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I recently adopted a dog from the shelter. The shelter says that the owners did not want her anymore. She is super friendly towards people and loves getting pet.

When we walk and she sees another dog, she seems happy (her tail is wagging) and it looks like she wants to play. Usually I don't introduce her to the other dogs since I don't know whether she is dog friendly or not. The other day I took her to my boyfriends house and their neighbor have a smaller dog. We decided to introduce the two of them. At first it seem like it was going fine; the dogs were sniffing each other, but then I don't really know what happened. My dog goes and bites her head like she was playing with her toys. As she bit the other dog her tail was wagging and she seemed happy.

Now we keep our dog away from other dogs but every time she is on the deck and sees a dog she goes crazy she starts barking and the fur on the her back stands up but her tail is wagging the whole time.

I just want to know what I can do to make her more dog friendly. I would like her to eventually be able to play with other dogs without attacking them.

  • I can't help with the question but since you mention tail wagging as way to indicate that your dog is happy... That is not the case. Tail wagging indicates general excitement and is not a sign that the dog is happy/friendly. It can be positive and negative. – Sambovi Jan 19 '18 at 12:41
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Sambovi is correct. Tail wagging is a sign of emotional state, generally excitement.

An excited dog is not a good thing. It can send your dog into a red zone, positive or negative. The main reason it’s bad is because the dog is so focused that it’s unresponsive and therefore difficult to control.

Also, in the dog world, excitement sits very close to aggression. A rescue dog is very sensitive to emotional changes because it’s life probably rested on a few seconds decisions to survive.

Training is the solution. That includes you and the dog.

You: I expect you’ve started stressing about it, especially when you’re about to come across the situation. The dog will feel that before you realise. It will feel that you’re suddenly tensing through the lead, it will “smell” the chemicals your body produces to face the situation. (After all, dog can smell cancer!)

Can dogs smell fear

Your solution is to relax and get over the problem. Notice the potential problem but react calmly, relaxed but also be in charge of the situation in a calm assertive manner.

The dog: it doesn’t know any better. That’s the only way it knows to react. It needs to be trained. The important point here is to notice the signs of excitement before it gets to the red zone so you can have control. There, you can stop and redirect the behaviour.

A very assertive “no”, a sideways tug on the lead(don’t hurt the dog!), a disapproving noise. Enforce your command. Dogs will switch in a microseconds.

Food is another distraction. Keep your dog on a lead when passing another dog whilst it smells yummy food. Only give the food is you get the required calm behaviour or if you see an improvement to guide the dog in the right direction.

Do not let the dog off the lead when excited, you’re encouraging the behaviour.

Work in small steps and practise a lot. If you know regular dog walkers, ask them if you can enlist their help to practise. There are a few videos from Cesar Milan for that.

Cesar Milan

However,

Rescue dogs generally need a lot of training to be able to live well in their new found environment. It is a lot of hard work but in my experience well worth it! I have trained many rescues considered lost cases and I will always have them because it’s so rewarding for the dog and the human.

The best training model in my opinion is from this guy:

Paul Owens training

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