Dog "aggression"

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Postby reign99 » December 16th, 2009, 6:42 pm

My boy Petey was adopted at a year old. He was neutered at about eight months or so by the shelter. We would bring him to our local dog park about three times a week, if not more. For the first six months we owned him, he never had a problem with a single dog.

Around that year and six month mark however, something changed. The incident which started it was when I was bit by a dog at the dog park accidentally. My other dog, Loralie an eight year old aussie shep mix, was attacked by a little dog (probably about 25lbs, she's 70lbs). Loralie is very docile until she gets bit, then she lays down the law. She had the dog pinned on his back in about half a second, and I grabbed her by the collar and pulled her up. Unfortunately, the dog on his back wasn't through and tried to bite her on the side of her neck as I pulled her up. He got my pinky instead.

No serious damage, just a little gash and some blood, but I was pissed off. The little dog had been going after pretty much every dog in the place over any little thing, and the owner was very "ladeedah" about it (until I got bit anyway). From that very moment, things changed. Every single dog he knew before that moment is his absolute buddy (probably around 20 dogs or so), but on that very day the next dog to come into the dog park he didn't know he went after.

I honestly think it's just a posturing thing, he makes a lot of noise and looks the part, but he has never left a mark on any dog he's tangled up with. He honestly is a big scaredy cat when it comes down to it. Loralie has had some spats with dogs before where there were bites that broke the skin, but him not a one.

The problem, as you all know I'm sure, is that Petey doesn't get a second chance. He has to be perfect 100% of the time, he's a Pit Bull and the same rules generally don't apply. What we started to do, and still do to this day, is bring both of them to the dog park but Petey sits outside and meets dogs through the fence. If he is OK, and his body language is good (and the other dogs as well), then we bring him in. This has worked well, but we still have to be very alert when it comes to another dog coming into the park (especially males of bully breeds).

I guess I just wanted to know if anyone else has had experiences similar with their dogs, and how they have handled it. I don't want to avoid socialization with other animals because that will just make things worse, but I also have to worry about his safety as well as the safety of other peoples dogs. It's not right for anyone to use someone else's dog as an experiment for their training theory, ya know?

Maybe I'm just too vigilant. All comments/insights are welcome!
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Postby Pit♥bull » December 16th, 2009, 6:48 pm

NO doggie parks :nono:
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Postby amazincc » December 16th, 2009, 7:11 pm

Pit♥Bull wrote:NO doggie parks :nono:

x 100

If you do a search here about dog parks, tons of topics will pop up - anything from why dog parks are a BAD idea to other members' experiences. :wink:
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 16th, 2009, 7:19 pm

Socialization is highly over-rated once you get past a certain age in puppyhood. After that, it's not so much "socialization" as maybe "habituation"? Inara was socialized beautifully as a puppy - lots of healthy interactions with lots of dogs, met tons of people, went lots of places, etc, and yet she's still reactive to other dogs. It's often part and parcel of owning this breed. She has 3 friends. Well, maybe 2 1/2 because the one doesn't really like Inara, just tolerates her (Ruby!). She gets to play with other dogs MAYBE once every couple of months. And she's none the worse for it.

As the others have pointed out, check out the Sticky re: dog parks that's in this section. Read it with an open mind. And keep in mind that the day your dog sticks up for itself at the dog park, is also quite possibly the day your city or another close by bans pit bulls. ONE DOG, and I'm not being dramatic here, can ruin it for everybody.
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Postby mnp13 » December 16th, 2009, 7:45 pm

I will third - or fourth? - that you go find the dog park threads and read them.

Your experience with your other dog is EXACTLY why dog parks are a horrible choice for EVERY dog of EVERY breed. Your dog was attacked by a dog for no reason - and it was injured and you were injured. That little dog could have done serious damage to your dog, what if it had bitten her in the eye instead of the neck?

Unprovoked attacks can also create permanent dog aggression - even against dogs that they already "knew." In a dog park setting, other dogs can also decide to join in the fray, creating a rolling dog fight that would be very dangerous to break up, and possibly cause severe injury for the dogs and people involved.

I honestly think it's just a posturing thing, he makes a lot of noise and looks the part, but he has never left a mark on any dog he's tangled up with.


He honestly is a big scaredy cat when it comes down to it.

Which is fine, until flight is removed for some reason... be it a leash or being cornered by a fence or other barrier. If he ever needs to use "fight" the result could be very bad, the scared ones can be the most vicious when the time comes.

If he is OK, and his body language is good (and the other dogs as well), then we bring him in.

Take a look at this thread: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=23382
Remember that there are a lot of idiots out there who would bring a dog like mine to a dog park.

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Postby reign99 » December 16th, 2009, 8:25 pm

Thanks much for all the responses, I will be sure to check out all of the posts relating to this. I'm glad to hear that what I have wanted is being seconded, thirded (fourthdeded?). My significant other has wanted to keep trying to bring him to the dog park, and I really have wanted to just call it quits. He's happy at home with us, going for hikes, going for jogs, playing "fetch". I have always been of the opinion that the risks definitely outweigh any potential benefit with dog parks.

I saw the video posted showing Inara and Riggs. Petey is that way when he is interest in engaging another dog. Extremely focused, muscles a bit tensed, very quiet, and when they come within range *snap*.

I'm going to look into more of the posts now.
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 17th, 2009, 1:48 am

I don't have pit bulls, and I don't frequent dog parks. I used to...but realized that my herding dogs don't really enjoy large groups of strange dogs. (the park I used to frequent was small, new and had the same group every day) As they got older, they just don't enjoy hanging out with newbies...they do have meet n' greets, class playtimes and playdates a lot, and we have boarding dogs in our house all of the time. But since I run the classes and the boarding, I can screen for compatability...unlike the dog park. So coming from a herding dog owner...I don't even like dog parks. If you have a goofy lab or golden...that's one thing...but most other breeds/types...nah.
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Postby fenella » December 17th, 2009, 10:42 am

reign99 wrote:Around that year and six month mark however, something changed

The incident may have hastened the process, but it is my understanding that aggression often does not show up in a dog until they are about a year and a half to two years old. (That's not to say that it can't happen at any time...just that it often does present during this period.)

Murphy used to love playing with other dogs. We've even gone to dog parks (We do NOT anymore and I highly recommend you stop going as well.). Around the same age, he started to change. He was always very submissive...very bad at reading other dogs' signals. He'd bounce into them. He was told off numerous times. Then, he started rolling/pinning smaller dogs and puppies. Lots of blood or anything. Then it moved to same sized dogs, and now even larger dogs. (He's 45 lb. and this summer tried to take on my dad's Irish wolfhound. He was put in his place rather quickly).
He is very fearful, and it seems that he figured out that he could intimidate dogs with that behavior. I will not let him free-play with a group of dogs anymore. Like you, I think a lot of it is posturing...I know that it is mainly fear-based. I'm not, however, willing to bet another dog's life on it. At first I was very sad that he couldn't play in a group, but he is just fine. He doesn't really NEED to play with strange dogs. He has a sister that he plays with and just a couple of doggy friends.

I guess I'm just trying to careful.
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