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We just got a new dog less than a week ago from the Animal Protection League. He is about 2 years old and was recently fixed. He is very affectionate, playful, smart, is learning sit, come etc. He is a mutt with some retriever and chow in him. One of the reasons we liked him was that he seemed mellow.

We brought him to a dog park yesterday to see how he would interact. He did great, we let him off the leash and he was running/wresting/and playing and even had attention to come when we called him.

We dropped my daughter off for a sleepover with some friends and he was playing great with their dogs (1 fixed male, 1 fixed female)

As we were walking him home, there was man walking three dogs (that were much smaller). They were the same breed with two on a leash and another off the leash. The one off the leash came over. At first my dog was ok (she was submissive), but then he started to growl and lunge at her. I pulled him back and the owner said that she was just in heat and that happens at times. We talked for a while and he was wagging his tail and then started to lunge after one of the males.

We separated and I felt pretty bad. But thought it was something about the female being in heat.

Today we went to the dog park again, figuring he did such a good job yesterday and at first it was. He started slowly at first meeting the other dogs, he let other owners pet him and was playing/wrestling with other dogs. At one point a new dog (husky) came in and my dog started to attack it soon after the greeting. I broke it up and put him on a leash and we went outside of the park area. Several people said that it happens sometimes bring a water bottle, don't get discouraged etc. After the husky left, we tried him in the park again, and again he did well until a doberman came in and he just went for it.

I think that both of the dogs that he went after were not fixed (the husky definitely was intact). Both were male.

If he got fixed less than 2 weeks ago, will he become less aggressive with time? Can we train the aggressiveness out of him? I really liked taking him to the park, because he needs more exercise than just walks, and we don't have a fenced yard. Any thoughts, insights, or recommendations would be helpful.
 

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I would suggest having playtime with dogs with smaller groups in a controlled area. With dogs you know and with STRICT supervision and no unannounced dogs entering the group. That's where I would start.

I don't know about the fixed vs non-fixed question. I do know that the dog park isn't for all dogs...and probably not best for the majority of dogs. If he's already exhibited this behavior, perhaps it's not the best option for excercise. Things can go wrong QUICKLY at the dog park. How many dogs were at the park when you went?
 

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There were about 25 to 30 dogs yesterday when he was doing ok. Only about 12-15 today.
That's a lot of dogs at one time, and you don't know the temperment of the other ones...

I would try to go back when there are less dogs (4-6 max) or so until you REALLY have a handle on the temperment of this dog. Just because he's been good around 1-2 dogs, doesn't necessarily mean the dog park is a good option (with 20-30 dogs in the mix). You have only had him a week, so you are still learning how he reacts to these situations. And, while he's adjusting to his new home...his behavior will change over time while he's getting used to what's going on around him.

Sounds like he's trying to control the situation when new dogs arrive...which means you should keep an eye on his reaction when new dogs enter the park and work on training him not to approach or rush dogs coming into the park. So, for now, you need to be watching to see if a new dog is coming in and if your dog immediately begins to rush the dog. If so, you HAVE to gain control of the dog immediately. You'll need to work on training with voice commands that he stays next to you (or still in place) if this is what he is doing...in order for you to continue to go to the park.

You need to watch his body language CAREFULLY, to see how he's behaving. Wagging of the tail doesn't necessarily mean everything is okay. Sometimes wagging isn't a good thing..you can tell by the position of the tail. I'm not sure how many dogs you've had...a good book by Brenda Aloff "Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide" is a good place to start to learn about dog language.

I personally think you are asking for too much too soon with this dog. Give him some time to adjust before making him be in a situation with 15-30 dogs around..this can be very overwhelming for him. and, again, sounds like the problem is the new dog entering the park..not necessarily whether they are fixed or not. It also sounds like he wasn't comfortable with an unleashed dog approaching when he was leashed. He doesn't have the capability of flight when leashed...and the other dog did. This can be a stick situation for any dog.
 

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Thanks,

I think that you misunderstood my post. On the day that he did well, there were more dogs. The next day, he was fine until this one dog came (there were others coming and going). After that dog left he was fine, until another unfixed dog came.

We aren't going to bring him back there until we figure out what is going on, and he gets more training.

It was very weird that he did so well playing and then turned on a dime.
 

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That's a lot to expect out of your dog

In North America we expect our dogs to run up to a dog they have never met, play stance, and start to romp together

That's not really super balanced behavior.

Dogs are meant to meet, shake hands (I sniff yours, you sniff mine) and part.

None of my dogs ever do more than a meet and shake hands when we're at the local dog parks, which is great. My dogs get along well with everyone, but are socially sensitive enough to avoid the dogs that either rush-meet, or dogs that are showing nervous/anxious posture or behavior. Which is great - I never have problems on my hands the same way lots of people walking in the area do.

One thing you might want to do is try walking your dog in a PACK to see what your dogs social skills are - call either a local dog walking company that's reputable and takes dogs off-leash in dog safe areas, or if you have enough friends that will let you borrow their dogs then do that.

When your dog is walking a 'pack' setting, and you're the the pack leader, showing the dogs where to go and what's appropriate and what's not, you'll get a good idea of your dogs social skills.

Your dog should travel well with the pack, not bothering the other dogs to play while the pack is moving, not walking through dogs to get around them etc - it will give you a good idea as to whether or not he's socially able to go to a park like that (which in my opinion is too much to ask of a new dog you just got)

Have a good local trainer meet you for this walk so that she will be more aware than you are of posture and manners from both your dog and the other dogs there.

Good luck

Meghan
 
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