Aggressive stray is making my Lab aggressive!

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by Jason Overdorf, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. Jason Overdorf

    Jason Overdorf Registered Users

    Jan 31, 2016
    Hi guys,
    I live in India so I have a somewhat unusual problem: An aggressive stray seems to be making my Lab aggressive.

    I adopted a 4-year-old Lab from a local shelter, and he is typically very well-behaved. (Sit, Heel, Come, Shake and stays close on leash). However, as is typical in Delhi, there are packs of stray dogs living in all directions from my house. They cannot be avoided, and there is no calling animal control. This is a fact of life here. Over two weeks, many of them have gotten used to Swami being an occasional presence on the street. But one male in particular continues to move to attack him.

    Following the advice of locals, I carry a stick when I walk him, and threaten the stray with it when he moves to attack. (Swami was bitten once). Now, Swami lunges and growls in return when the stray makes his menacing approach, and then together we back him off (stick and growling Swami). As you probably have guessed, the problem with this "solution" is that it is training Swami that this is the way he should react to strange dogs. I take him to a city park most mornings where we encounter a lot of better-socialized strays, and I'm trying various methods (heel, focus on me, move away, treats for everybody) to try to condition him not to lunge at every dog there. But I feel like the daily attacks from the stray who lives on our doorstep are undermining my work, and effectively training him to do the opposite of what I would like.

    Any advice? I'm already looking into "sponsoring" the neutering of the problem dog, but I'm not sure that will help.
  2. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

    Sep 29, 2012
    Hampshire, UK
    Hi and welcome Jason and Swami from us, Hattie 8 years and our rescue Charlie 5 years. This is a tough problem to deal with on a daily basis and it sounds like you are doing all you can to help and train Swami. I can imagine there are a lot of strays but this particular one seems to cause Swami the real problem. When you see this stray can you quickly turn around and go in another direction giving Swami great treats and work on a "look at me" cue? Could you maybe clicker train him? You may find it useful that when he looks at the stray and doesn't react C&T, there is a lot of information on the forum on how to get started and it's a really positive experience for dogs.

    Does this stray actually live on your doorstep or in the street?

    Helen x
  3. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

    May 10, 2011
    Hi there, and welcome. What a difficult problem. You are right in thinking that your aggression towards this other dog will encourage your dog to 'back you up'. And I can see why you need to protect your dog.

    Once approach that can work well in deflecting dog attacks is to carry a bag of loose kibble with you. Throw a generous handful well away from your dog and towards the stray dogs as you approach them. It might seem that this will encourage them, but it has been shown to work well in some situations. Of course, you could end up with half a dozen dogs following you down the street, so whether or not you want to try this will depend on your assessment of the situation. :)
  4. Snowshoe

    Snowshoe Registered Users

    Sep 5, 2015
    Ontario, Canada
    Boy, that IS a problem. Teaching my own dog to focus on me did work to tone down the other dog as well but the other dog was behind a fence. However, once my dog ignored him the other dog stopped charging and barking at us. I doubt how well I could have taught my own dog to focus on me if he had not had many passes by that dog and mine had begun to realize the other dog could only get so close.

    I doubt sponsoring a neuter would have any effect on the other dog. If it's been acting like this for a while the behaviour is ingrained and not likely to change. Neuter for the sake of population control would be a good idea though.

    Has the dog ever been a threat to people? Here, Police will not get involved with dog on dog problems but if people are threatened they will speak to the owner and after the second speaking to the owner will be charged. I suspect with a stray, where you are, it would be shot.

    To modify Pippa's idea a bit, what about placing food in a spot to keep the dog(s) there, but not carry it? If you carry I guess they will follow you and that might create more problems. REally, just thinking out loud here.
  5. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

    Jun 15, 2013
    I think this is a really tough one. It is possible though, to train your dog to ignore other dogs, even those that are barking or acting aggressively - but pretty difficult to do if the other dog is free to approach you and interact with your dog and no one is controlling it.

    I walk in an area where there are a lot of off lead dogs - mainly friendly, always owned dogs. And had trouble keeping them away from my dog when he was injured. Throwing treats gets a mixed response - not all dogs will take the treats in preference to approaching your dog, and it's a very temporary thing, once they have finished the treats then they will come and look for more.

    I think the idea of trying to sort of 'train' the stray dog to stay away from you might have some merit. Could you try this without your dog at first? I don't think this would be very easy, but might be possible with enough thought - and you very well need a helper to throw food away from you. If the stray dog learns that food appears only when it backs away from your dog (and it doesn't appears when it approaches you), that could work. Trying this could well make it all worse though!
    pippa@labforumHQ likes this.

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