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New & sudden bad behaviour at the dog park

shibamom
June 1st, 2010, 04:37 PM
So this has happened twice now this week.

Simba (18 month old male Shiba Inu, neutered) has growled and snapped at dogs at the dog park. Specifically, it is when he is surrounded by a group of 2-3 larger dogs (males, I believe, and from the same owner/group). Normally, he is very friendly and acts well. These 2 times, he has looked very uncomfortable (almost standing paralyzed) and then growls and snaps at them. The dogs (from my human viewpoint) were not doing anything aggressive, but they didn't leave him alone when he growled. I understand that maybe he wants his space, but I can't have him snapping! These dogs are much larger and stronger than him (mainly pitties and rotties), so if he started a fight, I suspect he would lose pretty quick and badly. Very dangerous.

We went to another dog park yesterday (Shiba meetup) and no such issues.

BenMax
June 1st, 2010, 04:42 PM
He probably sensed something problematic. We don't always understand the silent language going back and forth.

Listen to what he is telling you. Something was off.

14+kitties
June 1st, 2010, 05:04 PM
Were those dogs neutered as well? Maybe he was sensing the testosterone. Or had one just been done recently? Was it always the same dog or different dogs?

shibamom
June 1st, 2010, 06:42 PM
BenMax: I wonder if he felt he was going to get picked on?

14+kitties: I'm not sure if they were intact or not, I didn't know the dogs and didn't speak to the owners. It was two separate groups of dogs (different day, different park).

luckypenny
June 1st, 2010, 09:43 PM
Were the owners supervising their dogs? They should have called them off if they saw Simba was so uncomfortable. It's the one thing I really don't like about dog parks, so many people not paying attention to their dogs.

What does Simba usually do when more than one or two dogs crowd him? How did they approach him? Was he on leash? Was it just as you had entered the park?

MyBirdIsEvil
June 1st, 2010, 11:03 PM
He may have felt threatened being surrounded by several large dogs, and while they didn't seem outwardly aggressive to you, several large dogs surrounding a smaller dog and refusing to back down is a somewhat aggressive gesture. At they least they were being impolite as far as dog body language is concerned, so it's no wonder your dog felt uncomfortable.

It's hard to tell exactly what the case was without having seen it in person, but since your dog didn't show any aggression issues the next time with other dogs, it sounds like a good possibility that the larger dogs and their behavior made him feel uncomfortable.

All in all the owners should have been watching their dogs that they weren't attempting to gang up on another dog. Pack behavior can escalate quickly when unsupervised, and since your dog wasn't part of their pack it could have turned ugly in an instant. I really doubt your dog did anything wrong, and he shouldn't be made to submit to a pack of large unruly dogs. :2cents:

shibamom
June 2nd, 2010, 09:58 AM
Were the owners supervising their dogs? No. They were standing nearby but talking to each other. They should have called them off if they saw Simba was so uncomfortable. It's the one thing I really don't like about dog parks, so many people not paying attention to their dogs.

What does Simba usually do when more than one or two dogs crowd him? Normally, he just plays, kisses, wrestles. He has a typical group of friends each morning, but it was not those friends these two times. How did they approach him? They wandered towards him and were all sniffing him. Was he on leash? No Was it just as you had entered the park? One time yes, one time no.

Thanks for the perspective. Now that I think back, when Simba does this to another dog (joins the crowd around another dog), I do pull him away right away.

shibamom
June 2nd, 2010, 10:02 AM
He may have felt threatened being surrounded by several large dogs, and while they didn't seem outwardly aggressive to you, several large dogs surrounding a smaller dog and refusing to back down is a somewhat aggressive gesture. At they least they were being impolite as far as dog body language is concerned, so it's no wonder your dog felt uncomfortable.

I think you are right. I know for sure he felt threatened, I guess my confusion is that I didn't know why. To me, the dog wagging it's tail seemed friendly (at least it appeared to be, they were all docked tails). When he growled, they didn't leave him alone.

It's hard to tell exactly what the case was without having seen it in person, but since your dog didn't show any aggression issues the next time with other dogs, it sounds like a good possibility that the larger dogs and their behavior made him feel uncomfortable.

I think so!

All in all the owners should have been watching their dogs that they weren't attempting to gang up on another dog. Pack behavior can escalate quickly when unsupervised, and since your dog wasn't part of their pack it could have turned ugly in an instant. I really doubt your dog did anything wrong, and he shouldn't be made to submit to a pack of large unruly dogs. :2cents:

I guess the problem is that when he growled and snapped, it makes him look like the bad guy ("why is that dog in here?? he's snapping!") ... and TBH I thought the same thing (I just leashed him and left). How do I deal with that issue? I've been taking him to the dog park daily since he was 12 weeks old and this is the first time this happened... all in the same week!



.............

happycats
June 2nd, 2010, 10:40 AM
I think Simba feels threatened, and you as his leader are supposed to address any dogs getting pushy with him,and since you didn't address this situation, he had too. it very important that he knows whose in charge, or he will take charge and that could end poorly.

I don't take Buddy to dog parks for that very reason, we take him to a local park, where we have doggie meet ups with other neighbours and their dogs. When any dog gets to push with Buddy I deal with that dog , if I don't Buddy looks at me first,(like "hey, are ya gonna deal with this") and if I don't ...he will!!
We are their leaders, they look up to us and we must lead them , but also defend them.

(I'm trying to look at this from a doggie point of view :))

shibamom
June 2nd, 2010, 11:31 AM
Thanks happycats, I agree with you. I should have stepped in sooner when I saw he was feeling uncomfortable. What would you recommend would be the best approach if this happens again? Should I just leash him and lead him away or should I shoo the other dogs away? I'm not really sure what to do.

Dog parks... sigh, yes, aside from his typical play group (same time, same park), it can be really hit and miss (especially in an urban area where people think the dog park after 6pm is all the exercise a dog needs in a day).

happycats
June 2nd, 2010, 01:07 PM
Thanks happycats, I agree with you. I should have stepped in sooner when I saw he was feeling uncomfortable. What would you recommend would be the best approach if this happens again? Should I just leash him and lead him away or should I shoo the other dogs away? I'm not really sure what to do.

Dog parks... sigh, yes, aside from his typical play group (same time, same park), it can be really hit and miss (especially in an urban area where people think the dog park after 6pm is all the exercise a dog needs in a day).

I know what you mean It's so hard to get there in time because they are all over the place :)
I deal with the other dog/s, this shows Buddy that I am in control, so he doesn't have to be.

On some occasions I do let Buddy do the discpline :evil: (usually when it's an unruly pup)
there was a young rotti who kept after him and after him and wouldn't listen to me or the owner, so Buddy looked at me, an I said "do what you have to do" Buddy grabed him and pinned the little trouble maker down, gave him a good growl until the pup squeeled, then he let go.....and the pup didn't bother him again. Buddy is really amazing, he never hurts other dogs, he just lets them know he won't be pushed (that's the only reason I let him take care of the young rude ones on his own) :D

I find a few dogs are okay, but I don't really want Buddy in a larger group, because it's just to hard to control, and also more chances for bad encounters.

cell
June 2nd, 2010, 02:03 PM
I also agree the bad behaviour doesn't sound like a instigation from the conditions you described, many dogs become uncomfortable when with many strange dogs who are making them the centre of attention.
It's a completely normal reaction to be uncomfortable while getting swarmed. Growling and snapping at the other dogs is a way to express he's uncomfortable and wants space!
Next time get a indication from body language, particularly the dogs tails, if your dog is upset and his tail is tucked or low he's not comfortable, especially if the other dogs are excited it probably makes him feel worst.