How to Resocialize a Dog After an Attackby Susan Paretts
An attack by another dog can traumatize a previously socialized pooch, making him fearful or even aggressive around dogs. To prevent this from happening, after your pup heals from his injuries, slowly resocialize Fido to other dogs. Use positive reinforcement, desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to show your pup that his fellow canines aren't anything to fear, but rather potential friends whose presence results in rewards.
Dogs at a Distance
Start your pup off with a weak, nonthreatening version of the thing he fears, namely other dogs, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Play some barking sounds for him or show him dogs on television and give him treats whenever he hears or sees other canines. Have a friend, with a friendly dog, walk by your dog at a distance, while both dogs are on a leash. Each time the dog comes by, treat your pup and speak to him in a happy tone. When the dog walks away, stop the treats and happy talk. Soon Fido will learn that the presence of another dog is something positive.
Up Close and Personal
Once your pup no longer becomes upset by the presence of dogs at a distance, have a friend with a friendly pooch, preferably one he knew before his attack, meet with you. Make sure both dogs are on a leash. Keep the meeting at a neutral location, such as a park or neighbor's yard. Stay calm and talk to your dog in a friendly voice, giving him treats. Don't force him to interact with the other dog. Eventually, he might try to smell the other pooch and you can walk both dogs side-by-side, rewarding friendly interactions, according to the Animal Humane Society. If possible, repeat this process with other friendly dogs.
If your pup doesn't show signs of aggression around other dogs, consider enrolling him in an obedience class, recommends the Munster Animal Hospital. These classes offer you a way to socialize your dog to other pooches in a controlled environment while engaging his attention in training to distract him during the exposure to these other pups. The trainer present during the sessions can help you deal with any fearful behaviors your pup may display. During training, Fido will focus on you, so that he'll eventually become desensitized to the other dogs around him. For an aggressive dog, find a certified animal behaviorist, who can safely work with you to eliminate this issue.
Avoid punishing your pup for any shy, fearful or aggressive behavior around other dogs after his attack. While you might think that this will discourage such behavior, it actually has the opposite effect. Punishment teaches Fido that the presence of another dog results in further unpleasant experiences such as punishment, yelling or even leash corrections, increasing his fear of them, warns WholeDogJournal.com. While dog parks provide a way to expose your pup to other dogs, these other dogs may not be on a leash or may be aggressive, leading to yet another negative experience for your pup. Instead, stick to socializing your pup to other dogs whose temperaments you know.
- Deseret News: Resocializing Your Dog Takes Patience, Work and Another Dog
- Animal Humane Society: Socializing the Adult Dog
- Whole-Dog-Journal.com: Fighting Fire Without Fire
- Modern Dog Magazine: Ask An Expert -- Dog Park Dog Fight
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Dog Parks
- Partnership for Animal Welfare: Dog Tip: Socializing Adult Dogs and the Importance of Maintaining Socialization
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Desensitization and Counterconditioning
- Dogster: Socializing Older Dogs and Adult Dogs
- Munster Animal Hospital: Obedience Classes
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images