As a puppy, Winston was all over bigger dogs at the dog beach and dog park; kissing, licking and so forth. As he's grown, he's been acting aggressively to dogs (especially puppies) that display the same behavior he did when he was young. He seems to really hate being the target of games. He likes to chase, not be chased.
I don't know if I'd classify this as an "incident," but the most recent incident occurred today. A beautiful labrador puppy tried to engage Winston in some typical puppy play. The puppy lunged at Winston--its long goofy arms flailing--and Winston just basically dropped the hammer on this poor dog. He snarled tried to "roll with the punch" so to speak, and then actually went on the offensive for a second or two. I don't know what that was about.
Winston has definitely been bullied before; especially by bigger dogs. Sometimes there's that one dog at the dog beach that won't leave your dog alone. I think he was just standing his ground, but my wife seemed concerned. Winston would try to run away, but as the "bully/annoying" dog would get close, running parallel to him, Winston went for the jugular (not literally). Of course the dog didn't get the message and kept hounding (ha!) Winston. Winston displayed the same type of defensive aggression. I wouldn't say Winston never throws the first punch, but he has never (I MEAN NEVER) attacked a dog without being provoked in some way.
I just want him to not view all physical acts by other dogs as threat. There are some dogs, our upstairs neighbors for example, who he adores. They will play fight for hours.
If I understand your description, then
1) The puppy made physical contact with Winston without Winston's permission,
2) Winston made a lot of noise and flashed teeth but never actually bit the puppy (or if he did it was a controlled bite, not hard enough to hurt), and
3) These "aggressive" acts of Winston only lasted a few seconds. Once the puppy was removed, Winston ignored him, I'd guess?
The reason I'm clarifying is I want to make sure I am not missing something.
If the incident happened as I described above, then the puppy was being a typical over-exuberant lab with no sense of personal space who has outgrown his "puppy license". The adult dogs expect him to mind where his body is in space. The puppy did not. Winston made what sounds like a very appropriate correction from an adult dog to a puppy. And the puppy ignored Winston's very clear message. If that is the case, it was the puppy and not Winston who misbehaved.
Let me redescribe the scenario you laid out above, using people (and I borrowed this from something I read once):
"When we were teenagers, my wife and I liked roughhousing with our friends. Yesterday at the beach, a teenaged boy barged up to my wife and body-slammed her, you know, just being a typical teenager. My wife shouted "Hey, cut it out." The teenager came back again and bear-hugged her and she shoved him and yelled again. I'm really worried about my wife's unprovoked aggression. The kid was just being a kid and my wife never minded this when she was that age."
If Winston is going after dogs who don't move into his space uninvited, OR if he bites hard enough to draw blood, OR if the incidents last more than a few seconds and he does not regain his composure, that is a different story. But what you describe sounds to me like an adult dog telling a young one to stop being a jerk.
Beth, I know exactly what article you're referencing and that's what I thought when I read this post too.
Thomas, this is the article we're talking about: http://www.suzanneclothier.com/the-articles/he-just-wants-say-hi
Totally changed the way I mentally approached socializing Jerry with older dogs (and especially their owners).
I'd be curious if that puppy ever approaches Winston again :) Jerry has had a few run ins with older dogs who have reprimanded him verbally, and he's learned pretty quickly not to approach them, or to approach them respectfully.
Puppies are plain rude! Sometimes they deserve a reminder of who's the boss from more than just their owners. There's a few examples in that article that describe similar situations to yours, a situation that talks about the result of that behavior, and some things you can do to let your dog know you're aware of what's going on. Take a look!
Late last summer, a nice family started showing up at the park with a large hound-mix puppy they got from rescue. The pup had been under-socialized and they were working hard to catch him up. As he grew, he got more confident and less coordinated. One day, he was galumphing around in his houndy way and barged right into Jack from behind. Jack turned and roared at him, flashed teeth, and chased him about 3 steps.
The pup ki-yi-yi'd away with his tail tucked as if he'd been beaten. My husband went to comfort the pup and I said "Let him figure it out himself." We made sure we hung around awhile so the dogs could work through the sequence. The pup gathered his courage over minutes and came up much more politely and lip-licked Jack. Jack respond by sniffing the puppy respectfully and then ignoring him.
Late this winter, we were in the park and someone was there with a big hound-mix dog (coonhound size). The dog encouraged Maddie to chase him and they were having a ball. Periodically, he'd come up and lower himself slightly and lick the corners of Jack's mouth and then bound off and play again. I noticed that he was very careful not to barge into the other dogs which I appreciated, since not all big dogs are so mindful of where they are. He looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't place him. It wasn't until I saw him again a few days later that I recognized him as the pup Jack corrected.
He'd learned his lessons well. He played nicely with Maddie and respected Jack as "top dog" and didn't run into anyone despite being very exuberant.
Well-socialized dogs can make a lot of noise when they correct each other. I didn't know much about dog-dog interactions til we got Jack (the dogs I grew up with didn't play with other dogs much). But once I started to learn what to watch for, I was amazed at how differently I saw even routine things like sniffing the ground or looking in the other direction.
This link is amazing! thanks for the share!
I just read this and loved this. It explains what I've been trying to express for so long so well! Going to send to friends. Thank you for sharing!
I want to add that if my dogs correct a puppy who is bothering them and the puppy won't let up, I usually remove my dogs if the puppy owner doesn't step in. If the correction works, I let the dogs handle it.
Corgis are short and big heavy dogs sometimes land on top of them, which must hurt.
Both of my dogs get put-off by big long legged dogs pouncing on them. It sounds to me like the puppy was being rude and got a few corrections. If it happens again I'd probably body block the puppy away, or just remove my dog if the other owner does nothing. It sucks but Winston is probably not really doing anything "wrong".
We've had this happen a couple of times, even with adult dogs and it's very frustrating. The few that stick out in my mind were a great dane puppy (100 lb puppy...), a rottweiler, and a young boxer. My dogs were putting on their greatest displays of "leave me alone" and those dogs just wouldn't take a hint. It makes me SO nervous to pull strange dogs off mine, but we've had to a few times. Very frustrating when the other owner doesn't care about your dog's comfort level.
@ Marina. Thanks for posting that link to the article. Its long, but worth reading. Explaining the behaviors in people terms makes what we see our dogs doing make so much more sence. I'm going to pass it along to some dog trainers I know.
In this type of case I would have to agree with Beth. When I was growing up around aggressive dogs, whether you were a puppy or an adult dog, if you didn't respect their space and boundaries then they would do the appropriate corrections thing to them. I will throw this in as well, due to him being "bullied" as a pup he might be setting the example for younger pups that how they act won't be tolerated or "bullied" by them. As long as he's not in what dog handlers call "the red zone" then he should be fine. Just keep monitoring him and working with him. Also, when you introduce Winston to puppies or even adult dogs, pay attention to who does the submission first. Example, when Dodger meets new dogs or dogs that are much larger in size, he always submissions first and let the other dog get to know him on their own terms. If it's a smaller dog or the same size as him, he expects them to give common courtesy on common ground of respect. Once that's all done, then he'll engage with play. I hope this helps!
All of you guys are awesome! Thanks for the support! I wish I checked my post more regularly. Apologies. Winston is who he is. I want him to love all dogs regardless of age, breed and temperament, but the truth is he probably won't. Some dogs at the beach love rough housing around. When another dog runs right at him ready to play physical, I think Winston just isn't into it anymore. He just wants to catch frisbees and herd other dogs. He also doesn't want to be squished.
Just the other day, there were three German Shepherd puppies (by puppies I mean 4 times bigger than Winston) They were all from the same litter and I think the owner was overwhelmed. They followed Winston for an hour. I was nervous he was going to let it rip on the puppies, but he just growled when they got too close. Thankfully, the owner didn't jump in and overreact. They seemed to work out their differences, although they never really left him alone. Thankfully, he was so zoned in on his frisbee, he couldn't really be bothered. Gosh I love frisbees!
A lot of people would apologize when their dog would growl at Arrow or something, I would remind them it's just dog talk, and I would rather have a nice trusted dog like Winston lay down the law on sharing a water bowl or snatching a toy or pouncing too hard than a mean dog who isn't just communicating. Now Arrow is pretty good at picking his playmates, I think it's cuz I let him learn. He ignores the dogs that wont play. If it's primarily a puppy problem then dont worry, if the puppy doesnt take the hint, and the owner isnt stepping up, dont hesitate to interact with the puppy and redirect the puppies attention from winston. If the owner isnt noticing and trying to help the dog to learn who to play with, you can. I never mind anyone gently correcting Arrow, I love it. Everybody has rules for him to learn.
I would say he's not a good candidate for the dog beach... but then I'm not a fan of loose dog situations, including dog parks.
There are just to many variables for me.