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Shiba Inu Attacking Small dogs at the Park
  • Luis00183Luis00183
    Posts: 15
    Our shiba, Ruka, is 2 and a half and she has always disliked when other dogs came to our house which was "her" territory. We also have a white german shepherd who is 2 as well, and 2 cats. She is definitely the alpha of the house, but they have never really gotten into a fight other than her growling if he comes too close, and then he will just walk away. We are members of a paid 42 acre dog park that has hiking trails and a special small dog area. We have been taking her there for most of her life. The first incident happened when she was one and we had just gotten her nails clipped. We were outside of the park and she was on leash. Out of nowhere, she lunged and started ferociously biting at a 13 year old beagle. It was so frightening and out of nowhere that the beagles owner screamed. I figured it was just because she was on a leash and was upset about getting her nails clipped because she hates it, and was taking it out on him. Then we went a year with no other incidents. She would bark and snap if she didn't want to play with another dog but it never escalated, the other dog would leave her alone. Then, last weekend we were in the small dog park (she dislikes the large dog area, and will sit at the gate and refuse to socialize or move). There was a yorkie type small dog that was close to her in size and they were both standing in the shallow water of the lake. Before they were standing near each other, she had been playing alone in the water splashing around or just standing around in the water and observing. She went up and stood next to the long haired dog and their backs were to me and it honestly looked cute like they were just enjoying the peaceful lake view together. Out of nowhere, Ruka jumped on top of him viciously snarling and biting and barking. I ran and grabbed her off of the other dog. Luckily the other dog was not hurt, but unfortunately he had just had surgery on one of his back legs and his owner was obviously very upset. When I picked her up she was panting and excitable and still snarling. I immediately took her home and put her in her crate. I am looking for anyone who has maybe had a similar situation with their shiba and what worked, or any suggestions. I love Ruka so much so I have been extremely upset by this whole ordeal. I have been trying to do more training at home, because usually she has free roam of the house, grazes her food, gets away with humping the cats and chasing them (although I think they like to play with her sometimes). So we have been trying to be very strict at home to see if that will change her behavior at the park. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • koyukikoyuki
    Posts: 1244
    If it were me i would not take her back to the dog park- it is unfair on the other dogs. Shibas can get pretty intolerant as they mature. My two 2 yr old Shibas are very intolerant and dog aggressive. They do not like other dogs (regardless of being well socialized) so i do not force them to be around other dogs-they will not enjoy it, get stressed and hurt someone elses pet.
    Not all dogs like other dogs and it is irresponsible to put your own dog amd others in a situation that can be very serious.
    Koyuki - red female
    Takeo- cream male
    Kenji- black and tan male
    Suma- sesame female
    Haruki-brindle Japanese Akita Inu
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 5171
    She is reactive to other dogs. It often develops about this age in Shibas, and I, personally, think females are worse than males in this regard. Bottom line: you're not going to be able to take her to the dog park. It's not fair to other dogs there, and she may very well seriously injure or even kill another dog. Most Shibas are not dog park dogs, but often people can get away with it until a dog matures (which happens at about 2).

    This is not about "alphas" or "dominance" or being "strict." (Please check the thread linked in my signature about dominance). this is about the fact that your girl is not going to get along with other dogs, most likely. While you can work on the reactivity to a degree, you'll need a lot of time investment and probably money investment too, working with a good behavioralist who does positive reinforcement training and can teach how to do behavior modification with her. Even then, you'll likely be working against what is her default tendency, to be aggressive with other dogs. You do need to do some work with her, so you can learn to read the signs that she is going to go after another dog (and there are always signs, though they may be subtle) and learn to intervene in case that happens, but her dog park days are likely over.

    I'd keep her away from other dogs, and not take her back to the dog park. I'd also watch her interactions with your other dog closely. My female Shiba was very much like this (to a pathological degree, actually). The signs that she was going to go after another dog were usually subtle, but noticeable: she'd get very alert, tail very high, staring at the other dog, but in her case, it sometimes looked more playful than the typical "hard stare" of impending aggression. And then she'd try to kill the other dog.

    She never got over it, but in her case, she had so many health issues we couldn't work on proper behavior modification. In most cases, you can. Also, while she tended to get along with the larger dogs in our house (our GSD, and later an Akita), she did not always get along with them either, and the problem is, in a fight, she'd lose, so I had to watch her a lot.

    I'd suggest you read some of the threads on reactivity and learn more about behavior modification methods. Might check out the book Fight! too.
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    I am trying to envision the layout to your 42-acre dog park... and if it is anything like how some of the parks around my neck of the woods are, then I agree: no more small dog area. If you want to take advantage of your paid membership to the park, you're going to have to keep her moving around the trails and walkways, NOT in the small dog fenced area where I'm guessing she has nothing to do except to interact with other dogs.

    This part stands out to me:

    Before they were standing near each other, she had been playing alone in the water splashing around or just standing around in the water and observing.

    Shibas often become less gregarious as they mature, and this self-distancing is her way of telling you that's she's not as "into" the dog park experience as you might want her to be. And that's okay. Sounds very much like Bowdu at that age. While I enjoyed just standing there and observing other dogs, I was mistaken to think that Bowdu did, too. He was MUCH happier at places where we could keep moving along a trail, where there were many other things to do other than interact with other dogs.

    And so, even though it was less convenient for me, I had to remove him from the smaller, fenced-in parks altogether and hit up alternative locations. That's what worked for us.

    Ruka most likely did not act "out of nowhere." If you could only observe in slow motion, with a close-up camera, I'm sure you would see the signs of her expressing her discomfort -- stiffened gait, tensed lips, locked gaze, flared whiskers, etc. She probably does this a lot more than you realize, but more fights don't happen because most other dogs do understand her telling them to back off. The more you force her into such encounters, the higher the chance of meeting another dog that ticks her off. But it's not going to be the dog's fault. It'll be the human's, who will end up having the foot the bill...
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.