I was on a doggie forum the other day and had an interesting
conversation with a person about his pup’s rough play at dog parks. I
thought you would be interested so I’ve posted it here. Let me know if
you found this helpful.

Jack: “Hello my 7 month old Brittany has suddenly become aggressive
towards certain dogs while in the local park. He has had plenty of
socialization since day one. It appears that he will test the other
dog for a reaction and if he gets nothing back then it seems to fire
him up to the point where he is close to full on attack. This is
embarrassing as well as annoying as my wife now refuses to take him
out and tonight I was told by 2 regular walkers that he has already
got a bad name and people will avoid him because of this . Can anyone
help me with this dilemma?”
Jim Burwell: “Sometimes putting a pup with only older mature dogs that
can teach your adolescent pup to better read dog body language and
respond appropriately is the way to go. Pups come into their
Protective/Agressive stage of development at around 4 1/2 to 6 1/2
months of age.

You should not set your dog up to fail by allowing play with other
adolescents who challenge his assertive and reactive behavior. This
sends him the wrong message about appropriate play.

To a certain degree you can help your dog communicate calming signals
(no harm intended) to other dogs on walk by turning your dog sideways
(arching around the oncoming dog) as you pass. This can be a long
process that takes time and dedication on your part. Seek help from a
professional “positive reinforcement” trainer in your area.

Hope this helps.”

Jack: “Thanks Jim. Having read this it does make a lot of sense
because when he is around older dogs he is very well behaved and the
dogs he is aggressive towards are all around his age. Although there
is one dog which is mature that Marley is very fond of playing with
and has as much energy as him that sometimes takes the playing a bit
too far and then turns on my dog. Do you think he may be picking bad
habits up off this dog?”

Jim Burwell: “How your pup plays with one dog will, to a certain
extent, shape how he plays with other dogs until he finally learns to
read other dog body language -calming signals and distance increasing
signals specifically. It will be difficult to isolate him completely
from all adolescent dogs unless you don’t allow play at all. This is
not advisable because he needs gobs of socialization. Pups can learn
quickly; however, reliability only comes with experience and maturity.
He’s got to have the experience as he matures. So now it gets down to
training, training, training. If your pup will respond to “off!” or
“leave it!” then “come!” around other dogs you can stop the rough play
when he ignores other dog’s calming signals and he will eventually
“get it.” I enjoyed our “chat” here and look forward to hearing about
your eventual outcome.

Hope this helps and….good luck.”
Jim Burwell, Jim Burwell’s Petiquette