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I have a 5 month old aussie/cattle dog/husky/staffy mix 9according to DNA test IDK. We live in a dog friendly area and since 8 weeks old she has multiple walks a day and meets multiple dogs/people per walk. My girlfriend and I thought she was well socialized. there are a couple puppies and small dogs next door that she regularly roughouses with and play has always seemed ballanced and healthy.

this past week we have been taking her each day to a local dog park and it seemed like a huge success until today. Twice when playing with dogs she regularly wrestles with happily there erupted loud growling and snarling not like anything usual and it was clear a fight had started. the first time today it was over before I could get a look at what was happening or why it had started but it was with another puppy her same size and age. the second time was only maybe 5 minutes later when my pup was playing with a smaller adult dog that had been a perfect playmate all week. suddenly the snarling and barking was loud and intense and the dogs were wrestling wildly. nobody was biting and clamping or did any damage but it was clearly not play anymore. it lasted about 10 seconds before I rushed in and grabbed my dogs collar and pulled her aside. when i removed my puppy she was pinning the other dog and snapping at it. and before that it seemed she had escalated her play to be rougher than usual. after that incident I quickly harnessed my puppy and sternly directed her back to my car and drove home.

Im not really sure how to interperet what happened. Or what to do about it. As we were leaving one man said his dog had had similar issues and he had bought an E-colllar to stop incidents if they broke out. I would really not like to resort to that but I dont even know how to diagnose my situation to even begin changing my dogs behavior. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
 

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Please don't buy an e-collar. It might interrupt a behaviour but it doesn't address the cause so it doesn't fix the problem. And the ”problem” behaviour will just come out in a different way.

It sounds as though she is starting to mature, and actually isn't as happy playing with other dogs as you thought. When you were socialising her, if she met multiple dogs, she may have felt overexposed. In fact, to a dog, being dog neutral is far more natural than interacting - if you think about yourself walking round a supermarket, you wouldn't start conversations with every other shopper. And, if you imagine yourself being pestered by a really irritating person again, and again, and again - eventually you snap.

If you watch a pack of feral dogs, they maintain space between each other most of the time.

So I'm guessing she is telling the other dogs to get out of her face. It is likely she has been giving signals for a while but they have been more subtle and you may not have seen them. In dog parks, some dogs have pretty poor manners, especially if they are young.

Now, if you were to shock her at this stage, and she can't tell the other dogs to leave her alone, she might associate the shock with other dogs and be even more aggressive in telling them to get lost. Or she might redirect her behaviour on to a person. And you really don't want that.

So, what you can do is keep her away from other dogs. She really doesn't have to play with other dogs, and it is far better for your relationship if you are the centre of her universe, the one she is focused on.

She will have an invisible radius of space around her where she feels secure - it's called flight distance; anything closer will trigger the fight or flight stress response which you may have heard of. Find out what that is and keep her far enough away from other dogs that she is aware but relaxed. Reward her for being calm.

Be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance she was comfortable with the day before might be too close that day. So the safe distance can change, watch her body language.

Trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds. Distance, as above but also be aware of Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction - how distracting the stimulus is; a calm dog might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a bouncy one might.
 

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Please don't buy an e-collar. It might interrupt a behaviour but it doesn't address the cause so it doesn't fix the problem. And the ”problem” behaviour will just come out in a different way.

It sounds as though she is starting to mature, and actually isn't as happy playing with other dogs as you thought. When you were socialising her, if she met multiple dogs, she may have felt overexposed. In fact, to a dog, being dog neutral is far more natural than interacting - if you think about yourself walking round a supermarket, you wouldn't start conversations with every other shopper. And, if you imagine yourself being pestered by a really irritating person again, and again, and again - eventually you snap.

If you watch a pack of feral dogs, they maintain space between each other most of the time.

So I'm guessing she is telling the other dogs to get out of her face. It is likely she has been giving signals for a while but they have been more subtle and you may not have seen them. In dog parks, some dogs have pretty poor manners, especially if they are young.

Now, if you were to shock her at this stage, and she can't tell the other dogs to leave her alone, she might associate the shock with other dogs and be even more aggressive in telling them to get lost. Or she might redirect her behaviour on to a person. And you really don't want that.

So, what you can do is keep her away from other dogs. She really doesn't have to play with other dogs, and it is far better for your relationship if you are the centre of her universe, the one she is focused on.

She will have an invisible radius of space around her where she feels secure - it's called flight distance; anything closer will trigger the fight or flight stress response which you may have heard of. Find out what that is and keep her far enough away from other dogs that she is aware but relaxed. Reward her for being calm.

Be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance she was comfortable with the day before might be too close that day. So the safe distance can change, watch her body language.

Trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds. Distance, as above but also be aware of Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction - how distracting the stimulus is; a calm dog might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a bouncy one might.
That sounds pretty serious and I will definitely follow your advice. but before I do, I want to make sure I was clear about the situeation. My dog is the one that always aproaches the other dogs and innitiates play, not the other way around, she gets thoroughly exited about arriving at the park and cant wait to get off leash so she can run to other dogs and play bow and ask them to chase her/chase them. she is like a shadow following other dogs around isisting they play with her. is that still consistent with what you understood from my first post?
 

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No, it isn't what I understood - I thought the other dogs were approaching her. However, it doesn't radically change my view on what you should do. It sounds like she may be approaching the dogs, they may be giving her ”back off” signals and if she isn't heeding them, perhaps they are the ones making their message clearer. There is an excellent video on dog park behaviour, let me see if I can find it.
 

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No, it isn't what I understood - I thought the other dogs were approaching her. However, it doesn't radically change my view on what you should do. It sounds like she may be approaching the dogs, they may be giving her ”back off” signals and if she isn't heeding them, perhaps they are the ones making their message clearer. There is an excellent video on dog park behaviour, let me see if I can find it.
I have seen times where my puppy is definitely not appreciating the signals other dogs are giving her. one of the reasons I have been taking her to the park is so that the older dogs will snap at her when she annoys them and she will learn that not every dog wants to play with her all the time and she should respect their signals. That seems to be going well and she has begun to take notice and back off of dogs that aren’t interested.

what seems different about yesterday’s episodes is that they were dogs who were enjoying mutual play with my puppy. She knew them from several days of past visits and they knew her and had a history of playing with each other happily for almost an hour intermittently. Yesterday it started the same way. Taking turns on the ground and who was chasing who. Then suddenly it wasn’t Play. I’m really cinfused because everything seemed to be going right. Familiar dog, mutual okay, no sudden surprise. Then they were fighting. It felt as if my pup got so excited in Play that it crossed the threshold into real fighting.
 

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It could be many different reasons. Your dog might be too much for the other dogs, they try to signal that they’ve had enough and either she could be ignoring the signals and they snap or she is triggered by their signals and decides to snap at them. They might be having fun in the beginning but the conflict occurs when they start to miscommunicate.

One other reason could be that one of the dog is hurting. Everything is all fun and games until one of the dog is feeling pain and then decides to snap, in this case the dog doesn’t always signal beforehand that they’ve had enough. So if you’re expecting that some dog is in pain they should be taken to the vet.

Since this have happened I don’t think you should take her to the dog park anymore. Instead focus on socializing her with only a couple of dogs. Build good relationships with a few dogs that can be her playmates. Dog parks are in fact very overrated and often very dangerous. But since you know this is an issue you still need to be careful, let the dogs get used to one another before letting them loose, be prepared to intervene if you notice that they aren’t respecting each others signals etc.
 

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the video endorses intervening to prevent rising tension and outbursts. And advocates for not bringing dogs to a dog park for socialization. I understand keeping vigalent for warning signs that a fight may start and intervening before that happens. obviously a fight is harmful to everyone involved. but I always understood that dogs/puppies needed some negative feedback to learn or they would never properly learn boundaries. "Let dogs be dogs"they said. dont intervene unless you have to. they will teach eachother how to behave and interact appropriately and will let eachother know when something is wrong and they mean business.

So far thats what I have been looking for. when is my puppy not showing good manners. when is she antagonizing a dog after ignoring its back off signals. if that dog snaps and barks at her does she back off? if yes, good. she is learning that no means no. if no, then i need to intervene and stop her before she causes an incident and hopefully a larger/more intimidating dog will teach her. that sort of thing.

but she has been doing very well with her cues and doesnt bother dogs that dont reciprocate. and she herself never seems bothered by rough and exited dogs. the roigher other dogs are with her the more excited she gets and the more she tries to chase them and tackle them.

I think I may have some videos of her playing for reference.
 

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one of the reasons I have been taking her to the park is so that the older dogs will snap at her when she annoys them and she will learn that not every dog wants to play
I don't think that is very fair. It relies on her annoying the other dog, so not fair on them; and it sets her up to fail, so not fair on her either.

As to what specifically happened, we can only take educated guesses but it sounds like it might have just been one play too much.
 

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I don't think that is very fair. It relies on her annoying the other dog, so not fair on them; and it sets her up to fail, so not fair on her either.

As to what specifically happened, we can only take educated guesses but it sounds like it might have just been one play too much.
yeah. I have spoken jokingly with the other dogs owners on the side saying "thank you for letting me use your dog to teach my puppy" and we both laugh. it just seemed like a part of life that any dog has to deal with. someone has to teach the pups how to act like grownups. right?
 

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here is a video of my pup at the dog park.
the first clip is of several days ago showing how intensly she likes to play with the other puppy her age. the second clips were taken makbe 15 minutes before the first fight yesterday.

my dog is the white one with black patches. the fights were with the black and dgrey pup and the small white dog.

I picked the clips that show the least amicable behavior to show how she interacts with stress.
 

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I also think you should let the dogs be in many situations, but it’s also your responsibility to make sure that your dog respects other dogs signals. If they’re not capable to communicate in the right way we have to step in. That might be because one doesn’t understand/respect the other dogs signal or simply that the other dog doesn’t speak up for itself.

As for an example we have this video (about 1 min in) : iCloud
It’s all fun and games but the bigger dog is tired and it’s clear he wants a break which the other dog doesn’t care about and would keep going, pushing and pushing if I didn’t tell her that it was enough. Now I don’t think these particular dogs would ever start to fight but in a similar situation this could lead to fighting if they doesn’t listen to the other dogs signal. And no, I don’t think you should let situation get so bad that they start to fight, it’s much better to intervene to prevent the situation. The dogs need to respect each others signal and if they can’t do that by themselves, we need to intervene.
 

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I also think you should let the dogs be in many situations, but it’s also you responsibility to make sure that your dog respects other dogs signals. If they’re not capable to communicate in the right way we have to step in. That might be because one doesn’t understand/respect the other dogs signal or simply that the other dog doesn’t speak up for itself.

As for an example we have this video (about 1 min in) : iCloud
It’s all fun and games but the bigger dog is tired and it’s clear he wants a break which the other dog doesn’t care about and would keep going, pushing and pushing if I didn’t tell her that it was enough. Now I don’t think these particular dogs would ever start to fight but in a similar situation this could lead to fighting if they doesn’t listen to the other dogs signal. And no, I don’t think you should let situation get so bad that they start to fight, it’s much better to intervene to prevent the situation. The dogs need to respect each others signal and if they can’t do that by themselves, we need to intervene.
sounds like exactly what I believe. or used to believe until all this feedback casts doubt on what I though I knew was right. now IDK
 

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Now seeing that they also have toys you need to reconsider if it could be because of resource guarding.
I suspect that may have been involved the first time since the ball was still around but the second fight happened without any toys in play.
 

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I suspect that may have been involved the first time since the ball was still around but the second fight happened without any toys in play.
Well I would recommend you to not take your dog to the dog park anymore. Focus on building good and reliable relationship with a few dogs. Be prepared to intervene when the dogs doesn’t listen to the others signals or when you can tell it’s not fun play from both ways anymore. It’s better to step in one time time too much than once too little.
 

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From your video, at 39 seconds where I think the second video started, the little mainly black dog is giving, to me, quite clear ”leave me alone” signals. Not just to your dog but also the little white lhasa apso type dog too, both yours and the white one are not showing good manners. Your girl is young, it is more understandable but the white dog is quite persistent. Also, your girl is at an age where she will be losing her ”puppy license ” which up until now will have made dogs more tolerant and forgiving.

Here is what I see in the video. The two dogs approach dark grey one, she takes herself off in the other direction, and the two dogs follow. She scoots round the lady by the bench, they still pursue her. She goes under the bench, they still are right behind her. So for about 60 seconds (when I think video clip 3 starts) she has been giving off signals the the two other dogs are not listening to.

In clip 3 it is less clear what is going on but the balls could be a source of conflict. She has again given herself some distance and although she instigated contact, it may be for the ball so she might be conflicted. Her thought process might be that she wants the ball but she has to get close to your dog to get it, which she might rather not do, but she wants the ball ... does that make sense?

So, the fight might be related to trigger stacking. This is when a dog (or person) gets a lot of stress triggers coming one after the other. The stress hormone cortisol doesn't drain down fast enough between them so the effect is like a tap running into a bath faster than the water drains - at some point it spills over.

So maybe the little black dog got felt the need to escalate her warning to a nip either because her earlier signals were ignored, or she was trigger stacked, or both. And that resulted in fight #1. And maybe fight #2 started with the white dog because your girl was upset from the first fight and therefore highly stressed and he didn't have the manners to back off from her. I don't know, it is a bit of educated guesswork. But like I said, in clip #2 the signals are really clear and I really suspect it could all have been avoided if the three of them had been separated at that point.
 
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