Overcoming fear in an adopted dog
Q: Last year, I adopted a young male Border Collie. Though generally friendly, he was aggressive to other dogs and, sometimes, people. Following training classes, he's fine around other dogs and I take him to my local pub to get him used to strangers. Is this an appropriate socialising method for him?
A: You sound as if you are doing the right things. In many cases of aggression, the behaviour is fear-based and takes time to overcome. Slowly introducing him to people is correct, but confined places may be too much for him, and a pub can be problematic when patrons are under the influence of alcohol and may display loud or aggressive behaviour. A trip to a park may be better. Take toys or treats with you and ask people to throw them to him so he starts to associate 'strangers' with something nice.
Inga MacKellar, animal behaviourist