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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,
I just joined dogforum and this is my first post!

I have a 2 year old Akita/Staffordshire Terrier male (altered) mix and he goes to doggy daycare 1-2 times a week. He loves going and in general gets along well with all the other dogs except he has no sense of when another dog is done playing/doesn't want to play which leads to some snappiness between him and other dogs. Initially staff thought he would get the hint that a dog snapping at him means "we're done here" but instead he gets annoyed/frustrated and gets snappy back.

Staff at daycare say that besides this he is well-mannered and actually one of the best trained dogs they have and at home he is very well behaved. We work on impulse control at home when it comes to treats, meals, going outside, exiting crate, etc. but I can't figure out how to train for this issue. Any suggestions on teaching a dog when enough is enough?

Thank you!
 

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I'm curious to see what others will suggest, but one thought I had was teaching your dog to come from distraction. For instance, at the dog park, when engaged in full on play with other dogs, can you call your dog to you? If you call him, is he willing to end the play encounter to listen to you?

To train this, I would start with smaller distractions, like toys and food. For instance, I can put down my boys' dinner, let them eat for a minute and then call them to me. They will leave their meal to come to me.
 

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My boy has major dog excitement issues too and most of our training focuses on teaching him to be calm around dogs. At obedience class, he is not allowed to play with other dogs and instead has to keep his focus on me. If he started pulling and whining to get to the other dogs, I'll move further away from the group or out of sight, then slowly work our way closer. We also practice doggy manners and greeting other dogs which includes walking past other dogs on a lead, quick 3 second sniff and keep walking.
Outside of obedience classes, I meet up with friends and their dogs to have group training sessions where we practice loose lead walking together - this really really tests their impulse control since they're walking so close to other dogs but as long as I can keep his focus we're all good.

Impulse training at home is a great start but you won't really get any further if you don't train with doggy distractions. Quiet parks are usually a good place to begin, then you can work your way up to busy dog parks. Best of luck!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies. He already has great impulse control when it come to anything around the house- he'll do anything we ask of him. I think second poster is right, we need to work on out of the house distractions and get some other dogs involved.

Thank you!
 

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What you describe (being overly pushy in play, then retaliating upon correction by other dogs for his pushy play) sounds like one typical maturing behavior for at least the amstaff/pit bull component of his mix, and probably the akita as well, as both have some tendency to not be the most tolerant of other dogs. Ideally, to prevent the escalation, that sort of pushy, one sided play should probably be stopped as soon as it begins, but that is rather hard in most daycare environments. Alternatively, he could possibly still be ok with those dogs that are not offended by his play, and do well in a smaller group consisting only of those dogs, maybe just him and one or two other dogs. Or there's the possibility that he may be maturing toward the less tolerant end of the "dog friendly" scale, in which case, you may find that he is either more apt to provoke other dogs through "rude" behavior, or more apt to take offense from other dogs and start a fight.

It sounds like he might do better at this point to take a break from daycare, if you want him to continue to play with other dogs, possibly look more toward "playdates" with compatible dogs, and a human for each so they can easily be split up when things start to get too rough or someone wants a break. If he finds conflict even within that sort of play environment, it would probably be better to stop play with other dogs entirely, as the potential for escalation into an actual fight is definitely there.
 

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The staff at daycare should be able to recognize when to stop play before it escalates to that point.

If you want him to play with dogs you're going to have to learn to read his behavior well so that you can redirect him well before he gets to a snapping point so he can take a break to calm down. You have to make sure all play is calm and under control if you want to avoid escalation.

Do you know exactly what he's doing? I see a lot of young adult/adolescent dogs in daycare that will be playing with another dog, and when that other dog gives a more subtle signal that it's done (such as turning or moving away), the young dog will continue to tackle/nip/chase the other dog. As soon as the other dog says it's done (ideally before it reaches it's snapping point) is when I call the adolescent away to redirect them (assuming that the play up to that point was controlled and reciprocated- if not, I redirect sooner). Rude, awkward dogs will also sometimes hump or muzzle punch for attention/play which are also unacceptable behaviors.

If he doesn't have a good recall around other dogs you can put him on a long lead to reel him in when you need to separate the dogs.
 

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Jasmine used to be a bit like this, and her daycare provider would just separate her from the other dogs for a bit when the behavior was undesirable, same as any other dog, she would learn that bad behavior = no play. There has never been a fight to date with my doggy daycare provider, between any of her dogs.
 

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I love hearing about other people with Akitas/akita mixes! I have one purebred Akita and one AkitaxHuskyxPitbull so I totally get where you are coming from.

My husky mix, Bear, actually acts very similarly with other dogs. Hopefully some of what I have worked on with him can help for you as well. It is a bit more difficult because his "difficult" behavior occurs at the doggy daycare, where there isn't necessarily a 1:1 ratio to assist with the training. Maybe, you can start taking him to the dog park where you will be able to work with him yourself.

When Bear starts to play too boisterously with other dogs, usually I will give him a "time out" so he can calm down. Make sure your dog has a reliable down-stay. I will usually call Bear over, although sometimes I have to go and grab him (if the play is too excited/there are lots of other dogs) and remove him to a separate area where I will have him lay down, and stay for a few minutes. As soon as his focus is away from whatever he was doing before I removed him, I will pet him and give him treats so he knows that I am looking for focused/calm behavior. Then, he is released to go and play again.

If your dog is not able to do a reliable down-stay in exciting environments at this point, then I would practice at home to begin. This is something that is very helpful to teach, but it certainly takes time.

To be completely honest, dog to dog interactions are very difficult to modify and train. You can teach a dog to be comfortable, happy, and friendly by socializing as a puppy, but play style and how they deal with conflict is not really something that you have much control over. At least, this is what I have found. You can manage, but you can't entirely "change". That is why I would suggest using positive time outs like I do with Bear, and learn to quickly recognize any sign of trouble so that you can help your dog avoid situations that would result in snapping to begin with.
 
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