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Dog aggression while playing with other dogs

January 13th, 2009, 07:44 PM
We adopted a dog from a shelter about a month ago. She's 9 months old and they think she's a pointer - cattled dog cross. She loves people and other dogs and learns quickly. We take her to the dog park and in general she's great with other dogs, doesn't mind if they play with her ball, loves chasing and play fighting. My issue is this: when she play fights it's all happy, tail wagging fun but when she gets on top of the other dog with the other dog on their back she takes it to the next level and sounds quite aggressive, growling and biting the neck, but her tail is still wagging. Some dog owners say it's bad others say she's just a puppy playing. Sometimes I leave the park b/c of it b/c other owners say they don't want their dogs to learn playing like that (if it's playing!) which I understand. This is our first dog so we're not used to the signs of dogs ane dog park etiquette. Any advice is much appreciated!

January 13th, 2009, 07:56 PM
I don't have time to answer in detail - but a wagging tail doesn't always mean a happy dog - mostly it means excitement. Could be nervous, happy or angry. You dog's behavior might be benign in its intent but it is intense enough to make others uncomfortable so it is up to you to teach her how to play properly in a manner that helps others stay comfortable.

January 14th, 2009, 10:48 AM
I'm very new to dog do I teach her how to play?

January 14th, 2009, 12:23 PM
If you have any friends or relatives with dogs, maybe it would be good to do a one-on-one play time with them.
That way, it's not quite so busy and overwelming for your dog.

If you do see her showing any signs of agression while playing, interfere immediately. Distract her focus and bring her right down to the ground (gently, but firmly and quickly) and let her know that you are alfpha and what you say goes.

If you're consistent with it, she'll slowly learn what's acceptable social behaviour and what's not.

If you feel you have to, you could always use a muzzle for a little while. My friend had to do that with dog. She just made it a really fun and positive experience for the dog, and so she didn't mind wearing it at all.

Best of luck!

January 14th, 2009, 12:33 PM
It's really hard to say from a description whether the dog is playing or actually aggressing. Is there any way you could post a video? When our dogs play, there are fierce displays of teeth, eyes rolling, growling, snarling, staring, wrestling...but it's all in good fun and no one ever gets hurt, and it's perfectly normal play IMO. Playing CAN look quite frightening and dangerous. But if the dog IS really acting aggressively, and not, say, in a dominant play manner, then that is something you would want to interfere with. Personally, I find a sharp "AH-AH!" sound is enough to break up anything that's escalating past my comfort level 98% of the time, and if it persists, a simple poke to the flank (just using my finger) works to get their attention quickly. Then I distract/redirect to something else that's fun, like fetch. If the dog has escalated to a point of dangerous aggression (i.e. is inflicting injury to another dog) you need to be 100% comfortable with breaking it up safely and removing your dog.

January 14th, 2009, 12:59 PM
I would think that if it is aggression or if the pup is getting out of hand, another confident adult dog would have corrected her already :shrug:.

I'm not a fan of dog parks for various reasons...are there any dogs you set up supervised play dates with for your girl? Have you considered puppy classes?

Gail P
January 14th, 2009, 02:42 PM
Since nobody else has said this yet, THANK YOU! For being a responsible dog owner and being prepared to do something if your dog is behaving inappropriately at the park. :thumbs up I have read so many posts on various different boards about idiot owners who let their dogs do whatever they want at the dog parks and either don't care, don't know better, aren't watching, say "they're only playing", "he just wants to play", "he's friendly" (when really he's not) etc. etc. Many of them wouldn't leave and wouldn't be open to training/learning how to deal with their dog, they just don't see a problem or don't care. Honestly, from some of the stuff I've read I don't think I would ever use a dog park. It makes me awfully glad to live in a rural area with lots of space, in effect I have my own "dog park" with our acreage and my own pack of dogs :laughing: So for all those people who do enjoy the parks with their dogs, thanks :thankyou:

Hopefully it is just play with your pup. Mine can seem positively vicious with each other at times. However that's within their own pack. And sometimes what was play can escalate into a squabble but then goes back to play again too. A couple of mine I watch around other dogs if any friends bring their dogs over, mine don't "attack" but they're rude and will harass if I don't play referee.

January 14th, 2009, 10:25 PM
Thanks for your advice! We made a play date with a friend and a dog we know she does this with. Each time she did it I put her on the ground and made her stay til she was calm. After about the 4th time all I did was call her name and walk toward her and she changed out of this mode to normal playing! Maybe after a week or so if doing this she will learn not to play this way. Even if it is just playing it's something most owners are not comfortable with.

She did have a small fight with another dog after playing for about 10 minutes. They worked it out in about 30 seconds. Is it best to just leave fighting dogs to work it out while staying close to see it doesn't get out of hand? Our 'come' command isn't strong enough yet that she'll come while involved in anything like that.

Thanks for your help! I'll keep you posted on progress!