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Off-leash park mayhem

May 6th, 2006, 10:33 PM
I guess I don't yet understand the rules of a dog park or off-leash local-neighborhood park and am a little miffed at my experience tonight.

I have a little terrier mix dog, Ginger. She's small, only 9 lbs but generally gets along well with all kinds of dogs, big and small. I went to my Ottawa neighborhood off-leash park tonight (a local school's soccer field), which only had a few dogs playing, and decided it was safe to let her off the leash to play and make new friends, especially since we're new to the neighborhood. The first few minutes seemed to go great, but then two of the dogs began barking and snapping at Ginger. One of the ladies picked Ginger up and I had to take her away from the park so she wouldn't get hurt. My annoyance is why did Ginger have to be the one to leave? Ginger was the one behaving herself. Shouldn't the ones who were barking and snapping at her leave the park? Ginger has just as much right to run off-leash in the park as they do. When Ginger plays with dogs her size or smaller she can get pretty playful and if some owner's don't like that, I assume it's Ginger that has to leave again? Doesn't seem like I can ever let her off-leash, poor thing! Doesn't seem fair, or maybe those are just the rules of the game and she's just the "monkey" in the middle.

May 6th, 2006, 11:02 PM
Well... A lot of parks aren't perfect and have basic rules and no membership, which is why many people dislike dog parks. One that have membership, people to watch the park when it's open and rules that have to be followed are much more wonderful places, but we don't all have access to places like that yet in every community, though some people are trying their hardest.

While it's not cool that your dog wasn't the aggressor, if the dogs were playing nicely till yours came, sadly yours is the kinda odd one out.. And being a really small dog in a dog park leaves more chances for it to get hurt, even unintentionally from something like being jumped on. Which is why some awesome parks have a big dog area and a small dog area.

If it's a soccer field rather than a true off leash area, really none of you should be there off leash..

Short of a park with far more rules and such, there's not a lot you can do. You can stand up for your right to be there, but if there is a problem and your dog gets injured, what do you do then, you know?

Edited to Add:
I just read that your dog is 10 weeks old. Really without all it's puppy shots that's a big risk, and no good dog park would allow a dog so young in it's facility. Also, since you've only had the dog a short time, you don't truely know yet whether it's good with other dogs or not. You need to take your time before rushing into the world of dog parks. I'd be greatful some one picked up my puppy from getting stomped on by much older dogs.

May 7th, 2006, 07:23 AM
Ten weeks old is way to young to expose him to an off leash park. Not only the germ factor but also behavioral issues. Our city opened a new off leash park almost two years ago. It had been in the planning for years and I was excited about the prospect. When it finally opened I waited a week and then drove over with Hunter (6months old) and Chloe (3years old) at the time. They were excited when they saw all the other dogs and had a great time. Chloe spent the whole time chasing a tennis ball with a border collie. Hunter spent his time greeting everyone. Two days later we went back at the same time but there was a different crowd. Lots of macho men and their macho dogs. My dogs were stressed and I heard Hunter growl at one of the dogs. That was it for me, I was out of there and haven't gone back. I didn't want him to learn to be a bully from the other dogs.

May 7th, 2006, 08:22 AM
I haven't updated my profile in quite a while I guess. Ginger is actually 14 months old, not 10 weeeks as per my profile.

May 7th, 2006, 08:45 AM
Why were the previously well behaved dogs barking and snapping at her all of a sudden?
in my experience, a new dog will sometimes barge in to a well behaved group and completely throw off the chemistry- and some dogs don't know how to integrate well into a group (maybe your dog is giving off some unacceptable signals, it's hard to tell).
Generally, if a dog gives another dog a warning to leave or back off, and that dog doesn't know to listen, then problems can arise. Is your dog well socialized enough to turn away from from another dog's warning? As soon as another dog growls whines or barks at my lab, he backs off and leaves the play for a while. They regulate each other this way.
Also, if you are doing the offleash thing, your dog should come back to you when you call. I've found this very important because if I see my dogs getting into a situation, then I can call them out of it before it escalates. Usually parks are large enough that you can call her away from those dogs and play off leash with her in another part of the park. Can you keep her with you off leash? If you can, you wouldn't have had to leave the park.
I have two larger dogs. I often find little dogs very snappy and 'rude' with them, but they're expected (because of their size) to tolerate this. And I guess that's ok with me because I certainly don't want any dog hurt. But I do wish that small dog owners would realize that their dogs are just more likely to be hurt in these situations and therefore they need to watch their dogs very closely if they decide to put them in mixed play groups (especially if they are yappy or nippy...).
But, that said, your dog could have been perfectly well behaved but the dogs didn't like her for some unknown reason. And then, in your position, I'd leave and play somewhere else or at another time. Lots of people say their dogs don't like boxers (my girl is a boxer)- because they hit with their paws in the face when they play and they are rough and active. So we leave and find other playmates if this happens.

May 7th, 2006, 10:34 AM
Remember dogs are not little people they dog not play/behave under the same rules people do, these are animals and follow natures laws. fFor which reason most parks states right at the gate that you are entering at your own risk. It is typical for a mixed pack to pick on the youngest and weakest it is natures law of survival of the fittest, and often small and large dogs do not mix well in dog parks, which is why many parks have seperate areas for small and large dogs, some small dogs will fit in okay because the have a dominant confident attitude and understand dog language well, they often have been raised around other large dogs. As Phoenix mentioned the other dogs were getting along prior to yours entering, which may indicate your dog has weak dog communication skills, or is very subordinate which makes it a target for other dogs who see it as a weakness.

My eskie and male greyhound do fine at dog parks, but my shy very submissive female greyhound I will never to one because she would get picked on severely due to her nature, as she is seen as very weak She is okay with one or 2 strange dogs but in the pack setting other dogs would start to chase after her because she will run from them after her if she started screaming in fear on pain due to a nip, she would incite the dog pack as a whole into a frenzy where they would attempt to kill her, this can include even dogs that are normally very good natured. I would never expect other people to leave the park simply because she can't fit into that setting, so that she can have a play session , the dog park is for majority, those dogs that are well suited for that setting.
The woman who picked up your dog and handed to you probably understood that your dogs nature would incite packing behaviour , and she did so to prevent your dog srom getting hurt. If you want to use the park you will have to pick times when there are only a couple less dominant dogs there and watch that she is not getting in the face of the other dogs. proper dog ettiquette when greeting another dog shound be arcing around to the side ot the other dog and greeting tail to tail , if she is trying to greet face to face, she is going to get snipped at by most dogs for being rude. Your dogs personality, social ranking or dog language skills may simply make her unsuitable for a mixed sized dog park setting.

May 7th, 2006, 10:46 AM
Why were the previously well behaved dogs barking and snapping at her all of a sudden?
in my experience, a new dog will sometimes barge in to a well behaved group and completely throw off the chemistry- and some dogs don't know how to integrate well into a group (maybe your dog is giving off some unacceptable signals, it's hard to tell). I agree with this. Things can go great until you introduce a dog that the others just don't like.

The truth is, your dog was the one in danger, so you had to leave. You could have stayed, but then your dog would have gotten hurt. The other people's dogs were not at risk of getting hurt, so it doesn't make as much sense to send them away, especially if they were all getting along before you got there.;)

May 7th, 2006, 12:40 PM parks!
Sadly, I am just not trusting enough of other owners to go. I have taken Cooper a couple times, but after an incident with a larger dog where the dog chased him (all in fun it seemed) but then pounced on him and COoper let out a scream like i've never heard. Anyway, the guy had the nerve to tell me that my dog lookes like a bunny and his dog couldn't be to blame as it was just instinct!!!!!:eek: Cooper was okay, but this just made me think about how, to some people, thier dog can do no wrong, and they won't realize this until someone gets hurt seriously. I am not wiling to put Cooper at risk. It's not the other's dog's's the owners' to know what kind of dog they are dealing with.

I go to the small doggie park now, which is always empty, so not much fun for Cooper, but better safe than sorry. If was ever a park that you had to be approved to join, I would certianly take him there,,,but like was mentioned earlier,,,a bunch of macho men with macho dogs isn't inviting at all when you only have a little dog.
SOrry, I've ranted. I didn't mean to come off bitter....just that sometimes, even when it's not nessecarily your doggie's fault, it's still just better o get your ball and go home.:sad: