With all three of my adult/teen kids home, I decided we could try the dog park again--especially b/c Jett only quietly and briefly growled at a neighbor gardening 3 yards away when I walked him this morning (meds doing their thing?) Not so long ago, he would have been in ballistic mode at the site of that.
What a great experience for all of us. Both dogs were so happy to be out and about, and Jett did so well with all the other dogs and people. After a little barking on the way in (on leash), he rushed a dog or two but not overly aggressively--he just doesn't really know how to greet. Both barked at him and he turned away but clearly wasn't terrified or traumatized. He had a number of interactions with other dogs and people -- and PEOPLE--without incident. One dog was growly at him and he just moved away. He mostly follows our other dog, Radar. Radar is obsessed with getting the tennis ball and ignores everyone and everything else. So Radar follows the ball and Jett follows Radar. Both stayed within easy range of us.
Jett appeared to begin to get the idea that he could approach other dogs in a more circular manner; not positive about this, but I observed him do it twice so maybe the idea is beginning to sink in. I was really proud and very relieved that it was such a fun experience all around. Even the short time on leash back to the car was better than it has ever been on leash before (not great, but some breaks in the barking-at-other dogs, which never happened before).
I know dog parks are controversial. I know bad things can happen. But being able to see that Jett is not aggressive in the dog park and he could go up to a couple of people, let them pet him briefly--no aggression, just a bit curious and then off and away after Radar--well, this is such a relief. He had never been aggressive in the DP before but was more barky at times, and my son who has done the DP with us in the past noted the difference, too, so it wasn't just me.
Both dogs got in the lake and are now wet, stinky, and tired.
We have a long road ahead and whether or not we are up to the challenge is still to be determined. My oldest son's health will be a major piece of this puzzle. Having a dog who might be aggressive to visitors and continues to be leash reactive is a serious on-going issue (that a muzzle will help a LOT with). But it is definitely so nice to see him act like a normal dog and enjoy the freedom he did today.
Radar, Aussie/BC mix, b. 2/27/2012
Jett, GSD foster pup, b. 7/15/2018