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New Aggression Towards Other Dogs


Guest ckrash
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I've had my grey for 2 1/2 years- got him at 2 years old. He's always been calm around other dogs. We have 2 cats and he hardly notices them. We've been going to a large open off leash dog park since we brought him home and he has always gotten along fine with the other dogs. So..(you know what's coming)- all of a sudden within the last few months he has gotten increasingly aggressive with other dogs. The first time I thought it was just because it was a puppy that was getting in his face- he didn't just growl or bark- he pinned the dog down. I got him away and took him home. With increasing frequency at the park he is initiating aggressive behavior- even at old dogs who appear to be no threat at all. He hasn't bit but it's bad enough that I have to intervene. The only other accompanying different behavior he is exhibiting is burrowing in the dirt with his nose quite often- something he never did before. For now I've decided I can't take him to the park but it does worry me not to be able to run him- he still LOVES to run and is used to getting that exercise most days. He is listless if he doesn't get to run. Also, I fear that if I don't let him around other dogs at all he'll lose his ability to socialize entirely. I can think of no changes in our situation or environment that might be triggering this behavior. Any advice???

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I'm going to come clean here. I made the exact same mistake with my greyhound Truman, except, I got him as a 15 week old puppy. I took him to the dog park almost every day thinking that the exercise and socialization was making him a more well-rounded dog. Fast forward a year or so. I noticed he started having more run-ins with certain dogs, and for whatever reason, those developed into fears and stayed with him. It got to the point where I couldn't take him to the dog park at all, and then he started lunging and barking on walks too. We did all kinds of training with him, but I could not un-ring the bell. He is four-years-old now, and he is quote/unquote "dog aggressive." I have to constantly manage his behavior everywhere we go. I know he's not a bad dog, but it can be really frustrating and embarrassing.

 

There's a lot of different reasons why your dog could be acting this way, but the simplest explanation is to say, dog parks are unstable. It can be like a Hunger Games scenario. They're a group of dogs of different ages, different breeds, different energy levels, different play styles. Greyhounds generally like to engage in "chase and be chased" games, while some of the working breeds like to wrestle and engage in "rough and tumble" play. Maybe your dog is acting out because he finds that type of behavior impolite? Maybe other dogs are giving off bad vibes because they feel threatened about being chased? The "why" doesn't really matter. You have to weigh the reward versus the risk (where the risk is that someone's dog, possibly yours, will get severely hurt or killed). I would strongly, strongly caution you not to continue going to the dog park.

 

A better idea would be to contact someone with your greyhound adoption group and see if they have organized greyhound meetup groups, where all the dogs can run together muzzled. Either that, or find a playmate that you know your dog is comfortable with, and arrange to meet up during off-peak dog park hours or on private property. Leash-walking is great exercise, plus it's a great way to bond with your dog. Especially if your dog's snarky tendencies are related to fear or anxiety, leash-walking provides a bit more structure and puts the leadership back on you.

 

Hope this helps! Best of luck. :)

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I'm going to come clean here. I made the exact same mistake with my greyhound Truman, except, I got him as a 15 week old puppy. I took him to the dog park almost every day thinking that the exercise and socialization was making him a more well-rounded dog. Fast forward a year or so. I noticed he started having more run-ins with certain dogs, and for whatever reason, those developed into fears and stayed with him. It got to the point where I couldn't take him to the dog park at all, and then he started lunging and barking on walks too. We did all kinds of training with him, but I could not un-ring the bell. He is four-years-old now, and he is quote/unquote "dog aggressive." I have to constantly manage his behavior everywhere we go. I know he's not a bad dog, but it can be really frustrating and embarrassing.

 

There's a lot of different reasons why your dog could be acting this way, but the simplest explanation is to say, dog parks are unstable. It can be like a Hunger Games scenario. They're a group of dogs of different ages, different breeds, different energy levels, different play styles. Greyhounds generally like to engage in "chase and be chased" games, while some of the working breeds like to wrestle and engage in "rough and tumble" play. Maybe your dog is acting out because he finds that type of behavior impolite? Maybe other dogs are giving off bad vibes because they feel threatened about being chased? The "why" doesn't really matter. You have to weigh the reward versus the risk (where the risk is that someone's dog, possibly yours, will get severely hurt or killed). I would strongly, strongly caution you not to continue going to the dog park.

 

A better idea would be to contact someone with your greyhound adoption group and see if they have organized greyhound meetup groups, where all the dogs can run together muzzled. Either that, or find a playmate that you know your dog is comfortable with, and arrange to meet up during off-peak dog park hours or on private property. Leash-walking is great exercise, plus it's a great way to bond with your dog. Especially if your dog's snarky tendencies are related to fear or anxiety, leash-walking provides a bit more structure and puts the leadership back on you.

 

Hope this helps! Best of luck. :)

 

 

I also have to chime in here - your explanation on how unstable dog parks are is the best I have ever read. Comparing it to the "Hunger Games" is awesome!

 

edited to add -- I think that this should be "pinned someplace" for people new to greyhounds.

Edited by MaryJane
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I agree! That was a great explanation. I will see if there are any greyhound meetups nearby and stay away from the park, or at least at peak times.

Thanks for the help.

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I only have a quick sec to chime in, but I just want to add that "fine" often really means the dog was just tolerating it. I just came back from a one week intensive training on behavior modification in dogs and use of the word "fine" became a private joke among the students anytime one of us would catch ourselves saying it. Because basically clients use that word to indicate there was no issue when really "fine" was the dog wasn't actually enjoying it, but he wasn't (yet) acting aggressively. You're right to stop taking him. He's just not a dog that's meant for that environment and there's nothing wrong with that, not many dogs are frankly. We address the exercise needs by going to ours at off times in the morning when there aren't other dogs. I let the girls run it out, then I bring Zuri in for some sniffs and pees and then we hightail it out of there before anyone else shows up. We've also found an old ball field at the local high school that we can use at off hours on occasion. Otherwise, we do rigorous hikes and play a lot of tug at home in addition to normal walks, as well as mental games using food dispensing toys, nosework & agility class, etc. to tire them out.

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest GreyOrchard

It sounds like the visits to the dog park were increasingly unnerving to him, and perhaps any signals he was giving were too subtle for anyone to notice. For a lot of dogs, being approached "the wrong way" can really feel threatening or overwhelming. Years ago I had a wolfhound who would flip the neighbour's wandering Lab on his back if he approached visiting children too quickly. Your dog is doing the equivalent of shouting "stay the hell away from me, I can't stand it!!!"

 

Yes, it is important to keep him socialized. SInce the dog park right now has negative connotations, you might avoid it for a few weeks and see if you can take your fellow on some leashed walks with a well socialized dog to make him feel happy again. You can give them trreats together, etc. After 2 or 3 such walks, then you might let the other dog off leash, but "long-leash" your own dog for a few visits, and in a quiet place. Eventually you can have them off leash together. It might be that your fellow is never going to like other dogs running up to him and sending the wrong body language. I don't blame him...it's like walking into a room and several people come running up to you, slapping you on the back and shouting "hey! hello! How are ya? How's it going? What's happening?" It would make me crazy.

 

You also might try long-leashing him for a while....there, he has the freedome of the long leash, but the security of being attached to you.

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I'd just say that I have two dog-reactive dogs (one greyhound and one KelpieXStaffie that are usually 'fine :) ' with each other, with management and some understanding of their individual requirements) that get to run, explore, wander, sniff, look, whatever, in a large fenced dog park but only when it's empty.

 

 

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To be fair to him (and me!)- I really do think he's often been quite happy at the park. When he gets there and sees there are dogs already there he races across the field to greet them with his tail wagging. He plays lots of chase games with the ones that are into it, but I would say that he has always seemed confused when a group of more than 2 other dogs was rough-housing. Now though, occasionally he has gone for at a dog when there's only that dog and maybe one other there- not paying him any mind or even playing with eachother. That's what's been so odd about it.

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I had to stop taking my old boy Turbo to the dog park - we used to go quite a lot he enjoyed it for probably the first year or so. However, after one (huge) dog kept repeatedly trying to mount him and it escalated into a scuffle, Turbo became a big bully - constantly barking at other dogs to get them to run (so he could chase them and bark in their ears <_< ), jumping in to stop play when other dogs were just playing and having a good time on their own, etc. And if any dog sniffed him a second longer than he thought was appropriate, he would go off. We started calling him the drill sergeant. Dog parks were no longer fun for any of us as more often than not, he was just a prick to other dogs. He'd occasionally have a good day and run and play, but mostly, nope. And there really was no way of knowing which way he'd behave until we went in. So we stopped going. He had weekly runs with other greyhounds (where he was often still a jerk, but we figured out which dogs he would be less jerky towards and he'd run with them. Plus all were muzzled, so it was much safer).

 

With Heyokha, he likes dog parks, but idiots will invariably bring their small dogs to the large dog side and he will try to course them :blink: Crow, I've never taken - he seems keen when we walk by the park, but I don't trust him with small dogs (or even medium furry dogs) - he's way too interested. So we don't go to the dog park at all any more. And that's fine. :)


Meredith with Heyokha (HUS Me Teddy) and Crow (Mike Milbury). Missing Turbo (Sendahl Boss), Pancho, JoJo, and "Fat Stacks" Juana, the psycho kitty. Canku wakan kin manipi.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

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It may be that the dog park environment doesn't suit him, but if you think the change was sudden, i would get him checked by a vet. Pain or illness could cause a dog to become less tolerant, or even a bit aggressive.

 

I have seen this in a greyhound bitch who really WAS fine with every dog, who became quite grumpy for no real fault of the other dogs, turned out she had cancer. I'm sure it's not anything serious like that with your guy, but just to explain that illness really can have an effect, so it's good to see a vet for unusual and worrying behaviour.

Edited by Amber
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