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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My boyfriend and I have an 8 month old lab/spaniel/who-knows-what-else mix. We have a dog park at our apartment building. She generally plays very nicely with most of the dogs, but there are a few that she gets too rough with. She will usually grab the fur on the neck of the dog and hold on/tug on it. She's never shown any signs of aggression or broken skin on any dog, and actually the other dogs rarely make a peep, but I know that at least one of the other dog owners feels as though she's playing too rough. I will usually yell "NO, GENTLE" and try to catch her and pull her away. I make her sit for about 30 seconds as a "time out" and then let her play again. Within 5 minutes, she'll try to do this again. Like I said, she plays normal with most of the dogs and only gets too rough with maybe 2 certain ones, but even when they roll over in a submissive state she continues to tug on them. We can't correct the biting indoors, because she never plays this way with humans. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Will she grow out of this?
 

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Both pups are definitely old enough to start obedience work and while it may not help done properly won't hurt. If your talking about correcting the pups it takes some knowledge.
 

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This is not uncommon at parks with adolescent dogs. My personal rules of dog etiquette are such that any signals given by the other dog that show discomfort (tucked tails, head turns, avoidance) are to be immediately respected BEFORE it escalates into bullying from my dog or fear retaliation from the other.

What this means is watching for the dogs your dog usually does this too and then watching play carefully and at the first sign of discomfort from the one dog or sign of overstimulation from yours results in a CUE (I use the word ENOUGH) and you remove your dog immediately. The cue is to let the dog know, as a marker, that THAT THING that dog just did is the cause of the removal. Dog is leashed and removed from play for a VERY SHORT time, maybe ten-fifteen seconds and then let back to play. The reason for this is that it gives you a chance to have to do it several times in a short period, so that she learns through repetition. After say the third time, I cue "enough" and WE'RE DONE and dog is removed from the park/play for good. Third strike, yer out.

The important thing here is timing, you want to try and figure out where the tipping point is and cue the marker just as she is THINKING of doing the neck grab or at the very leash at the very moment it happens. She has to understand that her behaviour is what causes the time out and this takes good timing and constant, consistent application of the time out. Once she starts to understand you can do the 'play nice' warning, THEN the 'enough' cue..so that she gets a chance to choose to play nice.

In the puppy class I work at, puppy play is pretty strictly monitored this way so that these habits don't become problems later. We remove puppy for collar grabbing (big no no), neck or ear grab and hold, humping (not because it's Wrong, but because it often makes other owner's uncomfortable or can trigger issues between dogs), excessive barking etc. This means that when they DO go to parks they can learn to recognize safe play and modulate their play appropriately.

The best way to remove a pup is by the hind end, grab lightly behind the front of the hind legs/groin area and lift slightly, your dog should immediately let go of the other dog. Then collar, leash and remove.

As Wvasko mentioned this is also the time for you to really get on the obedience wagon...the basics of recall, leave it, down stay, sit stay etc will help to build behaviours that can come in very handy, instill self control in the pup and give YOU more control. She's an adolescent and being permissive or inconsistent will cause you more problems. This doesn't mean you have to punish excessively or anything like that, it just means you have to be tough but fair. Positive is not permissive.

Good luck
 

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Cracker- I have been doing what you have recommended though we don't do the 3 strikes rule. I will start trying that. She does know leave it pretty well around the house but you add the dog park in and she doesn't do so hot. I have realized if I say leave it right as she starts to think about picking on another dog she leaves the dog alone. She is also starting to understand enough and play nice. I know it takes time to get good in the distraction area. She does come when I call at the park now and today she did listen to leave it after a large dog finally corrected her for bad behavior . She was an angel till about 5 minutes before we were planning on leaving then she started picking on another dog. I leashed her for 10 to 15 seconds like you said and we finally left probably on the 4th time. Funny thing was the other dog was leaving too and they walked side by side out of the park and even shared a water bowl. Sounds like it's just going to take some repetition. Why does she play nice with dogs bigger than her but dogs her own size or smaller she will sometimes pick on? It's not even ALL the time it's just random with some dogs. It's more likely to happen with smaller males. Weird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Cracker-thanks for the great advice. Brit-our dogs sound like they are cut from the same mold LOL! my dog only does it to certain dogs, usually smaller like yours does! She's actually the submissive dog of the group when she's around most dogs and even when she's being picked on, she just rolls over and doesn't even think about opening her mouth to "fight" back.

My dog does know basic commands and does very well with listening in the dog park 99% of the time, but when she is involved in this behavior it is like all the training goes out the window. When I go up to her to remove her from the biting behavior, she knows that I am coming to remove her (so she KNOWS she is doing something wrong!) and she'll even try to keep holding the other dog, but move away from me! Thanks for the tip on removing her by her rear end, I will start doing that. I have been just doing whatever I can to get her away, then making her sit and wait in "time out". I also like the 3 times and you're out rule. Hopefully with consistency with this, we will get it under control! I really appreciate the feedback!
 

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Oh! I just asked a similar question about ear biting. Good to know that this isn't completely uncommon.

One thing that I've found INCREDIBLY helpful in terms of grabbing hold of my dog while she is playing is a harness. She's about 30+ lbs but with the harness I can literally hoist her off the ground with one hand when I need to.

Plus, I think the harness sort of indicates to other owners that she is still a young dog, which makes them more forgiving if she is being particularly annoying.
 

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Leaving a harness on a dog in a dog park is a good way to have a disaster. The day will come when another dog gets a tooth or jaw hooked in the harness.. and then one or both dogs will get hurt.. maybe even killed if there is a substantial size difference.

BTW my dogs do this to each other. I split it up when it gets excessive. Mostly they seem to know what they are doing, but they never play or are loose together unsupervised.
 

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There are a million potential disasters at a dog park. A good quality, securely attached harness doesn't pose more risk than a collar with its tags.

My trainer recommended the harness and I have found it to be an asset. When other dogs get particularly aggressive with my pup...I can pull her away without risking my hand.
 
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