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Canine Behavior/Papillionx afraid of bigger dogs.

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Question
I am wondering how i can get my small young dog to be relaxed about bigger dogs. He has not shown any signs of an aggressive nature, He is usually calm, energetic and friendly.
He is a 7 month old desexed Papillion x (crossed with what we aren't sure)and only recently he has become extremely fearful of bigger dogs. there has been no previous socialization with bigger dogs that has turned sour. He plays just fine with dogs who are close to his size.
When we are at the park and a bigger dog approaches him he runs away as fast as he can yelping and crying. He's only little and the bigger dog easily catches up and tries to play. often my dog will run into a corner of the park and be backed up against a wall. he will then turn on the bigger dog and become quite aggressive towards it, barking and snarling, curling his upper lip baring his teeth, ears back and whatnot. So far this has not been too bad because the bigger dogs have been quite laid back and not reacted too much.
I am concerned that the next time a bigger dog approaches mine it may turn into a fight. A bigger dog would easily demolish my little one.
I have considered keeping him on leash and not taking him to the park.
Is their any way I can reduce his fear of bigger dogs?
Hope you can help!
Eleanor

Answer
STAY AWAY FROM DOG PARKS.  It is not uncommon for a perfectly normal, friendly, bidable and charming small dog breed to be fearful of larger dogs: I have one myself.  She was a rescue from a seriously neglectful home and was more than two years of age when I acquired her.  She had no socialization whatever except to the cats in the home and then another small breed dog introduced.  She was not house trained; she had not even been vaccinated, let alone GROOMED.

Best defense is good offense: on the street, when a larger dog is IN YOUR SIGHT and clearly approaching, prepare to distract your dog upon HER sight of the OTHER dog. Even if she begins to react by giving attention, barking, etc., immediately begin a very large circle, left, then right, during which time you will use a very happy silly voice and say anything you choose:  "LOOK WHAT A PRETTY DAY IT IS, AREN'T YOU HAPPY, COME WITH ME".  After many repetitions (perhaps up to 50 or more), your small breed dog will begin to SOMEWHAT lose her apprehension at the approach of a larger dog.  You must always be ready to re-direct her in this manner.  I have a neighbor with a small Doxie mix who is using this method and IT WORKS. I have another neighbor whose Min Pin is terrified of other dogs and we are using this method when our dogs meet AND IT IS WORKING for him, he is losing his fear of my dog.  Be persistent and calm, and upbeat.  Keep circling until the larger dog has passed, then go forward as normal.

Dog parks are, to me, a horror.  Far too many out of control dogs with clueless owners.  All it takes is ONE large breed dog to react with a fight/flight response to your dog's reaction and your dog can be DEAD.  Dogs do NOT need "play time" with other dogs.  They are not human children.  "Play" between/among dogs is ALWAYS a test of social hierarchy.  A good, friendly, kind dog will "play" in a good, friendly, kind way.  Another dog might not.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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