18 months old dog (Jack Russel t. mix) shows aggression toward other dogs
Hello all, I am Natasha, new member, I have a dog that becomes more and more aggressive toward other dogs. I found him abandoned in a cardboard box, with his siblings, when he was 3 weeks old. When we took him to the vet, he told us that he Jack Russel terrier mix - today, his temper proves that. He is very nervous in general, full of energy, pulls when we walk, barks at neighbors and their cats. As puppy, he was sick and weak, so, we had to keep him isolated for quite a while (2-3 months) and that was very bad for his socialization. After that time, he was always very nervous when we go to the park, barking excessively to squealers, dogs, cats, etc. I was sure that the training will correct this behavior, but it never happened. Now, he plays with me, while other dogs are playing together. He responds to all my commands, never shows aggression to humans, I manage to make him stop when it happens, he never bit a dog, but he becomes more aggressive than before. Any suggestions on how to stop it? Thank you all, N. (PS We walk him 3 times a day, he spends approx. 2 hours running around like crazy, is it enough?)
Unfortunately, your dog missed out on a key period of socialization. He can still be helped to feel more comfortable around other dogs and strange, new things in his environment, but it will take a lot of time and effort to accomplish this and may not be effectively accomplished without the assistance of a professional trainer or behaviorist to help you set up a program of behavior modification. Search APDT.com or research BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training) instructors to find a trainer in your area who is skilled in positive, aversive-free methods of desensitization and counter-conditioning.
Meanwhile, try to manage your little dog's environment so that he can be as stress-free as possible, and has as many chances as possible to practice desirable behaviors. In other words, set him up for success in every situation. This could include only walking or exercising him at times when the streets and park will not be very busy, so that he doesn't have to encounter many of his triggers, or can encounter them from a very safe distance that doesn't send him into a freak-out of barking and lunging (for most dogs, this is about 6-8 feet but for him, maybe as much as 100 or 500 feet of distance from the trigger).
A young JRT will definitely have a LOT of energy, so you will have to gauge whether three walks and some free play-time is enough to tire him out sufficiently. A tired dog is generally (but not always) a more relaxed dog. You can also research anxiety-reduction products such as Bach Flowers (Rescue Remedy is probably the most common), the Thundershirt, or various pharmaceuticals (ask your vet). These things generally work for 50% of dogs, and different combinations will work better for different dogs - just like humans, we all have different brain chemistry and thus different responses to remedies. Also check his food and treats to make sure they do not contain refined grains, sugars or preservatives, as all those things can affect mental as well as physical health. Finally, chewing is a natural stress reliever for dogs so you can help him dissipate stress and excess energy by providing high-quality, long-lasting chewing outlets such as bully sticks or Kongs.