Sudden barking, snapping and lunging. I’m slightly scared of my dog now – help please.

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Hi everyone,

We rescued our dog just over 2 weeks ago and we've had some issues with leash reactivity since we got him. He's never barked or snapped or anything he usually whines and tries to pull towards other dogs. We've taken him on a few walks now and off leash dogs have run over to him and usually he just wants to play with them but yesterday he did growl at one dog that was jumping in his face. Otherwise he was fine.

But today we went for a walk and avoided all other dogs (we have an appointment with a trainer tomorrow). However, someone had put a large stuffed unicorn on their fence and when we walked past it, it must have startled my dog because he started lunging, growling, snapping and had all the hair on his back standing up. We tried to show him that it was nothing to be scared of but he kept growling at it so we walked away. This in itself doesn't bother me too much because its unlikely that we will encounter a large stuffed unicorn ever again. But it makes me worried about him in general. I'm scared to ever let him near another dog again because what if he did that to another dog? I've never seen him act like that, it was so aggressive and usually not much phases him – hes very, very gentle at home.

Obviously I will talk to the trainer about this but I wondered if anyone else had an opinion? It's made me slightly scared of him. What if it had have been another dog that came quickly around the corner and startled him? Im okay with him being startled by something – but to react like that is obviously not something we want to happen.

The place we got him from said that he was dog friendly and from what we've seen, hes a little awkward with other dogs but mostly just chases them. I thought he was friendly enough with them but now I just don't know, now that I've seen what he is capable of.

Sorry this is very rambling, I'm quite shaken up.

Edit: he's a really big dog, about 100 pounds so we know he could do some serious damage.

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