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I have a 3.5 year old female Labrador.I have had her since she was 8 weeks old.She is extremely friendly when we meet other people and dogs.I have been taking her to a dog park for a few months now and spend about an hour every day at the dog park.She usually gets other dogs to chase her with a stick in her mouth.I am always supervising her play at the park.If she doesn't like a dog behavior (mainly humping) she will let them know politely 2-3 times and then I usually intervene and make sure that dog leaves her alone before she snaps.

Yesterday, after about 45min at the dog park, I took her to my friend's place to meet their new puppy ( 12 weeks Akita male). I have met the puppy before and he is very calm and relaxed.My dog was excited to see the pup.This was the pup's first encounter with a dog socially(other than the vet and walks). My dog picked a toy and wanted to play tug with the pup.The pup was happy too and at that point, they seemed to get along well.They went to the yard to play.My friend was supervising them.I was inside talking to my friend.After a couple of minutes of play, the pup started whelping in pain.I didn't punish my dog at that time.I am not exactly sure what happened.

The pup has 2 bites on the ear, 1 on the muzzle and 1 on the jaw.There was some blood.The pup was scared for quite some time.

What steps should I take to make sure my dog doesn't do something like this ever again.I know I should have been supervising them play and probably introduced them slowly in a confined space.Should I not take my dog to the dog park? Does that make her more aggressive? She knows she is not supposed to bite humans, I have tried inculcating the bite inhibition from puppyhood.She is very gentle with kids.

I am really sad that this happened and want to make sure that I train her positively to not do it again.But I am not sure what that entails.Would really appreciate some advice and suggestions.

  • I would take that to a professional. Aggression is not a job for amateurs. If you get things writing, somebody (human or dog) might get bit. You can't learn by trial and error because there is no room for error. – Censored to protect the guilty Feb 14 '18 at 23:34
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    Just a quick note: Good choice not to punish your dog! Chances are, by the time you arrived and had assessed the situation, your dog would not have known what the punishment was for anyway. Your dog sounds so very friendly and normally gentle, Haras Brummi's answer sounds close to the truth. – Layna Feb 15 '18 at 10:55
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    Yes, I just finished reading this and the author talks about this, so I knew there was no point doing it. – Joanita Dsouza Feb 16 '18 at 2:21
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The problem is that you can't really tell what happened. You don't know if the puppy started the fight or if your dog did. You don't know the trigger of the bite.

Puppies often don't know the limits of fun and it is normal that older dogs start to discipline the puppies, if they overstepped the mark of polite dog behaviour. That includes some bites, too. Normally the bites are soft and there are no injuries afterwards (but it can look very horrible and the puppies sometimes cry like they are dying). A human should not stop the older dog disciplining the puppy if there is no real aggression against the puppy, so that the puppy can learn good behaviour.

The injuries you described seems to be more serious than normal disciplining. There are multiple reasons, why it went that way. I can give you three examples:

  1. Your dog was very polite, but the puppy was frustrated, because he did not get the stick, your dog was always winning when playing tug or something else, so he started the fight. Your dog was protecting herself, but because she is grown up and stronger, she won.

  2. The puppy did something your dog didn't like and she started to show signs to tell him that. He didn't understand, because he is too young and didn't stop. She let him know that she didn't like that multiple times, but nothing changed. Normally at the dog park you would have intervened at this point. But now you was not there and your dog was alone with this situation. She was overwhelmed with the puppy's behaviour so she started to bite.

  3. Equally to two, but your dog was not overwhelmed and started first to discipline the puppy softly. The puppy didn't understand and didn't stop, so she bite harder.

Another reason could be pure aggression, but I can't imagine why that should be the case. Your dog is well socialized with other dogs and was very playful to the puppy at first. Dogs are not aggressive out of nowhere, so something must have happened.

The way you are handling that in the future depends on your knowledge and confidence. If you feel very unsure and if you lost every trust in your dog, take a dog trainer. Another way is to behave like nothing has happened. You could let her play with other dogs at the dog park, but don't let her play with the puppy anymore and be careful if other puppies are at the park. The third way is to force meetings with the puppy, but observe them really carefully and intervene if you see that something is going wrong.

  • Thanks @HarasBrummi , A few hours after posting this, I noticed that my dog had a tiny bruise on her muzzle too(I didn't think of checking my dog for injury after the incident).So by piecing things together, I think the pup probably bit her by mistake instead of the toy while playing tug and my dog retaliated. – Joanita Dsouza Feb 16 '18 at 2:33
  • I spoke to her training class person.The lady there said it could just have been too many things going on for my dog on that day.They have asked me to fill a form with the details of what happened and a pet trainer will help me analyze the situation better and if they think necessary we will have a private session and work on my dog. – Joanita Dsouza Feb 16 '18 at 2:35
  • Good that you try to work on it! – Haras Brummi Mar 7 '18 at 14:39

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