My dog (well, he’s Mrs. Mercotan’s dog, but we do share a house) attacks other dogs. That’s why he was a rescue dog in the first place; his inability to get along with fellow canines.
He’s a mix of mostly Golden Retriever and a touch of Collie, looking a bit more like the former but with the longer nose of a collie and the classic collie sable and white on his face. We got him through a rescue agency at age 6, where we were fully apprised of his tendency to alarmingly attack (and injure) other dogs. We were told that the only known exception to that was his sister, with whom he was raised until the age of 4 or 5. We were otherwise told he had no problems with cats or kids or people. We have no other info on his background or what may have made him like that.
And it seems what we were told is true. He has played with and otherwise tolerated kids whose faces I would have ripped off, with tons of joy and affection and without a hint of a snarl. He’s a great companion for our cat, to whom he frolics, plays, and on misguided occasions tries to make the sweet sweet love until the cat informs him that’s enough of that. No qualms about leaving him alone with the MercoCat. He’s a sloppy snuggly furry sweetheart to humans and felines. Even the local feral cats have been seen to cuddle with him.
But he can be a savage beast with any other dog, from cute puppies who want to play, Golden Retrievers who want to make a few friend, mini dachshunds who wander the neighborhood, the local mink ranch dogs who welcome a good dust-up and sometimes escape their fenced area, and any other canine he sees. Fortunately we always keep him leashed when he’s out of the house, so we’ve been able to avoid most assaults on other animals. Leashed & supervised on our land at a minimum (tethered to a tree in the shade as we work on the yard or play on our beach), leashed and controlled off our land.
We’ve avoided most, but not all assaults. Even on our own property (all 60 acres of it), we have nearby folks who think nothing of letting their dogs run freely over my land, and these improperly controlled animals have on occasion rushed over to our leashed and heeled Stormy (we didn’t pick the name, just changed it from Storm) to say hi, only to get bit. Nothing serious, fortunately.
The Mrs. has taken him to dog training classes for 3 years now, worked very closely with him and with the instructor and has succeeded him getting him to tolerate other dogs as long as he is able to studiously ignore them and vice versa. He’s even been in a “doggie dance class” where he and the Mrs. do choreographed dance routines together with other dogs and their handlers, where he’s able to perform fairly well without eating any other canine faces off. His two modes of behavior with other dogs come down to “Ignore” and “Attack”, and if the other dog doesn’t ignore him, attack mode ensues. Unless they’re dancing. He’s serious about his Art, it seems.
The vet just affirms that we need to continue to reward him for ignoring other dogs and control him adequately to prevent attacks, while neither the vet nor instructor are able to offer other insights into how he might have gotten this way, how common such behavior is, and whether there are other fruitful things to try to further change his behavior. I’d be interesting in hearing about other folks’ experiences with this sort of issue.
I do regret not being able to let him run free on our 60 acres under voice control, as we did for our previous dogs. But with voice control NOT adequate to control his aggressiveness, I’m not going to take chances that way, even in the middle of my own property. Too many friendly, well-meaning strays in the neighborhood.