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My dog has recently started showing signs of inter-dog aggression over the last couple of months. She is a 2 year old treeing walker coonhound.

To give you a background, she's a rescue but I've had her since she was a puppy. We adopted her a little later than normal (she and her siblings had parvo and were nursed back to health before they were allowed to be adopted), which caused potty training issues, but otherwise she grew up properly socialized. When she was younger she loved seeing dogs and getting the opportunity to play with them. But around 4 months while we were on a walk, a clueless dog owner/walker didn't realize we were near and her 2 unleashed dogs ran up to my dog and started intimidating/barking/lunging/nipping etc. around her before I could pick her up. After that, her timidness factor amped up considerably in public. However, dog park visits or visits/run ins with other dogs in our apartment building were like greeting new and old friends. Then a year later a dog we spent the day with got very food aggressive towards her, but she submitted to him, in her own apartment.

She's only ever disliked/freaked out at one individual who stepped foot into our apartment. Otherwise, everyone is a new friend and she gets extremely upset when they leave (yes, she had serious attachment issues when she was a puppy).

However, recently we've moved to a new apartment and the aggression towards dogs and postal workers has ramped up significantly to the point I'm very nervous about encounters with other dogs and their owners (which I know doesn't help her when I'm dealing with anxiety issues about her meeting new dogs). We have a dog park right outside our window and she watches the dogs and seems fine. But once we go out there she becomes very ball aggressive, so I've avoided taking her out there whenever other dogs are present (as well I've come to know which dogs in there are overly obnoxious and set off aggression in many dogs). She's had a couple encounters with dogs in the park that have been aggression by other dogs, but some that have been on her part.

But the big thing recently is any encounter with a dog inside our building results in loud barks, hackles raised and lunging--even ones she's played with and met before. I thought at first maybe she was just startled or felt pinned in by the hallway, but even when she is aware of the dogs presence in open spaces and the dog does not initiate aggression (no barks, being carried by its owner) she still does this. It mostly happens with dogs smaller than her or her size (55lbs), not too much with the bigger dogs.

She loves people and loves pets from strangers (excluding the post-people) and is still super cuddly, apologetic, and sweet in the apartment. But every single dog seems to set her off now, which did not use to be the case.

Any ideas how to combat this/what may be going on (other than the previous encounters with aggressive dogs)? It's becoming very worrisome, as my parents had a coonhound when I was child that needed to be euthanized for aggression (but his problems were disease related, and improper care by the kennel they rescued him from).

Any help is greatly appreciated by this worried owner.
 

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At 2 years, she's just about settled into her adult personality. This is not an uncommon age for temperament to change.

From the sound of it, she's had several bad experiences in the dog park? This is a likely cause, though she may have developed dog reactivity anyways. Stop taking her to the dog park. I personally wouldn't even let her in there if she's alone, because another dog could come in without you noticing and given her size she could probably damage most dogs.

I would recommend getting a trainer to help you with this. There are different things you can do to work on this issue- counter conditioning and Behavioral Adjustment Therapy are the top two to look into, but it is a stressful issue to handle on your own, and if you live in an apartment complex with a lot of other dogs she's constantly going to exposed to her trigger (other dogs) and every time she practices the response it becomes harder to change it.

If you google "Grisha Stewert BAT 2.0" you'll find her webpage explaining it. BAT is working on training a better response to the trigger, in this case not barking and lunging and behaving in a relaxed manner.

Counter conditioning is basically replacing the old emotional response to the trigger (fear, over-arousal, whatever) with a pleasant emotional response by creating an association in the brain between food and the trigger. All work is done with the dog "below threshold" meaning that the dog should never be lunging and barking at the other dog. You do this by bringing a dog into the line of sight, and then quickly treating and bringing the dog out of line of sight again. You start with the other dog far enough away that the dog doesn't elicit barking and lunging behavior, and then slowly decreased the "threshold distance" or the distance that your dog can be to another dog without reacting.

You can also play "look at that" where she looks at a dog, then when she loks back at you gets a treat, but from the sound of it she probably needs a little work before she's ready for this.

You can learn about these things on your own and do them on your own, but honestly it is going to be safer and likely more successful/faster to work with a trainer, even if it will be more expensive.
 
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