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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone help me? Our 18 month old female Lab/Rottweiler cross is suddenly aggressive to other dogs. She has regular walks at the dog park where she (used to) love playing with other dogs her size, but has always reacted badly to little fluffy ones. And just tonight she’s escalated to snapping at any dog. A labradoodle tried to say hello and as they were nose to nose, ours snapped at the other dog. This is all such a bad thing for everyone concerned. Does anyone know how we can address this? Thank you so much. (I’ve also posted this on Reddit)
 

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It isn't unusual for dogs to become less "dog friendly" around the age of maturity. It could simply be her, growing up. Lots of adult dogs prefer to play with a few known buddies rather than be confronted with strangers. That's why dog parks have the potential for so much risk.

You say the dogs were nose to nose. Were they literally nose-to-nose? As in, a directly, face front greeting rather than a nose-to-butt sniff greeting or an angled greeting where they approach with a curve? Nose to nose is a pushy behavior, a rude greeting that many dogs take affront to. It can be from a dog that is poorly socialized or just bad at interacting or from a dog that is being aggressive.

Can you describe more her body language around other dogs, both when off leash and when on leash?
 

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First off, Rotties tend to be dog selective once they are mature, and at 18 months, your girl is right at the age they start mentally maturing.

Secondly, is she intact? If so, she could be coming into season, which can also cause even normally friendly dogs to become snarky and well... bitchy.

Third, a nose to nose meeting without any preliminary butt sniffing or other greeting behavior like the angle greeting Shell mentioned is downright rude, and possibly even challenging.

Frankly, the fact that she has never reacted well towards smaller dogs is reason enough to not go to the dog park. One poorly executed snap could result in a severely injured, or even dead little dog, and you legally on the hook.
 

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Sounds like my rottie/X. He loved playing with dogs, though was rude and pushy, from puppyhood until around the 1.5 year mark. Then he started getting into minor scuffles. I continued to bring him to dog parks until around the 2 year mark. In half a year he got into more fights. By the time he was 2 he was full-blown dog selective and had very poor social skills, escalating from zero to sixty if he didn't like a particular dog.

If I had stopped going to dog parks sooner, or if I had opted to not go to dog parks at all, he probably would be a much more appropriate and friendly dog. He is now 12 and although totally manageable and focused on me in the presence of dogs, he does NOT like other dogs and still has poor social skills.

Dog parks do more harm than good, IMO...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
‘You say the dogs were nose to nose. Were they literally nose-to-nose? As in, a directly, face front greeting rather than a nose-to-butt sniff greeting or an angled greeting where they approach with a curve? Nose to nose is a pushy behavior, a rude greeting that many dogs take affront to. It can be from a dog that is poorly socialized or just bad at interacting or from a dog that is being aggressive.

Can you describe more her body language around other dogs, both when off leash and when on leash?’

Thank you so much for your reply. Yes- in this particular case, my partner (he always walks her) had told her to sit while another gentleman approached with his dog. Making her sit didn’t allow for butt sniffs etc and the labradoodle came up straight into her nose and this is when ours snapped in the labradoodle’s face. Normally, Flea (our dog) will approach and interact by coming in from an arc, tail wagging, ears forward, but with hackles up until they start playing- then the hackles disappear. Both off and on leash she is fully attentive to John. The troubles with the small dogs are when they’ve attacked her, and she reacts as you’d expect, but being so large it’s scary for the little ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Third, a nose to nose meeting without any preliminary butt sniffing or other greeting behavior like the angle greeting Shell mentioned is downright rude, and possibly even challenging.

Frankly, the fact that she has never reacted well towards smaller dogs is reason enough to not go to the dog park. One poorly executed snap could result in a severely injured, or even dead little dog, and you legally on the hook.
Thank you so much. Good to know Rotties can be like that. Our last dog was the exact same cross but very much chilled, kept to herself but never reacted to other dogs’ behaviours, good or bad. So I’ve allowed myself to get freaked out by it. These answers are very helpful. Yes, the problem with the small dogs is when their owners let go of their leashes etc and then they attack Flea- it’s her reaction that freaks me out, everyone concerned is unhurt but I don’t see why it doesn’t have the potential to escalate to something truly awful. So with that in mind, and knowing that those are the sorts of owners who frequent the park, (they’re all lovely but they don’t expect their dogs to challenge) we’re going to steer clear of the park. It’s good to hear, though, that there is a solution. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sounds like my rottie/X. He loved playing with dogs, though was rude and pushy, from puppyhood until around the 1.5 year mark. Then he started getting into minor scuffles. I continued to bring him to dog parks until around the 2 year mark. In half a year he got into more fights. By the time he was 2 he was full-blown dog selective and had very poor social skills, escalating from zero to sixty if he didn't like a particular dog.

If I had stopped going to dog parks sooner, or if I had opted to not go to dog parks at all, he probably would be a much more appropriate and friendly dog. He is now 12 and although totally manageable and focused on me in the presence of dogs, he does NOT like other dogs and still has poor social skills.

Dog parks do more harm than good, IMO...
This is so relatable! Thank you for telling me this. You’ve given us a heads up. It’s the zero to sixty that Flea does, too, they freaks me out!
 
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