Dog Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

We have an 8 month old Westie, George, and for the most part he is a delightful, social little guy who wants to meet every dog you come across. We take him to a dog park frequently and he should be well socialized.

However, on a few occasions now he has felt threatened by other dogs and begins snapping at their faces. Usually it goes like this:

1. We go to the dog park, he interacts with several dogs and then wants to go off and do his own thing.
2. One of the dogs he calmly said hello to is curious about George and begins following him around, usually sniffing his face/butt
3. George doesn't take kindly to this, and tries to scupper off, tail between his legs and ears down (clearly feeling threatened). However, the other dog is still curious so keeps following, sniffing, pawing him etc.
4. Unable to escape, George resorts to snapping at their face
5. Other dog still doesn't get the signs that George doesn't want to be bothered and keeps persisting by sniffing and generally being a nuisance
6. George loses it, grits his teeth, snarls and aggressively bites the dogs face, repeatedly snapping and biting trying to get the dog to go away.
7. Sometimes George actually now pursues the other dog, actively trying to bite him in the face, even if the other dog backs off.

Now then, I have several issues I guess. Firstly, George is giving some signs that he is not happy and wants the other dog to go away. If that dog is ignoring those signs and keeps bothering George, I guess he is somewhat partly to blame. Today it got to where George reached stage 7 (above) and the other dog still didn't care and kept annoying him!

Luckily George is usually too small to do any damage, but I'm concerned the larger dog will one day see Georges aggressive and attack him back, which could kill him as he is small.

This almost exclusively occurs with large dogs who are usually young (older dogs generally aren't so curious). George is hesitant of larger dogs, and if that dog is young he is generally all over George and I can see why George gets intimidated.

I guess my question is, what can I do about this? I don't want to avoid dog parks as he otherwise loves it and is super friendly in all other circumstances.

I can usually see the signs of when George is not happy and it gradually develops over the course of a few minutes. Do I step in? At what point? How do I teach George not to bite their face?

I also think the other dogs owner should be able to tell George is not happy and get their dog to leave him alone, but that never happens.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Also, how do I correct it? What do I do to George if I step in and stop it? Tell him off? He's scared, I don't think me telling him not express that will help.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
First of all, how do you feel when you're in the park? Nervous or anxious at any time? How about after these events? My dog clearly picks up on my energy when we're in the park, if I'm nervous or upset, he's a different dog. I've put this to the test with him. GF is the one that will change his demeanor in a hurry.

The dog may be seeing something you're not. My Jagger does similar, I had to learn to try to read dogs and try to pick up on the minute signs that the incoming dog was not good. I don't intervene unless necessary, let them be dogs. There's a couple of times I had to intervene with dogs clearly coming in for the attack, I guess that's part of the job.

So in that sense, maybe there's nothing really wrong.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,418 Posts
If he were my dog, I'd stop going to dog parks. You can arrange play dates with dogs you know he gets along with, but it doesn't sounds as though he truly enjoys the park.

I can usually see the signs of when George is not happy and it gradually develops over the course of a few minutes. Do I step in? At what point? How do I teach George not to bite their face?
As soon as you see that George is unhappy, step in and remove him from the situation. You shouldn't allow the interaction to progress to a point where he needs to snap at other dogs.

I also think the other dogs owner should be able to tell George is not happy and get their dog to leave him alone, but that never happens.
You know your dog best and it's your responsibility to keep him safe. And, in general, people don't know how to read dogs. How many "cute" videos exist that show clearly scared or overwhelmed dogs with owners laughing at the situation?

This is a nice article about socialization and dog parks: Well Socialized? No, Well Traumatized -
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
This is a nice article about socialization and dog parks: Well Socialized? No, Well Traumatized -
I'm starting more and more to pay attention to links posted here in reference to training or what not. The link you posted is not a typical dog park, and a new owner reading this may end up saying "ok, dog parks are out". The video "Duke the Beagle", the trainers dog - "this is normal" is not normal. What the trainer calls "trying too hard" appears to me like he's trying to dominate the friendship and make the other dog submit and the beagle was successful. Jagger would have corrected that in a hurry, it wouldn't have gone that far. Hard to believe that a trainer would allow their dog to be that way.

One of the dog parks we go to is a 5 km loop, the fence is a river, great place to get some exercise and walk off the winters fat layer. On a nice day, there's at least a 150 cars which equates to a fair number of dogs. There is a large field beside the parking lot and trails through the woods. Some owners bring their dogs to play frisbee, others throw balls. Others like me basically take our time through the field, let the dogs meet and greet, run around, do their thing etc then we hit the trails where we meet many other dogs.

My dog is 10 pounds, some dogs there are over 100 pounds. I would have to say that 50% of the dogs in that park on any day are large breed. 20% are small breeds, the other 30% are somewhere in between. Large dogs can play with larger dogs - large dogs however need to learn they can't play the same way with a small breed.

Lets talk dog park dynamics as I've experience it, and get into George, the OP's dog. Westie, 15 - 20 pounds maybe? Smallish breed. The fact that he feels he has to bite quickly in defense is a concern. Is it actually a bite, or is it a nip or is it grandstanding to tell the other dog to back down. Also tells me the OP needs to step up the game a little bit and step in. What George is doing is a correction, "I'm not cool with this" and I'm sure if the OP watches closely, George is also getting corrections from other dogs - it's incredible dynamics to pay attention to. Mind you, corrections between dogs shouldn't need to come as pain - a growl, raised hackles, showing teeth generally is enough. Jagger has been driven to the point of biting twice, I told the owner that if he doesn't back the dog down it will get hurt. Most are ok, my dog has to learn. After repeated warnings, I'm ok with my dog biting.

He is most definitely not "terrorized" from his trips through the dog park. The fact that George still enjoys the dog parks tells me the same.

However, my 10 pound dog appears to some larger breeds as a chew toy, something to play with, seen that a few times. Larger dog of any breed comes in, I can tell that it's not aggressive, more playful and they figure my little dog is something they can claim and play with. If Jagger corrects, the other dog generally gets the hint and moves on. A few however have had the prey drive kick in, and it becomes a hunt - this is where I step in and remove the problem dog from the situation. It's not the park that's the issue here - it's the dog, it's the owner of said dog.


And Knapman, learn to read your dog and other dogs as they come in. Once in a while, you're going to meet a dog - head low, intense eyes, tail down prepping for an attack. We've had that happen a few times, and it's something that can happen. It can happen anywhere, not just the parks. Small dogs at a park can be a target.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
First of all, how do you feel when you're in the park? Nervous or anxious at any time? How about after these events? My dog clearly picks up on my energy when we're in the park, if I'm nervous or upset, he's a different dog. I've put this to the test with him. GF is the one that will change his demeanor in a hurry.

The dog may be seeing something you're not. My Jagger does similar, I had to learn to try to read dogs and try to pick up on the minute signs that the incoming dog was not good. I don't intervene unless necessary, let them be dogs. There's a couple of times I had to intervene with dogs clearly coming in for the attack, I guess that's part of the job.

So in that sense, maybe there's nothing really wrong.
I'm not at all anxious to be honest as there is never any danger of a dog fight or either dog getting really hurt. Usually it ends with George snapping at their face and the other dog backing off eventually. As you say I try to let them figure it out on their own for the most part, just this one time it went a bit further where the owners had to step in as George was getting more than just "snappy".

Lets talk dog park dynamics as I've experience it, and get into George, the OP's dog. Westie, 15 - 20 pounds maybe? Smallish breed. The fact that he feels he has to bite quickly in defense is a concern. Is it actually a bite, or is it a nip or is it grandstanding to tell the other dog to back down. Also tells me the OP needs to step up the game a little bit and step in. What George is doing is a correction, "I'm not cool with this" and I'm sure if the OP watches closely, George is also getting corrections from other dogs - it's incredible dynamics to pay attention to. Mind you, corrections between dogs shouldn't need to come as pain - a growl, raised hackles, showing teeth generally is enough. Jagger has been driven to the point of biting twice, I told the owner that if he doesn't back the dog down it will get hurt. Most are ok, my dog has to learn. After repeated warnings, I'm ok with my dog biting.
He is about 12 pounds right now, probably got a little bit more growing but he will always be a small westie I'm told.

He typically tries running away first (sometimes works, sometimes encourages a chase). If that doesn't work he begins snarling and showing his teeth, then snapping at their face. I guess these are warning shots as he seems to intentionally miss, but you can see he isn't play biting for sure. If that doesn't work he goes to his last resort of actually biting their face. It's not a bite and hold, more snappy still but actually making contact and repeatedly going in. I wish he would give less aggressive signs like barking, growling etc. but he goes straight to snapping.

I know George is a fearful dog. Lots of things set him off into his "panic" mode. He is easily spooked and very cautious when meeting new people, unusual sights and sounds etc. With dogs though he is very eager to meet them, not scared at all, until they become overbearing. His tolerance of overbearing is very low though, it only takes a big dog to follow him around for a short while before he starts showing his defensive signs.

It is almost exclusively large breed puppies he has these issues with. They don't understand his signs telling them to "go away" and just get confused/want to play even more when he starts snapping at them. They have too much energy and don't really understand George is small and get too heavy handed.

He is most definitely not "terrorized" from his trips through the dog park. The fact that George still enjoys the dog parks tells me the same.
Yes he loves it and always wants to go into the park and meet all the dogs there. If he was acting scared or fearful at going in I would obviously stop, but he likes it.

And Knapman, learn to read your dog and other dogs as they come in. Once in a while, you're going to meet a dog - head low, intense eyes, tail down prepping for an attack. We've had that happen a few times, and it's something that can happen. It can happen anywhere, not just the parks. Small dogs at a park can be a target.
I know the signs of a dog that will set George off pretty well, they are high energy, persistent and like heavy playing. I generally allow them to meet to see how it goes, and often it's okay but sometimes the dog won't stop bothering George.

I guess I just need to know exactly when to step in. If George is giving his warning signs (showing teeth, snarling, snapping etc.) is that when I step in before he becomes fully aggressive? I'd like them to figure it out on their own, but at the same time for it to not go too far.

In terms of correcting this behavior, is there anything I can do or is it just a case of giving it time? Perhaps when he is older he will gain some confidence as he is still quite young.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,418 Posts
The link you posted is not a typical dog park
Most of the time when people talk about dog parks, they are referring to thunderdome-style areas: smallish, fenced, maybe a bench or a few pieces of agility equipment, where dogs are loose to "play" with each other.

What you describe sounds like park.

he's trying to dominate the friendship and make the other dog submit
Not sure I understand this statement. Dominance is control over or access to a resource. What is the resource there?

The Concept Formerly Described as “Dominance”

McConnell has a few additional entries on her blog.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
If it's not all large breeds, then I'd say George is going to be just fine. He's still young and he'll learn better ways eventually to fend off the larger breeds, telling them that I'm not OK with this behavior. Our pup seems to have to fend off the large puppies, they haven't quite learned that play with a small dog can't be the same as play with a dog their own size.

I thought long and hard about the "remove the dog from the situation". My dog isn't the issue, so why should I remove him? Remove your dog, or I will. Our dog very rarely ever looks to me for rescue, but there's times where I will step in. Once in a while he gets surrounded by a pack of large breeds, they aren't aggressive, just curious, but he puts on a display as it tends to freak him out.

Just keep an eye on him
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,222 Posts
Most of the time when people talk about dog parks, they are referring to thunderdome-style areas: smallish, fenced, maybe a bench or a few pieces of agility equipment, where dogs are loose to "play" with each other.

What you describe sounds like park.



Not sure I understand this statement. Dominance is control over or access to a resource. What is the resource there?

The Concept Formerly Described as “Dominance”

McConnell has a few additional entries on her blog.
Anthropomorphics cookie, call it what you will. A dog doesn't understand what "sit" means, they associate a formed word with planting it's bum on the floor.

Aggressive, dominant, bully. Do you classify the beagles behavior in that particular video normal? Do you believe that's the way dogs should meet and greet? If it was a rottweiler instead of a beagle - would that make you think differently?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
202 Posts
You or the other dogs person need to step in before he gets to the point of snapping repeatedly. One snap and leaving is fine, it's clear what he's saying and he's not hurting anyone, but when the other dog doesn't respect it they need to be separated. If you're at the park and you see strange dogs, or dogs you know that don't respect his space I'd head out as soon as he wants solo time instead of having him in an area where frankly a lot of UNtrained dogs go, where there will often be some bothering him.. You don't want him to learn that he has to escalate his actions just to get dogs to respect his space.
I've got to say though, you need to be really careful and really aware of how he's experiencing the park, and the body language he and other dogs are showing. A lot of people think their dogs love dog parks because they get to play with some dogs they like, but it's not often a good place for nervous dogs and it sounds like sometimes he is getting overwhelmed. He might end up being happier with a few play dates a week instead.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top