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Hello. I'm posting here because I couldn't find any clear cut answer online plus I don't want to have a confirmation bias.

I just returned from the dog park and I'm pretty upset. I think my dog might have been too aggressive. It's a park for smaller dogs(25 pounds and under), and my dog borders on this at 24 pounds.

To start off, she is a highly excitable, 8-month old terrier. I've been taking her to this park somewhat regularly for a few months now. I generally know all the dogs there, and she generally has a few that she likes to play with. To preempt this, I'm not an experienced trainer, so if I'm misinterpreting behavior, please correct me. Her typical style of play is running away and chasing. She does this with most dogs. There are a couple of other dogs that like to "wrestle", nipping and chasing each other.

Today was terrible however. My dog would run up to another dog and the other dog would immediately roll over. My dog would then proceed to jump around and "nip" at the other dog (bite with no pressure applied, basically putting her mouth on them). This would cause the other dog to bark at her and snap at her, usually while they were on their backs or under their owner. I don't think she was hurting the other dogs seeing as they never yelped.

I've seen her play more "aggressively" too where her and another dog were biting on each other, but it's never a "bite and shake" with growling and I've never seen it escalate to an actual attack. The one or two times there has ever been a painful yelp, all play ceased. She wasn't doing any of this today however.

Is there a way to curb my dog's behavior? Does it need to be curbed? Am I misinterpreting aggressive behaviors as play? She just doesn't seem aggressive to me. She doesn't protect food, she barely puts up a fight if you're grabbing a toy from her, she doesn't bark or growl unless she's running around with me or another dog.

Sorry if I'm rambling, I'm just upset and trying to include as much information as I can. I would really appreciate someone with more experience than myself to give their objective opinion.
 

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Terriers can often be dog aggressive by nature. Accordingly, they are often not good candidates for a dog park. Dogs which are naturally dog aggressive cannot be trained out of it. It will likely be best for you not to take her to public dog parks and to only let her play with dogs she knows and likes (if any). Dogs do not all need "friends." Good luck!
 

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Hello. I'm posting here because I couldn't find any clear cut answer online plus I don't want to have a confirmation bias.

I just returned from the dog park and I'm pretty upset. I think my dog might have been too aggressive. It's a park for smaller dogs(25 pounds and under), and my dog borders on this at 24 pounds.

To start off, she is a highly excitable, 8-month old terrier. I've been taking her to this park somewhat regularly for a few months now. I generally know all the dogs there, and she generally has a few that she likes to play with. To preempt this, I'm not an experienced trainer, so if I'm misinterpreting behavior, please correct me. Her typical style of play is running away and chasing. She does this with most dogs. There are a couple of other dogs that like to "wrestle", nipping and chasing each other.

Today was terrible however. My dog would run up to another dog and the other dog would immediately roll over. My dog would then proceed to jump around and "nip" at the other dog (bite with no pressure applied, basically putting her mouth on them). This would cause the other dog to bark at her and snap at her, usually while they were on their backs or under their owner. I don't think she was hurting the other dogs seeing as they never yelped.

I've seen her play more "aggressively" too where her and another dog were biting on each other, but it's never a "bite and shake" with growling and I've never seen it escalate to an actual attack. The one or two times there has ever been a painful yelp, all play ceased. She wasn't doing any of this today however.

Is there a way to curb my dog's behavior? Does it need to be curbed? Am I misinterpreting aggressive behaviors as play? She just doesn't seem aggressive to me. She doesn't protect food, she barely puts up a fight if you're grabbing a toy from her, she doesn't bark or growl unless she's running around with me or another dog.

Sorry if I'm rambling, I'm just upset and trying to include as much information as I can. I would really appreciate someone with more experience than myself to give their objective opinion.
As you said you have a terrier, what you have described sounds like typical controlling behavior. Which is what I would expect from a terrier who tend to be very assertive and dertermined. With the other dogs on their back or under their owner could mean they do not wish to interact. Avoidance is another method of control. I would start stopping this when this happens more out of the courtesy of the other owners. Please don't confuse this with aggression. I have been visiting home of so called aggressive dogs for 25 yrs the vast majority is people who misunderstand dog interactions. Media and popular beliefs don't help either.
 

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I know it is semantics...but look at "aggressive" behavior as gonna pick or start a fight or attack...which is different from dominant or assertive behaviors like you described. Too many people get worked up over "aggression" in dogs when they don't understand the behaviors.

Pax has similar tendencies...would never and has never escalated to a fight but as 1/2 border collie he can come on strong, hard, and snarly just as you described freaking some overly sensitive dogs and even owners out.

Just like may other areas of their lives, you need to teach them what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Time outs and end of play time just as you did when they were biting as a puppy or jumping on you...it is just another behavior that needs to be modified to what you want and teach what is acceptable.

Socialization is what she needs...but controlled. It is most likely "play" in your dog's mind...but you need to teach them what is acceptable play and what is not.

Even today, Pax can occasionally be a brat at the park. There are days where he is a perfect angel and days where I can see he is a "mood" and not the right mix of dogs for him to play with so we head out and go do something else. I can see it in his eyes when he locks onto another dog visually and I can recall him to divert his attention before he crosses the line. Get to know your dog better then she knows herself.

Good luck!
 

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It sounds like a couple different things. Your dog is certainly not "aggressive", but as she gets older she is probably beginning to tap into her instincts more. Terriers are scrappy little hunters, so her prey drive is probably triggered by play. It sounds like she is becoming a little over enthusiastic about "getting" the other dog.

Similarly, and I hate to say this, but dogs are just as capable as being "bullys" as people are. Some dogs enjoy pushing around smaller, meeker pups, and although they likely wouldn't hurt them, it's still not a good experience for anyone. It's an element of the dog's personality, and theres not a lot you can do to change it.

My Bear can be a bit of a bully. He prefers to be the one chasing, sometimes he pushes the wrestling too far and makes the other dog nervous. I do not allow him, or my Akita, to play with strange dogs any longer. We go to the dog park during off hours (when it's empty) and play on our own, or meet up with friends who have dogs that I know get along with mine.

The dog park is not a good environment for every dog. Actually, it's probably not a good environment for most dogs. If your pup is anything but a neutral player, not one that bullies or is easily bullied, medium sized, tolerant of the badly behaved and borderline aggressive dogs that other people will bring, then maybe the dog park is good for you. However, on the whole, once your pup is socialized enough to be comfortable and relatively friendly with others, there is no reason to go to the dog park anymore. One bad experience can toss all your training out the window, or cause you animal to become seriously injured or even killed. I know that is extreme, but I have seen the gamut of bad/dangerous behaviors and I no longer allow mine to be exposed to it.

I run with my dogs, which I find to be extremely rewarding and better exercise than the park anyways. Try to find trails that allow off leash dogs, and hike if you are not in running shape. As long as your puppy has a couple of trusted friends that she can play with on occasion, there is no reason to need to go to the dog park anymore.
 

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I wouldn't let my children play with strange children whose parents I don't know. Even when I do know the "provenance," problems can arise, and then I'll trust I have a partner in the other parent to assist me in correcting any issues that arise.

Now translate that to the dog park experience. You don't even know what manner of fleas/ticks are riding on those other dogs, or whether they've had their shots. Much better, as others have recommended, to set up play dates with your trusted friends and neighbors who have canines in their fold.
 

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Thank you, TylerTime for posting this question. :) We have a cairn terrier who is very socialized but who is a very physical dog. I also have questions about how to determine if he is aggressive, assertive, or normal!!
The answers have been very helpful to me, so I'm glad you asked the questions!
:thumbsup:;)
 

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Dogs which are naturally dog aggressive cannot be trained out of it.

Of course it can be. One needs to determine the cause of the supposed aggressive behavior first then proceed from there. jagger's advice about upping the exercise would be a great place to start especially if the aggression behavior roots from frustration.

Too many people think their dogs are "naturally" aggressive and are usually incorrect. The few dogs which actually have true fight drive don't behave like the OP's description of their terrier's behavior. A dog with true fight drive doesn't go through any of the precursors mentioned as they simply go into the encounter with unbridled aggression, there is no mistaking these particular dogs.
 
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