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Discussion Starter #261
I have a dilemma with my girl. She really really misses playing with another dog since Carly died. They played and wrestled constantly. The few times Russ has come over has been a bust, because he just isn't interested in playing with her. Going to a dog park is not an option. She's been trained anyway to ignore other dogs when we are out. It's a show dog thing. I feel bad for her, but short of getting another dog (which I can't afford right now), she's out of luck. Poor friendless dog!
That's sad, poor Charlotte! No friends or acquaintances with dogs?

My dog knows and can differentiate easily between venues where interaction is okay versus those, like stores or car shows, where it's not. I think it's sad for a dog not to at least occasionally have a playmate/buddy to hang out with!
 

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I have a dilemma with my girl. She really really misses playing with another dog since Carly died. They played and wrestled constantly. The few times Russ has come over has been a bust, because he just isn't interested in playing with her. Going to a dog park is not an option. She's been trained anyway to ignore other dogs when we are out. It's a show dog thing. I feel bad for her, but short of getting another dog (which I can't afford right now), she's out of luck. Poor friendless dog!
Shadow is a social reject, she has no friends either. She has been shunned by her species. Maybe her and Scarlett can facetime, lol.
 

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That's sad, poor Charlotte! No friends or acquaintances with dogs?

My dog knows and can differentiate easily between venues where interaction is okay versus those, like stores or car shows, where it's not. I think it's sad for a dog not to at least occasionally have a playmate/buddy to hang out with!
I have noticed that with my dogs too but those are usually the only times I courtesy leash them. I always thought it was the leash that cued them.
 

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Counterpoint on dogs roaming loose with little or no influence of human ownership . . . Maybe they really do love it, and relate better to humans and other dogs. Or maybe not. Or maybe the dogs like it, and the humans not so much, after a while. Excerpt from New York Times, on India's several million free roaming dogs and the delights of having one great big unsupervised dog park:

Victims of the surprise attacks limp into one of this city’s biggest public hospitals. Among the hundreds on a recent day were children cornered in their homes, students ambushed on their way to class and old men ambling back from work.
All told the same frightening story: stray dogs had bitten them.
Deepak Kumar, 6, had an angry slash across his back from a dog that charged into his family’s shack.
“We finally closed the gates to our colony and beat the dog to death,” said Deepak’s father, Rajinder.
No country has as many stray dogs as India, and no country suffers as much from them. Free-roaming dogs number in the tens of millions and bite millions of people annually, including vast numbers of children. An estimated 20,000 people die every year from rabies infections — more than a third of the global rabies toll.
Packs of strays lurk in public parks, guard alleyways and street corners and howl nightly in neighborhoods and villages. Joggers carry bamboo rods to beat them away, and bicyclists fill their pockets with stones to throw at chasers. Walking a pet dog here can be akin to swimming with sharks.
[End of NYT excerpt]

There is a tendency to romanticize free roaming dogs, or dogs unfettered from human interference, and think that the fenced and leashed dogs are missing out on something deeply fulfilling. Maybe so, maybe not. I confess, I just don't know what impulses and desires a dog may have that they don't communicate to humans, or that humans don't understand, even when the dogs try to convey it through some signal that we somehow miss.

But again, dogs and humans hooked up socially because the dogs, at least some of previously wild dog-dom, concluded they liked what humans had to offer more than the life of the wild dog, which had then and still has intricate socialization, opportunities for play, demands for work, and all that stuff that maybe fenced and leashed dogs miss out on. They came to us, or to our remote ancestors, not vice versa. Otherwise, we'd be the ones dancing with wolves, or trying to, living in dens, chasing food on the hoof or in the ground.

I don't hate dog parks on general principles. I have been in them, and had some good times there. My current nearly 10 month old puppy seemed to like them. But I go back to this. Even the true believers concede there are minefields lurking there. Too many people crowd the entrance. Maybe so, but that's what happens with entrances to all sorts of places. People bring toys. They don't bring toys. Toys get left there. Other owners (it's always those other owners, huh?) react too sharply to a little bit of noise that may be a puppy correction. They don't react quickly enough, and some dog or several dogs get bites requiring medical attention. People try to mix dogs that have too much size disparity, age disparity. That's a lot of variables to negotiate. Thanks, but respectfully, no thanks anymore.

And I think other posters make valuable points, that the level of interest in and yearning for dog parks varies a lot. My current female pup likes them and seems to genuinely yearn to go back in. But my previous GSD couldn't have cared less, except, if it was empty enough to allow her to catch frisbees by herself, or as a place to keep an eye on lest some other dogs get out and pose a threat that she needed to keep an eye on.

I can't really look back on my growing up years and say we had a lot of dogs running loose and getting along. Kids lived less supervised lives, but dogs where I lived pretty much stayed behind fences unless they were being walked. Where I lived, a loose dog was apt to get picked up by the pound or run over by a car. One thing I do yearn for from my younger days: dogs seemed to live longer. Whether purebred or not, living mainly indoors or outdoors, 14 years was kind of expected if they did not suffer an accident or accidentally ingest something they shouldn't. My grandparents had three consecutive dogs who lived to 14-15 or more. My parents called me halfway across the country, when I was in grad school, and married, to tell me my Golden had passed at 14+. I know this drifts off topic, but I wish whatever we lost along the way in canine longevity, we could claw back.
 

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@CactusWren my comment was in regards to dogs running free and loose and my experience. I was not referring to dog parks dog parks around here are pretty small and the area is almost always fenced which to me is containment whether there are dogs in the park or not it is containment. If there were no fence at dog parks and not managed I would imagine many of those dogs would take off and eventually explore on their own especially hound dog breeds. In regards to people each generation they certainly all have different but challenges and issues.
 

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There is a tendency to romanticize free roaming dogs, or dogs unfettered from human interference, and think that the fenced and leashed dogs are missing out on something deeply fulfilling. Maybe so, maybe not. I confess, I just don't know what impulses and desires a dog may have that they don't communicate to humans, or that humans don't understand, even when the dogs try to convey it through some signal that we somehow miss.

But again, dogs and humans hooked up socially because the dogs, at least some of previously wild dog-dom, concluded they liked what humans had to offer more than the life of the wild dog, which had then and still has intricate socialization, opportunities for play, demands for work, and all that stuff that maybe fenced and leashed dogs miss out on. They came to us, or to our remote ancestors, not vice versa. Otherwise, we'd be the ones dancing with wolves, or trying to, living in dens, chasing food on the hoof or in the ground.
Here is what I remember from my distant childhood. Dogs roamed. Sometimes they came home, sometimes not, sometimes they came home injured. Injured dogs sometimes got vet care, sometimes got left to heal or die as nature dictated, sometimes their death was aided by a bullet. Or a bag on a tailpipe hose. Puppies were born wherever, some survived, some didn't. Some got tossed in the river. Few were purebred. Vaccines were largely ignored, unless the vet was there to check the cows. Dogs slept outside, because they had fleas/ticks/worms. Those that survived to old age often drew their last breath alone, in the barn or on the porch and were disposed of when discovered in the morning.
They roamed with us kids and had fun for sure, but kids don't roam anymore either. Dog fights DID happen, just no one cared.
So I am sitting here watching Shadow crashed on her cushy bed, watching TV, waiting for her walk which will be followed by a cookie while I make her dinner that contains the supplements that keep her free from pain. After dinner she will get her brushing chew to help keep her teeth healthy and later she will be brushed then massaged while I check for injuries, sore spots, bumps, lumps or anomalies. Before bed she will go for another nice long walk and have her bedtime cookie then she will stretch out on the bed next to me and sleep safe and sound until morning.
I really think that people gloss over the truly crappy details of a dogs life in years gone by, and I am not convinced dogs preferred that life. I don't believe that dogs desire to be part of a mob of strange dogs, dog packs are stable units.
 

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Discussion Starter #269
@Squidwardp, what I was describing from my childhood had nothing at all to do with feral dogs! In fact, just the opposite! Feral dog packs are much more dangerous than coyotes or wolves.

It's difficult to describe, but dogs then were much more "under control" than they are now! Believe me, I've spent a great deal of time pondering why that may have been the case, versus maybe that was just my childish perception.

The conclusion I've come to is that there was a difference in training. And before anyone is tempted to condemn harsh yank-and-crank training methods of the past, that's maybe a very small part of it, but not at all what I'm referring to here.

The main substantive difference that I see is that once you contain, by leash or fence, you're faced with devising all sorts of elaborate criteria for allowing them freedom - i.e. off-leash freedom to roam, yet be trusted.

My approach has and likely always will be to do most of my training off-leash. I use a leash only when I'm required to by law, or for training leash manners. Heel is taught off-leash, then proofed on leash with distractions.

I'm not claiming that my dog is flashy in her obedience, or is at a level where she'd win any competition. But I can take her to the beach or hiking in the mountains and not have to say a word to her for hours. We're a well practiced team...

And if we encounter other people or dogs, I can, with verbal direction only, allow her to meet and greet, or not.

Some people don't like big dogs. And they have as much right to be out and about as we do! So, for example, I was out at the river walking my dog the other day (pre-COVID) and came across a fisherman. As is customary, I wanted to chat for a bit and see if he'd caught anything.

So, I put my dog in a down-stay about 20ft away, and walked up to chat. After talking for a bit, he mentioned having a big dog too, so I released her to come up and say hi if she wanted.

As Sabismom says, fights did happen, and I agree people didn't make such a big deal out of them. But from that, I think the dogs themselves learned to reign themselves in a bit.

My first dog was raised in the big city. We moved too the country when he was about 2 yrs old. He certainly learned that lesson the hard way! But learn it he did...and he became much more discerning about when to and when not to engage another dog.

We could walk down the road, off-leash, and he knew to get off the road when cars or trucks came by, and he did not go into anyone else's property to investigate a dog. Even if the were, and they always were, barking at us as we walked by.

There's always risk when a dog is off-leash in an unfenced area. But the more they practice in that environment, the more bulletproof they become!
 

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All though dogs free roamed when I was growing up, they did not run in packs unless there was a stray female in heat. Some ethologists believe that although dogs are sociable, they are not necessarily pack animals.

As Tim remembers, dog fights were unusual and of far less intensity easily broken up verbally or by a tug on the tail. I never saw injuries or blood.

Dogs here were not trained except some for Lassie type tricks. Alternatively, dogs weren't treated like little humans either. Many were kept outside. Others slept in the basement and were only allowed in the kitchen if they had house access. Parents were parents and did not allow children to use dogs as jungle gyms or kissing booths.

India does have a serious stray dog problem and I see dog attacks in my news feeds with regularity. However, each time I have seen a dog attack human incident report in India, every time the dogs have been rabid. I can't say for sure but I believe that India has some type of ill enforced and poorly funded program of neutering and releasing of all stray dogs which is a part of the problem.
 

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Understood that no one is advocating for (or remembering) an India like situation.

Fencing and leashing was just the way it was where I grew up. Most dogs did not interact a lot with each other. My best friend had a 75 lb. female GSD, and we spent a lot of time in her enclosure, which comprised about half the backyard. She was among the larger dogs on the block, and could be a formidable sounding watch dog. But I never remember her being in a fight, or even having the opportunity to get in such. We had parks, and people would sometimes take their dogs there, but no dog parks per se.

My encounters with multiple dogs tended to occur on a ranch owned by my great aunt. She always had several large dogs,who lived outside, kept watch, sometimes ran cattle out of the garden, maybe helped deter coyotes. She never had fewer than three, always all male. I really don't recall, but I doubt she altered them. It was a working ranch, vet bills were for cattle, was the impression I got. I don't recall them ever having a fight. And they would hang around in close proximity, chase jackrabbits together, run out to the "lake", an oversized stock tank, and generally patrol the grounds. They tended not to stray off the property, and it was the kind of place you had to be intending to go to, so there weren't a lot of risks of being hit by cars, and I never heard of any of them getting hit.

First dog park I ever encountered was when I was in graduate school, circa maybe 1990-1993. We went there a lot, and it was an informal gathering where people showed up with their dogs, in a larger park. The trouble-maker acknowledged by all but his owner, was an unaltered standard poodle. He wanted to mount other dogs, who often took offense. This was a pretty genteel crowd. When they had an argument over the poodle's antics, it got a little animated, but no blows or serious cursing, other than maybe directed at the poodle. I honestly can't recall if there was a GSD in the mix, but tend to think not. My wife had a Cocker Spaniel, who was fairly social. There was no fence around it, so you were supposed to keep your dog on a leash.

Other than those two instances, until dog parks came into vogue, most of ours only had a few chance encounters, on walks, meeting relatives dogs (I spent fair amount of time at my grandparents, a few blocks away, and they had an acre plus lot and their own dog). Usually dog fights, when they occurred around my neighborhood, were a lot of posturing. I really didn't know what a bully type breed was until around 1980, when a girlfriend's father raised them. But that said, we just did not have our dogs interact that much. Now that I think of it, none of my dogs ever went over and visited my friend's GSD, nor did she come over. Just did not happen. Can't rule out that it happened in other neighborhoods, but the trend I saw was dogs behind fences or on leashes in the city.
And this was a large city, but one where most dogs I knew, even if their owners had modest means, still lived in single family homes with yards. Not mid-town Manhattan or Chicago, in other words.
A walk usually meant around the block, or for a lucky dog, a couple of blocks.
 

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The dogs I speak of none were feral but pet dogs let to run loose with no supervision.Spaying and neutering is only beneficial in countries that are poverty stricken and let them run rapid and produce only to live short and painfully desperate and sad lives. Feral Dogs left to produce more feral dogs are Often rounded up and killed in many countries like China. I see the problems with feral cats here in America - they depend on people spaying and neutering them or they would be hired by the county to be shot because they are disturbing the wildlife, and either ran over, die of disease or tortured. You can Rehome and rehab young Feral kittens but not feral adult cats. All my spayed and neutered cats who were strays as kittens lived life to over 20. my moms spayed cat just put down was 30 years old. They certainly don’t have to talk to tell you how much happier they are to be fed and have a warm home and love. If you had farm and hundreds of acres life was different for a dog back then. Most Often if dogs were not naturally obedient (soooo sooo many) or matured at a late age were dumped on the highway and or thrown out the front door for the day or dumped at the pound. Growing up I never had a dog that was aggressive and were neutered and spayed. I did stop a intact male dog who attacked my neutered dog on my own steps in fifth grade I beat him off with a garbage can and chased him out of my yard. I grew up in a feral time where kids roamed the neighborhoods and were on their own to survivor as were dogs not much supervisions at all the late 70’s 80’s were fun making up some great stories. I always remember greatly those times but some real real crazy and often times real dangerous moments I can say was luck to escape from - balance was severely lacking back then it was just not ever addressed like it is today -leading up to the changes (of those kids which are today’s parents) we see today in raising kids and dogs.
 

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I am in no way advocating packs of feral dogs. Our loose dogs were regular pet dogs who were free to hang out together when their owners were outside.

FWIW, by today's standards, I would probably be considered a feral kid. Our parents were at work when we got off the school bus. We did our chores and homework. Then ran loose until our parents started calling us in for dinner around 7.
 

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I'm not a fan of packs of feral dogs anymore than I am a fan of packs of free ranging pet dogs. Times and places have changed since I could just open a door and let me dog roam. I admit that my current two dogs know each other very well and may or may not be able to read strange dogs very well. I guess we could say the same for ourselves.

I do know that the few times I've been invited to join a group at a dog park I'd said "thank you but no". I generally follow with "my dogs play too rough. I don't want anyone to get hurt". This is typically followed by a funny look on the other person's face as they try to think of a good rebuttal but never do.
 

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Ian Dunbar talks about a "core social group" for puppies, the idea being that there are some known, well-socialized older dogs and puppies that play and hang out on a regular basis. That would seem to be a nice compromise so the dogs get to be around their own kind in a safe environment, and not grow up to be social weirdos. Unfortunately, I didn't find one of those and am probably not social enough to make one myself.
 

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Discussion Starter #277
That is how I view the dog park!

"some known, well-socialized older dogs and puppies that play and hang out on a regular basis."

And when we go to a new one, a new group get's established!

I'm always amazed when people stress that all interactions with other dogs have to be pleasant, and only with happy-go-lucky, well socialized dogs.

I've never had a dog that got the least bit traumatized by a little dust up with another dog. And I think it benefits them to learn that all dogs are not alike. Some like to play, some don't. Some are gentle, some play a bit rougher, and some can be downright mean! It's good for them to learn that and adjust their own behavior accordingly. Again, just my opinion...

I'll never forget when my dog, at a little over a yr old, begged and begged an Irish Wolfhound to play with her. When the IWH finally accepted, she came up and kept putting a paw on Nyx and rolling her over. After a couple of those Nyx just wanted to get away! She finally hid under a table for a bit. And she learned to be careful what she wished for...discernment, is a good thing!

My point though, is that no "harm" came from that event, she's still fine around that IWH, but she never asked her to play again!
 

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There are a host of problems that can arise from not intervening in puppy play when things go south. Various breeds "speak" different languages and can have very different play styles. One example would be a puppy playing with a puppy with a rougher playstyle that ignored body language. A puppy can learn that other dogs ignore body language and no signaling to stop, back off, or lighten up is going to work. Considering that this usually happens early on during critical socialization periods, you may find either 1) your stronger temperamented puppy has learned to respond to his cues being ignored by becoming a bully him/her self or 2) a softer temperamented dog may be left in a state of learned helplessness. Neither situation is desirable for a balanced, well socialized companion. There is a reason that they recommend that if you are going to have more than one dog, for compatibility and peace, get the same type of dog, such as a GSD and another herder but I digress.

I also believe that if your pup is struggling with another pup that is not playing fair in your pup's eyes and you don't step in, that you are teaching your dog that you don't have his back and that he is on his own. Not only does that cause damage to your foundation with the pup, it lays the ground work for possible future reactivity. You are teaching he has to handle things because you won't.

@Tim, I think your dog expressed very good skills in the example that you used but this is one time I think she succeeded despite you. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #280
Very true, I didn't step in in this instance. But I have and do, particularly with a puppy, if or when one is showing signs that they're no longer having fun.

But in spite of my lapses, Nyx is neither a bully nor helpless or fearful. And in fact, having been around many many different dogs of differing breeds for 50 years, I haven't seen a single case where any dog has, from a little play or even an outright dispute with another dog.

People get traumatized, the dogs take it all in stride. Or that's been my experience anyway, provided it's on a limited basis.

I think habitual bullying by another dog can lead to the behaviors you mentioned though...

@Dunkirk thanks for sharing that! Brings to mind a locally famous street dog in Brazil that I had the pleasure of meeting several times. He was a yellow lab, that had lost a front leg from being hit by a car. He lived in a very touristy area, and so wasn't lacking for food at all.

What made him famous is that he always crossed at the crosswalk, and was friendly enough to actually pet! Most street dogs in Brazil are friendly enough, until you touch them. Then they bite nearly everytime!

Took me awhile to learn that the hard way!
 
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