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New Aggression In 20 Month Male Boxer

1831 Views 8 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  BurningRiver
We have a 20 month old male, flashy fawn. He was neutered around 6.5 months old. He's been well socialized with other dogs and people throughout his life. He's been the sweetest thing until recently. He would never growl at other dogs let alone get feisty with them.

We recently brought him to the dog park which he has been many many times before and he was more aggressive. Until this previous time he never barked at other dogs approaching the gate. He not only barked but wanted to go up to them as they came into the fenced in area. I had to hold his collar for a few moments so he would calm down. I'd let him go and he go right up to the new dog. He wouldn't scuffle but would get really loud and knarly with them. He did play well with others then if another dog did something he would get feisty. This other dog would do nothing out of the ordinary.

One recent time he actually tried to mount his other boxer playmate. He even got visually excited. I'll spare you the visuals.

There have been a few changes in his life over the past 4 months.
1) my wife got pregnant and is 5 months along
2) we got a female white boxer 2.5 months ago. she's almost 5 months old.
3) we used to take him to doggy day care a few times a week, where he was socialized.
4) he is crated a bit more for two days a week.

He gets  along with the puppy great. She's actually the feisty one. We got her for two reasons, one that we wanted another and a playmate for our male and the other to play with him so we can eliminate the expense of day care.

The two days he's crated, he's only crated for 4 hours then a pet sitter comes by and lets him and the puppy out to play in the yard for an hour. Then it's back in the crate for another 4 hours. For the most part we actually leave him out of the crate for most of the time we run errands during the week. So he really isn't crated much at all the other days.

We have dogs on both sides of our property which are very loud. We have trained him to ignore them when the get all barky. His hair will stand up and he may bark or charge the fence on the very rare occasion.

We take him and the female for many walks during the week. At least once or twice a day. In the past, he was very calm when other dogs came up to him. But now he's more aggressive and on guard.

We have a nice size yard and he spends a lot of time out there racing around with the puppy.

He has shown no aggression toward humans or children. He loves both and when we see them on our walks, all he wants to do is say Hi.

So that's the overview. Any thought would be appreciated. We are wondering if it's the competition with new puppy and or being more protective as he may sense my wife is pregnant.


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How often is he walked - not just let outside?
Yes it is our first.

He has extensive training classes and listens very well. He knows off, back, sit, stay, down, leave it, etc. He's also well off lease in public areas as well.

We correct him as needed.

We were thinking that is has something to do with him becoming an adult dog and pushing bounderies. I think the new puppy has brought that out more. There does seem to be a jealously issue at times. They are always stealing from the other, but in a playful way.

Maybe we need to be more stern with his corrections.

We watch the Dog Whisperer religiously and have taken more to following his approach.

Thanks for the feedback.
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I saw your post on "The Darkside"  :lol:

How's it going?
Aggression is tricky, especially when those teenage hormones become involved. . . Have you spoken with your trainer about these issues? The first step is to figure out why the aggression is happending - ie: is it dominance aggression or fear aggression?

I'll see if I can pop on and post more later, but I wanted to post the question above before I had to run out the door! :lol:
I have. We have two or I should say two that run the training school. One is a behavioral specialist that runs a rehab/rescue on Long Island. She is out of town for a few weeks. Once she gets back we will get together with her. She knows our Fred very well.

I don't think it's fear. He's such a sweetheart. I just want to keep it that way.


Sorry, the question that I meant to get out was, "What did the trainer say about it?" :lol:

The scenario that you described above is very typical of dog parks, and, in my experience, where 99.9% of the fights that happen at dog parks begin. I have to admit that I don't do dog parks. I just worry about fights, disease, weird people who can intentionally hurt your dog, etc. Instead, I arrange play groups with friends whom I know and trust. That way, I know that they're taking good care of their dogs and it is understood by us all that If we see one of our dogs getting out of control that it's okay for another to step in and reprimand. The other benefit is that our dogs see the other dogs as an extension of their packs and the other owners as authority figures, rather than total strangers. Having said this, even in our own back yards, scuffles tend to happen at the gate as well from time to time (when a new dog enters). Because of this, we all hold our dogs back away from the gate, allow the new owner and dog to enter, take the leash off the new dog and then allow the new dog to enter the main yard where the situation is more likely to be controlled if a fight does occur. Then, each of us releases our dogs one at a time to go greet the "new guy" so that he/she doesn't feel overwhelmed.

The situation at the gate is one of dominance. Your guy is telling the new guy, "I'm the boss here, get it??" Which generally isn't harmful. . . As long as the other dog doesn't decide to contradict your dog's view of his position of authority. Then a fight can ensue, which can be dangerous to your dog, the new dog and any other dog and human that decides to get into the middle of it. It can also cause what is called "the pack mentality", which could result in all of the dogs ganging up on the new dog, which has the potential to have awful consequenses.

On your walks you will want to teach him to focus on you, rather than the other approaching dogs. This will require much training and I know that you've taken quite a few training classes with your guy, but training is a life long lesson that never stops. Especially for dominant dogs. Ask your trainers about teaching you how to train something called "Attention" or the command, "Watch me". Refine it behind closed doors, work up to the actual situation, and then, use it in every day life. If you see another dog approaching, walk off of the sidewalk and into the tree lawn or someone's front lawn, make him sit by your side and tell him, "Watch me." By this point, you should have refined this command to the point that he knows that he will get a reward for ignoring the other dog. Eventually, you will want to work this command up and into your heeling exercises, so that your dog is walking by your side and giving you full attention at the same time, even as you walk past another dog.

As for the reasons, your wife's pregnancy is definitely a possibility. Our dogs sense these things and he may be guarding her. It could also be that he's guarding your little girl. (My 4 y/o got pretty protective over our 1 y/o when we first brought her home.) My guess, however, is that he's just at that age. He's a teenager becoming an adult, so he's starting to become more dominant. I think that we tend to forget that dog aggression is a completely natural thing in wild dogs, some moreso than others and we need to train and socialize the domesticated dog away from their natural instinct. Sounds like you've done a great job with his puppy socialization, I'd just keep up the training. :)

Hope this helps!
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Thanks for the comments.

Our trainers use the word "Look" instead of "Watch Me", basically the same thing. He does that extremely well. It was taught by everytime you say Look and he looks at you he gets a treat. Very effective. As he's gotten older, and he is a Boxer of course who needs to know what's going on around him at all times, he needs and get the reinforcement as needed. We are always reinforcing things.

This week we are taking steps to make sure he knows who's boss. We stopped used the spike collar for a while but have gone back to it on our walks. We have been using the Easy Walk harness, which works great for the pulling but not as effective in head direction. He definitely gets it with the spike collar. As side note, I think the problem with the spike collar is that people don't know the technique to use it, so it's not effective. We were trained and it works great. The problem is when we are walking both dogs, one on each hand, that it's even more of a challenge to keep it up high and not put pressure on him when not needed.

People are so over the top with their dogs at dog parks. They don't want their baby's hurt. I do understand but they are really animals with instincts. When scuffles come about, it is usually over within a few moments. I think they actually get worse when all the owners get all upset. The dogs definitely sense and react to it as well.

I think an added bonus, as coincidental as it may seem, that we are about to start formal training classes with our 5 month old white female boxer. We take group training classes so the dog(s) get accustomed to listening around other dogs. We are planning to approach the puppies training reinforcement at home as a refresher for our male.

I look forward to our trainer to return to town. I know this is not a huge issue for our male. We just don't want to let it get to be a real issue.

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Definitely a good move to put him back on the prong collar. If he was doing well on it before, I think I'd leave him on it at least until he's evened out a bit more. I agree completely with your thoughts regarding other's use of the prong collar. In addition to people not using it correctly, many don't buy one that is the correct size or fit for their dogs. Prong collars definitely need to be used properly and under the guidance of a qualified trainer.

I also agree with your thoughts re: dog parks. As you've noted, many times, the dogs aren't the problems; the owners are. This is yet another reason that I prefer my group of "dog friends" over the dog parks - they just get it, and we allow our dogs to quarrel to a certain extent and only step in if it gets out of control or if another isn't backing down.

On the walks, I think I'd walk them one at a time for now if at all possible. If your wife can take the puppy while you work with your guy, great, but if not, I think I'd consider splitting the walk in half, and walking one for half and looping back around home to pick up the other one for the other half. This way, you'll have one on one time with both your puppy and your older dog.

Classes for your young one will definitely help as well. :)

On the aside, raising two puppies is hard work! Many people don't realize that boxers are still puppies until they hit the age of two. It has been my experience that two out of three of my girls have been the absolute best puppies and the worst teenagers! I'm not sure that I could do a puppy and a teenager at once (hence my "no two under two policy" :lol: ) - kudos to you for sticking by them and keeping up with the training! I'm sure that, with training, you'll be able to get him through this and that he'll be all the better dog for it by the time he hits two (or thereabout).

Good luck!
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