Dog park etiquette question

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emmabeth
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by emmabeth » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:39 pm

Its really tempting to think that other dogs are the best 'people' for YOUR dog to learn from...

BUt thats really not the case - or would you agree that other children are the best people for a child to learn from??

I bet you wouldnt - (generic you!) - because from the puppy point of view, other puppies know how to be puppies, you want your pup (who already knows how to be a puppy) to learn how to be a nice adult dog.

From the adult dog point of view, you have NO idea what a strange dog may do - is it going to be a lesson you want your dog to learn?

Some dogs are really confident and can easily teach a pup how to behave, others will tolerate a behaviour way past what is acceptable, and some will overreact and not tolerate anything. These latter types will teach your pup the wrong things, they will teach him or her to be persistant and rude, or that it may be best to behave aggressively and 'get in there first'.

When we got Kelda (Deerhound) we were VERY aware that she would rapidly become, in other peoples eyes, 'not a puppy', by 12 weeks old she was taller than most puppies and by 6 months taller than a great number of adult dogs.

At home we had an elderly 'grandma' dog, who was really REALLY tolerant of kelda, allowed her to play all manner of horrible games and would wait ages before reprimanding her. Whilst adorable to see, this was teaching Kel the wrong things, that she can behave as rudely as she likes and when someone finally snaps, going all kissyface on them and licking their chops will see you right. Of course in teh big bad world that is NOT the case and in fact most adult dog would NOT tolerate a 10th of the behaviour that Abby put up with!

So we made sure we socialised her with a number of other dogs, and this involved stepping in the second I felt behaviour was over the top, not waiting for another dog to get actually stroppy with her, so that she learned if a dog started to say 'no' it meant NO and I would back that up, the game WOULD end.

We never waited for another dog to really get peed off at her, that would just have taught her she could do a thing two, three, five times before someone would yell, and then she could have a go at appeaseing them and do it all again. I did not want that, because obviously one day she'd meet a dog that wouldn't accept even ONE attempt at rudery, and then it would be a horrible shock, causing her to either becomje really fearful, or to use aggression (and in a dog who is now 31" tall and weighs a fair bit, thats really really important!).

As a result of all that work, she greets ALL other dogs, regardless of age or size, in a very apologetic and polite manner - she has NEVER yet made another dog fearful because of her size, she stops her 'run in' to greet other dogs at about 20ft away (and recalls if shes not permitted to run over and say hi!), she reads the other dog and she will then either lie down and roll over, or circle politely, or play bow and see if her invite is reciprocated.

So, getting back to the point a little - whilst its a nice idea that dogs will teach each other properly, and well, it isnt the case. YOU have to decide what behaviour is ok and what needs to be stopped and you really need to back up polite dogs by stepping in and stopping your dog repeating the behaviour once the other dog says no, HOWEVER the other dog says it (even if its really polite!).

Of my five dogs, if a dog was jumping and biting at their backs - two would be offended and would try to say no but not do it all that well the first time round. One of those, the Deerhound, would not tolerate it a second time and would probably grab the dog and launch it! The tibetan terrier would take it as a challenge which might end amicably, or might result in world war three. My Saluki x afghan would initially outrun him, but persistent attempts would bring out her 'exceedingly rude snappy dog' mode (which would really pee me off as I have worked very hard to get her to use that as a last resort only, rather than a first resort!), and my staffy cross would fight, pin him down and make him wish he was dead!

Asides from the very real possibility that the unpleasant reactions would likely teach your dog to go from 'rude' to 'aggressive', it would set back the work I have done wiht my dogs a long long way. The staffy cross alone I have spent the better part of ten years getting him to tolerate other dogs very existance - he knows fine and well that a/ he can win pretty much any fight going and b/ he ENJOYS it, so its been an uphill struggle getting him to NOT behave that way.

Soooo - step in sooner, for many many reasons allowing dogs to discipline one another when the other dog is NOT yours, is an unwise plan.
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Ari_RR
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by Ari_RR » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:44 pm

Yes, this is indeed very convincing.
Now, how about the reverse case? When your nice, propery socialized and polite puppy (or dog) is being hassled by another one who lacks manners. To step in and quickly remove your puppy, or to allow him to learn how to say "no"?
I may be wrong here.. But I would probably prefer my puppy to be able to correct the other dog, and to say "no". I would certainly prefer him correcting another dog instead of attacking her.. Or even instead of running away which may lead to being chased by many other dogs around.

But in this case - how would he learn how to correct others? Wouldn't he learn that by being corrected himself? And by stepping in every time he tries to push the envelope a little, wouldn't we denie him the opportunity tolearn this?
We can teach them commands (sit, stay, etc), but the way to correct unwanted hassling by others could only be learned from other dogs, no?

Perhaps this is a case by case stituation.. And it's best to step in when you don't know the other dog, while you can be a bit more tolerant when you are confident that no harm will come from her to your puppy, or from him to her?

cheers
Eugene
Ari, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sept 2010 - Dec 2018.
Miles, Rhodesian Ridgeback, b. Nov 2018

emmabeth
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by emmabeth » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:14 pm

This stuff is a bit more 'art form' than pure science really.

Leaving a pup who cant say 'no' generally WONT teach them to say no properly - that comes from age, maturity, confidence, rather than from having to do it or suffer!

I find with the pups I have had, where I step in and back them up this actually boosts their confidence, whereas leaving them to struggle can squash confidence quite badly even if the pup isnt physically hurt at all.

The other outcome can be that a pup learns to over react and doesnt just say 'Ahem, no thankyou chaps, I'd rather not play' but the teethy snarly version of 'F***** y***** iM GONNA KILL YOU'...

And thats not really something anyone wants a pup to learn!
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by jacksdad » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:18 pm

with my dog, as I have said I step in no matter what and often do so fairly quickly. in my dog's case he isn't the most confident and often has over reactions. not as much as he used to, but it still happens.

What I have seen as a result of doing this tracks exactly with what Emma says, he is slowly building confidence. he is slowly improving his ability to communicate with other dogs, to as i say "use his words" verse the over the top extreme response no matter what.

As he improves and builds confidence and learns to communicate better, I do find my self being a bit slower to get involved, but I am always watching and ready to step in on his behalf.

personally I just think it's better to lean a bit towards the over perspective rather than risk an over reaction by another dog that ends with your dog in the vet and now you have to rehabilitate a fearful dog.

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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by Ari_RR » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:56 pm

Many thanks to everyone who posted their comments, it turned out to be an interesting discussion with a lot of valuable information.

Cheers
Eugene
Ari, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sept 2010 - Dec 2018.
Miles, Rhodesian Ridgeback, b. Nov 2018

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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by Ari_RR » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:31 pm

Having been educated by all the responses (all essentially agreeing on the main point - stay close, correct your dog yourself the moment he is about to cross the line), I changed my attitude a little and am now indeed staying very close to Ari on the playground, ready to interfere.

But here is a challenge that some of us may be facing - when the playground is large, its not that easy to follow your dog who is running free.. One moment he is here, next moment he is on the other side, and all of a sudden you feel the need to step in. Calling him over may or may not work, depends on the quality of his recall, and on how engaged he is with the other dogs. In my case, since Ari is only 12 months, and Ridgebacks are a stubborn breed to begin with, recall would most certainly not work.
So you have to come to the other side of playground, where they are... but by the time you got there - the dogs already moved to a different spot... Staying in close proximity to a dog who can run at 40 mph ain't easy :D

Here is how I deal with this, perhaps this may be a useful tip for someone else out there - I take Ari for a walk or a run right before we get to the dog park.. After he's burned some of his energy off during the walk, he becomes a much more mellow dog, a lot less likely to chase other dogs on the playground, rather choosing to just wonder around slowly, sniff other dogs gently, perhaps play with them but not at all inclined to run after them.

Cheers!
Eugene
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by Secret Someone » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:32 pm

This thread is really interesting.

I've realised recently that I haven't always dealt with Pan correctly when he has been hassling another dog or vice versa. There are several things I need to work on. One thing I really want him to stop doing is going up to say hello to dogs on leads. If the dog is on the lead, it's usually on the lead for a reason. He doesn't tend to keep pestering, but I need to make sure I have enough control over him that he doesn't do it in the first place.

Also, he will let puppies get away with anything. There have been puppies who launch themselves at him for 10 minutes while their owner laughs about it, and Pan does not want to play. All he does is shake the puppy off and move along. He doesn't do any correcting, and the puppy just keeps doing it. I've never been sure whether or not I should interfere. With an adult dog he would growl and tell them to back off, and there's very rarely a problem there.

It took Pan a while to learn that no means no from other dogs. Now, he's got it. In fact, after the first few times he received a growl or a snap he seemed to 'get it'. Luckily he didn't become fearful... He has learnt that he can sniff, maybe do a bow, but that if the dog doesn't want to play he needs to leave them be.

I'm just a bit worried now. I don't know if I need to interfere with irritating puppies, or whether to let him deal with it. I need to make sure I can see my dog at all times to make sure he doesn't greet dogs who are on leads (he doesn't go very far.... it just tends to be if he goes around corners and such). If he's sticking around another dog I tend to read their body language and speak to their owners to check they're okay.

This is babbly and not well-formed. Basically, I think I have some work to do.

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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by minkee » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:30 pm

I saw this video the other day, that I think is a really good visual demonstration of what we all spoke about in this thread - what can happen and why it's a bad idea to let your bold dog run upto others:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51ohcISw ... ture=feedu

I just wanted to put this here for future mental reference, I find that actually seeing something happening can make things a lot clearer.

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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by ladybug1802 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:53 pm

Dylan is fine with most dogs...in the OP's situations I would have called him back during the second encounter. He likes a lot of runing round and chasing type play. I tend to call Dylan to me and either put him on lead or have him to heel when I see other dogs. My reason for that is mainly because its an extension of the counter conditioning I have been doing round strangers, so makes sense I do it with people with and without other dogs. And also because I dont like tpo let him just bound over to other dogs...partly because in the past I wouldnt have trusted his reaction when he got to the person, but also becaiuse I hate it when other dog owners just let their dog bound over to me and my dog from a distance. I then often tend to say as they get nearer that he is nervous of people which is why I called him back, but he will be fine if they ignore him, and then ask if I can let him off and is their dog OK with that? Most owners seem more than happy for their dog to have a good run and play with another dog and are of the same mind set as me that in general we should leave them to sort themselves out. I also often ask if their dog is male and entire....which brings me onto the next point.....

Now I hope you dont mind me asking this questyion.....it is along the same topic I think! If I am hijacking please say and I will start another thread! 99% of dogs Dylan meets he is perfect with. Depending on the dog he will either sniff and say hello quietly and politely then move about his business, or he will sniff and say hello and then if the dog is up for play they will play, chase whatever. But if it is a male entire dog Dylan will go sniff and then one of 2 things seems to happen. Some entire male dogs he is fine with, and they will do the 'play' thing.....but others I see as they have been sniffing that Dylan will have a stiff posture...and then he will be very rude to the other dog, and sound very 'growly'....not the growly sounds he has when he plays, but it can sound a lot worse and aggressive. To me I KNOW he wont actually attack the dog, and it only lasts for a very short time, then he stops and acts the same as he would to a non entire dog. This has all been seen many many many months ago because I dont let this happen now. But now I dont let him greet male entire dogs in general because obviously I dont want him being this rude to other dogs, and to the owners I can see how it would look aggressive to them and I wouldnt like it if it were the other way round.

Why does he react like this to male entire dogs? Is it as if to say "hey, I am just as much a man as you are!"?

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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:58 pm

As Secret Someone says, it's not always possible to see your dog and dogs it might meet at all times - we often walk in the woods and Jasper will go on ahead of me quite often. I always put him on the lead if I see another dog on lead (unless he's already decided it's a scary dog and is hiding behind a tree waiting for it to pass :lol: ). Apart from anything else, it's a good exercise in practising recall as I can't pick and choose the times when I think he will come back easily.

What I wondered, though, out of interest... If you have a dog who approaches other dogs politely - curving in-run, tail low, not 'crowding', and responding to the other dog's body language by turning away if they think they won't be welcomed - to what extent can you assume that the other dog will give off clear signals that they don't want to say hello before your dog gets too near? I'm guessing that some dogs may at first be happy to say hello, and then suddenly think 'AARGGHH!! HE SNIFFED MY BUM!! SCARY!!!' and react accordingly. If this is the case, then it's not just the bouncy 'in yer face' dogs that could be at risk...
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:08 pm

ladybug1802 wrote:Why does he react like this to male entire dogs? Is it as if to say "hey, I am just as much a man as you are!"?
Ladybug, Jasper does that too! I'm not sure if it's entire males, but it tends to be males around a year old. My reading of it is that a) having always been the underdog in most interactions, he's now flexing his muscles - it's like the bullied becoming the bully, and b) he's picking up on their bad manners. He stood over a young retriever the other day while it rolled on its back in submission, and he wouldn't let it get up again, just using his posture and growling. I imagine for a young dog finding his place in the local doggy scene, this could feel quite good. (It goes without saying that the moment I could see this wasn't just a quick sizing up before playng or moving on, I called him away.)
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by ladybug1802 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:18 pm

Ah see Dylan is OK with boys as long as they dont have their, erm, 'bits'!! :D He wont stand over them, more sort of put his mouth on them, no biting tho, and growl as they move around...does that make sense. It is very rude! And Judy....do you get other owners being a bit 'funny' about it?

I do always make sure I have Dylan in my sight....and if I am about to go round a corner and cant see who is coming I always have him to heel...but this is because I am so used to this to avoid him coming across strange people, freaking out and snapping at them which is what he would have done last year! He does run off into the woods on his own but he is only gone a few mins then comes back to the same place so I just stand and wait! :D

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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by JudyN » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:26 pm

ladybug1802 wrote:And Judy....do you get other owners being a bit 'funny' about it?
I'm very lucky that round here, most people are more likely to say 'I'm glad your dog's doing that, because my dog needs a good telling-off to teach him some manners' :lol:
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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by ladybug1802 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:30 pm

Most people with dogs when I let Dylan go say hello are those sort of people which is great....they like their dogs running round! But obviously if it is an entire dog Dylan behaves slightly differently! :D Wish you could see from a distance their bits between their legs....sometimes I feel a bit of an idiot asking if their dog is male and entire as more often than not they go "eh?" because they think they have misheard me and that I am mad! But then I explain and they are all fine!

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Re: Dog park etiquette question

Post by Nettle » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:30 pm

I once asked someone if his shaggy little dog was entire and he said he didn't know as he'd never looked :shock:

Age of entire males greeting is important. Like teenage lads, the young ones still developing can get a bit overbearing, while a mature male (assuming properly socialised, which is a big assumption :roll: ) will ignore any dog that doesn't attack him. There is usually displacement behaviour of the leg-cocking and sniffing variety, probably some ground-raking too (Ha! Smell my stains!) maybe a warning rumble, but rarely any direct conflict unless one of the dogs is RUDE.

Adolescents are difficult in any sphere of life - MrsAlmostPerfect has a great line in telling them to get lost, while YoungestDog shrieks and flaps her skirts.

You can tell from a dog's approach long before it gets to yours if matters are going to go well or not - worth practicing by going to dog-infested areas without your dogs and watching the interactions.
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