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Old 03-27-2010, 07:15 PM
Location: SW Florida
4,809 posts, read 6,535,572 times
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My Westie Casey (18 mos., neutered male) has been going to dog parks for almost a year. He was previously the nicest dog ... never even growled at another dog ... well, maybe only if a bigger dog was trying to get his treat. I was more worried about OTHER dogs being aggressive, but never Casey.

I now have added Comet (5 mos., female Westie) to the mix. They both go to the park ... Comet is a cutie with a lot of personality, always willing to play, even with the bigger dogs. Comet follows Casey when he runs off to explore, but often he's doing his thing and she's doing hers.

Casey has shown some aggressiveness with a few dogs now -- a German short-haired pointer (male), a GOLDEN (!), and today a 9-mo.-old Lab (female) puppy. His aggressiveness usually consists of snarling and barking at the dogs til they run away, but today he looked like he was attacking that Lab on its ear. The poor Lab lay right down ... not like she was threatening -- I didn't get what prompted him to do that to her. And it's always the same dogs ... EVERY time the pointer comes in, Casey gets snarly. The majority of dogs, Casey is friendly to and either plays with or ignores. Somehow these particular dogs get

First we thought maybe he was protecting Comet, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Dogs can be playing rough with Comet, and Casey doesn't seem to care...he's off doing his own thing. His aggressiveness with these dogs starts before they've even interacted with Comet. It does seem coincidental that his new aggressiveness started at the time she joined us at the park though.

I don't want to stop taking him, or have to take them when the park's empty, but I don't know how to handle this. Today I poked Casey with my cane (lightly) to get him to back off the Lab. Not sure that this type of instinctual behavior, with certain dogs, from a Westie, can be resolved through training though. Comet so far has been a sweetie, but then again, so was Casey at her age.

Sorry for the long post, but if anyone has any thoughts, let me know.
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:58 PM
Location: 500 miles from home
33,302 posts, read 18,763,844 times
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Oh gosh. I hope you get this straightened out. I have a Westie that was fine until he was about ... two years old - then started getting aggressive with other dogs; mostly other males. He got jumped a few times when he was a puppy . . . so not sure if that's how it all got started or what.

Also, there are several Westies around town and their owners all say the same thing.

BUT, there are two that I see at the dog park - a male and female - that are just happily playing with the other dogs so I don't know.

Good luck. I've given up on taking Ringo to the dog park; I hope you can figure out what's going on with Casey. The sooner you can stop the behavior; the better off you'll be.
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Old 03-27-2010, 09:27 PM
Location: SW Florida
4,809 posts, read 6,535,572 times
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Yes, the Westie I had back in the 80's got aggressive (with visitors) at about 18 mos. too....I just thought it was because I didn't train her properly. Now I really am thinking this is why you don't see too many Westies out at the parks...they are terriers, after all.

All the advice I've seen on the Internet is not really practical for my situation.

Casey's not on a leash, no leash-jerking isn't an option -- nor do I want him on a leash when the other dogs are approaching him off-leash.

Training him on how to approach other dogs isn't really relevant, because he's not aggressive with ALL dogs; just certain dogs. All the dogs run up to each other and sniff/greet/play, and *usually* it's fine. And it's not like Casey just has to "get to know" the other dog -- he has been snarly at the German pointer every time he's seen him. He's been snarly at this particular Golden two times, yet there's another Golden he plays happily with. It's not a breed-specific thing.

I would love to have Cesar Millan here to read into the dogs' behavior...
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Old 03-27-2010, 09:49 PM
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Did this all start when you got the new puppy? If so, he may be doing it to protect his territory from more intruders - a jealousy thing if you will. I have several dogs and when I brought home a puppy they wanted nothing to do with it. When I adopted one of my fosters, my best dog, the one that the others wanted nothing to do with, who was the reason I started fostering because she was so good with them, suddenly turned aggressive with them. She got along with the new dog and they were immediatel playmates which is why I adopted him. but she suddenly developed issues with the new foster dogs including killing one of them which was a total shock because she was the perfect dog and well trained to do anything I told her and she was so good with the fosters before hand. No one knows for sure why she started acting like this.

With fostering dogs, for some reason, I couldn't bring long-haired dogs in the house because my own dogs will snarl and attack them. It's the wierdest thing. They just do not like long haired dogs.

I wish I had answers for you, but all I can say is you aren't alone with this dilema.
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:11 AM
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i have this problem sadie as well. every once in a while, she just doesn't like a dog. she's gotten into one full fledged fight and there have been a few scary moments. but this is out of hundreds of interactions.

i'd recommend that you learn to spot trouble before it happens - look for your dog staring at or staying face to face with a dog for too long while greeting (they should pause brieflly, if at all, at the face before moving to da butt), stiffness in his body (even a stiffly wagging tail). look around for common factors that might be causing his aggression - the other dog's body language, where they are in relation to you or his lil sister. i'd recommend checking out the books "calming signals" by turid rugaas and "for the love of a dog" by patricia mcconnell to learn about canine body language.

work on a "this way" command where you get your dog to walk in the direction you're walking. this is useful in a lot of contexts (quit sniffing and let's get on with our walk, stop pulling after that cat). start out luring him with a treat, with absolutely no distractions and work your way up to doing it when he's greeting other dogs, even friendly ones. as he's greeting, repeatedly distract him away from the dog, reward him (it doesn't have to always be with food, as food rewards in a dog park are not a good idea), and then let him go back. this is very effective at relieving tension. eventually you will only have to do it when you see that there's trouble brewing. you are going to have to be right there to react FAST though, so you'll have to stay fairly close to him whenever he's at the dog park, and really pay attention to him (everyone should do this, really).

hopefully, eventually he learns that when he meets a dog who rubs him the wrong way, if he goes to you something good will happen. he may not - you may have to just manage the problem from now on. but you never know.
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:28 PM
Location: Montana
1,783 posts, read 1,809,603 times
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I have a female pit mix that is simular to the OPs situation. Nine out of ten dogs she just wants to play with, but she gets her hackles up with certain dogs. To me it seems arbitrary, to her, I am sure there is a dog signal being sent that she is reacting to, and I am not seeing (otherwise she would be aggresive towards all dogs or no dogs, not randomly selected dogs).

I have her in AKC classes (Novice Rally at this point), and she does great in the groupings while training. I work with her off leash in a feild a mile or so from my house, and work "call offs" when she has found a mouse/lizard/paper/etc., as well as "leave it" to keep her from investigating things (usually goat poop). The training works very well for our walks on a leash in the populated areas, because if she gives any indication of a reaction to a dog (raised hair, stiff tail, staring, growl, etc.) she gets called off, or told to leave it, depending on the situation I am dealing with, so the training is working great at controlling the aggression level things get to, but not at eliminating the aggressive behavior/reactions.

I don't think I would trust her (my dog Taffy) off leash in a dog park, because I have no way to predict which dog she will react to, and off leash and romping, I can't watch her closely enough.

Probably not what you want to hear, but I suspect dog parks are something you need to avoid at this point. If the dog attacks another dog in the park, there is a very real possibility you could be required to put it down, and that would be your fault, not the dog's, given you are aware of the aggression potential.

You may have a fenced baseball field or something like that near your place where you could take your two dogs to play together off leash. That may be an option that works for you and your dogs, and keeps them safe - even if it's from themselves.

Last edited by Tuck's Dad; 04-10-2014 at 06:50 PM..
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Old 04-11-2014, 08:34 AM
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Casey is growing up! If it were me and my dog, I would stop going for awhile. Or at the very least, totally avoid those dogs who are causing a problem with Casey.

If it were my dog, I would correct him for going after another dog then remove him from the situation. Terriers think they are the king of the world and don't take kindly to other dogs thinking they are king of the world.

Some dogs just do not mix well in dog parks.
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:38 AM
Location: Tejas
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Get it proper training so you know he will listen when you tell him to stop. On the flipside, quit taking him to dog parks. Those are a human thing for humans to reflect their emotions and dont benefit a dog. Inevitably you'll bump into bad owners with badly trained dogs anyway.
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:17 PM
Location: North Idaho
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OP, please stop taking this dog to the dog park. He is not suitable to being loose with other dogs. He might cost you a big vet bill for yourself or someone else, or your Westie might get himself killed by attacking the wrong dog.

I had my Pacifist Deerhounds out on a leash walk and a smallish terrier attacked them. My big male, who was the gentlest creature on the face of the earth, simply picked the terrier up and flung him. The dog landed a good 15 feet away, fortunately in a thick clump of grass, and was scared but not harmed. If my hound had a mind to do it, he could have snapped that little neck like a dry twig.

The point being, though, that your terrier is small. He thinks he can whip anything but he can't, If he goes after a dog that can easily handle an attack from a dog that size, your dog could end up dead.

Most dog will not fight to the death, but you can not guarantee that your dog will not meet one who is willing to do so. Or a death could be accidental.

Please, for the sake of your dog's health and life, never put him into a position where he can start a fight.
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:23 PM
Location: Las Vegas area
263 posts, read 356,534 times
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Talk to the owner(s) of the dog(s) he attacks & wee if they'd be willing to try to help you with this issue. If so, arrange to meet up in a open, neutral space with both dogs on-leash.

First, YOU need to have & project confidence to your dog -- if you're not training it, it will be training you. If you see the other dog & develop anxiety wondering how your dog will react, your dog will detect your anxiety & think you're afraid of the other dog, and that it needs to protect you. If you dog accepts you as the LEADER, it should sense how YOU are reacting to a situation & use that as a que as to how it will handle a situation.

From a distance, start to confidently walk in direction of that other dog, and keep your dog focused on YOU. If your dog starts to react to the other dog (barking/growling/anxiety/fixation), you quickly turn & keep walking. Don't let your dog try to stop & continue to fixate -- make the sharp turn & keep walking, even if it jerks the leash or you end up briefly dragging your dog. If you stop moving simply because your dog has stopped or is trying to go in another direction, your dog is training you & doesn't respect your leadership. By calmly making a sharp turn away from the other dog & continuing to walk, your dog will hopefully focus back on you, like "Whoa! What's up with mom, & where are we headed to?" The next time your dog sees the other dog, the first instinct may be to get anxious, BUT it should be to a lesser degree, because your dog should also start to realize that each time it gets anxious at the other dog, YOU do something it wasn't expecting, so part of the focus becomes on what you're going to do.

The next course of action is similar to the above, but you're going to have some high-value treats with you, and as soon as your dog sees that other dog, use the treat in your hand as lure to get your dog to focus on you (try the basic "Sit!" & "Watch me!" commands). If your dog is so fixated on the other dog that he ignores you, do this without the other dog being around until you're successful. Be sure to use really high-value treats that your dog doesn't normally get, & if necessary, you can do this behavior modification when you know your dog is very hungry (because you deliberately didn't feed it breakfast, to intensify the value of the treat). Do not get close to the other dog initially, but over a period of time, try to keep closing the distance, as long as that other dog is staying neutral. What you're trying to do now is to make your dog start to think "Hey, there's that other dog again! I didn't really like him, but now each time I see him, I get a delicious treat from my mom, so now I kinda like that other dog & I hope I see him a lot because they special treats taste great!"

It takes time & patience, but one of the most important things that really helps is the dog owner projecting confidence & leadership --that's something that just comes with experience, it's not really anything that can be faked.

OK, after a nice post above, I hate to even mention this -- some people will misinterpret it as being cruel, some people will get bitten or get beaten-up if they try this, some will think I enjoy it... But I'll go ahead & share it anyway...

My own small dogs have occasionally been bullied at dog parks, I've fostered many dozens of dogs who've had serious reactivity to other dogs, and I've spent thousands of hours working with multiple dogs at one time in shelter environments. I totally agree that dog parks should be fun, playful & peaceful facilities, not a place that someone takes a dog to as an 'experiment' to see if it gets along with other dogs. I analyze the dogs & humans before I enter the dog park compound & continue to do so once inside, plus I stay close to the dog(s) that I am responsible for there. One numerous occasions. I've encountered a dog that for whatever reason, is seriously bullying or downright getting aggressive with another dog. Sometimes one of my foster dogs was the offender, sometimes one of my dogs was the victim. If the offending dog belongs to someone else, I look to them to take immediate action but if they're not around or if I get their permission, I grab the offending dog, flip it onto it's back & hold it there in a submissive position (obviously this is easier to do with smaller dogs). It will NOT enjoy this, but I hold it (firmly, but not violently or angrily) in that position. Usually other dogs in the park will come running up to see what's going in, & sniff the dog being held down on it's back. Ideally, the victim dog does this too. After anywhere from 2-15 seconds of me calmly, dispassionately but firmly holding the dog in that unpleasant position, I feel it go submissive. I then let it back up & start petting & praising it, pushing the other dogs away at this point if they're trying to get some of the positive attention from me. From that point on, the dog has behaved much better at the dog park, because it learned that there were immediate & strong but not angry/aggressive consequences to its actions. I know people will misinterpret this, but it's been an effective method for me that's resulted in dogs being able to play happily at dog parks/around other dogs rather than be isolated from them, so I'm daring to mention it. You need to understand the difference between rough-play & a dog that's really being a bully/violent & ignoring another dog's passive attempts to be left alone, & this isn't how you can stop mutual combatants. Puppies need to occasionally fight/play rough so that they learn bite inhibition, etc. I could give a lot more caveats to the above, but I don't have all day...
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