Post # 1
We’re having some issues with our 1.5yr old boston terrier being a bit aggressive at the dog park. We took about a 1 month break from parks while she recovered from a knee injury, and now that we’re going back, her behaviour is very different. She used to be one of the most popular dogs there, very social and playful, but she’s quite reluctant to meet new dogs now, and gets nippy, or downright snarly at times.
She won’t go after another dog on her own, but she’s very uncomfortable about being approached, especially the butt sniff. Unless its a very mild mannered dog, she gets really defensive right away, and will attempt to hide her butt, and scoot away. If the other dog persists, she launches an all out attack!
We started out trying to discipline her during these episodes, but I’m afraid this is the wrong way to go, she’s making it clear to the other dog that she doesnt like it, and shes only defending her vulnerable rear end. Distracting her and moving away is do-able, as long as we’re right there, but if she’s some distance away its harder. Also, some dogs just dont get the messsage and keep coming around.
So… suggestions for us?
Post # 3
Don’t take her to the dog park. Seriously, if being there makes her uncomfortable, what’s the point? Find some other place for her to stretch her legs.
Also, what if she attacks another dog and hurts it? Are you prepared to pay for the other dog’s vet bills? Are you ready to put her down if the other dog’s owner gets in the way and is bit? Even if it she’s only warning other dogs away from her hind end and she doesn’t mean any real harm, accidents happen.
Post # 4
call a professional trainer…this behaviour can be trained out of her (positive training) and she will be fine.
In the mean time I wouldn’t take her down there, take her for walks on the lead somewhere else.
Post # 5
She may have an impacted anal gland. Have a vet take a look. An expression may make her feel better.
Post # 6
@LittleSu: +1 My main problem with dog parks is people taking dogs that could potentially cause problems. Way too much can happen. If your dog is not comfortable with being there, then dont take her.
Post # 7
Is there a time of day that you can bring her where there would only be a few dogs? She may feels less overwhelmed if there isn’t a large crowd, at least until she gets more comfortable. If that doesn’t seem to work, perhaps you could arrange a playdate or two with just one or two dogs she is comfortable with to help build her confidence back up.
Also, is she comfortable with the other dogs UNTIL they try to sniff? If so, @JulesSchnooks‘s suggestion that she may have an impacted anal gland or something else in the area making her sensitive.
Post # 8
Stopping forever is not a solution. That’s like saying if a child is having trouble in school, well just stop sending them. This is a very recent behavioral change, and further restricting social interactions will not help a dog in the long run.
Thanks for the suggestion about the anal sac… I’m going to send my vet an email and see what he thinks of that. I do have to wipe her bottom from time to time, and also wash it when bathing her, and she’s fine with me touching her, so I’m not sure that’s the problem.
I also have a trainer from her basic obedience class whom I will be contacting for suggestions.
If anyone else has used postive techniques to assist with a similar problem, I’d love to hear what worked for you.
Post # 9
@MissNoodles: If anyone else has used postive techniques to assist with a similar problem, I’d love to hear what worked for you.
I haven’t had personal experience with this problem, but I believe there has been an episode or two of “It’s Me or the Dog” where Victoria deals with dog park stuff. Might be worth checking out to see if you can find the episode online.
Post # 10
@Miss Apricot: Oo.. thanks! YouTubing now. 🙂
Post # 11
@MissNoodles: Stopping forever should be a possible solution. Not all dogs are good in that kind of setting. When my dog was a puppy he LOVED going. He was attacked by a much larger dog and after that we stick to having dog friends come over.
My dog before him was an adult rescue who had never been socialized. I liked going to the dog park, but after a little while I realized I was going more for me than him. He was stressed and unhappy the whole time.
Dog parks can be good, but should only be frequented by dogs without behavior issues and dogs who really like to run and play and are not scared of the interaction.
Post # 12
She is protective of her knee. She just needs to learn how to play again and being a dog park with a bunch of other dogs may make her feel very vulnerable and protective since she doesn’t want to get hurt again. Do you have a any friends with dogs? I would try doing small play dates to get her used to playing again after her injury and learning her limits.
Post # 13
@mamadingdong: Agreed. Not all dogs are good with dog parks and that is totally okay! OP – now that you are seeing that you dog isn’t happy in that environment, stop taking her! There are plenty of ways to have a socialized dog without a dog park.
Post # 14
I think you could start with some basic stuff, like treats every time she meets a new dog on a walk or rewarding positive behavior at the dog park. Maybe try to ease her into it during the off-peak hours so it’s less overwhelming? Or see what happens at a different park?
Post # 15
@Miss Apricot: her videos were very educational… thanks so much for mentioning her to me!
Sorry… I just don’t believe in cancelling one of her favourite activities without at least trying some positive training techniques. She’s an incredibly athletic dog and adores running and playing off leash, and I don’t think she should be made to give that up with no effort on my part. Before her absence of a month, she never had an issue.
To that end, I took her out on a walk with a neighbour and his terrier this afternoon. I gently corrected a defensive reaction on her part, then heavily treated and praised her when she allowed him to sniff her, and when she started playing. It took all of 5 minutes to figure out “other dog=good things” and they were playing nicely by the end of the walk.
If she were a rescue, or had a traumatic experience I could see never taking her back, but she’s been going since she was a puppy, and I’m going to at least TRY rehab first.
Post # 16
I never said not to try. Just said not to force it. Do what you will.