Any tips on dealing with aggressive dogs, I have a dog who is nothing but sweet around humans but will always try and...
Calming the Storm
Ok, there is a few different reasons why a dog would act like this, and I'm going to touch on them briefly each. So if this isn't the case with your dog, scroll down and you might find your answer later in my rambling!
First, a lot of the bully breeds are like this. That means anything from the world of pit bulls, meaning the American pit bull terrier, English staffordshire terrier, American staffordshire terrier, bull terrier, American bull dog, and so on. This means any dog bred for protection originally. So you can count yourself in if you have something like a doberman or rot.
They do it because they want to protect you, their not worried about anything lower down in the wrung from them, like the smaller dogs, they do it with anything bigger. Anything that seems like it could be a threat to its human or territory. It's almost always because they see their owner as a pack mate and not an alpha. There's a few ways to get this fixed in their heads, and its as simple as the way you behave. When you meet a new dog, one that's larger, or smaller, make sure your dog sits at your side. Don't let them even look at the other dog until you have greeted the other human in the room/park and the other dog. Show your dog that you are the one in charge and that you can handle yourself. The dog is going to feel less like there's a possibility of the other dog taking over what they see as yours and their shared territory. Show them they don't need to worry about it. That you are handling it, and they'll be more relaxed. Sounds simple, but it takes work. Don't let your dog obsess about the other, it only leads them into thinking that you're not in charge of the situation.
A lot of the toy breeds have this issue as well .The Big Dog Complex. You see it in anything from a chihuahua to a beagle. They are smaller so they feel the need to show that they are the top dog and prove that their size isn't a factor. This is a similar path, you need your dog to understand that your in charge. Anyway that you can do it. Make them understand that you will police the other dog, and not the other way around. They get worried that the other dog could easily overthrow their place in the pack, so they react badly. Terrible way to start a meeting of canines off! Make them sit and ask the other dog owner to have their dog lie down. Let them get eye level and just make sure that neither dog is showing any signs of aggression. Make them stay this way until the storm has calmed and neither really care about the other. Might be a lot of growling to overcome, but correct the dog with a noise comment or a dominance play to show them that this is not their business to interact like this. Silly but true. Let them know you are alpha.
Unsocialized dogs will do this a lot as well, something about not being comfortable with outside pack interaction will trigger a big teritory rush .They think that anything bigger is intruding on their pack and they want to maintain their spot in the ranks. So they lash out at anything bigger in hopes to do so. Make your dog comformtable that their spot is secure in the pack. When you meet a bigger dog, make sure your dog and their dog are sitting calmly and don't interact with the other dog until both dogs are calm. At this point you can first pet your dog and then theirs. Assure them that you and the other owner are the dominants and not the dogs. Both dogs will react from this, and you'll have a much calmer meeting.
None of this is easy, and I've gone though it myself with fosters and my own. It takes time and patience, and maybe some change in the way that you act with your dog. But its accomplishable. If your dog comes form a background where it may have been used for fighting, or baiting there's bigger steps that you need to take. My little girl came from a place where she was used for baiting for bigger and badder pits, there was a lot to recover from it. If you have any questions about that, feel free to ask.
Hope that this helps you have a happier experience with your canine.