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Excitement Aggression!?!?

May 21st, 2005, 10:48 PM
Alright, Dodger (11 month old, neutered, Foxhound) is not what I would call an aggressive dog. But about 5 times, spaced out from age 6 months to today, he has gotten over-stimulated and gone after submissive dogs. These submissive dogs are already being growled/nipped at by other dogs so Dodger gets excited and joins in (he likes to gang up - confidence booster??). Only it ends up worse when he gets in on it because he doesn't know when to stop. So long as I get his attention early he listens to me but once he is fixated on the dog he blocks me out. When I try to grab him, he darts away and then its over and he comes happily to me, having forgotten why he ends up on-leash!
Today, the owners of this submissive golden got really upset/angry (rightfully so) and I'm just as upset because I often rant about irresponsible owners with aggressive dogs going to the dog park!
Dodger has never hurt another dog, he's mostly talk (very growly) but does try to nip at a dog's legs or shoulders. I guess I've kinda encouraged this behaviour by playing tug-of-war and allowing him to growl up a storm?
I'm not sure what to do about this aggression. Anything specific I should do? (We are currently taking intermediate obedience classes - which will hopefully help me stop something like this from happening again)

May 21st, 2005, 11:00 PM
Does he only do this when there is a pack doing it? I think you have to work a bit on the call back, but otherwise, I can TOTALLY picture what is going on. We have a super excited german pointer at our park and he is friendly as hey with every dog (as long as they're castrated, of course), but when another dog goes after a particular dog, so does he. When my Boo growls at a dog, "Rocky" comes running in, making a ton of noise and body checking but not actually doing anything. He circles around the dog when you try to get him.

What I would do, other than work on the call back with huge distractions, is protect the other dog from him. Get between the dog and him and don't let him near the dog. I do it with Rocky sometimes when a dog who has never been to the park comes in. Eventually he'll either give up or you'll catch him, but either way, you'll be in a better position to correct him, at least with voice.

I also taught Boo, "Leave him alone" for when he follows intact males around expecting them to react. Good command to teach in a dog park, simply because some dog owners are very sensitive regardless of how playful and robust their dog may be...

May 21st, 2005, 11:12 PM
It is normal pack behavior to pick on the omega - lowest in the pack - and vent frustrations and energy at him/her. The omega plays a valuable role in the pack and the pack does actually value this animal. In fact when an omega passes away the pack will morn for quite sometime. We humans see this behavior as cruel, but it is natural.
That said, it is not "socially acceptable" in the human realm and it is not okay for dogs to hurt each other. It is your job to read his signals early on and interupt the thought. This also requires that he respects your word and will come away from the distraction to be with you. Right now he gets a rush by this behavior and you need to teach & manage to break this cycle.

May 21st, 2005, 11:28 PM
Thanks Prin, it sounds funny to try and protect a dog from Dodger but I think it will work!! Yes, he only does it as a pack thing - I mean, somethimes when he's chasing he'll try nip and bark at the dog to keep them running but it's in control - not some crazy "ants in your pants" pushy behaviour that clearly upsets the submissive dog and the owner. If the dog just stands still, Dodger stops but if the dog runs away or lie's down, Dodger heads for the poor dog's back legs! He "so kindly" leaves the rest of the body for the other "attacking" dogs and occupies himself by feigning attacks: dives toward and then away - nipping all the while at the dog's hind end! It's like he doesn't even realize that its not a game anymore!?!?

How did you teach Boo to leave a dog alone on command?

I will work on recall - I know that he needs to listen to me in any situation, I just haven't been able to progress from where we are now! He comes in all the everyday situations (although he doesn't run nicely to me, just a purposely slow trot and he does sometimes hesitate before coming) but when he sees a dog being picked on that's it - he goes completely deaf!!!


May 21st, 2005, 11:32 PM
Tenderfoot - I think I need to get your DVD so I know what to do in all these tricky situations!

Have you had success with hounds that don't look to their handler for direction!?


May 21st, 2005, 11:38 PM
Teaching Boo the "leave him alone" involved a lot of following and grabbing on my part... When he would follow, I'd run and get in between and say "I said, leave him alone". Or if I can reach him, I grab him by the collar and say, "Leave him alone." It's mostly about getting in between and redirecting while saying it. For Boo, even looking at an intact dog is not allowed. He looks and then runs. So I don't let him look.

In the way I described above, when you're standing between him and the other dog, every time you block him, say "Leave him alone", or just "No". And when he walks away (finally), you praise.

I don't know if other people do this too, but with my doggies, I say a command, like, Leave him alone, and when they do it, I say, "Yes, he leaves him alone". As I have said in previous threads, I have a pretty monotone voice, so my doggies can't really tell by my tone if I am praising or not, so I taught them that "Yes" is praising... So I say yes, then the command when they do it right. It seems to work for the more complicated ones, just to enforce to the dog the second they get it right...

May 23rd, 2005, 01:08 PM
Wow Lissa, when I read your post, I swear you were talking about Levi. Levi used to do the exact same thing. He doesn't so much anymore. I've practised "come" with him at the dog park, because I think it's an excellent place to teach...with all those doggy distractions. "Come" has worked wonders, and Levi will now leave what he's doing and come to me.

But I understand what Dodger's doing. A couple days ago, I took Levi to the dog park and there were two dogs there that lived together. They started playing with eaching - just mouthing each other and making weird "aaaaah" noises. Levi heard them and started bouncing around them and woofing right in their ears. Needless to say, they didn't pay any attention to him.

May 25th, 2005, 04:31 PM
Wow - maybe Levi and Dodger have some strange family relation coppy-cat personality going on!? I'm assuming that by working on "come" it fixed the problem? Or did Levi need to "grow out of it"?

I've started working more on his recall and if he doesn't listen to me right away he goes on-leash for a few minutes and then we try again. I tried it over the long weekend at the dog park - the first 2 days he "learned" to respond immediately but on Monday I had to leash him for going on to greet a couple of dogs after I called him. It was so evil - he looked at me and then was like "I don't think so" and ran off!! So obviously he hasn't learned anything yet!

Also, he did try to be dominate (not quite aggressive) to a 5 month old rhodesian/pit bull mix - in Dodger's defence, the pup was completely out of control (no training and no socialization). The pup kept pawing Dodger's face and when they chased, Dodger would growl - causing the pup to flip over on its back submissively - thankfully Dodger seemed to realize that his lunge-nipping thing wasn't necessary so maybe he's learning some restraint (wishful thinking)!! Dodger was intimidating puposely but wasn't hurting the pup. The owner said "I don't care if he pushes her around so long as he is fixed" - he didn't have an appointment to fix her so I tried to suggest that he fix her and stop bringing her to the dog park and they just stared at me like I had spoken in another language! There are all sorts of people out there!

May 25th, 2005, 07:32 PM
"Come" and "growing out of it" we're actually both what worked. Since I've had Levi, he's matured a lot and has a lot more respect and manners. I've practised come until he couldn't possibly do it any better. When I got to the park, I worked on it more. However, I've also worked on "no" a lot. When he goes to meet a dog, and I don't want him to (because we're practising "come" or something), if he doesn't respond when I say come, I'll say "no!" and he'll stop and look at me. Mind you, sometimes he'll keep going and sometimes he'll come back (he's not perfect! :)). If I were you, I would just keep practising come and maybe no (or "stop").

Levi does the growling-chasing thing too. Anything that moves/runs he'll chase and growl. Some dogs we'll ignore it and they'll play fine, other dogs won't take his dominance and other dogs will rollover submissively. He doesn't do it as much as he used to, because I think he's beginning to realize that most dogs won't play with him when he does that.

By the way, how old is Dodger?

May 25th, 2005, 08:30 PM
Thanks Levimh - probably not the nicest thing to say but it's comforting to know that Dodger isn't the only one who had/has this problem! Unfortunately its the owners that overreact and think that my dog should be isolated from dogs because he's "vicious". He's not really - just gets soooo excited!!

He's 11 months old now and I just hope that he "grows out of it" with the help of some training!

How old was Levi when he was doing this nonsense? When did he stop!?

May 26th, 2005, 08:22 AM
11 months? I'm sure he'll grow out of it then. Levi was about 1 year when I got him and he's now almost 2. He started growing out of it the beginning of this year (so 18's hard to say exactly though).

So, give Dodger several more months and lots of practise. I'd say he's doing pretty well for 11 months! :D

May 26th, 2005, 10:29 AM
Diego does this too in puppy class, although he doesn't really "gang up" on the omega dog but rather picking on the "next-to-alpha" dog. He is the biggest dog in class. He's sniff the dog, jump on him and try to nip his ear and neck. I was trying to "gotcha" him out of it, but the trainers assured me that it was normal behavior.

I really don't know if this is indeed aggressive behavior. He has never been let out without a leash except during puppy class, but he does seem overly excited when he's with my friend's dogs. Is this a socialization issue or aggresion issue?

p.s. Diego is one week short of 5 months, and he's a golden/lab cross.

May 26th, 2005, 01:54 PM
In my opinion, it's not an agressive thing. I think if it was, you'd be able to tell.

Levi used to get REALLY excited when it came time to see other dogs at the park or at obedience class. He could hardly contain himself. He used to have a wiggle butt too. :)

May 26th, 2005, 04:55 PM
My Dobe used to do the same thing, especially if there was pack involived! Once her recall was in order it wasn't really an issue, but I did teach her gentle as she often has no idea she's a 'big dog' and would play rough with our MinPins. She is also very vocal, you can imagine how much people love me at the dog park! A vocal dobe means it's going to kill you and your dog - apparently!!!! I have grown a tough skin as I know my dog is very well trained, almost 100% on all her commands and I do have control over her which is the rule at the dog park. She's never hurt a dog but can be rude and pushy, it's better now that we have worked on things and she's grown up but the first year was pretty hard, especially when you get dirty looks and comments from ignorant dog owners.

I have friends with dogs and if the dog park people saw them play, they would have heart attacks! They are really rough but are 100% playing, we obviously don't let it get too far, but its' NORMAL for dogs to growl etc...

May 26th, 2005, 10:11 PM
MIA - that's exactly how it feels with Dodger - everyone thinks that a growling medium-large dog is gonna draw blood, or worse! As much as I want puppyhood to last forever, I am going to be VERY happy when he is mature/trained enough tolisten to me in any situation!

NYMPH - I agree with levimh, I don't think that its an aggression thing with Diego. He is probably just testing the boundaries and learning about doggy social etiquette. I think he is a bit young at this point to worry about it being an aggressive issue. If he's never been off-leash with other dogs then he is probably overexcited and just being a silly (maybe slightly pushy) pup!
Do you have any recent pictures of your little-BIG boy?!!?


May 27th, 2005, 10:51 AM
Diego is my first puppy and I'm often not quite sure if it's normal puppy behavior or aggressive behavior.

Melissa: No recent pictures, I've been really really bad. Here is a photo of him at week 12, he's almost twice the size by now. BTW, are you going to the FOAP Walkathon on June 4, 2005? I think I'm going to take Diego there. More info:

May 27th, 2005, 11:03 AM
I would like to take Dodger there too! Although, I'm not very good at asking people for money so I will probably have to make the minimum (or more) donation myself! I didn't make it to the BARK walkathon unfortunately so I really should make an effort to go to this one!
I guess, Diego is doing much better with walking on-leash then!? Hopefully we will see each other there! It sounds like Diego is nearly as big as Dodger!

May 27th, 2005, 11:18 AM
That'll really be great! Oh me too I'm just going to make the donation. Diego's doing a little better on leash, although he still pulls a lot, but we are getting there. Hopefully the weather would be nice, for me, Diego won't mind. :cool:

doggy lover
May 27th, 2005, 12:44 PM
Tenderfoot, you hit the nail on the head. We seem to forget that dogs are dogs(wolves), we try to instill our behaviours into them but in all they are DOGS. I have read a couple of threads lately that fall into this same catagory of domanant dogs going after omega dogs. We think it is mean but in their behaviour its normal. My last dog was told that all dogs were babies and to leave them if he got too pushy around smaller dogs and since he weighed 120lbs most dogs were smaller, it worked like a charm. Once a St Bernard pup came bounding over to him, it was at least as big a Travis, I told him to be nice the dog was a baby and he just turned around and looked at me like "you have to be joking mother look at the size of him" I just had to laugh.

May 27th, 2005, 06:56 PM
Doggy lover - I am so impressed you read so far back into this thread - it's a long one. Thanks for the giggle - I love it when people interpret their dog’s thoughts so poignantly.

May 31st, 2005, 08:04 AM
Tenderfoot - I think I need to get your DVD so I know what to do in all these tricky situations!

Have you had success with hounds that don't look to their handler for direction!?


what DVD? If there is a Tenderfoot DVD (especially one that includes ALL the basics) I would like to know how to get my hands on one......

May 31st, 2005, 09:09 AM
I'm not exactly sure what is included on her DVD but try going to the website:

May 31st, 2005, 10:49 AM
Lissa - I am so sorry I totally missed your post asking about the DVD! :sorry: AGGH!!!!!! Don't tell Doug - I will never hear the end of it.
The DVD is actually jammed packed with everything - it is 3 hours long (tougher to edit than 'Gone with the Wind'!). We include our philosophy, the relationship drills, almost any common action your dog can perform and take you from beginning to end (off leash distraction work). In addition to that it's gorgeous - filmed in Colorado and shot with tons of different dogs of all ages. Some people have commented that the information is wonderful but the footage is worth it too. I think I have gone on enough - can you tell I am proud of our work? :D
Anyway thanks so much for asking and again I am so sorry.
P.S. The DVD is on sale through June 10th for $10 off! :thumbs up

May 31st, 2005, 03:38 PM
I've recently been hearing alot about dog psychology. I really think it is important to remember that dogs are dogs. Nat geo's "Dog WHisperer" cesar milan emphasises this alot in his DVD. I live in LA and it seems like everywhere you look there are people with there little dogs all dressed up and they they act like the dogs are their children. Anyways I think it is getting a little out of had and causes some behavoral issues. Often it's not the dogs but the owners.

May 31st, 2005, 03:45 PM
I dress my dogs up and they are my kids but I also expect them to behave! Just as I would with human kids! I have no behavioral issues with my dogs, but I am the leader of my pack and they are all very well trained.

The problem I find is most dog owners know nothing about dogs! You can buy one almost anywhere and because of that people aren't being taught how to train, socialize etc with their dog! Training isn't mandatory, there are no laws protecting dogs from humans.

I had a lady at the park not long ago pick up her kid because I had a Doberman, she commented that's why she bought a lab, labs are great don't you know, as she was raving on and on about her lab, it attacked my Doberman, but remember it's ok because it's a lab!!!!

Ignorance is what causes behavior problems, not cute collars and little t-shirts.