Dear Sarah, May 19

Every time we take our dog to the dog park, she tries to attack the other dogs, especially when they come right up to her. How do we stop this?

Jenna P

Hi Jenna,

Thanks so much for your question. Before I answer, there’s a few things that I think are worth noting here.

Firstly, about 95% of aggression in dogs comes from fear or anxiety. The fact that your dog is ok, but becomes reactive towards other dogs when they come up to her suggests to me that she actually doesn’t feel very comfortable with dogs in her personal space – at least at the dog park anyway. And that can be for a number of reasons. Dogs who have been attacked by other dogs can become distrustful or fearful. Or a lack of socialisation with other dogs as a young pup can make them quite socially awkward (and thus anxious) around their own species. Perhaps she was rushed at by one of the dogs at the dog park and now the area has become a place of fear rather than a place of pleasure. Or perhaps she just finds the dog park too chaotic.

Whatever the reason, the dog park is causing her (and you) stress, and the simple answer to solving this problem is, don’t go! Instead, go for walks on lead away from other dogs, or go for a bush walk or walk along a fire trail, or splash around on the edge of the river, or find some other place to take her that you will both enjoy. If she doesn’t enjoy the company of most dogs, but has one or two doggy mates that she enjoys playing with then stick to play dates with those friends. 

There’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to take your dog to the dog park, so see what other adventures you and your dog can find, which don’t involve stressing you both out.

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