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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Let me set the picture: two doors down, a new person just moved in with a dog that Marge absolutely adores. I have known them a long time but they just recently moved to the block. They don't play together offleash yet but see each other from behind the fence and greet each other often, maybe 3 or 4 times a week.

This is the second incident and I'm starting to get a little unnerved.

The first incident - a Cane Corso, who Marge knew since he was a puppy, walks up to the neighbor's fence (while the other dog was in the yard) when Marge was about 15 feet away. She went bonkers. Hackles up, barking, lunging at the end of the leash. I didn't know what had gotten into her. She calmed down a bit and then went up to the Corso, not aggressive but visible uncomfortable, but at least sniffed him a bit. Then let out a growl.

The second incident happened just now - I wasn't there so I can't say for sure what happened completely. My sister had taken Marge for a walk, and I heard a dog barking outside that sounded like Marge. So I looked out the window. Sure enough, my sister was standing right there with Marge, the other dog was outside, and a man, who Marge KNOWS and is getting more comfortable with, is walking by and Marge is doing the same exact thing. I was going to go out there and see what was going on but it was too late. What was more unsettling is that it was a person who walked by.

The one thing I can think of is that the dog in the yard sometimes has another dog over, who is VERY reactive and VERY aggressive and goes nuts whenever anyone passes the fence. She can't be around the fence when that dog is over because the dog will literally try to dig his way out to kill her.

I like the person and dog who moved in but I wish they hadn't because it had made for a tense ride the past month or so, between dogs who only get along in pairs (Marge and the two others), one dog trying to get at another, and this bizarre behavior that Marge only exhibits when she is near the fence and the other dog is out.

Despite all of Marge's fears I have never seen Marge get so reactive before. I need help. Why is she doing this? Is it going to spread to other areas? How do I stop this?

Okay, now that I've calmed down a little bit, took Marge for a walk and had an awesome play session with another dog, I'm going to come back with a few more thoughts..

I think this might be the result of Marge now being sandwiched in between these two dogs (either side of my house) that have known each other a long time and thus have kind of banded to form a 'territory' with Marge's backyard in between. She's the odd one out.

Marge for the most part, gets along with both of them separately (though I think now she likes one dog over the other, as evidenced by her attitude around his fence). But as I mentioned before, when both dogs are in this one yard, they drive Marge away if she is walking by.

So, I think when Marge is the one over there first without being barked at, she kind of is taking matters into her own paws by ensuring no one's gonna make her move away.

I can't blame her at all for responding like this.. I think it's just going to have to take a little more diligence on my part to make sure she isn't around these two dogs when they're together. Also going to do some clicker work nearby this house.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Ok, so maybe it's not just the fence.

Tonight at Rally class Marge exhibited the same kinds of behaviors, although less intense, and was not focusing at all. She got a little better as the night wore on, but it's just weird to see her reacting this way.

Do reactivity issues really just spring up like this?
 

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Yes, a vet check was my first thought as well. I've seen your posts on the fearful dog thread, so I know she has fears, but this sounds so . . . sudden that it couldn't hurt to rule out a physical cause.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm thinking that I'll call the vet, but the vet I work with isn't in until Wednesday, so I'm going to wait until then (the practice is split between him and another vet).

She did it AGAIN today.. to someone walking by on a street near my house. He spoke to me and looked at her and she went off on him. Fortunately I got him to give her some treats and she settled. A girl came up next to him, and she was fine with the girl.. let her pet him.
 

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Alright don't panic. First order of business is a vet check for possible hidden health issues. Especially a blood panel checking thyroid levels. Explain to the vet that she has been acting out of her norm and you have concerns because it is a sudden change. That said, YES, these behaviors can seemingly spring up. Chances are, if it is a behavioral issue, there have been subtle signs and you many have missed them. If she is getting reactive out of fear then how you deal with that is completely opposite of how most people want to deal with aggression.
Get the vet check first and then go from there. Keep in mind that sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward. It's alright to do that. :)
Give Marge a kiss for me... if she growls I will know how she feels about my advice. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I spoke to my vet today and let him know about what has been going on. He basically told me the common-sense things; keep her away from new things for now and remove her if I think the situation is not a good one. I'm going to call him back in 2-3 weeks and let him know how she is then. He did mention the word M-E-D-S but lets hope it doesn't come to that. I don't think it will.

We had a GOOD day today. I brought Marge back to one of the places she feels the most at home - the beach. It was a nice quiet night and I let her do all the doggy-dog kind of things.. sniff everything, run around on her 20' leash, all that kind of stuff. I avoided other dogs and told people that she is NOT dog social right now. I think we had a good trip.

As for class, we're sticking with Agility unless she can't perform. I have opted not to switch her into the Attention class in place of Rally, because I think it'll create even more confusion. New teacher, new dogs, new time... if she's going to react at Rally, she'll probably react at Attn too. So we're going to go back to Rally next week, armed with hot dogs and cheese andall kinds of stinky things. Even if we don't do anything at all except sit in a corner and treat, treat, treat, that's fine with me. I am trying to work closely with a lot of people and stop this damn thing in its tracks.

Oh, as for the neighborhood dogs.. she is allowed nowhere near them and I have made that abundantly clear to everyone in my family. I won't even let Marge SEE them from a distance. My trainers, the vet, everyone I've spoken to thinks that the reactivity issue originally stems from this.

Thanks guys.. any other insight is welcome.

(What do you all think of Control Unleashed? Should I get it?)
 

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Have you tried redirection? With food, or something she really really likes?

Explain her body posture more. Is she going towards the people when she barks? Or backing a way? Does she seem afraid, threatened or aggressive?

When does the reaction happen? When she sees the object/person/dog? When they are 20 ft away, 15ft, etc..right near her?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Food IS the only thing she really likes. LOL

If I have her attention with food, chances are she won't go off on someone. On my walks, I've been carrying a lot of food and using it to keep her attention on me. When she actually does start barking/lunging, she's calmed down quickly and I have been able to get her back focused on me quickly, EXCEPT around the fence. Around the fence has been where the most intense incidents have taken place.

It's not 'aggression.' I know this dog too well, and I know that this is a FEAR response without a doubt. In front of the fence, it has been a head on, straining on the leash kind of thing. On a walk, it was a back away while barking and growling kind of thing. At class, it was big long bark/brays. So it's a little diferent each time, but again most severe by the fence. So of course, we have eliminated the fence and stay far away from it.

In the case of it happening at classes, the people have been pretty far away.. up to at least 30ish feet in one incident and maybe 10 ft in the other. On the walk and by the fence the people were much closer to her. But again it was very easy to redirect her.

I'm working on recalling her under pressure right now, actually. When she sees something and starts to perk up, I call her, she comes and I treat her.
 

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How old is she? Some dogs go through a late fear phase.

I think what you should try and do is get her before she shows signs of reacting, not when she is close to reacting, or actually reacting.

She sees something that normally sets her off, you grab her attention and praise and treat her for paying attention to you and staying calm and just keep working around that one thing. Let her lose focus with you and look at the thing again, you praise and treat her for being calm. If you don't catch it in time, saying come on in a calm tone and walk the other direction for a few paces until she calms down, then turn back around again.

If you have too, let her nibble the food in your hand, but don't actually give it to her.

What is she doing before she reacts? Does she get alert? More alert than usual? Is there faint whining you can barely hear? etc...

Once you figure out what the subtle signs are, you can prevent her from going into over drive, which will show her there is nothing to worry about, that she doesn't have to over react.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How old is she? Some dogs go through a late fear phase. close to 2

I think what you should try and do is get her before she shows signs of reacting, not when she is close to reacting, or actually reacting. doing this already as best I can. trying to keep her away from big crowds and very stressful things for the most part right now. everyone I've spoken to has told me that she needs a cooling off period so to speak and that I need to work my way back up

She sees something that normally sets her off, you grab her attention and praise and treat her for paying attention to you and staying calm and just keep working around that one thing. Let her lose focus with you and look at the thing again, you praise and treat her for being calm. If you don't catch it in time, saying come on in a calm tone and walk the other direction for a few paces until she calms down, then turn back around again.

If you have too, let her nibble the food in your hand, but don't actually give it to her.doing this already, did it with cheese on a walk yesterday

What is she doing before she reacts? Does she get alert? More alert than usual? Is there faint whining you can barely hear? etc...Still looking for this because I haven't been expecting her to react. Maybe hightened alertness/agitation.

Once you figure out what the subtle signs are, you can prevent her from going into over drive, which will show her there is nothing to worry about, that she doesn't have to over react.
Yep Pepper I'm trying :) Thanks!
 
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