A dog bully is not someone anyone likes to be around.
These unsuitable dogs are aggressive, obnoxious, and tone deaf when it comes to dog-speak, and instead of abiding by the conventions of proper social behavior, they create their own standards.
Because dog play frequently appears passionate and exaggerated, it can be challenging to identify bullies because many pet parents may view their dog’s aggressive behavior as simply a natural aspect of play. However, if you pay close attention to how a bully dog interacts with his prey, you’ll notice that only one member of the pair is having fun.
Do You Have a Bully Dog? How to Recognize Bullying Actions
Concerned that your dog may be a bully? Consider the following inquiries for yourself:
1. Does your dog consistently chase, tackle, pin, or bark at other dogs?
Give and take are a part of good dog play. Even if one dog is the designated chaser and the other is the designated chase-ee, you should notice instances where both dogs pause to reset the interaction or even switch roles so that the dog that was being pursued is now the one being pursued or the wrestler is once again at the bottom of the scrum. If your dog disregards this important aspect of play, he could become aggressive to the point of bullying.
2. How does your dog respond when a playmate tries to decline to play with him?
Play can occasionally turn from enjoyable to overstimulating. When that occurs, one dog will typically express his displeasure with the heated exchange by backing away and shaking himself off, or if the situation has become particularly heated, by giving a more overt indication, such as a harsh glare or growl.
A bully will disregard what the other dog is telling him and keep pinning, biting, body slamming, pursuing, or doing whatever it is he’s doing to frighten the other dog, whereas a suitable playmate would take the feedback to heart and back off.
3. Does your dog often concentrate on one other dog?
Bullying dogs sometimes choose a target and pursue it obstinately. The bully zeroes in on his target, frequently a smaller or less confident dog, and doesn’t back off, even though there may be other dogs nearby that are better matched in terms of size or play style. When your dog pursues the other dog obstinately although the other dog appears to be attempting to flee, your dog is probably bullying him.
Since you know… Educating your dog to avoid bullying
It requires a good sight and quick reflexes to change a canine bully. It is preferable to train your dog in a controlled setting, such as a gated yard, rather than in a park where there is a greater chance of distraction from other dogs and more open space.
Choose a confident playmate for this activity who can put up with dog misbehaving and won’t be offended by your dog’s pushiness. Avoid canines that might be intimidated by the bully dog’s antics.
The exercise’s purpose is to teach your dog that playing with other dogs ends when he is pushy. A verbal marker can be used to capture the specific instant when your dog exhibits inappropriate behavior, just like a clicker does to note the exact moment when a dog performs a correct activity.
Whatever term or phrase you choose, just be sure it’s brief and doesn’t seem irate when you say it. A neutral tone of voice and the words “Time out” or “No thanks!” should be sufficient. Before the play session starts, put your dog on a long, flexible leash. You may enforce the time-out using this “drag line” without having to place your hand between the dogs.
Recognize the beginning of bullying behavior and put an immediate stop to it.
Bullying dogs might start their work right once or take time to build up to a fever pitch. If your dog behaves nicely around the other dog at first, compliment him for it and let them carry on playing.
If your dog has an exceptionally high recall, you should occasionally call him to you during the session to take brief “de-escalation” intervals where you may praise him and give him a tiny treat. This gives your dog a brief moment to calm down, which may stop the bullying before it even begins.
Watching the other dog is the key to recognizing when play has turned from enjoyable to dangerous. Use your time-out sentence to signal your dog’s misbehavior when the other dog shows signs of stress (tucked body, head down, ears back) or appears to be attempting to flee from your dog. Then, take the long line and guide your dog away from the amusement.
Take a pause of 30 seconds during which your dog is not in contact with the other dog. As you take him away, keep your tone neutral and avoid saying the time-out term again. It’s essential to use the time-out command as soon as your dog exhibits aggressive behavior and to promptly walk him away. Saying the command without any follow-through or delaying the start of the time-out would slow you down and probably confuse your dog. Your dog should eventually learn that if he behaves inappropriately around his playmate, the fun ends. This will happen with enough repetitions of the statement and the time-out.
Having said that, you might have to call it a day if your dog’s actions continue to annoy the other dog despite multiple timeouts or it appears that they are not having any effect.
Rehab can be time-consuming because bullying is so gratifying for the aggressive dog. Even the most obnoxious of hounds should learn that fair play is the way to go if you reward your dog for acceptable interactions and take timely behavior breaks.