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Interesting that there is a whole section about aggression. I have a 10 month 3/4 Shepard (rest is lab). I’ve always had dogs but never this breed.

At times he gets aggressive? (barks loudly) towards other dogs. Ones walking in font of our house, ones he sees on walks and almost always when he is getting into the small dog park we go to. At the park almost all of the aggression is when he is on leash outside the gate. Once he is in chasing balls he’s fine. He is extraordinarily obsessed with chasing balls. He usually ignores the other dogs. He will race with other dogs after balls. If he doesn’t get it he is fine. No aggression at all - ever. If a dog runs towards him when he is going for a ball he sometimes backs off (depends on the dog). I can’t get him calm coming into the park. He pulls and barks like a mad beast. I’m not sure what to try. Holding him down doesn’t help. I don’t think a shock colllar is a good idea. Usually I try to get him in quick and throw a ball.
What should I try? He doesn’t seem to be aggressive by nature. Insecure?
Thanks for the help.
 

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Hold the ball while you're entering the park. Maybe he'll look at it instead of the other dogs.

My dog used to only chase the ball at the dog park and ignore pretty much everyone. At around 9 months, he started chasing and nipping puppies, so I stopped going.
 

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Thanks. I tried that last time. He wasn’t interested in the ball when we were outside the gate - strange now that I think of it - just wants in the park then I can get his attention by throwing a ball.
He has to go to the park to chase balls. It’s the only way I can get him enough exercise in the winter. In the summer I can take him for bike rides.
 

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I think what you are describing is leash reactivity. Basically, it means that the dog reacts when he sees something he doesn't know how to deal with while on a leash. So, he acts aggressively in order to make them go away.

It can seem really weird. My 6-month-old pup gets along just fine at his daycare where he and other dogs of similar size and energy level can run around free. Put a leash on him and walk into the same room, he is UNcomfortable and stressed. Around strange dogs, he barks. It is really common, most people agree that it is a fear-driven response because while on the leash, the dog can not do his normal dog greetings.

As @CactusWren said, One of the main ways of dealing with reactivity is to give the dog something else to think about. There are a lot of good resources. Try googling " leash reactive to other dogs tyler muto" Tyler does some really good videos. If you really need to understand the situation, Tyler sells a leash reactivity video through leerburg.

Just my 2 cents but I think Tyler has a good understanding of handling this issue with big, powerful dogs. If a little dog goes nut towards Ole, the owners often giggle and talk about what a brave dog it is. If Ole barks once or twice, they make snide remarks about the vicious dog.

I am pretty new at this. My dog was reactive to place, people and other dogs. Fixing the place and people reactive was straight forward for us. It was just a matter of exposure and desensitization. (the various videos will use those term a lot) Dog reactivity is harder for us. In our everyday life, mosts dog we meet are reactive to some degree. They are as likely to blow up at Ole, as he is to blow up at them.

A technique I found that worked pretty well for us is to follow other dogs at a safe distance. The other dog can't see us. My dog can both see and smell the fresh tracks of the other dog. I let Ole look at the other dog for a couple of seconds and then ask him to look at me and reward him. We do this over and over, getting closer and closer to the other dog until the other dog starts to notice us.

With a solid dog ( another reactivity term which mean not reactive at all) we can often walk right up behind them or beside them. We can not get with 50 feet of a dog who is acting out of control

I hope that helps.
 

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In my part of Cincinnati, we have a dog park complex with four separate areas. One is usually under repair/re-sodding at any given time. One is reserved for dogs under 25##.
Of the remaining two, one almost always has a large number of dogs of various sizes running free. The other is across the park road from the main parking lot, and is usually empty, or has at most a couple of dogs. It is not formally reserved, but tends to be used by people who prefer to work with their dogs alone, or maybe have dogs who don't play well with others.

Our Rose is 7 mo/ appox 56 ##. She is very social, and especially loves to run with other dogs. I have had a few instances where aggression seemed to be brewing, and I just moved her to the other area. No outright dogfights, but I do not want to risk any either.

We have developed kind of a "greenbook" of dogs she is OK with--Leo the 15 mo. GSD; Corey the Aussie; Nico the Windhound/ Borzoi/Whippet mix, Bingo the Border Collie, etc. Trouble is, we just met these folks and their dogs on an informal basis, so we don't have play dates or any such arrangement.

Where there are large groups of unknown dogs, I approach with caution, or just let her run and play fetch in the empty park area.

Sometimes I feel like I am denying her some interaction. She clearly wants to go in the area with the most dogs. But for playing fetch or anything else I want her to work on, her focus goes out the window if she is around a handful of other dogs off leash.

I tend to agree with the notion that GSDs don't always do well in dog parks, so I proceed with caution. Toys could be a flashpoint with certain dogs in a park.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the help.
The “fearful” comment is making lots of sense to me. The lady we got him from said he was the “wimp” of the litter. I hadn’t thought what looks like aggression to me is likely from fear. I will definitely see what I can do to work on him becoming more confident in different situations.

This will get better with training and maybe age?

What should I do though when he is being a crazed beast at the dog park gate? Often no other dog is there. I wonder if he sees it as “his” space.

Should let him in quickly and throw a ball?

See if he eventually calms down outside the gate?

Try the ultrasonic correction device that we use at home? (Helps some with barking at dogs walking by).

Thanks
 

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To be honest? I don't think your dog is a great candidate for dog parks. Toys DO NOT belong in a dog park at all. You say your boy currently doesn't get aggressive over toys, but that may change AND that doesn't mean other dogs won't get aggressive. It's a fight waiting to happen. A lot of dog parks even have rules against bringing toys in, rightly so.

As for the acting like a nut and barking before you get in, you are rewarding the behavior. It's simple. He acts like a brat and you speed up to get him inside and throw the ball. Dog sees it as barking/pulling = ball being thrown. Instead, that behavior needs to get him absolutely no reward. If he pulls, you stop walking and refuse to move an inch until there's slack in the leash. Every. Single. Time. Barking and acting up equals no park time. Sorry. You've allowed and rewarded the behavior, and the only way to undo it is to 100% stop rewarding it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks

I can see how I’ve rewarded the pulling behaviour. I’ll try the loose leash walking idea more. I’ve tried not giving in to the pulling but it’s not easy. Also not easy letting him be a fool at the gate - once we get there - won’t be easy but sounds needed.

No balls at the park? That would be an interesting experiment. I use the park to exercise him. I’m not sure how to replace 20 minutes of running after balls - at least in the winter. I can’t walk him enough

Not a candidate to go to the park? Isn’t that we’re he needs to go to learn to be around other dogs? - at least when I’m not throwing a ball for him.

Thanks for the help.
 

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Thanks

I can see how I’ve rewarded the pulling behaviour. I’ll try the loose leash walking idea more. I’ve tried not giving in to the pulling but it’s not easy. Also not easy letting him be a fool at the gate - once we get there - won’t be easy but sounds needed.

No balls at the park? That would be an interesting experiment. I use the park to exercise him. I’m not sure how to replace 20 minutes of running after balls - at least in the winter. I can’t walk him enough

Not a candidate to go to the park? Isn’t that we’re he needs to go to learn to be around other dogs? - at least when I’m not throwing a ball for him.

Thanks for the help.
Dog parks are not meant to make up for a lack of training.
Your dog needs to learn control before he goes to the dog park. And your dog does not need to learn to be around other dogs, he needs to learn how to behave around other dogs.
I personally don't like dog parks. Aside from the plethora of germs, bacteria and assorted grossness most people who frequent them have no clue about appropriate behavior. For example, bringing toys and having dogs that don't listen.
Since you stated that this is the only way you can exercise him, I would plan to do so during odd hours when others are not there. I would also make a habit of going to the fence and then leaving. Work on basic obedience in the meantime.
 

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Yes, reactivity can improve with training. Michael Ellis, who seems to be one of the most widely respected trainers among other high-level trainers talks, about behavior bands. Based on genetics, each dog has a behavior band. Some dogs are just more reactive and some dogs are just less reactive. But, within that natural band, training can make the dog better up to a point. In particular, some german shepherds don't care for strangers or other dogs.

I started by going to the park when no one was around. If Ole kept calm, I rewarded him and we got closer. If he reacted, we rapidly walked away from the park until Ole was under control. We would pause and reapproach the park. We did this until Ole could calmly get out of the car and approach the fence. Then we started going at busier and busier times.

It might seem weird, but 20 minutes of walking from the car to the park while trying to behave can be as exhausting to the dog as 20 minutes of active play. The dog really really wants to go in, but he can't until he shows enough self-control to remain calm. For the next several trips to the park, you might not make it all the way inside before your time is up :)
 

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This is wandering a bit off-topic!
Sorry!!

But, on reactivity:
I was thinking about how my own dog went from howling/lunging/barking/rearing/growling on leash, to the calm furry dude who moseys on by.
There was some training involved, definitely (miles walked with treats in my pocket...practicing "Look at Me" and an informal Heel) but also there was some training of Me.

When other dogs used to lunge and bark at us, I used to jump myself! I felt nervous and unsettled getting barked at, and my own dog's tense behavior reflected that. But after we got lunged/barked at by psycho dog #499 or something, I became like, "meh" (eyeroll) and kept walking. And then Rumo, my own dog, also became totally chill. These days you will see him with his "meh" attitude strolling by with other dogs lunging and barking at him.

It made me realize that Rumo, who is always responsive to my moods/actions, is also responsive to me in this regard. I believe there is such a thing as a "human/dog biofeedback loop".
Our dogs, our selves...

OK, well, that's my crackpot theory of dog behavior! :)

( I do think that people make their dogs into the dogs they are, sometimes without even being aware of it. For example, the man who screams angrily at his chihuahua...that same chihuahua rushes into the street "screaming" at Rumo when we go by - and bit him on the nose once.)
 

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I take my now 3 yr old dog to dog parks frequently, and I always bring a ball for her because tennis balls are bad for their teeth.

This line of thinking, about dog parks and etiquette, I think mostly comes from people who are afraid to go to a dog park.

Personally I think they're really just afraid of dogs! Because I've never seen a "strange" dog there, or anywhere else LOL! I always see new friends!

That being said, what Pytheis said about stopping the bad behavior when entering is absolutely correct.

To break that habit, and trust me it won't happen in 1 visit, is to stop and wait it out until your dog calms down before proceeding.

That might mean, going there several times and not entering. Nothing wrong with that. Go, but don't give in!

I have spent many hours in dog park parking lots, doing obedience work. I also do obedience inside. And it's paid off amazingly!

Dogs may not "need" to get along with all dogs, or "need" tons of doggy friends. But they do need to understand dog etiquette. And you can't teach them that! It requires spending time with other dogs. So yeah, you've got that right.

There are a few dogs that we have met at the dog park that my dog doesn't like. And you can see by the demeanor of the other dog that the feeling is mutual. Fine. But that doesn't mean we or they have to leave. It means they have to come to an understanding.

Milly is one that comes to mind. She's a ball thief, and my dog doesn't like her at all. She's about 6, similar in size, and very very determined. I pet her frequently, and talk with her owner. Our dogs maintain a 6 foot space between them always...giving each other sideways glances. Milly will watch my dog, and will steal her ball at any opportunity. They have never faught over it.

Another dog, can't remember her name, but some sort of large terrier, doesn't like my dog and the feeling is clearly mutual. The first time they met they got into a little spat.

We were just entering the dog park and they met and instantly engaged each other. I broke it up quickly and apologised to the owner, and they left. I felt bad...but they were on their way out anyway.

A few days later we saw them again, and talked a little bit more. Turns out the lady that owns the dog wasn't at all concerned about the incident, they were just leaving. Our dogs never faught again, but again, they maintain that 6 foot buffer and give each other those sideways glances...which is perfect. They agree to disagree, but they don't fight.

Yesterday I was at a dog park and my dog got into a little scrap with another dog. She didn't initiate it, but she doesn't back down either, unless I call her away early enough. Anyway, the owner of the other dog got there before me and broke it up. No damage to either dog. And he apologised profusely for his dog's behavior.

If you go to dog parks things like that happen. But even if you don't, things like that happen. I was walking my dog along a river the other day and 2 large dogs saw us and came running. One of them decided to bark and menace me a little...I shrugged it off and held my ground, he was fine.

I take my dog everywhere with me. She's fine at home depot, tractor supply, or off leash on the beach. And that's exactly what I want, a dog that can go anywhere and be well behaved. I also had a Chihuahua that could and did go everywhere with us. He too, would lay quietly at a cafe, or on the beach off leash, or at home depot. Imagine...
 

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I take my now 3 yr old dog to dog parks frequently, and I always bring a ball for her because tennis balls are bad for their teeth.

This line of thinking, about dog parks and etiquette, I think mostly comes from people who are afraid to go to a dog park.

Personally I think they're really just afraid of dogs! Because I've never seen a "strange" dog there, or anywhere else LOL! I always see new friends!

That being said, what Pytheis said about stopping the bad behavior when entering is absolutely correct.

To break that habit, and trust me it won't happen in 1 visit, is to stop and wait it out until your dog calms down before proceeding.

That might mean, going there several times and not entering. Nothing wrong with that. Go, but don't give in!

I have spent many hours in dog park parking lots, doing obedience work. I also do obedience inside. And it's paid off amazingly!

Dogs may not "need" to get along with all dogs, or "need" tons of doggy friends. But they do need to understand dog etiquette. And you can't teach them that! It requires spending time with other dogs. So yeah, you've got that right.

There are a few dogs that we have met at the dog park that my dog doesn't like. And you can see by the demeanor of the other dog that the feeling is mutual. Fine. But that doesn't mean we or they have to leave. It means they have to come to an understanding.

Milly is one that comes to mind. She's a ball thief, and my dog doesn't like her at all. She's about 6, similar in size, and very very determined. I pet her frequently, and talk with her owner. Our dogs maintain a 6 foot space between them always...giving each other sideways glances. Milly will watch my dog, and will steal her ball at any opportunity. They have never faught over it.

Another dog, can't remember her name, but some sort of large terrier, doesn't like my dog and the feeling is clearly mutual. The first time they met they got into a little spat.

We were just entering the dog park and they met and instantly engaged each other. I broke it up quickly and apologised to the owner, and they left. I felt bad...but they were on their way out anyway.

A few days later we saw them again, and talked a little bit more. Turns out the lady that owns the dog wasn't at all concerned about the incident, they were just leaving. Our dogs never faught again, but again, they maintain that 6 foot buffer and give each other those sideways glances...which is perfect. They agree to disagree, but they don't fight.

Yesterday I was at a dog park and my dog got into a little scrap with another dog. She didn't initiate it, but she doesn't back down either, unless I call her away early enough. Anyway, the owner of the other dog got there before me and broke it up. No damage to either dog. And he apologised profusely for his dog's behavior.

If you go to dog parks things like that happen. But even if you don't, things like that happen. I was walking my dog along a river the other day and 2 large dogs saw us and came running. One of them decided to bark and menace me a little...I shrugged it off and held my ground, he was fine.

I take my dog everywhere with me. She's fine at home depot, tractor supply, or off leash on the beach. And that's exactly what I want, a dog that can go anywhere and be well behaved. I also had a Chihuahua that could and did go everywhere with us. He too, would lay quietly at a cafe, or on the beach off leash, or at home depot. Imagine...
Interesting spin, Tim, about people being afraid of dogs.

People around here recognize the importance of a dog spending time off leash both in and out of dog parks. It is common knowledge among us that the odd dog that is encountered on leash is rarely an issue and more often than not, it's the owner with issues.
 

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Interesting that there is a whole section about aggression. I have a 10 month 3/4 Shepard (rest is lab). I’ve always had dogs but never this breed.

At times he gets aggressive? (barks loudly) towards other dogs. Ones walking in font of our house, ones he sees on walks and almost always when he is getting into the small dog park we go to. At the park almost all of the aggression is when he is on leash outside the gate. Once he is in chasing balls he’s fine. He is extraordinarily obsessed with chasing balls. He usually ignores the other dogs. He will race with other dogs after balls. If he doesn’t get it he is fine. No aggression at all - ever. If a dog runs towards him when he is going for a ball he sometimes backs off (depends on the dog). I can’t get him calm coming into the park. He pulls and barks like a mad beast. I’m not sure what to try. Holding him down doesn’t help. I don’t think a shock colllar is a good idea. Usually I try to get him in quick and throw a ball.
What should I try? He doesn’t seem to be aggressive by nature. Insecure?
Thanks for the help.
This is definitely off topic...so forgive me. I notice a lot of people (in all the GSD groups I belong to) spell it "shepard" instead of "shepherd." Is that an acceptable spelling? Or are a lot of people just mistaken/wrong?
 

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There was some training involved, definitely (miles walked with treats in my pocket...practicing "Look at Me" and an informal Heel) but also there was some training of Me.
In my limited experience, the skill and experience of the handler is crucial.
1. Timing and mechanics - It really helps to deliver those rewards and corrections at the right place and time.
2. Situational awareness - Knowing what distractions are moving around you and when they are going to affect the dog.
3. Contingency planning - Knowing how to act if an unexpected situation happens.

Our practice is probably more important for me than the dog as long as I am concentrating on what we are doing. I have no shame about ducking down someone's driveway to create a little distance.

Yep, they know exactly how we feel. If I am stressed he reacts much faster and harder. If I am calm, he calms down immediately. The other day in class, things were going so poorly that I was getting overwhelmed. Neither of us could handle six dogs moving in a small room. One of the instructors came over and stood a few feet from me and 'spotted.' She called out which dogs were coming towards us and when they were going to enter Ole's view. It helped immensely.

It enabled me to focus on my timing and delivery while getting my wits back about me. Nothing else in the room changed, Ole calmed down significantly over the next 5-10 minutes.
 

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This line of thinking, about dog parks and etiquette, I think mostly comes from people who are afraid to go to a dog park.
Can't speak for anyone else, not afraid of them I just have seen too many problems. I took my Dane everywhere. She was the typical goofy, sweet natured character that the breed is known for. She got attacked at a dog park, needed many stitches, by a dog whose owner had no control over it. I cannot count the number of rude dogs that Sabi put up with in spite of my best efforts to stay clear of them. Sabi also went everywhere with me, was plenty used to other dogs around her. Had to recert in obedience monthly in a room full of other dogs and was frequently asked to share the truck with other dogs, not to mention the multitudes she lived with over the years.
In my experience dog parks are used by people with untrained, ill mannered dogs. I know my dogs never fought over toys, but I've watched it enough in dog parks to know it's an issue.
And my bigger problem with them is that every single one I have ever been in has piles of feces and is strewn with all manner of litter and trash. I choose not to expose my dog to that.
 

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For what it’s worth, both trainers at our obedience class tonight said that dog parks are a bad idea, for many similar reasons to what other folks have said above, and that dogs absolutely do not need to spend time playing with other dogs.

There are plenty of ways to exercise a dog without a dog park. A flirt pole toy (available on Amazon and other places) is great for dog workouts and you don’t even need much space. You can also use it with a long training lead if you don’t have a big open area where you can safely do off leash stuff.
 

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Can't speak for anyone else, not afraid of them I just have seen too many problems. I took my Dane everywhere. She was the typical goofy, sweet natured character that the breed is known for. She got attacked at a dog park, needed many stitches, by a dog whose owner had no control over it. I cannot count the number of rude dogs that Sabi put up with in spite of my best efforts to stay clear of them. Sabi also went everywhere with me, was plenty used to other dogs around her. Had to recert in obedience monthly in a room full of other dogs and was frequently asked to share the truck with other dogs, not to mention the multitudes she lived with over the years.
In my experience dog parks are used by people with untrained, ill mannered dogs. I know my dogs never fought over toys, but I've watched it enough in dog parks to know it's an issue.
And my bigger problem with them is that every single one I have ever been in has piles of feces and is strewn with all manner of litter and trash. I choose not to expose my dog to that.
You're right, poor choice of wording on my part. I should have said many, not all ?.

I've been to many many dog parks in 6 western US states though, and I have never seen one that had an inordinate amount of feces left on the ground, or any trash in any of them.

Nor have I seen these ill-mannered dogs everyone keeps talking about. Every once in a while someone will bring a dog that has no business in a dog park...but they usually leave quickly and don't return.

Others I have seen that are ill-mannered to a degree are mostly just dogs that are ignorant of how to interact with other dogs well. These typically learn pretty quickly and adapt just fine, if allowed some space and time.

IMHO most dogs don't require alot of training to be pretty good animals. And that's a good thing, since yeah nearly half of the people I see at dog parks have to chase down or catch their dog when it's time to leave. Always makes me laugh LOL!
 
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