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Thread: Dog Parks & Dog Behaviour - please advise!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Default Dog Parks & Dog Behaviour - please advise!

    There is a lovely big fenced dog park not far from my place. I had great plans for Misha and I to go there regularly, but I shelved those plans when it was apparent that Misha get's very stressed in certain situations.
    Recently I've noticed comments here that my decision might not be the best one, so I'm asking your advice.

    Misha is a smallish dog, friendly, gentle, and obedient. She is 14 months and 7.6 kilos. She interacts well with most dogs at the off-leash park and has learned that size isn't an issue, but the 2 issues she still has are that she eventually loses it if there is a pushy young dog who keeps nipping around her face and head, and the other one is if there is a dominating dog (or pack of dogs) who comes at her, she goes into complete submissive mode, she finishes up on her back and screaming in fear (it's heart wrenching to see), this is the behaviour that worries me the most.

    She loves all dogs she meets when walking on leash, and if allowed to interact her body language immediately says 'I want to play'.
    I'm not too concerned about her losing her cool with a pushy pup, I'm hoping that is an OK behaviour, but what can I do to help her overcome her fear of dominant dogs when off-leash? I've never seen a dog as scared as she gets and it's heart-breaking. I'd appreciate your comments, especially if it means we can eventually frequent the dog park without problems.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Southern NSW
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    Well my dogs don't like pushy dogs either and it pi.... me off that the dog who likes it space and bothers no-one is thought of as being in the wrong..they are NOT.
    Hence I am not into off leash areas, because there are so many rude dogs that have no manners.

    I feel a lot of this is due to the puppy classes where puppies are all allowed to play rough and tumble with no control. these all grow up into dogs who think any dog is friendly and has to be friendly. these dogs do not do dog language when they get told to stay back and these dogs end up being snapped at. And the dog that snaps is thought of as aggressive.

    Anyway I will get off my soapbox.

    Keep your little one safe...keep her happy and friendly and keep her away from uncontrolled environments. Find a group of people who are happy to have some control over their dogs and have fun.

    That is what we do, we select the dogs that play together.

    My Katy can play with anyone, she is friendly and does not worry about pushy dogs, even though she is a very polite dog. Lukey is the same, his motto is "whatever".
    But Tessa and Annabelle do not like rude dogs, so they only play with other polite space-giving dogs at our Kennel Club, a select few LOL.....
    Pets are forever

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Sydney
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    What she said.

    Dog parks are not for every dog, mostly they are for medium sized, play rough dogs who let aggression etc roll off their back. My Gordon Setter loves them, one of my Whippet girls also, but then she doesn't realise she's only 11kg but my other Whippets don't like them when they get rough.

    They also don't appreciate a pack of dogs coming at them. Yet amongst their own pack play very rough.

    When you turn up to a dog park you have to assess the number of dogs in there and the type of play going on then ask yourself, do they suit my dog?? I've pulled up at the dog park many times and turned around and gone back home, because I can see by the dynamic of the mix of dogs in there that there will either be trouble shortly, there is a trouble maker amongst the dogs, someones turned up with a ball, one thing I detest etc

    Give her good associations with the dog park, and skip the days when there isn't her type of dog in there. Because if she's screaming she's terrified and sometimes that screaming can excite the other dogs and get dangerous. The grovellings fine, but the screaming isn't.
    Last edited by MAC; 09-02-2012 at 06:46 PM.

  4. #4

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    Sorry - grevillea47I - but I dislike dog parks with an absolute passion.

    From my experience - dog parks that allow the dogs to be off-lead - are only there for the really very very lazy owners ! They seem to congregate at the entrance to the park - have absolutely no control over their own dogs- and they do not move - talking to other people is more important to them - until they are ready to go home. Walk their dogs - no - watch what their dogs are doing - no again - they believe after their dogs have run around a bit - they have done a really good thing !!!!!!

    I used to love the park that I went to years ago - a lot of really good dog knowing people used to go there ! We used to do just basic dog training and dog socialisation exercisers ! But how time has made the experience of going to these places an absolute nightmare !

    My pup and I were both attacked years ago by a very large GSD and his owner ! When I tried to protect my pup - the owner put me on my be - hind ! Cost me a fortune in vet fees and really the idea of going to a park where dogs can run free - fills me with nightmares !

  5. #5
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    Sep 2011
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    Your little Misha sounds lovely, Grevillia, but unfortunately, I wouldn't allow Oskar to play or go near her. He is a bit DA towards small submissive dogs, we had a bad experience when he was just 4 months old, he already had that drive in him, and even though he did not physically hurt the small poodle involved, I think he terrified the owner. So we are very selective who he plays with. We don't like dog parks, instead we go to the beach, which still allows dogs off leash, but there it is different, if that makes sense. Oskar is only allowed off the leash sometimes. He is a beautiful natured dog, but you can never be too sure.

  6. #6
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    I am astounded at how some people are quite happy to let their off leash dog come and harass me walking along with Mags on leash.
    I stand between her and them and ask them to come and get their dog and they often saunter over saying something like "oh they wouldn't hurt your dog" Well a 35kg labrador can hurt my 13 kg dog when they pound on her when she is on leash and can't use her speed to get away. They aren't socially trained and being an untrained boof is not an excuse for bad manners. I blame the owners.

    Yesterday I was doing obedience training ( we do it in an off leash area) we work through distractions it is usually ok. My husband was sitting in a rotunda eating his lunch when 2 wet labradors belted in and harassed me and Maggy ( on leash) trying to do the training and then rushed into the rotunda and jumped and tried to snaffle my man's lunch. The owner thought them disrupting the obedience class was plain funny but got very concerned when they jumped and tried for the food. He could have been in big strife there.

    If I am down the beach and Maggy is off leash, if I see someone with a dog on leash or putting their dog on leash I clip her on. Seems basic common sense to me, a few times people have said thank you to me for doing it. Them I like! Only you can decide what is safe, possibly early morning when there are less, sometimes different sorts of people and different times of the day. Our nearby park is empty of dogs at 6.30am and Maggie loves it, so do I

    IN defence of puppy classes they do depend on the skill of who is running them. For us it was great and the trainer was very good at reading and explaining the puppys' body language and how to manage fear and aggression. Maggy and I learned a great deal.
    Last edited by farrview; 09-02-2012 at 08:00 PM.

  7. #7
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    When I visit my mum in the city, I only go to the local dog park at certain times of the day when I know there are not going to be big crowds of rude pushy dogs. None of my dogs have any issues really and all are medium sized and fast so can take care of themselves, but I dont like the whole thing as there are some incredibly rude in your face dogs.

    You need to protect your girl from dominating dogs. You will just have to keep an eye out for the situation and call her to you before it has a chance to occur and walk off in another direction or out the park. I would really just not allow the situation to arise.

    As has been mentioned, maybe set up play dates with like minded dogs and allow her to gain social skills and confidence as she grows.

    Yes puppy classes depend on the person running it. I was fortunate enough to have a vet nurse running the one I took one of my pups to and she took great care that the environment was well controlled. I can imagine that this is not always the case.

  8. #8
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    We have a off-leash park near our house, we walk there, have a play at the park for an hour or so and then walk home as I find that walking does not tire them out, they need a big, solid run. We have a group of us that are always there at the same time every day and the dogs get along really great. Meika is always either happy to play with her frisbee or other dogs and 99% of the time Molly is well behaved, but occaisionally she will get overly boisterous and start to jump on or nip the dogs she is playing with (usually new dogs- not the ones that are part of the 'group'). When this happens I straight away put her on the leash and she has 'time out' and is only allowed back off when she is sitting nicely and calmly. As we only got her in April (she's about 2yrs old) and the park is new-ish (the first one within like 1hr drive) she hasn't really had a life where she can experience being 'social' and sometimes she forgets her size.
    When I put her on 'time out' most of the other dog owners tell me that I can let her off and that their dogs can handle it, but it's important to me that she learns manners just in case she gets a bit carried away with the wrong dog one day and things get serious.
    When we are already at the park and a new dog comes, I tend to hold onto my dogs and let them say hello one at a time- it seems to help the new dog feeling swamped and scared!
    There is a lot of negative things on here about labrador owners and how they let their dogs be rude and don't care, but some of us are trying!!!

    I'm not too worried about dog parks, I haven't had a bad experience- apart from one cattle dog, but what does worry me is when kids bring their dogs to the park without parents.. if something were to happen, a 10yr old kid can't do much. Plus I've also seen kids leave and not shut the gate behind them on more than one occaision.. once a kid came, dropped his dog off inside the park and rode away on his bike again. The dog seemed to be giving off bad 'vibes' so everyone who was there ended up leaving before something bad happened

  9. #9

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    i go to an offleash park every day, however i've never yet been to a fenced one(not sure if there is even one anywhere near me). I'd look around for an unfenced offleash area where most people at least have some control of their dogs

    ETA : you still get knob jockeys but they're easier to spot i suspect in amongst the good owners and hence easier to avoid letting you dog be harrassed by dogs with inconsiderate owners
    Last edited by mymatejack; 09-02-2012 at 10:04 PM.

  10. #10
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    Sorry if I hit a nerve with labradors, I have owned several and love them. There are alot around here. I just get tired of people lambasting some breeds and then this mythology that labs are harmless. When they are untrained, they are big and they can hurt,albeit accidentally, too many people think because they have such a good reputation as service dogs they don't need to put the time in training them. There are too many around here that belt up to us and shove their noses into Maggie with no leads and no manners. They are gorgeous when trained and have a lovely friendly nature.
    I have no problem with the labs just their owners!

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