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  1. #1
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Disastrous morning at the dog park. What to do?

    Just got back from the dog park with our two pups, Max and Dora, and we had some MAJOR problems.

    For a little background, we've had Dora for about a year and a half now. She's a sheltie mix of some kind, and a herding dog through and through. We've also learned that she's an alpha female to the core. When we were looking for a 2nd dog to keep her company, we brought home one female and promptly returned her because the 2nd dog was also an alpha female, and there were some serious issues with fighting. I mean, those two would try to kill each other. It was awful, and I actually ended up in the ER with a bitten hand as a result of the last fight that put them over the edge.

    Max was a different story. We kinda weren't aware of it when we adopted him 8 months or so ago, but Max almost definitely has some kind of bull breed in his mix. Not really an issue, though, because he is a complete sweetie, very friendly and loving around people, and usually around other dogs. Usually.

    So today, at the dog park, we get there and there's another male/female pair there. Max runs in and starts playing chase, and Dora hangs back around us, until the other female comes near us. In what has become pretty typical Dora style, she started growling/baring teeth/snapping at the other female on multiple occasions. Nothing serious, but I had to pull them apart.

    The bigger surprise/shock was Max. Our sweet, lovable Max. At one point, 5 or 6 new dogs showed up at about the same time, including a large male boxer, another male mutt, and the other alpha female from before. This turned into a big dog pile/dominance humping extravaganza, and Max was on the bottom of the pile. I was watching him, and he was hunched down, completely motionless, and clearly terrified with nowhere to go.

    Within seconds of my realizing that he was clearly scared, Max just lunged at the much larger Boxer, grabbing hold of its neck and wrestling him to the dirt. This wasn't play anymore. The boxer was screaming and yelping and Max wasn't letting go. Even when the boxer's owner jumped in and tried to pull Max off, he wouldn't let up. The boxer's owner was even PUNCHING max in the gut to try to get him off, and he just wouldn't yield. Finally, with me prying Max's mouth open and pulling him off, we got things under control, made sure everyone was OK, and left.

    Now my wife and I are scared. Ever since we've gotten a second dog, Dora has had serious dominance aggression issues, and now Max has clearly shown that, when sufficiently provoked or frightened, he can be an extremely aggressive dog. Where did we go wrong? They're so social around people, but disaster strikes lately when other dogs are around.

    My wife and I are both still getting over the shock, but what can we do? We need help!
    "Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."

  2. #2
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    Keep them out of dog parks and away from other dogs. You and your Family are their "pack". You are the Alpha male and your Wife the Alpha female. They are the subordinates around your home and Family and they know it. But with strange dogs from other packs, they take on a different character with these strangers.

  3. #3
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Pete, Max was reacting to a threat situation where he felt overwhelmed. It's actually a natural reaction and the only thing I can really suggest is slow socialization to larger and larger groups of dogs so his anxiety levels can be slowly ratcheted down. You do need to immediately stop aggressive behavior when it starts to occur. If he happens to have any Pit Bull in his ancestry, this trained behavioral stop is critical! Pits are bred specifically as fighting dogs and even the sweetest Pit has the aggression buried not to terribly deep in their behavioral set. They are also really terriers, so you have a distinct excitability as well.

    Remember though, there aren't really any bad dogs, just badly behaving dogs and socialization and proper training are the keys to turning around a dog that''s displaying undesirable behaviors.

    Here's a resource to start you off

    http://www.bcrescue.org/fearaggression.html

    http://mendocinohumane.org/html/aggressive.html
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  4. #4
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    we had very similar issues with two dogs that were both alphas at my folks house. they were okay with each other until they both wanted the same bone...and that triggered intense fighting that has never worked itself out (4 years now).

    now, my parents have to always keep them separated at all time... only one can be in the house at a time, they have to walk them separately, etc. it's a huge problem for them.

    i hope you have better luck with yours. just keep a close eye on them and don't let trouble brew.

  5. #5
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Pete, find a dog trainer who does special one-on-one work with unusual issues. You may be good with basic dog obedience, etc., but obviously this is an out-of-the-ordinary situation. S/he can help you and your wife learn whatever special skills are necessary. At least you'll know whether or not you can turn this behavior around.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  6. #6
    Bring May Flowers aprilm's Avatar
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    I second the advice of keeping them out of dog parks until this "issue" is resolved--and also, getting a trainer.

    I'm no expert, but whenever I take my dog to the dog park, I have my eye on him AT ALL TIMES, and keep close to him. I see owners that just let their dogs wander wherever they choose, and these owners sit on the benches yakking into cell phones without a clue as to what their dogs are doing. I'm not saying you're doing this, but whenever you take a dog to a dog park, you have to watch not only your dog, but all the other dogs in the vicinity of yours. I don't mind if my dog is playing with others, but I'll try to keep him away from large groups, as a fight can happen in the blink of an eye. If he starts playing a little too aggressively, I'll pull him away from the situation immediately. The owners of the dogs that began getting a little too dominant with your dog are also to blame for letting that happen. My dog has a tendency to try to gain dominance over others, and I nip it in the bud as soon as I realize what's going on. This isn't JUST your fault.

    Watch the Dog Whisperer or get some of his videos. I started watching his show recently, and it's kind of addicting.

  7. #7
    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    Sounds like Max got "flooded" and with no pack reference (you weren't perceived by him in the immediate vicinity, and therefore he couldn't look to you to control the situation), he just lost it. Like Tom said, you need to (re)assert your dominance in situations like this, right from the get-go. BTW, punching a dog in the stomach isn't asserting dominance- it's going to be perceived as fighting back, and a dog will fight back as well to assert his/her dominance. That guy made matters worse, as understandable as his behavior is.

    I'm not convinced that this is a permanent behavior on Max's part- could just be an extraordinary response to an extraordinary situation, but I'd take Donna's and Tom's advice and look into a trainer.

    EDIT: Good advice April. I do the same with mine, just like I've had to do with my kids when they were little . (Not that we used leashes on them or anything...)

  8. #8
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    Wow, this type of behavioral problem is what all dog owners worry about. Aside from the excellent advice above, don't give up on them. Tom is absolutely right that both of your dogs have to slowly learn to socialize with ever increasing groups of dogs. In addition to obedience classes, you should check to see if there are any group gatherings in your area. These are sometimes organized by dog owners to help socialize their dogs.

  9. #9
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    well, max is a normal dog.

    the other is an a-hole. so... yeah, that's what dogs do.

  10. #10
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    You need one of these:


  11. #11
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    I'm glad I like cats.

  12. #12
    was kung-fu fighting lodi781's Avatar
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    I don't see that max really did anything out of the ordinary pete. If he was at the bottom of the pile, he may have felt threatened, and you can't really blame him. My only advice is to walk the female with a muzzle until the issues are resolved.
    " The love you withhold is the pain you carry, lifetime after lifetime."

  13. #13
    Why not? EthanYQX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StrangeWill View Post
    I'm glad I like cats.
    I like cats too. Especially the dirty ones that their ignorant owners leave outside-it's funny to watch them run from my Lab.
    "It is not the critic who counts."

  14. #14
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
    You need one of these:
    Have you heard of "Golden Rage", Pcad? Sadly, poor breeding practices are slowly ruining our favorite dog.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  15. #15
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    By the way, wading into a dog fight is a great way to get bit yourself accidentally by one of the dogs. Spray them with a hose if one is available, or even a water bottle, right in the face. The shock value alone is usually enough to stop the fight. If not, be really careful and get both dogs on their backs in a submissive posture to establish dominance on both. A dog on his back will surrender 99 times out of 100.

    While you are doing this a very loud, firm"NO"! is whipped as hard as you can with your voice......dominance vocally with the minimal force needed to roll the dog is highly effective.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  16. #16
    runnin' down a dream edbikebabe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
    You need one of these:
    Mine is mild tempered & loving towards people. And other dogs - most of the time. If she has her ball though - all bets are off & I think she would protect it to the death. Sigh.

    Doc Pete - no more dog park walks. If you can't predict their behaviour, they can't go. Otherwise it is your fault if something happens, cause you knew it could.

  17. #17
    Blasted Weeds Tude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfin2004 View Post
    Keep them out of dog parks and away from other dogs. You and your Family are their "pack". You are the Alpha male and your Wife the Alpha female. They are the subordinates around your home and Family and they know it. But with strange dogs from other packs, they take on a different character with these strangers.
    Oh most definitely - no dog parks. You know I read a lot about how nice they are and we have one (kinda) here and you see vids about happy dogs .... but I always had a couple of territorial dogs - I mean my little 9 lb wringin' wet peek-a-poo that looked like a scrawny fox - turned from Peek-a-poo into Peek-a-ROTT when around other dogs. She didn't care. Sniff my butt - and she'd stand there and I could see she was setting them up and now I'm on the run over to her - and this little midgie dog became a snarly, biting ALIEN - that I've had to grab while a horrified owner ran over to their much, much bigger dog who is yelping. Nope - no doggie parks for my little "peek-a-rott". She was mine, and I was hers and as long as I did the right things (gotta love these people who let their kids run up to a dog that's being walked - so they can pet them - PLEASE do not do this - which always resulted in me whisking my dog away because children especially, invaded her space - and was too close to me).

    Lovely little friend for 16-1/2 years - just had to adjust (both of us) to getting along with other people/dogs.

    Sorry - I drooled on for a bit.

    Do give Max a chance - but understand you saw what he can do so now be wary of the situations and avoid them.

  18. #18
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
    By the way, wading into a dog fight is a great way to get bit yourself accidentally by one of the dogs. Spray them with a hose if one is available, or even a water bottle, right in the face. The shock value alone is usually enough to stop the fight. If not, be really careful and get both dogs on their backs in a submissive posture to establish dominance on both. A dog on his back will surrender 99 times out of 100.

    While you are doing this a very loud, firm"NO"! is whipped as hard as you can with your voice......dominance vocally with the minimal force needed to roll the dog is highly effective.
    that is effective. i just backed away from the screen.

  19. #19
    Mr. Maximan1 maximan1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lodi781 View Post
    I don't see that max really did anything out of the ordinary pete. If he was at the bottom of the pile, he may have felt threatened, and you can't really blame him. My only advice is to walk the female with a muzzle until the issues are resolved.
    I do not need a muzzle.

  20. #20
    Dirt-riding heretic DrPete's Avatar
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    Thanks, guys. With a little retrospect it was very clear that Max was very overwhelmed. I was standing a ways away with Dora (Max's alpha) on a leash, and I'm sure he felt 1. scared as hell, and 2. like Dora and I were nowhere nearby to help.

    I guess what was most disconcerting was just how aggressive/tenacious Max can be in that situation... It'll be all about the gradual socializing from now on, and careful attention to situations where Max can feel scared.

    As for Dora... well, she just has issues. Either way, we'll be checking with a behavior expert.

    Thanks again, foosters!
    "Unless he was racing there was no way he could match my speed."

  21. #21
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximan1 View Post
    I do not need a muzzle.
    I think we should put that to a vote...

  22. #22
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrPete View Post
    Either way, we'll be checking with a behavior expert.
    Good plan.
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  23. #23
    Peloton Dog patentcad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnamb View Post
    Have you heard of "Golden Rage", Pcad? Sadly, poor breeding practices are slowly ruining our favorite dog.
    I suppose if you pick a good breeder, you get a Golden who's a big mush. That's what we have. Never heard of 'Golden Rage', but I'll Google it.

  24. #24
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about your bad day.

    It sounds to me like Max was put in an extreme situation, and he felt he had no choice but to react in an extreme manner.

    This thread reminded me of this article I really like:

    http://www.flyingdogpress.com/sayhi.html

    I'm just going to quote a little from it:

    Excerpt from HE JUST WANTS TO SAY "HI!"
    By Suzanne Clothier


    Sitting quietly on the mall bench beside my husband, I was minding my own business when the man approached. I glanced up as the man sat next to me. He was a bit close for my comfort, so I edged a little closer to my husband who, busy reading a book, ignored me. Still feeling a bit uncomfortable with the strange man so close, I then turned my head slightly away from him, politely indicating I was not interested in any interaction. To my horror, the man leaned over me and began licking my neck while rudely groping me.

    When I screamed and pushed him away, my trouble really began. My husband angrily threw me to the ground, yelling at me "Why did you do that? He was only trying to be friendly and say hi! What a touchy ***** you are! You're going to have to learn to behave better in public."

    People all around us stared and shook their heads sadly. I heard a few murmuring that they thought my husband should do something about my behavior; some even mentioned that he shouldn't have such a violent woman out in public until I'd been trained better. As my husband dragged me to the car, I noticed that the man who had groped me had gone a bit further down the mall and was doing the same thing to other women.

    This is a silly scenario, isn't it? First, anyone who knows me knows that I would never be in a mall except under considerable duress. More seriously, no rational human being would consider my response to the man's rudeness as inappropriate or vicious. By invading my personal space, the man crossed the lines of decent, civilized behavior; my response would be considered quite justified.

    That my husband might punish me for responding to such rudeness by screaming and pushing the offender away is perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this scenario. If he were to act in this way, there would be no doubt in the minds of even the most casual observers that his ego was of far greater importance than my safety or comfort, and that he was sorely lacking even rudimentary empathy for how I might be feeling in this situation.

    Fortunately for me, this scenario is completely imaginary. Unfortunately for many dogs, it is a very real scenario that is repeated far too often. Inevitably, as the owners who have allowed their dogs to act rudely retreat from the situation, there are comments made about "that aggressive dog" (meaning the dog whose space had been invaded) and the classic comment, usually said in hurt tones, "He only wanted to say hi!"

  25. #25
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankshaftYQX View Post
    I like cats too. Especially the dirty ones that their ignorant owners leave outside-it's funny to watch them run from my Lab.
    Ah animal abuse by proxy?
    Last edited by StrangeWill; 04-28-08 at 05:22 AM.

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