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Still having some problems with Toby, and somehow I feel that it's getting worse instead of better. Over the last 6 months to a year, he seems to have developed a mean streak toward other dogs. Where he used to sniff, run around a bit, play, etc, now he will sniff and then typically growl at the other dog. He has done this a number of times, and sometimes even attacked them!

Toby is almost 3 years old. No problems with people - he loves them one and all. Obviously some people more than others. He has been neutered. He sometimes seems a bit anxious, and loud noises scare him (motorcycles, bangs, some thunder).

The dogs he has been mean to are male and female, neutered and not, bigger and smaller than him. One neighbor's lab literally approaches him on her belly. A couple of sniffs, then a growl. Sometimes he will start to play with another dog, then suddenly turn on it. A couple of dogs that he played with last year are growled at this year. This has happened both when I am with him and not, so I don't think I am the cause of it. Last night he romped a bit with a neighbor's dog that a week ago I thought he was going to attack. It almost seems like there is no rhyme or reason to it.

It is getting to the point that I am afraid to let him too close to other dogs. Any ideas?
 

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I'm so sorry. Few things are as tough as having an aggressive animal.

I would seek out a qualified behaviorist or vet behaviorist - someone with a graduate degree in animal behavior.

Aggression in dogs is 90% of the time due to fear. I would definitely not allow him to be off leash around other dogs, it's not fair to those dogs or to Toby.

What strategies have you tried to help Toby?
 

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You're not alone, my dog has had an attitude problem too. I'll give you a brief outline just to see if you relate; when a dog approached he either blanked them or put his tail up, fur up, growling, this was with familiar &unfamiliar dogs,male&female,fixed or not,friendly or unfriendly. If a dog approached me or his dog walker he would see them off in no uncertain terms, if a dog was what he considered too excited he would put them straight. He definately LOVES people and would approach the human not the dog, he doesnt care who strokes him, it could be freddy kruger for all he cared!
When off lead in a familiar area he thought it was his kingdom&he could do what he wanted (despite him having achieved his UK Kennel Club awards in obedience)
My dog goes to daycare part time and he struggled a little when new dogs arrived if they tried to boss him, he was posessive with the owner-fortunately she is a behaviourist so set him straight.
We had a few sessions with the behaviourist and we worked on several different things that I thought werent related: sending him to his bed when the doorbell rang, sending him to bed when i came in with shopping or bags,sending him to bed whilst im cooking, exchanging toys for treats (even though he would give them up anyway)not allowing him to pester for affection/attention, travelling a different route to his usual walking area, recalling randomly all these things were reward based&have alleviated most of his problems I guess by building his confidence&our relationship. We did use a clicker initially and for safety I had him professionaly muzzle trained, although i doubt he would ever bite. I think you settle into a routine that suits and when problems arise you maybe cant see the wood for the trees-there are things i swore id never do when i got my dog that i found myself doing all the time!
If he is on meds or hasnt been to the vets in a while get him checked out otherwise I would consult a behaviourist, a fresh pair of eyes :)
 

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He's been to the vet

He's been to the vet for a checkup probably 1 - 2 months ago. No problems, maybe a couple of pounds overweight.

What I can't understand is why he sometimes seems fine, then the next time seems aggressive with the same other dog. Can he be fearful of a submissive dog that approaches on her belly? Seems weird.

I don't let him off leash with any dogs other than our other golden, a 4 month old female. They play and chase each other, she jumps on him, he rolls her over, etc. Seems OK with her unless she tries to take something he really wants like a bone. She noses him out of his food dish with no reaction from him, and he LOVES to eat. I would think that her arrival had something to do with it, but it started before.
 

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Approaching on the belly is not submission, it's usually a calming signal. The other dog is anxious about something (may have her own issues?). Your dog might not be reading her appropriately. Who knows...

Have you chatted with his breeder? Maybe they have some insight.

It's great that you are catching it early though! Behavioral Medicine
 

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I wonder if he's feeling a little insecure with a new arrival (ie the pup) as you know barking isnt always a sign of fear as in 'i think you're going to attack me' I think its a sign that his position in the family could feel threatened. Im no expert, just giving you my experience, Jamie loves to feel powerful&adored lol I recommend building his confidence&security, our dog is much improved from the exercises ive mentioned above but you must let him know aggression toward other dogs is NOT permitted. I was a bit scared to overcome this bit but with help from the behaviourist I gained the confidence (and correct method) to remove him. I hope this has been useful to you, I know how frustrating it can be, good luck :)
 

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I've noticed that the dogs that are acting in the extreme in any direction get varied responses from the dogs they are trying to approach. Exceptionally submissive dogs appear to be distrusted by my two and they refuse to meet or approach them. Younger dogs also get varied responses and I would say my two have less patience as they've aged for puppies.

The best bet for anybody who wants to enjoy their dog with others is to get a tight knit group of people whose dogs you know mesh well with your own. Parks seem to invite problems and people trying to rehabilitate their dogs using your own. Harley experienced the backlash of this first hand.
 

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This is what I have been doing with my dog reactive boy and the results have been great.
BAT « Ahimsa Dog Blog

Once I learned to focus on what my dog was doing life got a lot easier for both of us. The phrase I use is "ok, let's go" and he can be very far away from me looking at another dog but when he hears it he comes running back. Good luck!
Adding: my boy won't eat any treats if he is stressed but once I see him doing a calming behavior I say my phrase, praise him and walk away.
 
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