Ganging Up at the Dog Park

Learn what to do when two dogs gang up on a third one.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #169

Instead, assuming the dogs aren’t actually fighting, walk on over and ask all three to sit. If a dog only knows one cue well enough to respond to it when excited, “Sit” will be that cue. Speak mildly – you’re not trying to amp things up. Then call over to whoever’s responsible for Alice and Clemmie and ask them to collect their dogs. Be prepared for them to say the dogs “should work it out themselves” (wrong!) or that you’re being a wuss (wrong again!). Even if the dogs don’t sit and you can’t get human cooperation, your arrival on the scene may have changed the dogs’ dynamic enough to defuse it.

Still assuming here that an actual fight hasn’t broken out, another tactic is to step between Bill and the other dogs, then lead him away. Don’t be surprised if he’s reluctant to turn his back on them. It may help to keep your body between him and the other dogs and to walk at a 90-degree angle to them rather than directly away.

Put some distance between Bill and the harassing dogs. If they persist in harshing his mellow and their guardians aren’t any help, then take Bill home. Yes, it’s unfair that he’s the one whose party has to end, but it’s not much of a party when you’re being bullied anyway. Come back another time. Even if Alice and Clemmie are there, they may behave differently, and of course they can’t gang up together if only one of them is present. Let’s hope the dog park doesn’t have so many troublemakers that somebody’s always ganging up!

On the other hand, if your dogs are the party pests, or if you have one dog who seems to get involved in a lot of bullying, take a leave of absence from the dog park and seek out professional help. The solution may be as simple as bringing one dog to the park at a time, or providing off-leash exercise in the form of hikes or structured play rather than dog park outings. Dog parks supercharge some dogs and bring out the worst in them. That doesn’t make them bad dogs, any more than you’re a bad person if you get crabby at loud parties.

You can follow The Dog Trainer on Twitter, where I’m Dogalini. I’m The Dog Trainer on Facebook, and you can also write to me at dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. I usually can’t reply personally, but check out past articles – I might already have answered your question. And you can find lots more helpful ideas in my book, The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet. Thanks for reading!


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).