We’ve all been there. We’re at a dog park, minding our own business, being great pet parents as our babies sniff and play their way around the pooch playground. We follow closely, smiling at the antics, picking up messes, and trailing behind — or at least observing from a distance — because we care.
It’s called giving a damn.
Alas, some pet parents are void of this conscientiousness, and treat public dog parks as spaces for their animals to “run wild,” ignoring posted rules and, frankly, common courtesy.
I’m not saying I’m perfect; I’m nowhere near perfect as a pet owner. One of my dogs, still a terrier puppy, tends toward a feralness. She’s untrained, unfocused, and plagued by puppy ADHD.
At the park, she’s rambunctious. She runs like a bat out of hell. She’s passive and submissive with other dogs she encounters, but her size, speed, and prey-like demeanor at times draw unwanted attention. She runs like a tempting rocket, and from a distance, looks like a skinny bunny rabbit.
Because of this, I follow closely — as any dog owner should do — to assure everything goes well.
Not every doggie parent is like this. With faces often buried in phones, or engaged in oblivious conversation, some pets are left to their own devices. Sometimes bad stuff happens.
Today, let’s take a look at the five types of people I dread seeing at the dog park. Do you recognize any of them?
We all know this type. Does their OCD interfere with proper courtesy? Are they literally “scared” of poop, or what? Do they have vision problems, and can’t see their animals crouching down in the obvious dog-dump stance? We see it happening; why can’t they?
Don’t be a poop ignorer. Just don’t. Your pretend glancing around as if you don’t see your canine going “number two” ain’t fooling anyone. The little doo-doo baggies are always free — what’s so hard about using them?
The dog park pickup artist might rank a Tinder swipe right, but at the park, unwanted, obvious pick-up behavior rates a big zero.
We all know this guy when we see him. He’s throwing the frisbee or ball with his awesome big dog, surveying the female pickings from under dark sunglasses he’ll lift up only when trying to make eye contact with the most attractive women at the park.
Meeting people is fine, and is especially fine when it’s an event or park that encourages single dog owners to hook up. But when it’s all too obvious or unwanted, a casual visit to the outdoors sometimes feels more like a nightclub meat market than an opportunity for you and your animals to relax.
The Worry Wart sees his or her beloved pet as the only one that matters. It’s important to be aware and conscious, but sometimes, an obsessive, high-pitched vigilance can be annoying.
Dogs sniff each other to get information. They engage in displays of dominance and submission. They sometimes growl or bark. Reacting to every move as if it were putting your little dog’s life in danger causes stress for everyone.
The flip side of the Worry Wart type is the opposite, the They’re-Just-Playing Jerk, whose response to everything is: “They’re just playing.”
Well, this type has an extreme dogs-will-be-dogs attitude, and forgets that part of being a dog is engaging sometimes in aggression. In my experience, it’s always the “my dog never bites, they’ll work it out” guy or gal that’s got the only truly dangerous animal in the park.
I’ve seen it before: The dog makes the rounds from dog to dog, causing trouble with each. The parent is unaware, looking at a phone or flirting while the dog snarls and confronts until, eventually, little cries begin to ring out across the grass, a sign someone’s furball has been nipped.
“Aw, sorry, but dogs will be dogs!” this jerk says. “They’ll be fine.”
I’ve seen blood drawn, witnessed arguments. I had to intervene once when the dog of a They’re-Just-Playing-Jerk kept nipping at one of my furbabies and the scene got downright scary. I should never have been put in that position because of another owner’s absent “parenting.”
They’ll tell you what brand dog treats Fifi loves, and why treats should never, ever be produced in China. They’ll tell long stories about yard fencing and dog sweaters and Oscar’s veterinarian. They mean well, and we love their passion, but wish we could be left alone to enjoy the sunshine and smiles of our own four-footed best friends.
Is there a dog park type you’ve encountered that I’ve forgotten to mention? If so, tell us about this character in the comments section below.