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Thread: Advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Default Advice

    Hey there,

    As some of you may know, I have been taking Leo down to the local dog park to get him some good socialization and exercise (as part of a long walk route). So far, he has been great. He comes back after the first five minutes or so of excitement about seeing other dogs and being "free" outside his backyard I've noticed that he doesn't like dog following him for a long time and remaining in his face. These dogs he will growl at if they persist, and then they will leave him alone. He also doesn't really like the people there. He will either ignore them or sniff them if they are just walking around and talking. He has barked loudly at some kids who were shouting and running around (I asked them to stop this), and he growls at kids (only kids have done this) who come over and try to pat him without being introduced. Because of this last issue, I try to remain very observant and discourage the kids trying to pat him.

    The problem is, today a man was there and kicking a soccer ball around for his dog. Leo went over to meet the other dog, and then got distracted by the ball after the man kicked it and chased it (as too did the other dog). The man raced after them and made a kicking motion to kick the ball again. However, my dog was partially in the way, and I can only assume Leo thought he was going to be kicked or other wise be hurt in some way and growled and lunged at the man.

    Leo was put onto his lead straight away, and the man said that my dog had bitten him (even though I did not actually see him get close to do so) and that he would call the council/RSPCA (he mentioned both) should he see Leo again at the park. At this point, I left.

    What, exactly, should I do now? Leo is being desexed in the upcoming fortnight, so this may help him stop being so edgy? I would like to keep taking him to the park for the interaction with other dogs, but is it worth the threat of being complained about to the authorities? Or would simply muzzling him for the sake of putting people's mind at ease be the way to go? If I continue to keep taking him back, should I be more selective at who is in the park before letting him off (eg. no people kicking balls, loud and disruptive kids, etc.)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    I don't know what to advise you except to relate my experience. Although Mimi is very "civil" with other dogs, I choose the time and place for her to exercise and socialise. For instance if I go to the park and find that there are owners of two dogs, I leave immediately for another spot (my local park has an owner of two German Sheppards that frequents the place often). Two dogs usually gang up and can be a lot of trouble. I make sure that I am at a distance from other owners and their dogs. Mimi and the other dogs manage to meet up and sniff and play with each other and end up chasing each other's tennis balls.
    Since yours is new to all of this, perhaps the best way is to have Leo on the lead for the first few minutes, then free and then back on the lead. This way he will not miss out on the fun of meeting and playing with other dogs or come into contact with children who will want to pat him. It is important that you feel safe first that he will do no harm to anyone. Good luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    I have had him on the lead for a few times at the park. He is a jack russel x whippet (we are fairly sure :P) so he doesn't like being held while there are other dogs running around.

    For the most part, he keeps to himself except for when he wants to meet other dogs. He'll meet, sniff and maybe dart around for a minute or two, and then he'll go around and see the plants and mark (will desexing stop him doing this?). As I previously stated, he usually doesn't care for 95% of the people that go there.

    And even though I haven't been going to these parks for an extremely long time, I think balls and toys cause way more problems then they are worth.

  4. #4

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    OK, well to begin with.
    Keep him on lead. I am not a fan of off leash at the best of times,you have just given me another lovely example.

    The one thing that is standing out to me though that is he lunged at the human. I fully expected to read upto that word and see 'dog' !
    How does Leo live at home ?
    Meaning who really is the alpha?

    Its something worth mulling over and digesting a bit before I reply in full . I would not expect any of my dogs however to lunge at a human in the incident you are describing , not in any way shape or form.

    Are you sure he went the handler and not the dog? ie;was dog in immediate vacinity ? And I certainly dont mean to be giving leo a way out-an excuse if you like.But it is important to attempt to understand very clearly the event and things surrounding it.

    Helping with dog behaviour over the internet is a dodgy enough business as it is
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  5. #5

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    Oh and yes!
    Desexing is the very first step!!!
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2009
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    Hi silvershadowwolf24

    I don't think desexing Leo will stop him from lifting his leg on things - marking. I know quite a few male dogs that do this. I think maybe if they are desexed very young and don't see any other dogs lifting leg - they might not do it but dogs desexed after they've already started - tend to continue. Might not do it as much but still do it.

    My suggestion for dog park - it worries me that you are trying to get other people eg kids, adults - to fit in with your dog's needs when it really should be the other way around. Ie kids are going to come up to strange dogs and ideally strange dogs either leave or accept it, they don't growl, lunge etc - unless a kid is nasty enough to grab the dog while another kid attacks it. So if you see kids approaching your dog - you should call your dog away and / or put dog on lead for greeting kids. Feed dog lots of treats and praise for doing the right thing, ie accepting or leaving, whatever you prefer.

    My puppy dog is a ball thief. She likes to steal other dogs' toys. I try to have distraction toys, extra balls, a stick, or a handful of bread crumbs to get her to leave the stolen toy for the substitute toy. If I see an owner who doesn't like to share ball or has a ball that can be chewed to bits, I try to get my dog on lead or a long way from there before trouble starts. Personally I think owners who bring toys to ovals when other dogs are around should be prepared to share and ultimately lose the toy completely, but ideally I'd like my dog to leave things she's not supposed to have when I tell her to. Most dog off leash spaces specify that a dog is supposed to come back to the owner when called - no matter what the distraction ie should leave a dog fight and come back. So when my puppy dog doesn't I have to concede - it's my fault for not having "effective control" all the time.

    When I first arrive at any doggy space I keep my puppy dog on lead until I've sussed out who else is there and whether they would be a problem for my dog. I frequently pass a school playground on the way to my favourite dog space, and I usually dawdle past it slow enough that any kid that wants to pat my dog can, while she's still on lead and very much under my control and I praise her for being good with the kids and encourage the kids to take turns patting her rather than overwhelm her with loads of kids all at once.

    I also try to have my puppy dog on lead to greet new dogs at the park. This is sometimes misunderstood, people think that she might be nasty but in fact it is to allow her to meet new dogs in a way that I can control and stop other dogs from being nasty to her.

    I think Leo would get used to being on the lead for the first few minutes of being at dog park, ideally you reward him for calm polite behaviour by letting him go - and keep him on lead until he is calm. Also if you talk to some of the other people there while he is on lead - it may help him feel better about the people there. If he's still not comfortable it may help if you give some of these people a treat to feed Leo to help him understand that people around are "good things".

    Not sure what to do about the grumpy man. Clearly Leo must have given him a fright or made him angry or both. I think only grovelling apology on your part would help. Given the dog is a jack whippet and not a big scary pit bull, it's not likely to be taken very seriously unless there are holes / blood and quite a few reliable witnesses (ie not family members of the grumpy man).

    And it might help if you get a soccer ball and teach Leo not to run between a foot and the ball - or you make sure Leo comes back to you, the minute you see a soccer ball. I have to keep Frosty puppy dog on lead when there are baseballs around - because she can't resist them - big leather treats, and I have to work pretty hard with the breadcrumbs to discourage her from tearing footballs to pieces - but this is easier than keeping her away from the baseballs.

  7. #7
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    Choppa, I am the boss. I made sure of that early. However, the rest of the family has not bothered (despite being pushed to) to put any effort into being more dominant then he is. I explained in my first thread that this is not really a dog friendly home, mainly because everyone else really doesn't care. This is something I am doing my best to rectify, and I believe Leo is coming along quite well.

    He most certainly went for the man. The dog was behind Leo as it happened (near the ball).

    Hyacinth, I understand what you're saying with changing Leo's behaviour for other people. It has only happened twice since I have been going to this park, and both times the kids were running from dog to dog, touching their face and then running away. I don't think this is appropriate at all, which is why I haven't done as you have suggested. If the kid moved at a normal speed and allowed Leo to smell their hands beforehand (as a few people have done), then he would not have a problem.

    I try to talk to quite a few people there and he seems quite comfortable if they are walking around or standing and talking. As stated, he doesn't seem to care much at all about them.

    As for this man, I have only seen him there twice, both times with the ball and his son. Is it simply easier to avoid him (eg. I see him there and just leave) as he does not appear to go there often, rather then apologise and risk some form of further action. After all he stated "I won't be seeing you here again. Get the dog out of here or I'll call the council."

  8. #8
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    hi silvershadowwolf24

    You're right about those kids behaving inappropriately - ideally when this happens - we are paying attention and call the dog back to us before the kids can get near it. Kids that think this kind of thing is ok are usually too stupid or pig headed to listen to anything a stranger might say to them.

    With the grumpy man - if he is grumpy and aggressive all the time - he may find that others discourage him from returning to the dog park. However if he was just upset by a freak accident and lashed out - he might be more reasonable given a few days to calm down. If I get hurt playing hockey by some deliberate act of malice or stupidity by some other player - I tend to stay angry as long as the injury pains me. So this is usually 10 days - for a bruise to go away.

    The only way you can find out what kind of grumpy you're dealing with is to talk to the guy, although you might get a clue from talking to other people who walk their dogs at the same place. If he's permanently grumpy - nothing you will say will make a difference. If he was just temporarily freaked out by your dog and it was all a big misunderstanding - he might be perfectly reasonable if you make an effort to talk to him - you don't necessarily have to accept blame but you could be "sorry" that he found your dog's actions frightening, the same kind of "sorry" that most of us feel about the recent damage caused by earthquakes in Indonesia and Samoa - not our fault but we're sad/sorry about it.

    Most people do not follow up when they say they're going to call the council. Also council would not be likely to do something several weeks after the event when all evidence of injury has faded - did Grumpy get a doctor's certificate or show you the bite mark? I wouldn't point this out to Grumpy though. And did Grumpy get your name or your dog's rego number? You didn't see Leo bite anyone. Think about this from a law enforcement point of view - seriously lacking in any kind of useful evidence unless you confess. So on Grumpy's part - it is an empty threat. If Leo goes after the soccer ball again and has another lunge at Grumpy - then Grumpy might make more of an effort to identify your dog properly and contact the council than just telling you he wants to.

    I've met heaps of people who say they're going to call council about nasty dogs or whatever and they never do. Most times - the dog hasn't done anything wrong - it's just playing with another dog and one of the owners gets freaked out by all the growling and neck ruff chewing.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all your advice. I've decided that I'm not going to be taking him back to the park at least until he gets desexed (which will be mid to late next week). In about a months time he will also be enrolled in some proper training classes.

    In the time between that, I'll be taking him for some good walks around the area with my partner and one of his staffys. When I go back to the park, I'll be much more selective of when I take him and make sure that there aren't any major distractions there, such as balls and screaming children. If I see the man, I'll certainly apologise and explain the situation as I saw it.

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