Joined: Jan 2010
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?