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As I've said before, I take my dog almost daily to a local dog park. This is the first dog I've owned that has ever stepped foot inside a dog park, but I currently have no other option for her to enjoy some off leash running, so we go.

I'm also a HUGE fan of this lady and her work:

https://dogsplayingforlife.com/about-play-for-life/

That being said, dog parks are an interesting environment where dog's of all breeds, with a HUGE variety of temperaments and training, mingle - for better or worse LOL! My experience has been that very few dogs that go there are in any way responsive to their owners once they enter the park. And I watch people chasing down their dogs on a daily basis in order to leash them up so they can leave, it's really very entertaining! That being said, I don't think I've ever seen a really dog aggressive dog there either.

At any rate, if you go to a dog park very often you will undoubtedly see some pack behavior that can get ugly pretty quickly if it's allowed to continue unabated. We've all heard horror stories!

In one such incident that I saw, a little dachshund was being chased by about 8 larger dogs, (a) because he was running and (b) because he was screaming like a wounded rabbit while running! Several owners were running behind trying to intervene, but losing ground as the chase continued. Since I happened to be out in front of the pack, I intercepted the lead chase dog and kicked him, which broke the spell and stopped the chase. The owner of this particular dog was leading the human pack that was following the chase, so I apologized for kicking his dog, but explained that it looked like his dog was very close to actually catching the dachshund. Curiously, the owner of the dog I kicked was very understanding and not angry at all...the funny reaction, IMO, was that the dachshund owner showed no concern for her dog at all. In my view, if that lead dog had caught the dachshund it would have died right there in the frenzy!

I saw another large group fight break out once, involving 6-7 large dogs. I was across a large open area from them, but when I saw it continue for over a minute with anxious owners mingling around looking confused, I ran over to help. The situation was diffused with no injuries to dogs or humans, and people thanked me for helping out.

Just yesterday 2 big male dogs got into it close to where I was standing, and I was able to break it up quickly, without even physically intervening. And again with no injuries to either dog, both of which continued on and left each other alone. In this case I know both dogs and their owners, so the only comment from either of them was to ask if that was their dog that was fighting LOL!

At any rate, my goal is always to make sure that no dog gets injured while I'm present. But I'm curious how others respond to dog fights, or pack/prey behaviors they see. Do you intervene, or just let the owners deal with it, or leash up your dog and get out of there? Have you ever intervened and had an irate owner yell at you for it? Have you ever been bitten by getting involved?

Or is this exactly why you never go to a dog park in the first place?
 

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Tim, I think you already know the answers you are going to get. I'm betting most people will say this is why they don't even go in the first place.

That being said, since we go to the same dog park, if I see something like that happening, I immediately call my dog, who thankfully has amazing recall and has no interest in other dogs anyway, and make her sit and stay right at my side. Depending on how bad it is, the reaction of the owners involved, and the general feel of the dog park after, I may leash my girl up and leave. I've decided that I don't want to get involved and either: get bit, yelled at, or because I'm involved make my dog think she needs to be involved. I'd rather stay clear.
 

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Pyethis, that is EXACTLY what I used to do when I was going to the dog park!

If it was REALLY bad, like the time someone brought their female in, who may have still been in heat, I would warn other people coming in to stay away. I could sense a serious dog fight about to break out amongst the male dogs!

Those of us who are really good at interpreting dog behaviour and pack dynamics can often see trouble coming before a fight erupts and steer clear of it.

I mainly went there to get to know other dog owners, because I ran a boarding kennel.
 

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I sort of take this thread as a share your dog park thoughts and/or experience.

Apex is super doggy. "My experience has been that very few dogs that go there are in any way responsive to their owners once they enter the park."

Yup that was me and why I quit going. That was I would say a year ago. I'm curious how much its changed. The last time I went Apex was ready to leave with a family and their 3 dogs. Funny not funny.

My concern was that I was always chasing him around if something were to happen i would be to far behind and lack any voice control. Not the only reason I quit going.

Once a mom and her kids came in with their dog and a pizza! They sat to eat never leaving the bench while the dog went everywhere and he was a bully. When he went to bully Apex eye contact and a NO worked fine, he left Apex alone. Left me wishing my dog listened like that. Lol

I made the mistake of bringing my 6 year old. He was bitten by a huge beast of dog no marks thank god. My son was doing everything correctly the dog just freaked out. The dog didn't want to be there anyway.
We have a nice 5 acre wooded dog park. I was always in shock by how many people brought their dogs that didn't actually want to be there.

I do miss the dog park. I miss seeing Apex so happy, I think he is a great candidate temperament wise for the dog park. I also enjoyed meeting and chatting with most of the people.
 

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That kind of behavior is why I wouldn't go, that and my male pup would be the one starting stuff to let everyone know he's the "big man on campus".

However I don't have to, as I am very blessed with having a middle school (with sport fields), a park, a lake, a greenway running trail, and a city park-ish area with 2 baseball fields & a semi fenced in area I can use cause my dogs have good recall (especially when I have a toy LOL) all within 8 minutes of my house.

Semi-brag aside haha

I'm usually a MYOB guy, getting involved in other peoples problems is way more trouble than it's worth, but with animals I'd absolutely intervene and take my chances on getting bit for my troubles. I got a soft spot the size of Texas for dogs & babies.
 
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I have probably intervened more than any one person at the dog park we go to most often. And almost always it is something that does not involve my dog. No one has ever been upset at me although I have yelled at a lot of dogs. Maybe because they thought one of the dogs was mine even if it wasn't or maybe they just appreciated the good intentions. I've met literally hundreds of people at dog parks and only one was a j*rk. Almost all dog park dogs are mild mannered pets and easily back down if you do a Cesar Milan tssst at them.

I bring a mix to the dog parks now which I avoided when I had working line GSDs. This was to protect other dogs because my dogs could more than handle themselves and would not take the slightest BS from any other dog. They also would not back down from people so that was not a good thing either in this environment. Many years ago, one of my males as a teenager feeling his oats liked to put other males he ran across on their backs. This did not make their owners happy and I stopped his visits before he completely matured.
 

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You have just described every reason that the only thing I use a dog park for is to train during high level distraction..but I stay OUT of the actual park lol

Sometimes I go just to watch, sans dog. Sit on the bench on the outside and just watch the train wreck reality show. Same odd enjoyment feeling I would get when watching something like "18 kids and counting." Can't.....look.......away

If I ever risked a bite to assist with a dog fight, it would never be in a place where the owners put themselves in that situation, willingly, to begin with. A Dachshund being chased down by 8 large dogs??? That would be like taking your Kindergartner and telling them to go play dodge ball with the 8th Graders.

Nuts.
 

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Sometimes I go just to watch, sans dog. Sit on the bench on the outside and just watch the train wreck reality show. Same odd enjoyment feeling I would get when watching something like "18 kids and counting." Can't.....look.......away
I do too on my way back from my grocery store. What I see is hardly ever enjoyable and I usually go back annoyed. Owners on their phones, bully dogs etc, etc.
Kinda like going to the zoo because I love animals but mostly I will be annoyed. Not so much by the captivity of the animals (that IS part of it) but by clueless people.
Tim, you must have thick skin to be able to want to intervene. I think it is the best way to get into a human fight. The best way is to organize your own dog park where you will be in charge. I have done this a few months on Saturdays with my clients and the dogs that were appropriate, on a remote field but then when I declined a dog, I go a lot of **** so I decided that everyone would be on their own.
 

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My Dane of all things got attacked at a dog park. She was the friendliest dog on the planet but weirdly the one most likely to get bitten or attacked. Perhaps because she liked to give kisses and lean on other beings.
The day of the actual attack she had been running with her Borzoi friend and when he left she was standing beside the fence seeing if he was coming back. A small BC mix? wandered over and started nipping at Freeways legs, which I put a stop to and we started to wander the other way. Nippy dog promptly gets into it with 3-4 other dogs one being a large houndish thing and Freeway being the peaceable sort ambles over to take a look. I promptly follow and in a split second, as I am grabbing her collar(she was deaf), Freeway becomes the target of an all out mob which quickly grew in size and ended with me kicking several dogs and yelling at a few owners.
The end result was some stitches and a sulking Dane but we seldom went to dog parks after that.
Bud was surprisingly good with other dogs but invariably ran into the jerk dogs that wanted a piece of him and he never walked away from a good fight. Sabs was not good with intact males and in general disliked rude dogs, so we avoided dog parks for the most part.
I can read my dogs and usually a "knock it off!" deters nonsense behavior but I think in general too many owners let things escalate too far to stop. The dog parks here have largely become a haven for ill mannered and poorly trained dogs, coupled with the purely positive, wannabe trainers throwing their 2 cents in. Not places I choose to be.
 

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I've seen very, very few dog fights in our dog parks and the ones I saw always involved a GSD as one of the protagonists. Having said that most GSDs I've seen behave themselves partly because of all breeds they have the least interest in playing or even interacting with strange dogs and strange people. They are typically aloof and mostly interested in interacting with their owner. (The level varies as well with adult dogs a lot more aloof than puppies or young dogs.) I have counseled a couple of less experienced GSD owners that I met in dog parks that there is nothing wrong with their dog when they have no or little interest in other dogs and it is in fact the mark of a good working dog breed. I have told them to just hike with or throw toys for their GSD in one corner of the park because that is what makes GSDs happy not the doggie play thing. (GSDs do enjoy roughhouse playing with their pack mates at home but random dogs in parks are not their pack mates.) I also tell them about tracking and suggest they look into it.

Almost all my interventions are coming to the rescue of dogs especially puppies that are feeling too much pressure from other dogs. Some dog owners read an article about dog socialization and think all they have to do is throw their puppy in there. If an owner does not step in, I pick up the puppy and hand it to the owner or I tell the owner in a fatherly way what I think they should be doing. Most of these cases are younger people or couples on their first dog.
 

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I think all the regulars in this forum knows I take my dog to the dog park almost daily. I've been going for almost a year now, I've seen stupid things as well as weird things and some unfortunate things. There was a first time dog owner who FED his pup IN the park.??????????? Fight broke out and he left the park... Thankfully along with the food.

To answer the title on this thread, I don't intervene all that much. Because most fights break involving people who don't come regularly. If there was a fight right in front of me and one of my friends' dog is involved, I usually intervene. But if I don't know the dog or the owner, I usually just call my dog and stay away from it, thankfully my dog has excellent recall even in the dog park.

One of the things that annoy me the most in the dog parks is a dog owner with minimum knowledge or those who are paranoid, those who can't distinguish the difference between dogs playing and dogs fighting. And calling other people's dog aggressive is completely unnecessary. Aggressive dogs are not all that common, however EXCITED dogs are very very common. I've seen spats between dog owners calling another dog dog aggressive, while the dog wasn't aggressive at all, he was either fearful or just overwhelmed.

In the 1 year I've been going, only twice I've had arguments with other dog owners. The 1st one was because this dog owner and her friends come once or twice a week and always bring with them the chuckit square frisbee toy, very easy for dogs to tug on them. 4 times I've seen fights broke out because of this toy. Dogs were tugging on them and they got possessive. What's worse, THEIR dog wasn't even the one playing with the toy! So the casualty is always some other dogs! And the last one involved my dog tugging with another dog, I put the toy away in the entrance area.

The owner came and said to me rudely, 'Next time you find my toy, don't just dump it, give it back to me.' Hahaha what. Dang I lost my crap. We got into a huge arguments and even my trainer who was there at the time stepped in and stood up for me. I think that people don't understand that when bringing a toy, especially a tug toy to the park, the toy BELONGS to the whole park. Not all dogs are able to share. That's why the only toys that should be available are tennis balls, no tugging.

That being said... Part of the reason I still go is because I've had some good friends from the 2 parks I regularly go, and those are the people I've come to see on a regular basis which is quite nice to be honest. And I like seeing dogs being off leash. It's almost therapeutic for me personally.
 

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I would be curious if the dog park improves obedience (not working outside the park) for those who care about obedience and how you would chose to describe your dog.
 

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We prefer to go to structured off leash field exercises that our trainer does -- he blocks out a dog park early in the morning through the city park service, only his alumni and current students are allowed there, everyone does what he says, no toys, and if any dogs are rude (e.g., humping), who ever is closest verbally corrects, and if that doesn't work and they're trying to start something that could turn into a fight, they get swatted lightly on the rump with a soft leather leash before it gets very far. Nothing ever escalates when it gets nipped in the bud -- even hard stares aren't allowed. Chasing a tiny dog like Tim described would trigger the dressage whip loudly smacking the ground by the chasing dogs, using the sound and the surprise to snap them out of the prey drive. Even the people aren't allowed to shriek and squeal -- you talk quietly as you walk the perimeter (no sitting, no phones, no reading), or you talk like a boss and correct something going on next to you (and if you can't, you get out of the way for the ones who can). Everyone also knows that it's therapy for some of the dogs who are learning how to tolerate other dogs and learning to mimic the pack -- and the trainer is very focused on using it that way for dogs who need it, so people just kind of understand and try to support the owners of "works in progress" because we have been there and made it through to the other side. He does limit the number of "unstable" ones on the field at a time, so that those can absorb the energy of the stable pack -- too many unstable ones wouldn't work.
Here's a video about some trainer I don't know who uses the technique D. Russell pioneered:



For all those who think dog aggression isn't fixable, D. Russell's life of training proved that it absolutely is! This documentary about D. Russell has lots of film footage of the "master" conducting it -- and interviews with him while he was alive. He described it as "poetry in motion": https://www.mcsquaredoodles.com/blog/documentary-review-dog-man

It's not easy to get the exercise right, but when it is done "his way," it's a really beautiful to observe -- we've had up to 16 GSDs, and at least as many other random breeds, large and small on the field for one glorious hour of "just being a dog." This newsletter has an article in D. Russell's own words about the exercise, and the importance of letting the dogs teach each other ("The Contrary Dog Trainer") -- it's a good explanation of why it works for people who think it's nuts to put that many dogs on a field together off leash, even dog reactive ones:

http://www.canineprofessionals.com/assets/docs/SafeHands/winter2006.pdf


At the dog park, we try to go with friends and keep to ourselves. All of us are right in the mix of it with our dogs, and we all trained the same place. Other dogs can join in our games (as we're having fun)...if they're nice. If they're not, we run them off if a verbal correction doesn't get them to be nice. A group of confident, experienced dog people shoo'ing them away really does work. We may get called "snobby" by other people there, but so what? Our dogs just expect us to keep the jerks away because they trust us to be in charge. (It probably helps that one of our group members is a SWAT officer, and NO ONE is messing with that big human, even if he's not in uniform and they don't know his job.)

The nice thing about organizing a meet up with friends is that our dogs know each other, they romp, and if anyone gets too rough, no one's feelings get hurt if someone else corrects your own dog for getting out of hand, or if someone elbows you and says, "Get in there." Everyone we hang with knows how to use their deep, serious voice and our dogs who know that voice means business.

FWIW, I learned how to "dog park" years ago, when we were young newbies with the help of the dog park's "boss lady" who had a pack of Shepherds that listened to her well -- all the dogs in the park did, in fact. She was right in the middle of the romping, refereeing, she had the "I'm the boss" vibe that the dogs respected, and she corrected in deep, guttoral tones that they understood were corrections. It only took one word, and even stranger dogs broke off bad behavior because her timing was flawless -- nothing escalated around her because she spotted hard stares, intent to hump, and all the stuff that is early-warning of a "crap starter." The one time one ignored her, she stomped between it and the other dog squared her stance and stared with a hard "NO"...and it then decided to slink back to its oblivious owner. Most dogs wanted to appease her, and not just her own! When your park has that lady (or you become that lady) problems are a lot less likely to happen.
 

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It's unfortunate that people don't have access to open space to run dogs loose, without having to resort to a dog park. Probably has to do with the rural-to-urban movement of the human population in this country. I think it is very hard to fill the needs of a large or energetic dog if you live in an apartment in the city, or in any area with limited to no open space. But, I suppose this is why dog parks are so popular, and that I do understand!

I wouldn't interfere with a dog fight between two dogs I didn't know, because one bite to my hand and I could be crippled and even have a hard time working for life. Plus, my health insurance is high deductible and not the greatest.
 

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That's fantastic, Magwart! Would LOVE to see it!

I did teach my dogs to obey me when they were at the park. I'd practice recalls with them when there were only a few dogs around. They would get rewarded with pats and praise, then sent back to play again.

If you want your dog to obey you in a dog park, make sure calling it to you doesn't always mean the fun is over. It amazes me how many people don't 'get' this!

It didn't happen overnight. I remember when Ranger was having a ball with a pack of 3 other dogs that were all about the same size as him. Most were shepherd or shepherd mixes, too, which meant they really were having a blast, because they understood the other dogs' play style.

One end of this park was low-lying and rather swampy. I was trying to call him to me, as I had to be somewhere. He wasn't listening: he was having WAY too much fun.

Of course, the dogs HAD to run through a mud puddle, with him in the middle, where it was deepest, just before he finally decided to listen and come to me.

I didn't have any towels in the car. We spent the next 15 minutes doing a SLOW on-leash walk around the perimeter of the park so he could drip-dry a bit before I put him in the car! :mad: He even had mud inside his EARS!
 

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That's fantastic, Magwart! Would LOVE to see it!



One end of this park was low-lying and rather swampy. I was trying to call him to me, as I had to be somewhere. He wasn't listening: he was having WAY too much fun.

Of course, the dogs HAD to run through a mud puddle, with him in the middle, where it was deepest, just before he finally decided to listen and come to me.

I didn't have any towels in the car. We spent the next 15 minutes doing a SLOW on-leash walk around the perimeter of the park so he could drip-dry a bit before I put him in the car! :mad: He even had mud inside his EARS!
Now that is a great use for a dog park

But you don't need to be in a dog park to find mud...with all the rain, my dogs found a puddle in my back yard!
 

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Carner, just HOW did he manage that? :eek: Looks like he dunked his entire head in the mud puddle, while keeping the rest of his body clean!
 
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