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Hi there,

I get really irritated and angry about dog park issues. The big dogs are always at fault it seems even when they're NOT at fault. I just do not understand why people with small dogs are literally stupid enough to take their little guys into the sections of the park where the big dogs play. It's like they have no fear that their little guys can get hurt. They get in the faces of the big dogs acting like they're 10X their actual size and of course some little dogs have no fear! If something bad happens the owners are screaming that it's the big dog's fault, they want the big dog banned from the park and if something really serious were to happen, which dog & owner do you think would pay the price?

At our dog park there are two specific fenced areas, one for the little guys and one for the big ones. People either can't or don't read, or are just flat out stupid because they are constantly bringing their small dogs in to the big dog area.

We have one guy who's got one of those Shiba Inus (spelling?) who looks to be about 30lbs. This dog starts growling, snapping and aggressively chasing any dog that comes near it, soon as a new dog comes into the park this one is after it.

We're in the process of getting our female more dog socialized. She really needs this as she's been afraid of and quite skittish around other dogs except for our male which she's best buds with. This SI did his thing on her and she was off like a shot, running down the path, seemingly terrified. I looked at the dog's owner and he said "Oh don't worry. That's just the way he plays, he doesn't mean any harm." It was all I could do to control my mouth and not scream at him "That's NOT playing!" This dog thinks it's his right to chase every dog that comes near him or his owner. It's like he's got Little Big Man Syndrome and has to control every other dog there.

Now a real problem could be if we'd take our male to the dog park and this little dog would do that to him. Our male is NOT going to let this little dog bully him and he WILL protect himself or me if he feels I'm being threatened. I doubt it would be pretty. Who do you think would be blamed if something bad happened? You can bet it wouldn't be the SI and his owner.

We want to start taking our male back to the dog park again. He went many many times as a youngster between the ages of 7mos and a year or so old and he LOVES it there. Then he started showing what we thought was other dog aggression and super-over-protectiveness of me. So, we steered clear of the dog park. According to the professionals we contacted and who tested him, he's not aggressive just super dominant and what the behaviorist called "dog-rude".

He's now been in training with a professional K9 Police Obedience/Schutzhund Trainer the past three mos who's also been dog-socializing him and he's doing fantastic with other dogs. He has about another month or less to go and he can come home. Yayyy!

I think we should be able to take him to the dog park. We have just as much right as anyone else. If some owner is stupid enough to let their little terror into the big dog area it should NOT automatically considered to be the big dog's fault should something bad happen. I know I need to check w/our park's board and find out how that works but I'd like to hear about anyone else's experience with this kind of thing. Any ideas you have I would also like to hear.

The second issue is about fence charging. We have a 5ft wooden privacy fence around our back yard. Whenever the neighbor ladies come out of their houses and our male's in the back yard, he charges and hits the fence acting like he wants to kill them. The poor woman behind us is so terrified of him that she will not come out of her house when he's in the back yard. Our neighbors are wonderful people and have every right to be in their own yards w/o being terrorized by our dog.

His trainer has a chainlink fence and it's only 4ft high. People come and go with and without dogs on the other side of the fence every day. Some of them come right into the yard via the gate. He has not once hit that fence or gotten nasty with these people or their dogs.

At this point it sure seems that the privacy fence itself is the problem. In a way it sounds crazy but in another way it makes perfect common sense. We're all thinking that because he can't see through the privacy fence he goes crazy when he hears someone on the other side of it and apparently feels he's got to protect or run them off his territory. He CAN see through the chainlink fence and he DOESN'T act like that at his trainer's house. We now have plans to replace the privacy fence w/a chainlink fence because it sure seems like if he can see through it, he won't feel the need to charge it and his terrorizing the neighbors will stop.

I'm just looking for your thoughts on this. Anyone swapped out one kind of a fence for another and found their dog exhibited different behavior afterwards?

Thanks!
 

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If I were in your situation, I would ask myself: What is my MAIN purpose for going to the dog park? Is it socializing your dogs, or is it having the ability of letting your dog run off-leash?

Quite frankly, it sounds to me like your dog park is ill-suited for either purpose

When you're socializing your dogs, you want to be able to have some sort of control of the situation - especially with young dogs - to make sure that the experience is a positive one, and not one that will lead to dog aggression or other problems. If there are aggressive dogs at the park, and owners who do not understand their dogs are acting aggressive or dominant, then the best thing to do is leave. Otherwise, you're setting your dog and yourself up for failure because they won't get a great, positive experience. They'll get the opposite.

Do you have friends with dogs? Maybe you could organize get-togethers / doggie playdates with dogs that you know are friendly with your dogs and will not cause problems.

Are there any other dog parks in the area?
Other parks where you can let your dogs run off leash?
Any chance of getting a park monitor into the existing park?
Going during off hours?
 

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Great response Chris!
 

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Re: Dog Park Etiquette/Issues & Fence Q's

Quote: I'm just looking for your thoughts on this. Anyone swapped out one kind of a fence for another and found their dog exhibited different behavior afterwards?
No. And I'm afraid you may be headed for expensive disappointment on this one. Others may have different input but my suspicion is that the difference between his behavior at home and his behavior at the trainer's house has more to do with context and learned behaviors than the kind of fence. You might see a brief period of change right after the fence swap just because you've changed the context slightly but my guess would be that it starts right up again quickly.

Fence fighting and charging seems to be self-reinforcing for dogs - they enjoy it or, if they don't, they still become conditioned to do it. The sound of the other person's door, their scent, whatever, all become triggers. He's gotten into the habit of doing this at your house and will likely continue to do so until trained out of it regardless of the kind of fence.

Can you have your trainer come to your house and work with him there?

Are there other things you can do to change the context? Pottying him on leash for a while, for example. If he starts the behavior, you do a redirect and go into an obedience routine. Or, every time he starts to the fence, you're on the other side of the yard handing out delectable treats to the other dog, etc. What works will depend on how distractable he is from the activity, but that's where I'd start. I'd hate to see you get rid of your nice privacy fence and have that not fix the problem! But I definitely commend you on being a good neighbor.
 

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Re: Dog Park Etiquette/Issues & Fence Q's

Agree! Bruno loves to bark at people through the fence. I have two different kinds of fencing-one he can see through and the other privacy and he does it at both! It's all about me, proximity, and training. Since he still does it, I guess I need to work on those things!
It's a bad habit, and seems to be one that they get a big payback for in their own little universes.

He's not a GSD (a Schip-GSD mix I guess) and man is he a fast little bugger-I feel like I am moving in slo-mo to get to where he is and by then he's gone. I need a riot hose!
But when I see that someone is going to be in their yard (how dare they) I will station myself in that area and work on it with him and he's MUCH better. It's the suprises that get ya-and they can tell someone is there way before we know.

Also-Historian's post was really good. A Shiba Inu is not a dog I would take to a dog park (why frustrate them) and would only take one of my dogs if they TRULY enjoyed it.
 

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Re: Dog Park Etiquette/Issues & Fence Q's

I think a dog park is not a place for socializing dogs. It's a place to bring already a very well socialized, trained dog with a rock solid recall and 'leave it' to.

Also a Shiba Inu isn't exactly a lap dog
They are small but extremely independent so they are not very reliable off-leash. They also have a strong prey drive and will chase everything that moves. I don't think this dog would hesitate to pick a fight with your male and he won't retreat in panic like some toy poodle. (I've known 2 Shiba Inus and I really like those dogs. They or Corgis will be my pets when I'm 80 years old and can't handle GSD anymore LOL).
 

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Dog parks, some say avoid them completely.

I have an appointment in about fifteen minutes but want to keep this post alive and respond later.
 

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I ama supporter of my local dog park society. The main city near us is trying to build a few and are ready to break ground.

I think they are a great place IF they are used responsibly by owners who have well trained and socialized dogs and can understand the inherent risks involved.

I have to agree with GSD07, a dog park is not a place to bring a dog to "get her more socialized". One bad experience will undo any work you did. If she was well socialized before you bought her to a dog park you stand a better chance of her withstanding one or two negative experiences with her confidence intact.

Try to find some people you know with social dogs, I call them "known friendlies" and let her play with them for brief periods to help her increase her social skills then try a well run dog park.

You can also stay outside the park for a while and watch carefully what is going on inside before you decide to go in too.
 

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Kathy, in most respects I agree with you. We have two dog parks, located less then ten miles form my house, one is fenced and the other is not.

The fenced gives my rescues a chance to play. The one drawback is I have a protective GSD. He would never attack another animal, but the little guys that like to nip on legs, he could kill in a moment. And yes, from what I have seen the little nippers cause most of the problems. So Timber does not go to the dogpark.

My rescues do, especially if I am advised not to let them off lease in a non-fenced area, and for that I appreciate the dog park.
 

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I have never nor will I ever take my dog to a dogpark.
 

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maybe the dog park isn't for your dogs. maybe your dogs aren't ready for it or trained for it. don't just go to the dog park because you can. if your dogs don't do well there don't take them there. as far as barking at the neighbors i cured that by having my neighbors come out and pet my dog over the fence when he was a puppy. now if he's out and they come out he goes to fence so they can pet him. our other neighbor has a Shep. we had our Shep before they got theirs. in order not to have a problem with the dogs we got them together the first day they brought her home. we let them meet a few times in the front yard on leashes before letting them out together. now when their dog comes out she comes over to our side of the fence and barks for our dog to come and our dog does the same thing when we let him out. sometimes our neighbors puts their dog in our yard so they can play or we let our dog into their yard so they can play. our dog doesn't do well in the dog park. when the other dogs come up to him submits and as soon as he does that they want to fight him. after a few times of that we stopped taking him there. he's 14 months now so he might be more aggressive but i don't want him getting into fights. so now we walk in the woods. he's never had a problem with dogs when they meet on the trails.
 

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Thanks for your replies. To answer some of the questions, when he was younger he was GREAT at the dog park. Got along w/all the dogs there. He "grew into" the fence behavior but we don't know why. He didn't do that when he was younger either. I know he wasn't teased or anything from the other side of the fence because these neighbors behind us are retired folks who like dogs. The people on the side are very nice, they have two kids but they are VERY well behaved children of young teen age (hard to find these days it seems). Our yards are in such close proximity that I would have heard or seen ANYONE teasing or harassing my dogs. They're NEVER left in the yard when we are not at home.

Riley loved the dog park when he was younger. It's a great place to run and play with other dogs, I really hate to not take him he had such a good time. So it's more for a fun outing for them, something other than the back yard or walking. So, I'd have to say he was socialized very nicely w/the park beginning at about 7mos of age when we got him.

I think I'm going to go to the parks people and see if there isn't something constructive that can't be done to keep the little from the big ENFORCED. That's at least part of the problem. There are the two fenced areas but nobody enforces it.

Yes, we have a friend or two w/dogs and they do go occasionally. Work schedules bump heads so it's hard to get us together on any kind of a regular basis. Our yard isn't big enough so we need to go to their houses.

Thanks for all your input. We need a new fence anyway so we'll go ahead w/the chainlink. There are places in the fence I don't trust anymore that they wouldn't be able to get through so it's absolutely necessary to get a new fence anyway.
 

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Quote:He "grew into" the fence behavior but we don't know why.
I think the "why" may have to do with Riley maturing. Dogs' do change as they grow from the puppy stage to the teenager stage and into adults. Some dogs become territorial as they get older and grow into their adult personalities.
 

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Quote: I think I'm going to go to the parks people and see if there isn't something constructive that can't be done to keep the little from the big ENFORCED. That's at least part of the problem. There are the two fenced areas but nobody enforces it.
Many dog parks have two fenced areas, one specifically for smaller dogs or pups (usually 25 pounds or under.) The reason for this is often misunderstood.

That is usually not intended to mean the small dogs can ONLY use that side, it is for the safety of small dogs or pups that do need to be protected. Many small dogs can and do run with the big dogs in the larger area. It's up to their owners to know the difference.

Any dog in the parks should have good recalls and not be aggressive to people or other dogs. Small dogs, big dogs - doesn't matter.
 

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I agree w/Bonnie. The park that I go to also has a separate area, and the sign on the gate says, for small dogs, puppies or nervous dogs. Not necessarily small dogs only.

The funniest grouping of dogs I have seen playing together there include.

Bernese/St Bernard X, my 7 month GSD, a couple of Goldens and a mini-chihuaha. All got along well. I actually think the chi was bossing the others around!!!
 

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Not an advocate of dog parks - at least the one closest to me. I'm sure there are others that may be better.

As far as your neighbor - why don't you get the trainer to address this on your turf. If necessary, put and e-fence on the perimeter so your dog can't 'hit' the fence.
 

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I agree with some of the other posters who brought up his age and maturity as a possible reason for his change and fence charging. From what I have seen and worked with, it is partly frustration, and most always, once the dogs are introduced out of the fenced area (by confident and professional individuals) the dogs are fine thereafter. In conjunction with clicker training to encourage calm behavior, recall off the fence, and focus on the handler the problem can be fixed. I think as others mentioned changing the fence will only modify the problem at best, most likely there will not be much change in behavior, except the lady might be more scared since the fence is no longer solid!
If the trainer has resolved the problem at her place, then I would recommend the trainer working with you to resolve the problems at home.
As for dog parks, some are better than others. I would recommend dog daycare that is supervised by a trainer and work with dogs on socializing (this is what I do
) and with the right place you can see excellent and progressive results. The dogs are known there, personalities are known, the environment is controlled (as much as possible), and there is less of a chance that your dog will have a bad experience (with the right place of course). Then, as others have said, once he does well for YOU with other dogs, a dog park visit would be something to try!
I look forward to more posts!
 

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Maybe you could try an electric collar for the fence fighting.

I hate dog parks. Most younger dogs start off fine and as they mature they change. Definately not the place to go to try and resolve issues.
 

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We took our dog to a number of dog parks when he was young, and he was great, until he wasn't. Hormones kicked in. He isn't dog aggressive and is perfectly content to ignore dogs that ignore him, but the ones that move too much in a hyper play! play! play! kind of way seem to make him lose control and then he plays too rough. Then I have to deal with dirty looks from people who didn't understand and thought my dog was out of control. As he grew older and became more dominant he also started receiving more dominance challenges from other dog park regulars. Small things first, who could stand up taller, tail curled over back. And yes little dogs can be dominant too. In fact a Shiba Inu was about ready to take off his face. Things escalated until I decided it just wasn't worth it. Too many fights (not even with my dog) and I was on constant alert for trouble. Certainly isn't the relaxing outing I wanted for me and my dog.

Is my dog well socialized? Yes. He can go to PetsMart and happily walk around all the other dogs. He lays in a down near several other intact males at training. He plays well with his sister at home. I'm not concerned about his dog-dog interactions.

Personally I think initially going to the dog park was more about me than him. Sure he liked to run all around off leash, but I have to admit I like for him to be seen. To me he was the smartest most handsome German Shepherd God had ever placed on the earth and I wanted people to see him and admire him. When he started getting into trouble it hurt my feelings and I will admit to a certain amount of defensiveness. It wasn't ever my dog (And I really don't think it was!
) Why couldn't all these other owners see their dogs bad behavior! They stressed my dog out until he had to react the way he did!

In the end, I realized it was probably my fault too. It really wasn't fair of me to put my dog in a situation where other dogs could provoke him and expect him just to take it. It also wasn't realistic to expect only super well behaved dogs that were perfectly suited to my dog to be in the park. So I discovered other places to go to take my dog off leash, found other activities that make him happy, and in the ender I was happier because these places showed my good boy off to his best advantage.

I absolutely agree. Dog Parks are not a place to go to socialize. They are a place to take your already well behaved dog.
 
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