Why is my dog so aggressive at dog parks?

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Why is my dog so aggressive at dog parks?

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Old 09-13-2017, 08:07 PM
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Unhappy Why is my dog so aggressive at dog parks?

My 1 year Pit bull/Sheperd mix cannot play with other dogs at the dog park because after 10-15 seconds of playing she starts trying to attack the other dog. It constant behavior and I cant always take her to a dog park because I cant trust her when her usual area has another dog in it.

She is not the type to bother a dog and I have never seen her initiate play with another dog. If they dont bother her then she doesnt bother them sort of thing. She also does great with my 2 cats.

I cant even take her out for walks because she's scared of cars. Even taking her out to the bathroom is a struggle because sometimes I have to drag her by her leash.

I keep trying and trying to give her chances and today she did it again. This woman with her 7 month Newfounder lets her dog off the leash and he instantly runs up to me. Here comes my dog running full speed trying to get me to chase her and the ladies dog tries to play her. My dog isn't even 5 seconds in before she is growling and snapping her teeth. The entire ordeal was embarrassing and I cant stand it because I know people might judge her behavior for being a pit.

The most interaction she gets with other dogs is when she goes to doggy school a couple times a month and even when watching her (Camera) I've seen her do it.

I adopted her a couple months ago and it's just so difficult dealing with her behavior. She is such a sweet dog and I will never take her back to the shelter but I was not expecting a dog who is picky with food, wont take walks, afraid of everything(She'll run like hell if a spoon drops), aggressive towards other dogs and chews everything to hell.

Any suggestions or advice? Is she just not dog friendly?
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Old 09-13-2017, 09:33 PM
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Sounds like she's telling you loud and clear that she's not a dog park kind of dog. *shrug* Some people like to go clubbing on the weekends; some people like to stay home and watch Netflix or curl up with a good book. Dogs are equally variable. Respect her enough to honor her wishes and keep her away from other dogs, at least until you've had some time to work with her and help her gain her confidence and overcome her fears.

Growling and snapping her teeth is her way of telling the other dog to back off. She's scared and it sounds like she's actually trying her hardest and using all of her self control and restraint to NOT attack the other dogs. A dog that wants to attack will simply attack. A dog that doesn't want to attack gives lots of warning signals, which is what your dog is doing.

Take a look at the Care for Reactive Dog protocol. I'd never heard of it until I came here looking for advice and help for my dog. She's a lot like yours in some ways. She doesn't do well around most dogs and needs slow, cautious and controlled introductions, and even then if the other dog makes a sudden move, she'll get scared and growl and bark and snap. She's improved a lot even in just a couple of months partially due to counter conditioning with the CARE protocol, and partially because I've been keeping her at a comfortable (for her) distance from other dogs. That's important because every time your dog reacts, it reaffirms the negative association in the dog's mind that other dogs are scary and she'd better scare them away before they get too close.

The CARE protocol is basic Pavlovian classical conditioning. With Pavlov, he rang a bell, showed the dog food, dog started to drool. Repeated it enough and eventually the bell alone caused the dog to drool. You can use that same principle to get your dog to associate something she currently views as scary and threatening, like other dogs, with something she thinks is really good, like super yummy treats. Your dog sees other dog from a safe distance, she gets a treat. Sees dog, gets treat. Sees dog, gets treat. You can do this with other things she's afraid of, too, like cars.

Please don't drag her by the leash and instead find another way to get her outside. Reward her for small steps in the right direction. You want her to associate going outside with good things. The last thing you want to do is make it scarier for her. Here's a good video that shows how to use clicker training and counter conditioning to help a dog overcome a fear (in this case, of a slippery kitchen floor).


(Thank you, @leashedForLife;, for mentioning that video in another thread. Great example.)
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Old 09-13-2017, 11:13 PM
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Sounds like she's telling you loud and clear that she's not a dog park kind of dog. *shrug* Some people like to go clubbing on the weekends; some people like to stay home and watch Netflix or curl up with a good book. Dogs are equally variable. Respect her enough to honor her wishes and keep her away from other dogs, at least until you've had some time to work with her and help her gain her confidence and overcome her fears.

Growling and snapping her teeth is her way of telling the other dog to back off. She's scared and it sounds like she's actually trying her hardest and using all of her self control and restraint to NOT attack the other dogs. A dog that wants to attack will simply attack. A dog that doesn't want to attack gives lots of warning signals, which is what your dog is doing.

Take a look at the Care for Reactive Dog protocol. I'd never heard of it until I came here looking for advice and help for my dog. She's a lot like yours in some ways. She doesn't do well around most dogs and needs slow, cautious and controlled introductions, and even then if the other dog makes a sudden move, she'll get scared and growl and bark and snap. She's improved a lot even in just a couple of months partially due to counter conditioning with the CARE protocol, and partially because I've been keeping her at a comfortable (for her) distance from other dogs. That's important because every time your dog reacts, it reaffirms the negative association in the dog's mind that other dogs are scary and she'd better scare them away before they get too close.

The CARE protocol is basic Pavlovian classical conditioning. With Pavlov, he rang a bell, showed the dog food, dog started to drool. Repeated it enough and eventually the bell alone caused the dog to drool. You can use that same principle to get your dog to associate something she currently views as scary and threatening, like other dogs, with something she thinks is really good, like super yummy treats. Your dog sees other dog from a safe distance, she gets a treat. Sees dog, gets treat. Sees dog, gets treat. You can do this with other things she's afraid of, too, like cars.

Please don't drag her by the leash and instead find another way to get her outside. Reward her for small steps in the right direction. You want her to associate going outside with good things. The last thing you want to do is make it scarier for her. Here's a good video that shows how to use clicker training and counter conditioning to help a dog overcome a fear (in this case, of a slippery kitchen floor).

How to train your dog to get over his fears! - dog training - YouTube

(Thank you, @leashedForLife;, for mentioning that video in another thread. Great example.)
Yeah I just started to suspect that she probably isn't dog friendly which becomes more difficult because the dog park is truly the only place I can really get her to get some exercise. I'll definitely try this and I really appreciate you linking me to this. Training classes for her ended up being a waste of money and I feel like the instructor didn't understand the extent of my dog's anxiety.

Also I've tried the treats with her to get her outside to use the bathroom. It was fine until the manager of my apartment complex decided dogs couldn't use the bathroom on the apartment grass anymore because they wanted to grow the landscape. She's gotten a lot better with walking to go outside the apartment complex but it's still takes me to give the leash a good tug for her to get moving. I even have to connect her leash to her collar and harness because the dog has escaped so many times.
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Old 09-14-2017, 12:19 AM
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There are lots of ways to exercise your dog on a lead outside so she's under your control but can still run a bit. Fetch, flirt pole and a vigorous game of tug of war are my go defaults. If you incorporate training, commands such as leave it, take it, drop it, wait for release command, etc. she'll get physical and mental exercise at the same time.

You might have to teach her to play those kinds of games first, but training and learning and intellectual stimulation can be as exhausting as physical exercise. I know there are days I come home from work totally wiped and all I did was sit in front of a computer all day, but I'm utterly exhausted from staring at spreadsheets and databases and such.

It may be that the dog park isn't tiring her out from exercise, but stressing her out to exhaustion. I don't know that for sure, of course. Just speculating. Mental stimulation and healthy, unstressful exercise will be so much better for her.

Another option is scent work, even if it's just one of those treat balls or puzzles with her food in it.

The treats aren't to lure her outside; that might make her more stressed if she feels forced to face the scary thing before she's ready in order to get the treats. You should practice when you can take your time and aren't in a hurry, and reward her for each small bit of progress the way the woman in the Kikopup video did.

I can see where a regular obedience class wouldn't work well for her, but you might want to look into consulting with a behaviorist who has experience dealing with anxious/reactive dogs.

Also keep in mind that if she's been under stress (scared enough to react to other dogs) regularly, it may take time for her cortisol levels to drop back to normal. From what I've read, she'll be more prone to react when she's stressed and cortisol levels are high, so a week or two of keeping her calm and away from other dogs (or anything that triggers a reaction) will also help in general. I've noticed that with my own dog. Each time she's forced to react to another dog, it sets back her progress and she's even more quick to react than she was.

Counter conditioning helps. It's not a fast and easy fix, but it does work.
Good luck to you and your pup.
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Old 09-14-2017, 08:58 AM
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It could be that she is just sort of introverted, and just doesn't like crowds of other dogs. Some dogs are just homebodies.

I had two related dogs, one of them was the queen of the dog park. She made the rounds visiting all the people, and initiated play with every dog she encountered. She was happiest when a she was leading a group of dogs in a "chase me" game all over the park.

On the other hand, her nephew was completely overwhelmed by the dog park. He spent his whole time in the park patrolling the fence, looking for a way out.
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Old 09-14-2017, 10:13 AM
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Question hyperarousal?

her behavior could also be over-excitement, which after a brief period, spills over into aggro.

Common signs of over-arousal include hackling - the hair lifts over the shoulders, along the spine, or shoulders & rump; pupils become enormous despite the dog being in daylight; tail jacks up 20 or more degrees higher than the dog usually carries it; posturing - the dog stands high on toes, chest out, weight forward, ears forward, very stiff; then suddenly explodes into a fight, or over-aggressive 'play' with lots of chasing, shoulder-bumps, hip-slams, ear-grabbing, etc.

Does she show any of those B4 she gets into a rumble?

- terry

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Old 09-17-2017, 01:54 AM
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her behavior could also be over-excitement, which after a brief period, spills over into aggro.

Common signs of over-arousal include hackling - the hair lifts over the shoulders, along the spine, or shoulders & rump; pupils become enormous despite the dog being in daylight; tail jacks up 20 or more degrees higher than the dog usually carries it; posturing - the dog stands high on toes, chest out, weight forward, ears forward, very stiff; then suddenly explodes into a fight, or over-aggressive 'play' with lots of chasing, shoulder-bumps, hip-slams, ear-grabbing, etc.

Does she show any of those B4 she gets into a rumble?

- terry

OH MY GOD YES! One minute she's running and the dog is chasing her and she is chasing the dog and the next minute she's about ready to throw down!

She isn't downright resisting the dogs when they come up to play with her but it is like she has no idea to read body language and that her behavior is not acceptable. Even when I play with her she gets REALLY aggressive. She has not ever hurt me and I don't believe she intends to but it's enough if someone didn't know her that they would assume she was trying to attack them.

That is why I kept on trying and all the advice I got on her behavior was "Oh other dogs will let her know" . So I just kept trying to interact her with other dogs maybe once or twice a month.
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Old 09-17-2017, 10:55 AM
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When I got my dog he was already 16 months old had been at a shelter for a month and had 2 homes before me. He had basically little to no training or socialization at all. He loved other dogs but would run full tilt at them with no introduction and leap on them or try to hump every dog he met. I took him and still do, take him to the dog park daily so he got daily lessons from other dogs about how to meet and approach. I had him ultrasounded to make sure he was fully neutered since he was acting like an intact male and most of his fights were with other males, especially unneutered ones. He never will fight with a female but will run away. He's also not at all possessive about toys, treats or me. If another dog growls over a ball he steals he just drops it and walks away. If another dog tells him to back off the humping before I can get to him to stop it myself he listens and won't try again. If the other dog doesn''t tell him no, I get him and put him on a leash for a little timeout he learns not to do that.
His fights were mainly escalations when he didn't read body language of other dogs at first. Rarely or never did he start a fight but if another dog did he didn't like to back down. However no one ever got hurt during any of these episodes so it was more bluster than actual serious fights.
Him going daily helped because of the consistency. Once a month might not teach your dog much. Also I've never played with any of my animals in a way that encouraged them to be rough with me. I'll play tug and fetch but never wrestle with my dogs. One male friend I have grew up with large dogs and when I first got this dog, he was encouraging him to chew on his arm when I was out of the room. I came in and was horrified and asked him not to play with him that way because I didn't want him to learn that it was ok to chew on people. When he reluctantly stopped his arm was bleeding, not sure how that was fun. I taught my dog that tug is fine but when I say ok give, tug is over for now. When I give him treats he knows the word gentle.
What also helped socialize him was playing with dogs he knew and gets along with well at first and avoiding busier times at the park. Doggy daycare at a good place was also wonderful for him because they watch them constantly and separate them and give them breaks if they're too excited. It really helped with socializing my dog to other dogs. Now I can really feel confident that he'll get along with any dog in any place I take him too unless it's a vicious dog that can't be with others.
So maybe teaching her an enough or gentle command when you're playing with her to teach her to help control when she's getting too excited? If she can't control herself with you it would be even tougher with other dogs. What about taking her to or by the dog park more frequently at quieter times so it's less of a rare novelty? Like nights or early in the morning so maybe she could interact with an older mellow dog and see its not so ex citing and it's more of a normal routine. My dog is so used to it now he'll just walk around and sniff and just lie down unless one of his favorite buddies is there. Or if we miss a day or two.
Just some thoughts. But if you only go once a month and she's young I can see why she'd be so excited. You don't learn a new language only practicing once a month and she's learning to socialize with her own kind. If she's dangerous and hurting other dogs, then work with a trainer. My dog never hurt anyone.
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