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Thread: How to negotiate dog parks

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Default How to negotiate dog parks

    I started taking our dog to the dog park close to our new house. I have never been a fan but I haven't had time to explore and find a better place to take her for a run. And she has become pretty antisocial with other dogs so I thought it would be good to throw her in the deep end and get her to develop some social skills again.

    After a few visits I still have to closely supervise her and make sure she doesn't get snarly, but I am noticing some slow progress.

    But things get out of hand when other dogs get too pushy. I didn't tell her off when she snapped at a labrador because he was terribly rude and I had just watched him chase a totally terrified Italian greyhound round the park while his owner did nothing. The lab backed off but we left soon after because most of the others left.

    Today she did initiate play with one of the young bull breed dogs and that went well until a malamute-type cross joined in and Banjo got very snappy and scared. I had to stand in front of her and push the other dogs away.

    How do you deal with those over the top kind of dogs at the dog park? I think it is fair enough for Banjo to feel intimidated and react. I'm not sure if I should slowly push her to cope with stuff like that.

    At one stage when she had a go at the malamute cross, I took her for a swift walk around the park and that did help, even though the malamute and the bull breed followed us all the way.

  2. #2
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    Apr 2012
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    near Sydney NSW
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    It's 18 months since we've set foot in a dog park. Too many bad experiences.
    I'd recommend finding a dog free spot somewhere for Banjo to have a good run.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2011
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    Darwin Northern Territory
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    Hey Beloz, good to see you around again - not that I'm around all that much, not posting anyway. I don't have any answers sorry, but I am struggling with something similar myself. No dog parks here, but Oscar my 7 year old BC is becoming increasingly snarky towards other dogs, especially those pesky in-your-face ones. He never fights, just snaps in annoyance and it's not pleasant, especially the thought that he might do it to a dog that might really retaliate. He was always socialised from day one and was fine until the young Saffie came along. Now he seems to have no tolerance for any dog but her and woe betide any dog that tries to play with her, attempt to approach me or show any interest in his ball. At the beach we go to I have just learnt to spot a problem from miles off and on the lead he goes, but so many dogs see that as an invitation to approach, which just means that any sh!t that's about to go down happens with me in the middle. Not helped by the fact that 3 year old Saffie loves to play with other dogs and invariably leads them back to me. I am just trying to go to the beach in quiet times, but worry that Saffie then misses out on her socialisation.

    Maybe Banjo is just feeling the recent upheaval in her life and is taking a while to feel secure again. I know with Oscar he is getting old before his time with hip dyplasia, so that may affect his tolerance. Plus BCs are known for not suffering fools gladly, and there are a lot of fools out there!

  4. #4
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    Jan 2012
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    Melbourne VIC
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    Does Banjo NEED to be off lead at a dog park?

    My opinion/advice is, if your dog isn't comfortable, then you need to get out. If you can't "protect" her from the other dogs then she is going to react and then it's just unpleasant for you and her.

    I believe, legally (well in Melbourne anyway) if your dog isn't under effective voice control, it must remain on lead.

    Perhaps start outside the off lead area and allow her to meet the dogs through the fencing first. That way, they can't get in her face and you can move away if needed, working at her critical distance.

    It may also be an idea to work on her recall. That way, if she gets into a situation, you can call her to you and you can walk away from the situation together.

    Unfortunately, there are a LOT of rude/ oblivious people out there with a dog and you never know what's going to happen. Never trust another dog will be friendly.

    I wrote a "dog park dos and don'ts" article a few weeks ago. If you're interested, here it is.

    Dog Park Dos and Don’ts

  5. #5
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    Pawfectionist, Banjo's recall is very good, even with high distractions. Pretty much anything except for roos, basically. These altercations usually happen right near me. The other dog owners usually have little or no control over their dogs. Lots of calling their names and no reaction whatsoever. So it makes it impossible to get Banjo away from them. And I'm caught in the middle.

    Troppo, Banjo only became this narky with other dogs since she lived with a lab for 6 months.

  6. #6
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    Hey Beloz, I thought Banjo would ahve a good recall, I just didn't want to assume so.

    I'd say, if she's upset in there, it's not the best place for her.

    I generally ask the owners to call their dogs away if they are annoying us. Of course some owners don't care and think it's fine so that doesn't always work.

    It's certainly frustrating when there are problems at the dog park. It wrecks it for the people doing the right thing.

  7. #7
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    The main reason why I take her is because I want to improve her social skills by getting used to meeting strange dogs again. But I agree that these types of experiences are not going to be helping much. I might still go once or twice a week but take her for a brisk walk inside or outside the park if she starts getting annoyed with other dogs. Or - regrettably - I might just have to leave if there are over the top dogs whose owners don't keep them under control.

    I do feel embarrassed when Banjo growls at another dog there too, but I'm usually right beside her to tell her off and if necessary take her away, or I call her to me. And I explain to the other dog owners what I'm doing and so far they have all been very understanding. And she is not aggressive, just overly defensive. And when she gets used to another dog's presence she does play bows and starts doing zoomies.

    She does prefer to play with small dogs, but they are often in the small dog enclosure.

    Tomorrow morning I'll get on the bike and go explore to find some other walking spots too. We're on the edge of town and beyond the next street there is just a vast expanse of green on the map.

  8. #8

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    Maybe take her there on a day when it's raining. I find that only the most dedicated dog owners turn up at "Brock's" beach when it's raining so there is a better chance that firstly she won't get overwhelmed by having heaps of dogs running around and secondly the dogs that are there are likely to have dedicated owners who have actually trained their dogs.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Adelaide
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    Other owners with no control...

    That's why I like areas where dogs can be off lead but they aren't fully fenced with those evil double gates.

    So owners who have dogs that nick off and never come back - can't use the unfenced parks. And your dog isn't trapped against a fence by a nasty dog.

    You might find these two articles interesting...

    He Just Wants To Say "Hi!" | Suzanne Clothier
    Why Does My Herding Dog Seem to Hate Labs?

    Personally I think it's best if two dogs that don't know each other are closely supervised and on lead when they do their first greeting (if at all). And dogs generally should not be allowed to barge up to other dogs and say hi right in their face.

  10. #10

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    I don't know if there are any Dog Parks in my area and I'm not going to find out. I have spent many months teaching Brian to ignore other dogs when we are out and about. He is super friendly with both people and dogs so it is a constant lesson.

    Often as not we come across those 'Who just want to say Hi' or littlies who yap furiously at him. The owners either drag their pooches away or pick them up and glare at us. Then there's the comment 'Is he vicious?' Ummm he's not the one barking or lunging.
    We do see other dogs at school and sometimes have play dates but Brian is big and very boisterous when he plays so it needs to be supervised.

    You might find these two articles interesting...
    He Just Wants To Say "Hi!" | Suzanne Clothier
    Love Suzanne Clothier, currently reading Bones Would Rain from the Sky.......again.

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