Introducing Boogie to other dogs…

May 29, 2008 at 3:01 pm 2 comments

Posted Date: : May 29, 2008 3:07 PM

.. or how to deal with the cranky lunging behavior.

Wes thinks that Boogie has always behaved this way since the first day we adopted him, but to me I think this is a much more recent development, I am not sure. From what I can remember, Boogie used to be fine meeting random dogs on the street. He used to do the social butt-sniff thing, then move on along. I was so happy I had adopted a “dog-friendly” dog.

These past couple of months he has been lunging at every single dog we get close to, on the street. The only dogs that he is perfectly comfortable and friendly with are dogs that he has already met (e.g., neighbor’s dogs) in casual off-leash situations. When he is off-leash he is fine. When he is on-leash he pulls and get snappy.

I don’t know why this is happening. Twice he was attacked and bitten by a german shepherd on our street. (Yes, it happened again and don’t get me started on the crazy lady who owns the german shepherd) Maybe the experience has left an emotional scar?

Christa wonders if it’s an ‘insecurity/dominance’ thing because the snappiness only happens with unknown dogs when he is on leash. He won’t sniff their butts. He lunges straight away. When the leash comes off, he relaxes and becomes his usual curious, friendly and playful self again. In other words, Boogie isn’t “dog-aggressive” per se, but he definitely has a social issue.

Unfortunately I can’t take the Boogs off-leash whenever we meet a new dog in the street. So I have to say to the other person: “Sorry, my dog isn’t always friendly”, and I drag the Boogs away on a short leash. We don’t stop to meet and greet. I don’t take any risks.

Here are some situations where things have turned out positively:

Big dog on Rodney St.
We met a guy and his sweet passive wolfhound/husky (?) mix. Boogs immediately got defensive and I did my usual apology thing and was going to move right along but the guy suggested that we walk our dogs together for a while to let them get used to each other. In a few seconds, Boogie chilled out. The dogs sniffed each other and everything was fine. We walked together to the end of the street.

Pitbull in the Vet Waiting Room
The moment that Jackson the pitbull came through the door, Boogie snarled and lunged. I pulled him back and gave him a scolding. Jackson’s owner had Jackson lie down (he had his leg in a cast) and it was clear as day that this pitbull was really sweet and friendly – he was rolling around on his back, pawing for kisses with his human. Boogie wanted to pull towards Jackson but I kept him close to me and made him stay still. I chatted with the lady and patted the pitbull… Meanwhile, Boogie stood there and stared at the dog, then at me, then at the dog again… unsure of whether to love him or hate him. He stood staring  for a good five minutes, obviously quite tense. The pitbull didn’t even look at him. Eventually Boogie sat his butt down <– sign of relaxation. Then I let him go sniff Jackson’s butt. Everything was cool after that. Next thing you know, the Boogs wanted to play with Jackson!

Noodles, on our street
Noodles (black poodle) and her human were sitting in our yard this afternoon. I wasn’t sure if Boogie had met her before so I was wary. Boogie pulled and pulled towards Noodles and he didn’t look or act friendly so I pulled him back towards me. Then I talked to Noodles’ mom for a while and said hi to Noodles, and also patted Boogie for staying close to me and responding. After a while, when he looked relaxed I let him approach Noodles from the butt end. And I praised him when he sniffed and didn’t react. Everything was fine after that. Boogs was sniffing Noodles’ face and getting into playbow position.

What do you make of all this?

My conclusion: I think the Boogs is a bit neurotic, and I think the solution to this social problem may be to give him some time to observe the other dog from a short distance (while on leash), wait for him to feel assured that the other dog is OK, and that the dog’s owner is also OK, and that everyone is friendly with each other, wait for him to chill out, before letting him make closer contact and be “friends” with other dog.

The good part is that once Boogie has made friends, we can be assured that he will remain friendly on future meetings. (Provided that there are no tennis balls to be shared)

His current obsession: Corn on the cob chew toy.
(Photo by Uncle Eddie)

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Entry filed under: Social stuff.

Back from the Vet (anal glands alert) Vet Visit #3

2 Comments Add your own

  • […] Here is a blog post that I wrote a year ago when Boogie first started lunging. In this post I wrote about some doggie interactions that started badly but turned out positively. At the time I had no understanding of what was really going on but now things are so much clearer, thanks to this book. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A service dog lesson from Dear AbbyDealing with On Leash Dog AggressionScientology is helping the Travoltas heal […]

    Reply
  • 2. just me  |  September 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    same problem, same story 😀
    other continent, other dog 😀

    i had great dog who lowed other dogs, and one day we had problem

    Reply

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