Have you ever considered that it’s not natural for dogs to socialize with strangers? Dogs are territorial animals and by nature attack or chase strangers away. Therefore, I believe that aggression doesn’t always stem from past bad experiences or innerent personality traits. In fact, it mostly stems from lack of exposure and interaction with strange dog. Socialization with other dogs is something that we train against their instinct and therefore need to maintain.
Once two aggressive dogs have had a chance to slowly get to know each other, they will be ready to interact and become friends, because a familiar dog is a completely different concept to them than a stranger dog!
I work a lot with dog-to-dog aggression and no doubt, these are the most common scenarios:
The dog was never socialised and never learnt that meeting stranger dogs can be fun. In fact the situation is completely overwhelming to them and they freak out in an aggressive fear reaction. This scenario is typical for rescue dogs that have lived isolated in a back yard or on a rural property.
The dog has had some socialisation, but it plays rough so the owners have shy’ed away from letting it play in the dog park. The dog is still young and the aggression is coming from a place of over-excitement rather than fear or anger. The dog’s adrenalin gets so high, that no other behaviour but barking and lunging is expressive enough! Once that initial excitement has worn off, the good intention of play starts to shine through.
The dog has been taken to the dog park regularly for all its life, but it has become ball obsessed. While playing ball, it stopped interacting with other dogs and eventually became aggressively protective of its ball, behaviour other than barking and lunging is expressive. The aggressive attitude has developed into a generally hostile attitude towards other dogs.
The dog regularly goes to the dog park and happily plays with other dogs when off leash. However ON leash, it becomes aggressive and barks and lunges even at the sight of other dogs. This behaviour is very common for dogs that are protective of their owner, their home/ front garden or their own personal space. Being protective is natural to many breeds, but it can also relate to the type of owner, the owner’s circumstances (pregnancies for example) and the dog’s own circumstances. The aggressive reaction is often connected to the dog perceiving itself as being in charge of the walk.
It usually takes me anything from just a 1 hour private session to 3-4 days of aggression rehab camp to resolve any of the aggression issues above. The amount of time needed depends on the dog’s age, If it has been desexed, how long the issue has been going on for, and for how long the dog has been kept away from other dogs. If you have dog-to-dog aggression issues with your dog, please call us for a free and no obligation estimate on what it would take to resolve it for your dog .
It is a tremendous joy for me to see dogs frolick around in the dog park, playing with other dogs for the first time after recovering from their aggressive phase. If you would like to see an example of my work with aggressive dogs, please check out the story about Abby the Boxer unfolding in several posts starting from the 11th of February 2016 on my Facebook page