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Canine Behavior/Aggressive or not


My dog Ruby, long haired Jack/Chi runs and plays at the dog park. She loves being chased. However, she will run up to a person (usually walking), run around them and bark. This action has scared a few people. A girl ran away from her and she continued to run next to her barking. She does not lunge but she gets a few feet away. Ruby does stop when I call her but she will do it again. Is she trying to get attention or is she being aggressive?

Without more information about Ruby's body language it's impossible for me to know if her behavior is an effort to solicit play or if she's presenting an offensive "get away and stay away".

Barking isn't by definition aggressive, it's communication and can have many meanings. And no single behavior can be looked at in a vacuum; rather we need the entire context.

But, I would not encourage nor allow Ruby to continue this behavior essentially because it's impolite. As you've seen, some humans are intimidated by the behavior, even from a small dog. And some dogs may find it offensive and the barking can rile them up and suddenly there is a confrontation where Ruby never intended there to be one.

Since you can call her out of it, I would continue to do that and then have a party with her (love and play and get her to chase you to another part of the park) and redirect her to another activity. And, the goal would be seeing her thinking about doing that behavior and redirecting her to another activity BEFORE she even starts to bark at people or dogs.

I can tell you that terrier dogs do tend to talk a lot by nature. My own terrier mix does seem to need to announce nearly every dog he sees when the dog is between 10 and 100 feet away. Once they're closer than 10 feet, he's very quiet and very appeasing in his body language. But he's a yapper and feels compelled to announce "there's a dog! there's a dog! There's a dog!!!!" I'm working on this with him by guiding him off the main trail (or out of the way if we're not on a trail area) and then plying him with small bites of string cheese - bite after bite after bite after bite.... - until the dog has gone past. In doing this, I'm teaching my dog that the appearance of strange dogs reliably predicts the most amazing food on earth (string cheese) and that it keeps coming until the strange dog is gone. This has reduced his announcing by more than 80% and we continue to have improvement. If I took him to public places where he'd see strange dogs several times per week, I'd be done with this training, but I actually usually take me dogs to a woods area where we almost never see other dogs, so we only get to practice once every 2-8 months when we happen to bump into a stranger with a dog. We prefer play dates with dogs that we already know for the dog socialization...

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to followup if I can be of any further assistance.

Worcester, MA Behavior Specialist
Masters Candidate, Animals and Public Policy (Animal Behavior)
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Behavior  

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

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I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

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