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Oscar
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!

Firstly, sorry about the long post, but I felt like some context is need. I would be very grateful for an insight on the below issue and, perhaps, some suggestions on how to correct.

I am coming back with another question, but this time more tricky for me to correct. Oscar is now 14 months and quite a lovely dog. Not perfectly obedient with me, but I am working on rubbing tummies and saying hundreds of "i love you", while also becoming more of a leader for him (my partner seems to have gotten everything right - Oscar is incredibly obedient with him, while I get tops 70% of what Oscar can actually do :)) ).

Nevertheless, I started to encounter an issue with Oscar and other male dogs. He is generally a very friendly dog, although sometimes he plays too rough for some, or gets too enthusiastic, but I am fine with this, I have learned to calm him down and manage his play. The issue starts when we meet new males: he is very friendly until the other dog growls at him. At that point, my sweet boy turns into a vicious Kraken. He goes full force growling and (kind of) attacking. I am saying kind of because he does not bite, ever, but growls and shows teeth, while being all over the other dog, which, in turn, is doing exactly the same thing. To me it looks like the other dog says something insulting, and instead of minding his own business, and ignoring the dog that insulted him, Oscar jumps into a fight with both fists.

I am quite concerned about this behaviour which is completely non-existent with friends (also intact males), older males, small dogs, or any other dog that doesn't growl at him. Oh, and also never does this with dogs that he perceives as more powerful - when they growl and snap, he's right behind me hiding.

I have briefly considered that if this goes on, perhaps I should sterilize him when he turns 2, but then went onto reading and it seems that the lack of physical balls does not coincide with a lack of ballsy attitude :)). So, I am not very keen on taking away his jewelry, at least not now, or at least not until I am convinced there could be other health benefits for him. I would like to resolve this issue through training if possible, but I cannot think of anything.

He doesn't respond anymore when doing this (he went into a fight 3 times already) and I always had to get between the 2 dogs. While being in the fight, thus not responding to recall, or any other command, Oscar seems quite aware of his surroundings - each time I grabbed him, he never turned on me by accident, and never re-directed his frustration towards anything and anyone (human or non-human) - he is pissed off with one dude, and that dude only.

I am really looking forward to hearing your opinions on the issue described, and perhaps, some guidance on training.

*Oscar is socialized and meets his friends, and makes new friends at least 3-4 times per week.
*He is 95% of the time friendly and respectful to other dogs and lately, even with cats on the street.
*He is not in pain, he is well fed, loved and we do have boundaries. I believe that we educated him properly, as we want him to be part of all our activities and we needed an educated, friendly dog that can travel with us, come to work with us and be part of our lives all the time.
*He does not exhibit any other behavioral issues (with the exception of some minor quirks - does not like black garbage bags, is quite jealous but not mean, and refuses any interaction with children).
 

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As hard as this is going to be to accept, everything you have described is normal based on the body language detailed.
Vizslas are "a lot of dog", and can be very physical dogs.
When two dogs are going to fight, there is no jumping about growling, baring teeth, and snarling. They get straight to business. Head low, ears back, teeth bared, snapping and popping. They will not jump up and down exposing themself. No human is fast enough, or quick enough, to stop it. That you have been able to reach in, grab Oscar, and he listens to you, indicates that his intentions at that point aren't to do serious harm, or you would have most likely been bitten by either, or both, dogs.
Now then, do you let Oscar continue to try and dominate the other dog. No, you don't. It's poor form, and bad manners. Is it going to happen though, yes, to some degree. Both dogs are posturing, and communicating. It's ugly, and disquieting, but that is what is going on. It can escalate into a fight, so you have to proceed slowly.
Now, as you have observed, Oscar yields to some dogs, but not others, and size makes no difference. Oscar is still young, and I promise you that the communication that you heard from the other dogs, was preceded by lower toned communications, and eye contact, that Oscar can hear, and you may not be able to. Those dogs are "speaking dog" and Oscar is learning the language. They're basically telling Oscar, "not today kid, or I take a chunk out of your butt."
There is no need for Oscar for to yield and be friendly to every dog he meets. It's asking way to much of him and it will never happen unless Oscar just has that personality naturally. Oscar does not have that personality, as you have indicated, so it would be against his nature for him to yield 100% of the time. It's not right to force him.
Neutering Oscar will not stop this behavior. Two neutered males, or two spayed females, will display exactly the same behaviors if it is in their basic nature. Horses are gelded at 1-2 years old. Put two gelded horses in a paddock, aor turnout, that don't know each other and there's going to be "communications" every single time. There is no reason to believe that neutering a male dog is going to be any more effective than gelding a horse.
How to proceed?
If the other dog is a friends dog that you would like Oscar to be friendly with, setup a "play date" and bring toys. While the Boyz'are getting acquainted, redirect both of them with balls and frisbees and other toys. Take control, and make sure that you have one object extra. Two dogs, three balls, or three toys. Not just one each. It's hard to resource guard three objects. Watch them and get them involved in play. They'll still have to have their "conversation", but hopefully it will be much less disquieting to you.
Go slow and understand that Oscar is at a point in his life where he's learning where he fits in.
 

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Oscar
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow, what an amazing response! Thank you very much for taking the time to explain this at length!

I am, on one side relieved that Oscar is not attacking at that point, and, on the other hand, a bit disappointed that he is not human, I guess :)). I understand, he won't go and discuss issues over a beer and try to resolve them :)). Yes, Oscar is indeed "a lot of dog" and some dogs are just not a fit for him - he is too much (runs too fast, plays too rough, is way too demanding in receiving attention from the other dog, and is way too competitive). However, this is different (he growls with his friends as well, when playing - or having a light argument - but then, it's easy to distract both dogs, let them cool off and then allow them to resume play).

The issue is I cannot foresee when it's going to happen - we go to parks as we live in a city setting, there are many people with off leash dogs, and sometimes they approach us in an attempt for their dog to join our play - sometimes they hit it off right away, and other times the nasty thing happens. Sometimes dogs approach us and their owners show up like 5 minutes later.

The last time this happened, Oscar was with his friend, a GSP (very balanced and calm 2yo), and when a chocolate lab approached them, Oscar went to him wagging his tail, the chocolate lab growled and the madness started. The GSP came to support Oscar in being an a*hole, but when his owner whistled and called him over, the GSP retreated. On the other hand, I had to separate and hold Oscar physically in order to take him away.

I would like him to come to me, to stop. I would just like him to respond to any command - he is ignoring even the emergency recall. He is ignoring the love of his life - the ball! After I take him away he sits in "wait" patiently, but only if the other dog turns and walks away or is taken away by the owner.

I will try to take things as they are and, perhaps, look further into finding an even higher value reward for the emergency recall, and perhaps he will come, at least with time, as he gets less hormonal.

Thank you, once again for the comprehensive response.
 

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It gets better with time. There is a lot of difference between where Oscar is at, and the two year old. He's still maturing.
I certainly wouldn't label Oscar the aggressor in the scenario you presented. It was the lab that started the nonsense and was the aggressor. Oscar responded in the only way he knows. He'll learn other ways.
That's a difficult situation that you in. Where I live dogs are not allowed off leash in public parks, and they have to be under control and supervised at all times. There are only five public areas in the state where dogs are designated to be off leash.
It's going to be hard to train Oscar to leave other dogs, if the other dogs are off the leash, and Oscar is on his. Try as best you can to work on his distraction training, and if available maybe find a class where there are lots of dogs and they are trained to ignore each other. You need to be able to control the situation to teach Oscar to disengage, and that's going to be extremely difficult if the other dog isn't under control.
It's a shame that the lab owner did not have their dog under control.
 

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Oscar
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Unfortunately, it is what it is. We only have 1 dog park (and is, probably, 10 times smaller that what you have in the US) for 3 million inhabitants and it's overcrowded and there are too many aggressive dogs off leash, so it is not an option. Due to a lack of specially designed places, most people walk their dogs in regular parks. Oscar is off leash also in the park, and most dogs are off leash, with the exception of the breeds identified by the law as aggressive. Everyone turns a blind eye on this because they know that Bucharest is probably the least pet friendly European Capital. I have worked with Oscar intensively and also because of his nature, he sticks with me all the time (even when playing with other dogs, he always remains close by). Also, he never goes to any dogs or people unless they approach us, so he doesn't bother anyone.
If he is on a lead and we pass by a reactive dog, Oscar just stares at him and looks back once he has passed, but never barks or engages in any way.
Oscar is not the aggressor (he never picks a fight himself, he is always sweet, unless challenged), however, it would be best that he ignores dogs when they challenge him. I do hope I can get him to that point. It is a great idea to try and find a place (although nowadays with lockdowns and contingencies it's tougher) where they have group trainings and where someone could teach Oscar to ignore other dogs if they engage him. That is a very good suggestion and I hope I can do this for him, so that we can both enjoy our daily runs and plays in the park.
Thank you once again for your helpful and hefty replies.
 
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