Dog Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My dog is about 6-7 years old and we got her when she was 6 months. Shes a medium/large sized dog weighing 60-70lbs. She's a very good and affectionate dog. I own my own company and am lucky to take her to work with me.

In the area that I work there is a large grassy field next to our parking lot. When I first started working in the area, I never had to have my dog on leash, she obeyed me and didn't cause trouble. With in the last year or two, another business person starts to bring their small dog it work as well. So I started to put her on a leash to be safe.

For whatever reason my dog and small dogs have never gotten along. She has never bit a dog, from what I've seen, she's tried to be the dominate dog and barked, groweled, showed teeth and has "pushed" the other dog around but in an attacking like manner.

Today, I didn't have my leash (my husband had it in his car), I went out with my dog to get her I the car (my car is right outside the door) when she just took off across the parking lot and attacked this small dog. I'm fairly pregnat so I ran as fast as I could and yelled for her to come back. The owner of the other dog (I think it's a terrier mix) scoped up his dog while I went after mine (who knew I was pissed). After I finally got my dog and got her in my car, I made sure his dog was okay and said if something is wrong or he notices something to please let me know.

I've seen my dog get defensive when a smaller dog barks or nips first, but today it happened so fast and across a field, that I didn't see what happened at first I don't know if that was the case.

I am so shaken up by the ordeal that I don't know if I want to bring her back to work with me, and I'm not sure how I should go about fixing this issue, other than having a stock pile of leashes at my office. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
223 Posts
In sure people more knowledgeable than me will chime in, but from the sounds of it, your dog has an intense prey drive and is viewing small dogs as prey. This is a major problem.

As an owner of small dogs, PLEASE, for the love of all that is holy, keep your dog physically contained (either on leash or in fenced areas only) and away from small dogs.

Sadly two of my dogs have been attacked by off leash large dogs (one was killed and the other become horribly fear reactive, and has yet to overcome it despite YEARS of positive training).

I can assure you, the next off leash dog that comes after one of my dogs will be risking it's life, because I will defend my dog with my life, even if it means killing the other dog. I'm not even sure I would spare the owner.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
You don't mention what kind of dog you have, that would be a start.

How is your dogs dynamics with other dogs in general? Is it just small dogs in general?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
Large dogs don't generally attack small dogs because of prey drive. Dogs that are dog aggressive have their failings in other departments usually.

More command and control of your dog through obedience will not make the situation worse, I promise.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I want to say that my dog has never hurt another dog and didn't hurt the owner of the other dog. so I really don't think it's a "prey drive".

She does get excited when she sees any any dog, and I believe that could have been the start of what happened, as she's not around a lot of dogs. So I'm thinking she got excited when she saw this other dog, ran over, and then I couldn't get over to the situation fast enough so I'm not sure if the other dog barked or nipped and she got defensive back (which has happened before with another small dog so it wouldn't surprise me) or if she wanted to be the dominate one and thing escalated.

She has been bitten by a small dog or two when we first got her, so I'm guessing that's why it seems to happen around small dogs.

I don't like saying the dog type, because of bias against the breed. But if you really think it's going to help she's part pit and part lab. She's very small for she breed types.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
I offer this only through my own experience with my dogs. I have a Lab-Great Pyrenees mix. He's right at 100 lbs, so larger than most. Although he's not the biggest dog in the world, with his beautiful jet black coat and exuberant behavior (non aggressive mind you), it can be quite intimidating to humans, much less other dogs, especially smaller ones....

Well, when my dog what just a puppy (he was 60 lbs at 6 months), he was still larger than most dogs in my neighborhood, but he was scared as all can be by even the smallest of dogs. However, even those other small dogs were adults. My large puppy was frightfully scared of even the smallest small dog, even though it was just being friendly. It only got worse when we came across a small dog with small dog complex.

I tried to teach my dog not to be afraid of smaller dogs, to be the "big dog" that he is. That does not mean I was teaching him to be aggressive...just not scared. My tactics work. However, now when my dog sees another dog, two things simultaneously happen: 1) My dog wants to meet and play with the other dog (he's very friendly, but he has an active personality), and 2) he wants to be recognized and respected as the "big boy" that he is (by both the other dog and the other dog's owners). However, about 25% of the time, the other dog will see my dog as coming across as aggressive (which he isn't being - it's usually a case of small dog syndrome) but they will react in an aggressive/defensive manner in anticipation of having to defend themselves. If my dog does get that, then he will immediately turn to an aggressive and defensive behavior as well (as opposed to aggressive and attacking. I however honestly think he takes a defensive behavior because he knows that I have him on the leash and not going any further than I will allow. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had no leash, he'd probably would attack. However, he isn't the initiator, but he reacts to what is presented to him towards him by the other dog). Perhaps that is what happened here, and your dog just got aggressive and attacking since there was no leash to hold it back.

Aside from a dog park, I always make sure that my dog is on a leash and when we come across another dog, I ask if it's OK if they get to know one another, then proceed with caution. My dog has never attacked another dog, but like I said, about 25% of the time, small dogs will try to attack him, but nothing happens as there is a distance between them. Only once has a large dog tried to attack my dog (the owner said that its dog doesn't like "active dogs", so had my dog just been lumbering about, it probably would've been OK). Like the other small dogs, there was a built in distance until things were comfortable and nobody got hurt.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
Obedience, focus and impulse control training, start inside, distraction free and then move it to the backyard with minimal distractions and then continue the practice closer and closer to other dogs especially smaller ones along with other distractions. Your attitude and mindset has to be calm and assertive otherwise the dog will feed off your negative vibe. The more you expose your dog to the element which it reacts to, while you have command of the dog and its attention as well as under threshold, the dog will learn to feel comfortable and not threatened. The dog will rely on you and your training essentially.

Another thought, don't take this wrong but you need to really up the recall training so the next time your dog gets loose, you can stop the problem before it begins.

My experience suggests that smaller dogs will posture more because of their size and the signals they shoot to other dogs are not generally calm at times. This tendency just makes matters worse and incites other dogs to take a more defensive or aggressive stance. It's a vicious cycle of sorts.

Too many times I have seen this scenario: small dog on a flexi leash fully extended with the small dog barking, pulling and posturing and the handler thinks it's 'cute" as the small dog barks at the big dog. If it's the other way around and the bigger dog is doing the exact same thing, people don't think it's "cute", rather they think it's vicious aggressive behavior. The truth is, there is no difference except too many small dog handlers don't feel compelled to modify their small dog's posturing unruly behavior while large dog owners tend to try and correct the behavior, mostly because they cannot physically contain a large dog when it behaves this way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
You're getting good advice, but in the meantime, keep some extra leashes by the door, in your desk, in the car, etc. Without a leash, a harness makes a good handle; lifting them off their front legs works if you have no other way to control a lunging large dog.
Ps. 60 lbs is a large dog. My germanshepherd was 60 lbs. My new guy is 40 lbs -- medium.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
What tactics did you use to teach your dog not to be scared?
Before I tell you, let me setup his behavior a little as it will help. For starters, from day 1 when I got him at 8 weeks old, I taught him not to be food aggressive. Even as a puppy, he was big, and food wouldn't stay in the mouth whatsoever. I'm not joking when I say that as he's eating, I can take my finger, use it to dance around him lips, gums, and tongue, go down his throat to chase food, and be quite a nuisance while he's eating and he won't even so much as blink an eye. Again, keep in mind that individual food items are small and basically do not stay in the mouth long. However, even as a young pup, if he got something that I gave him that staid in his mouth for more than two bites (certain bone size treats, deer antlers, pig ears, etc...) he will become VERY aggressive. I never really worried about minimizing that aggression, as in the house, it'd be in a controlled environment that i controlled and never allowed it outside the home. Plus, in my case, I used it to my advantage.

Now, to answer your question on what tactics I used to help him not be scared of other dogs, I did two things. The first thing that I did was use a rope to play tug of war, and as we were playing, I would talk to him in a tone that was both aggressive and encouraging (if that makes sense). For instance, I would constantly ask, "Who's the big dog?" with the tone of expecting him to rise to a challenge, much like you'd ask someone "Who da man?" I would keep at it until just the point where he was about to loose and then let him win. Then he tried to develop different ways of playing so that he'd win quicker and easier (like shaking his neck to jerk it out of my hand). When he won, especially when it looked like he was just about to loose (I wouldn't let him win unless he put forth an effort....this wasn't a mere reward for showing up exercise), he beamed with pride and even pranced around the room with his prize. After a while, I didn't have to "let" him win.

The second thing that I did was show respect. I did this by giving him a deer antler, knowing he'd get aggressive on it if he perceived that I was a threat to take it away. I'd approach him where he could see me coming. Once I crossed a certain distance, he'd growl at me slightly to ward me off. I'd then stand my ground, but stop where I was, and just still and watch for a while. He might still growl for a short time, but eventually, he'd just turn his back on me and continue in his peace. Now some may say that I gave too much power to him that I was not subservient to him. Perhaps so but nowhere near as much as it's made out to be. He still knows that I am the pack leader, but keep in mind, no matter the type of hierarchy there is, you can still be top dog and respect those beneath you. Good leaders in the business world do that, and that was what I was doing with him. Showing him respect, and it helped to build his confidence. And to be honest, he respects me more now because guess what? I am the only person (or dog) that can go near him when he has an antler. I can even sit next to him and pet him and even grasped the antler on occasions while it's in his mouth. I do not try to pull it away though. He knows I won't do that.

Hope that this helps.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
Large dogs don't generally attack small dogs because of prey drive.
I would love to believe that... Fact is, it's not hard to tell which dogs have toys to play with (especially squeakers) because they get the same way when off leash. My dog isn't a chew toy for a large breed, that isn't harmless play.



Some large dogs are aggressive with small dogs, others just want to aggressively play, others are completely fine. Why is that? It's so much easier to blame the little dog. It has nothing to do with your dog being a pitbull cross. You won't find alot of contempt for that breed here - but the fact that you were afraid to tell us your dogs breed...?

I'm seeing all the keywords from owners with problem large dogs - defensive, not aggressive, barked, growled, showed teeth and has "pushed" the other dog around but in an "attacking like manner" - seems to be classified normal. but this one stands out:
she just took off across the parking lot and attacked this small dog
That's not defensive, that's aggression. What would the end result be if you hadn't pulled them apart?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
Small dog, large dog, medium size dog, the problem is all the same but the ramifications vary. I place the blame on the handler not the dog. "Normal" to me is a civil attitude displayed by the dog among its peers. If it gets too rough, it's the handler's responsibility to control the dog. I stand by my comment that most DA dog's problems are generally rooted in fear however there are outright aggressive dogs where fear is not the cause but they represent the minority of reactive/aggressive dogs. The OP mentioned the dog's reactivity is generally aimed at small dogs and the aggressive dogs I have experienced are not discriminating regarding the size of the dog they attack. An aggressive pit unfortunately has a history which fuels this type of behavior at times. Certainly doesn't mean it can't be dealt with. I've seen a few cases of highly aggressive dogs toward humans, dogs or both where the problem was corrected by methods not appropriate for this forum.

I tend to look at what initiates a confrontation between two dogs, especially while on a lead. Smaller dogs get away with more reactive behavior by too many handlers simply because they are easier to contain and as I stated earlier, because it's "cute" when the little dog is barking and posturing at the big dog. I'm sure most members in here with smaller dogs expect the same civility and behavior of their dogs as they expect from others with larger breed dogs.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
I stand by my comment that most DA dog's problems are generally rooted in fear however there are outright aggressive dogs where fear is not the cause but they represent the minority of reactive/aggressive dogs.
Where does the fear come from?


I'm going to tell you something you won't forget. Pitbulls are just another dog. Just another breed of dog - no better or no worse than any other dog. They are a dog. But they come with a stigma. Fix the owner, fix the dog.

Owners of problem pitbulls tend to live in fear. They live in fear of the stigma of the breed. They live in fear of what the dog is capable of - and what they believe it's going to do at some point. Fearful owners tend to protect their dog, tend to protect people around them from their dog, protect children from their dog, protect other dogs from their dog.

What do you think that does to the dog? No respect, no trust, no confidence on either side. It's a recipe for disaster. Please note, the OP was scared to post the breed - I knew she had a pittie from her first post.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Your description of her behavior with small dogs (growling, bullying) doesn't sound like she views them as prey, but rather for some reason feels defensively toward them. Dogs never "warn off" prey.

Since she has had a few chances to practice that sort of behavior, it may be sort of self reinforcing now, which could explain why she ran off to do it, or she may have been curious about the other dog then things went south when she got there. The other dog (and owner) was probably surprised/defensive when she ran up to them, which is understandable but doesn't help. In either case, keeping her on leash around other dogs is certainly the safest bet, though I would still work on teaching her to pay attention to you rather than them because there's always the chance that a leash or collar fails/breaks. IME defensive behavior is probably easier to work with as far as decreasing the outward display of aggression vs the sort of dog who wants to brawl just for the sake of it, but it still takes a lot of work and time. She might benefit from a reactive dog class, as trainers for those are more well versed in reactive/aggressive behavior, and can teach you how to get/keep your attention in those sort of situations, as well as give you a "hands on" opinion as to what's prompting her behavior.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Smaller dogs get away with more reactive behavior by too many handlers simply because they are easier to contain and as I stated earlier, because it's "cute" when the little dog is barking and posturing at the big dog.
That is so true. You ought to see my big dog now. You can just about literally see him roll his eyes and huff a condescending "REALLY?" whenever a small dog tries to posture against him. He really no longer has any reaction. Even though so, I do wish the owners of the smaller dogs would make some attempt to thwart the behavior.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
442 Posts
Regardless of how the dog arrived at this behavior, she poses a risk to other dogs currently, and should be managed accordingly. It sounds like she has had other opportunities to interact with other dogs and has had problems before, so it's probably not something related to having been kept too "sheltered". The aggression may or may not be breed related, as she is a mix, and defensive aggression towards other dogs isn't entirely uncommon in any breed.

ALL purpose bred breeds have had natural dog behavior tampered with in some form or fashion, and in the case of some breeds (not just pit bulls) that has resulted in a higher propensity for dog aggression. I'd much rather owners have a little fear/respect for their dog's capabilities and possible predilections than obliviously treat them like any other dog, then sob about how they "never saw it coming" and euthanize the dog when they allow something bad to happen. At least you (OP) are aware that there is a problem and are taking steps to prevent it from recurring.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
Where does the fear come from?


I'm going to tell you something you won't forget. Pitbulls are just another dog. Just another breed of dog - no better or no worse than any other dog. They are a dog. But they come with a stigma. Fix the owner, fix the dog.

Owners of problem pitbulls tend to live in fear. They live in fear of the stigma of the breed. They live in fear of what the dog is capable of - and what they believe it's going to do at some point. Fearful owners tend to protect their dog, tend to protect people around them from their dog, protect children from their dog, protect other dogs from their dog.

What do you think that does to the dog? No respect, no trust, no confidence on either side. It's a recipe for disaster. Please note, the OP was scared to post the breed - I knew she had a pittie from her first post.
I will politely disagree and forget most of what you said. Read busannie " ALL purpose bred breeds have had natural dog behavior tampered with in some form or fashion, and in the case of some breeds (not just pit bulls) that has resulted in a higher propensity for dog aggression." I completely agree with this overview.

Pit bulls derived from a cross which included the English bull baiting dogs and even after this practice was outlawed, the dogs came to America and were used as fighting dogs at many times. The dog's history strongly suggests there was an emphasis placed on its fighting abilities and aggressiveness, so NO, it's not just another dog. I'm surprised you would make such a sweeping generalization as there are so many breeds which exhibit differences in their temperaments, drives, protectiveness, working capacities etc. Certain breeds of dogs which have been selectively bred for specific characteristics exhibit exactly that, specific characteristics. That's why certain breeds are used for specific purposes such as in LE and military. Most all of these dogs do not exhibit any fear, so there is no reason to debate "Where does the fear come from?", as these particular dogs will be washed out if they lack nerve or exhibit fear.

Are there wonderful pitties out there? Of course there are, I have experienced many of them and where we do agree is with your comment, " Fix the owner, fix the dog. "

Unless one evaluated this dog in person, it would be incorrect to suggest the dog is exhibiting unbridled aggression or fear based aggression.

The fear an owner might telegraph to their dog certainly might make the dog fearful but that's not the only way a dog becomes a fear/aggressive dog. Once again, I have seen too many younger dogs develop this fear/aggression due to a bad experience at the dog park or other encounters where a pup or adolescent dog gets attacked by another dog. Dogs are very impressionable at certain ages and even the most fearless handler can end up with a dog that can be a fear/aggressive dog due to other situations above and beyond the fearlessness of the handler.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
I will politely disagree and forget most of what you said. Read busannie " ALL purpose bred breeds have had natural dog behavior tampered with in some form or fashion, and in the case of some breeds (not just pit bulls) that has resulted in a higher propensity for dog aggression." I completely agree with this overview.

Pit bulls derived from a cross which included the English bull baiting dogs and even after this practice was outlawed, the dogs came to America and were used as fighting dogs at many times. The dog's history strongly suggests there was an emphasis placed on its fighting abilities and aggressiveness, so NO, it's not just another dog. I'm surprised you would make such a sweeping generalization as there are so many breeds which exhibit differences in their temperaments, drives, protectiveness, working capacities etc. Certain breeds of dogs which have been selectively bred for specific characteristics exhibit exactly that, specific characteristics. That's why certain breeds are used for specific purposes such as in LE and military. Most all of these dogs do not exhibit any fear, so there is no reason to debate "Where does the fear come from?", as these particular dogs will be washed out if they lack nerve or exhibit fear.

Are there wonderful pitties out there? Of course there are, I have experienced many of them and where we do agree is with your comment, " Fix the owner, fix the dog. "

Unless one evaluated this dog in person, it would be incorrect to suggest the dog is exhibiting unbridled aggression or fear based aggression.

The fear an owner might telegraph to their dog certainly might make the dog fearful but that's not the only way a dog becomes a fear/aggressive dog. Once again, I have seen too many younger dogs develop this fear/aggression due to a bad experience at the dog park or other encounters where a pup or adolescent dog gets attacked by another dog. Dogs are very impressionable at certain ages and even the most fearless handler can end up with a dog that can be a fear/aggressive dog due to other situations above and beyond the fearlessness of the handler.
At least we agree on something.

Many pit bull type dogs end up in a controlled environment run by the owners. Owners feel that "playdates", meets on their terms, toys etc are the way to go with these dogs. That's their choice, they think their dog is predictable.

The dog "will" at some point end up in a "not so controlled" environment, and that's where the rubber meets the road, that's when you find out the measure of the dog - when all heck breaks loose.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
So I really feel like this thread is way off topic. As far as big dog, little dog problem. That is another thread to start I guess.

This thread is about a dog that needs to learn better recall and for the time being needs to always be on lead. The small dog is definitely not at fault here. It did not run across the street to start a fight. Was the little dog on lead? Now I don't think the big dog is at fault either. Owners need to be more aware and not allow this to happen. Pit bull means nothing in this IMO. The Lab mix part could have been just as much to blame.

The signs were there and this could have been avoided. I think putting blame on other dogs is a dangerous game. You can't control other owners dogs so best you can do is have control of yours.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top