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Hello all,

I have a 4 year old 80 lb. Male border collie / lab / german shepherd mix named Solomon. and a 2 year old 40 lb. Female border collie / lab mix named Bixby.

Just a little information:

We have had Solomon since he was a pup, and Bixby for about a year. They get along great, never want to be apart, but play a little aggressively. They both neck bite which isn't a huge deal to me because I know they are just playing. They play in a way that I would assume an outsider might think they are actually fighting, but I know they are not. They both bow and show submissive behavior to each other when things start to get out of hand. But, Bixby (the smaller dog) likes to chase Solomon and bite his ankles and bite his ears. Solomon is a very passive dog despite his size and doesn't really get angry until he really gets hurt. Bixby is constantly trying to dominate but Solomon puts her in her place if it gets to be too much for him (not in an aggressive way, he is just a lot bigger and can pin her down).

Now, I've taken Solomon to this open dog park (its more like a trail where dogs can be off leash), and he has been amazing with other dogs. There is usually quite a bit of people there when we go. He's always been the dog that uses his size and puts himself in between other dogs that aren't getting along, as if to say "hey guys, lets all get along", and has always just been really happy.

Now, a few months ago, I decided to bring both dogs. They were both great at not running off and really good about listening to commands. They don't like to stray to far from me or each other. The difference was, Solomon started getting aggressive towards some dogs that would come running up to him. He'd start growling, hair on end. I'd never let it get to the point where anything happened, but I know his behavior and it was very different than from anything I've ever seen with him. He is a very sweet, mild mannered dog. It happened about 6 times on this one trip that I decided to leash him and I was extremely embarrassed and surprised at his behavior.

I tried it a second time with both dogs with the same result from Solomon. My mom and her boyfriend also have two dogs that Solomon gets along with and they sometimes take him to the same park if i'm out of town. They told me the last time they took him he got aggressive toward another dog which I thought was strange, but I thought he might be being protective of my moms dogs, like they are his pack or something. I don't know if its because he is being protective of Bixby, or other dogs he is familiar with, or if he is just really playing like he does with Bixby (which is sort of aggressive) and the other dogs don't see that he is playing and things escalate. Or, maybe there is something else I am not seeing.

I don't know what to do other than just not take him. I could take Solomon alone again to the park and see what happens but I feel bad leaving Bixby at home.

Anyone else experienced this, or might know whats going on/how to correct it?

Thank you!

Zayne
 

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Sometimes dogs do get a bit protective of their close playmates, and that changes the play dynamics. Or, Soloman may have just reached an age where he doesn't really want to play with a bunch of strange dogs and would rather play with familiar, properly introduced dogs. And yes, the solution to that would be to just not bring him to the dog park.

If this was an extremely sudden change in behavior, I would also consider taking him to the vet. Dogs who are sick or in pain will probably not want to interact with strange, unknown dogs. May be worth a check, just to be sure.
 

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Dog parks are full of dogs who don't speak dog very well, or are just plain rude. If your dog doesn't enjoy the dog park when his buddy is along, just don't bring the other dog, no need to complicate things unless it's super duper important to you to bring both. If you don't want to leave one behind, I'd see if there are any nice trails around you (some are even off-leash friendly, and you can find times of the day where you won't run into many dogs). My dogs would rather hit the trails than go to the dog park any day. We also do playdates with dogs they (and I) know match their play style and behave appropriately.
 

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No to dog parks or areas where many dogs are off leash. Just. No.

Recently I have been reading a rash of articles about dogs that have died in dog fights at dog parks. In the most recent case a 2.5 year old dog killed a smaller 16 year old dog. The 2.5 year old dog was euthanized for his "crime." The real crime here was both owners. Who brings a 16 year old dog to a dog park? Really? And the guy with the 2.5 year old dog had broken up a dog fight with the same dog about 10 minutes previously!

If you leave your dogs home and sit outside a dog park and just observe you will see on any day one or two dog fights. You will learn to read dogs and you will learn how clueless their owners are.

Often I see 3 or 4 people arrive at once at a dog park (obviously pre-planned). These dogs all know each other and go out and play. The owners stand around talking or on cell phones. Person #5 arrives, walks thru the gate and lets their dog loose. The 4 other dogs already have a pack structure. Now a new dog comes alone. This new dog senses immediately there is no welcome mat.. and tries to go back to its owner. It's owner is clueless and says, "Oh Fido! It's OK baby! Go play with your friends!" But they are not friends.. and Fido is scared and the owner stands there talking or on their cell phone. Sometimes Fido is accepted in. Sometimes not. Sometimes the pack gangs up on Fido and chases Fido around the field. Fido is clearly not playing and neither are they.. and the owner says "Oh look. They are running and playing." Sometimes that is all that happens. Sometimes it goes further and a fight breaks out and Fido gets the short straw.

If there are large areas where off leash dogs are allowed and they get a lot of traffic the very best thing YOU can do (if you care about your dogs) is to beat feet out of there and walk your dogs somewhere else that is safe.

I like working my dog off leash (and I do so almost anywhere) but NEVER where there are other off leash pet dogs with owners who have no control and are clueless.
 

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Having both your dogs there at once can change the dynamics significantly. I'd give it one more try with just one dog. Then if you still see the same behavior I'd stop going to the dog park. Some dogs just get less and less tolerant of other dogs' shenanigans as they mature and the park just isn't the place for them.
 
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