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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
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Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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Cassie is a 7 yr old Chihuahua/Besenji mix that I adopted when

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Cassie is a 7 yr old Chihuahua/Besenji mix that I adopted when she was 2. She is the most obedient, loving, loyal dog I've ever owned. I used to take her to a large dog park and she would mix well, play and run a little, but then come hang out with me after a while.
Now, that we have retired and live in an adult community with it's own dog park, Cassie has decided she is the Queen of the park. A dog that has never been aggressive, always mellow and uncaring about other dogs and cats, has decided she must mount all the males and show her dominence over all the dogs in the park. She has actually gotten into a couple of scuffles where she had the male dog on it's back. No blood has been drawn.
She seldom barked (the besenji!) and only to announce someone was at the door. Now she leads the pack, barking and racing to the gate when a new dog enters the park or someone walks by.
I don't understand this new need for dominence. I don't want people to start guarding against her when I bring her to the park....which by the way she can run straight to without a lease once I give her the signal.
Any suggestions?
Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear about Cassie's behavior change! Did it closely follow your move? It sounds to me as if it may be a coping mechanism to help her deal with her new lifestyle.

It's great that she's always been loyal and obedient. You have a great foundation to go back to to help you work through these behavior problems. I recommend starting by taking a step backwards and doing a little obedience refresher with her. If she knows tricks, great! Ask her for tricks or behaviors frequently and reward her, or teach her something new. If your neighborhood as an AKC good citizen course, this is another great way to review the basics and reinforce the idea that while you guys are a team, you are the leader.

I also recommend taking her to the dog park for a while (a few weeks) on a leash. Let her interact with the other dogs, but correct her if she tries to mount them. Ask her to sit or lie down, any simple trick, when she is being naughty or dominant. Then give her a treat when she complies. When she stops her behavior at your voice command without you having to use the leash, you can start letting her off the leash in the park again. This may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but since she's been such a great dog for you so far, I think she will remember her manners around the other dogs quickly with a little refresher course. Above all, stay relaxed yourself and replace bad behaviors with good ones that you can reward. If you are nervous and stressed, she'll be nervous and try to protect you.

This sounds like a purely behavioral issue. However, if you try my suggestions and they aren't working or you notice that there's been more of time disconnect between when you moved and when the behavior started, it might be worthwhile to mention it to your vet at the next exam. Some health problems can show up first as changes in behavior, and while I don't think this is the case for Cassie, it's worthwhile to rule out.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how I can help further.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you!! I did forget to mention, that we have moved here only a little over 2 months ago and she no longer has the door door she used to have to allow her to go out anytime she wanted. I believe this has been a lifestyle change for her and I will use the method you advised. I'm sure it is purely behavioral and I wasn't sure how to handle it. Thanks again!!