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doggie daycare - too stimulating? aggressive behaviors noted

Diesel is 8 months old and he attends a doggie daycare with lots of other smaller dogs (eg. frenchies, chihuahuas, yorkies, bichons etc.)  I thought it would be good to socialize him early, so I've been taking him for full days once or twice a week since he was about 6 months.  I went away on vacation for a week and left him with a friend of mine that has a boston terrier.  The first few days back at daycare, the workers have started noticing some aggressive behaviors, especially when other dogs get yappy and excited around him, he'll respond by standing very still and then growling and finally using his body to charge at them.  I'm wondering if this might indicate he's overstimulated or territorial? When this happens, it is usually targeted to one specific dog that pisses him off.  They separate him from the rest but then he goes crazy and barks and gets distressed evident by his pacing and trying to get out.  The daycare workers are very good and they correct the behavior but I am scared that he will escalate and hurt another dog.  They are willing to keep working with him but I wonder if it's better to just pull him out of the environment if it's too much for him. Any ideas??? 

Other info: when I take him to the dog park, he usually doesn't play with other dogs, he might have a quick sniff but he just likes to play fetch.  When he has a stick or a ball, he growls at other dogs if they try to take it or even if they come too close to it.  I realize he's become possessive of toys/ sticks and we have been working on "leave it" and "release" but there is still more work to do (he's about 50/50 right now).  He also growls at other dogs if they sniff him too long or follow him around.

Stephanie and David's picture

Dog Park

I don't know what to tell you about the doggie day care.

The dog park is different. I used to take Maybull (when she was younger) to the dog park. It's a very large park that partially runs along the Missisippi, narrow at this point, with woods and paths. She ignored other dogs. She would not run into the woods. She would walk a few yards ahead of us and would sometimes stop and look back to make sure we were following. She would often turn and block the path of people coming in the other direction until they petted her.

The only time she played with another dog was when she met another bulldog. They play-fought and wrestled, making huge amounts of noise and having a great time. Other dogs, especially small dogs or working/hunting dogs don't play the same way. Your dog likes to fetch. Your dog likes to play with you and not other dogs who don't play bulldog games.

I hope this story helps. It might be the same thing with your dog. The 'agressive' actions might just be play, but I haven't seen it, so I can't be sure.

Stephanie and David's picture


Is your dog fixed? He's at an age where you should think about that because agressive behavior in young unaltered dogs means he's becoming a 'man' if you know what I mean.

Oh Diesel's picture


Diesl was fixed when he was 6 months old. He still tries to "dominate" every now and then but I make sure to correct it as soon as I see it (and the other dog also tells him how much she doesn't like it!)

Oh Diesel's picture

Diesel does the EXACT same thing ...

... he doesn't run too far ahead and looks back to make sure I'm following. He totally loves to fetch and play with me only, he loves playing tug-of-war; what other "bulldog games" are there? Thanks for sharing the story - I'm glad to hear that it's not uncommon bully responses.  I think it's evident by his cues that this small dog daycare is not for him.  Today I got up at 5am so I could walk him and play fetch for an hour before leaving him kenneled at home.  He seemed to be just fine - I think I might opt to leave him home alone more often as long as he gets exercise both before and after my workday.  Thanks!!

Brewer goes to doggy daycare

Brewer goes to doggy daycare every Thursday and he loves it. I also have been socializing him with other dogs since he had his last set of puppy shots. Every once in a while he hip checks another dog, but the daycare says that's normal. Having him neutered will help, at least it did in Brewer's case. I would talk with doggy daycare and see if they have any suggestions.


Oh Diesel's picture

thanks for the response, sitartzm

He didn't have any issues before and he had been attending this day care about 6 times already.  This new behavior started recently and the only real change I could think of was that maybe he learned it from the other dog when our friend doggie-sat him for a week while we were on vacation.  The daycare didn't think it was normal for him to bark and charge at the other dogs.  They suggested that I keep bringing him and they said they were willing to keep working with him, but on second thought I really don't think it's the right environment for him especially since he's the only english bully and the rest of the dogs are small, hyper and yappy.

Oh see Brewer is the only

Oh see Brewer is the only bulldog also but they put him on the big dog side. They tried him on the small side and they said that he hip checked all the small dogs. When they put him on the big dog side he got along great. So maybe he just isn't a fan of small dogs. I know Brewer isn't.


I don't like dog daycare

they are not designed nor staffed for appropriate interactions between multiple dogs. Its more like a "free-for-all" aimed at tiring the dog out. Most facilities and their staff know nothing about dog behavior, if the dogs are not fighting-all must be well. Not so. They don't group dogs by play styles/age/breed/energy levels, just throw them all together and hope for the best. Its NOT socializing a dog. First, the responsibility of appropriate socialization is up to the owner, not a group of strangers with no vested interest in the outcome.

The facility that you are using is wrong, very wrong for deciding that your dog is the aggressor and separating him. Your dog is acting socially correct, he is giving a clear and fair warning that he wants the other dog to leave him alone. The body freeze and growling is perfect, its the other dog that is acting like a social jerk and not taking the hint. Punishing him for growling at another dog may very well teach him to stop growling but not change his emotional state. So, you may end up with a dog that doesn't give a warning but escalates to an attack instead. That would not be a good thing.

My opinion of dog parks is about the same as daycare. So what if your dogs doesn't want to share his toys, most dogs don't. I wouldn't bring any toys with me, its going to lead to a battle some day. Your dog is giving you information, he isn't particularly thrilled with other dogs but he is trying to be socially correct, I suggest you listen to him and don't push the issue. Maybe find him a few good friends and set up controlled play dates, he will be much happier.

Good luck


Lynn King CPDT-KA

Deb and MacKenzie and Ester's picture

Great response as always Lynn

glad you joined in.

Deb, I got over the "Disney Syndrome" a long time ago

we would all love to have a dog that is great with all people/dogs/cats, never stresses in new situations, loves car rides, and no quirks. They are few and far between. I learned to appreciate and respect dogs for their individual personalities and work with that.


Lynn King CPDT-KA

Oh Diesel's picture

Lynn, do you have any tips

on how to teach "leave it" and "release"? We've been working on this for what seems like forever! He is so good at "release" when we are playing fetch with a chuck-it ball but when it comes to his frisbee, sticks or any other ball it's not as easy. I usually have to bribe him with another toy or a treat.  Any suggestions would be MUCH appreciated!!

Oh Diesel's picture


Hi Lynn,

Thanks for the reply, it totally makes sense.  Diesel is happy at the dog park when we are playing fetch and he also loves going for walks alongside me - I think I just needed someone to reassure me that what he was doing at daycare was a totally normal reaction to warn the other dogs to give him his space.  He has never acted in an aggressive way towards me or another dog if that other dog does not provoke him first.  A good friend of mine has a boston terrier and they play well together - yes, Diesel will try to test the other dog, but we keep a close eye on them and make sure it doesn't escalate.

Wonderful insight - thanks again!

I totally understand Diesel having difficulty with

a group of small dogs. My sister has 3 small, very overstimulated, untrained dogs. I took my Tug (Bulldog) for an overnight visit to her house once, just once. It was awful. Thankfully, Tug handled it beautifully and didn't attack, why I don't know. But I promised him that I would never again do that to him.

Teaching him "release", you are doing it right. Using a treat or exchange for another toy is perfect. Remember, you are teaching him a skill, using a treat or reward makes it easier for him to perform the skill. The more times you can get him to perform any skill, the more of a habit or learned behavior it becomes, the more likely he is to repeat it. You can eventually start to eliminate the treats. I never completely give up rewards, especially depending on how valuable the object is that I am asking them to give up. Keeps it interesting for the dog.

Your exercise program sounds great. Be careful in the summer, Bulldogs overheat extremely easy.

Always keep it fun.


Lynn King CPDT-KA

Pegsy's picture

lynn i swear we should all

lynn i swear we should all have a compact version of you and talk to you whenever/wherever...lol,love your sound knowledge of all dogs!!! god bless you!

Pegsy, thank you

I love dogs. They are an amazing animal and the relationship they have with and within the human race is like no other species.


Lynn King CPDT-KA

mrhig2004's picture

such wonderful advice here

Personally I think dog parks (and probably daycares too) are breeding grounds for bad behaviour.