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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I recently adopted my mix, Kiko, from a shelter. She was a stray, and she's almost two. About a week after we had adopted her we found out she was very dog aggressive (The shelter hadn't told us anything about this, they might have not known, but she was with another dog in her kennel). As a stray, maybe she had to fend off dogs as a pup, or maybe it's because she never had someone to socialize her.

Is there anything I can do that will help her be less scared of dogs? Currently she has four doggy friends that I very slowly introduced her to by walking behind them on a walk, then slowly walking beside them until she was comfortable meeting them. After that initial meet and greet she doesn't have any problems with them (but she's always under close supervision when interacting with them).

I know there is no quick fix, but I wanted to know if anyone had any tips to help her along in this socialization? The only time she reacts to dogs is when they approach her, she won't bark back at a dog behind a fence or if we're on walk and another owner walks their dog past us (if they're a certain distance away).

Thanks,
Hailey
 

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Hey everyone,
Currently she has four doggy friends that I very slowly introduced her to by walking behind them on a walk, then slowly walking beside them until she was comfortable meeting them. After that initial meet and greet she doesn't have any problems with them (but she's always under close supervision when interacting with them).

The only time she reacts to dogs is when they approach her, she won't bark back at a dog behind a fence or if we're on walk and another owner walks their dog past us (if they're a certain distance away).
Sounds like she's doing well. I wouldn't call her "aggressive" especially since she's fine after greeting the dog. Your method of slowly approaching and getting her comfortable around dogs is the way to go. In fact, I'm wondering why other people are letting their dogs approach yours like this? My dog would NOT tolerate being walked up to by another dog but can be walked inches away from a dog with no reaction.
Also, since she won't react to other dogs if they're a certain distance away, then you already know where her threshhold is. Reward/praise her when she looks towards you, or doesn't react, when she sees another dog. Gradually you will be able to get closer and closer to other dogs. But don't work AT the distance where she's already barking at them.
 

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Thanks for your reply. I've been baffled a few times by people completely nonchalantly walking their dogs up to Kiko, I've always thought it was pretty common knowledge that dogs like to greet others by sniffing butts! In the event that this does happen, should I just immediately turn and walk away with her? I'm kind of on the fence about comforting her (after I've taken her out of the situation), because I don't want her to think I'm praising her for lashing out, but when she doesn't react to a dog I always praise her. And I agree on the aggression, I don't think she wants to hurt any dogs, but she's very scared and feels like she has to protect herself.
 

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Yes, I agree, it's more reactive than aggressive. Her threshold, as Canyx was mentioning, is the distance she can be from other dogs WITHOUT reacting. That's where she should be until she becomes used to them. If you are closer than her threshold, and she is reacting, then move back farther, so she will feel more comfortable.

You could also do a search for the "look at that" game.

Apart from that, what you are doing sounds great!
 

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Ooops! haileyandbandit, I think we posted at the same time, so I will add a bit to my last post:

Yes, I feel that you should just turn and walk away if someone lets their dog approach her. Or, cross the street if you see them coming, or turn down a side street. Whatever you have to do to avoid that encounter. Right now she is just not ready for that.

The reason is, your dog isn't currently comfortable with dogs she doesn't know, especially when they "invade her threshold". So, move away to keep them in her threshold. If a dog is the right distance away, and your dog is able to sit and observe from that distance, praise her.

Anytime you are under the threshold and she is upset, you won't really be able to teach her anything because she is beyond focusing.

As for comforting her, I wouldn't do that. It might reinforce that she NEEDS to be afraid in that situation. But, when you've removed her from that situation, you could ask her to perform some commands, like asking her to "look" at you, or "sit" or whatever. Two things, it tells you you are at the right distance, because she is able look or sit, and focus on you. Second, it gets her mind of being afraid. And, well, I guess there's a third thing, asking her to think in order to perform commands will release some of her stress hormones.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your reply. I'm going to talk to my neighbor (who has a dog Kiko hasn't met), and see if she will help me with Kiko's "threshold". I'll keep this thread updated with her progress!
 

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Yep to all of the above! You don't have to abruptly turn tail and walk away from approaching dogs. But I think it is perfectly polite and reasonable to do things like cross over to the next street, or kindly tell the person before they reach you, "My dog is not comfortable around other dogs coming up to her, so can you please keep your distance?"
 
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