|Barked: Mon Dec 19, '05 7:13am PST |
|Dodger, you're not going to like to hear this, but maybe dog parks aren't the best place for you. And I'm only saying this because I have personal experience very similar to yours and it caused a year of intense training and I almost had to retire Sabrina.
We used to go to the dog park all the time no problem. However, Sabrina was often attacked, usually by smaller dogs, with results similar to what you described. Basically a dog would attack Sabrina, Sabrina would defend herslef and not back down. Usually in my situation, though, the attacker's owner would get mad cuz Sabrina is a pit! Nothing ever came of those fights... they were stopped very quickly by myself, no blood was ever drawn (all bite inhibition etc), I just was extra vigilant about recalls and making sure Sabrina wasn't in a situation near a dog that I thought might initate an altercation. This wasn't enough. We were at the park and she was attacked by a Basenji who did not use bite inhibition. Sabrina still didn't leave a mark on him, but she ended up with a big gash across her face where there is still a scar today, over a year later.
This incident caused her to have extreme dog fear-agression. After that fight, every dog she saw she would posture and if the dog didn't do a submissive posture she would attack. It was an attack-first lest you be harmed type of mindset. Of course, we never went back to the dog park after the Basenji attack so this was all on leash and so controlled. But the point is that I have spent the last year working every single day on this. I thought I would have to retire her. I still can't go to places with lots of dogs around and have her be working because she is too distracted worrying about weather the other dogs are going to attack her. We've been to growly dog classes, we've done everything. Finally last weekend she played with a new dog for the first time since the attack. It was so great, but I now know I will never ever take her to the dog park again.
This is how I see it... I (and you!) are being a responsible dog owner by avoiding conflict and correcting conflict immediately. Not all people at the dog park are like this. Therefore, if one of their dogs attacks yours, you know that your dog will not back down (again, this is normal doggy pack dynamics, nothing to be ashamed of) and a fight will result. Even though you might break up the fight immediately or even call your pup over, your dog still has a psychological result of that encounter. There may not have been a phsycial one, but your dog is still learning about other dogs and might start to associate fights with other dogs. In my opinion, having a dog who will defend themself when attacked is setting them up for failure instead of success at the dog park. It doesn't matter in my opinion how many successful times there are at the dog park. All it takes is once for it to escalate and then you have a super severe behavioral issue (and maybe even phsycial wounds) to deal with. It is not worth it in my opinion, espeically since I rely so much on Sabrina.
You've come so far in leash agression, and I'd hate to see it all reversed by some incident at the dog park like it was for Sabrina.
This is just my opinion, and of course you can continue to do what you feel is best for your dogs... I'm just saying that I don't feel the risk is worth it. Too many people don't control their dogs at the dog park and serious things can happen as a result. I'd hate to see that happen to Dodger.
And the other issue is that if there were a fight and Dodger injured or killed another dog (god forbid), you risk Dodger being put to sleep or being ordered to wear a muzzle or something like that for the rest of her life. Just not worth it in my opinion.
(and it is completely OK if you are really mad at me right now. I was sooooo mad at the people who told me this about Sabrina... I literally almost felt hatred toward some of them! I read some articles online even and considered writing angry letters to the authors saying that they were wrong! So it's fine to be upset with me, just think about it some more when you're in a calm state of mind. You might also read in the training section of the forum someone's post about mounting behavior at the OLA.)
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