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Dog Park Pet Peeves

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Ace

Mischief is my- middle name
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 4, '13 1:48pm PST 
I'm starting this topic not because I have any (other than obviously aggressive dogs and people not picking up poop) but because I'm thinking about taking the dogs to a nearby dog park more often, and since these are my first dogs, I want to know what to avoid. I've had Ace over a year, and Kale has been living here for a year, so I know neither of them has an ounce of dog aggression, from interactions on walks around the neighborhood, but Ace in particular is ... enthusiastic ... What's appropriate, what isn't, what are the unwritten rules?
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Milton

Im just a little- guy
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 4, '13 2:03pm PST 
If your dogs have not shown any aggression on leash, they likely won't off-leash. I am pretty sure on-leash reactivity/aggression is way more common. Socializing your dogs on walks is probably the safest and best way. Dog parks often contain poorly controlled dogs with limited social skills. It's good you waited.

Do you have voice control over your dogs? You should be able to recall them in a dog park and they must be good with other dogs of course. Since you have one very active high energy dog it would be best to introduce them to the dog park after a long walk. Too much energy in the dog park can create problems, however there are normally other active dogs would share your dog's energy. Usually those dogs will play with each other and more mellow ones will hang out with their energy counterparts.

I would leave if you see any humping or overly dominate dogs. I would call your dogs if they get bug another dog who is not interested in them. Keep an eye on them.
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 4, '13 4:42pm PST 
Honestly, the only thing that really bothers me is when people create drama.

It's a dog park, where anything can happen. If a scuffle breaks out, don't go pointing fingers or reporting. Let it be. Sometimes unexplained things just happen. If bad things start to become a habit, then it's time to inform the offender. Educate, don't talk down to them.

There was actually a really nice lady who would come at the dog park the same time as me and had the sweetest Swiss Mountain Dog mix. When everybody would leave the dog park, the lady would work on training her dog. She was super responsible and always asking questions about if she was doing good training her dog. Then one day, another regular came in with his young Akita mix. The 2 dogs played pretty rambunctiously and well, it just escalated to a point where the Akita got a small bite mark on the ear. It wasn't serious at all. Wasn't even bleeding, and we don't know who exactly bit, but it obviously wasn't serious.

I never saw the lady with the Swiss Mountain Dog mix again, and I later found out that the Akit mix's owner reported the lady for that little incident. Seriously, WTH?! That made me so upset. Such a nice lady now won't go to the dog park because someone got their pants in a bunch over a minor scuffle.

So many people act like the dog park is their own and go around policing the place. That's no fun.

As long as everyone is able to enjoy themselves, let it be. If something is continually happening that is bothering you, make a light comment on it, but don't jump into telling people what to do or how to handle their dogs.

I think that's also a reason why so many people don't go to the dog park. They get too bossy with others and just ruin the fun for all.

Above all, be positive. Every dog there is a potential playmate. And every person there may be a new friend.way to go Dogster forums really make the dog park out to be a bad place. It's no different than the rest of the world. It's what you make of it.
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 4, '13 4:49pm PST 
Okay, that last part was more of a rant than what I intended it to be.laugh out loud

If you can, find an off hour for the dog park. If your dogs become familiar with the area first, then going to a familiar area with numerous dogs will be an easier transition. Or if there are different sections to the dog park, you can take them to the empty side (if there is one) first to help them get acquainted better.

Unwritten rules...hmmm I'd saw overall is just make sure no one elses dog is trying to sneak out when you open the gait and to make sure to always close the gait. Some dogs are seriously stealthy. I've also started to kind of walk slow up to the gait or take my time going in because some people, if they're by themselves, let the dogs out in the main area even though their dog may not be the friendliest, so when they see me, they have time to leash up their dog.

My dogs pretty much always poop in the park, so I always grab at least 2 bags right as we go in. It's super hard to find the poop if you have to go get a bag and lose sight of it. They usually go first thing in the park, so I keep a close eye on them until they go.
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Ace

Mischief is my- middle name
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 4, '13 8:06pm PST 
I was either very lucky today, or weekday mornings are just the perfect time to go to the park I went to today. I was the first one to get there, and only a handful of dogs and owners showed up.

Voice recall is not so great though... But that's part of why I'm going. I need someplace bigger and with more distractions than the backyard to work on it. At the same time, I think the novelty of playing with other dogs will wear off enough that Ace may become a little more manageable on-leash. She ALWAYS wants to play with every other dog we see out and about. And I do mean play, not fight. She's just super friendly. But when walks and the occasional Petco trips are the only times she SEES other dogs, I can't really blame her for wanting to play. She's gotten used to Kale being around, and they play some, but she doesn't go after him all the time like she did when he first moved in.

I may be going about this all wrong, but her misbehavior ON-leash seems to stem from frustration at not having a lot of opportunity to play with other dogs. It seems to be something she just really needs. There's no dog she doesn't like so far.
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Opheila

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 4, '13 8:22pm PST 
My biggest problem with dog parks besides the obvious dogs and humans with aggression issues, oh and the phone fiends...they sit on the bench toadly absorbed in their electronic diversions and forget they have a dog...The ones who make me nutz are the humpers. If someones dog has a tendency to do that, it's the owners responsibility to correct it or leave. We stay in the little dog park for just that reason...even if a teacup finds Sophie alluring he's not going to have much luck. The dogs in the big dog side are bigger than Sophie and some of the owners think their dog harrassing my dog is kind of cute...grrrrrrr
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Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 4, '13 8:56pm PST 
I have a few pet peeves.. And these are the ones I noticed to cause the most problems with dogs at the park..

Firstly, dog-choosy dogs. If your dog is picky about what dogs he/she does or doesn't like(and I'm not saying the occasional dog your dog MIGHT not like, I'm talking specific breeds, ages, sizes, etc), it's obviously not a good idea to take your dog to a situation that is far less controlled than setting up a playdate.

Secondly, people whose dogs target other specific dogs. Literally, target. Whether it's targeting intact dogs, breeds, etc. This falls similarly to the first one, but I noticed a lot of owners have excuses, "Oh, my dog doesn't like intact dogs." or "He's never like this." Get control of the aggressor(whether just rude behavior or outright aggression), apologize and move on. Not hard to do. But, like Kato and Sanka, I see a lot of people pointing fingers of blame. It's ridiculous.

Thirdly.. If a dog is guardy or possessive about their toys... DON'T bring them to the park with toys! Other dogs are GUARANTEED to go chasing that ball you throw, whether it's meant for them or not. If your dog will take issues with that, DO NOT bring them to the dog park specifically. Instead, find somewhere else that's safe to play ball without risking other dogs getting torn into. When I took my moms Rottweiler, Regan to the dog park once, two Rott mixes jumped her because they had a toy and she went to sniff a hello. They had already been causing problems growling and snarling at other dogs, so I took it as a sign to be right on top of Regan and watch all interaction. A fight broke out with both the dogs jumping her, and I was the only one trying to separate them. Regan was shaking in her fur, while the other dogs happily walked off with their toys, with their owners blaming Regan for the altercation. I was PEEVED to say the least. Especially when they refused to help me break it up and get their dogs off mine.

It can vary too..

I've found one really great off leash park that I can go to and I RARELY have an issue and if I do, it's usually a new person that's new to the park who is just trying it out for their dogs and doesn't actually KNOW how their dogs will be. I've only ever had TWO issues at that dog park in... five years and on any given day at any given time, there can be over a hundred dogs running loose.

Owners that don't control their pets too, really bug me. Charlie is on a long line at the dog park because I don't trust him not to take off down the field. I have control this way without causing leash issues with other dogs. My Rottweilers were always able to be off leash there. Ria has yet to go because she's still a puppy, and is still in training.

And one more thing? Owners that LET their dogs run all the way across a field, out of their reach, and sometimes out of sight, and don't do a thing about it. I had a Husky bullying my moms Rottweiler, Grizz there once after he took off across the field and targeted Grizz. Grizz did nothing but give appeasement signals, and submit, and this dog STILL wouldn't back off. Grizz was only nine months old. I ended up body blocking the Husky while I walked Grizz out of there. Poor guy was so nervous after that, I had to take him for the walk home to calm him down, because he was shaking and cowering. Still great with other dogs though. But those owners? Out of sight, and never even called their dog. I wasn't too impressed. Bullying should not be tolerated either.

I hope you have nothing but good experiences though. smile
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Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 5, '13 7:53am PST 
To be honest... I don't take mine to the dog park,, and I'm not a huge fan of them. I did so once, and that was only because a girlfriend wanted a play date and we had nowhere else to go! But even then I saw stuff that was going on all the time that I didn't like, though we got by just fine that time. I listen to stories like Charlie's and shudder. It's very typical, unfortunately.

The parks for me just aren't a good bag. Especially with breeds like the gsd. A good one may not START a fight, but they sure as hell will end it. And then add to the mix the possible SSA, the prey drive, crazy people who don't control their pups or pay attention or vaccinate or whatnot... yeah. confused I don't want anybody else's dog hurt anymore than I want mine hurt.

For socializing we have regular classes, and then I really like a good doggy daycare. Simply because there's always somebody there watching things, and they temperament test (or should be!) every dog that comes in. I can't afford to send her there every day, but once a week is really nice, and she always comes back to me pooped. It's great.

Also Ophelia/Callie gave a SPLENDID suggestion on another thread which we've taken to and has worked wonders. The park near us has tennis courts that are open to the public and are almost always vacant! I've loved having a safe, fenced in place that I can take Miyu to play off leash on. It's a great place for future play dates as well (I don't have a big yard.) So maybe setting up a play date with somebody you know in a place like that might work?
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Lupi

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 5, '13 8:53am PST 
My biggest pet peeve is people not picking up poop. Seriously-it's such an easy thing to do, but it doesn't get done. My park actually started having a coyote problem because they were attracted to all the dog poop!

Second pet peeve is the reason for the poop not getting picked up: people not watching their dogs. Some are on their phones, some are chatting with friends-while their dogs are nowhere in sight.

Finally, people who bring their dogs to an off-leash area with poor recall skills. Almost every time we go, some dog decides to follow us out of the park (ours isn't fenced) and I have to wait for the owner to come get them, or (in the case of oblivious owners) take the dog back inside to them. Lupi could have easily ended up with some permanent playmates! These owners will call their dogs 5, 6, 7 times and STILL have to physically retrieve them.

So many problems (scuffles, humping, toy-stealing, etc) could be avoided, simply by being able to get your dog to return to you.

I guess it boils down to: watch your dog. You're there for them, so make sure they're having fun and behaving well. And pick up the poop!
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Ace

Mischief is my- middle name
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 5, '13 11:27am PST 
Forgive what may be a stupid question (although I expect answers may vary), how exactly do you define "aggression" in a dog park setting? Growling, snapping, hackles up, that's obvious. But in terms of greeting, running, chasing, etc., what do you consider off-limits, other than the humping that's already been mentioned?
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