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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My dog Brody is very social and loves the dog park, so we go several times during the week. He will play one-on-one with any and every dog he comes across and always has a blast. But frequently he gets ganged up on, and the other dogs pick on him and bully him until he is no longer having fun. His body posture changes and he gets very defensive and tries to protect himself and he looks stressed. I try to call him to me and he looks at me, but can't come because he has several dogs surrounding him that are going to take shots or chase him if he runs. Usually the situation fizzles out but sometimes the dogs all jump on him and he starts snarling and snapping trying to get them to leave him alone.

This happens at virtually every park we visit and it's so frightening and makes me worry. I'm inclined to think that it's not his fault, because he plays wonderfully up until everyone else jumps in and picks on him, but could it be something he is doing to egg it on? I don't know what to do.

I do have a theory that because he is so personable and a lot of the other regular dogs are familiar with him and know he's a safe play partner, that EVERYONE just wants to play with him. I mean, they all are playing just like they would one-on-one, but when its three or four against one it's not so fun.

Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas on what I can do when this happens?
 

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Stop taking him! Don't wait for him to become a jaded jerk of a dog. This has a lot more to do with the owners than the dogs... If people know that your dog is friendly, they are probably content to let their own dog's rude behavior slide, knowing that it isn't going to get them bitten.

If your dog plays well with a dog, get that person's number and set playdates outside of the dog park. Or find a reputable daycare in your area and sign your dog up for a few half-days where he can enjoy a supervised play.

Dog parks are sort of the Wild West of socialization. Sometimes they are not all that bad, but one thing's for sure... There are no rules, and it only takes a few outlaws to ruin all of the fun!
 

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Go during off hours when only a couple of people will be there. If things get out of hand, leave. If things LOOKl like they are GOING to get out of hand, stop it before it happens. Don't let it get to the point where he feels the need to protect himself or cower. You as the human are his protector, even if this means choosing other methods of socialization, or even directly asking another dog owner to keep their dog from picking on yours. If you cannot find a way for the dog park to be a safe abs friendly environment, you need to not go.


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I agree with @kelly528 . Don't take him anymore, set up play dates as mentioned. If this continues your poor dog will become overwhelmed and possibly act out as a way of telling the other dogs to back off, and it may just start a dog fight, to which you will then have a fearful/reactive dog on your hands, If it can be avoided now then absolutely stop it in its tracks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't know how getting phone numbers for play dates would go, I'm a young woman and many of the owners of the other dogs he plays with are men, and I don't want to send off the wrong message. It would be somewhat awkward for me, and probably for them too.

I didn't think about doggy daycare to meet his play needs. A quick google search turned one up close to my house that does half-day rates for only $12, and I can definitely swing that once a week or so. Tomorrow I'll call to see if they offer the sort of play exercise that he needs.

He still loves the park, and there's nowhere else with big open grassy hills for him to run, so I don't want to stop taking him entirely. There are some times when I know the park is very quiet, so I'll drive by and scope it out to see if it's a good level for him before I bring him again.
 

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I'm sorry this happened to Brody :( I totally sympathize and it's why I do not take my dog to dog parks anymore. Have you tried meetup.com? It's a website where you put in your location and what you're looking for and you can meet people with similar interests. So you can look up dog walks in your area and find people with small dogs or large dogs, etc. I know people that have used it to find hiking buddies. I haven't used it because I have no time haha but I would to find doggie friends if I had the time! :)
 

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Any chance of getting some video of your dogs' interactions with other dogs at the park?

I've spent countless hours in the parks around here, once in a while a dog shows up, seems to be the one that gets picked on. Sometimes it's unhealthy play on their behalf - what looks normal and healthy actually isn't. Not saying that's the case here but they tend to get a group of inquisitive dogs surrounding them and all heck can break loose.

You need to know when to step in, curiosity on other dogs behalf can lead to many issues. Case in point, the white dog is Lily. Seemingly harmless starting off, other dogs came in more curious than anything - the white dog gets defensive and the trouble starts. It shouldn't have gone that far.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm sorry this happened to Brody :( I totally sympathize and it's why I do not take my dog to dog parks anymore. Have you tried meetup.com? It's a website where you put in your location and what you're looking for and you can meet people with similar interests. So you can look up dog walks in your area and find people with small dogs or large dogs, etc. I know people that have used it to find hiking buddies. I haven't used it because I have no time haha but I would to find doggie friends if I had the time! :)
Huh, I haven't heard of meetup.com! I just hopped on the page and it looks like there's a canine activities group for my local area. It seems like they focus more on dog sports but I'll poke around the site a bit more. It looks like it could be a good resource. :) Thank you!


Any chance of getting some video of your dogs' interactions with other dogs at the park?

I've spent countless hours in the parks around here, once in a while a dog shows up, seems to be the one that gets picked on. Sometimes it's unhealthy play on their behalf - what looks normal and healthy actually isn't. Not saying that's the case here but they tend to get a group of inquisitive dogs surrounding them and all heck can break loose.

You need to know when to step in, curiosity on other dogs behalf can lead to many issues. Case in point, the white dog is Lily. Seemingly harmless starting off, other dogs came in more curious than anything - the white dog gets defensive and the trouble starts. It shouldn't have gone that far.

Lily getting ganged up on at the dog park - YouTube
That video is a good example of what happens to Brody when he's out at the park. I try to step in when it gets to that point, but even when I manage to grab Brody and leave, the dogs are still nipping him with their owners doing nothing. It's a pain in the butt, and none of the dogs will listen when I try to get them to go away. Nipping him turns into a big game for them and he gets frustrated. ):
 

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That video is a good example of what happens to Brody when he's out at the park. I try to step in when it gets to that point, but even when I manage to grab Brody and leave, the dogs are still nipping him with their owners doing nothing. It's a pain in the butt, and none of the dogs will listen when I try to get them to go away. Nipping him turns into a big game for them and he gets frustrated. ):
Just bear in mind, your dog doesn't need to play with every dog in the park. When I take dogs to the park, I'm out for a walk and exercise, so are they. He meets other dogs, sometimes a quick play or a run around with them then on he goes.

If your dog is playing with other dogs as in the video, you can expect issues. Ex's old farm dog would have maternal instinct kicking in, forcefully try to stop that kind of roughhousing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just bear in mind, your dog doesn't need to play with every dog in the park. When I take dogs to the park, I'm out for a walk and exercise, so are they. He meets other dogs, sometimes a quick play or a run around with them then on he goes.

If your dog is playing with other dogs as in the video, you can expect issues. Ex's old farm dog would have maternal instinct kicking in, forcefully try to stop that kind of roughhousing.
That's what used to happen when we'd go, or when we go and it's fairly empty. He mostly follows me, plays with a dog for a while, and then goes on his way. He does like to wrestle and play rough, but I don't think the dogs that crowd him are trying to intervene or stop it, I think they are trying to join in on the roughhousing "fun" :/
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That's the reason I'd like to see video of your dogs interactions. I wouldn't allow roughhousing between dogs at a park.
I'm going to try and avoid situations where this might happen to him for the time being, but if we go and it happens again, I'll try to catch some video. I mean, I'm inclined to think that he's doing nothing wrong, but it would be good to have others look at it to get their opinion on if my dog is being inappropriate or not. No one at the park seems upset by his rough play and tell me "it's alright, they're just playing!" when I try to interrupt, but I want to stay alert and not let bad behaviors escalate.
 

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I'm going to try and avoid situations where this might happen to him for the time being, but if we go and it happens again, I'll try to catch some video. I mean, I'm inclined to think that he's doing nothing wrong, but it would be good to have others look at it to get their opinion on if my dog is being inappropriate or not. No one at the park seems upset by his rough play and tell me "it's alright, they're just playing!" when I try to interrupt, but I want to stay alert and not let bad behaviors escalate.
your dog may not be doing anything wrong, but there's a reason it's drawing the attention of other dogs. I see videos posted on different forums of so called "healthy dog play", but it makes me cringe, it's a fight ready to happen.

Video would be wonderful. Next trip out, try more walk and run rather than let the dog focus on play. See if your experience changes. I wouldn't stop going to the parks personally, some don't like them but...
 

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At the daycare I work at we only allow one on one play. It becomes way too easy for a dog to feel ganged up on if others start butting in. If another dog starts "third wheeling" we step in and physically remove them using spatial pressure (think of Temple Grandin's point of balance and flight zones in livestock) or putting the dog on a lead and moving them away.

If your dog is playing awkwardly, if there are a lot of fast or jerky movements, sprinting, too rough or vocal, anything like that, he'll attract the attention of other dogs and become a target.

If you continue bringing him to the park, do not let other dogs join in the play. If he is attracting a lot of attention he may be getting too worked up during play and need a break- maybe a walk outside of the park. Be proactive in keeping the other dogs away, not reactive after things start to go south.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
At the daycare I work at we only allow one on one play. It becomes way too easy for a dog to feel ganged up on if others start butting in. If another dog starts "third wheeling" we step in and physically remove them using spatial pressure (think of Temple Grandin's point of balance and flight zones in livestock) or putting the dog on a lead and moving them away.

If your dog is playing awkwardly, if there are a lot of fast or jerky movements, sprinting, too rough or vocal, anything like that, he'll attract the attention of other dogs and become a target.

If you continue bringing him to the park, do not let other dogs join in the play. If he is attracting a lot of attention he may be getting too worked up during play and need a break- maybe a walk outside of the park. Be proactive in keeping the other dogs away, not reactive after things start to go south.
His movements are definitely very bouncy and rough, so that may be why he is attracting so much attention. This is where I think it's his own fault, sort of.

I did take him by the dog daycare nearby and talked to them about his problems at the park, and it looks like this daycare might be a really good fit for him. He seemed very comfortable there and after he gets a vet visit he'll be ready for his first stay. :)
 

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Your problem isn't dogs, its stupid lazy dog owners. What ever, you have to not expose Brody to situations that he is not comfortable in, or could be hurt. Nothing good will come from continuing to expose him to that scenario.
 

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Your problem isn't dogs, its stupid lazy dog owners. What ever, you have to not expose Brody to situations that he is not comfortable in, or could be hurt. Nothing good will come from continuing to expose him to that scenario.
So it's always everyone elses fault?

His movements are definitely very bouncy and rough, so that may be why he is attracting so much attention. This is where I think it's his own fault, sort of.
There you go... Takes 2 to tango, but your dog is likely creating at least some of the issue, drawing negative attention.

I'm a firm believer in dog parks. One of the issues I see is owners bringing the dogs to the park to wear them out, let them burn it off. There's times at the end of a walk, dog is tired so he goes in the car and i'll hang out for a bit and watch the goings on. People come in with their dogs, dogs are amped up and ready to roll - they explode into the field and immediately start engaging in rough play. It's typically harmless but...

Try something, just once, see if there's a noticeable difference. Burn your dogs energy down before you go to the park - go for a walk or a run, heavy play, whatever. You'll likely have a better experience. Try to schedule park time before the dogs last meal of the day, don't feed before going to the park, let the dog work up an appetite.

Just concentrate on going for a walk in the dog park, I'm there for exercise as well...
 

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If you want to continue to go there you must Step in and protect your dog. And be firm about it. The other dog owners should correct their dogs, but if they don't then you must. The other owners won't like you correcting their dog and you will have to have the balls to stand up for yourself and for your dog. If you don't have the balls then don't go to the dog park.


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