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So basically, my 2 yr old, Brutus, got attacked today at the dog park. It was not instigated by mine (he's a big baby if you ask me). He's super friendly with other dogs and MOST other people.

Anyways, so the dog that attacked Brutus had been showing signs of not liking my dog the past couple times I have seen it at the park. It would always come up to Brutus, growl and nip (if it had that chance) and then Brutus would walk away. The owner saw this happen and did nothing about it. The other day it was the exact same thing. Then today, same thing again leading up to the fight. Brutus was trying to instigate play with another dog and was attacked. I saw it run up, barking and lunge at Brutus. Of course, the owners did nothing to stop it.

It all happened pretty quickly, but before I knew it I was in the middle pushing dogs away from mine who was crawling, yelping and showing every single sign of submission known to man, except for showing his belly. Before all the other dogs ended up in the crowd, he did reach back while crawling away and tried to bite the other dog but was overwhelmed by the others pretty quickly. I couldn't tell if the rest of the pack was ganging up on Brutus or what, but they were all surrounding my dog.

Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. His tongue was bleeding a tiny bit but it stopped before I could attempt to find the source. Holy crap was he shook up though. Usually he's all over the dog park exploring and trying to play with other dogs. After this "fight," though, he wouldn't leave my side.

So the owners of that other dog left in hurry, thankfully, but there are other dogs that people bring that aren't very friendly at all that receive absolutely NO correction for misbehaving. It's usually "Oh my god! Toto! Stop it!" AFTER the dog has already completed "protecting" or whatever it thought it was doing. Then they always bring it up on the bench with them, which to me is only telling that dog it's ok that it just tried to bite the others.

I'm at the point now where if I see this stuff going on I'm going to start giving the Cesar Milan corrections myself and tell the owner to either control their dog or quit bringing it to the park.

Problem is that this is a retirement town and I don't really feel like telling off a little old lady...

My questions:
How do you guys go about telling people that they need to get control of their dog? I can be pretty brash if I need to, but would prefer not to. Not yet anyways...

I've noticed that it seems I can read other peoples dogs better than they can. How can I clue them in on what their dog is saying when aggression is what's seen?

All these dogs jumped in. In your experience, do these dogs join in on the attack of the original "target" or are they just barking and fighting eachother? Like I said, it all happened pretty quick and I had tunnel vision on my dog rather than the whole group.

Other than those "reach back" bite attempts, my dog did absolutely nothing. This is a good thing, but it makes me wonder about whether or not he'll protect me and the house if the need arises. Should I worry about this?

I don't think he lacks much in the confidence department, but a little more never hurt anyone, especially to build him back up after this incident. Do any of you know of a good trainer in or close to Prescott, AZ? (2 hours north of PHX). I don't really need much in the way of obedience (see the NOTE at the bottom), but I think tracking would definitely benefit him in that area as well as maybe some protection training WITHOUT the bite training (don't have the time needed for that right now). For that matter, can you even do protection training without the bite training?

Of course, any other suggestions would be welcome in regards to confidence building. He'll go over and foot wide wooden bridge, pyramid, and through a tunnel without any problems, but these were all just things I found at random dog parks and not part of an agility course...


NOTE: He listens pretty freakin well. Even when he's distracted. Example: No distractions, put him at a down in the absolute back corner of right field of a baseball diamond and walk away. Randomly give him hand signals to either sit or lay back down. I managed to walk all the way to left field before I told him to break. Even at the park I can put him at a down and if no dogs are RIGHT next to him, he'll stay there for a good while. I've gotten as far as 150 feet before telling him to break. Ok... now I'm just bragging... but it makes me pretty proud to have a dog that will obey that well!!
 

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Anyways, so the dog that attacked Brutus had been showing signs of not liking my dog the past couple times I have seen it at the park. It would always come up to Brutus, growl and nip (if it had that chance) and then Brutus would walk away. The owner saw this happen and did nothing about it. The other day it was the exact same thing.


... Then today, same thing again leading up to the fight. Brutus was trying to instigate play with another dog and was attacked. I saw it run up, barking and lunge at Brutus. Of course, the owners did nothing to stop it...

So the owners of that other dog left in hurry, thankfully, but there are other dogs that people bring that aren't very friendly at all that receive absolutely NO correction for misbehaving. It's usually "Oh my god! Toto! Stop it!" AFTER the dog has already completed "protecting" or whatever it thought it was doing. Then they always bring it up on the bench with them, which to me is only telling that dog it's ok that it just tried to bite the others.

I'm at the point now where if I see this stuff going on I'm going to start giving the Cesar Milan corrections myself and tell the owner to either control their dog or quit bringing it to the park.

Problem is that this is a retirement town and I don't really feel like telling off a little old lady...

My questions:
How do you guys go about telling people that they need to get control of their dog? I can be pretty brash if I need to, but would prefer not to. Not yet anyways...
Why are you so surprised? It seems it was only a matter of time before a fight broke out. You say you have seen numerous uncontrolled, and even aggressive, dogs running amok all while their owners do nothing about it even, in your opinion, reinforce the behaviors. Yet you still brought your pup to the dog park today?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Look, don't turn this into a "don't bring your dog there" conversation. I asked VERY SPECIFIC questions. I would like some constructive feedback.

EDIT: Also, I never said "numerous" other aggressive dogs. Only that there are others. This park isn't filled with blood thirsty hounds. Don't twist my words into making it seem that way.
 

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if my dog was having a problem with another dog at the dog
park i wouldn't enter the park when that dog is there. if there's
other unruly dogs at the dog park why go there?
 

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I agree with Mrs.P - what did you expect? It's a frenzied free for all with untrained dogs, irresponsible and careless owners, and a unregulated mix of various dogs. You have no clue of their background, disease or health history, temperament, training, aggression - it's a gamble and you came up snake eyes on this one.

How do you guys go about telling people that they need to get control of their dog?
You can talk until you are blue in the face, you can ask nicely, you can yell, you can be stern, you can be professional, you can be reasonable, you can be rude - depends on the person, their receptivity to listening to you, and multiple other variables. But the fact remains: you can only control, manage, and protect your dog - you cannot control what someone else does with their dog and I most certainly don't think you can change a person with one conversation at a dog park. Not going to happen.
If you plan to put your dog in a high risk situation with aggressive or unruly dogs, I'm not sure what you expect ?

How can I clue them in on what their dog is saying when aggression is what's seen?
Think about it this way, how would you go up to a parent in a supermarket with an out of control child and tell them their child needs to be managed? How do you think they would respond? Some might be receptive to your feedback, but imagine how *most* people react to criticism from a stranger about beloved Fido? Not too friendly I would imagine.

So it goes back to what I said before: you can control your dog, but you have no say or ability to manage ANOTHER dog. You can tell them in any which way you like, but the fact remains that most people will disregard you or react negatively to the criticism coming from an unknown third party. You can only control YOUR actions, not what others do so all you can really hope is to keep your dog safe.

do these dogs join in on the attack of the original "target" or are they just barking and fighting eachother?
It's a frenzy of dogs - who knows what happened. They are biting each other, they are biting air, they are biting you, they are biting anything that comes out of the periphery - it was a free for all at that point it sounds. Dogs in uncontrolled large packs are dangerous - especially when there is little control and they are in a highly agitated state. I will never understand the appeal of letting your dog run amok with strange dogs.

It makes me wonder about whether or not he'll protect me and the house if the need arises. Should I worry about this?
Odd question to ask when your dog has just been attacked at the dog park and is exhibiting negative reactivity to the incident. Protect your dog, not the other way around. If an intruder breaks into your home, maybe your dog will bark, maybe he won't - maybe he will bite, probably he won't - maybe he will do something, maybe he won't. You have no idea until he is tested. But the bottom line is that this is not a question I would be concerning myself with after a dog park attack - I would be looking to the mental and physical state of my dog. The plain truth is that most dogs will do nothing and you should not expect your dog to do anything unless you have specifically trained, practiced, and obtained a dog prepared extensively in this particular aspect...

Can you even do protection training without the bite training?
What does that mean "protection training"? What do you want or expect your dog to do?
 

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German Shepherds are Not great dogs for dog parks! For every one GS who loves everyone and is friendly with other dogs.....there are three GS that will not do well in dog parks without incident. Furthermore, anytime your dog is unleashed in area with dogs outside pack, or with dogs that they don't play with every day, the potential for disaster is there if for no other reason than the park is open to new entrants that might not be part of the "tea"party and doesn't know the "tea"rules. Lastly, once a dog is engaged in a confrontation with another dog, there is always the possibility of pack punishment on the submissive dog. Dogs are not altruistic, they don't naturally come to the aid of the weak and help against the aggressor. Instinctive behaviors often lead to ganging up on submissive dog......for all these reasons I never let my dog run amok in dog parks with dogs outside their pack or at a minimum with dogs that they are friendly with. I don't know of any specific advice that can minimize or prevent the events in the OP with the way the situation was described.
When the OP allowed their dog to run loose with a dog that had exhibited aggressive overtures against Brutus in the past, shows very poor judgement on owners part, this could and should have been prevented....learn from it for yourself and Brutus
 

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German Shepherds are Not great dogs for dog parks! For every one GS who loves everyone and is friendly with other dogs.....there are three GS that will not do well in dog parks without incident. Furthermore, anytime your dog is unleashed in area with dogs outside pack, or with dogs that they don't play with every day, the potential for disaster is there if for no other reason than the park is open to new entrants that might not be part of the "tea"party and doesn't know the "tea"rules. Lastly, once a dog is engaged in a confrontation with another dog, there is always the possibility of pack punishment on the submissive dog. Dogs are not altruistic, they don't naturally come to the aid of the weak and help against the aggressor. Instinctive behaviors often lead to ganging up on submissive dog......for all these reasons I never let my dog run amok in dog parks with dogs outside their pack or at a minimum with dogs that they are friendly with. I don't know of any specific advice that can minimize or prevent the events in the OP with the way the situation was described.
:thumbup: I have been a member at the dog park before I got my GSD. I would never bring her there. I was lucky...when my golden got attacked not one other dog jumped in. They all just stood there watching, just like the people.
 

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It is hard to get owners attention and awareness on these matters of dog behavior

One must be 2 steps ahead or 'Brutus' is gonna get bit esp at the dog park

Next time he may be doing the biting

Well done, keep up the good training
 

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German Shepherds are Not great dogs for dog parks! For every one GS who loves everyone and is friendly with other dogs.....there are three GS that will not do well in dog parks without incident. Furthermore, anytime your dog is unleashed in area with dogs outside pack, or with dogs that they don't play with every day, the potential for disaster is there if for no other reason than the park is open to new entrants that might not be part of the "tea"party and doesn't know the "tea"rules. Lastly, once a dog is engaged in a confrontation with another dog, there is always the possibility of pack punishment on the submissive dog. Dogs are not altruistic, they don't naturally come to the aid of the weak and help against the aggressor. Instinctive behaviors often lead to ganging up on submissive dog......for all these reasons I never let my dog run amok in dog parks with dogs outside their pack or at a minimum with dogs that they are friendly with. I don't know of any specific advice that can minimize or prevent the events in the OP with the way the situation was described.
When the OP allowed their dog to run loose with a dog that had exhibited aggressive overtures against Brutus in the past, shows very poor judgement on owners part, this could and should have been prevented....learn from it for yourself and Brutus
This is about as right as right can be.
 

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My questions:
How do you guys go about telling people that they need to get control of their dog?

Sadly, you can not control other people's dogs. Nor can you control what they do with them. But you CAN control your dog and keep him safe.

How can I clue them in on what their dog is saying when aggression is what's seen?

Unless the owner has asked for your advice, it's best to leave the area when you see an owner who isn't in control of their dog. Your responsiblity is your dog. Not anybody elses.

All these dogs jumped in. In your experience, do these dogs join in on the attack of the original "target" or are they just barking and fighting eachother?

Cliff did a really good job at explaining this.

Other than those "reach back" bite attempts, my dog did absolutely nothing. This is a good thing, but it makes me wonder about whether or not he'll protect me and the house if the need arises. Should I worry about this?

Hopefully it's something you'll never need to find out. But it would take a confident dog to recognize a real threat and react as you hope he would.

Do any of you know of a good trainer in or close to Prescott, AZ?

I don't know of any trainers in your area. But it would be a REALLY good idea for both of you to get with a good trainer.
I hope this helped answer your questions.
 

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I stopped going to the local (public) dog park because idiots with pit bulls thought it was "cool" and "funny" to encourage dominant behavior from those dogs (like mounting) which inevitably led to fights. I did, however, shove one of those dogs away from mine when it wanted to mount, and I will correct other people's dogs (esp. if their owners are reading the paper).

I have been to dog parks where people are very engaged in supervision and correction. They do exist. There are some that are members-only that would boot-out owners for the behavior you have described in those dogs. Each one has its own culture, and it sounds like yours is not good.

Currently, I prefer to take my dogs to a "socialization field exercise" managed by my trainer. All the dogs are training alumni or current students, under voice control. We have a stable group. The dogs mostly know each other, and newbies get with the program quickly. We have a choreographed movement in the field, which is effective at eliminating territorial behaviors and keeping the dogs in motion. Many of us are very, very willing to correct the first sign of inappropriate behavior--from anyone's dog--and since we've been training our own dogs a long time, we tend to have way better timing than you'd find in a dog park, so it gets nipped in the bud before escalating.

If you want to have off leash play time for your dogs, my advice would be to get together responsible friends, acquaintances from training, etc. and form your own group of stable dogs to play with. Create a "play date" when you all get together at a particular time and place each week. You'll be likely to have better, more stable dogs and better owner supervision. The dogs will also quickly develop predictable relationships, since the same dogs see each other week after week.
 

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I have my own set of rules for using the dog park. I won't go at peak times when there's 20 or more dogs in there - I prefer just a few. I've had to tell people to control their dogs before, but I make a mental note of the dogs in question and refuse to spend any time around them. At the first sign of unfriendly behavior, we leave. I've watched from a distance and the dogs that I have a problem with don't act nearly as aggressively once we've left, so who knows what's going on, lol.
 

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seems like you stepped into a situation that you had lots of warning signs for , one dog isolating your dog as a target for whatever reason .

so much for
"I've noticed that it seems I can read other peoples dogs better than they can. How can I clue them in on what their dog is saying when aggression is what's seen"

You don't need to be telling them , you should have used your skill (?) and not exposed your dog to the risk .

what is this?
"I'm at the point now where if I see this stuff going on I'm going to start giving the Cesar Milan corrections myself and tell the owner to either control their dog or quit bringing it to the park"??

you can't go in and tell the rest of the dog park how to operate . Maybe this group gets along just fine , might have done so for a long period. Regulars. Along come you and your dog and the dynamics change. Maybe your dog is emanating underdog signals which stimulate the other to pick on him . You have to find another place . Seems like the dog isn't going to be happy and you want to go in there and re-organize things so the same vibes will be directed to you from the "group".

I don't like dog parks .
 

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I have corrected other dogs when they are bothering Fiona. I will loudly talk to the dog about what the dog should not be doing, like "no humping Fiona. She is not that kind of girl." Eventually the owner gets a clue. Not directly telling them to watch their dog.


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Stop going to dog parks. Among the worst places for a dog.
 

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I stopped going to the local (public) dog park because idiots with pit bulls thought it was "cool" and "funny" to encourage dominant behavior from those dogs (like mounting) which inevitably led to fights. I did, however, shove one of those dogs away from mine when it wanted to mount, and I will correct other people's dogs (esp. if their owners are reading the paper).

I have been to dog parks where people are very engaged in supervision and correction. They do exist. There are some that are members-only that would boot-out owners for the behavior you have described in those dogs. Each one has its own culture, and it sounds like yours is not good.

Currently, I prefer to take my dogs to a "socialization field exercise" managed by my trainer. All the dogs are training alumni or current students, under voice control. We have a stable group. The dogs mostly know each other, and newbies get with the program quickly. We have a choreographed movement in the field, which is effective at eliminating territorial behaviors and keeping the dogs in motion. Many of us are very, very willing to correct the first sign of inappropriate behavior--from anyone's dog--and since we've been training our own dogs a long time, we tend to have way better timing than you'd find in a dog park, so it gets nipped in the bud before escalating.

If you want to have off leash play time for your dogs, my advice would be to get together responsible friends, acquaintances from training, etc. and form your own group of stable dogs to play with. Create a "play date" when you all get together at a particular time and place each week. You'll be likely to have better, more stable dogs and better owner supervision. The dogs will also quickly develop predictable relationships, since the same dogs see each other week after week.
You gave me this info a while back, about the field socialization. I forwarded it to our trainer, but I don't think he's interested. Anyway, this led me to find a German Shepherd meetup group. We've only been to 8 meetups but they are great.

Maybe Brutus could join a meetup group in your area or you can start one yourself. The great thing about having a mostly GSD group is that all the owners are really into training their dogs, and they know about the growly play and don't freak out, and they watch out for each other.
 

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German Shepherds are Not great dogs for dog parks! For every one GS who loves everyone and is friendly with other dogs.....there are three GS that will not do well in dog parks without incident. Furthermore, anytime your dog is unleashed in area with dogs outside pack, or with dogs that they don't play with every day, the potential for disaster is there if for no other reason than the park is open to new entrants that might not be part of the "tea"party and doesn't know the "tea"rules. Lastly, once a dog is engaged in a confrontation with another dog, there is always the possibility of pack punishment on the submissive dog. Dogs are not altruistic, they don't naturally come to the aid of the weak and help against the aggressor. Instinctive behaviors often lead to ganging up on submissive dog......for all these reasons I never let my dog run amok in dog parks with dogs outside their pack or at a minimum with dogs that they are friendly with. I don't know of any specific advice that can minimize or prevent the events in the OP with the way the situation was described.
When the OP allowed their dog to run loose with a dog that had exhibited aggressive overtures against Brutus in the past, shows very poor judgement on owners part, this could and should have been prevented....learn from it for yourself and Brutus
Excellent post. Thank you!!!
Sheilah
 
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