• Michael D’Abruzzo

    December 2, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Hi Crystal,

    Sounds like you have a rough one! Also, it does sound like you are on the right track with trying to keep her socialized.

    One of the most important things that is occuring here is that you are learning what are the normal tendencies for your pup, and that is actually a good start to making a plan to know what kind of activities and social situations are going to best suit her and how to guide and lead her in the situations where she has more trouble.

    Here is some quick advice:
    – when she is playing with the Boston and she makes him yelp (and she doesnt back off on her own) seperate her from him immediately. If he comes back for more and isnt injured let her play again. If he stays away, then play time is over. She can possibly learn to play more gentle this way if you react quick.

    – If her hackles come up during play it shows she somehow feels threatened in some way. It could be by the dog or it could be there is an object around (toy, food, etc) that she feels the need to protect and is hence uneasy by the threat of losing it. Since most puppy classes dont have things laying around she is likely to feel uneasy about more boisterous pups she doesnt have an established relationship with and deals with it by herself by trying to force the dogs into being more submissive. This can be dealt with by more interaction with dogs rather than less. The trick is always pairing up the right dogs and have an open enough area where no dog feels trapped. I would suggest older pups or extremely reliable non-aggressive adults to give her more positive experiences and less self fullfilling experiences where she handles dogs by totally dominating them and therefore learns that is the best way to handle things.
    Remember, that dogs generally can’t interact normally with eachother unless they establish who is leading and who is following. If she is overly concerned about leading and dominating every dog she encounters – it is safe to to say she will probably not be the best dog park kind of dog (she would be too worried about enforcing her unknown status – not fun for her or the other dogs). Rather, she will be a better “play date” kind of dog. That can play and interact with dogs that she has known established relationships with and meshes well. There is nothing wrong with that, some dogs just genetically are more suited for different situations.

    I would look foward to a future plan of teaching toward some reliable off-leash obedience as she gets older and starting now with following strict pack structure exercises – so she will see you in the proper position to guide with your authority in tricky situations for her and diffuse potential aggressive encounters. Because she obviously has some old gladiator spirit in her little body – she will thrive on the guidance you will be able to give her that will keep her out of trouble and channel to a proper outlet – such as a good game of structured tug or play with another dog who can take the beaten and not mind it and give back beatens fairly.

    Hope you got at least one pointer out of this – keep us updated!