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Hello all,
I have some questions about my dogs actions today. I'm trying to do everything as methodically as i can to help her with her anxiety.

I am the owner(25 y.o male in florida) of a brindle Ridgeback mix. She is a 2 year old female rescue that i've had for 6 months.. The beach is where riley really opens up. she runs like mad up and down the way and through the water, non stop... initially when i received her, she was very fearful and skiddish. doesn't like to play with toys and doesn't learn commands quickly because she gets scared. however, she does know sit. It took a week for her to start coming around me. She would squat and pee anytime i'd go to pet her or got her excited.. Immediately after waking up or coming home from work, i would lead her outside quietly and let her pee. over time, that took care of her anxious squating. I've let her take her time to warm up to me and she's become accustomed to being with me and now doesn't want to leave my side. she will come running back to me upon calling her name instantly. once she felt comfortable around me and didn't display much anxiousness/fear, i decided it was time for the next step.

Time for her to meet the neighbors. initially she would bark at them and not go near them. after a couple months she become more friendly, barked less, and would let them pet her. time for the next step

For a solid month now, i've been consistently taking her to the dog park for 2 hours after work, and 6+ hours on weekends. Ive also been taking her everywhere i go like cigar events, pet supermarket, beach, just anywhere there will be a crowd of people and shes done incredibly well with people. first week she didn't go within 20 yards. she didn't care to play with the dogs much but was curious about other dogs. she would bark hesitant to walk up to people. Since she stuck by me, i would stand right next to someone so she would have to be by them. Then they would pet her. It was a good start.. if i wasn't standing right next to someone, and she had someone come up to her and put their hand out, she would bark at them until i stood next to that person close enough where she would sit right next to me and they could reach down and pet her... in this time, she also found a desire to chase tennis balls. so now, i've got her chasing the balls and bringing them right back to me.

When she does bark, its mostly at men. overall i can walk away and she'll stop barking and follow OR i can walk right next to the person and she'll stop barking and let them pet her.

after a week, she began to play a little bit with other dogs. she's very particular about who she plays with. mostly smaller dogs. When she finds a dog she likes, she start to do a little dance and bows down to them then runs like mad. With larger dogs, their power usually intimidates her... now 4 weeks in, shes comfortable around people and dogs. She only barks at a couple people a night tops. today I spent an hour at the park where she was super calm, gently, didn't play alot with other dogs but just sniffed somes butts and retrieved the tennis ball... well finally an hour in, a chihuahua comes and and she does her little prancing and bowing dance with the chihuahua and runs around it a few times. she was pretty gentle but the chihuahua didn't care to play after a couple minutes of running...

1.5 hours in and a black young lab comes in. very active and hyper but well behaved dog that bolted in and wanted to say hi to everyone. riley took an extra liking to this dog unlike any of the other 30+ dogs she saw today. rileys tail was up, her head was up, and her shoulders were more broad than usual. these 2 dogs ran together like mad(like she runs at the beach or when i throw a tennis ball, just non stop). and was really nice to see at first but then riley would begin to get pushy and growled and used her teeth as they ran together which i never seen her use her teeth ever nor heard her growl ever before. If the other dog played with a different dog, riley would be right there barking at them and growling and trying to get in the mix. I've never seen her use her teeth for anything before except eat but with this dog she was using them.. alot of the dogs out their use their teeth and we know they are just play biting and we can see they aren't biting hard at all.. riley's seemed like it was a little more vicious than that although It wasnt at the point where shed make the black dog cry, but it looked and sounded like it could escalate there. So i'm worried about this, honestly....... after 1 month and 100+dogs later everybody knows riley as the super calm and gentle and kinda shy dog. Then this situation happens where for the first time i see her teeth and hear her low growl and she becomes pushy happens 2 days in a row both with smaller, but hyper dogs. What should i make of this?

I kept a super close eye on the situation in case it turned into a fight but suprisingly it didn't. it still worries me alot though because it looks like it can escalate.. it was just weird to see her whole demeanor change to something i've never seen in 6 months ive had her and after spending 2 solid hours out at the park where she was calm and gentle with all the 30+ dogs and people and just chasing her tennis ball the whole time

I really want to get into training her tricks soon now that i have her confidence up and in me. i want to be sure to get your guys' incite to make sure i do everything the right way.

Thanks
Connor aka cadcamcon
 

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You are doing such a great job working with Riley!! It sounds like she is making a ton of progress!

The behaviors you are describing do sound like they could escalate to aggression. From what you described at first it almost sounded like she was being possessive of the black lab that she had become friends with. Does she by any chance ever act that way when you pet other dogs?

If she has a really good recall I would call her back to you whenever she behaves like this and make her sit and stay for a few minutes until you have noticed her calm down and then release her to go play again. If she can't calm down in the park calmly take her out to the parking lot and work on some of the tricks you want her to learn. The overly energetic dogs may just be causing her to become overstimulated.

When recalling her from the rough play be sure you are using your regular voice, you don't want her to think she is in trouble, just that she is coming over to hang out with dad and relax for a bit.
 

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It sounds like Ripley is progressing beautifully, you're doing a wonderful job. Her behavior is actually both a good and bad thing. It's a dominance issue as well as a jealousy issue. It means you've definitely built up her confidence and she feels comfortable around dogs and she's not afraid to assert herself and all of those are good things but it can also certainly lead to undesirable habits. I work at a doggie daycare and we get dogs ALL THE TIME who are very particular about who they play with and when they find their best doggie friend for the day they completely dominate that dog's time and attention and they also lash out when their new friend plays with someone else or takes a break when they still want to play. Buster is right on this one, redirection is the way to go. Training during a break is a perfect way to divert her attention and refocus her energy. It's also worth mentioning that dogs who have been properly socialized from an early age generally know to take breaks when they get over stimulated with another dog. They'll break eye contact, go get water, or lay down. It sounds like before you started working with her, Riley didn't have much socialization so she doesn't know much doggie ettiquette. She'll pick it up in time but in the meantime, definitely facilitate those breaks for her. Keep up the great work, she's lucky to have you!
 
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