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Thread: Maltese not friendly with other dogs!

  1. #1

    Default Maltese not friendly with other dogs!

    Hi All
    About 3 months ago my partner & I adopted a beautiful maltese x scotty, he's a fantastic dog at home & well trained, but whenever he sees another dog (off & on his lead) he goes up & then attacks them straight away. He is now better with my partners parents dogs as he sees them a lot, but it's very hard when we want to take him for a walk. I end up picking him up and walking him past them but he is still trying to attack the dog on the ground whilst in my arms.
    Just want to know the best way to perhaps help him be nicer to other dogs? He was a stray dog for a while on the streets before he was picked up by the pound.
    Thanks all

  2. #2

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    Oh and he is around 6 years old!

  3. #3

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    Hi Slashed,

    Your dog sounds like he's having delusions of dominance. He's either fearful/insecure and striking pre-emptively, or he's got an inflated sense of his own importance. If he was a stray then he has probably retained a strong fight or flight instinct, it's your job to train him out of this.

    First thing you need to do is communicate that the behaviour is unacceptable. To do that you should go back to basics, that means don't let him around other dogs unless he's controlled by an ordinary non-extendable lead. Make him practise walking next to other dogs on a lead without looking at them, make sure the other dog is calm and reasonably well behaved. This should be quite easy. It will help him get used to being in the close vicinity of other dogs. If he starts worrying about the other dog, twitch the lead and make him walk forward again.

    Next practise walking toward other dogs and correcting him when he strains on the leash or lunges. There are many ways to do this, feel free to use combinations or find your own way. Whatever you do will work as long as it startles him or distracts him from his aggression, and also communicates that you disagree with his behaviour.

    You can:
    make a startling noise with a plastic bottle full of rice,
    say "no" in a loud voice,
    pull the lead so he's facing a different direction,
    or nudge him with your foot.

    If he attacks another dog, don't pick him up because this physically elevates him and will make him feel more dominant. Drag him away using the leash or by grabbing his back legs. If you're feeling brave enough flip him over and make him lie on his back till he's calm, however this method will only work if you're in a calm state of mind and you're willing to hold him until he calms down and stops struggling.

    When he DOESN'T react negatively to the other dog, either by ignoring it or being friendly, give him enthusiastic praise and a smelly treat (mince or liver or something). This includes after a correction when his behaviour changes from aggressive to passive. Be extremely quick with the praise and treats so he knows exactly why he is getting them. Gradually his brain will begin to associate this behaviour with rewards, while rejecting the aggressive behaviour because it isn't beneficial. Hopefully he will discover that being nice to other dogs is fun and easy.

    good luck

  4. #4
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    Bring it around to mine, and let it get aggressive lol
    that should sort it. Only joking. But seriously, there are dogs out there that could seriously injure yours were it to try it on them. Mine would not tolerate this at all. Nor would i.

    Desensitisation over gradual time. And ensure you expose him to trigger from safe zone daily, to practice, practice, practice.


    Mosh's answer is very comprehensive.

  5. #5
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    My technique would be a bit different...

    I would start by rewarding him for staying calm from a long distance away from the other dog. Just enough for him to notice the other dog and kind of start preparing for the confrontiation, not close enough for him to not be able to focus on anything else. Then praise him for looking at the dog without showing aggressive behaviour. I would use a clicker or marker word for this. And very high value treats indeed - cooked liver is marvelous. You can also add a cue to this like 'look at that'. Keep rewarding him for looking calmly at the dog in the distance, then very slowly go a bit closer and continue this technique. If at any time he does start barking or lunging and you cannot get his attention anymore, you've gone too close too fast and all you need to do is turn around and take him further away from the other dog and start again.

    Once you can get him to get reasonably close to another dog, you can start rewarding him for 'calming signals' too. You can actually start doing this around the dog that he knows and does get on with. I'm in a hurry, but do a search on 'dog calming signals' and once you can identify them, you can start using this in the training too. The are really basic manners around other dogs that every dog should learn. They normally do them instinctively, but some need some help.

    I hope this made sense - gotta run!

  6. #6
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    I wouldn't do any of what Mosh said.

    Punishing a dog that is already upset - can only make it worse - as your dog will blame being punished on the other dog.

    What you need is the help of a good behaviourist/dog trainer who can show you how to get your dog to connect other dogs with good things. Like treats and praise and fun times.

    It's very important you don't let your dog get close enough to other dogs to attack them, or be attacked (some dogs stand up for themselves and do their own punishing of rude behaviour).

    You will only be able to retrain - at a distance where your dog can still pay attention to you and not the other dog. So a good place to practice desensitising is a big on lead area where there are dogs but you can stay far enough away from other dogs that yours can pay attention to you. You want to be just close enough that your dog notices the other dogs but well before he goes into attack mode. Ie as soon as you see the dog - watch yours, as soon as he looks at the other dog, praise him, turn and walk away... do lots.

    This kind of desensitisation training is known as "look at that" or LAT or "Behavioural Adjustment Training" or "BAT". Find a behaviourist who knows how to teach you this. Or get Control Unleashed book or dvd by Leslie Mc Devitt. I think there is a BAT book too but I forget the name.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    I wouldn't do any of what Mosh said.

    Punishing a dog that is already upset - can only make it worse - as your dog will blame being punished on the other dog.
    With respect Hyacinth, there is a difference between correction and punishment

  8. #8

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    Thanks everyone for your responses! It has definitely helped to figure out a starting point!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mosh View Post
    With respect Hyacinth, there is a difference between correction and punishment
    The only difference is in the timing though. Correction is just well-timed punishment.

    I'm not against using corrections as such. But if it is necessary in this case I would at most remove the dog from the distraction. I think any physical or loud verbal correction might be counterproductive or ineffective with a dog that is clearly already highly stressed. Just my 2c worth though. I do accept that different methods work on different dogs and situations.

  10. #10
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    With respect Hyacinth, there is a difference between correction and punishment
    Depends what you mean by correction and punishment.

    I mean the application of any kind of aversive (something the dog doesn't like) in the hopes of reducing the behaviour (punishment).

    Of course if the behaviour is increasing - because your aversive is badly timed, or applied well after the dog stops being able to listen to you (goes over his tolerance threshold), then technically it's not a punishment or a correction because the behaviour is increasing. But the dog is not having any fun or joy and I would guess neither is any caring handler.

    flip him over and make him lie on his back till he's calm
    This in particular - is a really good way to get bitten. Much better to increase your distance from the problem trigger until the dog can pay attention, and this usually requires more than getting the dog to face the other direction or distracting it with a shaker or nudge with a foot (which will be misunderstood by most bystanders).

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