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Discussion Starter #1
Never thought I'd be posting about Annie and aggression, but here we are... Annie's developed aggression when unleashed dogs surprise her on leash, and I don't know how to address it, and I'd appreciate suggestions.

Annie is usually very good with other dogs, and very friendly. She has a large doggy social circle, and can get most dogs to play with her. She's very good at offleash interactions, and pretty good at on leash interractions, although she's a bit dog reactive on leash some days - but it's excitement based rather than fear based.

But - I have had issues several times now with offleash dogs approaching us on walks, and snarling/lunging at her. I usually drop the leash and Annie smooths things over or runs. A few of the occasions (including a husky cross and a shepherd cross acting as a pack) could have been a fight if I didn't drop the leash and let Annie escape. A few occasions as a puppy were also scary for her, memorable was her at 13 weeks being picked up while I threatened to kick an offleash chihuahua.

TODAY'S STORY

I was in our unfenced backyard today with Annie on a leash. We check out all the plants in my garden together a few times a day, and Annie practices patience with walking with her boring ambling slow human with the strange preoccupation with plants that poodles aren't allowed to dig up.

Out of no where, a dog appeared from the neighbours yard, ran up, sniffed Annie's butt, and Annie didn't see it coming. Annie handled it ok initially, and sniffed back, then out of no where, snarled and started aggressively chasing him and trying to pin him. The body language of the other dog was not aggressive, although obviously far too forward. Another dog appeared and luckily, didn't approach, and the owners called them back. Annie had never met today's dog before, but did something similar a few weeks ago with the other dog who also approached her in the backyard when Annie was on leash and the dog was free.

I would brush it off as just being startled by the rude behaviour in her own back yard... but...

A month ago or two, she did the same thing with my Dad's dog. He had the front door locked and was in the bathroom when I showed up, so I went around to the back door that I have a key for, opened the door, and had Annie on leash as I entered. His new dog appeared (Annie had never met it, but has spent lots of time at Dad's), surprising Annie, and she snarled, ran and pinned it. A few weeks ago, she did something similar with an unleashed puppy who approached her while on leash. She is fine greeting other dogs who are leashed, or if both dogs are unleashed.

I just don't know how to handle it. Obviously it works for her - the other dog goes away. But it really puts her at risk for a fight she may not win. And it's not a situation that's particularly replicable, and I'm not sure if it's a situation that's safe to replicate...
 

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But - I have had issues several times now with offleash dogs approaching us on walks, and snarling/lunging at her. I usually drop the leash and Annie smooths things over or runs
Maybe she assumes that all off leash dogs that approach her on leash will be aggressive, and she is being proactive about warding them off? You mentioned that you have a doggy social circle—maybe you could have another dog approach her off-leash, blocked by a gate?
 

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This is a known issue with dogs, and is why leashed dogs are generally not allowed in dog parks. I don't know that I've heard a good explanation for it, but interaction between leashed and unleashed dogs is much more likely to result in aggression than either two leashed dogs or two unleashed dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
FloofyPoodle - She definitely assumes that.

She often meets dogs on the other side of a fence at the dog park who are off leash while she is leashed coming in to the leash-off area, but it's not a great place to practice as the other dogs go nuts at the fence and bark like crazy, and she loses almost all brains because she LOVES the park. (yes, most of you will tell me not to take her to the dog park, but I think the local one is a bit of an exception, it's very small, and we all know each other, and there is seldom more than 3 dogs there, and often no one else. I avoid it on holidays and weekends when there are tourists).

She's also quite fine with offleash dogs who don't approach her, or when I leash her at the park and dog friends ask to play as we leave. She just doesn't like being run at or surprised, but I really don't like the sudden flip from friendly to aggressive.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
She doesn't back off, either I pull her away (reflex in panic as I hold on to the leash), or the dog runs out of her space. She's definitely still on edge and unhappy afterwards (tail vertical, staring). It's the sudden shift from "I'm ok and sniffing, but surprised" to "GRR - GO AWAY, I'm gonna pin you down!" after sniffing that worries me. It's feels like mixed signals. I am careful to keep the leash loose when she meets a dog.
 

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If she were my dog, I would just take that as her personality. She doesn’t like being approached by other dogs. She likes it to be on her terms. I would make sure it doesn’t happen and I would put up a fence in the backyard.

I think letting this go on will eventually lead to a dog fight. Maybe not tomorrow, or next week, but there is definitely a risk it will happen.

You might want to work on it with a trainer, but the simplest solution is just to avoid other unleashed dogs. And when/if you can’t, maybe if she felt you were taking charge, she wouldn’t feel the need to take charge herself (I’m not saying you are not taking charge, it’s just a hypothesis worth considering).
 

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She doesn't back off, either I pull her away (reflex in panic as I hold on to the leash), or the dog runs out of her space. She's definitely still on edge and unhappy afterwards (tail vertical, staring). It's the sudden shift from "I'm ok and sniffing, but surprised" to "GRR - GO AWAY, I'm gonna pin you down!" after sniffing that worries me. It's feels like mixed signals. I am careful to keep the leash loose when she meets a dog.
If she lets the other dog run away, then technically she's backing off. I think that's an encouraging sign. The scariest dogs are the ones that just keep going and going, with no respect for social cues. A quick grrrrr/pin seems within the realm of normal.

Of course, if the other dog DOESN'T retreat, I can see where big problems could occur. And I understand why you're worried. You don't want it to ever get to that point, or to escalate in any way.

Maybe if you keep her interactions better controlled for the next little while—strictly positive, no surprises—she'll let down her guard a little. Definitely no leashed meetings of unleashed dogs, if you can help it, but easier said than done. :(

You have a trainer, right? Maybe he or she can help you figure out a good game plan.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I do have a trainer, yes - plan on asking in our final class this week. Behaviour issues aren't really her focus, I think.

I REALLY wish I could avoid unleashed dogs, but we encounter them fairly often on walks around the neighbourhood, etc. Lots of people don't have fenced yards and just let their dogs run outside during parties or with the kids or whatever so we walk, and suddenly there is a dog. Usually the dogs don't get in her face, and she is fine, if they do, and I see them coming, I drop the leash if they run at us, and she can handle it (yes, sometimes with a growl, but it's more restrained and clearer body language). It's when I don't see it coming or can't drop the leash that there is an issue.

I would LOVE to fence our yard (offered to pay for it this spring, marked out string lines with how to run the fence, etc) but my mother refused, saying we don't know how long we will be here, and she doesn't want to waste the money, doesn't know where the property lines are, doesn't want it to be harder to cut the grass, etc, etc... Sigh.
 

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So I just had an incident that I think is an extension of this issue. I think she isnt aggressive with unleashed dogs so much as aggressive when SURPRISED by an unexpected dog in her face. She was also recently bit by a dog, leaving a hole in her nose. She has been still friendly, but more nervous around new dogs ever since, though she has met and played with several dogs since then.

A man came to the side door, past our gate, onto the porch and knocked on the side door. Mom opened the door, Annie and trixie ran to see who it was. Trixie has met the man and his dog many times, and they have been over before - Annie had not. The man's dog immediately started to run into the house towards Trixie. Annie went after it, snarling and lunging and chasing it until the man grabbed her harness and pulled her away. I was trapped in the house not expecting there to be a dog, and unable to maneuver through the door and past my mom to get there.

She settled instantly once pulled away. I took her inside, put her in the bathroom and came back in a while and took her upstairs to snuggle on the bed.

The other dog (maybe 20 lbs) was frightened but unbitten. I ran my hands over her and there were no injuries/sure spots.

Mom says what may have been going on was the other dog was running into the house towards Trixie, with whom she is good friends, and Annie was protecting Trixie. I didnt see most of it, since it was out the half open door and I was inside.

I just... dont know where to go with this. If I had known he was coming - and- bringing his dog!- I would have held Annie back and asked that he not just let his dog barge into our house! I dont know how to prevent this in the future. And I really don't want this to escalate. She has been shaken all day since, more nervous and on edge.

I guess it could also be partially her resource guarding 'her' house.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I guess.... I dont even think it was an all that inappropriate or unexpected reaction to a strange dog charging at her into our house. I am just at a loss at how to keep stuff like this from happening again, and making her more nervous of other dogs.
 

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I dont know what her goal was. I couldnt see jt. She did come close to pinning it against the railing but didnt bite. I think she just wanted it gone.
Gracie would snarl and put a stop to any canine situations that she deemed "out of control." We called her the fun police.

I never worried about it, because she wasn't trying to bite bellies or do anything dangerous. She was shouting in her doggy way, "EVERYBODY NEEDS TO CALM DOWN."
 

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Our trainer's dog is very good at reading other dogs and keeping the peace. If a dog's energy gets out of control, to the point that they're oblivious to his calming signals, he will intervene—sometimes with a snarl, and sometimes by pinning them down.

He is not nervous in any way, though. He's just not going to put up with any nonsense.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Annie has always been a bit nervous. She diffuses situations and gets dogs to play usually by running away with a grin, submissive peeing, and rolling. She is usually pretty good at dog body language and gets along with almost all dogs. I consider her submissive tendencies to mostly be tactics to get the dog to play- usually the rude dog gets the message and they play amicably immediately afterwards.

Since she was bitten ( by a dog who literally was going after her repeatedly and following her around and ignoring all her diffusing tactics - at dog park near my apartment, while I tried to get her out), if she gets overwhelmed, she will run to me, put her feet up and ask me to pick her up! She hadn't done this since she was a baby. She does a lot of nervous tail wagging and submissive peeing in social situations now (she was always very submissive, but had been more confident lately).

Now - she is barking at noises she usually ignores and checking both ways before she goes on the porch.
 

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Oh that makes me want to cry! The "pick me up" thing is just heartbreaking. Poor Annie. The world isn't being as kind to her as it should be. :(

I feel like you're doing all the right things for confidence building: You have her on a good routine, you train with her, etc. I can't think of anything else you can do except keep having her back (so she will turn to you instead of trying to fight her own battles) and continue managing her environment as best you can.

So if a dog is pestering her, for example, you immediately intervene.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have been taking her to the dog park near moms to play with her friends to try and get more good experiences. And leaving the moment I see a dog even slightly questionable- I have insulted a few people, honestly. She also was completely fine for dads corgi on the weekend (though I was careful to have them greet outside, with both of them having a chance to see the other one coming).

This was her last night with a 6 mo doodle puppy and her best friend, a hound who likes to chew her ankles.

20200805_190318.jpg
And bouncing with the corgi
20200802_170944.jpg

So she's not too hard done by- but yeah- it's getting her out of situations I dont see coming that's the big issue.
 

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(Oh - and I definitely pick her up if she asks, now that I have figured out what she wants. She did this when something clattered and fell the other day).
 
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