Thursday, April 26, 2012

Socialize to Get the Best of Dog-on-Dog Aggression

... or maybe this post should be called "Don't Be a Victim of Breed Stereotyping" or "How to be a Better Alpha Dog in Your Pack."

Once again, this morning, Rusty (a frequent victim of breed profiling because of his size) and I met up with one of his pals, a pit bull who we've noticed other owners avoiding. This particular pit bull couldn't be any sweeter.

Same with another pit bull who lives a couple of houses down from us.

Same with a rottweiler who we meet up with occasionally.

There are aggressive dogs that we come across, some even of the breeds that I'm talking about here, but more often than not it's not the breed, but the situation that the dog is put in by its owner. There have been a couple dozen times over the last year that we've had some issues with dogs (both Rusty and his pals) playing aggressively and one of them gets a bit too competitive and wants to pin the other dog. Yelping and barking ensue, but no one has ever been bit.

Most of the other situations could have been avoided, including:

  • Getting barked at by dogs whose owners yank them hard out of the way when they see us coming - I've done that myself to Rusty, and can tell you in that case he treats that yank like there is something wrong that I'm trying to communicate.
  • Receiving a bite from a scared cornered dog - I could see this one coming as we tried to pass another dog and owner coming down a narrow path. It was a rather small dog and Rusty responded well to my commands to leave it alone (although he did swat the little fella with his paw trying to get the other dog to release.)
  • Getting nipped at by an unaltered dog - To be fair, I've seen this other dog (a corgi) be perfectly nice to other dogs. The other owner did everything right, and we got a little too close. The meeting at first was perfectly fine, then the little guy struck. I'm not sure if Rusty being altered later in life made a difference (nothing in my research tells me it should), but unaltered dogs and he get a little more anxious. 
  • Dogs that shake or hide - There's one pug that shakes when we see it, no thanks to the owner who pulls is aside makes it face away from other dogs of any size that it comes across. The unfortunate part is that Rusty LOVES pugs.

Just to be clear once again, in all of the other situations where I have seen trouble it's been because of dogs not properly socialized.

I can't stress the point enough. If your dog is afraid of other dogs or over protective of you, it's going to act out in a way that is most effectively going to remove it from that situation. Any time I have had issues with my "unadoptable dog" and others in which we've been allowed to get the dogs together under calmer situations, the pooches have become fast friends (except that corgi... I'll continue to work on that one to at least get Rusty to remain calm while he's passing.)

Good luck and make it a point to make a new dog-friend today and always ask before letting two dogs meet as courtesy to the owner and other dog alike.


Photo credit - Attribution Some rights reserved by Beverly & Pack