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Hello,

Im looking to pick some brains around here about what I can do to alleviate a situation with our older (3 year old) intact standard poodle named Weston.

Weston is truly a special poodle, I know everybody thinks they have a special poodle, but seriously, he is like the most loving and attentive dog. He gets along and likes all people, strangers and friends alike.

We got him at 5 1/2 weeks old which is why I believe he is more strongly bonded to me then is our 1 year old spayed Female standard Poodle "Pennelope" which we got at 8 1/2 weeks old. She's very independant, and he's very dependant on me.

Once we got the first series of shots out of the way and the vet gave the green light, we started to take Weston to the dog park every weekend (saturday and sunday) and he got along with everybody, human and dog alike.

However sometime into his terrible 2's or so, he started to get a bit too protective of his dads. He has no problem if a stranger at the park walks up to us, he goes over and checks them out and then comes and sits between me and the stranger. But when another dog (female, male, fixed or unfixed, doesn't matter) comes running over to us, he'll go up to them and check them out and more often than not, he will growl and chase them away to about 30 feet or so, and then return to us. If the other dog persists in visiting us, he will continue to chase them away unless I leash him.

The worst problem however is that when he does this, if the other dog is particularly shy (can't remember the right word, oppositie of dominant, lays on back with belly to the air), he might escalate this further and keep growling at them and nosing them. It looks really bad but he's never bit a dog yet. My assumption on this escalation is that the other dog has gone to it's back and Weston wants them to get away, but the other dog isn't going anywhere since it's now cowering on it's back.

There has yet to be a time, where if I command heavily the word NO, to where he hasn't stopped and returned to me. That is to say, when he's exhibiting this behavior of chasing dogs away, I will usually almost yell NO and he immediately stops and returns to me and watches whether the other dog is going to return or not.

Now it's not every dog that he does this too. Some dogs he lets get near to us (especially if he met them on the other side of the park without us around, and they both return together), then he's fine with them and might only sit in front of me betwen me and the other dog. Other times he walks out and sniffs the other dog, turns around and comes back to us. It's just those times that he physically chases the other dogs away that is really starting to bug me.

His half sister Pennelope only agravates the situation because she is a serious talker, and she will chase him, chasing the other dog, all the time barking with every step she takes. But she never goes after any dogs that come into the area around us, she meets them and goes about her own business.

Now, I know some folks will say, "don't take him to the park" but there is no way to stop this behavior since it only happens at the park. When we go downtown on thursday nights to the street fair and he is on his lead, he's fine meeting other dogs, and just wants to play with them, it seems only at the dog park so far that he keeps chasing away other dogs from being around us.

What to do?

Thanks,
 

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A theory...

I'm not a professional dog trainer, but....

I expect the dog thinks when he's at the park, he's in charge. You need to let him know that YOU'RE the alpha at those times, so he doesn't feel like he needs to be the big guy and protect his pack.
 

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Interesting observation, something I hadn't thought of. I wonder how it is that I become the Alpha at the park?

I do know that if we keep moving, (walking circles around the park) he never has time or maybe doesn't have the desire to chase other dogs off, if they come near while we are walking I think he's more concerned about keeping up with us to bother with the other dogs that get too close. But of course I can't keep walking and want to sit once in a while so...

He's never been dominated over by me or my partner, it's always been a live and let live household here and to be honest Im not sure who is alpha at home, him, his half sister or our 15 year old dalmatian, they all get along perfectly and theres never been a squabble here. I GUESS at home I must be alpha since he follows me everywhere and barely ever leaves my side, but at the park, hmmmm maybe someone will have recomendations on how to show that Im the alpha in our pack while at the park.

Thanks for the reply.
 

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I assume he's off leash...

...at the park. On leash, you're the boss, and you've got things in hand. Off leash, he's not so sure.
When another dog comes over, make him sit, or down. Make him. Then you go up to the other dog and greet it. Correct him if he breaks the sit/down.
You might want to start that exercise off leash somewhere there aren't lots of dogs. He'll start to trust that you've got things in hand when he's off leash, I'll bet.
 
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