Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doggie Disappointment

This past weekend, we tried to take our dogs to one of the less busy dog parks in our city. We've found this one works out pretty well for us-- fewer dogs means a better experience overall for everybody, I think. This really stems from one of my dogs' social ineptitude when it comes to greeting other dogs. He's too gung-ho. He wants to great everybody, get right in their faces, and sometimes give them a nice sniff on the butt, or a hump or two. Usually, it's the getting right in another dog's face that doesn't go over too well (and occasionally the un-welcomed humping). Now, I'm no dog body language expert, but when he runs up to another dog and "gets all up in their grill," I really don't think he's being aggressive...just overly excited. Some dogs don't appreciate this excitement and I think they do see it as an attack. Here comes a ~70 pound Australian Shepherd at full speed... I don't blame them for getting a bit up-tight.

Anyhow, this little problem is what led us to going to the less busy doggie park. But this weekend, things didn't work so well. As soon as we got in the park, he ran up to a dog that was either an Irish Setter or a Golden Retriever (it was more red than gold) and it growled, bared teeth and moved away. The owner took notice, but then Jax kinda ran on to pee on something. Round 2 wasn't as good. He decided he wanted to get to know the stranger a bit better and ran after him/her. The dog eventually turned and went off. Prior to this, Jax was not growling or showing teeth, or anything. But when that dog responded as it did, he was on the defensive as well. When he started in with the dog, our other dog, Apollo, a Husky, started in to help protect his brother. The other dog's owner starts yelling at the top of her lungs "STOP IT STOP IT!" and using her little ball thrower to try to separate them. Ryan went in and just grabbed our two, as the second owner of the other dog was yelling "Whose dogs are these?!?" Ryan was right there...we don't leave our dogs unsupervised at the park. The woman ended up yelling, "We're leaving! We're just going to leave!" Thankfully, none of the dogs were hurt--it really didn't get to that point.

Ryan ended up putting our two on a leash and we walked around the park... I wanted to just leave, because I feel if you have to keep your dogs on a leash at the free-reign park, you shouldn't be there in the first place. I feel like such a failure when my boys behave badly at the park...but I get defensive of them as well. I don't like for people to think they are bad or aggressive dogs, or that they are starting fights. They're not the kinds of dogs that start fights...they want to have fun and run around and meet the other dogs. I've decided it just depends upon the chemistry with the other dog that will determine how things go at the park. I know I'm rationalizing, but if another dog can't handle my dog's overt friendliness...don't both dogs have problems? I feel like I've failed my dogs and am a bad dog owner when things happen--but how do you keep a social butterfly from being so social? I wouldn't know how to correct this behavior if I tried. And then there's the problem of him actually learning that other dogs don't like it when you get in their faces... I really doubt that you can hurt this dog...and if you can, he still won't connect the "I'm hurting" feeling with "Oh, maybe I shouldn't do that again" thing...especially in the social setting of the dog park.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't sweat it too bad. Our dog trainer (a la Bark Busters) says she "HATES" dog parks. She, being an expert in doggy language, says she knows all the smack talking going on that owners don't pick up on and it is all a recipe for disaster.

Kudos to you for not having a preggo moment and telling Dog Diva what she could do with her "ball thrower".


The Battered Owner of Two Insane Labrador Retrievers

~Ashley said...

I would have told her what to do with her ball thrower, but like the prototypical pregnant woman, I was on my way to pee, ha ha. I've gone off before at the dog park, and I don't think I was even pregnant then-- a guy had a crazy German Shepherd that was freaking out every time Apollo got within 5 feet...he was yelling "Get your dog away! Get it away!" His dog was still on a leash... I was like "Sir, my dog is NOT trying to attack your dog!!!" Which goes back to my thing, if you have to keep your dog on a leash IN THE DOG PARK...you shouldn't be in there.

DuckyDoc said...

I have a 12 pound Rat Terrier who insists on being top dog, all those who don't agree... She will eat your ears. Even those of you who are >100lbs, must yield!!! What's the sad part, even those who are >100lbs tend to yield within seconds, I don't get it.. It's those "seconds" that are the deal breaker. Owners freak out!! I can't go to a dog park, because so many owners refuse to let dogs meet (sniff butt.) If M is allowed this she will lose interest and go about her own doggy business. Instead grown adults act like my tiny dog is going to masacre their Pit Bull or something. Losers.

You should have told her where to shove her ball thrower.