Monday, May 24, 2010

Trainer's Corner: What Makes A Dog A Bully

by Julie Nutter

The personality

There you are, standing in the middle of the kind of drama daytime TV strives for – in one corner you’ve got Puppy A and Puppy B, who are cowering like they’ve just survived Vietnam, while in the second corner Puppies C and D are play bowing, woofing, and having a good time.

In the third corner—and here’s the puppy you WANT because he’s just so cute you can’t handle it—is Puppy E, who is staring down a very nervous looking Puppy F.

A puppy isn't born with a clean slate. Some personality traits are inherited and will start showing very quickly. By interacting with his littermates a puppy quickly learns how far these can take him. Dog communication systems are up and running from day one, and their personalities are forming faster than mom can pop them out. This is very helpful if you do your homework and know either how to pick the “best” puppy for you or how to handle the puppy you've picked.

However, if you are like most people and pick the puppy that is the most appealing to you —Puppy E, despite the fact that he’s over in the corner trying to give Puppy F a heart attack—you may find yourself with a dog who is already a bully in the making.

But not every dog is BORN a bully—some learn it, too.


How your dog meets other dogs, other people or handles himself in a new environment is just as important as getting to meet them and being exposed to new places and situations.

It will do little good to take your dog to meet a new puppy if he’s allowed to run up and greet him face to face. While humans like greeting one another that way, dogs find it rude.

Dogs prefer what we call a calming curve which means that instead of a face-to-face greeting, they arc their bodies and sniff each other’s rear ends, genitals, and maybe even each other’s mouths. (Yes, sometimes in that exact order. Don’t you just want to let your dog lick your face right now?)

A dog that runs right up to another dog’s face is either very brave (albeit very stupid) or is trying to start something. Since you don’t know how a dog approached this way will react—that is, whether he will assume the pup is just rude or if he will assume that he is trying to eat him—don’t take the chance.

Do you have e a dog who likes charging headfirst toward another dog’s face? Perhaps he’s too excited when he’s going to meet another dog—so excited, in fact, that he’s practically pulling your arm out of socket to get there? A dog like this probably isn’t going to remember his manners.

Kittie (right) is meeting Daisey (middle), who is not dog friendly. Though they'd already met, Daisey is showing her displeasure at having been approached face to face.

Here’s a rule of thumb: If you think your dog isn’t going to meet another dog politely, don’t let him meet the other dog; seeing another dog is still a step in the right direction. Socializing doesn’t always have to mean “meet;” first, your dog has to be able to handle himself around other dogs. If he can’t, he shouldn’t be rehearsing the wrong way to do it.

Wait for calmness, and then proceed.


I mentioned rehearsing the wrong thing. Here’s the deal: the more times a dog gets to do it the wrong way, the harder it’s going to be to retrain him to do it the right way, and the more likely the poor guy is going to get himself into trouble.

Why train him to do it the right way? If you don't, you’re putting yourself, your dog, and other dogs at risk. Not only could another dog take offense and take it out on your dog—or you—but bullying CAN escalate into aggression.

Note: If you think your dog is aggressive, or is headed toward the path of aggression, contact a professional trainer or behaviorist. The IAABC, APDT, CAPDT, and CDBC websites have a section dedicated to finding a professional in your area. Look them up, and give them a call.

What are these “wrong things” I keep referring to? Here are some examples (a few already mentioned) :
  1. Dog runs straight up to another dog’s face as a “greeting.”
  2.  Constantly tries to put his head or paws over the shoulders of another dog.
  3. Dog - females included - tries to mount another dog or even hump the air next to him.
  4. Dog that constantly mouths other dogs - especially around the neck area, even more so if done in an over-the-shoulders fashion.
NOTE: These are only few examples, and they’re not written in stone. A single occurrence does not necessarily mean that your dog is a bully.
Case example: Maggie May and adolescence
One day my brother was doing sit-ups on the floor of his bedroom. Maggie was hanging out, sitting on top of the bed and watching him. Suddenly, she hopped off the bed, ran over to him, and mounted his leg.

This confused and distressed my brother greatly - so much so that he abandoned his exercise and immediately contacted our trainer and behaviorist. (…who subsequently probably about fell over laughing. We’ll never know; he won’t tell us.)

Maggie wasn’t being a bully. She wasn’t even being bad - she simply was an adolescent dog who got overly excited, wasn’t quite sure of her position in the pack, and just so happened to think humping my poor brother’s leg while he was exercising was a grand idea.
Coping Skills

What do I mean by coping skills? Let's take a look at an example.

Kittie and I were walking along, and lo and behold, ahead of us was a dog that was dragging his human down the street. Kittie was interested and would have liked to investigate, even though the dog was coming off a little strongly for either of our tastes. Being a smart and savvy owner… I knew that I couldn’t possibly know how a meeting with that particular dog would turn out. I turned, called her to me - and away from the interesting dog - and walked away.

A dog with lacking coping skills could have had a variety of reactions to that encounter (or lack thereof.) First, she may have balked and freaked out about the fact that there was another dog. She may have also gotten snippy with me when she realized that I wasn’t going to allow her to meet the other dog.

Whether you’re asking your dog to handle herself in a new environment, handle being told the n-o word, handle hearing a loud noise, etc; she’s being asked to use her coping mechanisms. A dog without them… is a dog who was likely allowed to rehearse fears, demanding behaviors; or if she was ever asked for a command, she never had to perform it. Again, these are examples, and dogs without coping skills also come from abused or neglected homes, or they may even bad genetics.
Case example: Emma Dog
The first day I met Emma, I knew she was a bully. We - my dog Kittie and I - were standing in the front of the Doggy Daycare, waiting for the day’s arrivals when Emma came in to meet us.

Emma came in nicely, and Kittie tried to engage her in a nicely done calming curve sniff, but instead Emma ran right up to her and started shoving her around using her shoulders. She jumped on her back, tried to bite at her neck, and would do it all over again even after she was called off.

Emma is not a patient dog; she wants what she wants right now and she gets extremely upset when things don’t go her way. The day I met her, I said she was headed straight down a Very Bad Path.  I did my best with what little time I had with her to teach her “Permission Please” and it worked well … but only when she was with me.

Unfortunately, Emma’s mom and dad allow her to bully them - and other dogs - into giving her anything and everything she wants.

Emma Dog’s mom doesn’t have her ask “Permission Please” before she gets anything. Emma gets to bark, growl, whine, snap, and rehearse any type of demanding, poor behavior she so pleases before she gets her goody, her ball, etc. So, when Emma Dog comes to daycare, she expects life to be much the same.

Last time I saw Emma, it had been quite a few months since I’d driven the hour and a half drive to Paws N Claws to help out with Daycare for the day. I expected her to be much the same, but since I’d last heard that Emma was going to Dog School, I had high hopes for the once-demanding pooch.

Unfortunately, I was in for an unpleasant surprise. The door to outside is not double-gated, and though everyone is on leash, I ask for a sit before the door is opened, just to make extra sure that everything is in order and no one is going to slip his leash and make a dash for State Route 14. I will not do anything that could result in the loss of one of these precious pooches.

However, Miss Emma Dog - who knows “sit” very well - was too busy staring at the door intently to comply with my “Permission Please” request. I waited…and waited…and waited….

And Emma Dog turned around and barked, whined, and growled at me, demanding I open the door RIGHT NOW. (I ignored this, but moved all other dogs away from Emma, so that she could not make the decision to take her frustration out on anything but a door knob. Emma doesn’t have very good coping skills. When she’s not given her way, she explodes into a frustrated rage and will attack anything near her - be it a fence post, a human, or another dog.)

I just waited. It wasn’t going to hurt my feelings if she didn’t get her way.

She sat out of sheer frustration, but I took it and ran with it, told her good girl, released her, and opened the door.
Bullying is on the rise. And so is puppy aggression. Whether it’s due to genetics, socialization, rehearsing poor behavior, lack of coping skills, or even lack of decent training - it’s still on the rise.

We need to be educated owners with our dog’s best interests in mind and in heart. That means that we need to train OUR dogs how to properly greet and handle themselves in the presence of other dogs. Even if it means that sometimes we’re going to have to say “no” to an owner of the cutest, most adorable puppy that we don’t feel comfortable allowing our dog to meet. We can’t possibly leave it up to the other dog parents to get it together. When it comes to your dog, it’s up to you. There’s no reason to allow your dog to be bullied by another dog, or to be the bully.


Julie is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and is working on her case studies to become a member of the International Association of Animal Behvaior Consultants. She coaches parents to train their fur-children in Confidence Building for fearful dogs, Agility, Rally, FlyBall, and Obedience. In her free time, she volunteers at local shelters and reads up on the newest dog-world information. You can visit her website at

Related articles:
More Than Meets The Eye: Dog Language And Beyond Part III
Book Review: Tail Talk
Book Review: How To Speak Dog
Book Review: How Dogs Think
Book Review: The Other End Of The Leash
Book Review: On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals


  1. Loved your article.

    Kenzo has some of that bullying behavior too. Nine out of ten times he is the polite dog taking into account the "state of mind" of the other dog before greeting (or not greeting).

    But dogs that are trying to approach overly excited (could be bully?) he goes "down" and wait until they are 5 to 10 meters away, and then he rushes over and stops just before them and makes himself as tall as possible. Almost like wanting to run them over. Depending on the reaction of the other dog he then either stares them down or when the other dog is in discomfort starts sending calming signals: He looks away (doesnt stare at them) and puts his ears back. If the other dog does some calming signals he relaxes and sometimes just goes his way again. If not he can start "dancing" around the other dog and bark.

    From the dogs that I know he does this with, they are bully's. Why is Kenzo doing this? Is he bullying the bully? Should I do something about it you think?

  2. When you say he rushes over to them and stops just before them...What is the context of this situation? Are you in a dog park? Walking off lead somewhere?
    While it's one thing to allow him to show/tell the other dog that bullying behavior will not work with him, it's quite another if he rushes right up to one of them... A dog - a seemingly NICE dog - could take that offesively and attack him.
    (I am so conservative it's practically psychotic. I have broken up and averted so many potentially dog-life threatening situations, so my perspective is always safety-first.)
    Think of it this way - you're a dog over pushing the other dogs around, trying to bully them into playing with you because that's how you think you're supposed to do it, and over RUSHES another dog, who stops and makes himself very big. If adequately scared enough, you may believe that your absolute only option is to defend yourself, because this dog is going to eat you.
    Three options here - Fight, flight, or submit. Bully dogs may honestly give in to a dog they don't think they can take on, but you've got a 33% chance, every time he rehearses this behavior, that the other dog will attack him, if only to "defend" himself.
    (Again, I come from a facility that is specifically a behavior facility, so we have many classes dedicated to aggressive/fearful/reactive dogs. This means that if any of them were approached in that manner for any reason, there's a high chance of a scuffle or worse.)
    So, if you mean "rushes over" the way I think you do, you may honestly consider teaching him a more appropriate reaction. (I can help with advice, trouble-shooting, etc, but through e-mail or private messaging of some sort. The deal is that every dog is unique and so is every if someone else read advice for you and decided that it would work for them, they may end up getting bitten, attacked, or worse...)
    I would honsetly recommend teaching an alternative action to him when he sees/meets these other dogs, and also to change the way he feels about those dogs.
    Anyway, let me know how he's doing. I'm looking forward to more Kenzo and Viva updates on your blog. =]

  3. I agree with what JJ says, but it seems to me that sometimes some dogs just need to 'be told' in a way they can really understand ;-)

    Most of the bullies I've seen are actually quite cowards. Could it go wrong? Possibly ... but maybe Kenzo would know what the right action is than also.

    While I don't like the idea of dogs taking matters in their own hands, sometimes I have the feeling that we are trying to control things too much. Though of course it is always better to be safe than sorry.

  4. In Doggy Daycare, we often allow the small puppies to be a little over-the-top with the bigger dogs - so long as the big dogs are what we feel is "appropriate." This teaches the puppies what behaviors will be accepted by the other dogs, and what behaviors will not. Sometimes, they also learn that just because one dog is okay with being pushed around, others are not...this teaches them to be cautious and a little more respectful. IE: they'll invite play rather than dash up to another dog willy-nilly.
    My best advice, other than to teach Kenzo that you've got it under control and he doesn't need to rush up to anyone is to watch the OTHER dog's body language.
    Most dogs won't turn around and try to nap Kenzo, but if you see one duck his head low, make hard eye-contact, and tense, for example, you may consider calling him off.
    (I actually like when the dogs kind of tell the other dogs off... so long as no one starts to take it as an affront, they learn that their behavior won't get them what they want, and they'll learn which one will - and usually it's the appropriate behavior we want them to learn.)

  5. Yes, watching the dogs body language is really important at all times.

  6. I came in through the blog hop on your arthritis post but was quickly drawn to this post instead. I've been here before and always find invaluable information. Thank you for that.

    Our Emmett was a stray who bullied his way through everything. This landed him in a kennel for a year with no interested families to rescue him. When our rescue dog died, we took Emmett out of the kennel in a foster capacity. 6 months later, we knew he still needed lots of guidance and that a family looking for a cudly pup was never going to choose Emmett. We adopted him and continue to work with him nearly a year later.

    Emmett has come so far but has so far to go. The good news is that he wants approval and is willing to work for it. Yesterday we took him for his first car ride and walked him in a quiet space with our Newf. He did very well and might be closer to entering a formal training environment with other dogs. Still, we'll be very, very watchful and gauge every move he makes.

    The hardest part is curbing our anticipation of unwanted behavior and having faith in his progress. It's a tricky balance to avoid our own same thought patterns from holding him back and yet ensuring a safe environment for all.

  7. Hi! Thank you for reading, I'm glad you find my blog helpful.

    It is true that our own anticipation of bad behavior can really get in the way and go as far as to developing into a phobia.

    Often our subconscious actions, that stem from our own fears, are what actually triggers the behaviors we fear and creates a vicious circle.

    This stuff is not easy to deal with. Setting up controlled scenarios is often helpful.

    The good news is that a good trainer (should you decide to take some formal classes) should be able to help with the situations.

  8. I have full confidence that you can think positive while keeping a safe environment for everyone. If you guys have come this far, you and Emmet can take it all the way. =] You sound like a very dedicated, responsible owner, and I wish the best for the two of you.
    I bet Emmet is a very lucky dog to have found a famiy willing to work with him so much.

  9. I may be a dog trainer, but sometimes I really hate dog trainers.

    125$/hr, unless you live in Hollywood, is a, it's just flat out ridiculous. It doesn't even matter how long you've been doing it or how good you think you are, you don't need to charge your clients that much.

    When I have skeptical clients who want help, but aren't sure they're going to like the methods or the price, I do a low fee assessment. (which really just covers cost of gas and the much needed coffee) Two people go to you, listen to your problems with your pup, and tell you how they can help you. There are always a couple of different ways. If you like the idea and wish to try, we negotiate price. We're more concerned over whether you're willling to put in the work than how much you'll put in our pockets.

    My personal trainer and behaviorist has maybe the best quote I've ever heard when it comes to our profession: "The only thing two dogs trainers can agree upon is what the third is doing wrong."

    That being said, I wouldn't have taken you and Duncan to a dog park until you were so good at handling yourself in the craziest of situations that a bunch of dogs running past him, within inches, wouldn't have interested him. Mom would have the better things, and who cares about them? But that's just my opinion, and I'm much more concervative than most trainers.

    How do you think tightening down on his Gentle Leader (and are you sure it's not a Halti; I've never seen a Gentle Leader that tightens) helped him to relax? It's been my experience that any tension on the leash, even if it's only psychological, only creates more frustration...not calmness.

    Of course, I wasn't there, and for all I know that could work with Duncan. (In training, unfortunately, nothing is black and white.)

    Yeah, control and all that works wonders when you're in a structured "classroom." But it's almost never the same out in the real world.

    Now, if Duncan reacts to another dog and the human-dog team he reacts to turns and walks away THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING. Now, I'm not saying they should get closer, but if Duncan reacts, I strongly recommend that you give him something of a negative marker cue (No, Too Bad, That's Enough, etc) and YOU & DUNCAN WALK AWAY. Then, when he refocuses on you, goodie and praise.
    Why I say this is because if Duncan reacts - barks, growls, lunges - and the other dog/human goes away, he thinks, "AHA! All I have to do to increase the distance between myself and these weirdos is to REACT!" and the behavior just gets stronger. He puts that in his toolbox and whips it out whenever he's uncomfortable or doesn't want another dog in his space. Worse yet, the more times he rehearses that behavior, the further away his threshold (fancy term for personal space) becomes. The last reactive dog we worked with was six months old and had a 70 ft threshold. It can get pretty ridiculous.

    No, it's never worth it to pay 125$ for an hour of that. I wouldn't pay her 3$.

    You'll never get it right every time; a trainer for 40 years won't get it perfect every time. Human error. But you're doing very well if he's refocusing on you like that. Good job to both of you!

    Know that it's okay if he still has a little trouble with dogs; he may never be perfect with them. So long as he can handle himself in their presence, focus back on you, and you can move him away from a potentially bad situation, you're good for go. There are some dogs who simply do not like most other dogs. That's not the short and the long of it, but like I said, if he can handle himself, or if you can get him turned around and not let him focus in on them, you're doing alright.

  10. Dear Melinda

    Deleted, please re-post.
    Maybe indicated what dates they were from (approx)

  11. May 31, 2010
    This is a great post. I have a bully who mounts other dogs--had to stop taking him to the dog park. He has one dog--my niece and nephew's dog--whom he loves dearly. But he is even "bossy" with our 12 year old female. I have worked with a trainer on leash aggression, but never the bullying stuff. (I'm not sure it was worth the money, so I haven't gone back to address the bullying stuff. I found Patricia McConnell's method of reducing negative emotion with treats when other dogs approach much more effective.)

    Would you be willing to post some suggestions for how to handle a bully? For example, pulling my dog off the other dog only made him growl more and snap at the dog he was mounting. So I don't know any other methods.

  12. May 31, 2010
    Thank you for responding. My dog is reactive on leash and a bully off-leash. He only gets close enough to mount when he is at the dog park, which is where we do not go anymore.

    I have used my trainer twice. We have never been to a class, just private. I'm guessing that is because my dog is reactive/aggressive on leash. The first session was at the dog park where she had me turn him and/or tighten down on his Gentle Leader until he became relaxed. The second session was about a year later and we worked with my dog at a local shelter. She had shelter staff bring out various dogs, had my dog and me walk past one at a safe distance, and when he started to react, turn him in the opposite direction until he relaxed. Immediately upon relaxing, we would turn back towards the other dog. Then she had us walk closer and go through the steps again. It worked very well. But, I found that it doesn't work in real life because the other random human and dog don't wait around for my dog to chill out and return to them--they just keep walking away. Does that make sense? And for $125/hr., it's not worth it.

    Patricia McConnell's method works best so far. However, it isn't perfect--at least we don't get it right every time. Sometimes I'm too late at getting his attention; sometimes he is just too focused. But for the most part, now whenever we see stranger kids or bikes or dogs or even big loud trucks, he looks back at me and I reward him. It's the dogs that he has trouble with still.

    Thanks again for your response and help. He is the sweetest boy, my best bud, and I want him to be happy and healthy.

  13. I have a toy American Eskimo dog named Chaucer who is 1 year old. My bf and I have had him 3 months. He was never socialized with people or with animals, never taken for walks, and never taken in the car. We've been doing our best to expose him to as much as possible and he's come a long way. But there's still a couple things that I'm not sure what to do about.

    At the dog park, he loves to play and chase - especially small, energetic dogs like him. Big dogs he's pretty calm with, but he'll bark if they come into his face or are too energetic.

    Anyway, sometimes people bring puppies into the park to socialize them. These dogs usually sit between their owner's legs with their tails tucked, running away from any dog that tries to approach them. For some reason Chaucer always goes for them. He barks, nips at their hind legs, and jumps around them. He doesn't show teeth, hold onto them, or try to mount them. When they start to stand up to him he'll leave them alone. Sometimes the two will start to play, but other times the owners get mad and try to separate them. I don't know if this behaviour is okay or not. Should I be correcting him and taking him out of the situation, or should I let the dogs work it out for themselves?

    1. It sounds to me he's trying to encourage them to a play. So I don't think there is anything wrong with what he's doing.

      However, if the other dog or owner are not comfortable with that, I'd think it's best to redirect his attention to something else.

      Best strategies to put a shy dog at ease is actually to ignore them and let them come up if they wish. Jasmine is good at that. But Chaucer is very proactive as it seems. He could use learning some calming signals but I don't feel he means any harm.

      I wouldn't correct that per se, just redirect it. Make yourself interesting so he engages with you instead, and encourage him to walk away with you.

  14. My bf and I have a Toy American Eskimo dog named Chaucer, who is a little over 1 year old. We've had him 3 months now. He was never socialized with people or with animals and was never taken on walks or in the car before we got him. He's doing a lot better now that we've been exposing him to new things, but there's still a couple things I'm concerned about.

    I take him to the dog park fairly regularly. He loves to play and chase small, energetic dogs like himself. He doesn't like to play with big dogs but he's still friendly. He does bark if they walk up to his face or stand over his neck, which is normal as far as I know.

    Anyway, sometimes people bring really shy puppies into the park. These dogs sit between their owner's legs and walk away from any dog that comes up to them with their tail between their legs. For some reason, Chaucer loves to harass those dogs. He barks at them, nips their back legs, and jumps back and forth. If the puppy tries to run away, he'll chase them. But if the puppy stands up for themselves, he'll leave them alone. Sometimes they even play. But other owners get mad and pick up their puppy, or even leave with them.

    I don't know if I should be correcting him, or if I should just let them work it out.

    1. Personally, while it can be ok to let the dogs to work it out; I think exercising some control over the situation is a good thing.

  15. Hello! My husband Pieter and I have a 40 lb Pit named Aries. Aries was born and raised in a wonderful kennel after her mother was given up by the owners, and we bought her four months later. She's always been a dog with lots of personality, and overcoming her fearful nature has been (and continues to be) a daily obstacle. Aries has overcome fear of things like stairs and bags, to children and other random items that I could never have imagined to be 'scary'. Regardless, she's come leaps and bounds and is now a very sweet, playful pup.

    She'll be turning 2 in April so I understand she's still got somewhat of a puppy mentality but we're running into something else that we didn't foresee, and are unsure of the proper training techniques. A dog park was recently erected in our neighborhood and we have been very excited about it, and visited it many times. The problem is that lately we've noticed that she's a 'Tarzan', if you will. She always runs right up to dogs face to face and then sometimes will proceed with the smelling of the tush, but firstly, is always in their face. Although her tail is wagging furiously, her hackles are a little up and she definitely tries to be as big as possible. She's a rough player, as well - she wants to run as fast as possible and is always super eager - the bigger the dog, the better the playmate.

    We've noticed that she can't seem to reign in her play aggression. As in with any smaller dog (pugs and smaller) she seems to be a huge bully. She pushes into them, kind of pouncing with pushing with her chest, and when they don't want to have anything to do with her and try to run away, she chases after them, sometimes barreling into them and sending them rolling. She also seems to 'target' these dogs. Even if there's 5 other large dogs running around having a blast, she still goes after the little dogs. What's that about?

    We also saw today that there was a rather timid dog at the park, albeit larger than Aries, and at one point the dog was between its owner and the fence. Aries had run over to it to make it play, and it quite obviously wasn't having it. It then turned a bit 'mouthy' and both dogs started snapping at each other and making noise. It was entirely Aries' fault and we immediately grabbed her, made her sit and then took her home. In hind sight, I feel as though I should have rolled her on her back in submission, yes? We're just kind of left stressed out, wanting her to be able to play, but not have to worry about any negative outcomes.

    I've already come to the realization that we let her have way too much of the house she's allowed to jump up on us, is allowed on the couch, etc. and this is a need for change. Aside from taking control of the home and making sure she knows we're dominant over her, what other types of training could we enlist to correct this behavior? Any suggestions?

    - Emily

    1. Hi Emily,

      yes, you indeed have a problem brewing. Running up to dogs face to face is a very forceful behavior, so are body-checks and so on.

      Note: wagging tail on its own only means that the dog wants to interact. Furious wagging means high arousal. I imagine the tail is held quite high during these encounters ...?

      Even during the roughest play (with dogs who do like to play rough) there should not be raised hackles.

      Please explain what you mean by "making sure you're dominant over her?" That might not be the best idea, depending on what exactly you're doing.

      You could try NILIF (nothing in life is free), which means that a dog has to earn everything they get by good behavior (no food, no attention, no priviledges without earning them first, even if by simple things such as sit and wait).

      What I would recommend, though, is this:
      a) I would stop taking him to the dog park at this time, as he is not equipped to cope

      b) I would seek a qualified positive method dog trainer, because he needs to learn to accept other dogs, treat them politely and not to consider them a threat or a challenge.

  16. Hi
    Thanks for a wonderful blog :) I know this an old post but I came across this looking for some insight. I have a 2,5 year old German Shepherd, he is quite tall for a GSD and is thus bigger than the other GSD's, I adopted him from a shelter when he was 5months old and do obedience training with him and a bit of flyball, he is fine with other dogs, ignores them when we are working he can even do his out of sight stay without caring about the dog next to him. but after training social is where he just shines so to speak. it all started when he started to mature at about 2yrs, he used to very good buddies playing nicely with another GSD but at 2yrs he started to get really aggressive with that GSD and I realized that it must be hormones and male competitiveness, although he is neutered the other dog is intact and that poor dog has not matured yet, at that stage so he was still very playful puppy like, I limited and then totally restricted contact with that dog, but he absolutely hates that dog now, apart from that he dislikes other GSD's very much, if he sees them he goes into bully mode and if he gets a chance will pin them, roll them, push them, nip them on the neck and jump on their backs (don't worry he never gets a chance anymore), if the GSD is not boisterous he will get used to them and ignore them but as soon as they display a little bit of excitement he is determined to get to them to bully, he is absolutely fine with other breeds, ignoring them as if they are unimportant but must admit loves border collies, he is a sucker for them, he also hates long haired GSD's more than other GSD's which is a lot. It does not bother me very much as he is not a dominant dog otherwise, usually when I put him in his crate he is happy, unless one of the dogs he singled out to be eliminated from planet earth walks by he will bark at them (puppyhood friend, a long haired gsd and a snappy nervous gsd), I also wait until most dogs have left the dog class and then let him of leash with dogs he is fine with. He does not even react when two other dogs pick up a scrap, unless it involves one of the hated ones, except for the nervous dog which snapped at me once the others have done nothing to him at all.
    1) Is it normal that he only hates GSDs?
    2) is it something I am doing wrong or did wrong and how can I change his behaviour?

    Any insights would be appreciated, apart from bully articles I cant really figure which dog aggression category he falls into. He loves people and is a very confident dog and has a lot of energy himself.