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Hi all,

I have joined this forum to ask some advice. One of my close friends has a three year old dog, she really was the sweetest dog I had ever met. She played with almost any willing dog she met, if the other dog didn't want a confrontation she gave them space. That is why it is so starling to me that now she is quite dog aggressive. I have tried to understand the problem, I enjoy solving problems with my own animals and have quite some knowledge on animal training. But I don't have loads of experience with dogs. Sure I had dogs when I was young, but whether they received the best care possible is questionable. I would love the understand why she behaves the way she does, and try to help her. I understand that it would be best to consult a real behaviorist/animal training, but it is not my dog so I can only advise:)
In the beginning it started with just small dogs, and then not even all of them. The first time was unexpected when playing with a ball, what exactly happened they (or me) didn't see, but she was very, very focused on that dog when they got her. Not a lot of growling or barking. They were unsure of the cause became more careful, not letting her off leash and such but for a couple weeks it was fine. The second time she was staring at a small dog, she sometimes did that before already but then the other dog would be waiting to, and then they would run to each other to play. But that time she jumped forward and attacked, well they got her before she actually did. She does not bark or growl, that I know or have seen. Just stare and then run to seemingly bite, trying to break her eye contact to make her relax is difficult, almost impossible. Now we try to let her relax when there are dogs far away, so she is already sitting or laying down+focusing on us when they come closer. That seems to work mostly, but she still seems to hate certain kinds of dogs, and some are okay and she wants to play with them. She is not off leash anymore(obviously), but sometimes playfully dogs approach(even breeds she seems to hate) and then it is fine. I have recommended to limit negative(aggressive) incidents as much as possible by avoiding possible problem dogs for her. And trying to only see dogs she does like so it doesn't become a habit.
It is very strange to which dogs she behaves aggressively, and which not. I have tried to find a pattern, but I haven't found it yet. If it is only males/females, certain breeds, more submissive charectered dogs, I could maybe determine the cause to help solve the problem.
I hope some of you can provide some input, I would be really grateful:)
 

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Giving her distance is a good move. She will have an invisible radius of space around her where she feels secure - it's called flight distance; anything closer will trigger the fight or flight stress response which you may have heard of.

Find out what that is and keep her far enough away from other dogs that she is aware but relaxed. Reward her for being calm.

Gradually, over weeks and months, not days, work on reducing the distance. This may mean you have to be selective where you walk - choose places with good visibility so you can give other dogs a wide berth, or where you can turn and walk away easily. But - be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance she was comfortable with the day before might be too close that day. So the safe distance can change, watch her body language.

Trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds and this may offer a clue as to why she reacts to some dogs and not others). Distance, as above but also be aware of Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction - how distracting the stimulus is; a calm dog might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a bouncy one might. My own dog is anxious around broad fronted dogs such as bull breeds. The reason is that to dogs, face to face eye balling is quite intimidating body language and regardless of these dogs' actual temperament, their appearance makes it look like they are facing up to him.

Alongside the above you could train a 'watch me'. As the dog looks at you, mark and reward the behaviour. Ask for longer periods of watching. Then if a dog approaches, after you have worked on the distance issue, you can get your dog to focus on you and not the other dog. BUT - some dogs find this scary as they cannot see the thing they are anxious about so you need to judge your dog.
 
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