How do I train something that my dog's rarely exposed to?

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How do I train something that my dog's rarely exposed to?

This is a discussion on How do I train something that my dog's rarely exposed to? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; My three year old dog loves other dogs. He lives for going to the dog park and loves doggy daycare when I work a lot. ...

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Old 02-21-2018, 04:13 AM
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How do I train something that my dog's rarely exposed to?

My three year old dog loves other dogs. He lives for going to the dog park and loves doggy daycare when I work a lot. He'd been to two different doggy daycares and neither have ever reported any problems with him being aggressive or not getting along with other dogs and both love him. I only switched because the second one was cheaper and wouldn't feed him and had longer more convenient hours for my schedule. They both only allow neutered and spayed dogs.

I got him at sixteen months and he apparently was never socialized so I did a lot of training and socializing. He used to be an adolescent hooligan and would just run and jump on other dogs but learned quickly that got him in trouble so he's much more polite now. He's very good and gentle with tiny puppies, small dogs, all females of any size, most neutered males and most unneutered males now. He'd never possessive over toys, balls or treats and will walk or run away and to me if another dog gets aggressive or possessive of a toy.
If an unneutered male starts a fight with him he'll defend himself but now it's all barking no actual fighting. If an adolsecent male tries to bully him he'll stand up for himself and bark or growl back and not back down then they'll get along fine.
My one issue is he really seems to hate large shaggy mountain dog types of dogs. There's a male Newfoundland who's a regular there who he used to go after occasionally but with me and the other owner holding them both on leashes and giving each dog treats and praise and me holding the other dog and me putting him on a leash every time that dog was there he's now fine with that dog and they coexist peacefully. He would only bother that dog if he thought he was defending one of his best buddies (like if the other two dogs were growling in play and he misunderstood).
Last summer I kept my horses at an awful place for a few months and there was a huge brown shaggy mountain dog, male, who was always loose, had no recall and apparently was never socialized. I always kept my dog on a leash, tied or in a horse stall while caring for my horses. As soon as I'd arrive every day this other huge dog would race over and leap on my dog and wouldn't get off no matter what I or my dog did. He wouldn't go back to the owner either and she'd refuse to restrain him just to let me bring my dog in to put him in a stall. If I left him in my car her dog would repeatedly jump on my car and my dog would go nuts lunging and barking. When my dog was in a horse stall the other dog would leap on the door. Because this dog was around two hundred pounds and would just tackle my dog and not get off or respond to social cues and my dog would be trapped under him and leashed he very quickly learned to hate this dog and would growl, snap, lunge, bark and bite but the other dog was so big and had such thick fur nothing would get rid of him. I'd even have to yell at him and wave my arms at him and couldn't get him to stay away. Anyway I quickly realized how awful the place was when the woman starved and almost killed my ancient horse and both of them lost weight and I moved as soon as I could find a place to move my horses.

Problem now is there's a young unneutered male leonberger who goes to the park. Until today my dog has been loose with him for the past six months no problem. Now the other dog is a year old and unneutered and keeps trying to play and also won't take no for an answer. Last week he was there with a dog walker and no issues both were loose and ignored each other. Last time he was there with his owner he kept trying to get my dog to play so my dog ran up to me and sat leaning on me on the agility thing (what he does when he wants a break, doesn't want to play or is stressed about too much barking or a fight among other dogs and goes to me for praise and treats) and was growling and warning off the other dog to stay away. Nothing else.

Today we get there before we even get in the gate, still leashed the leonberger was at the gate bouncing around. My dog immediately starts barking and lunging and snapping. Not at all normal for him but he is more nervous when on the leash. We walked in stayed leashed, the other dog is trying to play and jumping on him anyway ignoring all his warnings so he's not relaxing so I took him to the agility thing and got him to focus on sit, lie down and the other dogs owner put his dog on a long leash to keep him from jumping on my dog. I said they've usually been fine loose before and told a little of his history with the other mountain dog and that he's not usually aggressive.

This owners not someone I can work on training stuff with like the Newfoundland owner. When a bull mix puppy was growling and reacting similarly to his dog a couple of weeks ago he said the puppy had issues and should be euthanized. He didn't say that to me, but went on and on how his dog was a nice expensive purebreed that he's going to show and breed and how he's going to a show in a few weeks and can't have any marks or scars on him. He saw no holes in his dog's social skills of still jumping on my dog who was clearly telling him to leave him alone.
I'm not saying my dog's behavior was acceptable but if a dog growls or snaps at him he walks or runs away. Right after the leonberger left and I let him loose a tiny dachshund kept snapping and barking at him and literally chased him across the whole park once, just because he got too close. And he ran he didn't in any way bother the little dachshund. Lol.
And if he has such a nice expensive unneutered male show dog, I personally wouldn't be bringing it to dog parks and risking injuries beyond my control. When I was showing my horses I wouldn't let them be turned out with other horses during show season. Too much expense, training and work to be wasted for a stupid preventable injury.
So since the other owner is not exactly workable, should I chalk today up to bring on a leash or just never let him near a male large shaggy dog again? He might have been fine loose but I wasn't going to let him loose when he was acting threatening leashed. How do I fix this issue when there's no dogs like that around to get him comfortable with? He's friendly and respectful now with every other kind of dog, even other unneutered males.
I honestly like having a basically good non-aggressive dog for once and don't want to worry about an occasional large shaggy dog popping up out of nowhere. And this dog does go there a fair amount so he's got to deal with it, which he has until today. So how do I fix his issues with this dog and large shaggy dogs? I realize he's probably traumatized from that awful place and the bully dog jumping on him all the time. Working with humans, there'd be exposure therapy but there's no other dogs to expose him to except this one with the uninsightful owner who I don't want to have problems.
Interestingly enough, the Newfoundland got there a bit later and I wondered whether he'd be set off and go backwards. Nope he was fine, relaxed even chased after the same ball and the two of them were side by side at the gate greeting new dogs and getting along just fine. So either I really fixed his issues with that particular dog and he's still worried about large shaggy dogs in general, or this young hormonal pushy male is the exception.
Sorry this is so long!
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Old 02-21-2018, 08:05 AM
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Also in the past whenever he acted unusually aggressive he either had Lyme disease or was having a bad reaction to a new separation anxiety medication.
He's gained ten pounds the past few months despite not eating much at all and is lower energy than normal, should I have his thyroid checked? For low energy, weight gain and now being overreactive to that dog?
He doesn't play even with his favorite buddies as much as he used to and won't play with new dogs or dogs he knows and gets along with but aren't his best friends. Forget playing with me he just won't do it at all. Or will for five minutes if I run around like an idiot madly squeaking a toy, but after a few throws or tugs he just walks away. Three is not that old.
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Old 02-21-2018, 07:00 PM
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Old 02-22-2018, 01:52 AM
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I think you are onto something with getting some bloods done. Go for this 1st.
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Old 02-24-2018, 06:53 AM
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He has an appointment this week to check for tick diseases and thyroid.
The day after he freaked at the leonberger we were in the park and he randomly looked at a dog owner who's there all the time and he knows well and randomly jumped up and started barking at him.
The guy wears glasses which he can be weird about, it was night and this guy also does all kinds of jumping jacks, jogs in place and exercises and strange moves to a dog. But he wasn't doing any of that then and he's never barked at him before.

Since he's acted like this before when he had Lyme or on a medication, I'm checking it out. And he's very calm and lethargic. We haven't gone to the park in two days and he was quiet on our walk last night and not waking me up playing with his squeaky toy or bouncing around the house like he usually does if he's cooped up too long. He did pace a little during the night but very low key.
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Old 03-02-2018, 07:22 PM
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He had bloodwork done and he has hypothyroidism. He has to start meds and have more bloodwork done in a month. I guess that explains it.
We went to the park yesterday and the same leonberger was there with the dogwalkers and not the owner. He's calmer and just wanders around without the owner. No issues, he didn't rush the gate or approach my dog at all so my dog ignored him.
He's acting normal in terms of no more barking or aggression but still sleeps all day, low energy and doesn't eat much. I pick up his meds tomorrow.
At least his stomach issues seem to be better.
He has a lot of health issues for a three year old dog. IBD, food allergies and now hypothyroidism. At three???!!!
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Old 03-02-2018, 08:50 PM
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It is certainly a lot of health issues for the dog to be dealing with at age three -- not to mention, for you to be dealing with.

But, now it sounds like he is not affected necessarily by all shaggy dogs, and just certain ones at certain times? Sometimes it's overwhelming to not know when the dog is going to react aggressively to some stimuli, too.. so either way it's tricky to deal with.

I remember one holiday my niece was wearing this sparkly dress and it freaked the dog out, to the point he bit her when she approached (though not very hard, just a warning bite) and everyone was upset.

Sometimes we desensitize the dog to things by bringing the things out (or bringing him to them) gradually and rewarding calmness with treats but it's hard when you can't replicate the stimuli. In that case we just found replacement replications, showed the dog some shiny and glittery stuff and he saw it wasn't scary. I am not sure what could replicate a big shaggy dog, if it's still an issue maybe you could find something.

That sucks about the hypothyroid. My mom had loads of cats with that issue, had to give them pills every day forever, but it was worth it to see them return to their normal selves. Hopefully your dog will regain more energy soon, let us know how he is doing.
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Old 03-02-2018, 11:28 PM
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Thanks. He's usually only bothered by unneutered male dogs or adolescent males, and only if they try to start a fight with him first. He won't fight over a toy, food, water or ball and will just walk away. If they try to mount him or push him around or chase him away from me or a person he likes who's giving treats to a group of dogs and he's sitting politely and knows he's entitled to his treat, he'll stand up for himself. Or to defend his best dog buddies or occasionally me if a dog won't stop jumping on me or nipping me and he sees I'm getting annoyed, he'll tackle it or nip it.
Usually he'll peacefully coexist. There's a Newfoundland he used to hate but now they get along fine. I guess I was hoping that all my work training him to be nice to the Newfoundland he'd generalize to all large shaggy dogs. He loves all Golden's and is immediately friendly when he meets one ever since one of his favorite buddies is a golden and they always had tons of fun wrestling and never fought.

I feel better that he was able to coexist and just avoid the leonberger the other day.
That's more normal for him, if the other dog doesn't bother him to leave it alone. On the one hand if a larger adolescent dog is annoying him and won't leave him alone and keeps jumping on him, I don't blame him for getting snappy and giving clear body language to leave him alone. Especially if a dog twice his size could inadvertently be hurting him by jumping on him and he's not feeling well. It was his freaking out and trying to attack repeatedly even with me trying to protect him that had me worried. And jumping up and barking at the guy with the glasses for no reason that he's seen and knows well. I'm hoping the thyroid medication will help with that, and his energy and metabolism in general.
I can't feed him any less than I already do. One or two cups of dry food a day and a large can for a dog his size isn't much. The vet said he was slightly overweight but not to change or reduce his food at all.
I actually have hypothyroidism too so I think I know how he feels.
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:20 PM
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So he's been on the thyroid meds for two weeks now and is eating a little more willingly and slightly more energetic. But now he's had several skirmishes/fights with other dogs, including females, which is new. He always used to run away from a fight with a female in the past and would never engage.
To be fair all the incidents were started by the other dogs, and all the other dogs have issues getting along with other dogs, but he's not running away or backing down but engaging. He hasn't left any marks or drawn blood so it just looks and sounds scary.
One last week was with one of his best female buddies. Apparently she had just had a fight with another female and gotten scratched up a bit. The other dog left, he ran over to greet her and decided to hump her, which he usually doesn't do. She was still revved from her other fight and while I was rushing over to pull him away and telling him to get off, she just attacked him. He didn't back away but fought back though. No injuries to her he had a tiny mark.
Today there was a woman who always brings her two unneutered male boxers who always growl at him. She always brings some kind of great toy that he tries to steal. Today it was a squeaky ball which he loves. He's bigger and faster than the boxers so of course stole it. I got it back and tossed it to them while holding him, but they both lunged at him and he went back at both of them. Even when I got him to stop one kept jumping back on him till I yelled at it, the owner apparently could only hold one. No injuries.
In all of these episodes he's defending himself but also provoking the other dogs (humping, stealing their ball, etc).
He never used to fight over balls or toys and would never confront any female but would walk or run away. It was only unneutered males and pushy adolescents or pushy males trying to bully him in general, but for the past year he got very good at running to me and away from any conflicts and staying with me for his treats.
This all has been sudden and in the past few weeks, the same time as his thyroid symptoms and now meds started.
I want my easy going dog back! Luckily he's still good with people and my cats.

I'm glad he's not hurting any dogs but he can't have several episodes a week, provoked or not. That medicine better kick in fast, I haven't missed any doses!
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Old 03-20-2018, 08:52 AM
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Have you thought about staying away from the dog park for a while? I know when I was younger and use to take my first dog to the dog park she started off by avoiding the fights, but the more situations that she seemed to find herself in (reacting to dogs being pushy, other dogs going at her, etc.) she became less and less tolerant and because more apt to either being in the middle of a skirmish or in some cases starting them. I think she just got tired of dealing with the bad behavior and her fuse got shorter and shorter.

Maybe while he is taking time to adjust to his meds you should avoid the dog park or maybe go when you know others won't be there and it's just you two. It's good that he hasn't caused any real damage yet but it could be just a matter of time.
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