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My Pomeranian Bella is super aggressive to other dogs and I need advice.

I got my dog Bella about a year ago. Her previous owners hadn't taught her basic commands or socialized her at all. She didn't act aggressive when I first got her though (she even lived with another dog). She did used to bark and growl at people but she doesn't do that anymore. She hates birds, cats, dogs, ducks, basically anything that isn't human. It's gotten to the point where I'm terrified of walking her because she FREAKS whenever she sees a dog! She gets crazy! Her barks become super high pitched and she flings herself around. We have another two dogs who live outside and sleep in the garage at night. She freaks out whenever she sees them but when i open the door to let her go out with them she runs out to them, stops barking, and becomes calm after a while. I would love to be able to take her to dog friendly malls, beaches, etc. but I can't with how she is now. I've taught her a few basic commands (which was hard since she seems to hate all treats and has a short attention span) but when I try to get her to listen to me when shes barking at a dog she ignores me. (She also ignores my commands when I don't have food to give her basically :/)

If you have any tips please tell me! I need help.
 

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This is a tough situation. Its hard to re-socialise an older dog. What age is she?
Are there any dog trainers close by you that could maybe help you work on it.

If you had a friend to help, you could try desensitize her. Walk another dog a good distance away and get her attention giving her treats etc. Slowly over a few days/weeks get them to bring the dog closer and closer (I emphasise slowly) - until the point that you can keep her attention when the dog is just a couple of meters away. Repitition and patience is what this calls for. You will need some high value treats like chicken/sausage/frankfurters. It might work and I have known dogs that this has worked with before but again a dog trainer would be a lot more experienced at this.
 

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Your words " She freaks out whenever she sees them but when i open the door to let her go out with them she runs out to them, stops barking, and becomes calm after a while" gets my interest.

Not that this video displays the exact situation your dog has but might display a similar mentality your dog is exhibiting. Obviously, these two dogs in the video could just take a step aside from the fence and fight it out if they wanted but they choose not to. At times a preemptive display by a dog is its best defense but at the end of the day, the dog does not want to tear into the other dog or object of its fear, its just hoping to scare it away.

Fence Fighting | The Bark

Since you have two other dogs which Bella will coexist with and mellow out once there is no barrier/leash/restraint/door to keep them separated, this somewhat suggests Bella is all bark and once that defense has no value, she takes a more civil/self preservation mode. I might try walking Bella with your 2 other dogs and see if the calm she achieves when she is in their presence might follow through on leash around your neighborhood with some of the triggers present which normally sets her off. I'm guessing you may have already tried this and it has not worked? If you have tried this, I'd be curious as to what happened.

The dynamic of people walking their dogs on leashes and passing by, along with encountering other creatures while leashed is different than other settings where dogs encounter each other unrestrained.
 

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This sounds like standard reactive dog stuff to me. She doesn't know how to behave, animals make her uncomfortable when she is restrained (on leash), so she throws a fit to try and get them to go away. Chances are it works too- either the other animal/owner moves away, or you move her away.

First, find treats she likes: try real meat, hot dogs, peanut butter, whatever you need to get her attention. Then start working on attention. Find a force free/positive reinforcement trainer with experience with reactive dogs (no corrections!!!) and take a few private sessions if you can. Once you know what to work on and how to practice, it will get much better!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This is a tough situation. Its hard to re-socialise an older dog. What age is she?
Are there any dog trainers close by you that could maybe help you work on it.

If you had a friend to help, you could try desensitize her. Walk another dog a good distance away and get her attention giving her treats etc. Slowly over a few days/weeks get them to bring the dog closer and closer (I emphasise slowly) - until the point that you can keep her attention when the dog is just a couple of meters away. Repitition and patience is what this calls for. You will need some high value treats like chicken/sausage/frankfurters. It might work and I have known dogs that this has worked with before but again a dog trainer would be a lot more experienced at this.
She is about three years old and I'm not sure if there are any trainers that specialize in dog socialization near me but if I do happen to find one do you know how much they would charge me? I would totally be willing to take her to a professional but I'm a little worried about emptying my pockets doing so you know? I also do have many family members with dogs but I'm not sure if they're stable enough to keep Bella comfortable.
 

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Your words " She freaks out whenever she sees them but when i open the door to let her go out with them she runs out to them, stops barking, and becomes calm after a while" gets my interest.

Not that this video displays the exact situation your dog has but might display a similar mentality your dog is exhibiting. Obviously, these two dogs in the video could just take a step aside from the fence and fight it out if they wanted but they choose not to. At times a preemptive display by a dog is its best defense but at the end of the day, the dog does not want to tear into the other dog or object of its fear, its just hoping to scare it away.

Fence Fighting | The Bark

Since you have two other dogs which Bella will coexist with and mellow out once there is no barrier/leash/restraint/door to keep them separated, this somewhat suggests Bella is all bark and once that defense has no value, she takes a more civil/self preservation mode. I might try walking Bella with your 2 other dogs and see if the calm she achieves when she is in their presence might follow through on leash around your neighborhood with some of the triggers present which normally sets her off. I'm guessing you may have already tried this and it has not worked? If you have tried this, I'd be curious as to what happened.

The dynamic of people walking their dogs on leashes and passing by, along with encountering other creatures while leashed is different than other settings where dogs encounter each other unrestrained.
Yes! I've always told my family that she is all bark. Once my other dogs were running out in the backyard and Bella saw them through the glass and flipped out. She was basically throwing herself against the door, so I opened it and she ran straight towards one of the dogs and when I went to see she was face to face with him. Just staring at him. Not exactly in a super menacing way but if he'd try to sniff her she'd bark at him (I have a few pictures of how she is when shes close to them). She's never tried to bite them or do anything other than bark/growl at them. She doesn't seem to ever calm down when we come across a dog walking by when we're on a walk though. I also have never tried walking them together but I'll definitely try it now.
 

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This is the part that interests me more. What is your reaction when she freaks out? Pick her up? Remove her from the situation?
When she freaks out I usually try to pull her away and if that doesn't work I pick her up. I know this isn't the right way to deal with it because its basically making it worse but I honestly have NO idea how else to calm her. Yesterday we came across two off leash poms in their front yard and I tried to just let her freak out and calm down but that didn't seem to work because the owner came out and yelled at her dogs to come to her (they weren't barking back but they approached her)
 

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This sounds like standard reactive dog stuff to me. She doesn't know how to behave, animals make her uncomfortable when she is restrained (on leash), so she throws a fit to try and get them to go away. Chances are it works too- either the other animal/owner moves away, or you move her away.

First, find treats she likes: try real meat, hot dogs, peanut butter, whatever you need to get her attention. Then start working on attention. Find a force free/positive reinforcement trainer with experience with reactive dogs (no corrections!!!) and take a few private sessions if you can. Once you know what to work on and how to practice, it will get much better!
Yeah that's what I thought too. I've actually distracted her before with chicken when she was barking at some birds but she totally ignores me when it comes to dogs or cats. And yeah, I'm going to try to look for a trainer but do you have an idea on how much a session would cost? Or how long the sessions should be? It's my first time dealing with such a reactive/aggressive dog so I'm clueless.
 

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Actually, picking her up might be exactly what you want to do. Does she keep barking and freaking out in your arms? Will she take treats while you are carrying her.

You cannot reinforce fear, so if she feels better in your arms with scary dogs around, that is fine.

Trainer costs vary dramatically depending on location. A good trainer will be an invaluable resource, but in my opinion, it is well worth the money to at least do one session and work on some foundation behaviors.

The first thing I always tell my clients is avoid triggers at all costs until you have a solid protocol for how to deal with her triggers. Figure out what her reaction zone is (i.e. how far away things have to be for her to notice them, but not lose her mind) and work with her at that distance until she is comfortable, then slowly and gradually move closer as long as she is staying under threshold.
 

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Actually, picking her up might be exactly what you want to do. Does she keep barking and freaking out in your arms? Will she take treats while you are carrying her.

You cannot reinforce fear, so if she feels better in your arms with scary dogs around, that is fine.

Trainer costs vary dramatically depending on location. A good trainer will be an invaluable resource, but in my opinion, it is well worth the money to at least do one session and work on some foundation behaviors.

The first thing I always tell my clients is avoid triggers at all costs until you have a solid protocol for how to deal with her triggers. Figure out what her reaction zone is (i.e. how far away things have to be for her to notice them, but not lose her mind) and work with her at that distance until she is comfortable, then slowly and gradually move closer as long as she is staying under threshold.
Yes she does freak out in my arms. She usually tries to wiggle her way out. She doesn't try to bite me but she does scratch me :( and she probably wouldn't want to take treats in that moment. Her favorite food is chicken and I tried to give it to her once when she calmed a bit down but she didn't want it so I can't imagine her wanting it during that rampage.

And would you recommend a pet store trainer or a trainer from somewhere else? I'm not sure if there's a difference but it's best to be sure. She's definitely not ready for a class but I will like to take her to a one on one session soon.

And thanks for the advice. I'm definitely gonna try everything you said, all I want is for her to be better :)
 

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One can reinforce most every behavior a dog exhibits.

Exactly.

By picking her up - and freaking out yourself - that's exactly what you're doing is telling the dog it's ok to be scared. It's ok to act the way she is, and it's not. She's getting the reaction she's probably used to.
 

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One can reinforce most every behavior a dog exhibits.

Exactly.

By picking her up - and freaking out yourself - that's exactly what you're doing is telling the dog it's ok to be scared. It's ok to act the way she is, and it's not. She's getting the reaction she's probably used to.
Oh okay. So how should I react and what should I do when she acts that way?
 

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Oh okay. So how should I react and what should I do when she acts that way?
First, what you are asking for is something which requires a person to make an evaluation and determine the appropriate route to take. Second, since this is an all positive, force free forum, my response will be limited. However, regardless of the modification, there are some similarities between different methods and protocols regardless of the method used. Here's some similarities. YOU need to learn your dog's indicators which precede the moment when she goes over threshold. Once she exhibiting the undesired behavior, you have lost the moment and she is just reinforcing the undesired behavior and you have taken two steps backward. So, if your dog is not in her mode of unruly behavior at a 100 yards away from the trigger, then this is where you start. Allowing the undesired behavior to happen only reinforces the behavior and becomes self gratifying to the dog and ultimately becomes operant behavior dictated by the dog rather than the human and your goals, the dog is determining its behavior rather than you and the dog will default to this behavior going forward. Using strictly all positive methods, the general method is counter-conditioning and desensitizing, it can work but there might be more effective methods depending on the severity of the situation.

Once you learn the precursors to your dog's behaviors you do not care for, you deal with the dog the moment you see the slightest indication BEFORE your dog goes over threshold and start there. Whether it is a correction or a tactic to get the dog's focus on YOU, it is paramount that you captivate the dog's attention with whatever means you find best.

Another significant point, which jagger brought up: YOUR state of mind is critical in the process. If you are uptight because of what might happen or what has happened in the past, you are not helping the dog at all. You need to lead your dog confidently and there is absolutely no faking your emotions as the dog will see right through it. This is very difficult for many handlers and gets in the way of progress.

Keep your dog below threshold and become more interesting to your dog than the other dogs, cats, birds or whatever. Over time the 100 yards will become 50 and then 20 and eventually you will walk her through her previous worst nightmares all because she is focused on you and the confidence you emit will guide her properly.
 

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Forget about treats and such for a moment, lets look at a more natural way of fixing the current issues.

Your dog is a reflection of you and your current emotion, if you're scared, your dog will be too. For people that don't believe that, sorry, but I see it in my dog all the time. If we go for a walk - it's generally offleash - If I'm sad or upset, he can be a devil in the park. If I'm happy and confident, so is he, no problems...

For anyone that can train a dog that's teeming with energy, please let me know how. I look at a dog like a car engine, a relaxed dog is like an engine at idle - able and willing to listen, you'll have it's attention. A revved up dog that's in the redline isn't going to listen, you won't have it's full attention. You need to bring that dog back to idle.

So first of all, tire the dog out - if that takes a run, great, do it. With you jogging, the pom is going to be running - shouldn't take much to wear down. It'll help your state of mind as well. A dog on the run generally won't have time to pay attention to everything around it. Once the dogs excess energy is burned off, now you can work with it. A tired dog isn't going to be a pain - if they still have energy to burn, then burn it off, jog some more. You're not hurting the dog, you're working off it's "excess" energy - you're not looking to exhaust the dog. If you're walking, and the dog starts giving grief, take it on the run. Give it some water if needed, and now you're ready for a walk.

Curb your fears, get your mind off the dog. Listen to your favorite music if you have to, sing out loud if needed, but get your mind off the dog. Just let your dog be a dog, forget you have a dog at the end of the leash. You're happy, you're confident, and your dog is probably going to be less reactive at this point. The dog is more relaxed, not feeding off your emotions. Forget about introducing the dog to other dogs (and other) for now, you're trying to work on being a team. Once you get some mutual respect and trust going on with the dog as a team, you'll probably find many of the issues will go away on their own.
 

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Forget about treats and such for a moment, lets look at a more natural way of fixing the current issues.

Your dog is a reflection of you and your current emotion, if you're scared, your dog will be too. For people that don't believe that, sorry, but I see it in my dog all the time. If we go for a walk - it's generally offleash - If I'm sad or upset, he can be a devil in the park. If I'm happy and confident, so is he, no problems...

For anyone that can train a dog that's teeming with energy, please let me know how. I look at a dog like a car engine, a relaxed dog is like an engine at idle - able and willing to listen, you'll have it's attention. A revved up dog that's in the redline isn't going to listen, you won't have it's full attention. You need to bring that dog back to idle.

So first of all, tire the dog out - if that takes a run, great, do it. With you jogging, the pom is going to be running - shouldn't take much to wear down. It'll help your state of mind as well. A dog on the run generally won't have time to pay attention to everything around it. Once the dogs excess energy is burned off, now you can work with it. A tired dog isn't going to be a pain - if they still have energy to burn, then burn it off, jog some more. You're not hurting the dog, you're working off it's "excess" energy - you're not looking to exhaust the dog. If you're walking, and the dog starts giving grief, take it on the run. Give it some water if needed, and now you're ready for a walk.

Curb your fears, get your mind off the dog. Listen to your favorite music if you have to, sing out loud if needed, but get your mind off the dog. Just let your dog be a dog, forget you have a dog at the end of the leash. You're happy, you're confident, and your dog is probably going to be less reactive at this point. The dog is more relaxed, not feeding off your emotions. Forget about introducing the dog to other dogs (and other) for now, you're trying to work on being a team. Once you get some mutual respect and trust going on with the dog as a team, you'll probably find many of the issues will go away on their own.
Yes definitely. I love how you said this because I've been hearing about the "your state of mind reflects on your dog" thing A LOT lately. I usually am pretty tense so when I walk her tomorrow I'll try this. It'll be hard but I'll try my hardest. Sometimes I also think she is too excited before we go on a walk so I'll try to mellow her out before hand too. I'll update on how it goes:thumbsup:
 

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For anyone that can train a dog that's teeming with energy, please let me know how.

I'm probably going off topic but since you asked. Yes, a tired puppy is a good puppy as many say but basic training with a pup is one thing versus training an adolescent dog or an adult dog. I want my dog to be "teeming with energy" when we train because I get the best results. Believe it or not, there are some us that actually try and increase the dog's drives rather than suppress them. In a nutshell, harnessing a dog's anticipation and building it, creates a powerful outcome. I know there are many agility competitors in here, I'm not one of them but I'd guess they want their dogs hyped and once they release their dogs, they are a terror in the course. The key is impulse control, focus and solid obedience skills. When a handler has command of their dog when the dog is quivering with anticipation/energy/excitement because the dog knows it will be rewarded or commanded to perform a task it desires and is anticipating, it's a powerful method to use.
 

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You cannot reinforce fear,
One can reinforce most every behavior a dog exhibits.
Fear is not a behavior. Fear is an emotional state. You cannot reinforce a primal emotional state.

If comforting the dog makes her feel safe, that is a good thing. The first priority is to change her emotional response to other dogs. You can worry about any behaviors later.

OP, have you tried any counter conditioning exercises?
 
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