Dog Selectivity

This article discusses the concept of dog sociability toward other dogs. The info could be helpful to keep in mind when “shopping” for a new dog, no matter if going through a breeder or a rescue or other avenue.

The article raises good points.

My dog would fall under their category of “Dog Selective”. He gets along with dogs that get along with dogs, if that makes sense. He enjoys being with them and playing with them.

But there are some dogs that set him off, especially if I am with him. When he spots them, he instantly goes from cheerful happy dog into confrontational owner-protective mode, even from a distance. It’s good that he signals this so plainly while there is plenty of time to change direction and avoid a difficult moment. (He’s 75 lbs and can be extremely active and strong. I avoid getting into strength situations as much as possible.)

I heard from two great dog trainers that some dogs react to certain types of dogs. When a dog is off their own home property on a walk they feel especially cautious. Encountering guard-type territorial breeds such as Anatolian and Great Pyrenees can cause a reaction. The guard-type dog’s stare, stance, posture and even their head and ear shape seem to trigger this.

My normally well-behaved-on-a-leash dog absolutely reacts to these types of dogs when we are on a walk. Especially when the other dog is on its own property and has a fixed stare on us as we approach. My dog loses his mind when he sees that behavior, then it is best to re-direct.

One trainer also said that erect ears tend to go with other types guard dogs such as GSD’s and Malinois, and upright pricked ears can sometimes set off reactions in other dogs. Mine doesn’t seem to be as worried about that and is friendly with these dogs.

It has helped a lot toward happy travels with my dog, especially to horse places where there are sure to be other dogs, to be aware that just because he is fine with most dogs, doesn’t mean that he will be fine with all of them. The article is helpful!

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Yeah, mine vacillates between Dog Selective and Dog Aggressive. Although she gets pretty wound up when she sees other dogs, if she can meet them (with both safely restrained by leashes) and they show NO aggressive behavior, she de-escalates and becomes a bit more Dog Tolerant. She won’t really interact with them - no playing, etc., but she will accept them being around as long as they don’t get aggressive or rude or overly obnoxious (getting in her space, etc.).

But there are other dogs and situations that make her go beserk. For example, my neighbor has two medium-sized mixed breed females (spayed). One is a border collie/lab cross (we think), who is super mellow, non aggressive, and good-natured. The other one is a (again guessing) yellow lab/bully mix - and that one is super protective of my neighbor and very intense about her dislike of any other dog except her “sister.”

When that yellow dog and my dog see each other, they lock on to each other like heat-seeking missiles. My dog flips the terrier switch to “Full” - snarling and snapping and flinging herself into the air, even trying to bite through her leash. The other dog also tries to get to my dog but isn’t quite as maniacal about it (luckily, since she is twice the size of my dog!). We had a close encounter the other day when I was returning from a walk down the street and my neighbor was heading out for a walk with her two. I had to drag my Tasmanian Devil Dog up a neighbor’s driveway all the way to their garage until the neighbor got up the street. It was embarrassing - at least four different neighbors witnessed the encounter, so needless to say, my dog now has a reputation in the neighborhood as “that she-devil that lives at …”. :upside_down_face:

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I had one dog who was Dog Tolerant…unless it was a dog who quite easily could have kicked his doggy butt.
He’d go Full Attack Mode on pits, Staffies, Great Danes…we quit going to the dog park because my dog decided he was going to be proactive and beat up the biggest, toughest dog there before he got picked on. Kind of like the wimpy dude who takes on the prison tough guy the first day behind bars.

Dogs his size or smaller? He got along fine.

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Ours growls at every dog but if they don’t respond in kind, she de-escalates. But if they show any sign of assertiveness/aggression, she is ALL IN - no matter what their size. Funny thing is we can take her to the dog park and she is pretty much fine but we make sure she first gets a good brisk 1-mile walk. Then she is a little bit tired and has released enough endorphins to be more tolerant. We also only put her in the small dog paddock (she is 23#) - I am afraid she would feel overwhelmed in the big dog paddock and would overreact.

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Mine is dog selective on a leash as be barks and acts aggressive. If they get close, he hides behind me. Off leash he is friends with everyone and zero issues.

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When my dog was just over a year old, he was well-behaved on a leash, except for being some degree of dog-aggressive. Maybe dog-alert is a better term. He was ok seeing other dogs. But if the other dog was close, he became a lot more threatening. It was a bad idea to let another dog near him, his hackles were up and he was ready to fight. (He can still be a bit like on the leash that but is easier to manage now.)

BUT … if I wasn’t there, friends assured me he was a happy guy with all other dogs, all situations. On and off leash. It was owner-protectiveness that was kicking in.

So one time at a major horse trials I was walking across the grounds with my dog on the required leash. But a whole passel of smaller dogs off leash – a BNT’s unrestrained pack – spotted him, sounded off and came storming toward my dog in a mob.

I did the one and only thing that would avert total disaster and possibly injured other dogs. I dropped the leash and stepped away from my dog, as far as I could, as fast as I could. Just abandoned him. My poor dog was so mesmerized by the tribe galloping straight at him that he barely registered and didn’t follow me - but he was aware I wasn’t there any more.

The smaller dogs swarmed him, barking and jumping all over him, but not biting. He acted like a startled uncle being greeted by a riot of happy nieces and nephews. Surprised but not alarmed, and even welcoming as he tried to sniff all their butts at once.

The BNT came over fussing at his dogs for doing whatever they wanted to do. Called them away for treats and they went with him.

Fortunately my dog didn’t follow them, but was looking around for me in a flustered way. We reconnected and all was fine.

If I hadn’t gotten the tip on owner-protectiveness from the friends who had looked after him for me previously, I don’t know what would have happened, but I’m guessing a bad outcome.

Behavior can be very situational, for sure! Dogs, horses and people, too. :slight_smile:


I like that term - “dog alert.”

And I do think it is an extreme form of “resource guarding” that triggers some dogs to act out toward other dogs. Their humans are the ultimate “resource” and by God, they are going to protect their person!

Another interesting thing about many dogs is that if you can get them walking together, a lot of the antagonistic behavior abates. I know Cesar Milan and some other celebrity dog trainers espouse that view, and I have also heard it from lesser-known local dog trainers - and witnessed it numerous times with my own dog and various other dogs. We occasionally meet a neighbor with two Scotties and although the three terriers act like maniacs when they first see each other, once we get close enough and start walking “together” in the same direction, they all settle down. We still keep them from having nose to nose contact (they are terriers, after all - LOL), but they do seem to accept the presence of the others once we start walking. Same thing happens when we meet an acquaintance at the park with his Wire Fox Terrier and start walking together. It’s almost like the dogs develop an attitude of, “OK, we are the same pack now.” They still get a little crazy the next time we see them, but once we start walking together, they settle right down - still wary of each other, but accepting of their presence.

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I think you are right!

We have a floor-to-ceiling front window, and my dog often spends a lot of time at the window carefully monitoring everything that passes on the sidewalk (which is sometimes busy with walkers and joggers). The one thing that sends him into crazy aggressive barking is the sight of another dog. He loses it if the sidewalk dog puts any foot actually on the grass yard.

Friend who watched this asked “Why is he barking so crazy just at dogs, not the people without dogs?” “He’s telling them This House Is Taken! Keep moving, nothing to see here!”

Before I realized I need to shut him in the bedroom to keep him away from the window all night, one night at 1 am someone with a super-long leash allowed their dog to gallop across the yard. My dog went so ballistic, he broke the window with his head trying to get out and murder the other dog. Somehow he didn’t get out and didn’t get cut up. He seemed to be ok. But after that we placed a decorative trellis across the inside of the window (on its side). He can see through it just fine, and he won’t break the window again.

His resources are well-guarded from other dogs! He loves people, though, and would probably invite a burglar inside and give him whatever he wanted. lol