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We adopted my dog from the street a few weeks ago most of the time she's docile but occasionaly, probably 1 interaction in 20 she'll become very aggressive. These aggressive interactions include barking and showing her teeth to dogs while she's on the lead after a few seconds of interaction, barking aggressively at specific people in the street and being aggressive with other dogs while she's playing with them off the lead. Most of the time she seems okay but when she gets aggressive she's very aggressive

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4 Answers 4

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If this dog was not rescued as a puppy: Unpredictable behaviors are common with rescued dogs. Since there is very rarely any way to tell what the dog has been through many of their behaviors or ticks can be unpredictable. Aggressiveness with other dogs is common if they were rescued from a place with a lot of dogs but not a lot of resources such as space or food. Aggressiveness to specific people can mean they were either harassed or even abused by people who give the dog the same impression as those they are aggressive to now. Of course this is all speculation since the true story of this dog is unknown. But what can you do? Simple, teach it to be less aggressive. Reward it each time it plays friendly with another dog, or greets a person in a friendly manner. Pay attention to exactly what situations it gets aggressive in and common characteristics of the people who upset it. Use this knowledge to also be aware of when you need to be watchful for scared or aggressive behavior.

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A ratio of "1 in 20" is a pretty high level of observed aggressive interactions. I would handle the dog as if it's a 'dangerous dog', making sure the dog never escapes, never slips the collar, breaks the leash, breaks away from the owner with leash trailing, never escapes the house or a fenced yard, etc. Severe aggression is rarely eliminated with any form of training, but if you can manage the dog and contain the dog to keep other people and pets from being harmed, then you could potentially keep the dog. If you cannot effectively contain such a dog, then you need to consider giving it up.

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Quick suggestion: Enroll in a dog obedience course. This not only helps you understand how to train the dog generally, it will help train you to give clear signals to the dog, and it can be fun for both of you. If you warn them in advance that aggression is the concern, they can work with you 1:1 until the dog is well enough behaved to play nicely with others.

You're trying to socialize an animal that wasn't well socialized as an infant. This can be challenging, and take time and patience, and the dog may never be as trusting as one that had a happier history. But it's usually doable.

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We cannot even know what other people think, or why they do things, let alone non-humans. So below is my speculation, which is the most plausible scenario to me.


I am almost sure that you walk her in the area where she lived before you rescued her. And her current behaviors are just the "normal" continuation of her previous life.

She most likely remembers the people who were aggressive to her or her puppies, the bad dogs who attacked her and all other kinds of problems she encountered.

But there is a difference now: she is part of a very special herd, and the therefore she has more trust to make her voice heard. Or maybe even attempt to pay some of the old debts.


What you can do: continue your relationship with her, be friends. Make sure that she trusts you. Greet her when she is nice, talk to her and explain that aggressiveness is not OK - when she is aggressive.

If you are patient, and if you pay attention, you will see the gradual improvement. Some treats are going to be very helpful occasionally.


Why I claim that talking to the dog can be very effective? I had an neighbor who had a dog - fighter breed (I am not an expert, but it was obvious; possibly some pit-bull-like breed, surely not rottweiler or German shepherd). I was curious why he decided to have a dangerous dog, and he "humored" me showing that the girl (it was a girl) was VERY easy to communicate with. He just told her like 10-15 words of mild reproaching and disappointment, and the poor dog reacted as if she wanted to go into the ground with shame. That was the first time when I witnessed such thing, and I might never be able to forget it. And if a "dangerous" breed can be easy to communicate with, then other breeds should be even easier.

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  • Would you may add a source? Experience in similar situation? Website or book? Nov 15, 2022 at 14:01
  • Unfortunately, no book can tell us what a specific dog is thinking. As I mentioned in the answer, "this is mostly speculation".
    – virolino
    Nov 17, 2022 at 5:58
  • Then I would recommend you, to writw this as first sentence and not hidden in the middle... And you know, guessing is not recommended at this site :( Nov 17, 2022 at 10:13
  • @Allerleirauh: and asking about what dogs think is recommended? : ))
    – virolino
    Nov 17, 2022 at 10:34
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    @anongoodnurse: you are mostly right, dogs do not understand everything that we say. But it was proven scientifically that they understand a lot more than 2 or 5 words. IIRC, the range is in the hundreds. But what is more important than the words themselves, is the tone of your voice - and dogs are experts in understanding feelings - even if they choose to ignore those occasionally (strongly related to breed). Also, depending on the breed, dogs usually have a (strong) drive to please - especially their owner - and this drive is what makes them empathetic.
    – virolino
    Jan 15 at 11:22

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