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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

This is my first time posting-- I was hoping I could get some advice/help on dog behavior.

I have a super sweet pooch-- he's a 3yr old Leonberger/Golden retriever named Max. We got him from the shelter when he was 1, and the folks there suspected his last few owners had been abusive towards him. Despite having a rough past he is the absolute sweetest dog, so good around kids, and we've never ever had aggression problems with him.

However, today he was very aggressive towards other dogs while he was tied up on his leash. My boyfriend and I brought him to brunch; we had him tied to a post in a shady spot right next to us. A few dogs had walked by without incident. But then when a Golden retriever stopped by to sniff at him, he lunged and was extremely aggressive. We thought that maybe this was a one off incident, but another, smaller mix-breed pup walked by to sniff him-- same thing. Very aggressive, lots of barking/snarling and tried to bite this other dog.

We are so alarmed by this behavior as we'd never seen it before. He is never aggressive on walks/on-leash so we are super concerned why this happened. If any of you have some insight on what might cause it and how we can better correct this behavior I would greatly appreciate it!

Thanks so much!
R & Max
 

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Hi, he's trapped and worried about strangers coming in close proximity, so is being 'defensively aggressive'. Telling those strange dogs in no uncertain terms, to get out of his personal space, to back off.

Interested to know whether you've done much tying him up in public in the past, whether this is new behaviour for him, after lots of non-eventful experiences? If that's so, and you know nothing's happened - a threatening dog has attacked him when he's been tied say - then I'd be concerned there was maybe a physical reason for the change, like injury or illness that's causing him to feel more defensive.
 

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I literally just read about this behavior yesterday! I bought "The Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson for my kindle yesterday and read almost the entire thing in one day. It. Is. Fantastic.

Anyway, she writes about dog aggression when tied-up or trapped behind a fence: "Dogs in general behave much more aggressively on leash than off. This is due to a couple of effects. The first is barrier frustration. Barrier-frustration also contributes to the aggression and displaying observed in kenneled dogs, dogs who are tied out, and dogs who fence-fight. ... Many have also suggested that tie-outs and fences provide too well-defined territory and this effect is responsible for the huge increase in aggression in these dogs. I don't personally buy this as a primary cause. Dogs who are timid or aggressive with people or dogs usually need remedial socialization, not fuzzier territorial lines. A well-socialized dog will watchdog bark and then go through all the normal motions: he will excitedly sniff and greet the newcomer, hopefully offering appeasement behaviors. An undersocialized dog will watchdog bark and then stay back, growling, make tracks to somewhere else in the house and hide, or oscillate between approaching and avoiding, probably barking the whole time.... Another flavor of on-leash dog-dog problem occurs when dogs who would choose to increase distance - or approach indirectly - are prevented from doing so by the leash. if the dog is motivated to flee and is thwarted, Plan B aggressive display may pop out and then be reinforced by the withdrawal of the other dog, often as a function of the other owner, sensibly, backing off." She also mentions that often times dogs who fight through a fence can become fast friends once given the chance to properly (to a dog) meet and greet off-leash and barrier free.

Based on what she says and what you've described (and loosie was on this track as well), I think what your dog truly needs is much more experience meeting other dogs while restrained (Jean Donaldson apparently has a whole book about this). Your dog was fine watching other dogs pass by, but when the Golden came to say "hello", Max wasn't able to react properly and took his frustration out on the other dog (same with the smaller dog). You said he's never aggressive during walks so maybe the difference is that he was tied down. On leash, if he needs to move away you can usually tell and move him away from the other dog. But this time he felt trapped.
 

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^Yes, more experience with being restrained and 'meeting' dogs in such a way that is not too confronting. Whatever that level of 'meeting' is for him at that time.

And I highly recommend Jean Donaldson's books too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi everyone! Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies, they were so very helpful. I guess Max and I have some socialization to work on.
@loosie, no he hasn't had much experience being tied up next to us before. We've only recently trained to *properly* walk on-leash without pulling, and I wondering if that also could be contributing to his new on-leash stress/aggression.

@TheRubyCavalier, thank you for sharing that paragraph! I took a look at the book you recommended and will definitely add it to my to-read list!

Thank you both again :)
 

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I think it was a possibly-novel experience, being unable to move away...

i think being tied, unable to leave & hampered by the leash, made him extremely anxious -
tying any dog in public is a bad idea, but tying a dog U've adopted without a solid behavioral history is even-more risky. U don't know what past experiences have shaped his behavior, & Bad Things could happen. :(

If U take him out with U to any cafe' in the future, try to patronize places that allow dogs beside the tables - often, these are outdoor cafes attached to indoor restaurants.
That way, he's right there - if another dog or a person comes by, U can cue him to down, put him pointedly on the far side of U & body-block the intruder, & so on.

Were the dogs who approached him this time, ON leash or OFF? - if they were on leash, i'd have told off the handler for putting any tied dog in that position, unable to avoid the unwelcome attns of dogs they do not know.
If they were off-leash, why did U tie Ur dog in an area that has loose dogs roaming? - it sets him up for a scare, at the very least, & can end with him injuring another dog, feeling sufficiently threatened to bite them.

It's unlikely but possible that U might be found liable for the vet-bills, if he was tied, a loose dog came up, & he bit them - even tho he was unable to escape, & even if he warned the other dog off before biting. // Judges are not dog behaviorists; many think, like some APOs & non-pet-owners, that no dog should ever, ever, ever bite, under any circs, other than a flea.
:rolleyes:
It's ridiculous, but that's how they think.

Meanwhile, i'd start introducing him to sociable dogs - say, in a tennis court, where both parties can approach or avoid, & i'd have him wear a drag-line on a Y-harness.

U can 1st introduce them via a "Follow-me" walk, named for the tiny trucks that lead jets along runways - in a neutral area, one dog starts off with their owner, the 2nd follows at a distance that lets both dogs relax while remaining aware of one another.
After 5 to 10-mins walking, stop; dog #2 & handler now set off in the direction they came from, followed by the former leading pair. // This regimen lets both dogs sniff the urine / paw prints / stools, etc, of one another, without actual contact. it's a virtual meeting. ;)

By the time U reach the starting point, the handlers can stand & chat at a distance - the dogs will often sniff, a calming displacement behavior. If they are fairly relaxed, lessen the distance; watch for stiff high tails [threat] or white-ringed eyes [stress].
If the body language is loose & relaxed, & mouths stay open, panting lightly [vs closed tight with facial tension showing], i'd take them to the tennis court for step 3.

At the court, have 1 dog inside with the drag on, 1 outside on leash - walk the outside dog PARALLEL to the fence at a short distance, maybe 6 to 8-ft away.
The inside dog *should* approach the fence freely & stand parallel or at a 45' angle, offering to meet; mouth should be open, tongue hanging loose over the lower teeth. Tail should be level with the spine, or raised but loose - not stiff, not flagging rigidly like a slow metronome - that's a possible fight!

Walk over within 3 to 4 ft, see how both dogs react - are they still loose bodied? Are mouths open when they are not sniffing curiously?
Hackles are not raised? -- good. Walk to the fence, & the HUMAN outside greets the inside dog verbally with a friendly, quiet voice. See how they both react.
If all is still happy & calm, move the outside dog NOSE to TAIL vis a vis the inside dog; U don't want face-to-face sniffing, yet. THe outside dog, leashed, is standing side-on to the inside dog - both dogs are head to tail of the other.

Assuming this goes well, have the inside dog taken to the far side of the court from the entry, held firmly by the drag; take the outside dog to the gate, & enter. Drop the drag, & watch carefully. Neither dog should charge over to the other in a straight line like a bullet! - that's incredibly rude. They should approach in an ARC, a curving line, with lots of side-on displays to exhibit non-aggro signals: tails loose & wagging or waving at spine level or a little higher, ears forward, mouths open or relaxed - no SLIT mouths with commissures drawn tightly back,
no STIFF HIGH tails that appear rigid,
no lowered heads with extended necks & LIPS retracted upward to expose the teeth.

If anything looks funny, STEP ON THE DRAG-LINES of both dogs, reel them in, take a break, & walk apart; try again a little later, or call it quits. No hard feelings - either they were not ready, & need more time, or one dog is too scared to meet the other.

These are all safe, not threatening, nobody gets hurt or even gets a bad scare; it's controlled & careful. :thumbsup:

Hopefully he meets some dogs who become best buddies for him; the best toy for a dog is another dog! :happydance:

- terry
 
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