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  • in reply to: Should I switch their food? #16596

    go ask alice is right, you will have people tell you all kinds of things.  The first person you should ask is your vet.  Though, be cautious…many vets subscribe only to certain “theories” when it comes to food.  Many vets are what I call “Science Diet” vets.  They get “commission”, per se, for selling Science Diet.  The manufacturer of SD, Hill’s, donates a lot of money and products to vet schools and vets, and they are the sponsor of many veterinary related events, etc.  But…many scientific food studies will list SD as a relatively poor quality food.  Check out what foods your vet is selling right out of the clinic before you ask!  If you don’t ask, surf around various pit forums and see what people feed.  This may be your best route. 

    The best way to judge how a food is doing is to look at your dog.  How are her stools?  Are they tiny in amount and firm (that is good!)?  How is her coat?  Is it shiny and soft, or dry and brittle?  What about her eyes?  Do you have to clean a lot of eye gunk out of the corners?  These are just a few of several questions to ask yourself.   

    The Chicken Soup brand is not a bad brand at all.  Many research studies rank it as an above-average food.  It ranks higher than what I call “grocery store brands”.  Those are the Pedigrees, Benefuls, Purina, etc.  The Purina you were feeding isn’t all that bad, honestly.  Yes, there are much better foods out there that your pup will thrive much better on, but there are much worse foods!  Chicken Soup is what we call a grain-based food, meaning that the meat content is a bit lower than it should be to meet a dog’s needs, and has too much grain.  Many dogs are allergic to grains, and plus, it isn’t a product that they need a ton of.  Dogs are omnivores, but still have a carnivore background and meat/protein based dietary need.  I wouldn’t mind feeding my dog Chicken Soup if I didn’t already have some other favorites.  🙂

    Many of us feed our dogs a mix of a a high quality kibble, and add some cooked meat to their mealtimes every now and then.  I mix in cooked egg, beef, chicken, turkey, and organ meats into random meals.  Tonight, Kayla will have her kibble, plus some cooked liver and tripe.  I will also buy high quality canned foods and mix a tiny bit in also with kibble.  That helps balance out what the kibble doesn’t provide.  Just make sure that you balance the ratio of kibble to the other foods if you choose to do that. 

    If you are thinking Chicken Soup, go for it.  Make sure you get the right one for the age/weight of your dog.  I believe that there are 3 or 4 different kinds.  Some other kibbles to consider:  Natural Balance, Taste of the Wild, Orijen, Acanna, EVO, and Solid Gold.  Again, you will know what is right when you see improvements in many facets of your dog’s life.  You have to do what your budget allows, but try to do the best that you can! 

    If you do decide to switch, do it slowly over a period of a few weeks.  Don’t do it all at once, or you may have a messed up GI tract on your hands!  If you don’t switch, add some stuff to her current diet and that can help out with what your kibble is missing! 

    Best of luck!  🙂  Sorry that I rambled….I tend to do that.  You will see that quite often from me!

    in reply to: Early heat? #16586

    Sorry!  I missed the vet appointment sentence in your initial post.  My bad!  It does sound like an excitement issue.  Keep doing what you are doing!  Sounds like it may be working. 

    in reply to: Possible backyard aggression? #16585

    The raising of hackles does not always mean aggressive tendencies.  That is what we have always been taught, but in the real dog training/behavior world, hackles raised does not always means aggression.  Just like a wagging tail doesn’t mean that the dog is happy/friendly.  A wagging tail can mean so many different things, based upon how high the tail is when wagging, is it the whole tail, is it at the base, is it at the tip, etc. etc.  As you can see, it can be VERY confusing trying to read the body language of dogs, but it is oh so important to learn!

    The raising of hackles is just like goosebumps in humans.  Dogs cannot control the raising of hair on his back, just like we cannot control when goosebumps show on our skin.  Just think of when you get goosebumps.  You get them when fearful, excited, sad….all different emotions.  If we cannot control them, neither can a dog.  A dog does not have the capabilities to raise his hackles to communicate what he wants to say.  I have seen a dog’s hackles raise at the sight of a bag blowing across a parking lot, and another at the sight of a favorite toy.  Some dogs tend to display hackles more often than not.

    In your situation, if that is really the only time that you see Butch’s hackles raise, then I wouldn’t worry about it.  It is still best that you keep an eye on the dogs when they are playing!  They are like little kids when the play; one can get grumpy at the drop of a hat and then the fur will really fly!  They should always be monitored when playing.  If you feel that play may be getting out of hand, re-direct the dogs to something else to allow them some cool-down time.  Dogs need breaks when they play together just to re-group.

    I do not think that you have anything to worry about.  Just watch playtime, the roughness, etc.  Always be ready to step in and give the dogs a break if things look a bit too tough.  That will help keep potential fights to a minimum.  Keep in mind, Butch is only 6 months old.  He needs to be taught proper play behavior, BEFORE he gets older.  If he isn’t taught proper play, once he is older, he could really cause some trouble.  Take him to puppy classes to see how he reacts there and if his play is “proper” for a dog his age.  Classes are always the best way to learn if what he is doing is right or not.  That is why there are trainers for all ages of dogs.  This is a critical period in Butch’s life and you need to make sure you and Butch are on track to him being as successful as he can!  

    in reply to: Concerns about White Dog Shaker Syndrome #16584

    Oooo!  Good question!  We receive this question quite often at my clinic by owners of all breeds. 

    Historically speaking, white dog shaker syndrome was recognized in small breen white dogs, mostly the Maltese, West Highland Terrier, and poodles.  It has also been seen in Yorkies and beagles!  Here is the thing…the disorder has also been recognized in other breeds of dogs of varying sizes and coat color, but it seems to single out the smaller white breeds most often.  When it is found in other dogs, it is then called steriod responsive tremor syndrome. 

    Sadly, this is a condition that cannot be determined right way; it has to be via exclusion of other dieases/illnesses and via treatment.  There isn’t a test to look for this syndrome.

    The most common symptom with this condition is tremors of the body.  The tremors could be localized to one area of the body, or the tremors could go throughout the whole body.  Because tremors are also symptoms of so many other neurological disorders, that is one reason white dog shaker syndrome is difficult to diagnose.  Tremors are also symptoms of ingesting various chemicals, and bacterial/viral illnesses.

    The disease usually rears its ugly head in a young dog, between 6 months to 3 years of age.  It is reported that the condition is not painful to the dog and it doesn’t bother their personality.  It can give them some trouble walking if the tremors are bad enough. 

    I probably wouldn’t worry too much about it unless you have a smaller dog.  I hope that this info helped a bit!



    in reply to: Pitbulls and Babies #16580

    Any dog, no matter what breed, can get along with children, and on the flip side of that, many dogs do not.  Breed does not matter one iota.  Children have smells and make noises that can bother some dogs, whereas other dogs don’t care.  To some dogs, the high pitched noises, like crying and cooing trigger prey responses in many dogs.  But, it sounds like your dog has more fear towards the baby.  Regardless, you do not want your dog to fear the child.  Fear can also cause issues.  Fearful dogs can become aggressive dogs, but that isn’t always the case, but it is something that you need to consider.    

    Pit bulls are people dogs.  If your pit bull doesn’t take to a stranger right away, that causes me to have a bit of concern.  But, not all pit bulls follow the typical “people dog” characteristic, as all dogs are individuals, just like people are.  Each dog needs to adjust in his/her own way, and be taught how to handle things.  My first suggestion would be to speak with a professional trainer about the situation at hand.  They will be able to help much more than a forum online!

    If your dog has already growled at the baby, that is a warning flag right there.  You must make sure that the dog is monitored at all times when he is anywhere near the baby.  The baby may make sounds thay your dog doesn’t like or even fears.  He is 7 years old, and has been set in his own ways with the same people in the house.  Now, for 9 months, things have changed.  There is this strange, noisy, and odd smelling critter taking up residence.  The best thing to have done was to start working with him prior to the birth to get him prepared for baby.  But, if you didn’t, it still isn’t too late, but now you will have to be incredibly diligent in everything that you do, and again, it would be VERY wise to seek professional assistance.

    First, never allow the dog in the baby’s room, ESPECIALLY if you are not present.  That room should be off limits to the dog. 

    Make sure that your dog knows his basic obedience, such as sit, down, and a combination of those with stay.  It is so important that your dog know these commands forward and backwards, as that will help you have control of the dog when in the presence of the baby.  It is also important that your dog know to not jump up on you when you are holding the baby.  

    Your dog should constantly be familiarzed with the scents of the baby by allowing him to constantly smell clothes, dirty diapers, baby food, formula, burp rags, bibs, etc.  Babies give off all kinds of odors that your dog will not be used to.  Of course, give these smells to your dog without the baby around.  Do not allow your dog to smell the baby directly!

    Make sure that once baby starts moving around on his own, that the dog is not near the baby.  Babies tend to make movements that are playful in nature and normal for young ones, but to a dog who may fear the child and maybe confused on what this creature is, those movements could spark a natural instinct in the dog.  The dog becomes agitated, and could hurt the child.  This is what you are trying to avoid.  Sometimes keeping the dog on a leash or in his crate while the baby is out is a good thing to do.  But, keep the baby away from the dog.  If the dog feels “threatened” while on leash or crated, that could cause potential problems.  Only you know how your dog reacts on leash or crated.

    Make sure that the family continues to treat the dog as he was treated PRIOR to the baby’s arrival at home.  Make special time for the dog when baby is not around.  Include the dog in activities with the baby, within reason, of course.  But, you need to get the dog as comfortable as you can and as soon as you can before you really include the dog with a lot of baby activities.  Once the weather becomes nice, walking with the dog and baby (someone else walking the dog) is one way to begin a bonding process. 

    When baby is around, give your dog a yummy treat, chew toy, or even a new toy to keep the dog occupied. 

    With a lot of hard work and diligence on your part, things will work out.  But, you really should seek the advice and help of a trainer to get your dog socialized to strangers before you even think about introducing dog to baby.  To your dog, baby may be a stranger that just won’t go away! 

    Best of luck to you and the family!

    in reply to: crate tranning plz help #16577

    You are right on track with what you are doing!  Crate training is SO important, especially for young pups like yours.  Make sure that the crate is always used as a positive tool and NOT for punishment!  That is SO important!

    To get your pup used to the crate, I would start out by feeding meals close to the crate door, and gradually start feeding your pup in the crate.  The whole key is to have your pup associate the crate with GOOD things and not bad things.  Make sure that you pair a word such as “crate” as a command when your pup goes into the crate on her own.  NEVER FORCE YOUR DOG INTO THE CRATE!  That will only harm any progress that you have accomplished and will hurt your relationship with Bella. 

    Throughout the day, toss some incredibly yummie treats in the crate, and using the word “crate”, have Bella go in the crate.  Give her a few seconds in the crate before shutting the door.  If she cries, let her do it.  Ignore her!  By giving in to the crying and opening the crate door will reinforce that all she needs to do is whine to get out.  Then she will cry all the time!  That isn’t what you want.  Be careful giving her a treat when you let her out.  That may cause Bella to cry more, as she is expecting a treat when she is let out of the crate.  I would just let her out and acknowledge her after a few minutes after she calms down from the excitement of being let out.  Just being let out of the crate is good enough for her!

    Toss fun toys in the crate so she has to play “find it”.  Make the crate training a game. 

    After awhile, start leaving her in the crate for short periods.  When you come home to open the crate, make sure Bella is CALM, and make sure that you do not make a huge scene when letting her out.  What I mean is, don’t love all over her, give her treats, talk baby-talk, etc.  You want to make your comings and goings as uneventful as possible.  That helps curb all the excitement and potential separation anxiety that so many dogs face these days.  It sounds harsh, but our excitement to see our dogs and their excitement combined is a powerful combination that can lead to a lot of problems.

    When you leave, a good idea is to toss some yummy treats in the crate for Bella.  Soon, she will associate you leaving with snacks!  I do not crate my dog (she has never destroyed anything in our house and does nothing wrong), but I still give her a few snacks EVERY time that we leave the house.  It just reinforces that us leaving is ok! 

    Since you have a puppy, you need to watch what you put in the crate when she is in there and you are gone.  Pups are chewers as you know, so you don’t want your pup destroying anything while she is in her crate and swallowing something she shouldn’t.  A good idea is a strong Nylabone for chewing or a Kong toy.  With a Kong toy, you can fill it with all kind of yummies and it gives Bella something to do for awhile while you are gone.  Filling a Kong with soft food and then freezing it is even more fun for the dogs!  I have frozen Kongs in my freezer at all times.  Most dogs will sleep during the day, so once she is done with her snacks, she will snooze. 

    As long as you make the crate training a positive experience, never force her in there, never yell at her for crying (just ignore), and never use the crate as punishement, you will have success!  Crates are our friends! 

    Best of luck!!



    in reply to: Clicker Training #16570

    Congrats on starting on such excellent training with your pup!!!   It sounds like you are on the road to a great relationship and great behavior with your pup.  Keep it up, and never stop your training!

    It is never too late or too soon to start clicker training.  I started my girl (who was 2 when we go ther) on clicker training initially, but threw in the towel as I just wasn’t coordinated enough, especially if I had a leash in my hand!  If I didn’t have my head attached, it would have rolled off too!  Too much in my hands to make sure that I click and treat at the right time!  Plus, I didn’t want to take the clicker everywhere I went with my dog to train.  I prefer a verbal cue rather than the click, but that is just me.  It is easier for me to spit the verbal cue out right away, rather than hunt for the clicker that is somewhere in my coat pocket.  But, you need to find what works for you.  Every human has their own teaching method, and each dog has his/her own learning method.  You may have to experiment to see what works for the both of you.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if there are other people in you and your pup’s life that will help with training, you need to make sure that you are all on the same page with what training tool you are using! 

    Instead of the clicker, I now use a word as my “click”.  I use the word “YES!” and treat right after that.  My dog got it a lot quicker than the click.  I give her an exuberent “YES!” when she did what I wanted, and then I treat.  If she didn’t do what I wanted, I say “Oops” and put my hands behind my back. 

    If you are going to use the clicker training, the first thing that you want to do is prime your dog for the click and know what the click means.  Take a couple days, maybe a week or two to just click and treat, click and treat.  You have to get your dog used to what the clicking noise means.  Do it for 5 minutes, and then do something else.  Come back to the clicker, and do it again.  Click and treat in different places so your pup doesn’t get used to the clicker at only one location.  Your dog needs to expect it everywhere.  Once you have the clicker primed with your dog, then start on a simple command.  Work with it for a few days and keep going from there.

    Once the dog can do a trick or obedience request about 98% of the time, you can start to phase out the clicker.  Use it every now and then, just to keep the dog on her toes!  If you want to phase it out all together, then switch to a word cue like “YES”.  I run through obedience requests and tricks every day with my dog, just to keep her going and knowledgeable.  She has to sit, down, spin, and do other things (different things on different days) before she is released to go eat her meals.  That is the key to a well-behaved dog.  You don’t just teach them once and forget about it.  You train them constantly through their life! 

    I hope this helped a little bit.  Good luck with your new pup!  🙂

    Oh, here is a link to Karen Pryor’s clicker training website.  She is the clicker training guru for the dog world!  If you have already looked at it…SORRY!


    in reply to: Mike Vick #16569

    Amen Trinity4infinity! 

    The NFL and the NBA are notorious for having felons on their teams.  There was a story on the Michael Smerconish AM radio show that was discussing the Vick issue.  Smerconish brought up some incredibly startling statistics about the percentages of NBA and NFL players that were CONVICTED felons (many repeat felons) who were allowed to play again and make millions of dollars.  I cannot remember the exact percentages, but it was close to 30% of all NFL players and 45% of all NBA players are convicted felons.  Again, many of them being habitual felons.

    What this tells us and our kids is that it is ok to go out and commit crimes, because if you can play sports, you will still make millions and everyone will support you.  A crime doesn’t matter to the NFL and NBA.  It is sick how obsessed the US is with sports and the a**holes who play.  I don’t care if you are “a talented” player or not.  You commited a heinous crime and you should be banned from the sport.  If you are a felon, you should be banned from playing again, and I don’t give one crap about what that crime was.  You are a felon, end of discussion.  You don’t deserve millions and millions to play games, pat each other on the butt, and grab yourself even if you aren’t a felon.

    I loathe the NFL and NBA.  Nothing but a disgrace. 


    in reply to: Early heat? #16563

    You know, it does sound like your dog is going into her first heat cycle.  First heat can vary greatly from dog to dog. The youngest is generally at about six months of age.  Though…  sometimes a female will come into season at an even younger age!  First heat can start as late as 12 or even 14 months of age or later in rare cases. Again, it can vary dog to dog, just as things vary from human to human.  Keep in mind that if this is a heat cycle, she can most definitely get pregnant!

    Some common symptoms to look for when your dog is starting to go into heat or is already in heat are:

    *Swelling of the vulva. This can vary greatly from dog to dog. Some females swell a lot and others hardly at all.  This is usually a good sign.

    *Bleeding from the genital area

    *Increased Urination

    *Change in personality due to the hormones (backing up, humping, etc.)

    At 4 months of age, I highly doubt that the humping is dominance related, but it could be, so you better get it nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.  Interrupt her right away when she is doing it and redirect her to something else, preferably something incompatible with humping.  Sometimes humping is an expression of excess energy, just like barking and chewing is.  A tired dog won’t hump!  Ha ha!  Humping is not always dominance, but is certainly a sign of emotion, whether it be anxiety, overexcitement, stress, or even  an invitation to play…so a lot depends on the situation itself when she begins her little humping episodes.

    I can only hope that you are going to get her spayed at right around 6 months of age!!!!!  You will prevent unwanted pregnancies and keep many other serious medical conditions at bay if you do.






    in reply to: In House dog aggression #16562

    I understand what you mean about how she reacts when you are out walking!  My dog used to do the same thing!  Most of the time she is ok, but there are also some times when it appears that she is “flipping out”.  Believe it or not, what it sounds like you are experiencing is what we call “leash reactivity”. 

    Leash reactivity has become VERY common in our pet dogs, and it can be controlled.  It may never be “cured”, but you can control it.  There are a number of reasons why dogs develop this problem. Some fear or dislike other dogs because of a bad experience with another dog in the past while they were on a leash or tied up in a yard.  To a social animal, being on a leash is a barrier to them.  It could be because she wasn’t all that well socialized on a leash when she was a pup.  For dogs like ours, barking, growling, and lunging on-leash serves a purpose—it keeps approaching dogs away. Other leash-reactive dogs like members of their own species a great deal. In fact, they enjoy playing and greeting so much that they become intensely frustrated when they’re restrained, which makes the reaction look like she is being aggressive.  My dog does great off leash with other dogs, but we still struggle on leash from time to time.

    Watching how dogs greet each other when off-leash could help you understand why it’s so much harder for them to interact on-leash. Unrestrained, sociable dogs usually approach each another in the shape of a “C” or like the ying-yang symbol.  They do this to sniff the important information parts of a dog–the butt and the genitals.  They can show friendly displays also when they greet this way (gentle wagging, soft eyes, etc.). They then circle and sniff each other’s faces and then hindquarters before deciding whether to move on or play together. 

    The scenario of dogs meeting or coming at each other on a walk is vastly different. These dogs are forced to approach head-on, so they’re more likely to make direct eye contact with each other.   Prolonged eye contact, or staring, is actually a threatening gestures in dog body language.  Both dogs are probably pulling hard toward one another, with leashes tight. The strangling sensation of tightening collars adds to the dogs’ tension–it is adding the barrier that I mentioned earlier. As the people walking the dogs become more apprehensive, they may start jerking the leashes and muttering things like “Be NICE!” This likely confirms to the dogs that the approaching dog is actually a threat! 

    I always carry along TONS of high value treats (chicken, liver, hot dog, kielbasa, etc) that my dog doesn’t normally get.  When I see a dog ahead, I start to feed her the treats BEFORE she starts to react to the dog.  I usually have her sit, and then feed her the treats until the dog passes.  Once the dog has passed, I quit with the treats, and we walk on.  I usually do not allow her to pass the dog on the same sidewalk.  Even if she has never reacted, I still would go further away from the other dog as most dogs do NOT like face to face greetings!  After awhile, your dog will look to you for treats when she sees another dog.  The key is to distract her before she sees the other dog, and to associate the other dog with something positive.  We want to yank on the leash and yell at our dog for the way that she is acting, but that is the last thing that you want to do.  I will be honest, it could be a long process, depending on how bad the leash reactivity is.  It took us about 3-4 months that now we can walk and not have such crazy outbursts.  But it is SO worth it now!

    As for what goes on in the house, many dogs do not like strange dogs coming onto their territory.  They are defending “their” home from others!  It is similar to how we defend our home against intruders.  To a dog, another dog is an intruder.  You could always try to introduce them in a neutral environment over a period of time, so that they get used to each other, and then try to see if it would work in your home.  Neutral territory is always the best place to introduce two new dogs.  It is great that your two dogs get along together!  That is awesome.  But for playdates, you may want to stick to outside of the home and in a place that is different than their own homes.  Try setting up small doggie playdates at someone’s home who doesn’t have a reactive dog to strange dogs, or even at a baseball field.  I don’t have as much to say about what is happening in your home, as my dog goes to doggie daycare to play a few times a week, or at a neutral location with other dogs.

    Best of luck to ya!!!!


    in reply to: Raw Food Diet #16561

    Raw food diets are a good thing for dogs, but only IF and ONLY if you know EXACTLY how to feed it to your dog, add the appropriate amounts of vitamins, nutrients, vegetables, etc.  Believe it or not, the kibble and canned food that are fed to dogs tend to be as balanced as they need to be to meet the nutritional needs of dogs.  Well, that is as long as you get HIGH QUALITY dog food, and not Purina Dog Chow or Ol’ Roy. 

    My suggestion would be to do a TON of research before you even think about attempting a raw food diet!  That is not something that I would take lightly.  I started my dog on it for a few months, and switched her back to kibble as it was messing with her GI tract.  What I do know is feed VERY high quality kibble as her primary diet, but supplement with cooked meats, a litte raw meat from time to time, eggs, and veggies.  That may be something to do, that way your dog is getting the correct nutrition and also other yummies too!

    Here are some raw food websites to look at:





    http://www.dogster.com/forums/Raw_Food_Diet  <<–very helpful!!

    These are just a few of  many websites to look at.  PLEASE make sure that you do your research before attempting a raw diet.  It isn’t something that you can just give your dog soem raw meat and call it a day.  It takes so much more than that!







    in reply to: Jacket? #16556

    Well, if you knew my Kayla, you would agree that she is nothing but a hugable tool.

    Now, if it is pouring down rain, she is a bit more hesitant to go potty. But, eventually, she wanders out and then does the rain dance. What can I say. She is a nut job.

    in reply to: Jacket? #16554

    My dog will play in the snow no matter what, but after about 5 minutes, you can see her shivering, though she will continue to play. Since they don’t have thick fur, I just cannot see allowing my girl to play outside without a coat on. On REALLY cold days, she gets boots. Now to go potty, that is different. She just goes out, potties, and then comes back in.

    It was raining this morning here and Kayla LOVES the rain. She was out there trying to catch the raindrops as they hit her in the face, and then she would spin fast in circles, and do zoomies around the yard. Sometimes I think that she enjoys the rain more than any other weather.

    I have a tool as a dog. 🙂

    in reply to: cropped/docked tail?? Please help #16552

    Congrats on your new pittie! Cropping of APBTs tails is not normally done. I hate to ask this, but are you sure it is not a mix of boxer and APBT, or a Boxer? Many Boxers nowadays look like pitties, and vice versa. Boxer/APBT mixes tend to usually have a cropped tail. More than likely, the breeder was an idiot and cropped the tail, or lied about the breed just to get a sale. Regardless of the tail being cropped, it will not harm your dog at all. It will just make reading his intentions and emotions much harder as so much is expressed through the tail (height of tail, depth of wag, speed of wag, etc.). Nubs are hard to read, except that the Boxer has tail movements specifically for the Boxer.

    The AKC does not recognize the APBT as a breed, so there is no need for cropping tails or ears. The UKC recognizes the APBT as a breed, and they look at ears only. The AKC does recognize the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the ears are only to be cropped. The tails are to NOT be cropped, as that would be a huge fault.

    There are very few dog breeds that actually have cropped tails as the norm.

    Papers or not, APBT tails are not cropped. Since the AKC does not recognize the APBT as a breed, more than likely the papers that anyone gets are bogus, which many breeders do to charge a ton of money for their dogs. Any of us can make up “papers”.

    Regardless if your little guy has a full tail or not, love him just the same! 🙂

    in reply to: Too rough and rowdy at the dog park, help! #16551

    You are right, continued socilization is a must, and it is a must until the day that our dogs cross to the Rainbow Bridge. But…a dog park is not the place for appropriate socialization. They are ok if the dog is already socialized to a certain degree. Correcting how she plays with other dogs is not something that you can just “correct” when there are so many differnet dogs that most people have not properly trained or socialized. Dogs all have different “play” styles, and trying to stop a dog from playing a certain way is not as easy as you may think it is. That is why I suggested taking her out of the dog park and arranging smaller play dates.

    Socialization can be and should be done everywhere. Get her out for walks! Walk with other dogs, then a small group play afterwards. Take her to kid’s games when the weather is nicer. People always take their dogs to their kid’s soccer games, etc. Take her to a local playground. There will be dogs there. Go to meetup.com and look for dog groups or bully breed groups in your area that are smaller with people who are looking for the same things. Take your dog places with you as much as you can. Take her to pet stores. Socialization occurs EVERYWHERE, and not just in a dog park. That kind of socialization can actually harm your dog’s social skills. That will just throw you backwards from where you really want to be with Nala. Many humane societies and shelters offer free socialization classes or doggie playdates. All you have to do is look around and ask. What about doggie daycare a day or two a week? At least there, it is a controlled environment, people are always watching the dogs and knowing what to look for, dogs are in groups that suit their personalities, all dogs are vaccinated and healthy, etc. It is a win-win for all! The key to proper socialization is a controlled environment. Dogs are everywhere, and where they are, socialization occurs! To have an extremely socialized dog means a dog that can go anywhere and be anywhere with anyone. By just going to a dog park, you are keeping her from the rest of the world! I can only hope that you do so much more with her than just a dog park. She needs to know how to behave around dogs outside of a dog park. Nala needs to know how to behave around dogs everywhere and not just the dog park.

    The dog park “teaches” dogs how to behave in a chaotic pack situation, but it doesn’t teach them how to act in other situations. That is why I am saying that a dog park isn’t always the greatest idea, especially if that is the only exposure she gets to other dogs. The dog park could turn her into a neurotic dog who cannot handle seeing a dog on the sidewalk in another area. That is not what you want. She needs to be socialized everywhere!

    Have you taken her to any obedience classes? PROPER socialization is definitely gained there, not to mention teaching you what to look for in personality changes and teaching your dog how to behave around other dogs. That would be the first step before ever setting foot in a dog park. Trainers can tell you if your dog is appropriate for a dog park, and what to do when you get there. You don’t just open the gate and let your dog in. That can be REALLY dangerous. But you learn these things in a class. Any type of dog class is acutally the best way to socialize a dog. You have people there who have control over their dogs, and everyone is on the same page. Many obedience classes also have play time afterwards! That is perfect. It is a controlled environment, unlike dog parks where dogs and owners run amuck. There are other classes out there, such as K9 Games that are not only obedience, but fun, monitored, and controlled interaction between the owners and other dogs. THAT is perfect socialization.

    The best way to “train” Nala is to take her to a class or two. Once you realize how she plays or is agressing, then you can go from there on if you want to go back to the dog park. Asking us how to train her won’t help like real trainers can. I am not trying to keep you from a dog park, as that is your personal choice, but from LOTS of experience, classes and small playdates are the way to work up to short stints at a dog park!

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