My submissive puppy at the dog park

Posted by Emmasmom
Jul 17, 2008
I have an 8 month old Maltese/Shih-Tzu who is friendly, happy, very obedient and was a cinch to train. perhaps because she and I live alone and I'm home all day with her. To socialize her with other dogs and get free reign to run (I live in a high rise condo and there are no other dogs here), I take her to the dog park and she LOVES it there. She'll run up to all the other dogs and immediately lay down and roll over submissively. However, the other day two big dogs who weren't leashed both attacked her as we were entering the small dog side of the park (I picked her up to save her and suffered major hand wounds as a result requiring stitches), but I took her back soon after so she wouldn't suffer from the trauma (and she was just as happy to be there as ever). But now I notice that some other dogs her size, even though she's very submissive, gang up on her and get snappy and feisty with her. My question is, if dog "packs" see that she's not a challenge, why are they behaving that way? Is she just too young to be exposed to this and will she outgrow her submissiveness? She's not intimidated and continues to try and run and play with the dogs but I'm afraid now to go back for fear she'll be injured.

Does she need continued socialization with other dogs? I let her run ahead of me on a long leash during our neighborhood walks now because she loves running through the grass. She turns around to make sure I'm right behind her at all times so I'm not concerned about the alpha walks anymore...her happiness is more important at this stage. But she'll miss her outings to the dog park. Any suggestions?
Posted by eyeluvdogs
Sep 3, 2008
Hi Emmasmom,

Thank you for your post. Firstly, let me say that you sound like a very loving and protective dog owner! You were very brave saving your dog from the two larger dogs that attacked her!

It sounds as though you have done a great job of raising your dog - she is happy and well adjusted.

Seeing her being attacked must have been awfully frightening and upsetting for you! The great news is, she does not seem to have been affected by it at all - as you said she is her usual happy self, and still loves to visit the dog park! However, I get the feeling that it might be you that is nervous about going back there. Understandably, every time you see your precious pup being bullied about by other dogs, you are going to start feeling nervous. However, from what you have said, she is actually just fine!

It is possible that once she gets older she will be less submissive. If not, however, I still recommend that you regularly take your dog to the dog park - she loves going there, and it is great to keep up the socialization with other dogs. Try not to transfer your nervous energy to your dog, however, if you feel that a situation is getting out of control, call her to you.

You might also want to arrange play dates with other dogs you know that are of a relaxed temperament, so she can still play, but you will not be so nervous about whether she is safe or not.

I hope this helps. All the best!