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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. My one year old dobie was attacked by a full grown boxer at a dog park when she was only 8 months old, she deffended herself well while we tried to get the boxer off of her and she only got a few scratches nothing big. I still have no idea why the boxer attacked her but I have let it go and just don't go to that park anymore.

She is now fearfull/deffensive of big/medium size dogs running up to her to play with her. After a few minutes of trying to get away she eventually finds out that they don't want to fight her and she plays well whith them (she is actually one of the biggest dogs at the park).

My question is that am I doing the right thing by taking her to the park and hoping she will grow out of the fear stage?

I have always kept her well socialized and she never shows signs of fear around people or other dogs no matter how big they are, as long as its not at the park where they rush to her to play with her. I would appreciate any help.

Thank you
Naveen
 

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Naveen,

Do you have any friends that own a scary sized dog? If not, I'm sure you could get someone at the park to help you. Go to the park at a slow time or try to find a spot that's not crowded there and ask a friend with a boxer or similar sized dog to approach with both dogs on lead. Maybe if Princess could get used to meeting these dogs in a more controlled way she would relax a little...
 

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Well, I do not have a definite answer on this one, but I am also a dog park go'er. My Nikita had some bad experiences at the one we go to. She's been going since she was 5 months old.

One of the things to watch out for is the body language that the other dogs exhibit to initiate play. Most of the dogs I have seen at the dog park do not know how to do this. They run up and jump on the other dog to get them to play. Body language to other dogs is important to know how to react to another dog. My girl, when she wants to play with another dog, will do a play bow, butt high in the air, and become all wiggly and then move in closer to the other dog. If the other dog accepts, usually with a play bow or another non-threatening gesture, they are off and playing.

When an un-rully dog jumps on her her, or moves in too close to her, without exhibit the proper body language, she interpets that as a threat and will tell them "No" and to keep their distance, by a growl and maybe a few snapps in the air, but does not attack. Most dogs understand this warning and they back off and give her space.

Here's a link to some common dog body language. http://www.pawsacrossamerica.com/interpret.html
More could be found by googling "dog body language".

When a dog runs up to another dog, there first reaction is to become defensive. Its like if someone comes running up to you, you do not know what they are planning to do. If someone is running up to you waving their hand saying "hi", you probably won't feel threatened. When proper body language is being shown, there should not be an issue and your dog will understand what it means.

As my girl has gotten older, she is particular on who she plays with. She will tell some dogs to keep there distance until she is comfotable with them and gets to know them. Dogs that she has met over and over, never have an issue anymore.

I personnely find dog parks a double edge sword. It can be a great place for them, but also can create bad experiences. I have been fortunate enough to say we have had about 90% of good experiences. With the issues that have arised, Nikita has moved on through them. She will avoid dogs she does like. She will tell them to stay away from her with a warning. Learning as much about dog behavior and their body language will definate explain alot of the actions you see. Then you can decide if the dog park is something you would want to continue doing.

Also with my girl, this only happens at the dog park. Outside the park, she wants to play with everydog she sees, inside the dog park she is very particular about playing with just any dog. There are way too many different dynamics that occur there. Most owners there do not understand dog behavior. Most dogs are not well trained and there owners bring them there to just vent off energy. On certain days at my dog park, if I squint my eyes tightly, it reminds me like I am at "Chucky Cheese" (Johnny, stop that. Suzy, get off her. Billy, leave that alone.) Its a crap shoot.

I still go to our park. On good days we stay a long time, on bad days we leave early. When my girl tells another dog "No", the smart ones listen. The not so smart ones, takes a few times.

This article my also explain about dog behavior too. I read this one last year when I also thought my girl was becoming aggressive, "HE JUST WANTS TO SAY "HI!"
By Suzanne Clothier
http://www.flyingdogpress.com/sayhi.html

Hopefully this will help some.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey, thanks. That does make things a lot clearer.

Tracy- I do have a friend who has a Great Dane who she likes a lot but he lives kind of far and we only see them a few times a month. My other friends honestly own mean and aggressive dogs. But I will keep trying, thank you.

Kratty- You are right about the body language. Princi always initiates play by the "play bow", however, like you said, a lot of the dogs at the park are not well behaved and the owners could care less. I have seen many times a few dogs getting a little too rough when one dog ends up yelping loudly and limping and to make matters worse the owner being the "man" he is tells his dog to Man-Up! Well anyways, I will continue to work with her and see if I can go on slow days and maybe find some other parks.

Thank you for your helpful responses.
Naveen
 

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I don't think I would overwhelm her with so many dogs at one time that you could find at a park.
She needs to be desensitized and that would be best accomplished by having her meet/play with one dog at a time until she gets more confidence.
If you have friends with dogs, I would let her play with them one at a time before putting her back into a park setting.
 

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CoAl-s-Mom said:
I don't think I would overwhelm her with so many dogs at one time that you could find at a park.
She needs to be desensitized and that would be best accomplished by having her meet/play with one dog at a time until she gets more confidence.
If you have friends with dogs, I would let her play with them one at a time before putting her back into a park setting.
I agree with this. I deal with the same issue with Ava. She was attacked at 12 weeks old by two off leash Shih Tzus and again at 5 months by an off leash Lab. Both incidents occured in areas where there is a leash law and yes, she was on a leash. I consider us lucky that she wasn't badly hurt in either of the two incidents but she has developed a fear of strange dogs bounding up to her. When she was your dogs age, she would yelp and try to pull away. Now that's she's turned two, if a strange dog gets in her face she'll bark and snap. Mind you, if she's able to meet a dog in a controled manner, she's fine and will quickly make friends.

I would never take Ava to a dog park on just the fact that not everyone has control over their dog off leash and things can quickly escalate. Although in our case, this happens even when your required by law to have your dog on lead( :) I am a wee bit bitter about this subject). If you still would like to bring her to parks in the future then I would think desensitization or even consulting a trainer on this would be the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, I have found a few people in the neighborhood who have dogs that are friendly and well behaved and she does get to play with them a few times a month. She just turned a year so she doesnt bark or snap at them she just goes in the submissive/deffensive mode, and I feel bad when that happens. I try to encourage her to play with them but she just kind of stays with me most of the time. I have stopped going to the parks for the time being and am trying to work things out by introducing her to dogs on lead in the neighborhood.

Thanks again
Naveen
 

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Dobe_Paws said:
I agree with this. I deal with the same issue with Ava. She was attacked at 12 weeks old by two off leash Shih Tzus and again at 5 months by an off leash Lab. Both incidents occured in areas where there is a leash law and yes, she was on a leash. I consider us lucky that she wasn't badly hurt in either of the two incidents but she has developed a fear of strange dogs bounding up to her. When she was your dogs age, she would yelp and try to pull away. Now that's she's turned two, if a strange dog gets in her face she'll bark and snap. Mind you, if she's able to meet a dog in a controled manner, she's fine and will quickly make friends.

I would never take Ava to a dog park on just the fact that not everyone has control over their dog off leash and things can quickly escalate. Although in our case, this happens even when your required by law to have your dog on lead( :) I am a wee bit bitter about this subject). If you still would like to bring her to parks in the future then I would think desensitization or even consulting a trainer on this would be the way to go.
Yep, agree with CoAl-s-Mom and Dobe_Paws. Definitely don't put her into a stressful situation with too many dogs. Work one on one to start out. Until you are more comfortable with her situation, I'd stay away from dog parks too. Her first reaction will be to protect herself. While you're working with Princi and another dog, reassure Princi that you will protect her. You are the pack leader and she can trust your judgement 100%. If I'm concerned about another dog rushing at us, I put Jeddah behind me and turn into a 10 foot tall Amazon to the other dog!

Watch your body language, how you hold the leash etc. Princi will pick up on these signs, and take her lead from you. My scenario approaching another dog with Jeddah on leash, was to get a firmer hold on the leash, square up my shoulders preparing for the lunge, and check my footwork. All of this was sending a sign to Jeddah, "get ready for attack". Distract her with food treats, squeaky toy, whatever she works best with. I have a squeaker out of a toy, pop that in my mouth and blow, Jeddah's attention is immediately back to me, and then I kick in with the bright, cheery voice, pick up my walking speed, turn it into a little game and we're past the big, nasty threat. (Usually a maltese or something fluffy!)

Try and meet another dog on neutral territory. Keep both dogs leashed for introduction. My behaviourist set some ground rules on dog sizes for Jeddah to meet - nothing smaller than an Australian Cattle Dog, no "soft" temperaments and nothing she could shake! Now this is for Jeddah's personality as she is a rather dominant female, but Princi may have an entirely different personality.

Jeddah was also attacked at a young age in a dog park. I only found out this information when I phoned her previous owner after adoption, regarding her aggressive behaviour! We tried different avenues without success, before going to a behaviourist. My recommendation would be to seek professional help now, as Princi sounds that she's probably not progressed to a "difficult" stage. If she is play bowing at initial contact, that's a good sign. With guidance, you should be able have Princi comfortable with other dogs in no time. Jeddah never play bowed, her attitude was to get in first, before they hurt her. I've posted Jeddah's story somewhere in Training, if you want to see our progress. Good luck with your little one. :)
 
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