Ranger is 8 months old now, his fear/aggression started when he was only a very young puppy. Although he has never been attacked he had some uncomfortable meetings with other dogs when he was very young and also may have misinterpreted our other dogs play.
He started puppy school at 14 weeks old (we had just moved house so he started later than I would have liked) and at the first meeting his reactivity to the other puppies was sooo bad that he spent all 4 classes on my lap. I was so upset. I felt so responsible and like it was all my fault. From there he went to puppy socialisation classes (started off outside the class) and by the time he was 5 months old, thanks to some hard work from the teacher and myself, he was pretty much rehabilitated. He didn’t “play” with other dogs but he could be around them quite happily (he did have one great play session with another dog and it was so lovely to see).
Last week I took him to agility (as we usually do) and he had a massive set back, triggered by being left alone and another dog that was reactive and was tied up near him (wont make that mistake again). He went back to how his aggression was when he was a pup. This was so upsetting to me after all that hard work. I went home early from agility because he just kept lunging at the other dogs and we couldn’t even participate. What was even more distressing to me was that the next day he gave some pretty strong warning signals to my 5 year old sister to stay away. He was obviously in a very bad place and I needed to do something fast.
After reading a few books and checking in with a dog trainer for a session, I devised a plan and have seen great virtually immediate results. Next post will outline his progress and the really helpful books that I have read over the last few days. YouTube had some great clips using counter conditioning and BAT (Behaviour Adjustment Training).
The most important thing I have learnt is that for a puppy who has displayed fear/anxiety aggression their journey and training are never over and as the human of a puppy with this problem I can never be complacent.
The good news is that with some training, time and effort it is manageable and there is always something fun you can do with your dog, even if you have to build your own agility course in the back yard! (yes I have considered it)