Friday, November 27, 2015

Dog Park Etiquette

Dog Park Etiquette

We took the dogs to the dog park today.  It was the first time Rusty had ever been.  She is our 9 year old Queensland Cross.  Buster and I have been many times.  This park was no stranger to us. Buster can be aggressive.  He can also have fun.  There are things that influence his behavior.  I am not claiming to be a dog behavior specialist, but I see actions by others at the dog park and I wonder if there isn't a better way.  

At the entrance to the dog park there is a space provided with two gates - one to the outside world and one to the dog park.  I've always thought of this place as the "Changing Room".  Take the leash off here and get ready to play.  Most dogs are aggressive to others dogs if there is a fence between them.  Once we enter we do not hang around the entrance.  Buster and I don't want to start the adventure by facing off a dog on the other side of the fence.  Today there were several dog owners who, once they entered the park, just hung around the gate.  Sure, I suppose my dog should be social enough to tolerate this, but he is not.

Buster and I got in the park and moved away from the gate quickly.  We kept moving as is our practice and Buster carried on with the fun.  The fence around the dog park is chain link.  It is bordered on one side by a people park.  Standing on the other side of the fence was a man with his unleashed puppy.  The puppy was bouncing around playfully.  He would have loved to come in and play, but the man and dog stayed outside.  Buster saw the dog bouncing around on the other side of the fence and got excited.  The energy escalated and, as much as I tried to get Buster moving, he was captivated by the puppy through the fence.  Their energy brought an inquisitive German Shepard who thought he was in charge and he and Buster got into it.  

Buster has an overdrive gear and when he is in it, it takes awhile for him to calm down.  I grabbed him from fighting with the Shepard and we went to the corner of the park.  It was quiet and Buster got his mind back.  After about 10 minutes my wife suggested I put on Buster's Gentle leader and walk him around.  I'm not a big fan of having a dog on a lead inside a leash-free zone, but I thought it would keep Buster in check.  The leader has somewhat of a muzzle effect.  

We left the park for the truck where I kept the Leader but when we tried to return one man had parked his ass and Rhodesian Ridgeback at one gate and two gals were busy with Golden Retrievers chatting away at the other.   Needless to say, it was just easier to leave.  Rusty wasn't having much fun in the park by herself.  Unaccustomed to other dogs her focus was on us outside the park.  We had a nice walk in the neighborhood and then headed home.