Pet Care: Does your dog want to attack every dog it sees? Here's why, and what to do - Albuquerque Journal

Pet Care: Does your dog want to attack every dog it sees? Here’s why, and what to do

Q: I have an adorable rescue named Quinn, who does not like other dogs. He is good with people, but he wants to attack every dog he sees. I put a basket muzzle on him when I walk him.

Dr. Nichol: Other leashed creatures and their people don’t think Quinn is adorable. His basket muzzle prevents injury, but evokes images of Hannibal Lecter. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Leashes are necessary, but often create trouble. The driver of Quinn’s antisocial behavior is his frustration with that @#%&* tether! A rapid escalation of subtle signaling between him and other dogs culminates in his aggressive lunging and barking. What a workout.

The easy-to-miss glares, taunts and sneers go both ways. Some dogs ignore the posturing, but an easily frightened dog like Quinn would really like to beat it. (Remember the Michael Jackson tune?) They feel trapped by the 6-foot radius of the leash. Quinn has no way of escaping or engaging the other dog, so he panics and reacts defensively. On the other hand, if you and the other dog walkers simultaneously dropped your leashes, the dogs could behave like dogs with natural behavioral choices. They’d check each other’s ID (that’s what they call their rear ends) and move on. Please don’t drop Quinn’s leash.

You can reduce or even eliminate these freakouts by walking Quinn at times and places where encountering other dogs would be less likely. Sadly, a life well planned isn’t perfect. Other dogs will appear. A Freedom No Pull harness can provide punishment-free power steering.

Your job when sighting another dog will be to completely ignore Quinn as you march, leash in hand, in a different direction. Duck behind a visual obstacle like a parked car, yard wall, or tree. Wait several seconds and then steal a quick glance at the dog you’ve been ignoring (Quinn). If he’s even a little bit calmer, you should pet him, hand him a treat and very quietly tell him he’s good. Quinn may improve if you repeat hundreds of times.

• For help with behavior problems, you can sign up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.


Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

 

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