Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

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Ari_RR
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Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Ari_RR » Sun Oct 09, 2011 7:49 am

Hello!

We have a 12 months old unneutered ridgeback. He's been well socialized, with dogs and humans. He enjoys dog park, but also feels comfortable walking a busy street in downtown, with cars going by, lots of people on sidewalks, waiting for green lights at intersections, etc. There are other unneutered dogs at the dog park, and he either plays with them, or avoids them. He would try to mount other dogs sometimes, but he can be easily corrected. There are other dogs in our neighborhood - mostly small dogs, labradors are the largest ones. We pass them often when we go out for walks, never a problem. Worst case is him wanting to play, and a small dog being tired or scared, in which case we just move on in opposite directions. To sum this all up - he doesn't show any aggression towards other dogs - big or small, neutered or not, inside our neighborhood or outside... Except this one dog. He is a sharpei, about the same age, and lives just a few blocks away, so we meet him from time to time during local walks. He looks much smaller then our ridgeback, but he is rather powerful, i think.. When they see each other (and this happens every time they see each other) they growl, bark, lunge forward, and it takes a bit of effort for us (humans) to keep them moving in different directions, rather then jumping at each other's throats. Usually when we have passed each other and start moving away from each other - they both calm down and just move on, focused on other things.

But yesterday the worst case scenario took place. We just passed each other, I was holding my ridgeback tight (at almost 90 lbs he always wears harness outside), sharpei's owner was moving him away, they were both growling at each other - the usual scene, I must admit, when the sharpei somehow escaped from the hold of his owner and in a split second ran towards us, all teeth and growls, and jumped on my ridgeback biting him, who of course did not hesitate to engage also, so all 3 of us were in there, rolling on the ground- the sharpei without the leash, trying to bite the ridgeback, me trying desperately to hold on to my 90 lbs ridgeback, the ridgeback trying to defend himself from the sharpei and also to free himself from my hold... I think it took about 25-30 sec before sharpei's owner managed to get a hold of his dog, and we pulled them apart and got them moving in different directions. After getting home, we examined the ridgeback and found a couple of bites and scratches, some with a bit of blood, but nothing that would warrant a visit to a vet.

So, folks, our questions - is it not uncommon for this hatred towards just this one particular dog? What could be behind this? They barely know each other, never had more then a few seconds of interaction, only when we pass each other... And what can we do to get them at least to tolerate each other, we don't want this potential for attacking each other to spoil  our peaceful enjoyable walks.

I should probably add that we live in a residential area in the country side, this is not a city neighborhood - we have rather narrow pathways with lawns and gardens on both sides, and unfortunately cannot simply cross the street and walk on the other sidewalk when we observe the "enemy".

Advice and comments appreciated!

Cheers
Eugene

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Sarah83 » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:32 am

Do you like every single person you meet? I would guess not :wink: It's certainly not uncommon for dogs to take a dislike to certain other dogs yet be perfectly fine with all others. You may never figure out why these two dislike each other.

As for what you can do...well first off you need to make sure they dont' get close enough to each other to react. If they're reacting then they're too far over threshold to think and training is impossible. I'd do it the same way I'd deal with general reactivity, reward for being around the other dog at a distance where there's no reaction (and I mean no reaction, not just no lunging and snarling) and gradually move closer as the dogs get comfortable with that. You're probably going to need the Shar Peis owner to help out with this though and you absolutley HAVE to move at the dogs pace, if one isn't comfortable then take a step back. It's highly unlikely they'll ever be friendly but you may be able to get them to pass without trying to kill each other. No quick fix I'm afraid.

In all honesty, if my dog just had issues with one single dog I'd simply avoid that dog. I used to have an agreement over walking times with an old neighbour as my collie and her staffie were like this, she'd go to the field at a certain time, I'd go to the field at another certain time, the dogs never once met on the field after they fell out (they were best friends as pups, bitter enemies as adults). Of course it required both parties sticking to it though.

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Flyby » Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:39 am

Well, it's something you have to take seriously, but at the same time, don't over-react.

If your dog can by and large be trusted, then don't assume all this good work is suddenly undone. In any event, he wasn't the aggressor in these circumstances, he merely defended himself. What you don't want is him 'defending himself' every time he meets another dog. A Shar Pei is a Chinese fighting breed, and at a guess, it's on a permanent short fuse and feels intimidated by the size of your Ridgeback. Since the Shar Pei is outside your control, I would suggest avoidance is the best option.

We have a similar situation with Odin, where there's a man walks past our yard with a Rottweiler who want's a piece of Odin. They would fight if they got close, but so far never have. The aggressive dog is his problem, but not wanting either dog hurt, avoiding the fight is both our problem.

You've had a clear and unambiguous warning these dogs will fight, so I wouldn't even consider contact again. Keep them separate - period, but at the same time, I wouldn't interpret this as your dog not being socialised successfully.

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by JudyN » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:17 am

There's one dog locally who will go for Jasper whenever he sees him, though he's fine with other dogs. Jasper's far too much of a wimp to retaliate. The only reason I can think of is that they first met when Jasper was around 8 months, and at the peak of his testosterone levels, and the other dog was a year or so and viewed him as a threat. I know they go to the woods on Thursday mornings, so we make sure we go somewhere else.

A friend of mine has a dog who is fine with all other dogs apart from one particular lab, and there seems to be no reason.

So yes, it seems to be quite common for dogs to take a dislike to particular others. I'm sure they have their reasons, but I wish they could tell us!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Nettle » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:56 am

Yes, perfectly normal and fuelled by
Flyby wrote:A Shar Pei is a Chinese fighting breed
so there have probably been umpteen challenges and responses between the two before one had his wish granted. This is equally likely to happen with non-fighting breeds :wink: it's just that with fighting breeds, once they have founght, the switch has been flipped and there is no going back, because it is a genetic trait.

So they are never going to be friends, or even tolerant of each other. The best course of action is to avoid each other, especially if you can't trust the other person to keep hold of their dog.

As a simple-but-obvious that countless people miss - always pass any dog dog-person-person-dog. Thus two people between two dogs. SO many times I see people with reactive dogs passing dog-to-dog.
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Ari_RR
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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Ari_RR » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:38 pm

Many thanks to all who commented! Very much appreciated. Will try to avoid contact for the foreseeable future.

Come to think of it - this could be a plot for one of It's Me or The Dog episodes, right? Two bitter 4 legged enemies, ready to rip each other to pieces every time they cross paths, living very close so contact is unavoidable, tension is increasing between their humans... Victoria saves the day by turning the dogs (and perhaps humans) into tolerant acquaintances, if not friends! :D

Cheers!
Eugene
Ari, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sept 2010 - Dec 2018.
Miles, Rhodesian Ridgeback, b. Nov 2018

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by clickertrain » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:40 pm

Animals, like people, can tune into a "vibe" from those they encounter. They are actually even better at it than we are! Have you ever been walking down the street and just had a bad feeling about the person coming toward you? Your dog may get this feeling from the Shar Pei, who is bred for fighting, and get into a "defense mode". The Shar Pei will hone in on the defense vibe and react to that. This is most likely the scenario when these two meet.

Now as far as what to do about it, the options are limited. The dogs cannot be "reasoned with" and told to leave each other alone, so the best defense is to avoid the situation as best you can. If you remember the original "Karate Kid" movie, Mr. Miagi told Daniel, "Best way to block punch, not be there". :-)

I wish I had a better solution for you. Sad to hear that the situation came to blows but happy to hear the injuries were minimal. It sounds as though they are two beautiful dogs, it's just a shame they can't get along. You also sound like you have a great relationship with your dog and do a lot together. Keep it up!
Regards,

-Paul

Clicker Dog Training - Humane, Effective, FUN! -- http://www.facebook.com/clickerdogtraining

Ari_RR
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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Ari_RR » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:03 am

Just wanted to give an update on this, with many thanks for everyone's comments.

1 - While Ari's injuries were minimal, the other dog needed several visits to his vet before he could resume his walks. Poor guy! But this highlighted for us the lethal power of our 90 lbs puppy and the severity of the injury he can inflict on another dog, even during a very short encounter, even being on leash/harness, held by me (I am a fairly strong individual myself)

2 - We took the advice to avoid contact, and worked out a system of timing and notifications with the other owners where we no longer run into each, so Ari and the other dog have not seen one another since the fight.

3 - Very happy to report that there were no noticeable changes in Ari's behavior after the fight. We've been watching very carefully, removing him from the dog park at the first hint of anything other then total peace and love among dogs. (yes.. Very short trips to the dog park :lol: but we wanted to be sure that he remained his usual confident self). No aggression, no defensiveness, no dislike of the kind that he had the fight with. Seems that he was able to forget all about it and just moved on.

So, looks like no lasting effects. We'll keep avoiding the other guy though.

Cheers
Eugene
Ari, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sept 2010 - Dec 2018.
Miles, Rhodesian Ridgeback, b. Nov 2018

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Flyby » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:47 pm

I'm glad Ari_RR.

Odin is just the same. Dogs have gone for him two or three times, and while he didn't start the aggression, I think he remembers where scraps have happened, and he's occassionally touchy if he meets another dog in the exact same place, (any dog, not the one which went for him). I've found Odin has been bitten in these attacks, but not badly, but I haven't seen the other dogs being injured either. Provided he isn't really hurt, I don't mind if Odin takes second prize, because he does have such potential to really injure a dog.

It's such a joy and a pleasure to have such a well adjusted big dog, and being the size he is, I would hate all the stress and constant anxiety of keeping an eye on him at all times if he was prone to be aggressive. It would be a real nightmare.

He's still ok though and I do trust him more than I perhaps should, but at certain places, you get an instinct to be a little more cautious, and I suppose he's just doing the exact same thing. I nowadays don't like to meet a strange big dog I haven't seen before at a narrow point in the path where there's not much room to pass. I trust my dog, but I've learned not to trust theirs.

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Ari_RR » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:29 pm

Flyby wrote: I think he remembers where scraps have happened, and he's occassionally touchy if he meets another dog in the exact same place, (any dog, not the one which went for him)
This is very interesting... I noticed this - sometimes Ari seems a bit tighter then usual when we encounter someone or something during our walks, but we can encounter the same person or dog at another time and he is perfectly fine. Now, i think he gets a bit defensive when we meet someone at the place where that fight took place... I never thought to associate with the place. Of course! this make perfect sense. Wow. Thanks! This explains it. Not sure if we can completely avoid that place on our walks, but will look to minimize the exposure, or try to desensitize..

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Ari_RR » Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:47 pm

Update... :(

To recap - about 3 months ago Ari got into a fight with a Shar-pei from the neighborhood. They couldn't stand each other well before that, and every time we ran into each other during walks there would be a scene (growls, lunging, teeth, snarly faces, you name it). Then Shar-pei got loose from the leash one day, and there was a fight. After that we made arrangements with the other owners to make sure we avoid each other during walks. And since then, for about 3 months, they have not seen each other even once, not even from a distance.. There was zero contact, total avoidance. Until a couple of days ago, when we accidentally ran into each other at a nature park.

Well.. For those who harbor illusions that time may cure differences - rest assured, not in dog's world. Both of them wanted to go after each other and finish the old business once and for all, as badly as 3 months ago.. The only difference - they are both bigger and stronger now. If not for harnesses/leashes/holding tight, one of them would have left the park in a bag, I am sure of that.

So, avoidance remains to be the key for the foreseeable future.

And another disturbing observation.. Could this be a weird coincidence, or is there more to it?

Our mortal enemy neighbor Shar-pei is black. Not a white spot on him.
Today we visited our dog playground. There was already a white Shar-pei. Totally white, but also a male. We'd never seen him before. Before we even entered the playground, both Ari and the white Shar-pei were on the opposite sides of the wire fence, staring at each other, growling. Needless to say, we left without entering the playground.. But what in the world is going on between Ari and Shar-peis?? It seems that we should avoid all Shar-peis?? Black, white, big, small, all of them?? This would really suck... :(
Last edited by Ari_RR on Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by JudyN » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:00 pm

I'm pretty sure that shape is more important to a dog than colour, so I'm not surprised Ari reacted to the white Shar-Pei.

At a guess, if you wanted to fix this you'd have to get a shar-pei that didn't look so much like the original shar-pei to stay about half a mile away while in sight and feed Ari steak... then get it to sit a hundred yards nearer.... gradually working up to the original shar-pei close by, or as near to that as you can get. Whether that's feasible, or whether it's easier to manage the problem, is another matter.
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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by Nettle » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:34 am

When you've been chased by one leopard, other leopards are just as threatening, even if they are a different colour. We are the ones who live in a world of sight and colour: a dog's world is far more complex.

And a Shar pei is always a Shar pei. Always a fighting breed, always with minimal appeasing/friendly body-language as it has tiny ears, a rigid face and a tail that doesn't tell you much.

I daresay plenty was 'said' between the two that humans would not register unless looking for it.

Dogs do generalise vis a vis other breeds that have given them a hard time. I have one dog that detests all GSDs, and another that would love to exterminate all labradors. Each of these can be traced to a single incident, and each of these breeds come in different colour schemes.
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Re: Aggression to just 1 particular dog, need advice

Post by bendog » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:47 am

Just be cautious it doesn't extend to any other dog breeds. try and make sure Ari has lots of good experiences now.

My Ben has always been fearful/nervous but was never dog reactive. Then he got picked on by a black Lab. A few weeks later a different black Lab walked past and Ben went for it, but he was still ok (nervous but not aggressive) with other dogs. Unfortunately then we had a few major upheavals in our life - death, new people moving in, boyfriends dog being around a lot, moving house etc. I suspect all the change didn't help and Ben became more and more reactive. At first to any larger darker dog and then to most dogs. But still always worse with black labs.

Luckily with him its never more than a scuffle, and it is definately fear based. He'll avoid dogs where possible. And is at the point where he can now pass any dog on lead from a safe distance without reacting so long as I keep the rewards coming or keep him distracted with a toy.

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