Waiting patiently for me to pack up the car.

Bullies:  a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people (or dogs).

In our human world bullies have recently come into the scrutiny in the public eye.  Bullies are no longer tolerated; not for any reason, as it should be.  What is the motivation of a bully?  To belittle.

Yesterday I took my two to the beach; Elsa seemed to be overflowing with energy so she needed some big time running.  I packed up the car, got the leashes ready, made sure I had treats, poop bags and an extra ball for the chuck-it and we head out.  The crying began as we pulled into the park where the beach is, they both love the beach but Luke is my vocalizer.  Once out of the car they can barely contain themselves as we head through the path that leads to the beach.  I had to make a few stops just to get some focus; they were that excited.  As we come through the path to the beach opening they both do a speed scan to see who's at the beach.  Only two dogs stood right in the middle playing; leashes off and so were my two poodles as they sprinted that way.

They were there in 2 seconds, it took me a bit longer.  They were all in full play by the time I got to the other folks on the beach.  There was a male yellow Labrador who was Elsa's age and a one year old Italian Spinone .  The lab and Elsa hit it off right away but once the ball came out Elsa was all over it.  It is tough to find a dog that can beat her to the ball with speed.  The boys chased after Elsa as she chased after the ball.  Luke did his normal routine and went to socialize with all the people and dogs down the beach.  He is quite the social greeter, when he sees a new dog coming to the beach he goes to say hi and welcome.  Very cute.

After a good while of great play a herd of Labradors joined the scene.  These were older labs, you could tell by their girth.  They were all mature except one who looked mature but acted not.  A year old brown male Labrador who was a little wound with too much energy.  He ran around fine for a bit; checking on all the different dogs and going after his ball when he decided to do some pushing.  The Lab pup that Elsa had been playing with seemed to be his target.  The two started playing but it got very rough really quickly.  The younger dog was still having fun but you could see concern creeping in.

I'm pretty vocal at the park and when I see things that need attending to I usually make some noise.  By noise I mean AHHHHHHH which comes out naturally and usually draws some attention from owners.  These labs were with a pet sitter/walker, not their owner.  The sitter and the owner of the lab pup were talking.  The young labs Mom was obviously concerned as was I about the degree of roughness that was being delivered to the youngster.  He was bowled over and pinned several times, grabbed by the neck very hard and thrown to the ground.  I made quite a bit of noise then, this was just too much.   "He does that," is what I heard the sitter say.

The problem with allowing this type of bullying is the fallout that comes with it.  With no human intervention to stop the bully the young dog is left to defend himself.  He is learning that you must be aggressive and the bully is learning to continue being a bully.  This older Labrador was unrelenting, he was not giving the pup a chance to even get to his feet and he was very aggressive in his play.  He was not being vicious but was most definitely aggressive; too aggressive and should have been told that this was not acceptable.  The longer a bully is allowed to be a bully the harder it is to stop.  The two swirling Labs ended up in the water with the bully pinning the young dog under.  This is when the owner of the pup had enough.  The pup stood up and was now getting seriously mad, as he should have.

Elsa ran by with her ball and caught the eye of the bully.  He decided to chase her; of course there was no way he was catching her and they ran for a longtime.  When they did stop I was on top of it; there was no way I was allowing this bully to bully my girl.  He stared at her for a bit and I physically stepped in between the two.  He thought for a few moments and then looked around  finding  his previous target again.  It was obvious that he saw this young male as a threat and was making a very clear message (I'm the king of the beach) by beating the crap out of him.  Not okay.

We discussed the danger of collars as this bully was grabbing and twisting the collar of the young lab.  While this was all happening Luke stayed out of it which is highly unusual for him.  He usually likes to be in the middle of it all when dogs are being too rowdy.  Perhaps age and wisdom kept him out of it, smart boy.  Elsa seemed done with the bully after being chased and had no desire to interact with him further.  The young lab who was the target was completely done being pummeled and tried to stay clear of the dog.

It is not okay to allow bullying; not even if it is a big friendly Labrador.  A lab can be a tough dog to shake, they are built low and heavy much like a tank; just try to get one of those off of you.  This blog is not directed at one particular breed; any dog can be a bully and it is up to the person caring for that dog to NOT allow it.  It is no fun for the dog or dogs being bullied and will most definitely cause fallout behaviors from it.  Play is great, even rough play is great but bullying is different and this was bullying.  Because it was directed at this one particular dog made this a "guy" thing.  But a bully can be a bully in general and a very unwelcome dog at the park or beach.

Stopping it is quite easy, you just don't allow it.  When a dog starts bullying the owner must step in.  If the dog does not stop and continues then a clear message must be delivered by leaving abruptly.  Like any canine related behavior; stopping it before it takes hold is very important.  Once a bully is in their full bully mode it can be difficult to stop; just like it would be hard to stop a charging bull.  Knowing that you have a bully and admitting that you have a bully is the first step.  It is nothing to be ashamed of; it is simply a fact, it is what it is as they say.

Bullying is not okay, not in our human world or the canine world.


  1. Virginia TheNurseFriday, February 10, 2012

    great article!

  2. My extremely friendly 11 month old spoo was bullied at the park 2 weeks ago by a huge black lab cross wearing the biggest choke collar I've seen. She was OK initially, but clearly became concerned about him as he became increasingly aggressive. We were trying to interrupt the bullying and get them separated because we were afraid it was going to escalate into an actual attack. The dog was not with his owner, someone else was walking him and didn't seem to know what to do. Do you have any suggestions as to how to stop this? Paisley finally got angry enough to start telling him off, but I really thought he was going to actually attack her at that point because he didn't like her being assertive with him. It was quite frightening and I felt bad that I didn't respond better to help her out the situation. When she tried to run towards us he would head her off so we couldn't get to her. What should I do if this happens again?

  3. Thanks for posting this, now if only to get it into the right readers' eyes! I learned early on to defend my youngsters. I am a mama poodle Grizzly bear, but I have heard disturbing reports of 2 littermates I sold to separate owners who get together and have play dates. the very dominant girl bullies the other to the point that she has scars on her face & no hair on her ears or legs. My friend grooms this little girl and has repeatedly told her owner he must put a stop to the rough play. The owner of the bully does nothing to stop it and the owner of the girl getting bullied is not assertive enough to defend her. All of this has been reported to me , the breeder. I have not witnessed. I have made multiple attempts to convey this info, and I hear there is some improvement. I'm just at a loss as to how to get through to these owners. I managed to get them to come to obedience classes, but it's the same story there, and after they were reprimanded, they did not return.


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