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My dog's name is Beast, a black lab/chihuahua/min pin mix. He's around 35 pounds and his back is just below my knee. He's guestimated to be 1 1/2 years old and I've had him for about 8 months now. He came from a bad place before. I took him from a home where he was put in the backyard once he was around two months old and was never interacted with unless it was beating. The "owners" allowed their kids to hit him and whip him with towels and sheets for their entertainment, and one kid admitted to beating him to try and make him submit and listen. He was scared of any sudden movement when I met him and had never seen anything besides the backyard. His only interactions with other animal were with his mom (chihuahua/min pin) and his dad (black lab), both equally unsocialized. I was told the dad played extremely aggressively, to the point where it was more like an attack than play, but I never got to see it for myself because he had jumped the fence for the tenth time and not come home (I don't blame him).

Anyway, my dog has always been extremely reactive. He barks, lunges, and growls at other dogs on walks. It has never been aggressive (until today, but I'll get to that), and he's always perfectly fine when a dog runs out of its house up to him. He's a little standoffish at first, but when all he wants to do is play. Other dogs are generally a little scared of him because he's insanely playful and hyper, and he is very dominant no matter the size of the other dog.

I've tried countless training methods to decrease his reactivity, from the harness, the choke chain (he would keep choking himself forever, and quite often jump in the air and twist, which made me imaging him snapping his own neck),the prong collar (it worked the best to keep him firmly on the ground, but I really wish he didn't have to use it), and the martingale he has now (he slips out of his collar too easily to not use a martingale). He's decent at walking loose leash, and we're working on strengthening it using the start, stop, change direction, and give a treat right before he catches up method. I'm also trying to make dogs a positive things by giving him treats when he sees one, but its not working well.

Today things went horribly. A lab ran up to us and seemed friendly enough, but Beast was not pleased. He's generally tense for a few seconds and the loosens up, wags his tail, and starts to play. But that's not how this time went. He tried to mount the lab's head for a moment(his usual dominant behavior. He only mounts for a second and then gets down) but the lab backed away and put his head slightly over Beast's (the other dog was much bigger), sniffing Beast's collar a little bit, and then Beast lunged, growling and going straight for the throat. When the owner finally came over he didn't apologize for having his dog off leash, and Beast kept right on lunging and snarling and dog and owner. This has NEVER happened before. He's interacted with plenty of dogs of all sizes, from yorkies to golden retrievers, and has never attacked. He bats at the little ones when he's in a play bow to try and get them to play but that's it. He plays decently with a pretty little pit bull and got his butt kicked by her a few times, and the worst he's ever done to her is growled while playing (he's very vocal and has many distinct sounds) and given her a little love nibble on the neck, which he does to my arm and my dad's neck quite often.

How in the world am I supposed to fix his behavior? I can't afford a professional, as I'm currently a senior in high school and will be moving to another state for college, so there's no extra money, and my parents have no interest in helping me. None of the dogs in my neighborhood are well trained, so neighbors aren't much help.
 

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Firstly, reactivity is one of the most common issues dogs have. It can be frustrating for owners because progress is slow and requires consistency. Which means if anyone else in your family takes the dog for walks, they will have to be on board too, and it may take weeks or months of consistent work before you notice any improvement in your dog.

Second, using a prong collar on a reactive dog to "cure" the reactivity is a terrible idea, and likely made it worse. Although prong/pinch collars may give the handler a bit more control over the dog, it doesn't to anything to address the reactivness in the first place and can turn an excited-reactive dog into one that is fearful reactive because when he sees another dog and pulls/lunges towards it, he is poked/pinched by the prongs... dogs don't associated that pain with the fact that they're pulling, they tend to associated the pain/discomfort with whatever they're attention is focused on - the other dog. This creates an association of "I see other dog, I get hurt, so I have to keep the other dog away from me at all costs". Same with other aversives. Not only do they not work as well as positive reinforcement methods, they can more easily do damage. I don't consider a martingale an aversive, since it is usually a safety precaution against escape and doesn't cause any more discomfort than a regular flat collar.

Third, as you've now learned, allowing your dog to mount another unknown dog is asking for trouble. Many dogs will tolerate being mounted, but many dogs (like yours, and mine) do NOT. Especially a dog that has not been properly socialized, it is likely that he doesn't know appropriate body language or the appropriate level of correction towards another dog. And sometimes a dog just does not like ALL other dogs. Just like people. Most people are perfectly fine and nice to most other people, but that doesn't mean they like everyone they meet. Dogs meeting on-leash is also not great because the leash prevents dogs from greeting each other in the dog-proper way and kind of forces them usually to walk right towards each other. It can also be worse when one dog is on leash and the other dog isn't because the dog on the leash knows he cannot get away from the other, free-roaming dog, and then when that free dog does something the on-leash doesn't like (and can't escape from), the on-leash dog feels that it has no choice and attacks.

To work on his reactivity, look into Behavior Alteration Therapy and the Look At Me game. Do your best to prevent dogs from greeting yours while on-leash, at this point it isn't helpful. If you see another dog coming towards you, alter your course, turn around, if you have to. You may want to look for the books "The Other End of the Leash" and "Fiesty Fido" by Patricia McConnell. Check out this thread.

I'm not trying to be mean, just trying to help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future. There are many dogs (including mine) on this forum who are various levels of reactive for a variety of reasons, so this is a great place for advice. :)
 

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Your reason for not using the prong collar was exactly why I stopped using it. I only got it because of the way he would jump and jerk his neck when he was lunging at other dogs. It was high enough to make me worry he would break his own neck. The prong collar taught him to stay on the ground, which he's continuing to do with the martingale for the most part.

Do you have any advice to stop his dominant behavior? I would like to socialize him better, but the first minute of every dog meeting is him trying to dominate the other dog in some way no matter if the dog is 5 pounds or 105.
 

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Do you have any advice to stop his dominant behavior? I would like to socialize him better, but the first minute of every dog meeting is him trying to dominate the other dog in some way no matter if the dog is 5 pounds or 105.
My question is, why does he have to meet other dogs? I would work on his reactivity and teach him to ignore other dogs. Don't worry about the greeting. It's tricky with off leash dogs who just run up out of nowhere, but keep walking and try to move along. Stand between your dog and the off leash dog if possible.
 

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Do you have any advice to stop his dominant behavior? I would like to socialize him better, but the first minute of every dog meeting is him trying to dominate the other dog in some way no matter if the dog is 5 pounds or 105.
Sorry, I don't have any advice. Humping is kind of a weird problem because it can be a dominance behavior, used it to instigate play, or as a form of play itself, but (IMO) the dog being humped may have a hard time figuring out why they're being humped. (And the dominance thing is probably the most common).

The problem tends to arise more often between neutered and intact males, but if your dog is humping every dog he's greeting, he was probably never corrected as a puppy by other dogs for that behavior, or if he was he didn't get the lesson, which happens sometimes. At this stage, I don't know if there is anything effective you can do to correct. :(
 

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My question is, why does he have to meet other dogs? I would work on his reactivity and teach him to ignore other dogs. Don't worry about the greeting. It's tricky with off leash dogs who just run up out of nowhere, but keep walking and try to move along. Stand between your dog and the off leash dog if possible.
I agree with this. Some dogs just aren't able to casually greet another dog on the street and move on. When you see another dog, move away, cross the street, turn around and go back the way you came, whatever, just get away from the other dog. Work on the techniques in this thread to help you gain control of his reactions, but ultimately, just getting your dog to ignore other dogs and pay attention to you instead will probably be the only way to go with this particular dog.
 
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