My boyfriend and I recently adopted a dog with some issues. We know that she was exposed to domestic violence in her previous home. One side note before I explain the issues: We are scheduled to see a highly regarded trainer who specifically works with difficult dogs, and most likely will see her for several sessions. I came across this site after searching for this particular issue and couldn't find an answer so I figured I'd ask. My point by saying this is that I am not looking for some magical answer to "fix" my dog on this forum. Just looking for more info on what might be happening.
So the dog is extremely sweet with most people. She gets upset and barks/snarls/lunges when someone unexpectedly comes to our house, but as soon as we greet them and let her sniff their hand, she stops barking and does the tail/body wag. If she is unable to sniff them, she will continue to get more and more aggravated, barking and snarling at them. The other day we went to a full-service gas station and she acted like she wanted to tear the attendant apart because he was standing right next to the car and talking to me.
The other issue she has is with other dogs. So far we haven't purposefully introduced her to any dogs because we know she is reactive and wanted to wait for the training session to find out how to properly train her. However, we had an unexpected run-in with a family member's dog. We were at someone else's house and this family member came over with their dog, without us knowing. The dog came running in and saw our dog, and came over to meet her. Our dog at first was friendly, they sniffed each other's faces for a second, then sniffed each other's back sides. But after a few seconds of this, our dog suddenly became very still and rigid, growled for a second, and then started attacking. She didn't actually bite the other dog, but they were going around in circles until the other dog had a chance to run away and we grabbed our dog.
Is this a common thing? I've only been finding stories about dogs who are aggressive towards other dogs immediately upon seeing them. In this case, our dog is not aggressive at first, she seems very interested and friendly. It's only after the initial introduction that she seems to freak out and snap at them. What might be going on? I can try to provide any other info that might be helpful.