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Hi all! My 6 month old mixed breed (Husky/White Shepherd/Chihuahua) Penny LOVES going to the dog park! She has outgrown the "small dog" side of the park, so she is getting used to the bigger dogs now (she's 30 lbs). She almost always has a great time, though sometimes she gets a little overwhelmed when more than one large dog tries to play with her.

Anyway, Penny is always attracted to other puppies. She finds a puppy and immediately begins to rough play. It usually looks like this: a little butt sniff, some front-paw boxing, and then Penny goes for the neck. All out, pinning the other dog down, holding the dog's neck with her teeth. She will happily lay on top of another dog like this for 3 minutes. It doesn't help that she makes incredibly aggressive-sounding growls while doing this!

If the other puppy is into running, Penny will follow and attempt to grab it's neck while growling.

Penny will let other dogs play with her in this way as well, but she tries her hardest to get back to the dominate position!

I have pulled Penny off other dogs to see if the other dog was still interested in playing, and almost always, they are. Penny has never made another dog so much as yelp, let alone cause damage. However, other dog parents are beginning to seem nervous when this play occurs. Tonight, a man pushed her away from his pit bull puppy and told us to get her off. Nevermind the pit bull followed her as I directed Penny away...

Just wanted to see if anyone has any advice or similar stories so I know it's not just my puppy! She is my favorite thing ever and I love her SO much!

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This is a pretty good description of how my BC wants to 'play' with most other dogs.

There is ONE dog she does this with where it's actually play and mutually fun, and that's my GSD mix who is both big enough (much larger than her) not to be overwhelmed, who is stupid tolerant of her (she sleeps on top of him, literally and often), and that is into really rough, physical play. Every other adult dog she has done this with has been overwhelmed, frightened, or just plain ticked off. Young puppies MIGHT tolerate it from her, and some sporting breeds are kind of okay with it for a bit, but frankly I don't want them having to and I don't want it happening. It's not actually appropriate play.

So when she starts this crap she gets pulled off and told to cool her jets and then can go back.

I can't see your dog. IT's possible that this is normal, appropriate play - certainly growling, chasing and teeth can be. For my dog? No, no it's not. It's predatory behavior, in the same sense that herding is, or even chasing a ball. She's reacting to motion and speed, and then trying to control and stop that motion. I don't think it's even particularly fun for her - I think it's just over-arousal in response to things going fast. The only reason the GSD she lives with gets a free pass is that he takes that nonsense and turns it INTO play of a slightly different (and much more appropriate) sort.

I'm just... not going there with unknown dogs. I don't think it's good for either of them.

But again, I can't see your dog so.
 

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Some young dogs get very over aroused and rough when they play. I would give her a time out for a few minutes if she gets over the top, and if she continues I would leave.

It may also help to get her a one on one playdate with an appropriate adult. One who will correct her appropriately when she gets over the top.
 

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Dog parks are NOT for puppies. Some dogs are aggressive to young dogs and while that's the stupid owner's fault, you need to be aware of that. Puppies also need to play with other puppies. When they play with bigger dogs, they can play overly rough and get away with it because they're little. Then, they like like aholes when they're adults.

Take your dog to a puppy training class that includes puppy play and it will learn how to tone it down. Find some a couple of dogs that it really likes and then you don't need to risk the fights, diseases and bad owners that you find at a dog park.
 

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I'd probably react similarly to the Pitbull owner if some dog was over aroused like that around mine. My girl is overly submissive so she'd let it happen too and may try and engage in play afterwards as kind of an appeasement display.
I have to protect my dog while I'm there so I'll stop any dog getting over stimulated with mine.

When mine was younger she used to body slam our lab at the farm that just ignores her existence. So every time she went to body slam I'd recall her to my side and give her a treat for coming, and then maybe ask her to do a couple commands depending on how focused she was. Later I could warn her with a, "Careful" or, "Be Nice" which she learned more from daily practice with the cat. The cat would swat her usually before/after I said "Careful" so she learned bad things may happen when I say it hahaha. I would also interrupt play with a, "Be Nice" so she would maybe associate the stopping of play with, "Be Nice" so she'd settle without me having to separate her each time.

I agree with the others and say you should stop taking her to the dog park until she learns to play more appropriately. It may be entirely play, but not every dog will read it that way and a dog with a pushy play style is going to rub someone the wrong way eventually. The advice everyone else has given is what I would say too, get her in a puppy class or find a confident adult dog to teach her the ropes. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the replies! I do feel I should clarify a little though...

Penny is playing with other puppies. The majority of dogs, when we go, are 18 months or younger. She always manages to find the puppies. We joke that they are like magnets. So the dogs that she is playing with are, 95% of the time, puppies themselves.

We have been to puppy classes and puppy social time and would love to do more, but at 6 months, she is too old for all the programs around here. Her trainer showed us how to pull Penny off of her playmates to see if they still wanted to play. If the playmate continues going towards Penny after we've pulled her off, the trainer told us that everything is fine and to let it continue. We do this check every time she plays rough with a dog, and like I said above, it is very uncommon that her playmate chooses to stop playing. So I'm assuming that must mean they are having an okay time? Correct me if I'm wrong, please! :)

Anyway, yesterday we noticed that she seems to be pretty good about adjusting her play based on the other dog. For instance, yesterday a doberman puppy wanted to box with her, and she complied, only playing mouthy minimally. Later, a pit bull puppy played rough with Penny and then Penny played her normal, rough style. Another thing I noticed is that she does seem to play more roughly after being at the park for a while (45 minutes in, about). Could this mean that maybe she is getting overstimulated/cranky/tired/whatever, and that is contributing to the growly, rough play?

I appreciate all of your advice. I have some reservations about the dog park as well, but we have a really nice one about 2 minutes from our house and it really helps us get her the exercise and socialization that she needs. We keep a very, very close eye on her at all times while there (as do the majority of dog owners here, which is why we enjoy it!) and most people and dogs there love her. If ever it seemed she was actually scaring or harassing a dog, we would remove her. Just like we have removed her when older dogs don't have the patience necessary for her to play safely with them. Thanks again!
 

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I like what elrohwen wrote.

If the other puppy doesn't yelp, and comes back to play, it is possible that the other dog is OK. Some pups may not yelp until they are in a lot of pain. if YOU think that your dog is too rough (or if the other owner requests), then I suggest that you say "calm down," (which won't anything yet), snap the leash on and ask your pup to sit in a 'timeout' for about 30 seconds, then let her go back to play. Repeat as needed ... which may be every time.

Shep was just as rough, when he was a puppy, except he humped and rolled larger (and smaller) dogs, rather than grabbing them. He grabbed a smaller Golden, who rolled over submissive, and Shep didn't leave her alone. I continued to pull Shep away. For the most part, the Golden was not hurt, but was intimidated by Shep's rough play. But, after a few days, she realized that he wasn't trying to hurt her .... AND she gave as good as she took, gained more confidence, and rolled Shep... which he loved.

Putting Penny with older dogs that have the same energy level that she has, such as Labs, may help her learn to accommodate her play to the specific dog.
 

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Anyway, yesterday we noticed that she seems to be pretty good about adjusting her play based on the other dog. For instance, yesterday a doberman puppy wanted to box with her, and she complied, only playing mouthy minimally. Later, a pit bull puppy played rough with Penny and then Penny played her normal, rough style. Another thing I noticed is that she does seem to play more roughly after being at the park for a while (45 minutes in, about). Could this mean that maybe she is getting overstimulated/cranky/tired/whatever, and that is contributing to the growly, rough play?
Much like watching children play, what you're really looking for is reciprocity. The give and take. Rough isn't necessarily bad, but rough with one dog constantly being the aggressor or pinning a dog down and not letting it get up is bad. With two well behaved dogs playing rough, it should be one dog down and the other and no excess pinning or anything like that.
 

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Dog parks are NOT for puppies. Some dogs are aggressive to young dogs and while that's the stupid owner's fault, you need to be aware of that. Puppies also need to play with other puppies. When they play with bigger dogs, they can play overly rough and get away with it because they're little. Then, they like like aholes when they're adults.

Take your dog to a puppy training class that includes puppy play and it will learn how to tone it down. Find some a couple of dogs that it really likes and then you don't need to risk the fights, diseases and bad owners that you find at a dog park.
No its backward, pups and young adults need to be with an older mature dog who will correct them for any jerk behavior. This is why Josefina and Lincoln are mostly separated now, because he is giant twit with her and she will not correct him, she will just let him do whatever he wants and then get so tired of it that she will lose her stuff and go too far, so Unitas I am out with them they are separated, they even go on separate potty breaks now.
 
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