Question About Bringing Missy To Petsmart


Honored Member
In March I'm hoping to run in a 5k that raises money for a rescue with Missy. There will be lots of people and dogs, it will be very chaotic. I want to bring her to Petsmart to work with her on being in public. My concern is that I'm still not sure if Missy is dog aggressive and she can be very vocal. Missy has meet one dog recently and it went pretty well. So my question would it be okay to work with Missy in Petsmart? I would stay in the back away from all the dogs and people and gradually bring her toward the dogs and people. Does that sound okay? I'm just worried that Petsmart employees and or costumers would not be happy if Missy was barking. Also if it just Missy is not comfortable in public by March, 4 I will not run in the 5k cause I don't want to push her.


Honored Member
I would try finding a friend with a dog I know is very dog friendly, then try introducing her that way. Start small. I wouldn't reccomend you taking her to petsmart for socializing until she is feeling more confident around strange dogs.

Petsmart has animals everywhere, new smells, and in some cases, uneducated owners. It could be stressful for a dog not used to being in public. It would be even worse if an owner let her dog meet Missy without asking you! (sadly, this has happened to me before)

Instead of petsmart, you can start small by letting her meet a friend's dog like I suggested above, or, you could find a hiking trail or park. Depending on the park, you can have more space and distance between you and other dogs passing by.

I have recently started bringing Shiloh to petsmart. She isn't aggressive, but she doesn't have good dog social skills. There were a few dogs who wanted to bite her head of (and she didn't react badly!), but overall, most of the dogs were pretty friendly.

I hope this helps! :D


Honored Member
Thanks Dilly, I have just started working Missy with another dog. My friends Boxer puppy we have worked with them once so far and let them greet each other w(Missy was muzzled for safety) She did pretty good everyone in a while she would start barking at the other dog but other than that it went well. I've also have been taking her to parks to work with her so I was thinking about taking it a little further with Petsmart. Hopefully I'll be meeting with my friend at the dog park and we're going to allow the two of them off leash(only if there are no other dogs, my park usually doesn't have people there on Sundays.)


Experienced Member
I'm having the same problems with Fairley. I don't know if she's dog aggressive and I worry about testing it. She does pretty well in petsmart, but ours usually doesn't have a lot of people with their dogs when we go. When we do see other dogs, we try to stay clear of them and I watch her for her body language. It would help a lot if you became really familiar with dog body language because you can pick up on her being stressed before it goes too far. You don't really have a lot of time to become an expert or anything close, but learning the basics of stress and aggression will help make sure there are no fights. An awesome book on canine body language is The Secret Language of Dogs by Heather Dunphy.

Also teaching the "watch me" command would help if she begins to become too focused on anything else.


Honored Member
I think Dilly has some great advice there.
If any dog DOES have any issues, keeping them BELOW threshold, and desensitizing them to other dogs while they are BELOW threshhold, is how it's done.

Petsmart is terribley overstimulating to many dogs. Many dogs are over threshold just to be IN Petsmart at all. It is not the best place or set up to work on discovering if your dog does or does not have dog-aggression issues.

Dilly's advice, about having the dog near one dog that is known to be friendly, in less exciting environment, is good start. then, if that does go well, add in another friendly dog, and so on.

Southern Girl, the fact you feel the need to use a muzzle on your dog is not a good sign aobut Missy's social skills. I'm not saying the muzzle is not a good thing to DO, but the fact you sense or know that your dog needs a muzzle, is telling. You really do want to proceed slowly, one dog at a time.
How does Missy act when she passes an unknown dog on a walk? Does that usually go okay? How close can Missy be to an unknown dog and be calm and happy about it?

Does Missy have any canine pals that she successfully plays with, even with no muzzle ?

ALSO, OFF TOPIC A BIT, but has Missy ever ran 5k? Dogs who don't often run distances, need to work up to that level of endurance and fitness, just like we do, to prevent a limping, sore dog with pulled muscles the next day. So besides ensuring that Missy actually enjoys being around other dogs, you'd also have to get Missy's muscles up to snuff, too.


Honored Member
Missy barks, pulls, sometimes stands(when really close to another dog) on her hind legs. When at the park she tries very hard to go toward the dog and will bark her body will become stiff as in her tail is up and ears forward but no growling or hair standing up. When in the neighborhood she behaves better because she's used to the dogs we walk past she will stare at the dog(tail relaxed and usually her ears) but nothing else no growling stiffness, barking or hair standing up., but if we run into a dog we haven't seen before she will pull really badly wanting to try and get to the dog once again she is very stiff.

In the neighbor hood a street length she is most comfortable. At the park they need to be pretty far away even seeing them her ears prick forward and she will bark.

No Missy does not have any canine pals because I don't have any friends that have dogs. One of my friends recently got a Boxer puppy, Lily(the dog I've been working Missy with) Lily is almost one. Me and my friend really hope the two will become friends because we want to take them to waterfalls with us during the summer.

Me and Missy have always gone on jogs but only every once in a while. I started training for the 5k with Missy in November we started of jogging for only 15sec. and walking for 45sec. and did that for two weeks than jogged longer and walked less for two weeks and so on. Missy loves to go on jogs even the 30min jog we go on does not tire her completely she could go longer but not me. We have ran a 5k(3.28miles) in my neighbor hood and Missy was fine.

Here is a video of Missy that I posted on here somewhere of her when we passed a dog in the neighborhood. She doesn't do this anymore cause I got a head halter and walk on the other side of the street.


Honored Member
Well, where did you get the notion to keep Missy in a muzzle?

The video above, i myself don't see anything wrong, except that you are allowing Missy to pull so hard. I can almost hear Missy rasping once or twice, as the tension on her collar gets real hard pressure. Missy doesn't look aggressive to me at all, in the video above, but just excited, and mayyybe pulling to get away from the other dog barking away there. I would have asked dog to sit, look at me, slow blink and yawn to him, also reward that "look at me" and see if that helps dog calm down a bit. (works for my truly aggressive dog, anyway, most of the time)

It's an interesting case, you don't often hear about a dog who has never ever ever met and played with another dog. Amazing, of all your friends, all your neighbors, all your relatives, no one owns a dog. wow. Because your dog has never ever played with another dog in his life (?) with the exception of your friends new puppy, it is hard to tell if your dog is or is not dog-aggressive.
It is going okay with your friends' puppy, or no? Has Missy played with the puppy ? Puppies is hard thing to tell by, cuz even many 'normal' dogs scold out hyper puppies now and then, some adult dogs dislike puppies, but are otherwise 'normal' dogs.
Sometimes the dog complaining IS right!:ROFLMAO:

AT the park, the ears fwd stare doesn't sound friendly, but the lack of stiff tail/hackles up, it's hard for me to sort out.

but i still don't think Petsmart is the best place to try to find out. I really don't think Petsmart is the place to take Missy next, but, i think trying to locate owners of friendly dogs, and asking them if your dogs can play for a lil while, might be good idea. Of course, you are young, not a good idea for you to be alone around strangers, but, if your mom came with you, etc, might be good way to check out if Missy is or is not okay around dogs. Maybe your mom has coworker with a dog, someone with a dog to find out how MIssy is around dogs.

Or check out dog training classes, and explain to teacher, your dog has never in his life interacted with other dogs, and you want to learn how your dog gets on with other dogs.<---really, this might be stellar idea, so in case your dog DOES have some issue, there is a pro there to help approach this in safe way. Maybe have teacher set up an hour of dog play for your dog and some dogs she KNOWS are well behaved, friendly dogs.
Even though there is no proof your dog is aggressive dog, (so far as i know) i'd still look for a trainer who has experience with behavior issues, not just tricks-training, and one who is POSITIVE ONLY, last thing you want is some trainer yanking MIssy around by her neck.

unless there is something i'm missing, because i don't yet understand why you keep Missy in a muzzle.

Oh, also, is Missy friendly towards unknown humans?

Also, so great you are getting Missy in shape for the 5K, too. Still, unless you are going to run the 5K in 15 second increments, you'll have to keep working towards longer amts of time running. What a clever way to do it, though, Southerngirl, jog-walk-jog-walk! I call that "wogging" hee hee! Great plan, great way to build up your dog!!! Kudos!


Honored Member
From the vid and what you tell about Missy meeting other dogs, I think, the stiff posture is not really agression, rather insecurity. Because she has had no interaction with other dogs, she probably has no idea how to behave towards the other dog. So she will carry herself high.
Now don't get me wrong! I am not saying you should let Missy just go up to the other dog.
From the bodylanguage in the vid, I see a dog reacting to the territorial bark of the other dog, but not overreacting. Very normal behaviour. If my dog displays this behaviour, I wouldn't worry too much. It just needs a little work on getting her to ignore this dog.

Like Tigerlily says, I would find a trainer, who can help you set Missy up in meeting well behaved dogs.

You say Missy will stand on her hind legs, i guess you mean, she hangs on the leash, pulling so hard her front legs come off the ground.
Jinx does this too, if she really wants to go to the other dog. But with her I know, she wants to meet this dog and see if he/she will play with her.
Cooper does this too, but his bodylanguage is very, very different from Jinx. Cooper will lunge and he will be in attack mode.
It is hard to picture the difference if you haven't seen it, i guess.
So my advice to find a trainer, is not just for Missy, but also for you. So you can understand dogs bodylanguage.
I learn so much from going to the dogschool every week. Not only do I learn how to train my dogs, but I also learn about other dogs. My teacher makes a point of letting the dogs play, before class starts. And she will explain every behaviour the dogs display. And I tell you, it is soooo interesting!!!


Experienced Member
I think Southern Girl just uses the muzzle to be absolutely sure that no one gets hurt. I would do the same thing in a situation where I really wasn't sure how my dog would react and I think she's better safe than sorry.

Southern Girl, if she's always pulling as bad as she was in the video, consider getting her a comfortable harness while you work on her not pulling. It will take the stress off her neck and throat while you work with her. Also, be wary of asking people with friendly dogs to meet yours. Many owners swear up and down their dogs are friendly, but come to find out they're not. Just be careful, take it slow, and don't let either of them off-leash until you're sure of their reactions.


Honored Member
Well i guess i'll wait to hear from Southerngirl herself, on why she muzzles her dog.

Good point, that possibly some ppl make mistakes about having aggressive dogs,(?) but, for the most part, i find those of us who DO have an aggressive dog, are only all too eager to make that known to reduce difficulties.
Many to most ppl with aggressive dogs often prefer to avoid other dogs getting near their dog, although for some reason, most of them balk at the word itself, 'aggressive'. Many to most of them try to soften it up, saying their dog is " territorial", "not friendly", "protective", "fearful", resource guarder", endless list of words they can use to avoid the A-word, but still, they will do almost everything they can to avoid having their aggressive dogs get near another dog.
No matter what word we use, most of us with problem dogs DO know it,
oh boy do we ever!!!:ROFLMAO:

I myself have not had that experience, of having someone falsly label their dog as friendly, when in fact, the dog is aggressive, or not friendly, but, could happen. There are all kinds of ppl out there!:ROFLMAO:
Yeah, probably Southerngirl's best, safest bet, is to have a trainer who is positive only set up her dog's first play session with some well behaved dogs that she knows are friendly dogs.

It is very unusual to find a dog owner who muzzles their dog unless the dog has bitten someone or bitten another dog. At least, i've never heard of preemptively muzzling dogs for no reason, "just to be sure no one gets hurt" unless the dog HAS done something at some point to plant the idea in the owners mind.
I guess it could be that Southerngirl does feel dogs should be muzzled even if they've never done anything...... who knows?


Honored Member
I think Southern Girl just uses the muzzle to be absolutely sure that no one gets hurt. I would do the same thing in a situation where I really wasn't sure how my dog would react and I think she's better safe than sorry. Laramie

Laramie, yes that is exactly why I muzzle Missy also she attacked a dog when she was about 1 or 2.

I was letting Missy pull so everyone could see how she acts when she sees another dog. I usually will stop wait till she has relaxed the leash than have her heel I'll do this every time she starts pulling. I now have a head halter so she is much better walking past dogs.

Some of my neighbors do have dogs and we go past them on walks. My friends are not aloud to have dog. I don't really know any of my relatives the ones I do that have dogs have little dogs with attitudes. My Nana has brought her toy poodle over but my mom had me put Missy up cause she didn't want Missy hurting my Nana's poodle.
Missy loooovvvvess people.
I think it went pretty well with Missy and Lily. It took about 20 minutes for the dogs to calm down enough for us to allow them to greet each other. they did there little greeting thing than kinda of ignored each other they even laid down. Every once in a while Lily(the Boxer puppy, she's about 9months) would jump at Missy and bark and Missy would bark or Missy would start barking I would walk Missy away and come back to Lily when the two stopped barking.(we used calming signals to get them to settle down) When they were just chilling beside each other we walked them. Missy would go toward Lily, when she did Lily would jump backward and Missy would bark which had a growl at the end. My friends mom was helping us and agreed it went well for it being Missy's first time interacting with another dog sense I've had her. We are planning on going to the dog park soon to work with them depending on how it goes we may let them off leash if there is an area with no other dogs. My dog park is not busy.

For the 5k the 15sec thing was from when we first started Me and Missy have ran a few 3.28 miles and our best time is 21.17 which bets the best time for last years 5k winner for the rescue we're working on getting a better time. I also check Missy's legs and feet to after every run.
I would love to sign up for a training class but I have no money for it and my mom does not have the money to give to me. I am looking for a job but it's not easy with me not having a license.
I have been looking at dog body language online and I'm looking for a book at my library to check out about it.


Honored Member
//"why I muzzle Missy also she attacked a dog when she was about 1 or 2. "//

Ah, you had not mentioned this before. I thought Missy had never interacted with dogs.
This attack may be significant indicator of Missy's attitude towards other dogs, OR, it may be a fluke thing, a one time event.
No one label a dog "dog-aggressive" based on a single event, it is a persistent, ongoing pattern of inappropriate aggression to other dogs, which earns the dog the label of "dog-aggressive."

Missy really has not had enough experience around other dogs to rule out if she is,
or is not,

Was Missy attacking this dog the ONLY event, or were there some other, lesser events as well?

//"We are planning on going to the dog park soon to work with them depending on how it goes we may let them off leash if there is an area with no other dogs"//

I guess i can not talk you out of this, but if i were you, taht is NOT the place to begin trying to discover if your dog is dog-aggressive.
The overwhelming smells to Missy, IF IF IF IF she does have issues, may help her become "overthreshold".
If another visitor with a dog arrives,
and IF IF IF IF IF Missy *is* actually aggressive toward unknown dogs,
do you realize how difficult it is to call back a dog-aggressive dog when they are staring at an unknown dog?

I mean, it might go just fine, it might.:)
But there are some risks here, and you have a right to know there are some risks in your plan.

Like snow-skiing, beginners start on the bunny hill, not the advanced hill, right? (the dog park is advanced)
It is sort of the same way for socializing dogs, if Missy has no experience (except one attack) with being around other dogs,
you'd want to start socializing her in less exciting, safer settings. Missy could also become excited about the sight of an unknown dog, and bite the puppy.
(RE-directed aggression)

pleeeeeeeeeeze Contact some local dog trainers, and ask how much would one half-hour of their time cost? It might be less than you think, if you find the right trainer, he/she might even feel compelled to help you find this out about MIssy without having any dogs or puppies endangered.
Explain to the trainer, totally honestly, Missy's set up, how she's only been around one dog, and attacked that dog, and hasn't seen any dogs since, and you want his/her assessment, if MIssy does get on well with dogs or not? Ask trainer if he/she could line up a few friendly dogs for Missy to practice on,
in a safe, controlled setting,
with a pro there to intervene if needed. It might go just fine, and you can then advance a lil more confidently with some knowledge about Missy's inner attitude.

I'm so not against finding out,
i want you to find out if Missy can get on with other dogs!
But i just hope you find a safer way to do this,
than to go to a dog park.

Anyone with ANY type of aggressive dog:mad: could come walking in there. I'd think you'd want Missy's first experiences with dogs after her attack event, to be as POSITIVE as you can possibley make them, since Missy HAS had one trauma already.



Honored Member

It's hard to analyze dog behavior online, but in this remark:
//"Missy would go toward Lily, when she did Lily would jump backward and Missy would bark which had a growl at the end"//
I would have liked it better,
if you said the puppy was pestering Missy which was why Missy growled to the puppy.

Missy approaching the puppy and growling is slightly less comforting. But, it could have been innocent play--- hard to know about dog behavior via the written word sometimes.

I don't necessarily think dogs who growl,
or dogs who growl at puppies,
have any issues, nope, not what i'm saying. I'm just saying, i don't think Missy is ready for a dog park. It might go just fine,
Missy might actually LOVE dogs, and enjoy them so much, :D:D:D
but, there are safe ways to find this out,
and dangerous ways to find this out.

Was Missy muzzled for this playtime with a puppy, then? Will she be muzzled at the dog park?


Honored Member
Thank you for all the advice Tigerlily
My cousin didn't realize that her dog had followed her over so it slipped into the house and Missy attacked the dog right when it got in the house. I think it might have been cause I hadn't gotten her fixed yet(she was in heat)
about the dog park I've taken her before on a Sunday and no one was there I let her run around and worked on recall and used the agility equipment. The fenced in area I was in wasn't a really big open space. (She wasn't over stimulated from the smells she goes to the ball park all the time cause my little brother plays baseball so she is used to a lot of different smells and people bring there dogs up there.) My mom and two brothers were with me. They watched out for dogs if they saw one I would call Missy to me and leash her till the dog was out of site. We'll do the same thing when we work with Missy and Lily, there will be someone on watch. We will be really careful to keep Lily safe(Lily may be a puppy but she's is a nine month boxer she weighs around 40 pounds Missy is 35pounds Lily is also taller than Missy). My friends mom will be there and I'll ask one of my brothers or my mom to help.


Honored Member
It IS possible that Missy enjoys other dogs. I hope so! It is so rare to hear of a dog who has never been around other dogs, but, such dogs exist. There are also dogs who have had extremely limited opportunity to meet unknown humans, too.

This is encouraging, that Missy has been to this dog park, and will come to you when other dogs come around. YAY!! That is a big plus!! I did not know this. Very encouraging!!

Since you've had your mind made up to bring Missy to petsmart or dogpark all along, i wish you all the best of luck. I'll leave the thread. I hope it goes great for you at the dog park, i hope it turns out that Missy is friendly dog after all, and she might be!!! I hope it proves to be true!!


Honored Member
It is worth bearing in mind that some female dogs are more unreliable with certain other females than with males.

When female dogs fight there is a lot less warning than with males and it is often a lot nastier so be really aware of what your dog is saying.

It can be really hard to persuade two female dogs to get along but they may get along fine with male dogs.


Honored Member
Oh! Another thing to remember is that wearing a muzzle reduces your dog's ability to communicate with other dogs - In my experience female dogs seem to use a lot more facial communication than males. A muzzle may also make your dog feel more vulnerable. Both these factors increase the chances of Missy looking like she is aggressive.

One female dog that I know experienced a complete character change/insecurity after meeting other dogs while wearing a muzzle to prevent her scavenging, it has taken 2 years for her to begin to recover. A male dog I know has begun to growl at other dogs since wearing a muzzle (also to prevent scavenging).

Is there any way you could allow the dogs to interact through a fence or similar barrier as well as meeting with Missy muzzled?