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Before I tell the story of what happened today, I just want to make you a little familiar with Ace's personality. I do think he's been socialized plenty when he was a puppy. We went to the dog park 3-4 times a week and had friends and family over to our house a lot. So he met a lot of people when he was young. One trait he always had, however, was being very wary of random people. He would never let anyone he did not know touch him if they were coming up to him first and would either run around the person who wanted to pet him or run back to me. I didn't really worry about it since he did not display any signs of aggression, he simply avoided the people he did not know (like). However, to some he would come up on his own and would push against them and let them pet him or would lick their hands. So this seemed to me like a normal personality display. We are still quite young and don't have kids, and neither do any of our friends, so Ace never had a chance to meet children. And to be honest I'm not a big fan of kids. They get on my nerves most times. [Nothing against any of you who have children, so please don't take this personally!] I've read or heard somewhere that dogs can sense what the owner feels and will feel the same way about certain people. I guess Ace would feel my frustration and he would always be especially suspicious of children. But he has never been the type of a dog that would attack another dog or a person. And if ever a dog tried to attack him, he would run away and try to avoid the situation.

Well, today we went to the dog park, took both Ace and our Leah (cavalier king charles) and were just chilling in a little corner, far from other people or dogs, just playing on our own, not bothering anyone. A man comes by with a his huge rottie and stops next to us. His rottie was bothering Ace and would just come up and try to dominate, Ace stood his ground cause I was near I guess [was he protecting me?] . So this was already a stressful situation. Then this rottie owner comes up and tries to pet Ace, shoving his hands into Ace's face. Ace jumped back, lowered his head and gave the "I'm warning you" look...this guy keeps pushing and trying to pet him. Again Ace would avoid his hands. So me and my hubby gave this guy a hint that Ace does not trust strangers and I pulled Ace closer to me. And while all this is happening, I'm sitting on a metal table.
Then this man's daughter, who came out of nowhere, jumps on the table behind and above me standing up(it's a tiny table) and her dad did not say a word to her like it was okay to jump on a strange persons back. I'm about to flip at her when Ace jumps up to her, baring his teeth, and almost bites her leg. He actually touched her leg and that second my hubby yelled out "NO!" and he stopped immediately. All this happened in a matter of seconds. Of course he was immediately corrected and we left the park 5 minutes later.

How do I deal with this? I'm guessing he felt that I was threatened because he did not know this girl and she was jumping right behind my back (she actually touched me)? But it is also not okay to attack a person, especially a child. Was this him being protective or aggressive?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Gotta be honest, that sounds like a horribly stressful situation for your dog. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be concerned, but if he has other experience with kids and acts normal...

Also, if the NO ended the altercation, well... Good dog.

Dog parks can be fun, but there are some real morons out there
 

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Others can give you more advice but I have just a few comments. First of all, I avoid dog parks. You will always run into some issue there sooner or later and then you have to deal with consequences. There will always be people like that man with the rottie. Ace obviously would rather meet someone on his own terms rather than have them come up into his face. But remember that you should anticipate what situations may make him uneasy and to not put him in a position where something could happen. Your role is to protect him from other dogs, other people and situations that may turn ugly. You should socialize him with kids but do it in a controlled environment.
I think Ace felt the tension in the air and the kid jumping on the table behind your back just alarmed him. That's good that he stopped immediately. He might have been being protective and fearful at the same time. These are just my thoughts on the situation.
 

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Thank you for the thoughts.

I'm aware that many of you avoid dog parks and have seen what can happen from posts on this forum and in person. Thank gawd we have never been in such situation and when we come to the park my eyes are always on Ace making sure that he is okay. Whenever we see too many dogs gathering in one spot, which almost always results in a fight, we call him over and his recall is very good. I do know that I'm responsible for his safety and am VERY protective of him... in fact we installed home security only because of him =) The only reason we go to dog parks is because he loves to run around and there are not too many placed around here where dogs can run free. In fact the only places are the dog parks and mountains and the mountains are snowed in already.

I've been thinking about this situation all evening and now I realize that we should've just told the man like it was, to get his dog and his hands away from Ace. Well...maybe not exactly in those words...=) But I agree, I could have avoided the whole situation. :emo11:
 

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Thank you for the thoughts.

I'm aware that many of you avoid dog parks and have seen what can happen from posts on this forum and in person. Thank gawd we have never been in such situation and when we come to the park my eyes are always on Ace making sure that he is okay. Whenever we see too many dogs gathering in one spot, which almost always results in a fight, we call him over and his recall is very good. I do know that I'm responsible for his safety and am VERY protective of him... in fact we installed home security only because of him =) The only reason we go to dog parks is because he loves to run around and there are not too many placed around here where dogs can run free. In fact the only places are the dog parks and mountains and the mountains are snowed in already.

I've been thinking about this situation all evening and now I realize that we should've just told the man like it was, to get his dog and his hands away from Ace. Well...maybe not exactly in those words...=) But I agree, I could have avoided the whole situation. :emo11:
Lesson learned. :) Don't knock yourself up about it.

I agree that it sounds like Ace may have been feeling both protective and fearful. He's a good boy for stopping when hearing 'no'.

The guy with the rottie and little girl should have known better. A lot of the blame lays at his feet. Yes indeed..there are some real idiots out there.
Seriously.. who among us would walk up to ANY dog we don't know and continue to try to pet it.. even when it was obviously showing he didn't WANT to be touched?
 

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Crap like this happens all over the place, not just in dog parks. In that aggression can be defined as causing or threatening to cause harm (i.e. it is the behavior, not the motivation or rationale), yes... this would qualify.

One thing about children is that they can pretty much be counted on to not behave like adults. They are unpredictable. They do weird stuff. They're fast. They're the wrong size!

I would make a concerted effort to broaden your dog's experience and knowledge of children. I would do this slowly and carefully, starting with children whose behavior you can direct (i.e. older) and who are familiar with dogs. Ask them for help, and then explain how they can help. No sudden movements toward your dog (no sudden movements, period). Drop food. Don't stare or bend over your dog. Ignore your dog, actually, unless he asks. Drop food, play with toys, be calm, offer toys/food... if he approaches with curiosity ("Hey! Whatcha got? Whatcha doin'?"), that is best. Mostly: don't push things. You might want to enlist the help of an adult who has a good relationship with your dog who also enjoys the company of children to play the major role in this. Your dog sounds a little fearful, and dogs like that need to move at their own pace.
 

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Several things struck me. First, Ace is maturing and will be standing and confronting dogs, no more running away. Now is the time to be super viligent as fights will start fast. He is also going to be more protective and key into your thoughts and feelings and mirror them. You get ticked, he is gonna be ticked. Be very careful of getting mad or p!ssed while he is around. Be adult and keep your cool. I agree that he should be socialized with children if he is to come in contact with them at all. People who bring children to dog parks are stupid. Remember that and expect anything from a person dragging a child along at a dog park. Dog parks are inherently dangerous for children. They are dog parks not children parks. There are playgrounds and regular parks for kids. Remember, Ace is coming into his own and is going to start making more decisions, make sure he makes the right ones. Oh, try to always keep a slightly slack lead on him. Tension on the lead will make him be more tense and aggressive. Relax!
 

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First - taking a dog to a dog park as only one of two activities is not a good socialization plan. First dogs are running loose and anything goes. If that is the only place he was socialized with other dogs he did not learn how to behave in different situations and different locations. The dog park became very familiar so not much new.

Dogs need to also be trained on lead how to behave around other dogs on lead and a formal obedience class is excellent for this.

Now the rottie guy cornered your dog and pushrf him. Your dog tried to communicate at which point you should have stood up and stepped between your dog and the man and asked him politely to back up that your dog is not used to stranger getting in his face.

Since you know your dog is not comforatble around children he should be on leash and learning to be calm. You can't have him on leash at a dog park or you are asking for bigger problems. If people want to approach him you need to tell them the proper way to approach him which is just to hold their hand out and let him sniff them first. Then turn sideways and stroke him under the chin not reach over the top of his head.

I recommend you start formal obedience classes with him to help him further his socialization before it is too late and I would stop the dog park. It is just a lazy excuse for dog exercise and since we all would agree there is a risk factor why push it?
 

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I'm not a big fan of dog parks for larger dogs either,those big dogs play really rough and most of the owners act as if its just typical big dog behavior. If you absolutely have to go there to exercise I would go super early or super late when the chances of little to know dogs around to bother him would be great. I take my little dogs to the dog park every once in a while but those people tend to be a bit more careful after all they have "little dogs." Atleast thats been my experience, If I could take my dobe pup to the little side without having little dog owners drop in fear I would, but I don't think thats going to happen. LIttle dog owners, ( I know Im one of them. lol) tend to be a bit overprotective of thier tiny fur friends.
 

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ps please forgive the typos and spelling errors, its still early here ( I'm typing with oneeye opened) and I have a keyboard with sticky keys. lol
 

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Agree 100% not to go to dog parks anymore, especially with a male Doberman. It's just not safe.

I highly recommend getting a professional trainer in for a personal evaluation. I recommend picking up a copy of the book "Control Unleashed" by Leslie McDevitt. If you can find a trainer that uses her methods that would be ideal. In the meantime, you need to be extra vigilant to protect other people from your dog. He has demonstrated that he's willing to act on his discomfort and you don't want him to actually bite someone.
 
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Before I tell the story of what happened today, I just want to make you a little familiar with Ace's personality. I do think he's been socialized plenty when he was a puppy. We went to the dog park 3-4 times a week and had friends and family over to our house a lot. So he met a lot of people when he was young. One trait he always had, however, was being very wary of random people. He would never let anyone he did not know touch him if they were coming up to him first and would either run around the person who wanted to pet him or run back to me. I didn't really worry about it since he did not display any signs of aggression, he simply avoided the people he did not know (like). However, to some he would come up on his own and would push against them and let them pet him or would lick their hands. So this seemed to me like a normal personality display. We are still quite young and don't have kids, and neither do any of our friends, so Ace never had a chance to meet children. And to be honest I'm not a big fan of kids. They get on my nerves most times. [Nothing against any of you who have children, so please don't take this personally!] I've read or heard somewhere that dogs can sense what the owner feels and will feel the same way about certain people. I guess Ace would feel my frustration and he would always be especially suspicious of children. But he has never been the type of a dog that would attack another dog or a person. And if ever a dog tried to attack him, he would run away and try to avoid the situation.

Well, today we went to the dog park, took both Ace and our Leah (cavalier king charles) and were just chilling in a little corner, far from other people or dogs, just playing on our own, not bothering anyone. A man comes by with a his huge rottie and stops next to us. His rottie was bothering Ace and would just come up and try to dominate, Ace stood his ground cause I was near I guess [was he protecting me?] . So this was already a stressful situation. Then this rottie owner comes up and tries to pet Ace, shoving his hands into Ace's face. Ace jumped back, lowered his head and gave the "I'm warning you" look...this guy keeps pushing and trying to pet him. Again Ace would avoid his hands. So me and my hubby gave this guy a hint that Ace does not trust strangers and I pulled Ace closer to me. And while all this is happening, I'm sitting on a metal table.
Then this man's daughter, who came out of nowhere, jumps on the table behind and above me standing up(it's a tiny table) and her dad did not say a word to her like it was okay to jump on a strange persons back. I'm about to flip at her when Ace jumps up to her, baring his teeth, and almost bites her leg. He actually touched her leg and that second my hubby yelled out "NO!" and he stopped immediately. All this happened in a matter of seconds. Of course he was immediately corrected and we left the park 5 minutes later.

How do I deal with this? I'm guessing he felt that I was threatened because he did not know this girl and she was jumping right behind my back (she actually touched me)? But it is also not okay to attack a person, especially a child. Was this him being protective or aggressive?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Neither. He was overloaded with stress. To be honest your post is full of red flags to me and highlights a puppy that has been put in situations over and over that push beyond his stress threshold and undermine his confidence. A puppy should never be in a situation where he has to protect himself, that is our job as their owners. He has had to confront people that make him uncomfortable and he has had to run away from dogs attacking him. It's our job to make sure our puppies feel confident and comfortable and that we are big bad asses and they have nothing to fear if they are with us. Socialization is about exposing them to stimulus while keeping them just outside of their stress zone. Let them see and experience things from a comfortable distance at their own pace. You let THEM advance to explore and investigate but don't allow a stressful stimulus push at them or push them into it. The more socialization they have, the more that distance is decreased. Remember, he is just a baby. You don't get somebody over their fear of heights by sending them up Seattle's Space Needle or over a fear of water by shoving them in the deep end of the pool. All that does is create more stress around their fear strengthening it. Be in control of your puppies environment (and I'm sorry, but in my opinion dog parks don't even come close to meeting that criteria) and make him look up to you as a bad ass protector so he has nothing to fear. Don't just stand by and let scary things keep happening to him on your watch. Create all positive, comfortable memories and that will start to be his default mind set (genetic temperament allowing).
 

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.... It's our job to make sure our puppies feel confident and comfortable and that we are big bad asses and they have nothing to fear if they are with us. Socialization is about exposing them to stimulus while keeping them just outside of their stress zone....
Good post, Julie W. It's good advice to all of us.
Elenka, we all benefit from others' experience. I think owning a Doberman means we really have to think of 'everything' all the time. And I also think that owning a lower profile dog often means to their owners that they don't need to think of everything all the time. So it is a lot more work for us first time Doberman owners.
And believe me, when you think you this kind of situation under control, another situation will come up and you will think - wow, I should have seen that coming. Part of the fun is the challenge.
My being a big fan of ballet, my analogy would be something like this: most dog owners are like people who go to a party and get on the dance floor and move/dance; Doberman owners need to be like a ballet dancer - there is a vocabulary and it has to be right or it is wrong. And it take a lot of daily training and self-awareness to get that vocabulary right.
 

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Thanks to everyone for responses. They are all good ones!

My hubby was trying to calm me down saying that it is okay, that he was just being protective, that he is not the kind of dog that would just attack. And I was freaking out because if he did actually bite the girl, who knows what would have happened next. Dogs are being put down here a lot due to bites, especially the bully type dogs.

I do have a question. We have a park here, it stretches for about a mile, maybe a bit more. It is really nice, with a stream and hills. It is a dog park, but it is not gated and people/dogs are not squashed all in one spot. People will just walk by with their dogs, so they would meet, sniff each other and keep on going. And it is not just for dogs, I have seen runners, bikers and teenagers go there a lot in the summer just for a walk. So when you say that you avoid dog parks, are you talking about any dog park or just those tiny gated ones?

Regarding children...unfortunately, we don't know anyone with children. And I don't think that coming up to some random child asking for help is a good idea. Like you said, controlled environment is the key, to me that would be at home, where Ace is comfortable without distractions?

I will also look into training classes or find a professional trainer for an evaluation. Except I don't know where to start looking...so if any of you know of anyone, please let me know.
 

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Neither. He was overloaded with stress. To be honest your post is full of red flags to me and highlights a puppy that has been put in situations over and over that push beyond his stress threshold and undermine his confidence. A puppy should never be in a situation where he has to protect himself, that is our job as their owners. He has had to confront people that make him uncomfortable and he has had to run away from dogs attacking him. It's our job to make sure our puppies feel confident and comfortable and that we are big bad asses and they have nothing to fear if they are with us. Socialization is about exposing them to stimulus while keeping them just outside of their stress zone. Let them see and experience things from a comfortable distance at their own pace. You let THEM advance to explore and investigate but don't allow a stressful stimulus push at them or push them into it. The more socialization they have, the more that distance is decreased. Remember, he is just a baby. You don't get somebody over their fear of heights by sending them up Seattle's Space Needle or over a fear of water by shoving them in the deep end of the pool. All that does is create more stress around their fear strengthening it. Be in control of your puppies environment (and I'm sorry, but in my opinion dog parks don't even come close to meeting that criteria) and make him look up to you as a bad ass protector so he has nothing to fear. Don't just stand by and let scary things keep happening to him on your watch. Create all positive, comfortable memories and that will start to be his default mind set (genetic temperament allowing).
I couldn't agree more. Your pup exhibited fear, not aggression or protectiveness. Your job was to ask the owner to take his dog away immediately it started in on Ace. You also needed to probably get Ace out of the way of the other dog and stand up to the rottie. I also do not like children and you would have had me screaming at the child who had no manners and whose parent expected none from her.

You need to socialize your dog more - to situations you wouldn't expect - sirens, trucks, trains, handicapped people in wheelchairs, strange types of animals, babies, small children, old people - just about anything you can find. Having people come into the safe home environment is not socializing. That's just entertainment. Socializing is exposure to strange things in life.

You have some work to do.
 

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I am not trying to be mean but I am going to say it the way I interpreted it. From what you said Kyrah sounds very much like your boy. She doesnt like people going at her to pet her, she doesnt just run up to people and is a bit weary of them. But there are a very few that she likes just fine on a first meeting.

You did not protect your dog nor stop the situation from esculating! The minute the rottie was all in your dogs face and you could tell yours was uncomfortable you should have been moving! Your dog can either run or fight. Since you stayed he didnt have a choice. Doesnt sound to me at all like he was protecting you. He had just had enough. He was pushed to his limit.

I can take Kyrah anywhere and she is not reactive to most things. She stays by my side mostly with or without a leash. She is very well behaved and gets many compliments on that even if they cant pet her. I will walk right in front of her when I see someone coming for her. I tell them she doesnt like to be petted by strangers. But if they want to stand and chat awhile if they ignore her she may go up to them on her own. If it is someone with children I do not say that and we keep moving. I had no children to socialize her with so I prefer not to do this with strangers and also while out with so many other things going on. But I have had her with my nephews, nieces and close friends children and she does fine. She sometimes plays tug with them or does her own thing not paying them too much attention. In the begining of this behavior I didnt step in as fast as I do now. She would bark and backup at some people if they got to close. I now do not hesitate. I tell them quickly she is not interested in being petted, your in our space and walk away. It is better if you get the situation under control before your dog reacts. Makes much better positive experiences. You may in the begining think you are being rude. Personally I dont care anymore. They dont know a thing about me, my dog or the situation. She is there to make me happy and she is happy to be with me. Thats all that matters to us!

Oh, and there are the people who you will tell they dont want to be petted or touched or talked to and the idiot will still keep trying. I have learned how to be rude to those people as well. Stand up for your dog and be assertive about it. Some people are idiots!
 

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Thanks to everyone for responses. They are all good ones!
So when you say that you avoid dog parks, are you talking about any dog park or just those tiny gated ones?
For me, if there is a good chance my dog (on leash) will be confronted by a dog off leash in any park...I wont be there. I have never been to a designated "dog park" and never will. I take my dogs on leashed walks, and only to places that require dogs to be on leash. Even in these areas I have had problems with aggressive dogs off leash. I do just about everything I can to keep that dog from coming anywhere near us...normally my voice and body language can stop them in their tracks. If someone decides they feel like bringing their dog up to mine to meet...I tell them absolutely not.

If my dog is not on my property or on the training field he is always on leash, and I am always prepared for a problem (a person, wild animal, off leash dog) because there will be one when you least expect it. The general public has zero dog sense. It is my job to protect my dog and not expose them to a situation where it is pretty likely there will be an issue that could harm them physically or mentally. In addition, the Doberman male is known to be aggressive towards other males (neutered or not). So, this is also a HUGE reason why my dog is never off leash outside of my property...especially anywhere near an area known for off leash dogs.
 

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Look at it this way it is your responsibly to protect your dog you will not get anywhere being nice to stupid people.Would you not hate it if your dog had bit the man or the kid and now your dog would be in dog jail for 10 days and be put down. You step up and say loudly back off mister my dog does not want to be petted by you and take your kid with you. The reason I say to say it loudly is so everyone around can hear you and if idiot does not back off and does get bit you may keep your dog alive.Now days it does not pay to be nice you have to protect what is yours. You can go to Leerburg.com read what they have to say about dog parks then while you are at that web site look at some of the dog bites. Also read up on Male on male aggression your boy is getting older when he is mature at 2 to 3 years old he will have his own mind does not seem to matter if males are fixed or not. Good Luck
 

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Thanks to everyone for responses. They are all good ones!

My hubby was trying to calm me down saying that it is okay, that he was just being protective, that he is not the kind of dog that would just attack. And I was freaking out because if he did actually bite the girl, who knows what would have happened next. Dogs are being put down here a lot due to bites, especially the bully type dogs.

I do have a question. We have a park here, it stretches for about a mile, maybe a bit more. It is really nice, with a stream and hills. It is a dog park, but it is not gated and people/dogs are not squashed all in one spot. People will just walk by with their dogs, so they would meet, sniff each other and keep on going. And it is not just for dogs, I have seen runners, bikers and teenagers go there a lot in the summer just for a walk. So when you say that you avoid dog parks, are you talking about any dog park or just those tiny gated ones?
I actually disagree with hubby. While I do think the situation could have been avoided, it sounds like fear aggression to me from reading his history. that being said, there are a lot of good things in the post. #1 he listened :) #2 it's workable and #3 you and hubby know how to protect him in the future.

If it were me. I'd get with a GOOD trainer ASAP and work on getting him more comfortable with strangers. I think that may have set the whole thing in motion.

If I had a male Dobe, I would only let him off leash with dogs I know and trust. Male dog aggression is just so common in the breed. I do tend to err on the side of caution myself. Some female Dobes and some dogs in general don't do dog parks either. For now I would avoid any off leash areas so you can control the situation. It may turn out that he's a lovely boy off leash and you'll have no concerns. But right now, he just needs a little help.
 

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I plan on keeping our girl out of all dog parks gated or not. The dog parks out here are usually separated for small and large dogs and they are gated. While I have taken my little ones into the small side I find, and this is just my opinion, that the owners of small dogs tend to be more careful with how their dogs play. I have seen some trecherous rough housing go on in the large dog side while the owners just stand back and laugh and just chalk it off to big dogs playing. There is not a chance in hell I would ever let our baby play with those animals, they are way too rough and no good can possibly come out of it other than an emergency visit to a vet in the event of an incident. Its just not worth it. I have a fenced in yard she can play in with our other dogs and even if I didn't. I would find a friend who had one and borrow theirs. Thats just me.
 
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