Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :( - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

I recently moved down to Florida with my now 9 month old male GSD, Hummer. There is a really nice local dog park that I have taken him to. The first time we went, he seemed to have a fantastic time... found a few 'friends' to run around and play with. Unfortunately the next time I took him, a guy was there with his older GSD. He was actually there the first time we went but had him separated because he 'didn't come when called and can play a bit rough with the other dogs'. This time he let him loose and the dog made a beeline for Hummer! He basically chased him and tried to aggressively pin him down. He definitely dominated him... and if the owner hadn't caught him and yanked him off, Im not sure how far he would have taken it. But now Hummer seems somewhat traumatized by the experience. He didn't want to play with the other dogs and would basically run away if another one tried to play with him. Yesterday I took him back again, in hopes that he would have a better experience and for the most part he did - no incidents - but he was nervous around the other dogs and didn't really want to play until I was about to leave He seemed to find a friend in a smaller pit bull. I'm just not sure if I should keep taking him back so he'll have better experiences and eventually become more comfortable or stop going to avoid more bad experiences? I just feel like a bad mom.... I didn't protect my boy. Any insight on helping him overcome this would be great.

Hummer vom Southern Storm - born 5/1/08
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 11:41 AM
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

I would never take my dog back there again. Never know when something like that can happen again. Instead, find friends with friendly and/or submissive dogs you can use to get him over his bad experience.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 11:51 AM
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

In addition to what Carolina said, have you found some classes to go to down in Florida while you are there. Organized groups can be a blessing to Hummer's socialization as well.

Samuel

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 11:52 AM
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

i agree. Im not a fan of dog parks, unless its 7 a.m. and there is no one there and they can run free. I dont trust other owners that i dont know, so therefore, i do not go.
I feel its like a hit or miss. Sometime there isnt a problem, then the next time your dog could be mauled by the "sweet" little dog that has never hurt a soul.
I just dont care for them. IMO

Saint (GSD) 11/23/08
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 12:01 PM
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

Where in Florida are you?

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

Yea that seems to be the consensus! I will not take him there again. I really noticed a lot of owners whose dogs were on top of others growling say 'oh I don't know whats gotten into him, he never does this! At the same time they just keep sitting there chatting and make no attempt to get off their butt and gain control of their dog. Enough of that.

As far as group classes, he had been in group obedience in MD before I came down here, but since we've moved I've been working on his obedience by myself at home with phone/email help from the trainer back there. I want to stick with the same training program hes been in, so I haven't attempted to find another group class yet. Hummer's breeder is actually down here in this area, so I may start taking him for training at her local club. So here's my next question... I want to take him over to her place for a visit today... she's dying to see him, but she also has 11 other shepherds. I'm pretty sure they're all friendly, polite, well socialized and trained... after all they are her breeding stock and they are her life! And I'm sure she won't let them all out at once! But will that be too much for him right now? Or would it be a good start at helping him?

Hummer vom Southern Storm - born 5/1/08
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

I'm in the Palm Beach area...

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 01:04 PM
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

I don't know if AVOIDANCE is necessarily the thing to do here. I mean, if it only happened once, that's fine, and does sound like the owner at least did something right away.

While you want to socialize the dog, there has to be some issues the dog should encounter, you know? I mean, it's not always roses in the real world, and I think SOME disagreements are healthy, and as such will exercise the dog's sense of discrmination.

Your dog may appear to have been traumatized, but at 9 months he's hardly scarred for life. If it were me, I'd take him back, because that can show him that it's not always bad to be around bigger dogs.

I used to abhor dog parks, until one opened near me. The first time I took my dog, she was 4.5 months. The park near me has a "big" dog side, and a "little" dog side. I first went into the "big" side, and all these dogs charged up to say Hello. She instantly looked to me for protection. Running away from them, tail between her legs, she basically kept her back against me the whole time.

I figured it was too much stim for her, so I then went to the "little" dog side, where although she was twice the size of every other adult dog in there, I could see she was not as nervous. She still ran away from the more agressive dogs, but I could see she realized it wasn't so bad. I kept going back to the park to the little dog side for awhile.

When I finally went back to the big dog side, again she'd run from the other dogs. It was sad to see a GSD running away all the time. I kept going, and soon she realized hey, they're not hurting me. Sure, there were times when other dogs jumped on her to assert who was boss, but it was only neck-scruff grabbing dominance posturing, etc., with no real harm done. She's submitted to some, but as time has gone on, she's 7 months yesterday, she has learned that things are not as bad as she once thought they were.

I've been there in total about 6 or 7 times now, which is not alot, but she's learned alot about being around other dogs, just from those few visits. It's interesting that she is displaying the epitome of a GSD's disposition. Mind you, I try to take this dog EVERYWHERE to discover new things and meet new people and animals. When she meets people in public, she'll act like she's dying to say hello to them, but once I let her say hello, it's over, and pretty much ignores them. Therein is her aloofness.

When she meets other dogs, she gets so DARNED excited, and in one on one's, she'll play to death. However, when there's several, she tires of it easily. In fact, now, I can take her into the dog park, and when other dogs come up, she does not seem to like it much. They'll try and get her to play, and while she will for a little while, she's not tearing it up like they are. She'd much rather do something with me. She'll fetch in the midst of 20 dogs running like banshees, and I can even work off-lead obedience with her. Pefect heels, downs, stays, and will even come immediately when called. People are amazed. I am shocked myself, 'cause I figured if I apply stress with heavy obedience training, upon releasing her, she'd go wild. But she doesn't she just jumps up out of her Sit, or whatever I have her doing, take a few steps, then come back, look up and me as if to say, "Next! Now what can we do together."

Interestingly, when the other dogs who want to play with her and interrupt us, it seems as though they're thinking, "Crap, I don't want to be anywhere near her right now, because that guy might make ME have to do stuff", and they quickly leave us alone.

OK, this long-winded response I hope might give you some ideas. Maybe you can take the dog back to the dog park and interact with her yourself, provided, of course, there are no REAL idiots there with super-aggressive dogs, and have no clue. As I said above, some dominance is fine, but bad attitudes are definitely out.

You could even take the dog and do some obedience OUTSIDE the fence before going inside. I do this every single time I go there. My dog acts like she's dying to get inside, but I believe denying this desire and working obedience teaches her self control, and to listen to me even under heavy distractions. But, once I go inside, she doesn't seem to care after a very short time. In your case, maybe the desire will help overcome the previous bit of trauma to your dog, because just like one bad experience can change a perspective of something, one really good can, too.

Just thoughts.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 01:27 PM
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(

Very good advice MrLeadFoot. I took Sonny to the dog park and something similar happened to him and another dog. I still drive by and I look and see who is there if it looks good I go because there are still dogs that he enjoys and he needs to live in the present not the past. If you avoid it you won't help him move forward that this place or any dog park is OK. If you have friends that have dogs that your dog likes to play with then I would suggest setting up going together therefore he already has familar friend there. This is just my opinion
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 01:43 PM
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Re: Overcoming a bad dog park experience. :(



Quote:
Originally Posted By: MrLeadFootI don't know if AVOIDANCE is necessarily the thing to do here.
I don't consider this avoidance when I read things like this:

Quote:
Quote:I really noticed a lot of owners whose dogs were on top of others growling say 'oh I don't know whats gotten into him, he never does this! At the same time they just keep sitting there chatting and make no attempt to get off their butt and gain control of their dog. Enough of that.
I consider that prudent, find another area/ another park where you feel more comfortable. Or scan the park on a return to see if those type of folks are not in the park - can't account for those coming in afterwards though.

Now if you decide to retrench and avoid any opportunity to do some socialization with other dogs, that would be avoidance. But writing off that one park and looking for other opportunities, IMO is the way to go.

I had a similir experience with Kayla when she was around two, where we went to a good size enclosed "dog park" in a nearby community. The "locals" would gathered around near the one entrance with their dogs. I was going there working on distractions while preparing Kayla for trials-didn't feel comfortable with the 'greeting pack" and immediately turned upon entering and circled the pack at the gate and went toward the back-plenty of room and dogs back there. Went twice, twice a major fight broke out with the group near the front. Enough of that-never been back. But we also have so many options in this area, it is fairly easy to write off one or two locales.

Samuel

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