Dealing with dog bullies

Dog runs are envisioned as happy places where pups enjoy carefree, off-leash romps with playmates—that is, until Fido turns into a wimpy (fur)kid as he’s intimidated by another pooch.
By Pets Team
Published on Wednesday, 09 September 2015

A dog bully behaves in a pushy manner, ignores “requests” for space, and forces others to attempt an escape or react with violence. “When a dog repeatedly and persistently harasses another, thus causing stress and anxiety, that’s bullying behaviour,” explains Michelle Chan, dog trainer at Pup Pup ‘N’ Away. “Normal interaction can look scary with some nipping or roughhousing, but a good playmate will stop when asked to. Appropriate play also involves role reversals, such as when each canine takes turns being chased.”

Owners should always keep an eye out for signs of fear or anxiety. “An uncomfortable dog will have typical signs of fear, such as tucking its tail between the legs and pulling its ears back,” explains Sean Lim, dog trainer and former handler with the K9 unit. While most pooches will cease with a warning snap or growl, some situations may escalate into fights, so interactions should be monitored to ensure everyone’s safety.

Correcting someone else’s pooch is always a sensitive issue. “The best thing to do is to move yourself and your dog away, as most owners may not view your intervention positively,” advises Michelle. “Consider politely asking the owner if they can recall their dog without laying blame, as doing so may cause owners to become defensive.” Always be nearby so Fido can run to you for help, and it’s easier for you to intercept.

Keep in mind that a fur bully isn’t necessarily a bad dog—he simply hasn’t been taught what is or isn’t acceptable. “Arrange play dates to condition your pooch on the proper way to interact with others,” suggests Sean. Michelle also recommends a timeout technique, which involves removing Fido when he gets over-excited. With the right training techniques, you can help make every trip to the dog run a pleasant experience.