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Discussion Starter #1
Kian is a 13-month-old neutered male.
Over the past 6 weeks I have noticed that every time we take him for a walk he lunges at other dogs.

Here are the scenarios.

1. Out for a walk, dog walking towards us. His ears perk up and so does his tail (high noon). His demeanor completely changes. Then the other dog’s attention is peaked as well and the stare off begins. If we (myself and the other owner) do not let them meet, Kian barks and lunges at the other dog. It’s a deep bark (2-3) and quick, then his hackles are up and he looks like a Rhodesian ridgeback. I continue on and he forgets about it.
2. Same as above except this time we decide the dogs should greet each other. Tail is wagging but he goes up to the dog and greets their snout and then, maybe he will go for the backside and sniff. If he does not, he will bark at the dog while he is in their face…again hackles go up and we walk away.
3. He will bark at the other dog, lunge and show teeth with a growl.
4. He will whine if they don’t greet him and start to jump at me as if to tell me he wants to go over and greet them.

Now every time he barks and acts aggressive (at least that’s what I think) I correct him with a verbal scolding, grab him by the collar, wrap my other hand around his snout and make him look right at me and say NO BARKING!

I guess what I am wondering is a few things.
Is he greeting other dogs properly by going in snout first?
Is he acting aggressive towards them?
Why is he lunging at them?
How can this be corrected?

I don’t want him to be the dog in the neighborhood that people will say…”Oh, here comes that angry dog, let’s go this way.”

Any help is appreciated here.
Thanks in advance.
 

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At that age I'd seek a professional opinion. This, in my opinion, is not normal dog behavior. I had similar situations to this with my last dobe male at a similar age. A teenage spurt of badness we called it. He went from super sweet puppy, to lunging at a guide dog (that was horrifying).

We worked with a trainer to remedy the situation.
1st, I never grab a dogs mouth. They don't get that language, and it doesn't seem to be working so if it were me I'd stop.

We started placing him on a pinch collar. If you're not comfortable with this, then you need to find something that will offer a medium-hard correction and that may need to be worked on with you and the trainer.

The moment his demeanor changes he gets a leave-it command with LIGHT correction. Just enough to get his attention. If he continues, a harsher correction with an "Uh-uh". Then make him turn away with his back to the dog in a sit. He needs to learn this is NOT an acceptable behavior.

Our last dobe we worked like this, slowly progressing to being able to walk past other dogs with no problem like he was a puppy again. It took a lot of determination and time. You don't want to break the dog down, but you need to give enough correction. There is a balance, and I think it's best found when working with a professional.

Good luck!
 

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I don't think it's polite dog language either. A straight-on approach to another dog is more of a challenge than a 'hi how are you do you want to be friends" They should curve their body or at least turn their head slightly as they approach another dog. Does he do this mostly when you are walking towards another dog or will he react this way to a dog in the distance or off to the side as well? It could be that if you are walking straight towards another dog Kian is perceiving the other dog to be challenging him and he just needs to learn more about how to communicate politely with other dogs.

I agree with vizslandobes - get a trainer to come out with you. Kian is still young enough that with some work he won't become the dog everyone crosses the street for (in my neigbourhood most people regard Merc as that gorgeous if slightly boisterous dog but there are a few joggers that still cross the road if they see us coming :( )

He could be doing this behaviour for several reasons and a trainer who is right there will be able to see more of the signs than we can online or that you can whilst you're busy trying to defuse the situation. If it is fear-based then punishing him may make it worse as he will see another dog coming and then be worried both about the dog and about what you are going to do. It may be that because you are now concerned about his behaviour, when you see another dog approaching you get tense and tighten up on the lead which will make him tense and get up on his toes. I know I made Merc's attitude to joggers worse by getting all tense (as soon as we walked out the gate some days) and by trying to make him sit as they went past. I got much better results once I started distracting him (and myself) whenever I saw something ‘unusual’ approaching. So I would use a similar approach to vizslandobes but instead of giving him a ‘leave it’ command as soon as his attitude changes, even just the tiniest bit, I would turn around, away from whatever is concerning him, and ask him to do something easy (like “look at me”) and praise him immediately he does it. That way he will start to associate a dog approaching with doing something other than barking and getting a reward for it. Dogs coming along start to be a reason to look at you rather than a reason to react to what is coming up the road. This is difficult to explain in writing, sorry if I’m just being confusing.

At any rate my experience with Merc was that we have gone from being a lovely chilled out dog to reacting to anything unusual on the street and almost all the way back again in around 8 months so I’m sure with some work Kian will learn to deal with other dogs in public.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you all for your responses.
Yes, we have a trainer and I will address this at our next session with him.

Now, this morning we were on our walk and I saw a dog about 50ft ahead of us walking towards us but on the other side.
As we got closer, perhaps 30ft away, to the dog I gave Kian a 'leave it'. 10 ft closer another "leave it", etc. The other owner knew what I was doing and was kind enough to acknowledge it with a smile and nod and just kept walking. Once the dogs crossed each other (mind you we were still about 10ft apart going in opposite directions) Kian looked at the dog with his ears up and I gave him a final "leave it" with a correction on his pinch (prong) collar. We kept walking and stopped 10ft later and had him sit/stay and then gave him a 'watch me' command. Success.
Did the same about a minute later when another dog approached. This dog and Kian have verbally scrapped it out in the past, she's an older pitbull type mix that is very unfriendly.
Anyhow, Kian did good as well. Still wanted to charge her, but a few corrections with the collar and he settled and we just walked on by. Mind you he was still turning his head and looking back at her with his hair standing on end. Not sure if that is fear or anxiety.

I must be doing something wrong with him because when my girlfriend walks him in the evenings she says he rarely acts like this towards other dogs.

Let's see what the trainer has to say.

Thanks again.
 

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Good job Harry!

Since Heather doesn't experience this when she walks him: When you see a dog ahead coming towards Kian's path, are you anticipating a confrontation? I've probably watched one too many Dog Whisperer episodes, but as soon as you see the other dog, are you pulling or winding up Kian's leash to keep him close to you?
 

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Glad you have a trainer. The behavior is not desirable dog behavior, although that doesn't mean it's necessarily "abnormal" dog behavior. Dogs often feel more threatened interacting with other dogs when on the leash than when they are off leash. What does your girlfriend do differently when she walks him? Is he pretty well socialized with other dogs? What age was he neutered? Even after neutering, a brain that was exposed to testosterone prenatally and early in development will have developed some male-typical behaviors. Mercutio makes a good point--incidentally, one of the issues I have with dog whisperer techniques or other approaches that involve punishment ("correction") is that they don't really work well for anxious behavior, so you're right to ask whether this may be anxiety-based (in which case, desensitization would be the way to go).
 

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My take on this is if he does it with you (being the alpha) is that possibly he is protecting or watching out for you.

I thought my V was a total pussy cat until one night when she jumped in between me and a stranger. I have written a post about the event some where.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thanks for all your input.
update on the situation.

it seems as though he is starting to get it now.
we now give him a 'gentle' command when he goes to greet a dog while on the leash. he politely goes up to it's snout and then moves to their backside. we, or at least I have not had an episode with him where he has lunged or barked at another dog to try and greet it. I am being persistant with the 'gentle' command before the greeting, it seems to be working, that combined with a reminder on the prong collar.
now the only other problem is if the other dog wants to play, then we have two happy pooches on lead who just want to play. ;D

there is hope for him yet.
 
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