View Full Version : Dog park maddness

19th August 2006, 06:02 PM
Last night at the dog park by our house--it's only 2 blocks away and has a fair amount of small dog visits, but last night it was all big dogs. Two were pits, and one was really following Abbey. I was right by her, and her tail was so far under her that it was sticking out of her elbow! :( She was freaked, but I kept talking to her and coaxing her to walk with me. The pit wouldn't let up on her, and when the owner would call her, so she'd circle over to the woman, then come back to us. I was getting really annoyed and asked the woman to call her dog off. She replied that she only wanted to play, and I replied that it's clear my dog doesn't and would she just give us some space. :x She still wouldn't leave us alone, so I picked Abbey up after realizing she couldn't resolve this situation on her own--by walking with me. When I picked her up, the pit growled and stepped towards me. I put my knee up and kinda turned myself, thinking she was going to jump, but she didn't. The owner still wouldn't come over and get the damn thing, but instead told me again that she was only trying to play. I then lost it, I told her that it was obvious by her dog's growl and posture (super tense and making direct eye contact with me) that she wasn't interested in playing and that the dog was clearly not listening to her so she really had no control over her. I just walked away, I was so mad! :x . Just to prove my point though, I put Abbey down once we got outside the fence, and that freakin' dog came running to the fence and followed us along the fence all the way to the damn car. Two things that annoy me here, first, that the woman had no control over her dog in terms of recall, and second she had three young children with her--I think people who have dogs that are good with kids just assume that their dog is good with other dogs. Not the case many times, as many dogs can get protective of the kids or many dogs just aren't exposed to other dogs enough. AND, who would let toddlers just run around at a dog park?? I hate that the situation was so stereotypical--pitbull and small dog, but that woman had too much going on--two dogs and three kids, and I wasn't interestsed in risking my dog' saftey, or mine, because some idiot is multi tasking and obvisoulsy failing at it! :x :shock:

Cathy Moon
19th August 2006, 07:05 PM
OMGoodness! :shock: I cannot believe anyone would bring a dog like that to a dog park. :x I would have picked her up and left, too!

I have never taken my dogs to a dog park because we do not have separate parks for big and small dogs, and also there was a dogfight between big dogs at a dogpark nearby, and one dog was killed. :shock:

The training place that I belong to used to have indoor 'big dogparks' and 'small dogparks', where everyone was supposed to keep an eye on their own dogs, plus we had at least one trainer monitoring the dogs' body language. That felt safe enough for me to take my dogs to, but they were discontinued. :(

19th August 2006, 07:40 PM
That is a really scary situation, Jen. And this is exactly the kind of stupid owner that should never own a breed that needs careful handling and socialisation much less a good recall response. I am glad you made a clear point to that woman -- makes me want to copy that article I posted on 'he just want to say hi!' and hand it to people like that. :x I always think you should walk over and start staring at such people and their kids keeping an uncomfortably close stance and then say, "I just want to say HI. You got a problem with that?".

It really annoys me when big dog owners don't have the sense to realise their big dogs can be very intimidating to some small dogs and that their idea of 'play' could hurt a small dog too. I grew up with a very big dog (giant breed) but she never would have been so in your face to other dogs and not to small dogs at all.

I've met some really nice bull breeds, but I never totally trust them or other breeds that have centuries of aggression to other dogs hardwired into their personality and am always protective of my little guys. It takes a very confident capable person managing a very well-bred example of the breed to give me confidence that the dog will be a happy, well-behaved example of its breed. I know that friendly breeds like labs and goldens can be aggressive too, but first, that is not part of the breed history and second, bull breeds are designed to be efficient at killing and maiming even much larger animals so I am just naturally cautious. They are built as they are with their heavy heads for one original purpose and what you typically see on the street are backyard bred examples not from breeders who breed for good temperament and personality so I am just unapologetically wary til I am confident I should feel otherwise.

Dog trainer and author Jan Fennell when she was in Dublin demonstrated a very good way of managing such dogs in an emergency -- start spinning the lead in your hand like a propeller and hold it right out in front of you at dog level so you and your dogs are behind the whizzing circle that the lead makes. Most dogs she says are very afraid of the noise and appearance of a lead used in this way and will stay on the other side and keep their distance (note that you are not 'threatening' the dog or trying to ht it, just spinning the lead as a noise and visual barrier. Try it and see). I would never use a chain lead for walks, but it is useful to have one in your pocket for just such a situation as they spin especially well and you'd feel they'd have a protective aspect as well -- they could hurt if necessary. She says if people say you are threatnening or trying to hurt THEIR dog, you just say no, I am protecting MY dog, and would you please take your dog away as it is making both me and my dog uncomfortable with its unwanted behaviour. as it doesn't seem to understand or respect keeping a polite distance. ;)

19th August 2006, 08:04 PM
I know many people probably wouldn't have even put themselves in that position, but Abbey is typically timid of other dogs at first so I figured this was just part of her routine--to walk with me while I talk to her, then she gets comfortable enough and starts to explore. When this is happening, I'm always careful not to walk ahead of her so she has to run as I'm leary of some prey instict kicking in and her then being chased. I also am careful to watch her signals as when she's had enough I've seen her growl or quiver her lip at another dog to let them know. That's fine, it's appropriate communication, but because it happen to be a tyical over-confident bully breed, I didn't want her snapping to instigate something more so I picked her up. It's sad that bully breeds have such a bad reputation, it's not their fault--they were bred for a purpose just as other dogs were, it's the ill-informed or novice dog owners fault--who have no business owing this type of breed to begin with.

We'll continue to visit this park as it's convenient and in two years we've never had an issue there. One of Abbey's best friends there is a big old Rotty, and she also favors Goldens--she's facinated with their tails, it's funny :lol:

Gus, on the other hand, has no problem holding his own agains Sam, the French bulldog he favors...a stranger commented last night how Gus plays scrappy! :shock: I had to laugh, because we all call him "Mr. Cheap Shot", he never misses an opportunity!! :lol: We have to really watch him, he has no fear and is going to get his butt kicked one day! :shock:

19th August 2006, 08:37 PM
Excellent tip Karlin on the lead spinning, I always carry a spare lead so will change it for a small chain one. Lets hope we never need to use it in a situation like this one. :flwr:

Alison, wilts, U.K.

Cathy T
19th August 2006, 09:11 PM
Fortunately our dog park has a big dog and little dog side. It's really geared more towards tempermant. We have several mellow laid back goldens that hang out on the little dog side because they do better over there. I get really irritated when someone won't call their dog off at my request. It's just rude!!

19th August 2006, 10:20 PM
bringing small children to a dog park is bad dog park etiquette, not to mention making excuses for a dog that is bothering another dog. It doesn't matter if he's just playing, if the other dog is unhappy, then it's socially inept of the owner to do nothing to prevent her dog from harrassing another dog. generally zack deals with dogs that are harrassing him (like tackling him while he's running or humping him incessantly and roughly) by jumping up on my bench and getting in my lap. Once i realized that, i now will go to where he is and offer to pick him up. He will also get in any human's lap if he wants, complete strangers.

I started out going to one dog park which i really like, it's a small one, almost always people manage their dogs very closely there, people are really on top of their dogs. One time, a big female dog was humping Zack to death and the owner made excuses, "she doesn't mean any harm" or something, and other people made comments to the guy about his dog on Zack's behalf, and he left.

Now, i have mainly switched to a much larger dog park, they are both close to home, and close to each other, but much better parking there, and the people are just as responsible and supervise their dogs well, even though there are usually a lot of dogs there. There's a small dog park for under 25 pounds and people strictly observe the size rule, and then the big dog park is massive, which zack loves, he can run forever. For the most part there are no problems, but he does get roughed up a little sometimes and i intervene whenever he appears distressed because normally he looks happy with most of whatever goes on, so if he looks distressed or is trying unsuccessfully to escape, i help him. i also directly tell the other dog no, with caution. I am glad to have that suggestion about spinning the leash, i have a chain that i had no use for so i'll take it along from now on.

it makes me mad that abby had to leave the park. I think the onus is on the owner of the dog that is violating other dogs' space. One time, pre-neutering, zack was wildly humping another little dog. I instructed him to stop, "nahaah" and he stopped for a minute and then started up again. That happened a couple of times, while i was standing there chatting with someone. Then i put Zack's leash on him and led him to the picnic table where i told him he was in time out, and then proceeded to chat with some people there. So zack had to watch the other dogs play while he sat witih the boring grownups. After maybe 3 to 5 minutes, i let him go. He humped again and i brought him back to time out for a few minutes. After that, he never humped again. i was so pleased that this worked. But if he continued the behavior and i couldn't stop it, then we would just have to leave the park.

Cathy T
20th August 2006, 12:48 AM
Well what do you know?! There's an article in Whole Dog Journal this month about dog park etiquette (I swear this publication reads our minds!).

As far as children...we don't allow children unattended (a lot of times kids come over from the baseball field and we let them know that they aren't allowed in the park without adult supervision and politely let them know they need to leave...we don't ask...we tell). We discourage small children in general because it just isn't safe. One of our regulars was smacked into by a couple of dogs and broke her ankle. I personally was knocked into by an Irish Wolfhound (ouch!)...imagine if that was a child!

One thing I love about this article is that they address people with their noses buried in a book. How in the world can you keep track of your dog and pick up after him if you have your nose in a book?

A great article and timely as usual.

20th August 2006, 11:52 AM
Thanks for your advice Karlin, I never thought of taking another lead - especially a chain ( I'm off to Pets at Home to see if they have one this afternoon).

It bugs me how other people who obviously don't know their dogs inside out just let them run up to other dogs and charge at them. Merlin has been attacked by a jack russell - the woman never even tried to get the dog off him, a small terrier type that even when I picked Merlin up the owner just ignored the dog and carried on! and then a chocolate lab got him one morning - right to the floor - fortunately there were no injuries but Merlin was soaked to the skin with this dogs spit and drool. He is now afraid of dark dogs (unless they are at training class - he must feel safe there)

Only once has an owner took responsibility - this was a miniture schnauzer - it tried to overwhelm Merlin by pputting its paw over his head and mumbled at him - unprovoked (merlin was busy sniffing a nice smell). The owner was so embarrassed she apologised ( a first!) and reprimanded the dog by taking it home so the dog missed out on his walk as punishment.

Sometimes I think you can tell by the owners body language- if they are relaxed and don't have big panic to get the dog under control ( not necessarily on the lead) I think you have confidence that they trust their own dogs behaviour.

Merlin has a friend who we can spot from one end of "the lodge" from the other - although they obviously like each other - both Tess's owener and I don't allow the dogs to charge to each other , we make sure that they approach each other nicely and calmly and then they can go mad together. Etiquette is what is lacking with some owners, I'm sure they would allow their kids to go barging up to a smaller child and shove them over onto their side!!

I'm glad this irritates other people as well as me, least I am not alone.

20th August 2006, 12:19 PM
I feel lucky that around here most dog owners are really decent. I think that's because most are elderly and love their dogs and because it is an inner city area, the dogs are walked every day as we don't have gardens for them. So they are used to meeting each other and I'd know all the dogs around this area. However there are some nasties mainly owned by unpleasant guys in the nearby flats -- and mostly bullies or roties etc that have attacked and killed or maimed some of the dogs around my streets. A neighbour's cavalier was attacked by a staffie/pit cross and the owners tried to claim this sleepy old cavalier PROVOKED their dog. They ended up paying the vet bill as the vet knew both dogs and pressured them; the dog caused wounds on the cavaliers muzzle and jaw.

On the positive side of this discussion, I love how the dogs end up having dog friends -- the dogs they spot from a long ways away and know and all the tails start going. Mine stop and have a long sniff of the doorsteps at the houses of dogs they know, too! :lol: They also never wee there. icon_whistling (Our doors open directly onto the footpath here in this part of the city).

We have few restrictions on walking dogs here. No fenced dog parks that I know of but you can walk them in any park off lead. The beaches around Dublin have time restrictions on when dogs can be there but everyone ignores them and I don't know a single prosecution -- not least because not a single beach ever put up a sign about when dogs are allowed so how would anyone know!!