My Dog is Aggressive when Meeting New Dogs, What’s Up with That?

Dog on Dog Aggressive Behavior

Your dog is a loving, adoring little creature with nothing but kisses and cuddling on his mind, but when meeting other dogs he/she seems to get aggressive, protective and or territorial. Sound familiar? Well you’re not alone! It’s very disheartening when you know your dog is the most happy-go-lucky dog in the world towards people, but becomes abnormally aggressive when introduced to new dogs. Well, don’t worry, I’ve been there and first thing you should know about dogs is that they are going to be dogs!

Dogs are going to act like dogs no matter how sweet, kind, nice or properly trained. This is what every new owner or disgruntled owner should try and understand before making rash judgments or decisions regarding their canines. With that said, if your dog is acting aggressive towards other people, not just dogs, this is not a typical dog attribute and you should definitely seek professional training to remedy the problem.

My dog is a lab/chow mix and considers everyone she meets her new best friend. It is a very distinct lab like behavior that she is so happy, playful and excited to meet anyone and everyone new. As a puppy she had this same attitude towards other dogs as well, just wanting to play and get to know them. But, when she was about 1 year old, she began to display aggressive behavior around other dogs. I attribute this to no fault of my own, as I had consistently taken her to the dog park, introduced her to new dogs, walked her daily and even had her enrolled in a 6 week training program.

It was during the training program when I began to see her act differently. I have to say, the first time I saw her growl I was completely distraught. Where did my happy little puppy go? If you’ve experienced a situation that is similar, you know that other people automatically assume your dog is a bad seed, when in fact you know that isn’t the case. So, what is the case then?

During the training course, she began to display aggression towards the other dogs in the class. She didn’t bite any of them, but would growl a little if they came to close. According to the trainer, this must be a “scared phase” that she is going through; some dogs do in fact go through a transition phase where they are timid, scared and unsure about other canines around them.

It turned out, that wasn’t the case at all. She is just a very territorial dog, who needs to be introduced to new dogs carefully. It isn’t a bad thing, and you shouldn’t look at it as such if you have a dog and are wrestling with a similar problem. It is simply, as I said before, all part of a dog being a dog. I bet you’re just biting at the chomp for me to tell you how I solved this problem for good? Well, here it goes, a proper set of steps to take when introducing your dog to other unfamiliar dogs:

  1. Go to a “neutral” place, outside preferably. Walk the dogs side by side, go to a park, or meet somewhere outside where there are few distractions and both dogs will be somewhat comfortable. Make sure they are both on leashes and tighten their collars!
  2. Remain calm. Your anxiety can and will be transferred to your dog. If you can’t handle the pressure, then ask someone who you trust who is comfortable dealing with the situation to go in your place.
  3. Be observant of the dogs and decide which one is more dominant. You may already be aware of the more dominant dog; in fact, if your dog is aggressive when meeting others it is likely your dog that prefers to be dominant. But, that isn’t always the case, so just observe the dogs while keeping them on the leash and make a logical decision based on their first initial site of each other.
  4. Put the least dominant dog on it’s back and let the other dog come up to it and sniff, prod and peruse him/her.

After this, they should be ready to tolerate each other. I recommend walking them side by side for a ways, to ensure that they are comfortable with each other. Cesar Millan is an incredible dog trainer who specifically works with aggressive dogs and channeling their energy into positive dog behavior. You might have seen his show, The Dog Whisperer, but his, Cesar’s Way, book is incredible and I have really learned a lot from reading it.

Good luck helping your dog adjust to new doggies and just remember that it will take time and patience!

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