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Hey y'all, I have a quick question.

Firstly, I am aware of the downside of dog parks and that as Brutus continues to mature, he will probably no longer be a candidate to go socialize and mingle. At this point, he does quite well and it really wears him out to go play with other dogs. It is a rather small park and almost always a very good group of folks/regulars.

He does well with males, females, pups, fixed or not fixed, large, small, hyper or shy, etc. Well, all except for one.

There is a VERY tall and thin (I think American showline) GSD that he absolutely abhors. This dog has never really done anything to him and this dog does fine with the other dogs. Brutus raises his hackles, barks his fool head off, growls. If this dog gets close to him Brutus will run from him so panicked that he has crashed into the bleacher seats at the dog park.

This GSD is obedient to his owner and she will stay on one side of the park with him and I will stay on the other with Brutus, they choose to not interact but Brutus will explode barking if he comes closer. The last time we went she chose to leave with her dog. I will probably wait for them to leave next time.

Nice dog, nice owner... WTH brutus?! Brutus is typically the biggest dog at the park, maybe he is intimidated by how tall this dog is? He is a good head over Brutus. This dog is neutered, Brutus isn't.

My other theory is that Brutus is extremely suspicious of his reflection. Seriously. He HATES his reflection in the bedroom mirror and squares off with himself regularly. I try to show him that it isn't real but he just doesn't seem to get it. So this dog that stiffens and "barks back" at him is the only other GSD he has ever met since he left his siblings. Could he be transferring his frustration with his reflection to the other GSD? He does fine with huskies and cattle dogs and other erect eared breeds though... sigh.

Thoughts on why? Am I right to choose to wait until they leave from now on as its my dog who acts foolish? I do not want to stop taking him altogether just yet.. he genuinely has fun racing around in big circles with other dogs and taking his ball to every person in the park to throw for him, ha. I do not want to set them up for a dogfight though. I do believe Brutus is more defensive and intimidated than actually aggressing.
 

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You may be on to something with the mirror theory.I wonder if the other owner would be willing to take a walk with you.Maybe you and Brutus could walk behind for a while so he could look and sniff,then next to each other if all goes well.Maybe even walk them next to each other on opposite sides of the fence.That's what I would try.If that doesn't work out then I would avoid the park when the other dog is there.
It would be nice to be able to work through this now.You don't want him going off every time you chance upon another shepherd.
 

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I can't say why Brutus might not like this one particular dog. It could be size, smell, or even some doggie language that is perceptible only to him.

What I do want to comment on is you mentioned playing ball with Brutus in a dog park. Toys are a huge no no that will start a fight in a blink of the eye and will get you into trouble faster than Brutus maturing, especially in a smaller dog park.
 

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I can't say why Brutus might not like this one particular dog. It could be size, smell, or even some doggie language that is perceptible only to him.
Doggie language. I was thinking along the same line. Perhaps the feelings are mutual and the other dog also does not like Brutus and it just isn't detectable or obvious to humans. The other dog sounds great and well behaved, but that does not necessarily mean they like each other or want to be around each other.

Hope this doesn't lead to a fight. i would be worried that day would come if you continue to go and he's acting like this. Dog parks are just not my thing. My two are rescues though so putting them in a dog park setting at a young age and assessing things was not an option the table for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies, y'all. I suppose it is possible that the other dog is sending him a signal that he doesn't like him. He does stare at Brutus and approach him head on, but I don't want to excuse Brutus' overreaction. Other dogs can be very rude with him and he doesn't mind at all. Maybe its a combo of the signals, the size, and the mirror frustration.

Dogma, I think that's a good idea and she probably would. She doesn't seem to be afraid for her dog or even really that bothered by us (I always apologize to her 1000 times) I am just beyond embarrassed. I am really wondering how he would do with another shepherd. A friend of mine has a smaller, younger spayed female and I am hoping we can get together sometime soon and see if they do better. That would at least answer the question "Is it this dog, or all other GSDs?" Even if he has an issue with GSDs he can get more comfortable with a smaller female and work up to being around others.

Workingline, Brutus has no resource guarding issues around the ball (high value food he can get testy with other animals, not with humans though.) and I have never seen him act foolish when another dog plays with his ball or playing tug of war. Now that you mention it though, it does seem like someone elses dog might get ahold of his ball and resource guard it. I will start leaving it at home, thanks for pointing it out.

Also for what it's worth, I typically avoid weekends when it is crowded and more "casual owners" show up. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that in a derogatory manner, I just mean people who turn their pet loose and text. The weekday group is all very much focused on their dogs. One of the nicest park groups I've seen actually. I hope we can get over the issue with this dog and join them for more fun :(
 

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It could be the height - our neighbor has a very tall Malamute, I think taller than a great Dane. Molly hates being around this dog. The dog is not aggressive either, however the owner has a personality disorder. He is kind of paranoid and delusional. I often wonder if Molly picks up on the owner's mental state and associates it with the dog.

The only other time Molly has acted similar to your dog is when she was younger, we introduced her to a friend's GSD. He was huge and awesome. 125lb black GSD, about 10yrs old and pretty mellow due to his age. But he had such a presence! Maybe size and seniority?
 
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