I was wondering if anyone might have any tips or advice for a behaviour problem our dog is developing.
We have a beautiful 2 year old kelpie cross (we think – he’s a total mix rescue dog). He is the most beautiful, gentle loving dog. Great with kids, generally perfectly behaved. We’ve taken him to obedience training, he’s smart, learns things really quickly and eager to please. The trainer even commented on how good he is and that he is what they call a ‘stable’ dog.
HOWEVER, over the last six months he is developing a real breed specific aggression against cavalier king spaniels, specifically black and white ones! It started as I would sit out the front of our house and a lady who lives up the road would walk her dog past and he would get a little woofy and bark. It’s now reached the stage when this dog goes past the house he growls, bares his teeth, his back bristles and he generally makes an all mighty racket. When he gets like this he totally snaps into a zone which we find impossible to get him out of. He is like another dog. SO now, whenever he sees any dog that looks like this dog, he is totally uncontrollable.
Today we were at some markets and there was a lookalike and he was like a monster! He was on a lead and a halti so he couldn’t get at the dog but he made quite the scene and frankly it’s pretty scary! We try when this is happening to get him to ‘relax’ (he knows this command) and refocus his attention on us but he just goes into a zone and wont relax until the dog is gone. As soon as the dog is gone he immediately calms down and often looks ‘sheepish’ for want of a better word. When he’s making this scene, he can be all bristled and growly but often his tail is wagging the whole time.
In the last month this breed aggression is now spreading to boxers (?). No where near as bad as with the spaniels but I’m worried it will escalate. In the park the other day he charged right at a dog, making a growly noise, but as once he got there he just turns around and runs off. Because of this incident I now wont let him off the lead, and it’s making me nervous when other dogs run up to him and sniff him.
I’ve been researching how to deal with him when he gets into the zone, and I’m really confused! We have been telling him off but then I’ve read that this can make the problem worse? We’ve tried distracting him, which can work if we see/hear the dog coming before he does, but he seems to have a sixth sense and knows when this dog is coming from a mile away! Or like today, the dog just appeared in a busy crowd.
So we are looking at getting a dog behaviour specialist in to work with him, does anyone have any recommendations? We are in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. I looked at bark busters but I don’t agree with their training methods, and our vet recommended someone but it was nearly 700 dollars for one 2 hour session! We don’t mind spending money but that is a lot for a one off lesson!
We are going to take him for another lot of obedience training soon, and ask the trainer there but it is hard for people to imagine until they see it themselves as he is such a well behaved friendly dog 99% of the time.
Arghh, sorry for the essay. This is all stressing me out loads! We love him to pieces and just want him to be happy and confident and not a grumpy dog. I feel like we have let him down letting it get to this stage. Any advise or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.