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Ugh, my adrenaline is still surging. Just had a very scary experience at the dog park. Don't worry, I won't ever be bringing my foster again, so you all don't have to tell me what a stupid idea it was...

I brought my foster pittie to the dog park today so that she didn't have to stay home yet again when I brought my own doggie. There is hardly EVER anyone in the small dog side. I figured I could let her run around in there, and if anyone needed to use that side, I'd just put her in the back of my wagon with the air going for a while. Everything was going beautifully--Sophie ran around on the other side of the fence while I supervised Sasha with about half a dozen other dogs. Sophie greeted the others beautifully through the fence, flopped over on her back for belly rubs from the other dog owners, etc. Then, a guy comes with a medium-sized black dog and a very, very tiny jack russell puppy. He doesn't see Sophie in the small dog side and goes to put his dogs in there. I yell "Wait!", but he doesn't hear me. Sophie greets the dogs fine and I grab her collar and walk her over to the picnic table to pick up my leashes. The guy lets his tiny, tiny puppy walk over to Sophie, who is still being held by the collar, and Sophie lunges and grabs the pup. I figure the puppy is maimed or dead. I'm horrified. The guy gets the puppy away from Sophie and the black dog comes over. Sophie growls and barks at it. Thank god it didn't go for her, and I got her leashed and out of the park and into the car. Miraculously, the puppy is unhurt. Guy says Sophie didn't puncture the skin. Thankfully he's cool. Says something like "dogs will be dogs." But I'm a shaking mess.

So here's my question--what do I do about this foster? What kind of home would she be suitable for? Supposedly she came from a household with two other dogs. She greets my two dogs fine, and greets every dog we encounter on walks fine, etc. I've let her play with my younger dog twice. She played beautifully both times until resource guarding reared its ugly head. At least I'm assuming that's what it was. First time, my dog went too close to Sophie's crate (pretty much her whole world right now) and Sophie attacked. No damage done, just lots of noise and rearing up on hind legs, etc. Today, Sophie played well with Sasha until Sophie jumped up on the picnic table where I had put my leashes and Sasha followed her. Sophie snipped at Sasha and Sasha went away. That was the end of it. I think the thing with the puppy arose over the same issue--he got too close to Sophie's (my) "stuff." How hard is resource guarding to control? Can it be trained out of them? Do you all think that this is what is going on? Sophie is wonderful with people. Generally flops over on her back for belly rubs as a greeting. As I said, mostly good with dogs, too--though I don't know if I'd trust her to live with one. It's time to look for a new home for her now and I'm not sure what I should be looking for.
 

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I think that you should let potential adopters be aware of her resource guarding and maybe some issues with small dogs, but i wouldn't day that an incident like that means a whole lot about if the dog can live with another dog or not overall.

For the vey small dog thing, it may have been some prey drive rather than dog aggression. The fact that the very small dog was unhurt indicates that your foster used bite inhibition and stopped herself from going all-out against the little dog. Plenty of big dogs will have some misdirected kind of prey drive towards small dogs, huskies and greyhounds for example are known for this even though they are not otherwise known for dog aggression.

Most resource guarding is pretty manageable and some of it can be situational if a dog is being shifted between homes and shelters etc, they get more stressed and defensive.

In general, taking bully breeds to dog parks isn't suggested even if they have otherwise shown to be dog-friendly because they simply are going to be the ones blamed if anything goes wrong.

I have fostered some dog-reactive/dog aggressive bullies, one of who me was adopted out to a house with a large male Lab who she adores and the owners had experience with bully breeds. The other was adopted to an only dog house to an owner who had previously had a GSD who was reactive/aggressive and so he understood her triggers. Its been about 3.5 and 2.5 years respectively since adoption and other are doing well.

My own pity Eva was brought to be as "dog aggressive" but what she really is, is just very prey driven so small, fluffy and/or high pitched bark dogs set her off. She ignores medium and larger dogs on walks etc and she and my large male dog get along very well. She does have some minor resource guarding against him for very high value items which was quickly noticed and very easily dealt with by simple things like feeding them separately and cleaning up the area if they have a chew that spread yummy slime around before they are back in the same room. She is not a problem to take out in public anywhere and most even moderately attentive adults could handle her out and about. She would have likely been much more aggressive to a very small puppy in a situation like your foster was put in
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, this makes me feel better. I so want this girl to find a wonderful new life. I was amazed that the pup wasn't hurt at all. So why DIDN'T she hurt him? She was just warning him off? But this would suggest it wasn't prey drive, but rather resource guarding, right?
 

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Thanks, this makes me feel better. I so want this girl to find a wonderful new life. I was amazed that the pup wasn't hurt at all. So why DIDN'T she hurt him? She was just warning him off? But this would suggest it wasn't prey drive, but rather resource guarding, right?
Hard to say.

How long have you had her? Has she had any other interaction with very small dogs or with cats?

Sine you were holding her collar, there could be some element of leash/barrier aggression coming into play, since it sounds like she greeted the dogs okay before you got over there?

How old is she? What size where the dogs she had lived with before?

Basically, the incidents you mention are things that don't surprise me at all since basically all my fosters would likely have had similar reactions in those situations, most of them now are in multi dog houses or interact with other family members dogs or similar. It might take some management, an adopter should be aware and understand that potential dog to dog aggression is real, but any pit bull adopter should be given the same information regardless of a dog's behavior in foster IMO.

(And please ignore my typos, I'm on a tablet that loves to auto correct badly)
 

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Let's see...I've had her for about 6 weeks, only. She is estimated to be about 18 months old. She hasn't had any other interactions with very small dogs or cats. Do chickens count? She shows mild interest in my chickens. :)

She reportedly landed in the Staten Island/Brooklyn ACC with her two housemates--another female and a male pitbull--after their owner passed away. The other two dogs were similar in size to Sophie--between 45 and 60 pounds.
 

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Sounds like a typical (if not actually mild) pit bull reaction to me. She, like most bullies, is never going to be 100% safe with other dogs. But with management and supervision she would likely blossom in either a one dog home or a home with other dogs and experienced, knowledgeable owners. I had a similar mistake with my dog when we first got her, she ignores most dogs and is friendly with dogs her size if they don't get on her nerves, but she's gone after a barking small dog before. I just know her triggers and plan accordingly regarding which dogs I will try to introduce her to. Then management and supervision are key regarding food, resources, etc. She'll never be safe to be left alone with another dog, but really managing her DA has become quite second nature over the last year.

I'm sure your foster will be able to find a great home as long as you're upfront about her history :)
 

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I'm sure your foster will be able to find a great home as long as you're upfront about her history :)

I hope you're right. I love this girl.
 

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We adopted our dog knowing she would likely have difficulties with other dogs. All pit owners should be honest with themselves about that possiblity. Honesty is key, so that adopters can make an educated decision. She sounds like a great dog :)
 

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I've been thinking about this, and I really have to give credit to the pittie owners here and all others who are managing DA dogs. It's a tremendous responsibility and I truly don't know whether I'd be up for it on a permanent basis. I really admire your commitment to your pets and your diligence in keeping them (and other dogs) safe.

After sleeping on this I'm done reprimanding myself and experiencing some anger toward the puppy's owner. I guess I can understand not seeing Sophie before he let them into the enclosure. Although, before letting my 4-pound, totally helpless and still socially clueless puppy down ANYWHERE, I would certainly be scoping out the area thoroughly if I were in his position. But when Sophie first greeted his dogs I clearly said that I didn't trust her with the puppy because he was so tiny. So why, then, would he allow his puppy (who was on a leash) to walk over and greet her AGAIN, while I'm holding her by the collar. Why?

And we all know that ALL of the blame would have been put upon Sophie should that sweet little puppy have been hurt. Simply by virtue of her breed. I just hope that the guy learned a lesson from this little incident. Do NOT let your helpless, tiny puppy walk up to an unknown, adult dog--of ANY breed!
 

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Yeah no point in doing the blame game. Just use it as feedback and plan for the future. Really, it wasn't the guy's fault because your dog was in the wrong enclosure to begin with, correct?
 

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Yes, I use the small dog area when it's empty for my dog to play either by herself or have a one on one play date. But if you're going to do that it's your responsibility to be firm and tell people that you need to remove your dog if they want to bring theirs in. They are going to assume it's no problem, if your dog is in the small dog area it theoretically should be fine with small dogs. You have to be on top of those situations for the sake of your dog and theirs. The assumption should always be that the other owners won't take precautions, and you need to be clear in the fact that your dog doesn't play nice with others.
 

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Yes, I totally see both of your points. I didn't notice him soon enough because I was running Sophie back and forth. Totally my bad there. But why the hell would he allow his teeny, tiny pup to approach her again after I TOLD him I didn't trust her with such a tiny dog? THAT was dumb on his part. It's not like he couldn't control the 4-pound pup or anything--it was on a leash. I learned my lesson--I don't think it's worth it to use the small dog side with Sophie, even if there's hardly ever anyone there. I just hope he learned something, as well. DON'T let your teeny, tiny puppy approach an unknown, adult dog--ESPECIALLY if the owner makes it clear that he/she doesn't feel comfortable about it. The next adult dog might not inhibit its bite.
 

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Let's see...I've had her for about 6 weeks, only. She is estimated to be about 18 months old. She hasn't had any other interactions with very small dogs or cats. Do chickens count? She shows mild interest in my chickens. :)

She reportedly landed in the Staten Island/Brooklyn ACC with her two housemates--another female and a male pitbull--after their owner passed away. The other two dogs were similar in size to Sophie--between 45 and 60 pounds.
Some thoughts ---
6 weeks might feel like a long time for a foster, but is not that long of time for a dog to adjust to a home and start to show all their little quircks and personality traits. It takes time for a dog to mentally and even physically decompress from a shelte or kennel situation. So you might see changes here and there over the next few weeks or a month. Not necessarily bad things or good things either, just more of her being her.

At 18 months old or so, she is just starting maturing. She could change her opinion of other dogs over time, particularly the next year as she mentaly turns into an adult dog.

Not showing a big interest in chickens makes me think her prey drive is pretty low unless there was something else going on around their encounter.

Living with two other dogs is a geneal indication that she isn't out-and-out dog aggressive but that assumes the owner didnt crate and rotate. Many dogs are fine with the dogs they live with but a little more touchy about strange dogs.

As for dog parks, I won't berate the point about small dog side or taking bullies to the park, but as an aside, its good practice to have one adult or responsible teen for each dog and never to have a dog in a separate area than you
 

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At 18 months old or so, she is just starting maturing. She could change her opinion of other dogs over time, particularly the next year as she mentaly turns into an adult dog.

Yes, thank you for reminding me of this. Sophie is just entering the age when she is mentally becoming an adult. I believe dog aggression in bullies sometimes doesn't manifest until physical/mental maturity?

Not showing a big interest in chickens makes me think her prey drive is pretty low unless there was something else going on around their encounter.

Yes, I'd say her prey drive is pretty low. She will happily leave the chickens be when they walk by if I tell her to.

Living with two other dogs is a geneal indication that she isn't out-and-out dog aggressive but that assumes the owner didnt crate and rotate. Many dogs are fine with the dogs they live with but a little more touchy about strange dogs.

I think it's fair to say that Sophie isn't seriously dog aggressive, which I'd think would make it way easier to take her out and about and live an active life with her.

its good practice to have one adult or responsible teen for each dog and never to have a dog in a separate area than you

Really? There are people there ALL the time with more than one dog and only one person. But I suppose that doesn't mean it's a good idea. My thinking in this case was that the dog that was going to be all by herself in one side of the park could be supervised effectively by just keeping an eye on her. With no other dogs in reach, there wasn't much trouble for her to get into--or so I thought. Now, I can see the error of my thinking. Fortunately for me, no harm done in this case and I've learned my lesson!
 

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Dogs in general, not just bullies, tend to fall into their adult personalities around 2.5 to 3 years old IMO. If a dog of any breed is likely to become DA, it seems to have a higher chance of showing up around that age. Really though, I don't think the majority of bully mixes are all that higher chances of DA but more that there is less forgiveness of minor aggression or resource guarding for those breeds and that you do have to accept the potential for DA. I know a ton of bully breeds that live with other dogs, it is just a good idea to be maybe a bit more on top of things for the potential of problems.

People do go to dog parks with multiple dogs, but think about what happens if there is an incident with one dog and you have to be completely attentive to that issue, then there is no one watching the other dog. The other dog could be attacked, could attack another dog, could be accidentally let out the gate, could be stolen etc. If both dogs are in the same area and are drawn into a melee, which dog do you grab? Can you restrain both safely?
(I am mostly referring to the thunderdome style parks, not huge off leash hiking areas where dogs are not really intended to interact with each other)
 

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Thunderdome--LOL. Yep, this is that type of park. And you're absolutely right. I hadn't really thought of it that way before. These places are kind of scary anyway when they get really crowded. Never mind if you're trying to watch more than one dog at a time. I generally try to avoid the place altogether if there are more than 6 or 7 dogs there. Gets to be too insane. I probably wouldn't go at all if I didn't have a year-old dog with an insane need to RUN. She loves to chase--and be chased by--other dogs. The joy on her face when she's running at full tilt is priceless. She doesn't seem to enjoy anything more than running with other dogs. Not sure how else to give that to her other than taking her to the dog park?
 

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Thunderdome--LOL. Yep, this is that type of park. And you're absolutely right. I hadn't really thought of it that way before. These places are kind of scary anyway when they get really crowded. Never mind if you're trying to watch more than one dog at a time. I generally try to avoid the place altogether if there are more than 6 or 7 dogs there. Gets to be too insane. I probably wouldn't go at all if I didn't have a year-old dog with an insane need to RUN. She loves to chase--and be chased by--other dogs. The joy on her face when she's running at full tilt is priceless. She doesn't seem to enjoy anything more than running with other dogs. Not sure how else to give that to her other than taking her to the dog park?
Is the dog that loves to run at full tilt your own dog or the foster? If she's your own dog, then taking her to the dog park alone when you can direct your full attention to her seems fine if she hasn't shown any problems with other dogs. Once she is a little older, you could try biking with her or canicross, or in winter if you get snow, skijoring.

For the foster, if you need to increase exercise, look at walking on hills, swimming if you have a clean river or lake around, or maybe weight pull with a proper harness (there may be a club around to contact for getting started)
 

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The running fiend is my own dog, Sasha. She's a husky crossed with some kind of herding dog (Kelpie, maybe). So far she's good with other dogs, so if it's not crazy busy at the park, I guess it's an OK option. My son (he's 15) was thinking of training her to bike with him. Do we need to wait until she's older for this?

Sophie (the foster) is not much of a runner. She gets the zoomies once in a while, loves to chase a ball a few times...mostly she's happy with a couple of 20-minute walks per day and a short play session in the yard. She doesn't have nearly the energy of Sasha.
 

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The running fiend is my own dog, Sasha. She's a husky crossed with some kind of herding dog (Kelpie, maybe). So far she's good with other dogs, so if it's not crazy busy at the park, I guess it's an OK option. My son (he's 15) was thinking of training her to bike with him. Do we need to wait until she's older for this?
Yes, you should wait until her growth plates have fully closed before starting any serious "forced" running exercise. In this case forced runs are jogging/running on leash, with a bike, etc. choosing to run around a dog park is fine. When she has full control over the running its okay.
 
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