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I got Enzo about six months ago; he's 1 1/2 yrs. Previously, he lived in a rural environment, and was just around one other dog. He's now in a semi-urban neighborhood where there are tons of dogs, so I'm taking him to the dog park.

At first he was a bit fear-aggressive, but he's now much more relaxed. Still, I'm trying to socialize him and we're going to the dog park regularly. For the most part, he just sniffs other dogs and doesn't engage in play. But on a few occasions, he has responded to play overtures by trying to wrestle and barking--no growling, just "puppy-like" behavior. My guess is that his former friend tolerated that and he never grew out of it.

On one occasion, though, a Labradoodle or something was playing with him and he started barking; the dog went after him. and tried to pick him up by the neck. Luckily, the other dog owner intervened and Enzo was fine--not even that upset--but the owner was mad at me; he didn't recognize that it was play behavior. I've been really concerned that this will happen again; we didn't go to the park for a month and now whenever he does bark, it's time to go immediately.

Playing with me, he does the "crazy dog" thing: runs around in circles, stops suddenly, just looks totally out of control. He nips me and I say "ouch" or "no," and he desists for a little, but this is the way he plays (and he LOVES it). It is super cute, and I do everything possible to get him to control himself, but I also am so happy he is having fun.

Is there any way to correct, or at least discourage, this? Do you think he'll grow out of this? He sees other dogs chasing each other around and seems like he wants to play, but just doesn't know how. And I would love for him to be able to safely play with other dogs (and without alienating all the dog owners in the park).

By the way, I'm fairly sure he's part Corgi (barking, herding, etc.).

Thank you!
 

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First off although I do take Zoey to dog parks - you need to be aware that some of the other owners don't have a clue about their own dog behavior (or yours for that matter) and dog parks are not the greatest place unfortunately.

If your dog was playing and posturing to play and happened to bark - it's not really a big deal. Not being there and not seeing body language (not that I'm that good at it) it's hard to say if the other dog just had enough. Zoey will bark at other dogs to play and other dogs have barked at her. Most dogs bark, growl, yelp, grunt and who knows what else while playing, as long as the body language is OK then all should be OK.

As I said people are clueless, Zoey has been chased by a dog because of territorial reasons at the dog park, has been nipped with a slight cut to her face because the other person's dog was "friendly" (I was new to dog parks), have seen a person bring a very fearful dog ... the dog had a constant snarl on it's face; been run over by 2 bully breeds because the guys thought it was funny and they didn't control their dog. I have also had Zoey bully a dog and every time we were at the dog park and this dog came in Zoey would just be nasty to it IMO so I would leave.

There may be more to the story but it sounds like it was more of a problem with the other dog than yours.
 

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My opinion--the other dog owner had NO right to be "mad at" you. HIS dog was out of line--not yours. There are a variety of play styles--many dogs bark. The labradoodle needs to be able to respond to different play styles without picking up another dog by the neck. This really makes me mad, actually. My own dog barks when she wants another dog to get up and play with her. I've seen several others that do the same thing. She has never been attacked for it. And if she WERE attacked for it, I would have a few words to say to the other dog owner. And it sure as hell wouldn't be the other way around, if MY dog were the one getting grabbed aggressively by the neck. If Sasha is obnoxious about barking at another dog who clearly wants a rest, I will gently redirect her and she'll knock it off. But another, well-adjusted dog should be capable of telling her off gently without losing its temper and attacking her. In my opinion, a dog that goes off like that (the labradoodle) doesn't belong in a dog park. Nor does the owner who cannot tell the difference between play solicitation and aggressiveness.
 

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Are you sure the doodle wasn't grr charging?

Max didn't tolerate dogs putting their feet on his back. He'd freeze in a clear signal to stop it but generally dogs think any other dog should like to play the same way they play and wouldn't stop so Max would have to growl and charge at them to get them to stop. It looked like Max was being aggressive but what was going on was the other dog wasn't listening to his clear signal to cut it out.

Lots of dogs don't like getting barked at or getting their butts sniffed or wrestling. Ideally other dogs would understand this and quit sniffing/barking/wrestling with those particular dogs but not many are socially adept enough to get this. My new dog Bucky is a pest, he insists Ginger ought to want to wrestle when the only game she likes is chase and if they play chase he ends up jumping on her.

I do see this and will call or lead my dog away when I see the other dog freeze but I have no idea whether this is helping my dog learn what all dogs ought to know. I think I saw Max finally get the message once. I did see one dog get Max's message once too and it was lovely, Max played with the sweet dog for a bit. Bucky is getting put up if he jumps on Ginger and he is learning to come away from her as well.

Try watching other dogs at the park. If you see freezing, remove your dog, he is being a pest. If you see the dog sit when your dog sniffs his/her butt then remove your dog, he is being a pest.
 

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I agree that dog owners need to be watching their dogs if they're going to bring them to the park--and redirecting if their dog is clearly being a pest. But I don't think that attempting to pick another dog up by the neck is O.K. under ANY circumstances at the dog park. I'll repeat--there are MANY different types of play style, and a dog that is going to go to the dog park needs to be able to deal with them all without getting violent. I think there's a chance that this doodle wasn't actually being aggressive. If he'd meant any harm, the OP's dog would have wounds. But in my opinion, the doodle's owner was out of line becoming angry at another owner because their dog happens to interact via barking.

Just a related mini-rant here...So many people use the dog park as an opportunity to socialize or get a "break" from their dog. I saw a guy the other day who sat down and read the paper--didn't even glance in his dog's direction after he sat down for a solid half hour. Other people chat away, and have no idea what their dogs are doing. This is stupid behavior. The dog park isn't an oppty. to get a break from your dog. You need to be watching them at all times, keeping an eye on their body language, and the body language of other dogs.
 
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