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Alfies nervous in large groups of dogs :(

858 Views 9 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  justine
Ive taken him to the park this morning. We saw Billy a springer spaniel who he knows..but Billys whole family was there so about 6 dogs in total. I let him off as they were all heading our way and he hates greeting dogs while he is on a lead (we had some lead aggression issues last year). So it makes it easier if he says Hi off lead.

But he went full steam ahead growling, heckles up. It was a kind of back off signal to them. But once he had had a sniff he was fine. The lady was ok about it, she is a spaniel breeder and understood that he gets anxious. I really dont want him being like this in large groups, he doesnt like over bearing dogs that jump on him etc

Any ideas? Tips? I really would love him to play with other dogs without having to avoid big groups
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Honestly, it sounds like a pretty normal reaction to me, given the situation. Big groups of dogs can be very intimidating, and for a dog that may have confidence issues I don't think his reaction was abnormal at all.

We sometimes see a few older people walking a 'pack' of Springers, all off lead. Being Springers, they dart around doing their own thing and not paying a blind bit of attention to their owners. They are actually a real pain in the arse -- chasing my dogs while barking and trying to nip, like a sheepdog. The owners think that the dogs are playing, but what they are actually doing is asserting themselves and being rude because they are allowed to get away with it.

My point is, dogs can be very subtle when it comes to body language. You may not have realized it, but one or more of the dogs could have been displaying unfriendly body language which spurred Alfie into 'defensive insecurity' mode. Equally, it could be that all of the dogs were displaying perfectly friendly body language and he felt overwhelmed and pushed him into reacting. Either way, I wouldn't be concerned. After any incidents with other dogs, their confidence can really be knocked. If you slowly build it back up (which should happen naturally with time) eventually you will find that he will probably stop acting in that way.
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LOL i did feel embarrassed and if he had been barking at anyone Else's dogs they would have said "stick that aggressive dog bk on a lead" and id have been mortified but she also said it was fine so phew
A lot of dog owners are really not at all clued in about reading body language and consequently reading a dogs intentions. Case scenario: when one of mine was a puppy (I'm talking 6 months old here, still a baby) I got accused by an old man that my dog was attacking his. His dog was very submissive and my pup was excitedly sniffing his dog which was on the floor, belly up. He some how, bizarrely, interpreted this as an attack. Whether he was a bit gone in the head or was genuinely clueless about very basic dog-on-dog interactions, I don't know.

Best thing to do in the future if you come across a big group of dogs is to pop Alfie back on lead, ask the owners if he can say hello, explain that he might be a bit grumbly at first but it is all talk, and then let him off. That avoids any conflicting situations/misinterpretations. :)
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