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Hello, our 18 month old golden gets along famously in his daily play group. The handlers say he is the most fun and playful dog in the whole place, and they have a lot of dogs. They laugh at us when we ask them if he ever causes problems or gets into fights.

BUT on leash walks, he attacks other dogs. Lunges, snarls, barks, throws paws, all of it. Last night, he went after our neighbors 10-week old lab puppy. Of absolutely NO THREAT to him whatsoever!

My wife and I are very distressed by this. We are able to avoid other dogs on our walks, and Bolly will focus on us when we ask him to sit when other dogs walk by, but this isn't the way we want things to be. One of the big joys of owning our second GR was supposed to be the PEACEFUL interaction with other dog owners and their dogs. We are really missing this and will do anything to get back to being able to interact with other dogs. This only started a few months ago.

Question: is there any way to train the aggression out of them, or is avoidance the only answer???


Thanks for any guidance.
 

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I'm not an expert at leash reactivity so hopefully someone more knowledgeable will chime in, but we dealt with some leash reactivity for a long time with Iorek after he was attacked by another dog while on leash so I might have some advice.

Currently? Yes, avoidance is your option. Much like resource guarding, you want to be very careful to not set up situations in which your dog will continue (and therefore continue to learn) the behavior. Is this always going to be the only option? Maybe not. The trick here is to find a way to set up SAFE SAFE SAFE interactions where Bolly can learn the proper way to behave and be encouraged for it.

Some thoughts :

Is he only reactive with dogs he doesn't know? Could you potentially arrange walking-dates with a dog he is friends with so that he learns that being on leash near other dogs is a fun and happy event where he will be lavished with praise and treats?

Is one specific person in charge of walking him and if so, have you experimented with seeing if he is as reactive with another person walking him? For example, when Iorek was attacked, I was holding the leash. He is also kind of my velcro dog in the house and I think he feels a slight desire to resource guard me from other dogs. In addition to this, because I have witnessed the majority of his leash reactivity, I struggle with feeling anxious about it. My fiance on the other hand, has none of these things working against him. And sure enough, Iorek is not even a LITTLE bit leash reactive with my fiance but is much more tense with me.

What is happening in the environment when the leash reactivity occurs? Is he stuck in a situation where he may only face the dog head on? Are you getting nervous? Are other dog owners (or their dogs) being overly excited and putting out unnerving energy? If you can identify things in his environment that are triggering the response, it's going to be a lot easier to work on this and avoid those specific things instead of avoiding everything all together.

In addition, check this out:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/DINOS-Dogs-in-Need-of-Space/251550661567160

Lots of dogs just simply need their space while on walks, and that's okay too.

ETA: Is he neutered? Is he particularly reactive with male dogs? I know lots and lots of unneutered male dogs can get along together happy as a clam, but some can't. Might be something to look into?
 
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