My small dog has turned progressively aggressive, mostly towards bigger dogs. What could have caused this and what can I do? Halp!
I adopted Junebug
three months ago. The vet tells me she's about a year and a half and Wisdom Panel says she's half Boston Terrier and half Large Munsterlander
. She's very active, smart, feisty, athletic, and affectionate. She does well in a crate and doesn't bark much at all at home. But over the past month or so she's gotten really aggressive towards dogs - mostly bigger ones. I used to bring her to the dog park several times a week but it's gotten so bad that I don't feel it's safe for her or the other dogs. As soon as we get inside the gate and I let her loose she bolts at top speed into the middle of the pack. She starts nipping and jumping around the other dogs like she's establishing that she's not to be messed with. This doesn't go over well at all. It's mostly the big dogs that she has a problem with; she's gentle and playful with puppies and doesn't bother much with the smaller dogs.
For the first couple of months she was fine. I'd take her out for a walk and she would basically ignore any other dog walking by. Now she lunges and snarls and barks. We go to obedience classes once a week and she did so well for the first month that the instructor bumped her from beginner to intermediate, but she's now devolved into a barking, lunging, Napoleonic mess.
What could have caused this and what can I do? The obedience instructor suggested that something could have happened at the dog park that I didn't notice, or that she's not getting enough activity. I wonder if she's being protective or territorial... she barks at new people when they come into the house, but out in public she's friendly and great with kids and adults.
I got a Gentle Leader to help address her issues with pulling on the lead but it hasn't been fully tested yet. She'll do anything for treats and a clicker but acts like the commands are a foreign language when I'm empty-handed. She goes to doggie daycare twice a week and I thought all was fine there. I asked them on Thursday if they noticed any behavior problems with her and that's when I was told that she has been aggressive towards bigger dogs and has been given several time outs because of it.
One other note - on Thanksgiving we were walking by a park (not a dog park) when we were ambushed by a pit bull and another big dog who were off-leash in the park. I had to pull Junebug up from the ground by her leash and she was shaken and scared but physically she was fine. I didn't notice any immediate change in behavior and only recently have wondered if this might be the cause.
Sorry for the wall of text. Any help with ideas on desensitizing her or training tips would be most appreciated.
Bonus pic of Junebug flying