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My dog gets into dogfights

ILoveMutts!
May 13th, 2005, 08:06 PM
I have an 8 month old male cocker-mix puppy named Leon. He is normaly very friendly with dogs and humans. Whenever he sees another dog he starts wagging his tail and immediately runs to sniff him/her if he's out of leash.

The problem is that if the other dog becomes aggressive towards him or even stares at him in a dominant way, he starts growling and attacks it. It doesn't matter if it's four times his size; he knows no fear.

Of course I always run and pick him up when I sense a fight coming, but haven't been always succesfull. Fortunately in those few times there haven't been any injuries; Leon has chased the other dog away without biting it.

I am afraid though, as he is a small dog, that his luck will run out and he might get seriously hurt. How can I train him to avoid other dogs when challenged? He is very attached to me and relatively obedient at home, but in the company of other dogs he won't listen.

A woman who comes to the park, and thinks herself as very knowledgable with dogs, continuously nugs me to let him get bitten in order to "learn" and become more submissive. Personally I think she's crazy and that a bigger dog might even kill him. She also demonstrated that every time he gets into a fight I must punish him by pulling his head up, so as to make him stand on two feet, and shake it (which I find dangerous to his neck).

I'd be thankful for any advice.

Lucky Rescue
May 13th, 2005, 08:31 PM
Where are these fights happening? At the dog park? Stop going there. The more often your puppy is attacked, the more aggressive and/or fearful he will become.

He is now going on the offensive because he feel that you are not protecting him or handling the situation, so he must. Do your puppy a favour and keep him out of places where clueless people have off leash and aggressive dogs.

A woman who comes to the park, and thinks herself as very knowledgable with dogs, continuously nugs me to let him get bitten in order to "learn" and become more submissive. Personally I think she's crazy and that a bigger dog might even kill him.

She may think she's knowledgeable, but she is one of the clueless people I mentioned. Stay away from this place unless you want a dog who is going to be seriously injured or become uncontrollably aggressive.

There are way too many of these "experts" at off leash parks and they are dangerous.

pollito
May 13th, 2005, 10:17 PM
I don't think aggression is something that you can just train out, it will always be there, and I would agree with LuckyRescue that the more he is provoked to fight, the more aggressive he might turn to be , just try to avoid situations like that, and find two or three dogs that he gets along with (with nice owners of course) and just talk to them if they would like to walk their dogs together at least once a day

wjranch
May 13th, 2005, 10:23 PM
She may think she's knowledgeable, but she is one of the clueless people I mentioned. Stay away from this place unless you want a dog who is going to be seriously injured or become uncontrollably aggressive.

There are way too many of these "experts" at off leash parks and they are dangerous.


Amen to that! SO many people think they can train anything and are more then willing to push their opinion on you and your pets. I really don't attend dog parks with my dog... primarily because my Dobie is worth far more to me in one piece, happy and healthy (that includes mental health)

I have one question that...as your dog is 8 months old now, and you don't mention whether or not he's been nuetered yet.... is he perhaps still intact?? He will be entering into sexual maturity at 8-9 months and this may be the cause of his increased aggression toward other dogs...

ILoveMutts!
May 14th, 2005, 04:52 PM
Many thanks for your help.

Yes, these fights happen at what is sort of a dog park (we don't have any real dog parks where I live). I've thought of not taking Leon back there, but it's the single place where I can leave him off leash to run and play with other dogs.

He is intact, as all male dogs over here.

I wish I could teach him to stay when potential "friends" come, but it's difficult. I know he sees me as leader, I've been making progress with "come" and "sit" indoors, but outdoors with all the distractions, I haven't been successful.

The only other solution I can think of, is having him on a long retractable leash when in the park in order to control which dogs he approaches.

Prin
May 14th, 2005, 05:11 PM
Sounds like your doggy is too dominant to go to dog parks. Being intact, he's also probably more threatened by other intact males. Two dominant intact males = fight. Size doesn't matter. People at our park always assume that because their dog is small or smaller, it wouldn't be stupid enough to fight to be dominant over a bigger, much stronger doggy. Well, I'll tell you, intact doggies' physiological responses dominate over everything. If another dog emits strong testosterone smells, chances are there will be a fight and you won't be able to stop it. I would keep him playing with only submissive males and females (spayed of course). you'll learn over time who your doggy gets along with and how to spot the body language/characteristics that set him off. Until you have him better under control, I suggest you stay away from dog parks for now.

Sort of off topic but I nearly got into a fight with a guy with an intact boxer yesterday. I know my big Boo-- he is very social except with intact males who are younger than him but old enough to be sexually mature and very dominant. This guy kept telling me to let Boo go and I told him my dog WILL fight with his dog but he kept goading me-- he said he's been to three dog parks this week and his doggy was fine. I've been going to dog parks every day for over 3 years, I know how my dog will react. He said soooo condescendingly, "Ah, don't worry about it. My dog can handle it." :eek: I don't like Boo to be a tough guy, but he can be. He's way stronger than people give him credit for and I don't want to have to pay some twit's vet bills to get him to understand that. :mad:

That is what I HATE in dog parks. Pet peeve. When people tell you what do do with your dog-- like "Leave them, they're just playing" or "Don't worry he'll get warned and then he'll stop". What I say is if you are uncomfortable with a behavior in a dog park, stop it. Don't listen to the "experts" in the park- just allow what you feel is friendly and safe. Some people don't even mind when their dogs bleed. No thank you. I like my doggy in ONE piece. :rolleyes:
Sorry for the rant. :o

LavenderRott
May 14th, 2005, 05:36 PM
I have never, or will I ever, understand the allure of the dog park. I can't see what benefit my dogs get from dealing with dogs they have never met, owned by people who I have never met. I know entirely too many people who think that vet visits are an inconvience, especially if the dog appears to be healthy and just needs a shot. Too many people that I read about at dog parks don't mind bad behavior and don't seem to understand that fights can and will break out among dogs.

I walk my dogs several times a day. If it seems like they need a bit more exercise then that, I load them into the car and take them to visit my mom. A friend with a dog and a large fenced in yard would work equally well.

If you think these are bad now, wait until someone brings a bitch in heat to your dog park. All of those intact males. If you're lucky, you won't have a blood bath.

levimh
May 14th, 2005, 10:41 PM
I enjoy the dog park in my area. I take Levi there about every week or so at the same time of day. Usually all the same people/dogs are there and everyone gets to know everyone else (and dogs). There are some (IMO, stupid) people that do happen to bring there aggressive dog to the park, but when they do come in, everyone goes after their own dog and keeps him/her close by, until the aggressive one has left. The dog park here is an excellent way of socializing puppies with other dogs and people. I've never witnessed anyone trying to be the "know-it-all". People just seem to be really friendly there. That's the way I see it anyway.

Prin
May 15th, 2005, 12:29 AM
I agree. Usually it's the same group of people and you get to know them. In the spring there are always a ton of new puppies, but sad as it is, most don't last long...

levimh
May 15th, 2005, 08:56 AM
That's true for mine too. Lots of puppies come...but after they're about 4 months, they don't come back.

tenderfoot
May 15th, 2005, 08:41 PM
Manners have to be taught - when you see a well mannered dog it is because someone has put time into it.
Avoiding 'aggression' doesn't change it - though I am not saying you should invite it either.
You say he respects you but you don't have the control you want outside. He is 8mo old and has not fully formed his opinion of either your leadership skills, or the big world outside - he is still testing everything.
One thing that stands out is he is reacting when challenged. Just because a dog is becoming sexually mature does not mean he is becoming dominant. He smells different to other males so they perceive him as a threat to their dominance/terrritory and they respond accordingly. This places him in the defensive and because he doesn't believe you can protect him he reacts aggressively to keep the other guy away.
So it goes back to gaining his confidence in your leadership and ability to protect him. When he is feeling insecure he should look to you for support in the situation and you need to step up and give him jobs, back the other dog off and teach him how to get along. He doesn't have to like or even feel comfortable with these dogs but he does have to have good manners. It is not his right to go nose to nose with other dogs - it is a priviledge that comes with good manners.

levimh
May 15th, 2005, 08:49 PM
What do you do when your dog gets into a little tiff with another dog and afterwards comes to you (if it's the other dogs fault). Do you console him or do you ignore him, like nothing happened?

tenderfoot
May 15th, 2005, 11:33 PM
I probably would have interupted the tiff and backed the other dog off first. But if I didn't do that and my dog was not the aggressor, then I wouldn't really make a big deal out of it. So long as he's not hurt I would just go on. I wouldn't coddle him and make too much out of it. Dogs do get into tiffs and if they aren't major then I just treat it as part of having dogs. They aren't going to get along all of the time. Dogs discipline each other often enough that they really don't think too much of it either.

ILoveMutts!
May 16th, 2005, 09:12 AM
He smells different to other males so they perceive him as a threat to their dominance/terrritory and they respond accordingly. This places him in the defensive and because he doesn't believe you can protect him he reacts aggressively to keep the other guy away.
So it goes back to gaining his confidence in your leadership and ability to protect him. When he is feeling insecure he should look to you for support in the situation and you need to step up and give him jobs, back the other dog off and teach him how to get along.

Let me try to understand this. There are two scenarios, one when I'm close to both dogs, having mine either leashed or unleashed, and two, when he runs off to a dog that could be 100 meters away.

In both cases my guy will be side by side with the other dog, sniffing at its genitals. I don't think I can distract his attention at that time.

When I'm close: Should I scare the other dog away, even if it hasn't, yet, shown any aggression? What if it doesn't leave? I usually stand calm and observe, and if I sense trouble I pick Leon up and walk away.

When he runs off: Well, I'm usually too far away to prevent anything. By the time I reach my dog, he's already in a fight. Is it possible to make him believe that I can protect him, even when I'm not even close? How? Will he back off if attacked and come to me?

wjranch
May 16th, 2005, 11:51 PM
8 months old? I suggest you neuter him ASAP and keep him away from dog parks. A puppy socialization class would be a better place, there you will know all the dogs are under control and not have to worry the 'sniffing around' will accelerate to a dogfight.

Your puppy will never forget being 'attacked' by other dogs....and will very likely become seriously dog aggressive in the near future. Is he a registered dog that has show potential? Did he come from a reputable breeder? Is his pedigree impressive? Then, maybe I can see keeping him intact....otherwise, you are doing your dog a disservice by not neutering him now and getting him socialized in a proper environment where his safety is not in question.

You can't possibly expect him at 8 months of age to be solidly obedient under this type of distraction.

Prin
May 17th, 2005, 01:09 AM
If you are going to go to a dog park and scare all the dogs away from your dog, what's the point in going to a dog park?

And if your dog is fighting back, I don't think he needs protection from you so much as assertiveness. Dogs are dangerous, even yours. If you coddle him like a baby, you'll only make him more dangerous and validate his aggression.

ILoveMutts!
May 17th, 2005, 07:00 AM
Prin, he is friends with the "regulars", so there's a point in going there. Tenderfoot gave a very good explanation of what happens with some of the new/infrequent visitors, but I'm still confused about how to handle it.

wjranch, I live in a country where unfortunately we don't have any puppy socialization classes. We have professional trainers, but for many reasons I'd rather train Leon myself.

tenderfoot
May 17th, 2005, 04:10 PM
Let me try to understand this. There are two scenarios, one when I'm close to both dogs, having mine either leashed or unleashed, and two, when he runs off to a dog that could be 100 meters away.


If he is showing aggression towards other dogs he is not ready to be off leash. You need to create situations where he can do quick (2 second) meet and greets and then you bring him away with you and then another meet and greet with the dog for 4 seconds. Don' t let them get to the point where the dogs can start posturing - get them apart before they get there. Let them have 'quickies' with positive experiences, until you can have them together for longer periods and you see play behavior (or calmness) instead of posturing. And reward the heck out of the positive behavior. *DISCLAIMER *- please do not think that this advice is so simple that you can cure an aggressive dog with this one paragraph. This is just an idea of what you can do to help your dog. The reality of training an aggressive dog is taught in layers of leadership training and understanding dogs and their body language and behavior. *END OF DISCLAIMER*

In both cases my guy will be side by side with the other dog, sniffing at its genitals. I don't think I can distract his attention at that time.

Again, he may not be able to handle this intense of a greeting just yet. When they start sniffing genitals they are on alert to see what the other guy is going to do, and any movement can cause the next movement to be aggressive.

When I'm close: Should I scare the other dog away, even if it hasn't, yet, shown any aggression? What if it doesn't leave? I usually stand calm and observe, and if I sense trouble I pick Leon up and walk away.

Think of little kids - if the kids are getting along - great! why mess with a good thing? But if another kid starts pushing mine around or pulls his fist back to punch him I am going to step in and stop it. I will give the aggressor some of my 'mother lion' energy and I will let my child know that I won't let other kids hurt him. He will feel safe in my world.

When he runs off: Well, I'm usually too far away to prevent anything. By the time I reach my dog, he's already in a fight. Is it possible to make him believe that I can protect him, even when I'm not even close? How? Will he back off if attacked and come to me?

Since he seems to be responsible for part of these fights (since it keeps happening) I am also going to hold him responsible for his part of it and teach him better manners. I have to wonder if my kid keeps complaining that the other kids are always beating on him - I am going to ask what he does to ask for it - no victims allowed in my house. But first I have to be close enough to teach effectively - which means being on leash at all times until we start to see changes in his behavior on a consistent basis.

*sorry I am just learning how to work the quotes so I might not have done it right!