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Another Possible Aggression Issue

1146 Views 13 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  inge
So today Paxton and I were walking by an off leash park that we haven't been to for months. I saw a couple of dogs there that Paxton used to play with when he was much younger. The one dog, a 10 month old unneutered lab came over, they sniffed, the lab rolled on his back....all was good. So I let Paxton off leash.
He charged towards the lab, it looked like it was just going to be rough play and all of a sudden Paxton pinned the lab and had his mouth around the labs muzzle. I pulled Paxton off immediately but he had already scratched the labs muzzle and was quite "worked" up when I pulled him off. I had Paxton lie down for sometime and he calmed down.
I spoke to our trainer and she believes that although it was quite aggressive in the momoent it is not unusual for a dog of Paxton's age (15 months) to try to exert his dominance over a younger (unneutered) puppy. She is not a fan of off leash parks due to lack of structure and suggested that I monitor the off leash to areas that we know all the dogs, etc.
Paxton has never done anything like this before - AT ALL. I was so upset and I don't know what to think about it. Should I be really worried? Is it possible for a dog to just have a *one off*?
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I dont know if the park has any rules but the dog parks around here require all the male dogs to be neutered. I dont have any advice but that is one reason I am not a fan of them.
I've never been to a dog park because we don't have any within a hundred miles of here. But dog greetings are always somewhat tense situations. I certainly don't want to sound overly tough but, in general, I've found that dogs work out situations like this better without human intervention. That can be tough to do with stranger at a dog park. A pin is not as harsh as it seems at the time (more of a dominance thing). It is when the eyes roll back and the fur is literally flying is when you have a dog in a fight. That, in my mind is when you need to intervene (very carefully).

Sorry that was so rambling but I hope I got my point across.
It's not terribly uncommon for neutered males to act aggressively towards unnuetered males. I wouldn't consider it a sign that Paxton has aggression issues but I would be cautious about who you choose as playmates. Go with your trainer's instincts.
I agree; I think your trainer has given you some excellent advice. I also don't think it's aggression; I believe Paxton was showing dominance--and you did the right thing by taking his focus off of the situation and onto you.
Thanks follow up should I be concerned about that dominance or is it likely more of a result about the dog being intact?
I think it could be more of a puppy type stage then a nueter issue. I say that because Lucky was very "unstable" in his behavior until he fully matured. He did take advantage of situations when he had the opportunity to be "dominent." He wasn't "trust worthy" then...but he most definately is now.
I also agree with your trainer in that it was most likely dominance rather than aggression. Personally, I am not a fan of dog parks at all. I have been to them before and never had a single good experience at one. There is almost always at least one completely untrained, out of control, "bully" dog there whose owner has absolutely no control. We are supposedly getting a dog park where we live (according to our town's monthly newsletter) and we have no plans of taking our dogs there. You just never know what types of dogs will be there and there is always the potential for danger. I don't want to put either one of our dogs in that type of uncontrolled environment. I'm all for socializing my dogs, but that's not my ideal scenario at all.
I think it could be more of a puppy type stage then a nueter issue. I say that because Lucky was very "unstable" in his behavior until he fully matured. He did take advantage of situations when he had the opportunity to be "dominent." He wasn't "trust worthy" then...but he most definately is now.
Lucky's mom....Thanks so much for your experience. I like the way that you described Lucky as taking advantage of the opportunity of being dominant. I really think that is what Paxton is doing and it is nice to hear that Lucky is not like that now.

I really appreciate everyone's comments on this. It was the first time that I have ever seen Paxton in an aggressive manor and as much as it didn't scare me, it bothered me. I agree that the dog parks are not the best place for Paxton....there are constantly untrained, rude dogs and I know that is not fair to Paxton. It is nice to have that reminder from well experienced folks like all of you.
I own a private dog park where all the members are temperament tested and we allow intact males, although right now we only have a few yet to be snipped puppies.

I think Paxton was being rude. It may just be a one off situation, based on his age and the fact that the Lab was intact, but it was rudeness on Paxton's part.

In the period that Paxton was not going to the dog park, was he being socialized with other dogs?
Hopefully it was a one off but with Asia where she first began to exhibit this behaviour at about the same age it escalated. It was dominance related aggression according to the trainer and it soon became apparant that she didn't respect us as pack leaders which contributed to it. Unfortunately I wasn't educated in dominance issues to recognize it. The NILF method did wonders as did staying away from dog parks. She is socialized in other places with fewer dogs and this has made all the difference. I hope this isn't the issue with your boy but just wanted to share my experience with this if it helps.

What is the NILF method? I have also had some dominance issues with my golden, Cooper, who is now 15 months old. I'm new at this whole dog thing so it's hard to tell whether he is playing or trying to be dominant.
Nothing In Life Is Free (NILF). You can google to find out more about it too--I think it's a very good method for those dogs that have gotten a bit too big for their britches!
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