My dog Toby is sixteen months old and is starting to exhibit some aggression toward other dogs. He has been to obedience school and he has been neutered and he usually loves other dogs. But last night when we went out the door to go for our walk, a woman was walking a mastiff (or some dog that size) down our street. The dog didn't even break stride; he barely glanced at Toby. But Toby went ballistic, barking and lunging. He was pissed off, big time, in an instant. He hurt himself three times with the prong collar before I got him under control, and the pain didn't even slow him down.
He did the same thing one night when we were walking him and my sister’s dog, Molly, (though it was easier to bring him out of it that night) a few weeks ago. And I could be wrong, but I think it was a man with the same dog. Both times, the dog was very large (like a mastiff) and light colored. We just figured it was because Molly was with us, and he was protecting his new friend. He's gone into that aggressive barking once before when a dog was walking past, so I guess he could be getting territorial about the yard, but I’m worried. Do you have any thoughts on this?
C.B. in San Antonio
Is the mastiff an un-neutered male?
There is a really important factor going on in dogdom that often catches unwary dog owners by surprise. You may have the friendliest, best behaved canine companion in the world, that you are proud to take to hospitals and nursing homes and schools.... And then all of a sudden, up walks an un-neutered male dog throwing off that dratted TESTOSTERONE scent and your Canine Good Citizen goes bark biting crazy.
It happens all the time.
If you happen to know that an approaching dog might be throwing off that scent, the best thing to do is to make a turn and walk Toby in another direction. But if it's a shaggy dog, or you are walking at night and it happens, just do your best to keep Toby moving until you get past the annoyance. The worst thing you can do is to chastise Toby or raise your voice or yank on his collar because those actions would be a form of reward to him and he will repeat the behavior the next time he sees another dog. IGNORE the unwanted behavior and move past it as quickly as possible. When Toby stops growling - barking - lunging, then it's time to give him a general command (such as "sit, shake hands") and reward him with a treat or a kiss or a back scratch.
You might also try the homeopathic remedy phosphorus. It covers several of issues including the aggression, fear, fear of storms, diarrhea and tummy upset, etc. Hopefully, with work and exercise and taking him to a doggy day camp once a week so that he can play with well socialized, obedience trained, neutered dogs, you'll get Toby's reaction to the mastiff under control.
There's nothing you can do about your neighbor and his un-neutered dog except shake your head in disbelief.
I hope this helps!
Mom of Hooligans
(Did I mention that I am a professional dog trainer? I am an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator because I had to get professional to be able to deal with a houseful of Hooligans. And I love it!)