If you have a dog that was either a rescue dog or for some reason has unexplained fears of other dogs, a lot of patience is necessary in helping your dog to overcome these anxieties. It can be something that your dog can overcome but indeed will take some time to do so.
The first three steps in helping your dog to a normal life is to first identify the problem, to desensitize it and to redirect your dog’s focus from his fears.
Identifying the problem is in noting that your dog is aggressive towards other animals. Aggression is usually a sign of fear rather than anger within your dog. He/she does not know how to handle fear and tries to act tough through aggression so the problem will go away (the other animals).
Desensitizing your dog involves introducing him/her to the inner fears slowly and indirectly, working through a reward system. Work with a regular leash, and walk your dog near another a fenced area so they do not meet directly. In doing so, work on keeping your dog focused on you as you get closer and closer to his fear. With every step closer, with your dog totally focused on you, reward him with a treat he loves. The object is to have the fear (the other animal) nearby for your dog to see, yet have him keep his focus on you with a reward. Gradually move closer and closer to the other animal until your dog feels more comfortable to be in the same area without aggressive response. This may take many sessions of training to get to this point but don’t give up. Patience is its’ own reward and your dog will be less stressed.
Even after desensitizing your dog of his fear of other dogs, there can still be some lingering apprehension. Again, it is a matter of getting his focus back on to you and rewarding him. The more you work with your dog, the better for both of you. Especially if you have a rescue dog, it will take a lot of time, work and patience on your part to socialize him. If you need further help, it may be best to look into a class specifically for this type of behavior so that your dog does not live an unhealthy stressed out life. It doesn’t have to be that way and any type of behavior can be instilled in your dog, as long as you have the time, the patience and a whole lot of love that he needs. Trust me, he will return the love and loyalty beyond your biggest expectations.