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Thread: Serena has become cranky with certain dogs

  1. #1
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    Default Serena has become cranky with certain dogs

    Hi. Some advice needed.

    The last few weeks, Serena has become aggressive with other dogs, in particular small females fluffy or otherwise. I have had to physically remove Serena a few times off of the dogs as she was not mucking around.

    This doesn't happen every time but I am still very worried about it as i am unsure when she will do it again. She used to be so very good with other dogs and I really had no problems at all up until the last few times. What do I do? Its hard to suss out everyone's dogs as a potential target for Serena so I have taken to keeping her on lead unless there are no or very few dogs around. Any ideas as to why she has suddenly become this way? I see two practical options for management:

    1. keep her on lead all times

    2. get her a muzzle if she is to go off leash

    Its such a shame because in summer she loves the dog beach but now I am really unsure as to whether to take her or just leave her at home and walk her elsewhere.

    I know people will say that its no surprise as she is, after all, representative of a breed that was bred purely for fighting other dogs. But she is the only stafford I have had that has shown aggression issues.

    thanks

    Adrian

  2. #2
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    Hi Ados

    I've got similar problems with Frosty. She's taken a major dislike to poodle crosses... except the ones she's already friends with - they're ok but ones she doesn't recognise she scolds and sends off - usually with a nip painful enough to make them yelp. Tho there's a couple out there that will run and scream like they're being torn limb from limb when they have not been touched.

    I think she's picked up on my dislike of rude dogs. You know the ones that are pulling on lead and then jump all over you and your dog and then bully your dog...

    I went to a seminar that was about bad behaviour of dogs on lead. Frosty has taken to being extremely rude when on lead especially as we are leaving the house. As she's all strapped up and I have control (sort of) when we go out, I've been ignoring it but this has allowed her to get worse and more fierce. Even with people she likes. So some of my neighbours are a bit scared of her now.

    So tonight - she carried on like a chain saw - because people were walking home from work past our house, so I took her away from the gate and behind the car and got her to focus on me again. I didn't give her any food because that only leads to the naughty then good chain to get the treat...

    And it happened again as we came home from the park (where she stayed on lead and was good), and we rounded the corner for home and there was someone walking two little dogs coming towards us. Evil hound got the fixed stare going and I turned her around and went the other way until she showed some self control, pats and then we tried again, but the other dogs were still there - hard to go home when they're right there. They turned around and went back up the street so we were able to get home reasonably calmly.

    I will know soon whether me ignoring some of the problems - because she was on lead and couldn't really do any serious damage - has made her more reactive. Ie she thinks it's ok because I don't stop it or give her the means to get some self control back (distance from thing is easiest).

    We still have some problems at the park with certain dogs getting in our faces while we're on lead. I know if I scold those dogs and tell them to back off, evil hound will "help". So that's not going to help. Sometimes blocking (getting between the incoming and my dog) helps. Yelling at the owner to call their dog tends to gets help from my dog which is not what I want either. A fixed stare from both of us sometimes works. Except for one bizarre puppy that thought the safest place for it to be was between my dog and me. Frosty didn't seem to mind, for a change. So I was up with the "good dog(s)" "what a good dog" happy talk which can help calm my dog down. But only if she's doing the right thing.

  3. #3
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    Theres nothing fun about owning a dog aggressive dog. I have to watch Bronx like a hawk when we are out and about. He notices dogs i havent even seen yet.
    I'm not exactly sure why it happens sorry. But i do think keeping your Staffy on a lead is the best bet. A yellow collar/lead or ribbon tied to your lead can help others identify your dogs issue and help them realise not to let their dog approach yours unleashed. Its a fairly new thing so not many folk realise what it means but some might.
    The Yellow Dog Project: Do You Know What A Yellow Ribbon On A Dog’s Collar Means? | The Pet Collective


    Quote Originally Posted by reyzor View Post
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    DONT SIC YOUR DOGMA ON ME !

  4. #4
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    The thing is, Serena is an angel on the lead and has not once shown any aggression to any dogs passing by or coming up to her when she is on the lead. It has only happened when she is off the lead. I think I need to learn to read her body language a bit better. This is the pattern I have noticed before every dust up:

    Serena spots dog.

    Serena goes up to dog tail wagging in a normal wag and she seems happy and relaxed.

    A little bit of play happens, the other dog might jump around or pretend to play fight.

    Then something happens that I cannot see. Suddenly, for a reason that I had not detected, Serena's demeanor changes and she lunges and then latches onto the other dog and really shakes her head. Thankfully I am nearby so I drag her off and leash her straight away. No damage has ever occurred but I am still worried and upset because no one want's to be the guy with the vicious staffy at the local park. I suppose that if I have to, from now on, keep Serena safely on a leash than I will have to live with that.

    Cheers

  5. #5
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    My Banjo was amazing with other dogs when she was young. I was told several times by other dog owners that their dog normally didn't like other dogs, but they'd play with her. I was so happy because my previous dog had terrible social skills.

    Fast forward to Banjo reaching adulthood and things changed dramatically. She snapped and snarled at most dogs that she met, even if she initiated the greeting.

    I ended up paying for a consultation with a behavioral trainer. I found some of her methods and ideas a bit wishy washy, but what I got out of it was:
    - Lots of desexed female dogs are totally uninterested in interaction with strange dogs once they reach adulthood. It's unnatural for a female to let strange dogs touch them, unless it is for the purpose of reproduction.
    - When dogs lash out, it is often because their more subtle signals were ignored by the other dog. Calming signals are politely telling the stranger to back off, growling is telling to back the f*ck off, attacking (though usually more noise and flashing teeth than wanting to cause damage) is to say "I f*cking told you to leave me alone, you pervert!". The fact that they walk up to the other dog has little to do with this. Maybe they're just going closer to check if it is a dog they know. Maybe they think it's better to take the initiative. Not sure.
    - Best thing to do is to keep greetings very short and then offer them a way out. I was taught to count to 3 or 5 before I called her off. That was easy with my dog because her recall was very solid and I can easily call her away from another dog. If you can't, you will need to practice this on a lead or a long lead.

    It was very interesting to see the effect on my dog from implementing this strategy. I remember one particular example of a tradie's dog that hung around our house for a few days in a row. First greeting resulted in a minor scuffle. But every time we met him after that, I called Banjo 5 seconds after they'd got close to eachother. On a couple of occasions, the dog followed her and I could tell her instinct told her to turn around and confront him. But I encouraged her to keep walking away from him and he gave up. I could see a change in her after that. I think she learnt that simply walking away was a better strategy than confrontation and one that I backed her up in.

    I can walk her off lead when there's other dogs now but I still have to use the 5 second rule. Which only works will if I can walk off, so she follows me. It is useless in fenced dog parks for example, so we just don't go there. Unfortunately some bad experiences with out of control lab pups resulted in her not even lasting 5 seconds before she lashes out, so I simply don't let her go up to them anymore.

    As is probably clear from that long story, good recall is very, very helpful in this situation. I spent months proofing this with Banjo and I still occasionally give her treats for exceptionally good responses. When she was young, I made a habit of regularly calling her when she was approaching other dogs (or equally high distractions), clicked and treated and then let her continue what she was doing. Over and over. It paid off big time and it made it so much easier to deal with her reactivity issues.
    Last edited by Beloz; 08-02-2014 at 08:39 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beloz View Post
    My Banjo was amazing with other dogs when she was young. I was told several times by other dog owners that their dog normally didn't like other dogs, but they'd play with her. I was so happy because my previous dog had terrible social skills.

    Fast forward to Banjo reaching adulthood and things changed dramatically. She snapped and snarled at most dogs that she met, even if she initiated the greeting.

    I ended up paying for a consultation with a behavioral trainer. I found some of her methods and ideas a bit wishy washy, but what I got out of it was:
    - Lots of desexed female dogs are totally uninterested in interaction with strange dogs once they reach adulthood. It's unnatural for a female to let strange dogs touch them, unless it is for the purpose of reproduction.
    - When dogs lash out, it is often because their more subtle signals were ignored by the other dog. Calming signals are politely telling the stranger to back off, growling is telling to back the f*ck off, attacking (though usually more noise and flashing teeth than wanting to cause damage) is to say "I f*cking told you to leave me alone, you pervert!". The fact that they walk up to the other dog has little to do with this. Maybe they're just going closer to check if it is a dog they know. Maybe they think it's better to take the initiative. Not sure.
    - Best thing to do is to keep greetings very short and then offer them a way out. I was taught to count to 3 or 5 before I called her off. That was easy with my dog because her recall was very solid and I can easily call her away from another dog. If you can't, you will need to practice this on a lead or a long lead.

    It was very interesting to see the effect on my dog from implementing this strategy. I remember one particular example of a tradie's dog that hung around our house for a few days in a row. First greeting resulted in a minor scuffle. But every time we met him after that, I called Banjo 5 seconds after they'd got close to eachother. On a couple of occasions, the dog followed her and I could tell her instinct told her to turn around and confront him. But I encouraged her to keep walking away from him and he gave up. I could see a change in her after that. I think she learnt that simply walking away was a better strategy than confrontation and one that I backed her up in.

    I can walk her off lead when there's other dogs now but I still have to use the 5 second rule. Which only works will if I can walk off, so she follows me. It is useless in fenced dog parks for example, so we just don't go there. Unfortunately some bad experiences with out of control lab pups resulted in her not even lasting 5 seconds before she lashes out, so I simply don't let her go up to them anymore.

    As is probably clear from that long story, good recall is very, very helpful in this situation. I spent months proofing this with Banjo and I still occasionally give her treats for exceptionally good responses. When she was young, I made a habit of regularly calling her when she was approaching other dogs (or equally high distractions), clicked and treated and then let her continue what she was doing. Over and over. It paid off big time and it made it so much easier to deal with her reactivity issues.
    Hi. Thanks so much for the advice. Our recall is pretty rock solid so I'll see if I can be more attentive and call her to me from dogs that might make her reactive. I will also bring my long lead if that approach doesn't work. I'm off to the dog park now so I'll post results etc when I get back.
    Wish me luck!

    Adrian

  7. #7
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    Banjo's issues got way worse when I started taking her to the fenced dog park too. I remember a few people here advising me to avoid them, but I thought I knew better and didn't listen. I thought that taking her to the dog park would make her used to socialising with strange dogs. Instead, what I did was more like "flooding" which made her reactivity worse. I ended up regretting it.

    If you can, I'd stick to the beach or other open spaces for now.

    Also, at least for now, you might want to use the 5 second rule for all greetings with other dogs, except those she already knows. Those few seconds really is all the time they need to decide whether to play or fight. And if they do want to play, they still can after you called your dog. It's rare these days that my dog wants to play with a dog she's just met, but if she wants to, she still can after moving away from the other dog first. Zoomies don't require that kind of closeness! And I find wrestling is something that only dogs that know eachother do, except when they're young. (Young dogs are just tarts, I decided. Lol)

    And I did find myself at the dog park the other day with Banjo at a time when there were a few other dogs there and she was ok. I still only stayed for a few minutes, but it was in stark contrast with how she behaved before we started this routine with limited greeting time.

  8. #8
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    This particular park is massive and whilst it is not fenced in, its flanked by the river on one side and a minor road on the other. I tend to stick in the middle

    Anyway, I just got back from dog park. Mixed results. For the first 15 minutes everything was fine. I called Serena away from dogs she was sniffing etc. She came to me every time. I was feeling pretty confident until she spotted a small, rabbit like dog, a female zooming around the place. At first Serena was being good but in a split second she was onto that dog before it could zoom away. I physically had to pin Serena down. I am a pretty big bloke around 110 kg but it took considerable strength to keep her still. I then put the long line on her, apologized to the dog's owner and moved along. The owner was pretty cool about it and no damage was done but i shudder to think what might have happened if I wasn't nearby.

    Anyways, she spent the rest of the walk on the long line which worked out fine and I could pull her away from dogs she seemed too interested in. From now on Serena stays on the long line while we work on her behavior.

    Not sure how she will go at the beach. My local dog beach usually has a flood of dogs of all types - would this not be putting Serena in a situation where her re-activity is triggered by so many dogs in close proximity? Or will she be so busy playing near the water and with other dogs that she may fail to notice any dogs that might set her off, specifically small females?

    Cheers

    Adrian

  9. #9
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    Maybe there is another reason why she tends to go for those small dogs. Perhaps she sees them as prey. I don't know, I'm no expert. Only know what worked for Banjo and maybe that's not all that relevant to Serena's situation.

    I can recommend seeing a good behavioural trainer if you can afford it. I had mixed feelings about doing that before and even after I saw her. But the more time goes on, the happier I am I did that. Even though I didn't agree with all her observations, it really helped me observe Banjo's behaviour and think outside the square to implement strategies.

    It's pretty expensive, but because you don't have any general leadership problems or anything like that, you should only need one session.

    And your dog park sounds a lot like my favourite one here.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beloz View Post
    Maybe there is another reason why she tends to go for those small dogs. Perhaps she sees them as prey. I don't know, I'm no expert. Only know what worked for Banjo and maybe that's not all that relevant to Serena's situation.

    I can recommend seeing a good behavioural trainer if you can afford it. I had mixed feelings about doing that before and even after I saw her. But the more time goes on, the happier I am I did that. Even though I didn't agree with all her observations, it really helped me observe Banjo's behaviour and think outside the square to implement strategies.

    It's pretty expensive, but because you don't have any general leadership problems or anything like that, you should only need one session.

    And your dog park sounds a lot like my favourite one here.
    Hi Beloz. Maybe it is a prey thing, considering she killed all my chickens a few weeks ago - maybe her prey drive is become stronger? if that is even possible? maybe she just wants to dominate other female dogs? I am no expert either and am stumped.

    Hiring a dog behavior specialist is out of the question due to one income, three kids and two dogs!

    In the meantime, I'll keep her on the long lead if I go to the park and just make sure she doesn't get any opportunities to attack other dogs.

    cheers

    Adrian

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