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Categories: Rescue Dogs

Q. My new dog is very nervous around other dogs and tries to attack them. How do you suggest I try to socialize her with other dogs? Is it possible? Would that help or is this some issue from her past that will haunt her forever? What do you suggest?
Hello,

We recently purchased a Rhodesian Ridgeback adult female dog through the RR Resuce in our area. She is 4 yrs old, and had one owner before us, and was not socialized well and crated a lot. That’s what we know. She was extremely skittish at first but is no longer afraid of us, and is more comfortable every day. She is not at all aggressive toward us or people, or our young children. She is either shy – or very sweet and curious. She is very smart and is training well. However, my problem is she is very nervous around other dogs. When family members have come over with their dogs, she has repeatedly tried to attack the dog. Not immediately but pretty soon. She is very nervous. However, on a leash she lets me pull her back but this is still not ideal.

I have been working with her myself – training her. She had no training and can now sit, stay, come and lie down. How do you suggest I try to socialize her with other dogs? Is it possible? I keep her on a leash when around any dogs because I don’t know what she’ll do, and with her size, she could certainly hurt another dog. I read about the importance of being a pack leader. Would that help or is this some issue from her past that will haunt her forever? What do you suggest?

Thanks!

A. Leadership is always the way to start with any dog, especially a dog that has some nervousness or fear.

I would definitely recommend some leadership training. Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I would also make her feel comfortable with your leadership by NOT allowing other dogs to approach her. Dogs don’t get over their fear by being inundated with the very thing they are worried about. Maybe she was attacked by another dog before you got her? Since we don’t know why she’s nervous, as her leader it’s your job to let her know you’ve got her best interests at heart and you won’t let other dogs get in her space. This will go a long way into easing her anxiety.

I would also recommend this 3 part video series on fear periods in dogs, it explains how to condition the dog to things that make it nervous.

If family members come over with their dogs, keep them all leashed so she isn’t put in a position to have to show aggression.

Good luck with her.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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