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Howdy everyone!

This is my first post to please be patient with me.

I have a whippet/aussie mix (we call it a whipsie, hence my user name) who is 16 months old. He is a very gentle dog, very mild mannered, and always has been since we got him at 6 weeks old. I lived in Connecticut for a year which is where he grew up most of his life. He has always been social with other dogs and very gentle. I was/am unemployed so I used to take him to the dog park twice a day where he played with a variety of other dogs/breeds.

One of his favorite games was either giving chase to other dogs or having other dogs chase him. He rarely ever barked to get other dogs to play with him. If he would give chase (he's super fast), he would let up once he caught up to the other dog(s) and would never be aggressive, rather, playful during that time.

I moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles about 3 months ago and have been taking him to a local dog park. The first couple weeks were normal, he would play like usual (gentle) like he did in Connecticut. Slowly he started to get more aggressive toward other dogs (shame on me for not recognizing it and correcting it sooner) when he gives chase to them, especially smaller dogs. He also barks aggressively once he finally catches up to the dog when he gives chase and bites a bit harder than a play bite at other dogs' necks. Also, he barks relentlessly at other dogs who are playing, almost like he's trying to get them to play with him or to break it up. I tell him no, grab his harness and sit him down until he calms down, but he keeps on going back to it over and over again. I honestly do not know what changed with him these last couple months, but I'm getting annoyed and frustrated with him and I know the regulars at the dog park are probably starting to get equally annoyed.

Any and all humane help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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It's really common for dogs predatory instincts to kick in while they're playing "chasing" games. Neither of the daycares I've worked at allow chasing games or sprinting for this reason. It's called predatory drift, and it's not surprising considering you have a sighthound (high prey drive) x herder (prey drive and herding instincts) and that it's targeting smaller dogs, which more easily trigger the predatory instincts.

A couple of articles:

https://www.alldogsgym.com/behavior/articles/behavior/dog-play-behavior-and-qpredatory-driftq

Predatory Drift - What is it? How to avoid it!

I wouldn't let him play sprinting games at all in an environment like a dog park and also I wouldn't let him bark at other dogs that are playing. Both of these behaviors could cause a fight or get a dog hurt.

If you still want him to go to the dog park (I personally dislike them) would it be possible for him to drag a long line? Whenever he starts behaving inappropriately- bothering other dogs, sprinting, not listening, any behavior you don't want him to engage in- reel him in and take him outside of the dog park for a time out to calm down. If he can't control himself and listen, he doesn't get to play. When he's playing appropriately with another dog praise him (although being able to play would probably be reinforcing enough without the praise). Same as when he listens to you. I don't know the environment of your dog parks but if it's very busy it might not be a good idea to bring treats or toys to reward good behavior. That could trigger resource guarding and fights between dogs. If it's a fairly calm, controlled environment then you may be able to use those things to reward him when he listens to you.
 

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My dog is a very fast dog too, and I suspect there's sighthound somewhere back in his pedigree, most likely Basenji. We took him to dog parks till he was around 20 months old, and like your dog he was always gentle and well-mannered, loved to run, whether chasing or being chased.

Around 14 months, we noticed subtle changes in his behavior - he was a little more intense when new dogs came into the park, a little more intense with his chase games. It seemed the more dogs that were around, the more intense he would get. We put it down to maturing, but hated to deprive him of the opportunity to run and play, we worked at managing it instead. Till the day he got remarkably excited about a puppy someone brought into the dog park. I'm not sure if it was actual aggression, I'm not so good with body language that I could tell if it was extreme over-excitement or something else. The guy had the puppy in his arms and my dog went NUTS. He tried putting his puppy on the ground and Boone went even more crazy. I finally got him corralled, and took him away - that was the last time I visited that park.

We've found other outlets for his desire to run. The best one is a local lure coursing club, they have practices all summer long on the weekends and all dogs are welcome. You could try to find a similar club in your area.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
@revolutionrocknroll - Thank you for the info. After reading both articles, it seems as though I'll have to keep him away from the dog park for a little while. His issue is for sure with smaller dogs, they seem to mimic pray to him, especially if the dog is cowering or yelping. This is my first dog and I'm 32 years old so, I'm sure there's still a ton to learn. Again, thank you for those articles, they make a ton of sense.
 

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@Dia - That sounds exactly like my dog. Thanks for the reply, it makes a lot more sense now. I've looked into taking him to a lure course when I was back in Connecticut, but couldn't find anything local. Living in Los Angeles, I'm not sure if there would be one around here but I'll have to check, it's a good idea.
 

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It's also pretty normal for dogs to get a little less easy-going at the dog park as they grow up (not all dogs, but a vast number). Puppies generally don't have very discriminating tastes, but grown-up dogs often prefer hanging out with close friends instead of a rowdy crowd. Maybe the move caused some stress, maybe his predatory instincts are being triggered, maybe the dogs at the new park aren't a great match, and/or maybe he's just maturing, but a break from the park sounds like a great idea.

I've never lived near a lure course, but have had fun taking my dog to classes. Clicker-based classes and nosework are usually reliably humane and gentle. Other sports can be too, but sometimes it takes a little research to figure out which trainers suit you. He sounds like a very sweet dog, and I hope you find lots of new and fun things for both of you to enjoy in your new home!
 
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