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Jupiter 12-16-2013 11:01 PM

How to correct ball aggression with other dogs?
I have a two year old male GSD who is a wonderful dog. He's fantastic with other dogs and we go to the dog park at least 4-5 times a week. Barring any random dominance displays he gets along wonderfully with dogs of all shapes and sizes, unless there is a ball around.
6-9 months ago, he went from having little interest in balls to being crazy for them. The whole world ceases to exist when he sees one. Playing fetch alone, he usually behaves well, although we are still working on bringing it back to me (without another ball to lure him with) His favorite game is keep away, although if I'm fast enough and catch him I can completely put my hand in his mouth and remove the ball with absolutely no issues. However, if we're playing at the park and another dog comes up and takes his ball, gets too close, or even when he sometimes takes another dogs ball, he gets pretty aggressive with the other dog. It's clearly possessive behavior, as soon as he drops the ball or refocuses on the one I have (again, I always have a second...or third ball) the aggression towards the dog immediately ceases.
He shows no aggression anywhere else and this seems to be escalating.
What behaviors can I work on, at home without other dogs around, that will correct this behavior?

selzer 12-16-2013 11:19 PM

Ball aggression is a new one on me.

Dog Aggression, Human Aggression, Resource Guarding. Prey drive, Play drive, Food drive, pack drive.

Usually people talk about ball drive as a positive thing as it can be used to train, and can be indicative on how much persistance a dog will work.

I am not sure if that is what you are dealing with, but if it is, it doesn't have to be fixed, you have to be reconsiled to the fact that you have a German Shepherd Dog.

If you go to the park, leave the balls at home. Lots of dog parks have rules -- no toys, as they can start fights. And GSDs are not necessarily all dog park dogs.

Again, this doesn't so much have to be fixed as it can be used, and worked with and managed.

Lucy Dog 12-16-2013 11:53 PM

Stop playing ball or allowing him to have balls when he's around other dogs. It's that simple.

sit,stay 12-17-2013 10:03 AM

I don't think it is "ball aggression", but rather resource guarding. The ball, any ball, is his and he doesn't want to share.

I don't know if there is any bullet proof way you can get rid of the behavior in the dog park, which has so many variables that are totally out of your control. You can really, really increase his obedience skills (which might not be such a bad thing to do anyway, if he is choosing to blow you off when he wants) and hope that he never encounters a situation at the dog park where he becomes so over-stimulated that his training goes out the window.

I would be worried that he would posture to the wrong dog one day and either become seriously injured himself or seriously injure the other dog. Some dogs just aren't dog park material. It could be that your boy s one of those dogs.

pets4life 12-19-2013 05:26 PM

Honestly gsds are not usually dog park dogs and eventually he is going to hurt another dog or at least scare them, you cant control what dogs are going to come up to your dog.

Unlike kids they dont seem to understand sharing with strange dogs. Your dog does not want to lose his ball and in dog parks other dogs want to steal his ball. Its just how it is there. If the op does not bring a ball his dog will want to play with another dogs ball. Avoid the park before u get in trouble.

Kahrg4 12-19-2013 07:10 PM

Cafall, my GSD, does the same thing. Cafall was attacked while at a dp earlier this year (not ball related) and so we only go when the park is empty. As a result we can play with a ball there all we want because there are no other dogs around to try to steal it.

Others may have a better solution for you, but I never found a way to keep him from getting possessive over them when other dogs are around. We don't play with them (balls) while on play dates and only bring them out when we are alone. Best of luck!

Montu 12-19-2013 07:13 PM

yea...we lost the ability to play ball with other dogs around...

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