Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dog Aggression or Aggressive Playing?

So, we had a "thing" happen at the off-leash dog-park today. I took Zuko to work on recall - and that wasn't the problem. In fact, he was like a little red rocket flying toward my hand holding the turkey pepperoni. Good Dog! He was being pretty mellow and interacting with the other dogs well.

Then a big puppy showed up with his older, not very mobile, owner. The puppy was immediately in submissive postures with the other dogs. On the ground, tail tucked - super, super submissive. Hmm. The owner threw out a stuffy toy and Zuko and another dog got it instead and began the tug-o-war. Zuko was LOUD. Very snarly, very growly. If I didn't know otherwise, I would think some dog was getting his ass handed to him. The other dog seemed fine, but I think I was getting some odd looks from the other owners. The stuffy toy came apart in about 30 seconds, and it was over.

Then the submissive puppy got into the mix and Zuko snarled her down. Meaning she was in his face a bit and he snarled and teeth came out and she dropped to her belly and gave a yelp. I was watching closely - Zuko's teeth didn't land on her, but my sense was he wasn't a fan of her attention at that time. I've seen grown up dogs put puppies in their places, but I don't know if that was what I was seeing or not.

Zuko goes to daycare 2-3 days a week and they have never had issues with him there. So - what gives? Am I over-reacting?

-- Posted by Zuko's paranoid people mom


  1. Haha - Shio starts making a noise when he plays with his friends. He's got a howly playful growl for playing and a manly growl for intimidating.

    Maybe you should test Zuko + toys + friend's dogs to see how he reacts with them? Do they have toys in Zuko's daycare?

  2. Hi Ting -
    Thanks for the response. I don't think they have tug-o-war toys at the daycare, and maybe with reason... Zuko played well with my mom's dog over the holidays with LOTS of growling by both of them but it just wasn't as ... um ... "loud" and snarly sounding as this time around. Good idea on the testing tho - I may see if the daycare will let me sneak in to watch him play with the other dogs so I get a sense of what is "normal" for him.