My 30-month-old male dog started lunging and barking at some other dogs about six months ago. It is quite random so I never know when he is going to do it and it is hard to hold even in a front clip harness or head collar. The only thing I can think may have caused this was at about 18 months old he was chased, bowled over and bitten.
Before that he loved everyone - dogs and people! Having said that, he was always very respectful when approaching another dog even as a puppy. He was well socialized from a puppy and has never been frightened of vacuums, fireworks etc. But he now twitches when he is touched and I can no longer clip his nails, although he loves being groomed and stroked, when he realizes I am not going to do anything to him. He was also neutered at 10 months.
I take him to dog classes to rebuild his confidence with some lovely dogs and a good trainer, he does very well in class but if I try the advice outside in the real world it doesn’t work! He must give off a nervous vibe as, again quite randomly, some dogs will ignore my friends dogs and chase or snap at him, again I don’t know when this is going to happen, but if I see someone put their dog on a lead I take him out of harms way, but not everyone does.
Some advice I have been given is to get people to walk past at a distance, but he is fine with most dogs especially with my friends' dogs! I can’t go up to strangers and say, excuse me, can you walk your dog in front of my dog to see if he is scary! I take him to local fun dog shows and he is fine, happy to meet all the dogs and shows no sign of a problem, everyone there thinks he is lovely and he always wins rosettes.
If I see another dog on a walk and get him to sit and start feeding him treats, he gets agitated and starts looking around as if the treats are the trigger! I have started clicker training with him, he has taken to this well but this also doesn’t work in situ.
He is a very loving dog, amazing with children, obedient in the house, crate trained, clever, but, I am getting worn out and am constantly embarrassed and disheartened on walks. I try very hard not to tense up as I know I contribute to the tension!
Sandy, via email