The Importance of Space in a Dog’s World

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Hello Trevor, I’m writing in regards to my three-year-old Australian Cattle dog. He is obedient, in perfect health, and even has a pedigree. She is well behaved and fun to be around and play dog games with, however, her attitude changes completely as soon as another dog enters the scenery. In some occasions, while on a leash tied to a post, she has been known to get very aggressive with passing dogs, and even want to attack them ferociously. In most cases, she will stand down when I ask her to, and if the other dog retreats, there won’t be a problem. I am worried since she is only thirty-five pounds, most dogs are much bigger than her, and if she were to engage another dog in combat, I don’t think it would go very well for her. At home we call it the “Napoleon Complex”, being small and all. I tried putting a muzzle on her, and it has had some effect on keeping her quiet, but it has not been the complete solution. As a last resolve, we have entered her in training school for treatment and training, hoping it goes well.

As I mentioned before, she is a darling around people and other dogs while at school and such. However, I am worried that an incident may occur in which she gets out of control and attacks another dog. In most situations, I can keep her under control while on a leash. But the truth is, I am not always with her, and I am afraid that she may snap at some time where there is nobody around to control the situation.

Thank You, Leslie

 

Dear Leslie,

I’m afraid this is more a pet owner issue than a dog issue per se. It is supposed to be the pet owner’s responsibility to keep other animals away from your dog’s safety zone, or territory. Whit these comments, I am not saying that her pattern of behavior cannot be amended, but you must show your dog that she is safe around you and that you won’t allow other animals to become a treat to her. Remember that as wild dogs did in the past, dogs, in general, look up to the pack leader for guidance protection; in this case, in particular, the pack leader is you. Unfortunately, you have not been playing your role as the pack leader very well by permitting other dogs in a close perimeter to your Australian Cattle dog. Even if you are goofing around and playing dog games, her space remains essential; it is an inherent trait in regards to her safety and yours.

As far as the therapy is concerned, I would recommend that you went ahead with the training exercises. I would also advise that the dog be left with the trainer without you present during the sessions. However, in the end, it is your call which way you decide to proceed.

All the best, Trevor

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