Aggressive dog or a dog bully, what is the difference?
I love to take my dogs to the dog park or walk them in our nearby neighborhood park. But when you do you run the risk of running into other dogs that are aggressive. If you take your dog to a dog park you may find a dog bully there.
Once I was walking my dogs in the park and along came a bigger, muscular dog that was lunging at my Chihuahuas and he was so strong, the owner had a difficult time holding him back. If he had not, my Chihuahuas would have been killed or seriously hurt. This was not a dog bully, this dog was aggressive.
Some dogs are aggressive with other four-legged family members or with dogs at the park or on walks. If that is your dog, I strongly suggest getting professional help.
Does it seem that your Chihuahua is aggressive and attacks your other dogs? Is your Chihuahua aggressive with other dogs at the dog park? Is he being aggressive or is he just a dog bully?
Is it play or aggression? How do you know?
You can tell by the body language of the dog. If he has front paws on the ground and his rear in the air with tail wagging, he is definitely in play mode. Dogs may growl or mouth while playing so it may seem like aggression when it is only play.
Aggressive Body Language
If your dog curls his upper lip, his tail is tucked under, ears are back, and his hackles up, that dog is being aggressive.
What is a dog bully?
A dog bully is a little like the bully on the kindergarten playground. He wants to play with the other children and wants to be liked, but hasn’t learned the proper play etiquette. Dogs can be the same way. They may be overly zealous in their attempts to play, knock others around, chase them mercilessly, growl or posture.
Why are some dogs bullies?
All dogs have movements and facial gestures that they use to communicate their intentions clearly with each other and with humans. Most dogs learn this at an early stage in their life if they are raised in the ideal conditions, that is with their mother and litter mates until they are at least 8 weeks old.
Some dogs that missed out on this may be socially “stunted”, but they can usually be taught how to play nicely with other well-mannered dogs. These dogs may be easily aroused — it has nothing to do with sex, although spaying or neutering can sometimes help, and may also find it difficult to calm down.
Although it doesn’t apply to Chihuahuas, dogs with cropped ears or tails may be giving off the wrong signals. Other dogs may perceive their intent as aggressive with “pricked” ears or may misinterpret intent if their tails are cropped.
How do you know if your dog is a bully?
How can you tell if your dog is being aggressive or being a bully? You have to observe the dogs playing and know dog body language. Specifically, play body language.
Understanding dog play body language
1. A dog that is a bully is always the one chasing, pinning, barking at, grabbing or nipping other dogs.
The proper dog play involves give-and-take. There may be one dog that is the “designated” chaser and another the “designated” one to be chased. But, if they are just playing, both dogs will pause a moment and then resume, or they may even swap roles. It is the same if they are just wrestling, they will change which dog is on the bottom. If your dog ignores this important part of the play, he might be a bully.
2. A bully either doesn’t understand or will ignore the other dog’s signals to stop or that he’s had enough.
Sometimes play is no longer fun. One of the dogs can become overstimulated. If that happens the dog will signal his discomfort. He might step away from the other. Or if that doesn’t work he may give a hard stare or a growl. A dog that knows and obeys proper play etiquette will take the hint, so to speak, and back off. If your dog ignores the other dog’s signal and continues pinning, nipping, body slamming, chasing or whatever he is doing that his playmate wants to be stopped, he may be a bully.
3. A bully will tend to focus on one dog.
Sometimes a bully will pick a certain dog and go after him relentlessly. Even if there are other dogs around that would be a better match in terms of size or play style. Often it is a smaller or less confident dog. If your dog relentlessly pursues one dog specifically, he may be a bully.
Is it different play styles?
Sometimes it is a matter of different play “styles” and two dogs with different styles can play nicely with each other once they figure out which one to use. Some dogs with opposite play styles may not ever be comfortable with each other.
This usually happens when one dog that is shy meets a dog with a more physical play style. The shy one doesn’t appreciate being mowed down and may react physically by snapping, growling, or lunging to drive the other dog away. Some shy dogs may on the other hand just shut down and try to get as far away from the aggressor as possible.
I have two dogs with different play styles. My Remedy Jane has a different play style than Pebbles. Remedy is rambunctious and has a more physical play style. Pebbles, on the other hand, is more reserved and shy. To add to this, Remedy outweighs Pebbles by about 4 pounds — which in the world of Chihuahuas is like about a hundred pound difference in people. Pebbles has shown her a few times that she has had enough, but generally, comes running to me or runs away from her.
Luckily for poor Pebbles, when she does, Remedy just gives up and looks at me as if to say; “why won’t she play with me?”. Now that Remedy is a little older and no longer a puppy, she has calmed down a lot in her play style.
If it is just different play styles, they will usually figure out which playstyle to use together, but if it is more than that as stated before you may have to find professional help.