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Dog on dog aggression

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by sianyb, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. sianyb

    sianyb New Member Registered

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    Hello,

    I’m sure this has been addressed elsewhere but I couldn’t find anything that fit our situation. I’m looking for advice or people who’ve had similar experiences and positive outcomes. Please bear with me whilst I give as full an account as possible!

    Our dog is an intact male 2 year old (and 2months) golden retriever cross poodle. I feel like I’m constantly making excuses for him (and us) and explaining that he is a lovely dog really and that we have sought training advice and socialisation from day one of having him etc. (all true) but the long and short of it is that he is too unpredictable with other dogs: extremely reactive on his lead and sometimes a massive bully when off, and we don’t know what to do about him. As I mentioned we have sought professional help on several occasions but it proved extremely expensive and seemingly not very effective. I am almost nine months pregnant and so my partner does all walks currently, due to the extent of his reactivity and lunging.

    The on-lead reactivity has been an issue for about a year, and it was always a relief to get him to the park and allow him off-lead where we could trust he was able to ignore dogs if necessary or to greet dogs happily. However for the past few months he’s steadily become less trustworthy here too. He’s had several bad experiences where he has been the victim of chasing and snarling but I don’t believe that this has necessarily shaped his behaviour, I think it’s a mixture of different learned and reinforced behaviours. He sometimes takes a disliking to another dog for reasons that aren’t always visible to us - it seems to be the younger and more subservient they are, the more he thinks he can pick on them? If they come running over to him and roll on their backs, he give them a hard time. If they run away from him, he chases them. And it’s not just a quick “stay away”, it’s a “stay away and actually I’m going to teach you a lesson whilst I’m at it”. If they stare at him, or they ignore him - he leaves them be and potters along minding his own business. But surely this MO doesn’t fit with the on-lead aggression which suggests he is anxious of seeing other dogs? This seems more like dominance bullying? Now we are faced with keeping him on-lead at all times and having a stressful walk (avoiding coming close to other dogs and rewarding as much as possible until a reaction) or letting him off and not being entirely sure he won’t have a bark and chase of another dog (I’d say this has crept up to maybe 10% of interactions - too many, I know). I want to mention that this behaviour has only ever extended to chasing, barking and snarling. He has never bitten, but I am fully aware that this doesn’t mean it will never happen and desperately don’t want this to be the case.

    I hope you can tell from this that we are not just irresponsible or ignorant dog-owners; we have done our research and worked hard but genuinely are stumped with how to proceed. As I mentioned we have a baby on the way very soon and all I want to do is to be able to take my dog out for a walk without coming home almost in tears.

    Apologies if this message has gone on a bit. I would be so grateful to hear back from anyone who is able to offer words of wisdom.

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I wonder if maybe the direct eye contact does fit with fear aggression but he is sufficiently fearful (sorry, that doesn't feel like the right word but offhand I can't think of a better one) to stay back and not try to have a go at them?

    First, to protect other dogs, and him from their retaliation, you really do need to keep him on lead until you have resolved this.

    All dogs have an invisible radius of space around them where perceived threats are far enough away not to pose any real risk. It is called "flight distance" and anything that gets into that area is too close and triggers the fight or flight (or freeze) response that you may have heard of.

    Try to find out what that distance is, and keep him just outside that radius that he is calm. Reward the calm behaviour. If you have a big park where you can keep to the edge away from other dogs, that is great. You might be able to sit on a bench, you might need to move about keeping him under his reaction threshold. Gradually (think weeks and months, not days and weeks) you can work on reducing the distance. However stressful episodes stack up his stress levels, think of a tank with a stress tap flowing in faster than it drains out, so if he has had a stressful day, he might be more ready to react the next day. So, the distance he is ok with one day might be too close the next. The stress hormone stays in the body for up to 48 hours, so maybe don't even try this until he has an empty stress tank after having been trigger free for a couple of days, even if that means not walking him and just doing brain games and garden exercise.

    Trainers talk about the three Ds. That was Distance; there is also Duration, where your dog might tolerate another dog for ten seconds but not for eleven seconds; and Distraction, where your dog might tolerate a calm dog but not a bouncy one.

    Alongside the above, you could also train a 'watch me'. As your dog looks at you, mark and reward the eye contact. Ask for longer periods of watching by slightly delaying the mark and reward. Then, after having worked on the three Ds, if a dog does get into the zone you can distract your dog to look at you instead. However, some dogs find it more stressful to take their eyes of the perceived threat so you need to read your dog.
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    This does sound a bit like what my dog was like at that age and I think it does stem from a lack of confidence - picking on more submissive dogs makes him feel big and macho about himself.

    I shall write more later but I just wanted to say that he became a LOT better with age and maturity (and a lot of management)!
     
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  4. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'll put up a reply when I have more time, but have been through a similar experience to yours @sianyb.
     
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  5. sianyb

    sianyb New Member Registered

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    That’s really interesting, thank you for your response. The three Ds concept sheds some light on his seemingly drastically varying responses. I think the key is, as you said, expecting it to take months rather than weeks. It is disheartening and easy to feel defeated when results of his training vary so much and I think we’ve been guilty of assuming that it has not been successful, which is why I was looking for some reassurance that others have experienced similar with positive outcomes, or that we are at least heading in the right direction!

    I will relay your advice to my partner so we can adjust our tactics and start afresh today. Thank you very much for your time.
     
  6. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I agree with all @JoanneF's advice. As I said, my dog is more likely to pick on more submissive dogs. If he meets a similar male who has a confident strut there can be a lot of eyeballing and I get the impression that he'd like to avoid confrontation but he doesn't want to lose face/turn his bum. There was a telling incident once when he was face to face with a lab who was barking at him, and not sure what to do about it. A spaniel ran past the two dogs and J immediately sped off after the spaniel to roll him over and give him a bit of verbal abuse:oops: Typical playground bully behaviour really!

    He's almost 100% reliable now, but I still give him treats when we pass other dogs. Not as a reward for being 'good', just to reinforce that (a) seeing dogs is a good thing and (b) the good thing materialises if he stays with me. He now looks at me expectantly whenever we pass another dog.
     
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  7. PWDmum

    PWDmum Active Member Registered

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    I have been in your shoes, but first I will address the issue, most dog on dog aggression is down to a dog having a nervous disposition , very few aggressive dogs will be down to dominance, what looks like Dominance is more likely a dog that is unsure around other dogs and goes in first. A truely dominant dog does not need to strut his stuff, they control. Situation by sheer presence.

    Some people will advice castration, but castration can make a aggressive dog worse, so you need to think carefully, what you can do is chemically castrate first ( superlorin injection j which is a slow releasing chip put in the scuff of the neck,this will simulate castration, and you can gage his reaction, it lasts around 6 mths, but be warned it can make unwanted behaviour escalate for a couple of weeks till it takes effect. I am not saying you should go down thes road, but if you are considering castration for this behaviour, it’s a temporary way to see if castration wil help his behaviour .

    I have been in the situation with a bitch I owned, sadly no amount of training / help, worked for her. And in the end we just managed her for the 10 years of her life, owning a dog aggressive dog is no for the faint hearted, it takes it toll on your life, but you can manage it if you are determined enough. All the advice you have and will receive in dealing with this, may help but it may not, I think you need to take it in stages, for now I would concentrate on being able towalk him on a lead past other dogs, without him reacting, the “ watch me” and distraction is an important stage to get from him, but I am guessing he is a big dog, so you need to be in control, forget for now being able to walk in in places with off lead dogs running around,this is to unpredictable for him, it can only stress him out more. Invest in a good headcollar, and a double ended lead, attach one end to the head collar and the other to his normal collar, this way you have more control over his head and pulling, work with treats or what ever gets his attention, don’t walk him go close to other dogs, if you are passing on the street, more aside, or cross the road, just focusing on getting him to keep his eyes on you and not the other dogs...work up to being able to walk past other dogs on the same side of the pavement without him reacting, once you get results with this you can move on to other things. But you have to be prepared,you may never fix this properly, and just have to adjust to his needs
     
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  8. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    OK - so, I have a male, neutered, rescue dog which we've now had for about 18 months. He's the most affectionate and adorable dog! Very well behaved indoors, no accidents, no destruction, happy to be left alone for a bit, and on that front we have no complaints or issues. Outside it's very different. He will bark at birds, cats (he hates cats!), traffic sometimes if he's wound up, and a lot of other dogs. When we first had him, he would generally go berserk in the presence of others dogs - jumping, spinning, barking, the lot. This led me to coin the phrase "tactical dog walking" as we did - and still do - go out of our way to avoid other dogs in case he kicks off. Of course this isn't always possible, so quite often barking will ensue. Anyway, we used two different trainers - one who preferred the domination approach and this seemed to work at first, but quickly tailed off (it could've been us not being effective, rather than anything our dog was/wasn't doing). We later had a couple of sessions with a reward-based trainer, and once we got the basics sorted (like "sit" and "look at me") we tried to limit his reactivity to other dogs with mixed success. Now, we were told when we adopted him that he had been attacked in his past by other dogs (he has the scars to prove it), although when we saw him he was fine with other dogs at the rescue centre, but I assume his past may have an impact on his behaviour. As has been said, I think his reaction is down to fear. The type/colour/size/breed of other dog does not seem to matter. Anyway, he has improved a lot and whilst we cannot pass an unknown dog side-by-side, if he sees ones across the road for example, he's generally OK, but if he's surprised by one coming round a corner, he will kick off. The way we've achieved this is as follows:
    • Distance ourselves from the other dog as much as possible by, for example, crossing the road. Sometimes this will involve a bit of tugging to get him moving.
    • Have high-value treats at hand (chicken or fish in our case), and start feeding these when he's noticed the other dog (if he's seen it before us he'll start huffing or pulling).
    • Continue to feed treats as we pass the other dog, backed up by reassuring words in a calming tone. He's now associated the words "good boy" with looking up at me for a treat.
    • Continue praise with a stroke/pat after passing the dog if it all went well.
    As you might expect, there's a caveat. If he does react to another dog, there's no coming back from it until we've passed it. Treats and praise do not work, he is totally focused on the other dog, and we go through the embarrassment you've referred to when passing dogs and their owners in this situation. Similarly, dogs off the lead that come bounding over generally start him barking, with rare exceptions using the techniques above. Our walks still involve avoiding other dogs in close proximity as far as possible. That said, there are some dogs we see regularly on our walks, and he's mostly OK with them and we can pass quite close. We also have a couple of friends with dogs, and on the odd occasion we've met up, he's happy to walk side-by-side with their dogs without a fuss and that's so heart-warming to see. The other side of this coin is there are also some local dogs he always barks at regardless of how close/far they are, and we've no idea why, so we have the same unpredictability as you do in that respect. We've now got to the point where we think this is the best he's going to get and we're prepared to accept that. As I said, in every other respect, we couldn't ask for a better dog (except recall - he has none and is always walked on the lead).

    You're not alone with this - if you have a look at posts made by doggie1, you'll see I've also listed what worked for us. I'm not saying any of this will work for you, just listing what helped us in the hope you might find it useful. Let us know how you get on and best of luck :)
     
  9. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Good grief - i've been amazed to see the number of ppl, almost-all from the UK, who claim that fearful MALE dogs can be made worse by neutering. It seems that F dogs are miraculously free of this syndrome, & loss of their ovaries does not doom them to a mizrable life of timidity & fear. :rolleyes:

    However, this is the 1st time anyone has alleged that neutering an aggressive M-dog can make his aggro worse! :confused:
    That would mean that removing a M-dog's testes can both remove the very source of his "confidence", which smacks of a very simplistic form of anthropomorphic projection, AND at the same time, neutering could boost his aggression - a very odd consequence, indeed, as aggro is actually connected to testosterone & other androgens.
    Can U provide a link to even one peer-reviewed study that supports this allegation, with data as evidence?

    Meanwhile, IME of more than 35-years working with clients' dogs, i'd be one of those wild-eyed zealots who'd suggest neutering, castration, desex, sterilization, or whatever else U'd like to call removing both his testes. :D He's not a candidate as a future sire, & at over 2-YO, no one can claim he's "still a puppy". :p

    I'd also suggest a properly-habituated headcollar, such as a Gentle Leader - & this is how U'd introduce it:


    Notice that while this stranger-suspicious ACD is still giving the trainer stink-eye, she happily & confidently interacts with the box-muzzle. :) // The final stage is teaching the dog to put THeIR OWn FAcE into the muzzle or headcollar, & stand willingly to have it buckled.

    It takes 5 to 7-days from initial introduction, as seen in the video, to actually clipping a leash onto the GL & using it on a walk; i've explained the process B4, & i'll add a link to that how-to post, later.
    - terry

    .
     
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  10. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Permalink to a single post in a prior thread, explaining how to introduce & habituate a GL:

    walking

    The dog is rewarded for looking at it, approaching it, interacting with it, & finally, sticking his / her own nose in it.
    S/he then wears it for meals; then wears it for happy activities when leashed, with the LEASH on the other collar or body-harness; finally, when the dog greets the appearance of the GL with happy anticipation, U take a *short* initial walk, with the lightweight leash clipped to the GL.
    5-mins is plenty; for some dogs, 2-mins might be better. // 10-mins for the 1st walk with the GL in actual use, is too long. The aim is brief & happy.

    - terry

    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  11. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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  12. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    until U get the headcollar habituated & can put it into use, any sturdy Y-harness that fits well is a perfect management tool - U clip the leash to the CHEST of the dog, not the usual above-the-spine points [behind the ribs, or over the withers].
    If there's a metal ring connecting all 3 straps on the chest [one over each shoulder, one coming up from the girth between the forelegs], that's perfect - clip leash to ring, & U're off! -- If not, i'd buy a locking carabiner at any outdoors supply or climbing / camping store; one rated for a 100# human gives U plenty of safety-margin for a 70# dog, they come in all colors & several finishes, plus S/S. If U need assistance, ask a salesperson for advice.

    Slide the carabiner diagonally under the junction of the 3 straps, LOCK it, & clip the leash to it; now, any time the dog pulls or lunges, remember to keep yer hands ___low___ & wrists + arms straight - moving the leash with both hands toward the trouser-pocket on the off side from the dog, across yer thighs & to the outside, easily converts the dog's forward momentum to a sideways arc, with minimal force on the dog, & no brute-strength required from the human.
    Using yer torso by moving from yer waist & hips, rather than trying to use yer upper-body & relatively-weak arms, is much-better body mechanics. :) Whatever U do, don't go chicken-winged! :eek: - bending both wrist AND elbow is terrible body mechanics, & unless U're massively overdeveloped with a body like Mr Universe, U can't overcome the loss of leverage those simple changes cause. :(

    Dogs have enormous physical & physiological advantages over weak, slow, & wobbly humans; we're bipedal & our walk is a series of controlled falls. They're quadrupeds, with 4 on the floor, rear-wheel drive, faster relexes, better balance, & muscle-power that's at least 3X that of humans, pound for pound. The muscle breeds [pitties, Rotts, AmBulls, BullMastiffs, & similar powerhouses] are 4X the strength of a human, pound for pound.
    That's why a 60# BSD-Malinois can 1st run down & then bring down a 200# male suspect who's in good physical condition - the dog is faster & more powerful, despite being under a third the body-weight of the suspected perpetrator. // We need to use any safe, humane tools we have to help even the playing field, IMO & IME - in truth, no one needs to use brute strength, harsh punishment, or sheer intimidation to overcome a dog's unwanted behavior, but frustrated owners may not be aware of all the alternatives.

    - terry

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  13. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    with respect, @JoanneF , that article cites only 2 studies, & both of them used the C-BarQ questionnaire as their research tool. // When the C-BarQ first went up on the 'Net, myself & a number of other USA-apdt trainers used it to assess our own dogs, & many of us were astonished at the results.
    My own Akita, who was a therapy-pet by the time she was 9-MO, working in many settings including physical-rehab facilities where patients lived-in during their intensive therapy, & who never bit anyone in her life, was supposedly in dire need of behavioral intervention. :rolleyes:

    As a group, we were underwhelmed by the supposed "accuracy" of the C-BarQ, & concluded it was a bad joke.

    I can cite many studies that drew precisely the opposite conclusion, none of them relying on owner-supplied info via an on-line questionnaire.
    - terry

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  14. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    As a matter of fact, here's another study by Ms Farhoody & other researchers, also using the C-BarQ -
    Aggression toward Familiar People, Strangers, and Conspecifics in Gonadectomized and Intact Dogs. - Abstract - Europe PMC

    QUOTE from the abstract -
    bold & color are added for emphasis, & i replaced "gonadectomized" with desexed.

    "Abstract
    Gonadectomy is widely used to treat & prevent behavior problems including the aggressive behavior of dogs. The aim of this study was to determine whether aggressive behavior toward familiar people, strangers, or other dogs was significantly different in dogs [desexed] at various ages vs. intact dogs, using the Canine Behavioral Assessment Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ) with multivariate analysis.

    Of 15,370 initial surveys, those dogs reported [desexed] at less than 6-WO or to correct a behavior problem, and those with incomplete answers to questions re independent or dependent variables, were excluded, leaving 13,795 for the analysis of aggressive behavior toward familiar people, 13,498 for aggressive behavior toward strangers, & 13,237 for aggressive behavior toward dogs.
    Aggressive behavior was defined by, a) using mean scores for all questions on the C-BARQ for aggressive behavior (range 0-4), and b) comparing dogs with no aggressive behavior (all answers = 0) to dogs with moderate or severe aggression, defined as at least one score of 2, 3, or 4.
    Data for intact dogs were compared with those for dogs desexed at [EDIT: 4 age ranges]: 6 months or less, 7 to 12 months, 11 to 18 months, and over-18 MO.

    Conclusions:
    Neither [desex] nor age [at desex] showed an association with aggression toward familiar people or dogs.
    However, there was a low but significant increase in the odds of moderate to severe aggression toward strangers for all [desexed] dogs per intact dogs, but this effect was driven entirely by data for dogs [desexed] at 7 to 12 months of age, who were 26% more likely to demonstrate aggression toward strangers."

    ____________________________________________


    So if after reading this study, i decided to desex my M puppy, i'd be sure to neuter him either before 7-MO or after he was 12-MO, & not between those 2 ages, as that would eliminate the "low but significant" increased risk of aggro toward strangers. :) Problem solved - & i can still avoid the teenaged super-male period, the risk of anal-fistulas, & the benign prostate swelling that's virtually universal in middle-aged intact Ms.

    - terry

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  15. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    After many many years of being told one glass of alcohol per day is good for you I heard reports of studies this morning that say even one glass is dangerous to heart and blood vessels and that people should drink zero alcohol..

    Total contradiction. Once one study says 'A' is true, a group of people will set about trying to prove the opposite.. True in all fields be it booze, sugar , chocolate or dogs..

    Thats why I take these studies with a large pinch of salt (low sodium of course!) ..
     
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  16. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    For clarity, the two studies in the article I linked involved 15,984 dogs so by no means a small sample.
     
  17. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Lfl, I'm not sure you can reject the use of C-BARQ in one study and then accept it in another. There's another study here which highlights negative results of neutering: http://mercola.fileburst.com/PDF/HealthyPets/61314_Pets_Lead Article_VizslaStudy.pdf

    Now, I'm sure you could pick holes in that one too, but to analyse the methods of all of the studies on both sides of the debate (as it would be wrong to accept those that draw the conclusions that we agree with and be sceptical of the others, despite the fact that almost everyone has a tendency to do so) would take a lot more time, effort and knowledge than most people have got. Which of course makes it very difficult for people to decide what to do for best. But it seems obvious to me that if an animal is less confident it's more likely to show aggression from insecurity - and at risk of anthropmorphising, that's very much what it looks like in my dog - who only became reactive to other dogs after being neutered (not that I would draw too many conclusions based on just one dog).
     
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  18. PWDmum

    PWDmum Active Member Registered

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    Given the condescending tone or your reply, no I wont give you a link to back up my post, you are very good at copying and pasting, so I am sure you can look it up yourself.

    To the original poster i have responded to your post, you can either look into my advice or dismiss it as nonsense as leashedForLife, has...

    But in short if you have a dog that has aggressive tendencies that is down to his genetic makeup, taking away the testosterone , can SOMETIMES make it worse, testosterone is a vital hormone for male dogs, it does not only fuel his sex drive, but a vital part of his mental and physical behaviour, its a bit like taking away his security blanket. as I said, it cam impound the situation or fix the it, the point is you will not know until you try it, hence my mentioning the implant.
     
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  19. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    @JudyN - when i pointed to the 2nd study led by Ms Farhoody, i was pointing out the oddity in her conclusion -

    stating that "M dogs in general" are more-likely to aggress toward strangers after desex, while she simultaneously admitted later that this was a statistical anomaly found only in a subset of Ms neutered between 7 & 12-MO, & moreover it only added "a slight risk" - 1 in 4 dogs might show moderate to concerning aggro toward strangers.

    IOW, 3 out of 4 M dogs desexed between 7 & 12-MO show no added risk of aggro toward strangers.

    I will also point out that neither she nor her research team stated just how many intact dogs are likely to show "moderate to concerning levels of aggro toward strangers", as adults - nor at what age it might manifest. // We're missing the other side of that equation.

    I still don't have faith in C-BarQ as an accurate tool - but i also have no faith in Ms Farhoody as an accurate & impartial source of information. She seems to be interpreting her data to suit a predetermined conclusion - to not be truly asking an open-ended Q, but looking to justify her own answer to that Q.
    _________________________-


    @JoanneF -
    i have zero faith in C-BarQ as an accurate tool, since i & my fellow-trainers found it to be wildly inaccurate in its conclusions re our own dogs, many of whom we'd raised from puphood, gotten directly from their breeders, & knew their behavioral history intimately.

    How many dogs & their owners were involved in the studies is irrelevant if the tool used to generate the statistics is faulty - to say nothing of the fact that APOs who are asked to rate their own dogs' behavior might have a completely different way of interpreting the Qs, so that if i took the C-BarQ survey & answered it based on MY OWN impressions of a client's dog & rated her or his behavior, the end result spit-out by C-BarQ could be far different from that generated by the owner's own entered data re that same dog.


    - terry

    .
     
  20. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    Can I just add quite simply, in MY experience, you have to remember your intact dog is in his prime at this age, and I do believe neutering is a serious op to consider. Ask a teenage-twenties male human to not go with his natural urges that are hormone led, not allowed to be with females(or neutered males), although surrounded by them, not allowed to fight and be the strongest, although surrounded by other males and in the privacy of home not allowed to relieve his 'tensions'..
    We're asking our dogs to live in an environment with a lot of other dogs as 'pets' and then are surprised when they behave like dogs! I know that some intact males can live quite happily maybe, some mellow out around 5years or so, depending on the breed, but also some find it difficult to learn to suppress their natural urges, because we deem them to be unacceptable, which is what we're asking them to do... like I said, this is just my opinion, right or wrong..;)
     
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