over time his manners have improved greatly. He's not actually that interested in other dogs - he'd be happy if every dog ignored him!
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Rhodie
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31-01-2010, 11:14 AM
Originally Posted by tokiayla View Post
Stone used to be exactly like this - definitely 'bravado' with him.

I started to recall him EVERY time I saw another dog. I would then suss out the other dog - if it remained off lead and was coming to us I would release his collar gently at the last minute, so that he didn't have the room to charge. Then I would keep moving and call him, so he only had time for a quick sniff and move on. I also didn't let him say hello to every single dog we passed, so he has realised that he doesn't HAVE to approach them, especially when the other dog is minding it's own business.
Thanks for the above - this is the action I take now. I always take food with me on walks, she recalls well, and I put her on the lead and maintain her focus on me as the dog passes which I can do as see reponds well to 'heel' and 'watch' etc. Sometime the other owner stops and chats with me, during which I make decisions whether she can be let off or not, and I usually explain what may happen with the other owner. I have Ridgeback with me aswell, so she doesn't walk on her own. I am encouraging my partner to do the same as me.

The issue is that I am finding that the problem isn't being reolved. This tactic appears to be a temporary solution to the immediate problem, she's not actually learning to change her behaviour.

I have even approached people in the park and asked them if them minded whether I can walk back and forth past their dog while I kept my dog on a lead to try and get her to ignore them. I have taken her to the town centre when its really busy, but have discovered that when there are alot of things going on, she doesn't do it. I am getting to my wits end - as I would love to have a walk without having to constantly watch her.

Soom people have told me that I overstate the problem, however, I disagree precisely for the comments that madmare has made. Some owners are very sensitive about another dog charging at their dog, for whatever reason which can result in a very unpleasant experience for all.
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ClaireandDaisy
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31-01-2010, 11:51 AM
I agree with the trainer, I must say. Sounds like she`s a bit nervous and is trying to look big in case of trouble. My Shamus GSP did the same, but now ignores other dogs, because I went places there were loads of other dogs, let him wander about offlead and eventually he ignored them.
Unless one wants to play, in which case he`s definitely up for a game.
I would socialise your dog more, not less, and try to back off a bit. It sounds like you are trying to control the meetings, which you can`t do because dogs have a very subtle language we can`t hope to keep up with.
TBH I think the original trainer was right, and the dog is taking her cue from you.

eta - dogs cannot interact properly on a lead. You are controlling their proximity and altering their body language. The fact she will walk past another dog on a lead has more to do with your control of her than her attitude to the other dog.
Why not muzzle her if you`re that worried, and let her off to meet and greet more?
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Rhodie
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31-01-2010, 03:49 PM
Originally Posted by ClaireandDaisy View Post

eta - dogs cannot interact properly on a lead. You are controlling their proximity and altering their body language. The fact she will walk past another dog on a lead has more to do with your control of her than her attitude to the other dog.
Why not muzzle her if you`re that worried, and let her off to meet and greet more?
It's interesting how one person recommends that the dog should not be allowed to charge in as its potentially dangerous whilst another recommends not to totally control the situation as its interferring with natural communication.

I have over the past two years struggled with both of these approaches - trying one and then the other. I have tried socialising her as much as possible without interference with the theory that in time she will calm down, however I have encountered owners who get very angry that another dog has charged at their dog, which is extremely embarressing, consequently, I don't do that any more.

You have a point regarding the muzzle though. I have thought of this, but steered away from it as she doesn't bite - however this is more about the reaction of the other person. This could work in two ways, people can get concerned that the dog has a muzzle so worry more, or they could feel safer because the dog can't bite, even though I know she doesn't , they won't know that. Its something for me think about.
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Wysiwyg
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31-01-2010, 05:20 PM
Regarding the hackles up - this is "arousal" and can be interpreted in context of the situation (it doesn't, as many think, automatically mean "aggression")

I'd suggest you get a good hands on behaviourist to help - but, beware as anyone can call themselves a behaviourist and some will make matters worse!

I'd suggest contacting www.apbc.org.uk or possible www.apdt.co.uk for someone to come out with you.

Good luck,

Wys
x
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ClaireandDaisy
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31-01-2010, 06:09 PM
Originally Posted by Rhodie View Post
It's interesting how one person recommends that the dog should not be allowed to charge in as its potentially dangerous whilst another recommends not to totally control the situation as its interferring with natural communication.
something for me think about.
yup because we don`t know you or your dog - so we`re basing it on what we would probably do in that situation - which is giving you ideas. It worked for Shamus -what can I say?
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