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off leash manners (long)

Beetlecat
April 22nd, 2005, 09:09 PM
I'm still new to off leash areas, so some of the manners escape me. I'll give today as an example.

We went to a small park that I am considering becoming a regular to since it's within a reasonable rollerblading distance. There has never been anyone there before, but today Ky and I hadn't even had time to bring out his ball before 2 collies came rushing in.

They sniffed and all that but one started chasing Ky and growling. The owner said she just does that and doesn't mean anything by it. It's true that she didn't attack or anything but Ky was not having a particular amount of fun, mostly trying to stay away from her and the other collie who was also intersted in him. Both chasing him around and around us.

I warned the owner that even if *she* didn't mean it, Ky might not think so and he might attack her. (right, my litle 40lbs dog against two 80 or so lbs dogs.. I could just see the guy figuring out the odds in his head as he didn't even acknowledge my warning)

Personally, I was happy that even with all that, Ky didn't bite, attack or anything bad like that. A couple times he stopped and snarled and snapped at the air. It was good to see him take a stand without actually being aggressive.

(I have to admit it was cute when he got fed up with them sniffing his butt that after turning around to face them, he sat down firmly on his rear and acted like he was carved out of stone)

After a few minutes, the other dogs lost interst in him, and they continued on. Ky watched them go and then he looked to me with his tongue hanging (happy they were gone, I suppose) and we both played ball for a bit before going home.

Now, I'm trying to walk a fine line between protecting Ky and not coddling him because he's not going to be city dog forever and I do want him to be able to take care of himself.

Though I didn't know what to do at the time, after talking a bit with others, I decided that it was really the other owners responsibility to control his dogs, since Ky was the one being chased. But if I do continue to go to that park, i'll likely meet them again sometime, so what would be a good, non confrontational way (yeah, I'm a wuss, and the owner reminded me of a guy I knew that has been in jail..) to handle it.

My basic plan, i think, is to just call Ky and just keep him beside me, so I can at least watch his back for him. Or should I simply let the dogs sort it out. I don't want him to get nerotic, but it's true that they didn't actually hurt him.. and he doesn't look horribly traumitized yet.

Oh, and as we went to leave, I found out that one had peed on my coat... that was a real joy to cap off a delightful day :rolleyes: Thank goodness it was a warm day, or it would have been an uncomfortable rollerblade home as I triple bagged the coat. And Thanks also that I had put my rollerblades *under* my waterproofish coat 'cause I sure wasn't walking home.

And this is a slightly different subject, but the coat smelt kinda skunkish. Not really strong though as I was expecting. Is that 'cause the pee came from a neutered dog? I'm more used to cat pee which smells overpoweringly like ammonia. Compared to that, this was almost pleasent so I can't imagine it came from an intact dog. I've heard that male dog pee is very strong. I'm just curious.

Prin
April 22nd, 2005, 09:43 PM
Dog park manners are my specialty. I go to a dog park at least 5 times a week for hours...

If a dog is bugging your dog, just say "Would you mind telling your dog to stop bugging mine?" and if they say, "It's ok, let them sort it out", you just answer "It is not ok. I am not comfortable with this behavior, please control your dog". It is a safety thing and yes some people are more protective than others about their dogs, but everybody has to respect everybody else's boundaries.

Our park has a group of people who have been going for years and we know what works and does not work in a dog park. People STILL tell ME what is good or not for my dog. I just tell them "Look, I know my dog better than you, please don't be so condescending." I get a lot of those reactions because Boo's body language is bizarre. I know when he is being aggressive, other people do not.

If you're brave enough, after you ask and they don't respond, you can go and defend your dog. Just keep pushing the other dog away. And if the guy comes over and says "don't touch my dog" then you say, "Control him and I won't".

The main idea is that you have to stand up for your dog's safety. Part of that safety is preventing fights, but also preventing new behavior problems in your dog and preventing new fears from developing. I do everything I can to make sure nothing happens to my dogs.

In our park, as long as you are attentive to your dog and not just talking and reading and not paying attention, you're ok.

And in my experience, intact male dog pee is only stronger to other males, unless it's the first pee of the day...

Lissa
April 22nd, 2005, 10:22 PM
Honestly, I think that if you are expecting your dog NOT to be occasionally hassled by other dogs when he is off-leash, you should avoid these areas. And that is not meant as a nasty comment against you - it's because most dog owners have very little or no control over their off-leash dog(s).
Ideally, owners would accept and realize when their dog(s) is being too "in your face" but most are either not paying attention, don't realize the possible consequences, just don't care or believe that their dog is being friendly. Also, like you said, many owners end up getting defensive and confrontational when you try to say something.
I think that it is completely in your right to say something (politely at first) - but I would avoid being too physical in removing the other dog away from yours unless you are positive he would not harm you.
In your case, I think I would leash my dog and ask the owner to get his dog under control and away so that you emphasize how inappropriate their dog is behaving.
If you only go to play ball with your dog I think it would be in your best interest to avoid dog parks because your dog will be targeted - either because other dogs want his toys or because he is too focused on something else so they take advantage. Although it is completely your right to go and do what you want - I only suggest it to avoid frustration for you because most dog owners won't take the initiative to control their dogs when they see you and Ky around.
My last trip to the dog park was just as bad as yours:
Dodger is not quite 11 months old yet (and like you I do not want to baby him) and when dominant dogs come along I generally let him handle himself - which has never been a problem. Last night a Rottie pinned Dodger on the ground and would not get off of him, even when Dodger started yelping. Dodger continued to yelp and struggle to get up - by this time he had wriggled himself onto the gravel part of the path and I can't imagine how painful it must have been to have rocks pressing into his back with a 150lbs rottie on top. Worst of all the owners didn't even make a move so I go to pull off the rottie, my movement ended up distracting him and Dodger literally ran away with his tail between his legs. In the end, the rottie ran after another group of dogs and the owners didn't do a thing, they walked away without a word - but not towards their out-of-control aggressive dog but the other way. I couldn't believe it - finally when they realized he wasn't going to come they decide to follow him. Dodger was traumatized for the rest of the walk but thankfully he played with a Golden tonight. I didn't get a chance to get too angry with them, I had never seen them before and I better not ever see them again at an off-leash park because I will make sure they get a fine (at the very least).
Anyway, it's not something that happens all the time but when unpleasant stuff like that does occur it really ruins your walk with your dog.
Sorry for the length and I hope your experiences at the park improve!!!
Melissa

Beetlecat
April 23rd, 2005, 10:50 AM
When Ky is older, and I live in a different house, I'll probably get another dog. Mostly so I could have a proper pulling team (he's too young now, but even if Ky were older, I'd feel bad making him pull my weight by himself, especially with his bow legs) Partially so Ky would have someone to play with all the time, and because she would be his doggie back up if he ever got into real problems. I know I'm biased :p , but I think 2 heelers can pretty well take on anything.

Thankfully, the dog parks around here tend to be large and empty and it's not usually a problem to find somewhere to play ball. Actually, I ususally play away from other dogs anyways, simply because I don't always trust him to recall back to me, rather than drop the ball and run off to meet the other dogs.

Also thankfully, he's not terribly possessive of his ball. It always amuses me to see dogs carrying their balls (or those long ball throwing sticks) in their mouths all the way to the park. Ky would never carry something like that, unless he was in the process or bringing it back to me.

Lucky Rescue
April 23rd, 2005, 11:19 AM
Now, I'm trying to walk a fine line between protecting Ky and not coddling him because he's not going to be city dog forever and I do want him to be able to take care of himself

No, you don't want that. It's your job to take care of him. When dogs know their owners will not protect them and feel they must protect themselves you could have a real problem.

Beetlecat
April 23rd, 2005, 04:58 PM
It's your job to take care of him. When dogs know their owners will not protect them and feel they must protect themselves you could have a real problem.


That a matter of degrees. Of course I'm here to protect him, but he's also here to protect me.

I'm not looking to turn him into an absolute terror that has no faith in anyone but itself and sees danger around every turn, but that's a far distance from where he is. and I don't want him to be a total crybaby either.

He knows to come to me when he has a problem or is nervous, but he also has to know that I can't solve everything with a flick of my fingers and that he's gonna have to figure out certain situations on his own.

Prin
April 23rd, 2005, 08:10 PM
In your case, I think I would leash my dog and ask the owner to get his dog under control and away so that you emphasize how inappropriate their dog is behaving. Never leash your dog when there is another dog bugging in a dog park. Leashed dogs have a hard time defending themselves and can be MUCH more aggressive. The other dogs, seeing you as protecting your dog will also become more aggressive. A bad idea. Trust me on this one. The most brutal injuries in our park happened to leashed dogs.

All you have to be is home base and the "anti-bully". If your dog gets hurt, he should run to you right away. If a dog is playing too rough and he can't handle it, he shouw be aiming towards you. And if there is a dog or several dogs bullying your dog, he should know that you have his back.

Having two dogs, you see it between them. When there are groups of huskies, they end up bullying Jemma, and Boo runs in like a bowling ball and pummels them to the ground to "save" her. You have to be your dog's pack.

Lissa
April 23rd, 2005, 08:45 PM
Prin - Of course if there is some true aggressiveness occuring I completely agree that leashing a dog will cause more aggression to arise. However, in cases where a stange dog is just being a nuissance (and the owners have not complied with your asking them to remove their dog) I think that leashing your dog and getting away is the best thing to do (unless your dog has excellent at recall and heeling which didn't sound like the case with Beetlecat). Granted, leashing your dog is not always the best idea but owners should be able to make an accurate decision based on their particular situation.
I'm having a bit of hard time with what you and Lucky Rescue have been posting about us being our dogs protector. If you read my rather long example of what happened to me at the dog park then you may understand. I'm sure that if my puppy could have gotten to me for protection he would have - but there was no way he could budge that rottie and although I had every intention of pulling that dog off, I know that it was the last thing I should have been doing. I have no doubt that if I had been forced to pull him off he would have bitten me. And Dodger just checking in with me, the supposed "anti-bully" would have done little good with that rottie.
In some situations there is no time or "right" choice and while I do believe that there is a mutual-protecting-relationship, it cannot always be fulfilled logically.
Melissa

Prin
April 23rd, 2005, 09:18 PM
When a dog has pummelled another dog to the ground, if it is just staying on top, usually a strong, low voiced, "hey!" will get the dog off. If the dog is really attacking the dog underneath, the only thing to do is kick the dog with the flat of your top of foot on the ribs (NOT THE TOE)-- a total last resort. Usually this will break the dog's concentration long enough to make him calm down. Unless the dog is literally insane, then you'd better not do it. :eek: What I am trying to say is, when a dog starts attacking, they get into this trance and the trance has to be broken somehow. Most of the time, a yell is enough. In your case, Lissa, unless the Rottie was really an a**, a yell should have been enough.

I know what I say may be extreme, and maybe people think it is way to dangerous to do (or brutal) but I grew up with the most viscious doggy in the world (toward other doggies) and from 8 years old, I had to know how to stop fights because she was out to kill. We had to kick her off dogs so many times over the course of her life (it only takes one kick each time). She was in such a deep "kill" trance each time. We kept her secluded from other dogs, but sometimes we just couldn't spot a dog before she did. She never managed to break skin on any dog because of our intervention. That said, nearly nobody tries what I try in the park. I don't want to sound too arrogant, but I have an instinct for dog fights... People I know say I have a gift (why my gift couldn't be in something more useful, I don't know). Sometimes in the summer I break up at least 3 every day at the dog park. And I have never been bitten.

Whenever I walk into a dog park, I try to "introduce" myself to all the dogs really well, just in case they do get into fights, they will know who I am. Like the dog fight I broke up on Friday, There was a dobie, a lab and a Leonberger mix. None of those dogs are small and I didn't know any of them. I had talked to the dobie and the Leonberger before the fight and they reacted better to me than the lab that had just come in. The Dobie even came to see me later, really sweetly. I just know that because I know how, most likely I will be involved somehow if a dog fight breaks out.

A lot of people believe that if you try hard to get along with the other owners, the dogs get along better too.

Also, if you are afraid of any dog in the park, leave BEFORE something happens.

Lissa
April 23rd, 2005, 10:03 PM
Thanks Prin, I'll keep everything you said in mind and will try a good yell before anything else!

Prin
April 23rd, 2005, 10:05 PM
Doggies may know what their owners put up with, but they certainly don't know what I will put up with and most doggies don't take the chance to find out. (That is one reason dogs are better at groomers without their owners...)

Keep in mind that if both are EQUALLY fighting you have to grab both by the neck fur and face them away from each other and out from you. You can't go after ONE of the dogs and not the other because then you will be bitten.