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Old 01-07-2013, 01:09 AM
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Unhappy Tug a war aggression

Hello all,

I need help. I have a golden retriever male just under 6 months old and he is awesome except the the last two times we took him to the dog park he has gotten aggressive with other dogs over the game of tug a war. We don't play tug a war with him at home because we heard it can start bad habbits and right now he's pretty good at letting things go when we say 'drop it'. But he has played tug of war with a few older dogs of our friends and there has been no issues. Until now....

He was getting bullied a bit at the dog park and his energy level was getting high. I also had with us a kong on a rope toy that he loves and of course every other dog there was trying to get it and I noticed he started to snarl a bit to warn them that it was his, but what really surprized me was at the end of our walk he saw a dog with a tug of war rope and he grabbed a hold and started to tug. When he lost the game he got aggressive with the other dog and I had to pull him away. The next day we went back to the park and he was wrestling with a female dog just a few months older and their seemed to be no problems, until she got a hold of a stick. They played tug with it and my dog lost and she tried to carry on with the stick but he wanted to play again so he kept bugging her and trying to get a hold of it until he got aggressive again and they almost started to bite each other! It scared me to death as I have never seen this behavior in him at all. And now I am worried about him around other dogs with their toys.

Keep in mind he's very well socialized and being at the dog park and playing with other dogs is always the highlight of his day! What can I do to make sure this doesn't continue??
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:17 AM
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I think I would teach a solid leave it before bringing him to dog parks and letting him practice this behavior.

I play tug of war with my dog without any problems at all. She will never grab anything that clearly belongs to another dog, especially if it is in another dog's mouth.


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Old 01-07-2013, 01:19 AM
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I'm dealing with my dog's aggression too. (Don't worry, you're not alone!) Well, my dog trainer says he isn't aggressive, but he CAN be since he was never socialized well as a puppy. Some things she told me was to teach him to ignore other dogs. Which, this might not apply to your situation, but thought I'd share. A tip she gave me was having a squeaky toy to distract him if there's tension.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:39 AM
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I never bring fave toys to the dog park myself. Buddy only gets to play with Tennis balls and other balls at the dog park as well as the other dogs. "No home toys allowed" it keeps the resource guard and possession to a minimum.

I would say Tug of war is off limits for your dog! Especially if it is a toy from home.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:52 AM
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Probably gonna get yelled at for this but - maybe you SHOULD play tug with him at home, and teach him to drop it, then play a bit, drop it, start playing again. Let him know that if he "loses" the game, it's not the end of the world.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:58 AM
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We never take interesting toys to the dog park. They tend to attract the dominant dogs who will struggle over them. Many times I've seen someone bring an appealing toy for their dog and the biggest or most dominant dog will end up with it and carry it off to a remote corner. By the time the owner retrieves it, it's usually pretty yucky.

I agree that if you want to play tug with your dog it's better to do it at home where you can control the interaction and teach your dog how to stop on command.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laprincessa View Post
Probably gonna get yelled at for this but - maybe you SHOULD play tug with him at home, and teach him to drop it, then play a bit, drop it, start playing again. Let him know that if he "loses" the game, it's not the end of the world.
I'm inclined to agree with this.

Maybe it'll desensitize him to the "losing" bit. Of course, let him win every now and then. And I would work on teaching him to respect what is in someone else's hand/mouth/possession, etc.


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Old 01-07-2013, 12:18 PM
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Tug is actually a great way to teach your dog that you're still the boss, even when he's excited - see this link: Bad for dogs to play tug-of-war?
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:47 PM
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A couple thoughts...

-Watch him closely and when you see him start to get over-excited, take him aside for a time out. Not punishment, just a calm moment.
-Don't bring special toys like ropes into the park--most parks don't allow them because dogs get possessive.
-Practice recall with him. Call him every now and then and just for some loving. --If you can bring in a non-smelly treat without all the other dogs coming after you (be careful), give him a small treat every time he comes to you. Once he's hard wired to come to you regardless of distractions, you can use that when he gets excited (not before)
-If you have trouble grabbing him in the park, put a short rope on his collar (shouldn't quite reach the ground) that you can grab when he gets over-excited.
-If the dog park is very busy, don't go in.

Good luck. Dog parks are fun but can cause problems too.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laprincessa View Post
Probably gonna get yelled at for this but - maybe you SHOULD play tug with him at home, and teach him to drop it, then play a bit, drop it, start playing again. Let him know that if he "loses" the game, it's not the end of the world.
That's what worked with Rookie. I only let him play tug of war at home, and I trained him to drop it when I tell him to drop it. He also has to sit politely before I will start playing again. (My general training motto being "all good things come to dogs who sit.") So a game of tug of war tends to go: tug, drop it, sit, take it, and then resume play. And we do that several times during the course of play, not just at the end. Having him sit in the middle of the game for a moment keeps him from getting too out of control. The only time Rookie ever growls is when we're playing tug of war, but it's definitely a play growl and not an aggressive growl. I usually just growl back at him.

All that being said, I'm not sure I'd choose to play tug of war with a 6 month old puppy. And I definitely wouldn't do it at the dog park. Rookie really tested his limits from around 6 months to 8 or 9 months. I remember 7 months as being one of the most challenging times for training. He would get so overexcited and he didn't yet know how to calm himself down so he would keep grabbing or nipping or whatever he thought would keep me playing. I didn't start playing tug of war with him until he was a little older.
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