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Hello fellow dog owners -

I am writing regarding an aggression problem with my dog. She is a 2 and a half year old Scottish Terrier, and I have had her since she was a puppy. I don't know anything about her early upbringing, as she was a pet store pup (I am not proud to admit that, but was not sure if it may be relevant).

Basically, this is the problem I am having: whenever I take her to the dog park, she frequently snaps at other dogs and shows her teeth. Usually, I don't intervene because no serious fighting breaks out, but it really bothers me. When I do intervene, I usually just take her away from the situation and try to praise her when another dog comes by and she is not being aggressive.

She is not aggressive towards people - in fact, she loves everyone she meets (although I don't think she has the patience for children). Everyone who meets her loves her, she is very friendly and full of energy.

I'm not the perfect dog owner, but I do my best. Here is some additional information that might influence the situation:

-She is spayed

-I have taken her to many places since she was a puppy to socialize her - including dog parks regularly.

-She knows basic commands, (sit, stay, lay down, roll over) but will only perform them if she thinks she is getting a treat (I do not, however, always give her one).

-I play tug of war with her sometimes, and fetch (I have read that you shouldn't play tug of war, but I don't know if that is contributing). She growls and stuff while playing, but you can tell she is just playing - she is never aggressive towards me.

-I live alone - no other pets - she has been boarded before and the staff said there were no problems. She has been around dogs and cats indoors, with mild displays of aggression, nothing serious.

-She sleeps in the bed with me every night and has since she was very young. I would really prefer to keep it this way unless absolutely necessary.

-She stays inside and is crated when I am gone for extended periods (more than 2 hours) - she is not fully housetrained either (still goes on the carpet from time to time), but that's another story! She does, however, get regular walks and I take her to the park several times a week for exercise.

Also, I wanted to point out that this is not something that happens with all dogs, and it doesn't always happen. If she encounters a dog on the street, for instance, they sniff each other, she usually wags her tail, and goes on her way. This seems to happen when she a) tries to get involved in another dog "play fight session" b) another dog tries to get her toy c) another dog is pestering her when she doesn't want to play, or is trying to mount her, etc.

Basically, I am looking for any advice you may have to offer... I have googled and read many different articles, but was wondering if anyone had any fresh insight. I would really appreciate it! Let me know if you need any more info.
 

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My advice is to stop going to dog parks. There are just too many ignorant owners whio have no control and who don't care the way you seem to. I love terriers including Scotties but terriers do have a tendency to be dog aggressive. And it often, not always but often, seems to start when the dog is around 2-3 years of age.
 

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I had a foster Wire Hair about a year ago who would get snappy at the dog park and nowhere else. I found that tiring him out before going to the park helped tremendously.
 

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It is the easy way out to blame anti-social misbehaving on 'breed/terrier tendencies' or on 'ignorant owners'.

Anyway, you should be applauded for your honesty in admitting that your dog isn't obeying you and is showing dog aggression - some owners are even blind to what is happening right in front of them.

You did not mention any obedience training, so I'm thinking you didn't have any. Sign up for a basic pet obedience class - do it today if not yesterday. If you have had it, it's time for a refresher.

Early training with potentially aggressive terriers is best, of course, but it's never too late to start. And refreshers are often needed even when training is started early.

Make sure you inform the trainer that your Scottie is showing signs of dog-aggression and disobedience. If the trainer balks at the task, find another one. If the trainer suggests a private lesson, be open to that suggestion - but ask if they have experience with aggressive terriers.

Tell the trainer you are interested in working toward a CGC certification for your Scottie- even if you haven't ever considered that. A good gauge of a trainer's intentions is how they react to that suggestion.

It is a fact that some terrier breeds - in general - do show a 'tendency' toward dog aggression. Scotties happen to be one of those breeds. But that doesn't mean you should assist or excuse bad behavior. Nor should you give up on striving for a well-behaved dog because of it.

Tug games can contribute to aggression, but so can other "play" - even with other dogs. So I would give up the dog park for a while. The fact is that one does have to be careful in all interactions with a potentially aggressive dog. This is something you can now start working on as she is being trained.
 

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Definitely no toys in the dog park, actually I would hope you never go in another dog park as to me that's an accident(dog parks)looking for a place to happen. There are just too many things that go wrong.
 

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Definitely no toys in the dog park, actually I would hope you never go in another dog park as to me that's an accident(dog parks)looking for a place to happen. There are just too many things that go wrong.

Right on! MY sentiments exactly. I do not understand why anyone wants to take unnecessary risks with their dog's life. It's much better to have a few dog friends that your dog knows and gets along with than to chance injury or worse at the hands of a strange, untrained, and uncontrolled dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi all -

Thank you for your advice, esp. Poly. I have attempted basic obedience training on my own, but perhaps a class would be helpful. My concern with this is not how she would act around other dogs in the class, but how crazily excitable she is around new people. I'm sure the trainer would be able to deal with this (hopefully!).

While I see the benefit in avoiding the dog park, I really would rather not... I feel it is avoiding the problem rather than attacking the cause. Perhaps if I were to avoid it for awhile, whilst working on training, and then return. I think it is beneficial for her to be around new people, new dogs, and new environments, plus she gets great excercise running around vs. the walks I give her and basic fetch in my tiny apartment.

Thank you again!
 

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I guess this thread is a little old, but it sounds like you have a very social dog. Showing teeth is fine and actually her way of warning the other dogs she is not feeling comfortable. without being able to warn, she is put in a very vulnerable position to where she can get attacked or be the attacker without warning.Dogs will be dogs....and its very unusual for a dog to always be meeting new dogs. If you see that another dog is making your dog feel nervous (even if the other dog is seemingly being friendly) shoo the dog away. You want your dog to look to you as part of the solution. You are her protector. Some dogs at the dog park are plain rude and obnoxious about greetings. I'm sure they could take a lesson or two from your dog. When you do go to the dog park, stick with the smaller dog section for her safety. It is too easy for something like this to go wrong if a small dog is mixed in with the big dogs, and it just so happens one day someone has a big dog there with some issues which may target your little dog. They do pick up on nervousness and fear and some (poorly socialized) dogs attack fear because they are predators.
 

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Tell the trainer you are interested in working toward a CGC certification for your Scottie- even if you haven't ever considered that. A good gauge of a trainer's intentions is how they react to that suggestion.
My trainer responded with "That's all? No sweat, not a very high goal.."

What does that say?
 

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Hi all -

Thank you for your advice, esp. Poly. I have attempted basic obedience training on my own, but perhaps a class would be helpful. My concern with this is not how she would act around other dogs in the class, but how crazily excitable she is around new people. I'm sure the trainer would be able to deal with this (hopefully!).
A group class might help a lot with her dealing with new dogs and people, and her excitement levels around both.
 

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My trainer responded with "That's all? No sweat, not a very high goal.."

What does that say?
If your trainer thinks that's going to be an easy reach for you -and for some teams it will be - then aim higher. No one says you have to stop there.

Since your dog is a working breed, you probably should be aiming higher.

But for a Scottish Terrier that is already exhibiting signs of dog aggression, that's a different story.
 
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