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Dog Training/Fear in my dog


QUESTION: I have an 8 year old spaniel, when i take her for a walk, if another dog comes to close to her she will growl at the dog showing her teeth and if it does not leave she will lunge out at the dog. I have been told by a previous trainer that this is fear aggression. I was told to make her sit and look at me while the dog walked past, but this did not worse she would get distracted by the dog to easily and would not pay attention to me no matter what I had for her. So the trainer told me to squirt her with water every time she would show signs of aggression, but this does not seem to be helping she seems to be getting worse. are there any other techniques I can use to make her feel safer around others dogs? thank you

ANSWER: There are a number of reasons she may be showing this fear/aggression towards other dogs.

So her are a few questions, which may in answering provide an answer to the way to go about changing his behaviour.

You do not mention if you have had her for the entire 8 years of her life, so I am shooting in the dark here a bit........

Has she always been like this?
Did she get proper socialisation as a Puppy?
Has she been attacked by another dog?
Has her health altered?
How much obedience training does she have?
How is your leadership skills with her?
Is she like this when Off Leash?
Have you moved?
Has their been a loss of another Dog in the family (IE lost her Partner/brother/sister)?
Has there been a loss of a human in the family, either death, moved out etc:
Has your work schedule changed?

When you look at all possible causes, for a behaviour, you can know where to start to improve and/or correct it.

Look up Counter Conditioning and BAT (Behavioural Animal Training).

These are the most commonly used methods to deal with a dog or people aggressive dog, no mater if it's fear aggression or just plain old aggression.

When working with a client on behaviour modification, we need to find the route the behaviour stems from, it is never a simple fix, such as do this and you get that.
Without much more in depth detail, All I can offer at this time is find a Professional Behaviourist (Degree in behaviour), as a major part of assessment is watching the dogs body language, hearing the tone, when divining the route cause of the behaviour.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: sorry for not explaining it correctly. yes I have had since she was a puppy, she was runt of the litter which is why we took her. she was socialized with our other dogs since the day we brought her home. she has only been acting like this since my older spaniel was attacked a couple of year ago. She has been to obedience classes and since then she did start to listen to me and she looks at me for reassurance when another dog will walk past, but that stopped when a dog came to close to her, the dog did bite her (this was after my older dog being attacked) and since then no matter what I have tried she wont listen, it like she is trying to get in first so she doesn't get hurt again. She is better when she is off the lead she just runs away from the dog and back to me, but I always put on the lead no that she is worse encase she does actually attack the dog. I hope that gives you all the information you need about her? thank you

No need for sorry, I often have to ask more questions to offer the right advise.

The poor thing, no wonder she's on the defensive.

You need to build her faith back in your ability to protect her and start working with people with clam, obedient dogs.  One's that can ignore her challenges and posturing, so she see that not all dogs want to bite her.

My best suggestion would be to find a trainer that specializes in Behaviour Modification using positive methods.

For my clients with this issue, we first work on improving our leadership skills, then have them attend a class that I know the other dogs are calm and well balanced and can ignore on command other dogs even those that bark,lunge at them.

AS a dogs first line of communication is scent, finding that scent (treat) she loves, will help you get her focus back to you.  You need to engage her before she hits level 10.

Look up Counter Conditioning & Behavioural Animal Training on the Internet as a guide on how to work these practices.

Behaviour changes are not an instant fix and you will have to work on these exercises daily and for weeks may be even months.

The rule of thumb I give my clients is that how ever long we have exhibited the beahviour is how long we can expect it to take to complete expunge the behaviour.  meantime that we can get improvement sooner, but we would not guarantee under the right circumstances the behaviour would not occur again.

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