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Q. Dear Digital Dog,

My 3 yr old German shepherd male is becoming increasingly aggressive toward other dogs. It is getting to the point where I keep him from even "saying hello" because the sniffing suddenly becomes a fight. He was neutered at 2 1/2. He has been quite timid with people most of his life, although not agressive with them. I though he needed all the testosterone he could get before neutering. He is friendlier with people now, but I don't like having to avoid other dogs. He did meet another shepherd his size whose owner was ok with letting them work it out for a minute or so, then they played. The next time they met they needed to do this again. The other dog is a little bigger, and I think, won the contest, but mine seems to want to continually challenge this. Any thoughts?

Challenged in Chicago

Ans. ~ Hello Challenged,

It's tough since this is a lack of doggie protocol and social behavior issues... something that people can't really show or illustrate to our pets!

Your dog lacks what would be called dog social skills. As a result he is nervous and anxious when meeting other dogs. To try to correct this now, he needs to meet lots of dogs... which of course lies the rub since its now rather hazardous to him, the other dogs and the people around.

I would let him continue to meet the dog that he seems to be able to "work it out with". At some point he will likely settle down and trust the other dog. At that point you MAY be able to use the other dog as a crutch for him to meet other dogs (with this "friend" present) and he will follow the lead of the other dog in seeing that he needn't be aggressive.

Of course, solid praise from you when he's approaching another dog and behaving is invaluable and be sure NOT to yell or correct harshly when he's acting aggressively as that can increase the aggression and/or give him the sense that you are backing him up ("LOOK LOOK My MOM is mad at you too!!" he will be thinking).

I would also suggest that in day to day events, when you cross the path of another dog, even if he starts to react from 40 feet away, simply wheel away and walk in the other direction (even if only for a few steps) if he starts to act up with another dog. The fact that you simply "end" the behavior can tell him alot as well.

Consider checking out the website for the

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Digital Dog

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