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Today I took Ryleigh in the car to the new dog park about twenty minutes away. I knew she wasn't fond of female dogs, but I didn't expect all of the dogs there to be female... She enjoyed walking around the perimeter (on leash) until dogs started to come up to her. She walks well on a leash so it is easy to control her.

 

Ryleigh immediately started showing her teeth when they would get near her face or in front of her. She definitely showed signs of wanting to be in charge of the situation. It really frustrates me because if a male dog approaches her she is completely submissive and wants to play. Tips on correcting this behavior and getting her socialized with female dogs (safely)?

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I really, really don't like dog parks. To many uncontrollable variables there and an ever shifting pack that a dog can't really find it's place in.

 

Ryleigh has some fear issues, right? What you're seeing is possibly that she is unsure of the situation so that's how she is dealing with it. Also on leash dogs tend to tense up and react more (especially since they can sence all your emotions) And many Border Collies just don't like other dogs in their face - it's kind of rude in doggy language.

 

I wouldn't have her out trying to interact with other dogs at this point - I'd just be working with her until she is relaxed and focused on you in a variety of situations when you are out and about.

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Thanks, my thoughts exactly!

 

I'm really working hard with her--she has learned some basic commands but tends to be rather ornery when we are practicing. She's really into swimming at the river so that has been a way to curb some of her energy and fear. I also got her a pack that she wears when we walk with a few things in it to give her a 'job'.

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If I understand you correctly - your dog was on leash while the dogs coming up were off. In my opinion - for a fear based dog, this puts the leashed dog in the defensive mode immediately. A dog on leash who is afraid does not have the capacity to flee a fearful situation. She would feel trapped a react aggressively. I do not go to dog parks, but I do go to a wildlife preserve that all dogs are supposed to be on leash. This does not happen. So, if a off leashed dog approached my dog (who is fearful of other dogs when she is on leash) I step in front on her (like superwoman) and stand the dominant ground - keeping the other dog out of her face. I have her in the sit position behind be, given a great treat for doing so. I tell her it is okay in a very calm voice, I tell the other dog to go on in a very serious voice. If I keep my dog calm I feel like I have a major achievement. I have introduced this same dog to other dogs in a more one on one situation, with both dogs off leash. The first time she meets the dog she is nervous. Second, a lot better. Third - a normal dog. I recognize she has this issue and really try to take steps for her to feel like I have everything under control. Good luck.

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I'd say that she is probably nervous or confused. Nervous dogs are worried about what is going on around them and they can't really focus in that state of mind.

 

Dogs also don't usually transfer well - just because they understand what "sit" means in the living room doesn't mean that they understand what "sit" means in the backyard and so on. When I take a dog to a new area I go back to basics again with them.

 

How have you worked on training with her?

 

One thing I'd try with a dog like this is teaching her to give eye contact at home and heavily reward it (cooked meat usually helps to grab their attention). One she's got it inside in several rooms, take it outside and practice it all around your house - backyard, front yard, etc. Then take her someplace, get her out of the car, ask for eye contact (or have the treats on you and wait for her to offer) when you get it, reward heavily and get back in the car again. Don't ask for anything else unitl you are to the point where offering eye contact becomes something that she quickly offers.

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Reverse genders, and you have my dog exactly. We simply don't go to places where lots of dogs play loose, because his fear makes him react too strongly. I agree with all the advice you've been given. Some notes on our similar dogs:

 

1. Buddy gets less reactive the more familiar he is with the situation and other dog. The key is to avoid bad meetings until familiarity is established and the dogs ar emore blase' with each other.

 

2. Based on my Buddy-expertise, face-to-face is very, very bad. Buddy can tolerate any dog sniffing his butt for as long as they like. It's the face-to-face thing that makes him fearful and reactive. Meanwhile, with dogs he loves, they can actually put their little paws on his shoulders and kiss his face, with no reactivity. Young labs and goldens are so in-your-face that I just choose not to even try.

 

3. Buddy does really, REALLY well in a down-stay when I go to meet other dogs who are on leash. Other owners are always praising his obedience. But actually, I think Buddy sees that as his "safe" position: he knows I'm going to go deal with the other dog, and he knows he's not going to have to face it, and he's very content to stay 10 feet away. So, yes... be the one in charge.

 

4. When Buddy needs to get along (as with my sister's 8-week-old twin puppies!), I do a lot of fence-introducing. He lies on one side of the fence, and the other dogs can approach and get near but not close enough to be threatening. Growling and snapping with a physical barrier in place aren't dangerous to the other dogs - but even my sister's tiny girls understand what Buddy is saying when he tells them to keep their distance. (I'm hoping they learn that about him and we can avoid an ugly adolescent incident a few months down the road!)

 

Good luck! Sounds like you're making the right moves to figure this out.

 

Mary

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