This post is part of a series where struggling pet owners submit pleas for help to the expertise of blogland. Everyone’s experiences are unique. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. What you think common sense may be revolutionary for someone else. You never know what may resonate with someone and keep one more animal out of a shelter. My hope is that together we can help good people, and good animals, feel a little less alone.
I recently received an email revolving around a scenario many of us relate to, probably a little too well. Dog parks can be a lot of fun, but unfortunately they can also be set-ups for disaster. It can be very difficult for good dog handlers to navigate the complex human and dog personalities that emerge.
I’m not entirely sure if what I’ve got is a training issue, thought it sure felt like it at the park tonight. We live in an incredibly dog friendly neighborhood and there are around 20+ dogs at our park most evenings. Both Angelo* and Kody are dog friendly and we have never had a problem at the park before tonight. I’m not even sure it was our problem. Here is what happened:
Angelo was playing and wrestling with another park regular, slightly bigger than him, a beagle/coonhound cross. They were clearly playing, with appropriate cues such as the play bow, perky ears and relaxed up right tail. While wrestling the did try to mount each other occasionally, but since both were responding appropriately, the other owner and I let them work it out themselves (a quick bark and the other backed off and they would go back to wrasslin’). Everything seemed okay until a third dog joined in.
This dog was a bulldog, who probably outweighed Angelo by 10 lbs. He immediately pinned Angelo and mounted him. Taking advantage of the situation, the other dog mounted his head. I hung back a second, seeing if he could handle it himself, but he was definitely overwhelmed and started growling and snapping. I intervened, picking him up and removing him from the area. Not much later, his buddy came to play again and everything seemed fine, until the bulldog found us and the same thing happened.
I can’t say I blame Angelo. It seems like a logical response to me, but I received several comments from others that “vicious” dogs aren’t welcome. Should I have reacted differently, do you think? Is there a better way to handle it? I’m reluctant to teach him not to growl, as I kind of feel like turning off his ” alarm bell” would be more dangerous than knowing when he is being pushed past his limits. Should I be intervening? I know some trainers recommend not too, but is it fair to leave him in a situation where he has no chance of winning? It’s very likely to come up again, as this new dog owner is becoming a park regular.
Thank you so much for reading and for any suggestions you might have!!
Now it is your turn, pet lovers. If you have any suggestions for Angelo’s human, please share them below. The more support, the better! Thank you so much for taking the time to help.
*Names have been changed
If you have a question you would like answered, fill out the contact form and I will post it up as soon as I can. All submissions will remain anonymous.