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Hi!
I have a 10 month old GSD named Rivers. He seems to be the source of a lot of conflict in the dog world. He’s been mildly attacked by a few different dogs in different situations; dog parks, his agility training class & at a pet sitting client’s house. He himself has never attacked another dog, but ever since these brawls he’s gotten into...his resource guarding over his frisbee, any given water bowl & ME have gotten a little out of hand. Never directed at humans, I and anyone else can always take away food, toys, etc from him without him batting an eye. But if another dog comes near his frisbee, he snaps. Nothing too aggressive usually, he doesn’t snarl but if the other dog takes the snapping offensively it seems to cause a fight. I stopped taking him to dog parks for this reason.
He’s also become very intolerant of puppies smaller than him. While he usually greets adult dogs with excitement, he tends to snap at puppies and sometimes even just smaller dogs.
Any dog he becomes fond of, particularly those who were around him often as he was growing up...he becomes very possessive over them. Nipping at their neck to herd them in the direction he wants to go. Or throwing a barking fit when they’re out of his sight.
In general his interactions with dogs is ALL over the place and it’s becoming harder to navigate.
Just wanted to get some tips or feedback if possible!
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Dog parks are for dogs to play with other dogs. Never bring food or toys. They start fights. If someone else brings food or toys, move away if you can or leave.
 

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My 5yr old started resource guarding when we brought a new puppy into the home. She never guarded anything prior to this, with both humans and other dogs. She has a great “knock it off” command down, so it took maybe a week of the protecting and guarding her food dish, any toy in her vicinity, and even myself to get it through her sometimes stubborn head that it was not an acceptable behavior.
In your situation, it seems like a learned behavior brought on by other dogs bullying yours and taking toys that got him to the guarding part.
I’d work on more training with his attention only on me, and stop bringing toys with you. Stop going to the dog park if he is still bullied when there are no toys around. Both my girls do great at the dog park with zero issues, but everyone seems to bring chuck it balls and I’ve seen many other dogs fight over a thrown ball. What does the agility trainer/teacher say? I can’t imagine they would ignore the behavior, especially if he was being attacked by other dogs, mildly or otherwise.
The rest of the behavior seems to be typical breed behavior. Small dogs often cause a prey drive to kick in. Not always, but often. Especially the ones that take off running and screaming when they just see a bigger dog. Teach a strong “leave it” command to help with these situations, and ask your agility instructor for recommendations on one on one training. Good luck to you and Rivers (love the name by the way)!
Thank you for your feedback!
I stopped taking toys to the dog park because of these issues and he does fine with dogs his size when he’s there unless there’s a particular bully in the park that day. It’s tough because he’s so toy driven and he does so well with training and reinforcing commands/tricks when I use a frisbee. It’s hard to find a place to get out all of his energy without it, but now that he’s a little older he’s becoming more social with other dogs. More willing to play with them so it’s been beneficial to have him play without the frisbee and just use the frisbee when we’re training one on one.
The agility coach has been very firm with the owner of the other GSD that likes to bully mine. We keep them crated between turns to avoid conflict.
We’re definitely gonna work on the training!
 

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Just some observations and things for you to consider. Only offered to provide some insight.
I've studied some behaviors at dog parks and there's about the same number of behavioral interactions as there are different type dogs. Some experienced, well socialized dogs just get along with everyone. Some are loners or aloof and
go off by themselves. most are in between- like to play chase or be chased and are rough or benign. For regular dog
park dogs who are well socialized, there's rarely a fight or skirmish. For many young dogs they do get scolded or
disciplined by other more experienced dogs, to get in line when they're too surly. There is a rythm going on with most
sociable dogs. A give and take. A push and pull. Young dogs don't get this. They act out of their league. Older dogs
will put them in their place. This may look like bullying to owners. In the doggy world it's normal behavior.
It happened to my young GSD in her beginning dog park ventures. She didn't understand the game. Til she was taught by an older, bigger GSD who said 'knock it off', learn the game here or stop playing with us. No fight, no injury (except maybe her wounded pride). But my dog learned quickly what the play rules were. Smart dogs get it pretty quickly.
My dog now gets along well with most all dog park dogs. And knows to walk away from some dogs. In other words she
is learning the language of other dogs. Young dogs need to be taught this and have it sink in.
 

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Here's some videos for you to watch and hopefully learn from and realize Rivers reactions are pretty normal for a
young male dog and the more you get him socialized and work simultaneously with his Basic Obedience skills and
manners, he will probably be fine.
Thanks again to tim s. adams for providing the link.

Here's some interesting videos of a fairly new initiative called "Dogs Playing For Life" whereby a nationally well known trainer teaches shelters and humane societies how to integrate and socialize their dogs originally on the euthanization
list for anti-social behavior, both people and dog reactivity.
The dogs not only get supervised free play periods out of the kennels but also get Basic Obedience lessons w/ shelter
volunteers. The changes in the shelter dogs is phenomenal.
Watch a few of these and see for yourselves.

 

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You could work on the toy possessiveness. One thing I have worked on with my dog is to heel or stay while I throw a ball or a stick for another dog. I started this when my pup was steeling balls and sticks from other dogs. Learning that not every single fun looking thing isn't his has been a good thing.

It is also a great opportunity to proof your heel and stay commands. If they can do what they are told while another dog chases the shiny object that he wants, well, that is pretty great distraction training.
 
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