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I have a white factor collie mix by the name of Shea, he is approximately 3/4 Collie and 1/4 Australian Shepherd (and 6 years old). These details my prove to be unnecessary however I am including them nonetheless.

He is the most relaxed dog I have ever met. I have two younger brothers, one of which is a baby and he lets both of them crawl all over him--and not once has he complained, at all.

However, he has one major issue with the swings.

It has happened many many times, that when either myself, younger brothers or anyone else he recognizes decides to get on a swing he becomes a completely different animal, barking and attacking whoever is on the swing.

This has been the case for 6 years.

Important details to note:

  1. It seems as if it is the case he only attacks people he knows, which led me to believe that he was concerned for our safety--thinking we were being hurt by the swing. I do not let him get near anyone on the swing however it has happened a couple times that when walking past a random person on the swing, he pays no attention to them whatsoever. After spending some time with a friend of mine, he started attacking him on the swing.
  2. I am able to hold him when people he knows are swinging, he tries to get loose but does not act aggressively towards me when I am holding him.
  3. The actual swinging seems to be what bothers him. If I am merely sitting on the swing he is not as bothered by it.
  4. I have tried holding and consoling him when he's watching someone he knows swing, it calms him down a bit but if I were to let go he would still go after and attack the person on the swing.

My Main Questions:

  1. Is there even anything to be done about this, or is this simply just my dog, and changing this behavior is impossible for this specific situation?

  2. Was my initial thought that he is doing it out of concern accurate?

  3. Has anyone else dealt with swing-terrified dogs?

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    Are you sure he's attacking people on the swing? Is he showing teeth and barking with a gurgling sound and has he ever bitten people or their clothes on the swing? Or is it rather an excited "I want to play with you" bark? – Elmy Sep 5 '18 at 7:03
  • @YElm That’s a clarification that I have been attempting to make. He does not show his teeth, he does bark but not with a gurgling sound, and he does bite the person on the swing. – user12903 Sep 5 '18 at 19:17
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The breeds your dog is mixed with are all working breeds this could make your dog have a more heightened prey drive than normal, I suspect this is the issue.

Im not sure that your dog is 'attacking' per say, I think that this is play/prey drive kicking in. If this was attack behaviour your dog would not be displaying what you're describing. A dog that is attacking will be rolling up their lips to show their teeth, growling/narking, they lower their head and body, pin their ears back and raise their tail in some cases, and a play bite is different to an attack bite. Does it do any of these things?

If not:

When a working dog sees something moving similar to prey (swinging moving side to side) their prey drive kicks in and they want to either play or latch on, given that it does it to someone it knows im inclined to say its play.

I have tried holding and consoling him when he's watching someone he knows swing, it calms him down a bit but if I were to let go he would still go after and attack the person on the swing.

Holding/restraining may either calm or have the opposite effect. You need to distract him, show that you are more fun than them and he will ignore it. Like when you encounter other dogs you move away, call their name, tug etc, This is the same.

Is there even anything to be done about this, or is this simply just my dog, and changing this behavior is impossible for this specific situation?

Distract him, show you are the source of his fun and nothing else. He will look to you rather than be as hyper aware of other things. He probably still will want to go and engage but when you give the command to stop and come he will/should as you are more fun.

Was my initial thought that he is doing it out of concern accurate?

From what you have described it doesn't sound like an attack or fear. It sounds like he wants to play.

  • I agree, it's most likely the motion that triggers him, not the object. He could react the same way to someone skating or riding a bike or to cats and other dogs running away from him. He has a strong instinct to chase and hunt, but he can be trained to restrain himself. – Elmy Sep 6 '18 at 11:19
  • Agreed, prey drive can be trained and managed. – UIO Sep 6 '18 at 11:20

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