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Thread: Please help: my dog is scared senseless at the dog park and runs for his life

  1. #1

    Unhappy Please help: my dog is scared senseless at the dog park and runs for his life

    Hi everyone,

    I have a male pom/japanese spitz who is currently 1 year old. He is a really affectionate lovely boy and a great dog. He loves to play and is always play fighting with our other dog (female pom)

    We got him when he was 16 weeks old and I think he spent the "crucial" 8-12 week period in an apartment complex without seeing much light of day. When we got him we took him out and socialized him as much as we could and he is pretty good with smaller dogs.

    Lately we have taken him to our local dog park and started letting him off the lead and he absolutely LOVES it. He runs around, sniffs etc etc. There is a problem though...when he see's a small dog he is usually fine and will run up and start engaging play fighting/chasing/sniffing etc, however any dog that is bigger then him that actually reciprocates and starts playing back and chasing him he suddenly stars running for his life crying with his tail under his legs and will not stop till the dog stop chasing him.

    He is also completely scared out of his mind if a bigger dog (Labrador) for example comes up for a friendly sniff, he begins squealing and running into my arms or running for his life...

    I think he hasn't had the socialization that he needs? He LOVES the dog park though and getting off the lead and playing with other small dogs... will it just take more off lead time and experience? He seems to be going through that second "fear" stage that dogs go through from 10 - 14 months.

    Thanks for all replies.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Rural NSW


    Many do not use dog parks now due to aggression and idiot unsupervising owners.
    Maybe make friends with the owners of the small dogs he likes and arrange play dates in back yards.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    The only things I can think of that may help is to get him to meet some big dogs in a more controlled environment. So both on lead so you can decide when it's ok to get closer.

    And the other one is to try make him associate being near big dogs with pleasant experiences. You could maybe walk around the dog park when there's big dogs there and give him lots of treats, do some trick training or play a game of tug, that kind of thing.

    But the thing is also that lots of dog owners in those dog parks think that as long as their dog doesn't growl or bite, they can't do anything wrong. But I've seen plenty of labs display very inappropriate behaviour without showing any direct aggression. Letting your dog continue to chase a dog that is screaming in fear is simply rude. Same with allowing a group of dogs to bully another dog. My dog has been involved in that and I immediately removed her from the situation.

    So you are in your right to protect your dog from over the top dogs. I remember someone here mentioned they started carrying a spray bottle or water gun and squirted those dogs that didn't understand personal space and reacting appropriately to other dogs' body language. And I think that's fair enough and no harm is done.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia


    I would keep him well away from 'big dogs', and pay attn to what size is in the dog park. Protect him, by leaving, or ending his off leash time when large dogs come in.
    Here's why.
    (If my dog bernie, saw your dog run. He would run after him. So its a dangerous behaviour and achieves the opposite of what the dog wants to happen. for bernie to stop chasing him and allow him to escape to safety.)

    find someone with a friendly dog, and ask them for help. Manage the introduction carefully. If you have a word for settle, now is the time to use it.
    or teach it if not.
    the dog needs to calm itself, and you can guide it to do so, with rewarding calm behaviour.
    kinda hard to do at a dog park. But perhaps at a dog training club?

  5. #5


    He sounds a lot like my boy when I first got him. In my case, he would go absolutely crazy if he even saw a big dog. I had to start him off by walking him in the presence of big dogs at a comfortable distance for him (i.e. where he wouldn't go nuts) and gradually get closer. This meant walking him several metres away from the dog park and gradually getting closer (this would be counter productive though if the large dogs or any dogs were being aggressive behind the fence however. If the other dogs became aggressive or hyper I would just have to move away from the situation). He's much better now but still gets threatened by really in your face type big dogs, but if the larger dog is fairly calm and doesn't flip him over trying to sniff his bum, he's usually ok.

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