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Need advice - Puppy Park


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Hi everyone, 

I'm in need for some advice regarding our puppy. He is 8 months old, a border collie x kelpie and the sweetest little boy. From when we got him he was always super shy, gentle and always around us making body contact (sleeping on our feet, following us everywhere). From when he was fully vaccinated we started taking him to the local off-leash dog park, and he loves it. He was super shy at the beginning, hiding behind us and just slowly warming up. But now at 8 months old he has so much confidence running around and playing with other dogs and has even started playing with dogs that are bigger than him (but still comes running to us and sits by our feet if he is unsure of something). Most of the time its the best time of the day for all of us being there. 

 

For the last couple of weeks, however, he started getting protective of either us or toys in the park at random times. We don't take any of our toys in, because we want to avoid that he gets upset about someone taking his things, but he goes and takes other dogs toys or he has a stick that he runs around with. He goes up to others and challenges them to take the toy off him and chase him, but sometimes if they end up taking it he might have a go at them (not all the time, just on some occasions). He never hurts anyone, just grabs them by the neck, pins them down or chases them and makes very intimidating growling noises. We have to step in and take him off the other dog, otherwise we can't get this attention. It's like he is completely zoned out during those times.

The other day, a young puppy came up to me wanting my attention and our pup saw it from the far and came sprinting towards the puppy and chased him away from me and pinned him down with those horrible growling sounds. The pup didn't get hurt, but was screaming and the entire situation was super scary. Today, another small puppy tried to take his stick in the park, and our pup pinned him down, growling and I had to pull him off.

 

Me and my partner decided that we would leave the park as soon as this happens, so he realises its non acceptable behaviour. We are not sure if that will work, but we don't know how else to get it under control. There are no clear signs prior to it happening, he can have hours of play where he shares the toys and is happy with other dogs getting our attention. And its not always younger puppies, but also grown up dogs. 

I am just scared he is going to get in trouble for being aggressive at the park. I haven't seen any of the other dogs doing this, there are some that might put others in place, but all they do is a short growl the other dog leaves them alone. 

 

Thanks in advance :) 

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Certainly starting to develop traits which will not be welcome in a dog park , and might one day have a go at the wrong dog and get back something a lot more serious ,,  if i was you i would seek out some  good training for your dog , , myself personaly  it would never happen to me , because i simply don't like dog parks  , there always accidents waiting to happen

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First off your dog is hurting others ,his behaviour can have a lasting effort on the poor dog being pinned and growled at and your dogs behaviour is escalating and will result in heart ache for another dog .

 

Dog parks are not fun nor do they teach social skills there generally an easy option for the owner to let there dogs run feral without much effort and they go home .

You have a bunch off over stimulated dogs whose owners do nothing until it gets bad .

 

 

I would be giving the park a Miss and doing activities that come with rules and teach acceptable life skills .

 

It may well be the herding side coming through but a dog not taught the boundaries will become a nightmare moving forward .

 

Time for training and management 

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It's good you are recognising this trouble now and seeking advice :) many folks don't! :(  Sadly, dog parks are full of bullies - dogs and people . 
I, too would avise training for your boy ..and maybe herding classes instead of dog park outings :) He doesn't NEED to run around with unknown dogs . What he does need is how to learn control.....  and herding will let him use his instincts and learn control . he will be using what he's bred for :love:  There are some DOLers who could maybe tell you where herding is near you  if you are interested . 
By the way he IS hurting these pups. He is teaching them that other dogs are not to be trusted. he is damaging their socialisation...and teaching them that perhaps they need to get in first next time, to be more protective themselves .It is a vicious (literally) circle. 

:(

Edited by persephone
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I wouldn't be happy if your dog harassed my dog in the park in the way you are describing.  I agree with what everyone else has said.  There are a lot of bullies in dog parks.  I find the human bully worse than the dogs.

 

If you don't do something about your dogs behaviour other dog owners are going to get nasty and it may even end up at council if your dog is not pulled into line.

 

Is your dog desexed?  Did he get socialised at puppy school ?  

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Hi everyone,

 

thank you so much! Yes I agree it’s something that needs attention now and I hate the thought of him negatively affecting other dogs :(
 

He was desexed 2.5 weeks ago, but that hasn’t really changed anything so far. And we are taking him to weekly obedience training, which has been great :) but I agree he needs more training and more controlled environments. The herding classes sound great! I will definitely have a look at that. 

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2 hours ago, Brina said:

He was desexed 2.5 weeks ago, but that hasn’t really changed anything so far.

And it won't, as your PUPPY isn't acting out of any sexually motivated aggression - he is nowhere near mature yet . For a puppy to be acting so , it is something that he has learned early on , and now he needs to learn to CONTROL it . Obedience classes probably won't address it - you may want to enlist the help of a professional one-on -one trainer  recommended by someone on here , Explain the situation to them, and let them help, by doing specific things. 

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For whatever reason socialising dogs seems to conjure up something completely different to human socialising.

can you imagine if when we went out to the cafe, supermarket etc, basically anywhere in a social setting, and proceeded to get right up in peoples faces, yelling, screaming, jumping on everything including people, taking stuff off other people, etc etc. Of course that’s not ‘socialisation’!  So why think that is what it should be for out dogs. 
Actual socialisation is about being confident across different  environments, maintaining self control under distraction, and paying attention to who you’re with. 
Take your dog to an off lead dog area (not a fenced dog park). Interact with you dog in a focused quality way with play and training. Teach your dog that you are the most important thing in any environment (not other dogs!). Use your out of home time to build the relationship with your dog rather than your dog build all manner of inappropriate relationships with other dogs. 
For example I recently adopted an 5yo entire male Jack Russel who had never been lead walked in public. Christ what a nightmare it was to start with. But, after a few months of absolute consistency, he now implicitly understands if anyone or anything approaches us, he’s to immediately check in with me and take my direction. Which is usually stepping aside, doing a focused (on me) sit while the distraction passes. People are weird…… if they ask to pay him I say sure, and  release him from his sit. He will go and take a brief pat then return to me and sit focused back to me. They get all sad that ‘he doesn’t want to talk to them’ lol. I don’t care. Would they rather he was still completely mental pulling and yelling g jumping up & down scratching them like he was at the start!! Hmmmm 

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I think I'd just cut the obedience classes and get a force free trainer out to look at the behaviour, teach you doggy body language and teach you have to train around it - as in put in boundaries. Because if he's doing this now at 8mths and you take him to obedience every week then they aren't teaching you the subtle doggy language signals you have probably been missing for a while. 

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I've had working breeds in the past and they can be a little challenging with their independent streaks.  I've always followed the Nothing in Life is Free program and found it really works.  Even now, my Cavaliers now to come to me and sit for attention.  Here's a link that you might find helpful:  http://k9protraining.com.au/2007/03/07/nilif-nothing-in-life-is-free/

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My advice is to not give him the opportunity to practice the behaviour and work on impulse control. There are lots of great youtube channels particularly focused on training the more working breeds. I’ve seen some lovely working breed dogs be wrecked due to their people just letting them do what they want because it’s too hard to put up the boundaries for them. Put those boundaries up right away and stay consistent and with all your effort you will have a lovely dog. 

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