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Bringing a small breed puppy to a dog park - challenges

mrtwo
October 17th, 2005, 01:12 PM
So I took my family's Bi-poo (bichon/toy poodle) to the dog park this week. She's 7 months old and weighs only 6.5 lbs as she was the runt of the litter. In the past few months she's gotten to be a bit skittish among people and dogs. She's timid when she meets other dogs but has NEVER gotten defensive and growled or anything of that nature. She usually just shys away.

Each day at the park she gets overwhelmed and scared of the big dogs as they approach. She ends up running and being chased only to leap into my arms with her heart pounding. She much prefers to do her own thing or visit with other people often hopping on their laps.

Others at the park have suggested letting her run saying that she'll learn to fend for herself but I haven't seen this. I only see a scared pup running for her life.

I really do want to get her acquanted with other dogs but am beginning to think that a leash free park is not the way to go because of these larger dogs and how rough they play (she got stepped on a bit and was nipped at but a much bigger dog that was chasing her).

Can anybody speak from experience on how they overcame something like this?

Prin
October 17th, 2005, 01:22 PM
Why not ask your park association to set a time for small dogs? Or maybe, is there another park with an enclosure for small dogs? One near us has an area fenced off within it for little dogs.

It's hard and it depends on the dogs too. There are so many little dogs at our park and most of the big dogs don't even bother with them. Our park is big enough for everybody to play without ever coming into contact with each other.

Just be careful with the "jumping into your arms" part. This is actually a dominant position and some dogs might really, really not like that. We've had people at our park get their coats ripped because a pack of dogs swarmed them when they picked up their little dog. The little dog has either become a toy, or become a threat, depending on the dogs' perception. Usually, when that happens, it's a group of young dogs swarming a very unexperienced dog owner. :eek:

mrtwo
October 17th, 2005, 01:26 PM
Thanks for the advice. This is actually our second dog, but first small breed.

There actually is a sectioned off area but with no other dogs in there it seemed kind of pointless.

I think you brought up a good point on how other dogs may perceive her. Usually, the other dog owners find her adorable and usually pick her up or she jumps onto their lap so jealousy may be an issue for some dogs.
I think this particular dog that chased after Maggie may have been doing it because he was being bullied around by another big dog.

I think it may be a good idea to just stick to regular leashed parks until she gains some more confidence and learns how to keep the bigger dogs in check. Not sure if she'll ever get to that point though because of her small size.

Prin
October 17th, 2005, 01:32 PM
Yes, you brought up a good point too. When a really small dog or a really young dog go into a dog park long after the other dogs have been in there (say, 20-30 minutes after they all arrived), the new doggy gets the brunt of what has happened while you weren't there. What I mean by that is whoever is forced to the bottom of the pack and who is ganged up on will try to redeem himself on any dog that will let him. It's better to be second to the bottom than at the bottom, you know what I mean?

So you have to look at the dynamics of the park before you go in. If all the dogs look bored and are just lying around tired, that's the best time to go in. ;) If they're all riled up, I'd stay out with the little guy.

mrtwo
October 17th, 2005, 03:00 PM
Thanks again Prin. I think you helped me make a decision today!

:thumbs up

lezzpezz
October 17th, 2005, 04:07 PM
At the grand opening yesterday of our new leash free park in London, I had the chance to talk with a couple that own a rescue greyhound. They have had her for 1 year and the entire time they were there,they kept her leashed.

She seemed very mild tempered and I asked why they did not unleash her, they told me that they didn't trust her, even after a year, to not chase down and kill a small dog, as she was "lure trained", (think fake bunny at a race track). I had never thought of that point, and the owners were wise to act in the manner they deemed the most suitable given the situation: 400 off leash dogs and kids running in a 2.5 acre park at a lively event!

Considering the surroundings and the fact that there were many toy breeds present, I am thankful that they used common sense! Just wanted to add this little story to the thread.....

MollysMommy
October 17th, 2005, 04:16 PM
I think it may be a good idea to just stick to regular leashed parks until she gains some more confidence and learns how to keep the bigger dogs in check. Not sure if she'll ever get to that point though because of her small size.

I have a toy poodle who is only 8.5 pounds. She holds her own among big dogs (unless they are too aggressive, of course). She has developed of method of speed and agility to avoid them. They have an awful hard time catching her with all the twists and turns she makes. It's actually quite fun to watch her spin around in circles in place. She used to just run, and I think the more exposure she had to larger dogs the better she got at not allowing them to catch her.

Still be careful though. I watch her very closely when she's playing because they can overpower her if there is more than one dog. She gets a little scared. Stick with letting him/her play with one larger dog at a time.

maddoxies
October 17th, 2005, 04:32 PM
I went into the small dog section with Valentin. At first, we were the only ones there (atleast he had space to run around, as we are in an apartment). But shortly, others came to join us. No one wanted to be the first one into the small dog section.

Give it a try and see if you attract new friends :-)

Lucky Rescue
October 17th, 2005, 05:04 PM
they told me that they didn't trust her, even after a year, to not chase down and kill a small dog, as she was "lure trained", (think fake bunny at a race track). I had never thought of that point, and the owners were wise to act in the manner they deemed the most suitable given the situation

Good point. Hunting dogs like greyhounds have strong prey drive and will often chase and even kill small animals, including little dogs.

I saw a leashed greyhound leap into the air to try and snatch a small fluffy dog from it's owner's arms.

mrtwo, if your dog hates the dog park and is frightened, why do you want to make her go there? These little dogs were originally bred to be companions to people and lap dogs, and she will probably be very happy with only people as company.