The dog next door....

cal_dreamerMarch 9, 2010

Our neighbors in the mountains have a new dog and I'm looking for some advice.

Last weekend I took my two Border Collie(ish) dogs up to the cabin. When I arrived, the neighbors new dog rushed the fence and started barking at me. When he saw my dogs jump out of the car, he first started running along the fence then he stopped, dropped his head, and growled. He certainly does not look very friendly - in fact, he's rather intimidating.

Later in the day I let my dogs out in the backyard and he rushed the chain-link fence again and my female started fence fighting with him - running back and forth barking and growling. I called her off, but the neighbor's dog stayed right at the fence, either pacing or glaring. Even more creepy, he went back about 15 feet into some brush and stood there frozen - head down, feet apart and glaring. He really looked like a tiger about to attack some prey.

My neighbor said that he's a rescue, he "doesn't know his own strength", and he "can't call him off when he's fixated on things". Great. We only have a 5' chain link fence and he looks like he would tear my dogs into pieces if he ever got into my yard.

How would you approach this? The dogs will need to eventually get used to each other. How can I facilitate this? How can I get him used to me? Our back fenced area is pretty small, so I'm often near the fence raking, pulling weeds, turning on the water, etc. I've started to just talk calmly to him. Do you think treats would help?

My neighbors are nice, but kind of clueless about their dog's behavior. He even told me he should probably put a muzzle on the dog and "get him out more". I feel like keeping a baseball bat nearby just in case - not a good feeling because I really am a dog lover - but my dogs come first.

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This is what I would do...

Start out by getting the dog to accept you. When you are out in the back yard and the dog comes to the fence, try this; go up near the fence (5 feet or so) and stand with your side to the dog, or your back, and become a statue. Make sure your stance is powerful but calm (think, Queen Elizabeth). Do not speak to him and do not look him in the eye, at least not directly, and definitely do not give him a treat. After a few minutes, he should go into sniffing mode. This is exactly what you want. Once he does this, slowly walk back into your yard and continue your yard work.

Do this several times while you are outside gardening. As he gets less fearful, move closer to the fence until you are right next to him. Once he accepts your presence at the fence without growling you should squat/sit down near the fence and allow him to sniff your hand through the chain link. Do not stick fingers through, just let him smell the back of your hand through the fence.

If he is trained, you can give him some basic commands, "sit", "down". If he obeys you, you can give him a treat or tell him, "good boy". I would not give him a treat just for being quiet, so if he is untrained, just skip this step.

The idea here is for the neighbor's dog to respect you as a pack leader. Once he is giving you respect, let your dogs out one at a time, on a leash, to meet the new dog. Repeat the same exercise you did solo, but with your dog at your side. Once he has accepted both dogs individually, bring them both out on leash; if all is well, unleash them. Do not let them play fence lords with the neighbor's dog as this sort of play can cause aggression to rear its ugly head again.

Until you get this settled, see if you can work out a schedule with the neighbor so that your dogs and his dog are not outside at the same time.

I hope this helps give you some ideas of what to try.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:34AM
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A lot of dogs act aggressive behind a fence even if they wouldn't face to face. I don't know whether it's a territory claiming thing or whether they think they are protected by the fence and can get away with it. Maybe the dogs would do better meeting face to face on leashes and wearing muzzles at first to see how they do. I would try this on neutral ground, too.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 8:19AM
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Excellent advice from cindyb, make friends with the dog, treats would be one of my priorities. I never met a dog I couldn't make friends with excepting a Police K-9 and if I had the time or chance I could befriend him also. Since you are not at the cabin all the time he may think you were an intruder. Treat him like one of your dogs(eventually).

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 9:43AM
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Call your neighbor and invite him to walk with you and your dogs each morning. I'm talking leash walks here just to be clear. Dogs who walk together....get along. Just make sure the dog's owner can handle him.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:47PM
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I agree with most of the advice so far. Methods might need adjusting, but since the owner of the other dog has the attitude he has, he will probably not improve.

You can work with the other dog and make gains. The initial problem is getting past the fear aggression being exhibited. I would not sit close to the fence, but sitting instead of standing often makes the fear subside faster.

You will need to make sure your dogs do not start a situation. Having them on a leash and walking them in your yard(Away from the fence), once the other dog gets used to you is a good start in getting the three to accept each other. If he starts barking/fence pacing, simply sit your two and ignore him. Once he quiets and relaxes(the key is waiting for him to relax, not just quit barking/pacing), then resume walking.

That can take a long time, even with twice daily episodes. Three or four a days can reduce the total time, but taking that much time away from normal routine is not what most folks want to do.

Had a similar situation(with two really sweet long haired daschunds) who barked incessently when ever we/dogs went outside when we first bought this house. Took about three months of once a days to solve that one. Found out later, the previous residents teased the two dogs really badly, along wity havinb five or six untrained dogs.)

Makes little difference what happened to that dog before. The owner is letting it still exist in the past problems, instead of working out new acceptable behavior.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 9:33PM
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Great advice from all of you, thanks. We only go up on most weekends, while they are up there a lot more. I'll talk to the neighbors to see what they think of the walk idea, and find out if their dog has had any training or been around other dogs at all. Meanwhile I'll keep my dogs on the front deck most of the time.

My male dog Bo doesn't really like other dogs much - I have heard that is pretty typical of BC's. He'll growl at them at the dog park until they stay away or until we start to play fetch, then he's ball fixated and ignores all the other dogs. (I wouldn't even take them to the dog park but I really need a big space to run him until he gets tired a few times a week.) My female just sits by me and watches everything going on.

Since none of our dogs are the "friendly" type, I just want them to get to the point that they ignore each other and avoid aggression.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 9:53PM
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Ask the neighbor if you all can go for leash walks together. ALL the dogs should be leased and you all should walk a good 5 feet or more from each other. Just keep walking. A good 15 miutes a walk. This way the dogs can learn about each other, can learn that on the leash nobody is going to get hurt. If you really dont trust the other dog, have the neighbor muzzle it. Not a cloth muzzle, but a good sturdy leather one. That dog really needs to be socialized - the slower the better. Good luck

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 12:01AM
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