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My new dog is a total sweetheart around people, and he loves the dog park. He's been getting more and more aggressive lately, and I think that he's just becoming more and more possessive as he's getting more comfortable with his new (ish) home.A couple days ago he drew blood because a dog got near me. How do I stop this kind of behavior? I'm getting a muzzle so that he won't hurt anyone else, but I don't want him attacking dogs just because they get somewhat near me. He may be part chow, but I haven't done the DNA test on him yet.
 

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Well first off, STOP taking him to the dog park. One of two things will eventually happen. Either he'll seriously injure another dog and you'll be liable. Or he'll attack a dog that's bigger and badder than yours and your dog will get seriously hurt.

Of my last five dogs, only one was actually a suitable dog park dog.
 

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I'm assuming this is a 'Thunderdome' style dog park - basically a fenced grassy or dirt lot? Some areas have dog parks that are massive and include wooded trails, ponds, etc, but they're rarer, so I'm going to give advice based on the assumption that it's the first setup.

Very, very few dogs are good dog park dogs. The environment is chaotic and unpredictable, and gives dogs very little ability to get away from each other or diffuse situations effectively. It amps up excitable dogs to the point where they are incapable of polite doggy play behavior and stresses anxious dogs out. Even if you have a real stable, easygoing, even-tempered dog yourself, you can't control who else shows up and introduces a dog who isn't suited for the environment. There's often very little to do in a dog park aside from interact with the other dogs, so this can make dogs fixate on each other and escalate relatively minor conflicts to something potentially dangerous - they can't decide to remove themselves from a mildly uncomfortable interaction easily so things get heated (think young kids in the back of a car fighting because one keeps looking at the other funny). All of this becomes even more difficult if you have a new dog you just don't know very well yet, because it's harder to spot situations or doggy play styles that will be poor matches for your boy.

A muzzle is a great tool, and I absolutely think it's a good idea to get one and train him how to wear it happily and comfortably (check out the Muzzle Up! Project for great tips and advice on how to do this, if you haven't already). But I wouldn't suggest it for something like a dog park play situation where your dog is already stressed and unhappy. It can make him feel like he has to display sooner and more aggressively because he knows he can't defend himself if he can't make the other dog back off.

These days, I only use a dog park when it's empty to let my boys a quick run, or when I want to do some off-leash training in a bigger space than I otherwise have available. My older dog, who did go to dog parks when he was younger, became less and less tolerant of other dogs because he was stressed by the chaotic environment. He started instigating fights and overreacting to other dogs behaving in ways he didn't like, we believe in an attempt to exert what little control he had over the situation. These days he only interacts with known family dogs, and that's fine. He's much happier, and we're seeing slow, continuous improvement in his reactions towards strange dogs we pass on leashed walks. We're doing some training to help with that, but making that commitment to stop putting him in situations with other dogs where he felt so uncomfortable and out of control that he 'had' to get nasty was a big step forward.

Most dogs don't need socialization with other dogs if they have enough attention and interaction from their humans. But it's much better to arrange playdates with dogs (and owners) you know and trust and who your dog gets along with. Things like parallel walks (two or more people walking their dogs around an interesting place together, like a park or trail) are also often much healthier social bonding experiences than the kind of high-energy, close-quarters play you find at a dog park.
 

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Muzzle Up Pup - the pro muzzle community is a great resource through FB.
 

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But please don't take your dog to the dog park. With or without a muzzle.
 

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"He may be part chow"... Chow Chow are known for a certain degree of dog aggression, as well as being aloof, stand-offish, and mistrusting of strange people. In other words, not good dog park dogs, especially when you throw in the resource guarding behavior he's displaying.

Muzzle training and, if you think he just has to have dog-dog interactions, playdates with carefully chosen partners are the best options.
 
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Stop taking him to the dog park. Dogs do not need dog friends and most dog park environments are not good for most dogs. Using a muzzle is a bad idea.. all the same pre-bite body language will be present and if another dog comes for him, he cannot defend himself. Also, if another dog gets teeth caught in the muzzle you will have a disaster.

I universally hate dog parks. They are no good for most of the dogs there. They ARE good if you stand outside and watch dogs and see how dogs come in scared and uncomfortable and how dogs look when they are experiencing those things. They are also good for watching just how clueless most dog owner are that go to dog parks.
 

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I don't want to get into a protracted discussion/argument about dog parks because I agree that they are generally bad news.

When I say that just one of my last five dogs was appropriate dogpark material, here's what that looked like. He was a 116-pound black lab - big-enough so nobody bothered him and friendly- and self confident-enough that he just got along. He was always close by. The park we went to (every day for nine years) was 17 acres and there were trails. We spent most of our time there walking the trails off-lead with a small handful of regulars. The dogs and people all became friends. We (the people, not the dogs) would have breakfast together sometimes or meet at each-other's houses for dinner. The dog and I spent so much time at that park that, if we'd go out for a gallon of milk, nobody would expect us back for at least a couple hours. Sometimes we'd forget to get the milk.

Even at that park, I could tell horror stories of dogs and owners that didn't belong there - including a wolf hybrid. (A juvenile, but likely high content wolf.)
 
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