My lab is super aggressive towards other dogs, especially on walks. How do I fix this?

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So I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this question, but here goes.

I have a chocolate Labrador named Alfie. He’s the family pet, we’ve had him for several years now and I think he’s around 7/8 years old – we’ve lost track. We got him from another family who could no longer look after him ( something about the grandad becoming ill) and so we got him when he was about a year old.

He’s always been a bit of a ‘naughty dog’ – constantly on the hunt for food and will grab some at any chance, barks a lot, loveable but boundless energy. At the time, we already had a female lab called Honey, who was much older than Alfie, and despite at first Alfie seeming scared of Honey, they got on pretty well eventually and I would even say Honey became the dominant one.

Now, when Honey passed away, we started to notice a change in Alfie’s behaviour. She passed around 3 years ago and when we would take them on walks together, we never really had any problems. Alfie is fine off the lead and will never go too far/will always come back, and I have no memory of him acting SUPER aggressive towards other dogs whilst Honey was around.

However, whenever we now walk Alfie, he full on turns into attack mode when he sees a dog. He’s usually worse when he’s on the lead, but the same more or less happens when he’s off – it’s usually a gamble. He’ll bolt towards the dog or dogs in sight, growl/bark whilst shoving into them and trying to snap/bite. There have been a few rare instances when he’s not had this reaction, and instead just shows curiosity, but they are few and far between. The dogs can be big or small, friendly or stand-off ish, it doesn’t matter – Alfie will go over and try to assert his dominance and act tough.

We try walking the other way, pulling him away, trying to remain calm, nothing seems to work. We usually just avoid all other dogs now so that he doesn’t notice them at all, but obviously it’s hard to do that all the time without depriving Alfie of walks completely.

But as you can imagine, this whole ordeal has created a lot of embarrassing and frightening exchanges. We usually take Alfie to a sand dunes nearby where we live, as it’s usually less popular, and if the coast is clear we’ll let him roam off the lead so he can get a good run. Obviously sometimes he will find a dog, though, and at that point yelling for him to come back does nothing unless the other dog snaps back at him and he backs off.

Today, he managed to slip his head out of the collar that was attached to the lead and headed towards 3 dogs all belonging to the same owner. That was very stressful for everyone involved and I apologised a lot – I’m a 5ft 4 130 pound girl and I’m pretty much useless in restraining him in these situations, so it’s finally gotten to me and I no longer feel comfortable walking him.

I really would like to have a professional trainer intervene, but I certainly can’t afford that atm and my family can’t either. We’ve thought about maybe trying a harness instead and even a muzzle, but I’m not sure what would be best.

So yeah, if anyone has any advice or similar experiences, please let me know! I think maybe Alfie wasn’t socialised properly with other dogs when he was a puppy but who knows. I wanna help the poor guy and stop freaking out other owners.

TLDR; chocolate lab is great on walks except for one thing – he acts viscous towards other dogs and becomes uncontrollable. What can I do?

Edit: thought I should probably add that Alfie is friendly towards humans and never acts this way towards the owners. He does bark if he hears a knock at the door or a unfamiliar voice, but I’ve just put that down to anxiety

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