Dog Park Etiquette - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Dog Park Etiquette

Hello, my pup is 4 1/2 months old, and we've had her since 7 weeks. We were told by the shelter that she is a Rott-GS mix, but no one (vet, trainer, breeder) can find a trace of Rott in her. So we just consider her a GS.

Anyway, my questions concern dog park etiquette, and when I should get involved. It's alot like kids in that I want her to handle things on her own to learn to interact with other dogs, but at the same time I don't want her to have bad experiences and either be scared, or become aggressive toward other dogs.

When the larger (adult labs & pit sized dogs) come running up to her, she gets scared and tries to run away but they follow her. If they just amble up to her casually she's alright. Usually, when she tries to get away, we get away alright, but today there was this 8 month old dog (looked like a small herding type-can't think of the breed) that was aggressive about trying to play and hump her. I ended up picking up Seven (my pup) and carrying her away.

Obviously, I won't be able to carry her away forever, so I need to figure out how to deal with it. I thought about bopping the other dog on the nose, but wasn't sure that would be acceptable.

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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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I should add that we are in training, and she's been doing great. We usually go to the dog park super early in the morning when there are fewer and more responsible people, but today I wanted to let her have a swim after training since it was so hot. It seems the middle of the day dogs are the ones that are more hyper and freak her out.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 03:21 PM
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Be very, very careful at the dog park with a puppy that young. I once saw a small pit bull puppy get attacked while I was at the park-one dog started it and then others joined in and the puppy was so scared and ended up with some puncture wounds on her belly. You never know who is going to come into the park. It's better to socialize her with friendly dogs you already know. If you must go to the dog park, go to one that only allows small dogs. If a large dog attacks her she won't have a chance. Good luck.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 03:41 PM
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We went through a similar dilemma with Suki when she was younger, so I understand your frustration. The real problem is that most people don't train their dogs and aren't as commited to socializing them with others so that they are well balanced and friendly (everyone we would meet in the beginning would say 'oh yea, my dog is friendly...they won't bite...blah, blah, blah...even though their dog was dragging them around the park and they had no control over them).

So unfortunately, even though you have the best intentions for your puppy and you're doing the right things - your best bet at her age is to keep her close to you and just use your instincts when approaching another dog. And as far as etiquette goes, I was under the impression that you should never touch another person's dog - if the dog is getting too close to you or your puppy and is making your puppy uncomfortable you should turn the other way BEFORE the situation turns into one in which your pup gets scared or traumatized. You don't want your pup to be fearful. Let the other dog owner work out the behavioral problems with their dog.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 03:45 PM
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I should also add that Suki is now 9 months and we just let her off leash with other dogs for the first time this past weekend!

All of the training and early socializing is very effective - you just have to be patient and wait until YOU are confident enough to let her play with others.

You have a ways to go with her so don't rush it - for now, just let her sniff other dogs (if the other dogs are willing to be submissive and calm) and have very controlled interactions.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 03:56 PM
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We go to the dog park on a daily basis but make sure we always go at the same time every day. I went without Gaia at first and observed the dogs and more importantly the owner's and how they reacted with their dogs. This was important to me so I could tell what they considered acceptable and how they fixed an unacceptable behavior.

So far we haven't had a problem but it's a solid group of people that don't put up with any nonsense (agression, humping, bullying) and are not afraid to ask people to leave. There's the occasional dog that shows up, who really shouldn't be at a dog park but they are never there for very long.

In rereading this, it sounds like we're a cliquey group of high school girls but we're just looking out for the best interest of everyone

Courtney M.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 04:02 PM
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Here is the thing with dog parks...they're just like regular people parks but for dogs. The same rules apply to everyone and you should never expect other people to control their dogs there. Never touch anyone else's dogs, although some people are okay with it...I can tell you that I wouldn't be and have gotten in people's faces for touching my dog when he was just playing. If you're uncomfortable with the way a dog is playing with your get your puppy and you leave. Most dog parks have a 6 month minimum age anyways to make sure that dogs have all their shots and are a little more mobile as well.

It's difficult to say how your dog will react to getting pinned and dominated by older dogs. Some dogs just let it go and when they get big they do the same thing back (my dog), other dogs have been known to become extremely fear aggressive and dog aggressive because of these experiences when they were young. I would tell you to not allow this because of the downside of what can happen...I suggest watching the members and trying to figure out which ones have good dogs. Talk to them and see if they will play in a small dog area or a separate area of the park. I try to use my dog whenever I see a puppy, he's wonderful with them and I want everyone to be able to use an 80 lb GSD to socialize their puppy with.

But again...remember this is a public place. You can't tell anyone in there what to do, and how to act. Unless they are completely breaking the rules (aggressive dogs/fighting), never correct their dogs for what they think is an acceptable level of playing. My dog loves to wrestle and plays rough, if you don't think your dog can handle it (due to size/energy/whatever) then take your dog away, don't expect me to correct my dog for playing (this can cause him to equate playing being bad and get him to be aggressive). Some people will just not allow this, but others will so make sure you know who you're dealing with.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 06:45 PM
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I went to the local dog park to check it out and see if it would be a good place to take my 2 dogs. Initially, it seemed very cool. Then, quickly, it went south. No thanks. Maybe if I lived in an apartment and had te real need. Not necessary. No thank you.

~ Greg C. ~
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 08:02 PM
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My 4 month old golden was attacked by a full grown Rott at the dog park. I'm lucky my dog is alive. No long term damage either. I've seen male dogs hump females and other male huge black lab had a husky mount him. The husky actually hurt him enough that he yelped. My oldest female will not allow anything near her rear end, she is quite quick to correct and they all heed that warning. The point being that the owners don't pay attention and then the problems start. Going early am when only a few people are there would be the best way to go, if you want to keep going back.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 08:11 PM
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I would never take my dog to a dog park. IMO, they're accidents waiting to happen. If your pup gets attacked, it could have a lasting effect. I wouldn't want to risk my dog becoming DA because of it. JMHO

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