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I have a two year old shephard mix who is very energetic and needs a ton of exercise. Because of this, I take her to the dog park every morning before I go to work to let her run and get some playing and socializing in. She has many friends at the park who she loves to play with and would never act aggressive towards. But sometimes if a new dog she's never seen before approaches her she will act very aggressive, showing her teeth and growling. If the other dog imitates this behavior it is inevitable that they will start fighting. This all happens extremely fast and it's hard to intervene in time when I see the signs. I know how to break up a dog fight, but I am extremely frustrated and tired of having to do so. I've tried using treats to calmly steer her away from problematic situations, but she is not that interested in them. Putting her on a leash only makes her act more aggressive. I should note that we go to a park where toys and balls aren't allowed, so the problem isn't a possessive issue. I guess it's more of a territorial thing? Other owners have been very understanding thus far, but it is only a matter of time before that ends, or she injures another dog. I don't want to stop taking her to the park because she loves it and has many friends who keep her socialized, and this is something that only happens occasionally.

Does anyone have advice on how to prevent my dog from getting so scared when she meets a new dog that she initiates a fight? I have had her since she was 3 months old, so I know her history and she has not been traumatized by other dogs as far as I know. I was looking in to corrective collars, but I am not a fan of using those collars on dogs if it hurts them. Also, I don't know if that type of behavior correction would work in this case, or just trigger her fight-or-flight response even more. However, I am willing to try it if it might work. If anyone has any advice, please let me know. I am desperate to make her stop fighting at the park!!!
 

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To be honest, dog parks are a disaster waiting to happen. You'll find that many people on this forum won't take their dogs to dog parks at all (including me) for the very reason you're describing above. You don't know the people or the dogs who go there. Anyone can come in and bring their dog of any temperament. By continuing to take your dog there you are putting your dog (and others) at risk. What if she does get into a fight with another dog who won't back down? What if she injures another dog herself?

It would be better if you could take her to a doggy daycare where the dogs are screened and play is supervised. Or see if you can arrange with some of her "friends" from the park to meet somewhere else for a playdate. Or just take her for a jog in the mornings instead.
 

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Will the dog play fetch or chase a frisbee? If so, then all you need is an open space like a baseball diamond or football field. Elementary or Middle or High schools or colleges will have these types of fields.

Just be sure to police up any treasures your dog leaves on the field.

Meanwhile, I'd suggest to begin socialization training with other dogs while on leash.
 

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Stop going to dog parks. Shepherds do not do well there and dogs are often bullied and scared at dog parks. Just stop.
Dogs are not children. Your dog is scared. Why would you want to take her to a place where she would be scared and bullied by other dogs?

I HATE dog parks. Most owners are clueless to their dog's discomfort and simply go "Why won't Pooky play nice?" Well the other dogs there are why.

YOU play with your dog,. YOU walk your dog,. YOU engage your dog. Stay out of the dog park.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Will the dog play fetch or chase a frisbee? If so, then all you need is an open space like a baseball diamond or football field. Elementary or Middle or High schools or colleges will have these types of fields.

Just be sure to police up any treasures your dog leaves on the field.

Meanwhile, I'd suggest to begin socialization training with other dogs while on leash.

Thanks, Knute.
We do take her to one of these fields. It's a great place for her early in the morning! And this week we've been working on recall when we see another dog. My dog has been doing very well. We've been doing tons of leash training too as there are lots of dogs in our neighborhood walking around.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
To be honest, dog parks are a disaster waiting to happen. You'll find that many people on this forum won't take their dogs to dog parks at all (including me) for the very reason you're describing above. You don't know the people or the dogs who go there. Anyone can come in and bring their dog of any temperament. By continuing to take your dog there you are putting your dog (and others) at risk. What if she does get into a fight with another dog who won't back down? What if she injures another dog herself?

It would be better if you could take her to a doggy daycare where the dogs are screened and play is supervised. Or see if you can arrange with some of her "friends" from the park to meet somewhere else for a playdate. Or just take her for a jog in the mornings instead.
Thanks Jen,

You are absolutely right. I think it's time to start utilizing the daycare we take her to more often. She loves it there and has never had any aggressive issues, according to the owners.
 

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Dog parks can be great, but it really depends on who's inside. By your description, you don't have a 'dog park' dog and that's okay. I spend a lot of time outside of the dog park, I prefer to have some control over who says 'hi' to my dog. I train or just hang out and when I get the chance go for leashed walks with others. There are a number of people who have 'not a dog park' dogs and we walk the trails by the dog park together for some nice sedate walks where our 'not a dog park' dogs can enjoy being amoungst their own kind without the drama.
I usually tell people my dog doesn't like face to face greetings to avoid the most problematic behaviours, and then start walking together. Even if the dogs are a little over curious, everyone settles pretty quick. If they don't settle, we can maintain extra space or go our separate ways.
 
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