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Hi everyone. I’m new here. My dog, Jax, will be 2 in December. He has a wonderful laid back temperament but this past week I’ve seen some aggression towards a couple dogs. The only common denominator I can see is that they’re all young and unaltered. Anyways I’d like to make sure these couple of reactions don’t become a thing. Any advice?
 

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Welcome! Can you give us some more details? Let us know what exactly you're seeing/hearing and the sequence of events that led up to it.

Peggy definitely got less tolerant of rude dog behaviour shortly after her first birthday. Our trainer said this is a normal part of the aging process.

Peggy deals with the rudeness first by trying to avoid it, then quietly air snapping, then advancing on the dog while air snapping. In her case, the rude dog still didn't get it so we intervened. But I think letting the situation play out might have prevented it from happening again. Instead the rude dog just kept pestering her.
 

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Thanks for the welcome. The first time it happen both dogs were leashed. Jax is quite a nosey dog and refused to continue walking once he seen the lab pup coming. So we stepped to the side because I usually don’t let him greet the dog if he pulls that trick. The lab was very excited and the owner just let him come right to Jax who then started growling and trying to get a the dog. I figured maybe it was the dynamics of the situation that caused it because he was quite excited initially and didn’t think too much of it. But then we were at our local dog park which I know causes it’s own issues but it’s usually the same dogs there with no problems. Anyways he was fine and playing then a small golden came in and he kinda jumped her so I grabbed him and took him over to an empty part gave him some water. He seemed calm and relaxed and not looking for the golden so I let him go. He did run with some dogs initially but then sought the golden out and was kinda rolling her. I was able to grab him pretty quickly but the golden owner wasn’t happy which is understandable. We left after that. So I’m not sure what the deal is he seems excited at first but maybe it’s a dominance thing? And kinda strange he just started doing this in the last few days. Sorry for the lengthy story :)
 

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My last dog, a Scottie, was unaltered. He was often an innocent target of neutered males. The ladies loved him, and he was always a gentleman around them.
 

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Often things don't go well when there are neutered and intact males interacting. Our male dogs are intact and we are very careful around neutered males since our GSD Peeves has been attacked several times by neutered males. Thankfully he has never been hurt since he is such a cupcake that he always ended up on the bottom of the pile. He is soon to be 12 so if we had problems with a youngster I am afraid of what would happen to him.

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in figuring out dominance issues. I actually think most of the idea of social ranking in dogs is overrated. It matters in wolves where there really are true packs and different rights are afforded to individuals of different ranks, but even pariah dogs don't form true hunting packs with high levels of social organization. Dogs are not wolves.

The lab owner seems pretty clueless. I also never let our dogs greet dogs they don't know if they are leashed and the lab owner shouldn't be making the assumption that all dogs they meet are friendly. I hate it when people approach me while saying it is okay because his dog is friendly. Mine generally are friendly but if I have two spoos on leashes I don't want to get involved with other dogs and I have told many people my dogs are not friendly to get them to leave us alone.
 
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Let me put on my professional dog trainer hat for a sec. Ahem, this is not aggression. The other dogs were being rude.

Please read "He Just Wants to Say 'Hi'" - Suzanne Clothier/Carpe Canem Inc.

Here's a clip from a much longer article.

"Sitting quietly on the mall bench beside my husband, I was minding my own business when the man approached. I glanced up as the man sat next to me. He was a bit close for my comfort, so I edged a little closer to my husband who, busy reading a book, ignored me. Still feeling a bit uncomfortable with the strange man so close, I then turned my head slightly away from him, politely indicating I was not interested in any interaction. To my horror, the man leaned over me and began licking my neck while rudely groping me.

When I screamed and pushed him away, my trouble really began. My husband angrily threw me to the ground, yelling at me "Why did you do that? He was only trying to be friendly and say hi! What a touchy bitch you are! You're going to have to learn to behave better in public."

People all around us stared and shook their heads sadly. I heard a few murmuring that they thought my husband should do something about my behavior; some even mentioned that he shouldn't have such a violent woman out in public until I'd been trained better. As my husband dragged me to the car, I noticed that the man who had groped me had gone a bit further down the mall and was doing the same thing to other women.

This is a silly scenario, isn't it? First, anyone who knows me knows that I would never be in a mall except under considerable duress. More seriously, no rational human being would consider my response to the man's rudeness as inappropriate or vicious. By invading my personal space, the man crossed the lines of decent, civilized behavior; my response would be considered quite justified.

That my husband might punish me for responding to such rudeness by screaming and pushing the offender away is perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this scenario. If he were to act in this way, there would be no doubt in the minds of even the most casual observers that his ego was of far greater importance than my safety or comfort, and that he was sorely lacking even rudimentary empathy for how I might be feeling in this situation.

Fortunately for me, this scenario is completely imaginary. Unfortunately for many dogs, it is a very real scenario that is repeated far too often. Inevitably, as the owners who have allowed their dogs to act rudely retreat from the situation, there are comments made about "that aggressive dog" (meaning the dog whose space had been invaded) and the classic comment, usually said in hurt tones, "He only wanted to say hi!"


Please read this entire article. It says it far better than I could. And you'll feel a lot better when you're done. Even better, you'll learn how to look for rude dogs, and how to avoid them.

Marie, KPA-CTP
 

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Puppies and young dogs often cause excitement and arousal in young adult dogs. Misha is 1.5 now and after he reached a year he started occasionally getting kind of over excited when he would meet puppies and to the untrained eye he appears aggressive. He growls and tries to initiate play while dominance posturing. He will roll an overly submissive puppy. Not with all puppies, but with some of them. I am not sure why as there are no patterns in who he reacts this way to. I have interpreted it more as him exceeding his excitement threshold rather than real aggression. His ultimate goal always seems to be play, but he also seems very excited to meet somebody weaker than him. I think it is a symptom of adolescence in his case. Any time I notice him giving signals of acting this way I separate him and have him calm down before he returns and that often reverts him to normal behavior.
 

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Do you think you train Jax to ignore the Lab puppy? Some dogs are rude with other dogs, and some will keep being rude until they get in a fight. I had an Aussie who would come every so often to a neighbors house and she has a big Lab German Shepherd mix who was constantly rude to her and would run away from him until I stopped him. If I didn't stop him she would have eventually attacked him.

Now I have a Standard Poodle and my neighbor's dog doesn't like him after he got loose and was rude towards him. This dog usually barks at other dogs because he likes them and wants to play with them, but everytime he sees mine, he just ignores him. When my dog meets another dog or puppy he is not allowed to be rude and pushy.
 

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At the dog park, dogs can get overstimulated. I avoid them for that reason. The problem with dog parks is you don’t know the background and training of the other dogs in the park. Dog to dog communication is subtle body language and it is easy to miss cues. The golden may have given your dog the stink eye and you missed it.

Running up to a strange dog, and bouncing in their face, is rude. Kikopup has a video about this.

 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the replies. Jax definitely is more of an excited dog who does the bouncing and growling thing to try to play. I think aggressive was the wrong word to use. I’m not overly concerned with the lab interaction because he didn’t seek that out.
The golden was very submissive which I think made the situation worse. The owner was also quite worked up and calling him aggressive which probably got me more worked up About the situation as well. I guess his behaviour just seemed out of character usually if a submissive dog won’t play he just leaves them and I know some misinterpret his growling. I Did think he was being too rough which was why I pulled him aside to let him reset. Thanks for setting my mind at ease.
 

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I think most canine communication is always going to be lost on us humans. And what we perceive as desirable (the doting affections of a Golden, for example) can be interpreted as extremely pushy or rude by other dogs.

Have you ever read up on appeasement gestures or calming signals? The more faith you have in Jax's manners, the more confidence you'll have in managing social situations.

It would be nice to know he's not the antagonist. But if he is, you can adjust your routines accordingly. Dog parks, for example, would probably be a no-no, while play with his "buddies" (who probably know how to chill him out) might be okay.

And keep in mind, he may get more and more particular about his social interactions as he gets older. Just avoid pressuring him. That's what I'll be trying to do with Peggy. :)
 

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I have to say I’ve never worried about Jax in social situations before other than being too friendly. This is the first time I’ve seen him initiate so I’ll have to keep an eye on that. I guess at the end of the day dogs are just like humans and not all of them are going to mesh in personality or play styles.
 

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I take Annie to our local dog park.
One of the things i am trying to remember with Annie is that it is OK sometimes for her to growl or snarl.
She doesnt have to put up with rude behaviour, and sometimes a growl or a snarl is appropriate. She is very well socialized, very friendly, and pretty polite with greeting other dogs - and sometimes, other dogs arent.

She has this thing where she hates being run at by strange dogs who are offleash while she is onleash, and will growl, snarl, or lunge at them. I have watched it and was worried about it at first. I finally figured out that a better phrasing would be, she hates being run at by strange dogs who are RUDE while she is on leash. She is fine with dogs she knows, or polite dogs giving her space and initiating play at a distance. So i try to avoid situations she may be leashed around off leash dogs she doesnt know just because i know it stresses her, not because her reaction is all that inappropriate.

Annie also occasionally gets over growly with a puppy, especially a poorly socialized overassertive and rude one - i appologized the first time and then i realized, nope, she was right, that puppy was being rude. I still take her away - she doesnt need to put up with that, and often the human doesnt like your dog growling at their innocent puppy! But other times, after a growl or two to establish boundaries, they have a wonderful romp.

She isnt perfect of course- i have seen her go after an unsocialized and shy puppy and try to play more enthusiastically than she should, and scare it - probably a bit of prey drive triggered? She gets redirected or taken away if she scares a nervous puppy, and sometimes if its just us and the puppy, and the owners are determined to socialize their puppy, i will leash her and play with her in front of the puppy, and the puppy will gain some confidence and start to follow us around and try to play a bit, or even just watch us play, then i may if it is going well, and the owners agree, drop the leash and closely supervise while still being part of the play, and stopping/downing /running in the other direction with Annie if necessary . We meet a lot of puppies whose first interaction with another dog is their human bringing them to a dog park, and i hate to see them be afraid.

But... in most things, i am slowly learning to trust her judgment - she speaks Dog fluently and eloquently, and i am just learning to read children's picture books in Dog.
 

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Often things don't go well when there are neutered and intact males interacting. Our male dogs are intact and we are very careful around neutered males since our GSD Peeves has been attacked several times by neutered males. Thankfully he has never been hurt since he is such a cupcake that he always ended up on the bottom of the pile. He is soon to be 12 so if we had problems with a youngster I am afraid of what would happen to him.

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in figuring out dominance issues. I actually think most of the idea of social ranking in dogs is overrated. It matters in wolves where there really are true packs and different rights are afforded to individuals of different ranks, but even pariah dogs don't form true hunting packs with high levels of social organization. Dogs are not wolves.

The lab owner seems pretty clueless. I also never let our dogs greet dogs they don't know if they are leashed and the lab owner shouldn't be making the assumption that all dogs they meet are friendly. I hate it when people approach me while saying it is okay because his dog is friendly. Mine generally are friendly but if I have two spoos on leashes I don't want to get involved with other dogs and I have told many people my dogs are not friendly to get them to leave us alone.
I was wondering about the comment that "things don't go well when there are neutered and intact males interacting". I did not realize THAT would be a problem. Joey is intact right now (11 months old) and I thought I would have a problem if I ran into another intact male???? I have never had a dog that was not neutered at 6 months of age. Earlier than that of course for my rescues. It has made me nervous not knowing what to expect from him. So many things to learn.
 

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The several times our GSD has been attacked (and he is intact) it has been neutered males that went after him. I teach obedience classes for an AKC sanctioned obedience club and although some males there are neutered many of them are intact. I have never had aggression of any level between those intact males, but also remember that our members know enough not to bring in season bitches either. I have seen a couple of neutered males who were a bit snarky with an intact male, but as I recall the neutered males who misbehaved were probably all with green handlers who weren't watching closely enough to get a handle on it before their dog growled or took a lunge, but even then no fights since I generally don't let new people take their dogs off leash until I know them well enough to know their dogs are reliable around other dogs.
 
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