It’s pretty hard to spot a target dog just by looking at them. Generally, they are very good dogs! They listen well and want to be right. They often have something sweet or special about them that people are drawn to. Unfortunately, they tend to be consistently bullied by other dogs.
What’s a target dog?
A target dog is a dog that is routinely picked on or bullied by other dogs. No matter what they do, it seems target dogs are unable to avoid conflict with other dogs.
Other dogs will pester them, lick them obsessively, or mount them. Target dogs may try to defend themselves, but most of the time their corrections or barks are ineffective.
Does this sound like your dog? Here are 5 ways to tell if your dog is a target dog:
1. Timid as a Puppy
As puppies, target dogs will already show some timid behavior around other dogs. They may exhibit fear or avoid other dogs.
2. Frequently Hiding
Target dogs will hide between their owner’s legs or under something, like a chair or bench. Target dogs will seek ways to protect their rear ends from other dogs.
3. Avoiding Being Sniffed
Target dogs may startle or jump with other dogs sniff them. They know that sniffing may lead to mounting or other unwanted behaviors.
In addition, other dogs will obsessively sniff target dogs, often lingering longer than the standard, polite 3-second rule that most dogs adhere to.
4. Drawing a Crowd
Target dogs often have groups of dogs following them at dog parks. This is understandably overwhelming for them.
5. Screaming or Squealing
Target dogs may scream out of fear when around groups of dogs. Additionally, they may overreact when other dogs initiate contact. This is actually a defense mechanism, or a stop signal, to communicate “back off, I’m terrified!”
Why are target dogs bullied by other dogs?
It is unclear if genetics, pheromones, or other biological factors play a role in the development of a target dog.
Target dogs can be male, female, spayed, neutered, or intact. What they have in common is the inability to solve conflict with other dogs. They may growl or snap at their assailant, but it usually doesn’t stop the other dog.
How can I stop my dog from being bullied by other dogs?
Target dogs needs their confidence boosted. All of their dog-to-dog interactions need to be highly supervised and managed. Target dogs need to know their humans will intervene and protect them!
Daycare and especially dog parks are not always appropriate. We recommend to stay away from dog parks altogether. Smaller neighborhood play groups will be safer.