View Full Version : Dealing with aggressive behavior

07-20-2009, 12:04 PM
I have a new rescued ACD that has been in our home for a few weeks now. He gets along fine with our female ACD mix after a few small incidents, but cannot seem to get along with other male dogs - particularily unneutered males.

Maverick, our new dog, is approx 5-6 years old and was just neutered a few weeks ago so I do understand that he is still acting like an intact male dog. He is great with small children, other people, and most female or smaller dogs - in fact he is probably one of the sweetest most mellow dogs I've ever met.

The problem comes when he meets another male dog - especially if it hasn't been neutered...the two dogs start the standard sniffing routine walking in circles and then Maverick will start to growl, bear his teeth, and if it goes further he will actually put his mouth on the other dogs neck or back. This has happened several times and because he has a solid recall and is very submisive to me I have been able to call him off the other dog and we leave the situation. This last week we were visiting friends with a huge yellow lab and since we knew them and the dog and the lab has always been submissive and playful we tried the intros several times but has no success. At one point it appeared that Maverick was bit the dog but when we seperated them and looked at the lab there were no actual punctures of his skin.

I would hate to always have to avoid any situation where we may encounter other male dogs and would welcome any suggestions for how we might help Maverick better socialize with males. He really is the most wonderful dog you could ever ask for in all other situations but just doesn't sem to understand how to play and socialize with other dogs.

07-20-2009, 12:24 PM
A "few weeks" isn't enough time for Maverick's body to understand he is shooting blanks. It could take several months for that to happen--he still has the feeling of an intact male. Plus he has prior behavior patterns too. I had a neutered fostered male until this past Saturday who very much felt he was still the county stud!! He mounted every one of my females (he learned quickly that behavior didn't please me) with the intent on leaving them with his kids to deal with later on (never got the chance to finish the act)--he had been neutered a couple of weeks. He and my dominant male, who has been neutered for a year and a half didn't get along at all and it was my dominant male who hated him, not the other way around. So, there are males who will be dominant without testicles, there are newly neutered males that don't know their "stuff" is gone -- for quite a while. Hopefully through training, he will learn he must not be aggressive but don't expect him to think he's not complete when his body is telling him otherwise.

As to aggression, I don't allow fighting here, not even with dominant females or males who think they have a "right", and since I control the situation, they learn that I am in charge and if they want to stay in good with me, they temper/control their behavior. That doesn't mean someone might not take offense but I take even more offense and separate them, remove them or deal with them. If a dust-up occurs, I try to be on top of it immediately before the dogs think they have a situation to settle themselves. So far, it's worked here, I am always careful and take a lot of time to introduce any new foster here especially to my dominant neutered male and dominant spayed female. If you know you have a dog with a bone to pick with other dogs, always have him on a leash when there is a possibility he could be with other dogs, and be able to remove him from the situation before it escalates. Keep your eyes on them, your mind on them and watch for preliminary posturing to avoid a conflict. With discipline, training, and a keen eye, you will get the situation under control or at least manageable.

07-20-2009, 03:42 PM
then Maverick will start to growl, bear his teeth, and if it goes further he will actually put his mouth on the other dogs neck or back. This has happened several times and because he has a solid recall and is very submissive to me I have been able to call him off the other dog and we leave the situation.

It sounds like you are doing the right things, but maybe just start a little sooner. Like Janet already said, the hormones are still in him, so this may resolve itself in time, but if you start letting him know that even the beginning nonsense isn't acceptable, you may also be able to train it out of him.

Do you stay close to him when he's greeting the other dogs? Do you give him an 'enough' or 'knock it off' or 'leave it' when he starts to stiffen? Usually before the growl or teeth showing, the dog will hold their body still and tight, tail high or going up- if you can watch for some of the smaller indicators, and then either make him move on like you are doing or distract him with a ball or something else, you can teach him what's not acceptable. Catching it early is key- if he's already getting into that mode, it's going to be way harder to pull him out of it. That's just standard ACD focus which I'm sure you've had to deal with before. Watch his tail position when he greets another dog, his body posture- those kinds of things. A good book for helping catch the small, early indicators is this one that has pictures galore that explain each little thing:


Buck has been neutered since 12 weeks old and still does not like most intact males. He's not aggressive or dominant with them (or any other dog), but will take so much less foolish behavior from them compared to a fixed dog that I tend to avoid them when we are out and about unless it's one that we know well. There's a Rottie buddy of his that's intact and a great dog and we have no issues, but I think it's a lot about the owners and how well their dogs are trained- just as it is with any dog.

07-20-2009, 05:13 PM
I second the book idea - it is very helpful to see the slight differences in stance/behavior and clear up any doubts you may have had. If you know what to look for you can stop the behavior before it goes anywhere. Mrs YB