dog park etiquette

May 12, 2008
5,241
13
candyland
do you take your dogs to the dog park near your home?

i just started taking my five month old siberian husky. he LOVES it. every once in a while, however, there will be that one dog (and owner) that just ruin the day for everyone. today there was a german shepard mix in the crowd and just had it out for my puppy. buckles (my puppy), hadn't done anything to get the dog going- wasn't even paying attention to it. this german mix had been very aggressive all day- barking at everything, nipping dogs randomly, and the owner was a woman who was like talking to her dog and whatever dog it was going after saying, 'oh c'mon, fight back!' it was really annoying. so when her dog went after mine, i grabbed my dog to keep him close to me and put my arm around him to protect him. the german mix was snarling and barking in my face and i kept trying to pull my puppy towards me and turn my body away from her dog. finally, after what seemed like ten minutes (but was more like three), the owner came up to me and very loudly said, 'um i really don't think you hugging your dog will enable your dog to fight back.' and i said, 'i really don't WANT my dog fighting. if they were playing, that would be one thing.' and she goes, 'well your dog will need to learn to fend for itself.' at that point, because i'm hot headed, i just turned away from her and left the park. i was so mad. i feel like the general rule to go by at the dog park is if your dog is being aggressive, you need to deal with it. i wouldn't promote a fight if i were her. bottom line, you need to be responsible for your dog and be sure that it isn't doing anything that the other owner will be upset about.... some people may be cool with their dogs 'fending for themselves', and if that is the case, then fine, go at it, but other owners (myself included), feel very protective over their dog and do not like to see aggressive behavior, even if the other owner considers it 'rough play.'
UGH

thoughts? what are your other rules of etiquette at the dog park?
 

stormy

Shepherds Rule!!
O.G.
Jul 30, 2006
765
0
In the Mountains
I am sorry to hear about your dog park experience. It is for this reason that I don't take my dogs to a dog park. IMO there are alot of people who frequent the dog parks that have absolutely no control over their dogs. If you are going to let a bunch of dogs play together safely, then you have to be able to control your dog in case an unforeseen issue comes up, like a dog fight.

I love to let my dogs socialize with other dogs, but I only socialize them with dogs that I know. This really helps to keep any problems to a minimum. :smile:
 

nova_girl

O.G.
Dec 13, 2008
3,158
133
Northern Virginia
We took our dog to a local dog park recently and overall it was a good experience. Dior (our dog) isn't used to being around unfamiliar dogs but does get along well with a couple of neighborhood dogs that she knows. There were one or two dogs at the park that were overexcited but I wouldn't say any of them were aggressive. When the dogs looked like they were crossing the line into aggressive behavior the owners took control of the situation. It was a bit crowded and some of the dogs were foaming at the mouth so that's when we decided to leave, not necessarily because of over-excited dogs. There were signs posted that said dogs needed to be leashed at the first sign of aggression, etc and I felt confident that the owners present that day would act responsibly if the dogs weren't playing nice.
 

Honey228

O.G.
May 12, 2008
159
0
TX
When I take my dog to the dog park, I always watch the body language of my dog and the other dogs. There's a clear difference between an aggressive dog and one that is play fighting. If it looks like a dog is tired and doesn't want to play anymore, is scared or getting ganged up on, or one dog is just being especially rough (even in a playful manner), then the owner will usually get their dog to calm down and back off for a bit. Or sometimes the dog will run to a person or lie down under a bench. That's his way of letting us know that he needs a time out. And usually the dogs will take turns being the dominant or the submissive one, the chaser or the chasee. So when their dog is currently "on the bottom" then a lot of times the owner will playfully tell their dog, "Come on, get up! or Get him! Fight back!" It's sort of a verbal cues to the other owners that, "I know your dog. I know that they're playing and that my dog is fine." But it's annoying for that woman to have told that to YOUR dog. It's not her place to tell you how to handle your dog.

But when I first got my puppy, she was a bit shy. I made it a point of socializing her with other people, children, and especially other dogs. I wouldn't prevent her from being able to play rough with other dogs as long as the dogs were enjoying it. I've never had a problem with dogs fighting. Now my dog is always super excited to see her friends.
 

Joy S2000

Member
Sep 8, 2007
74
0
41
Hey Honey...I see that you live in San Antonio. I do aswell and have been very disapointed lately at our dog park. I go to the one on old perasall road because it is closer to me. The last three times I have gone the dogs have all been fine, but there are always very small children there. The problem is that the parents dont watch them, a few of the children have used sticks to hit dogs and the are climbing all over the dogs equipment and then because they are around 3 and 4 years old, you see them put there hands in their mouths. The parents are no where to be found. I had to resuce a little child off the a-frame. He had crawled up there and a group of 5 dogs had followed him, now he has a face height and was crying (and exciting the dogs) if any of them had started a fight they might have bitten his face! This kind of thing is starting to be a regular occurance. Which park do you go to?
 

Honey228

O.G.
May 12, 2008
159
0
TX
Hi Joy! I haven't been to the Pearsall park yet. That's very disappointing. Parents *need* to supervise their children, especially around dogs who might not be used to small children. And my dog is great with children, but I don't know how she would react if they hit her with a stick. I know that I wouldn't react well to that.

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Tahoma]"Pearsall Park's dog park is comprised of one and one-half acres Bright greens, reds and yellows make the fenced-in area stand-out with picnic tables and trash cans as well as play features. Even the fence and the park toilet enclosures sport a “dog paw” design. "[/FONT] How do you let your 3 or 4 year old child out of sight in a 1.5 acre park?

Have you tried the McAllister Dog Park on Jones-Maltsberger yet? We also take her to the local park, but there's no dog area, so she has to stay on her leash.

When I referred to my "dog park", it's just the tiny little fenced in area for dogs in our apartment complex. It's just nice to be able to let the dogs off of their leashes and play with each other. And tiny as it is, the dogs always seem to run around on the side with the benches where the "parents" hang out. We're always telling our dogs to go play "over there".
 

domlee

Member
Jan 22, 2007
1,483
1
Los Angeles
Dogs should NEVER be allowed to engage in fighting type behavior at a dog park. This is for the safety of everyone at the dog park (human and dogs).

Once a dog engages in this type of behavior, it "can" incite other dogs to behave in the same manner. They may even form a "dog pack" type mentality and gang up on a single dog.

That woman was wrong. Going to the dog park is for a playful socializing experience. It is NOT about training your dog to fend itself off from other dogs.

You did the right thing by using your body to shield your dog. Because if a dog bites you, you have every right to not only pursue the owner, but the dog will be put to sleep. When dogs bites dogs...this gets to be a sticky issue, but when a human gets bitten...the issue is clear as day. I've had to "protect" my dog from overly aggressive dogs, and this is the tactic I used (I was taught this and it makes sense).

Dogs can have good days and bad days. And if your dog is being aggressive on that day...immediately leave the dog park as punishment. I've had to do that. It sucks that a day is ruined, but one of my dogs had to be taught a lesson.

And if a dog is being overly aggressive, dog owners have every right to ask the owner to leave the dog park for the day, as his/her dog may be having a "bad" day.
 
Aug 11, 2006
1,775
16
NYC
I think you did the right thing. We take my dog to the dog park sometimes and she doesn't really socialize too much. She just sniffs and walks aroudn or stays by us. If a dog ever gets a bit too rowdy, the owner usually steps in to calm the dog down and make sure the dog won't cause any fights. I feel like it is the owner's responsibility to make sure the dog will not attack. That lady's view that a dog should fight is completely wrong. If her dog was provoked, I would understand the need to defend herself but other than that. Nope!
 

zeitgeist4

I live for bags.
Jun 12, 2006
2,266
1
SF Bay Area
I am sorry to hear about your dog park experience. It is for this reason that I don't take my dogs to a dog park. IMO there are alot of people who frequent the dog parks that have absolutely no control over their dogs. If you are going to let a bunch of dogs play together safely, then you have to be able to control your dog in case an unforeseen issue comes up, like a dog fight.
Same here. The aggressive dogs are always drawn to my dog like a moth to a flame. :cursing:
 

bisousx

O.G.
Jan 3, 2008
12,030
8,151
out of my suitcase
Glad I found this thread. I was at the dog park and there was this aggressive little dog who kept trying to bite my pug. He was also going after the other dogs, and I couldn't believe that the owner didn't leave!

How would I politely tell someone to keep their dog in check or leave? Or do I not have a right to do that? I swear.. that dog ruined everyone's time.
 

domlee

Member
Jan 22, 2007
1,483
1
Los Angeles
...
How would I politely tell someone to keep their dog in check or leave? Or do I not have a right to do that? I swear.. that dog ruined everyone's time.
Approach the owner and in a nice manner:
1) Introduce yourself
2) Say something along the lines of "while we are all here to enjoy the dog park, your dog has been quite aggressive for the past 30 minutes. This may not be normal behavior, and therefore it might be a good idea for them to leave and perhaps come back tomorrow when he/she is not as aggressive."
3) And if they are offended by it, just state that these are basic dog park rules and it is there for the safety of DOGS and HUMANS. It is not meant to offend, it is there to curb aggressive dog behavior before an issue w/ safety arises.

It is not big deal. I've had to put my dog on lockdown after he was being overly aggressive after 10 minutes of arriving. (No it wasn't biting,...but he was VERY curious about a dog...and was also VERY protective of what he deemed to be "his bench" at the dog park). He kept it up, so as punishment, we left the dog park. It sucked, but oh well...

When I'm at the dog park, I keep an eye on my dog and other dogs as well. I'm not the best at it....but all owners do the same as well. And if there is a problematic dog...everyone kinda knows after awhile.

If my dog was being overly aggressive...the above steps would be the way I would want to be approached.

The thing you have to realize is that...some people will get offended no matter what you say. And they'll stand fast to essentially "protect" themselves by using bull$hit excuses like "how dare you talk to me like that", "Mind your own dog", "It is a public park".

*Do not be afraid to express your opinion about someone's dog being overly aggressive. People are afraid to speak up and want to avoid confrontation. But you can't allow that at the dog park because of the risk of injury or in worse cases...death.

**I had a situation where I had to protect my dog from an overly aggressive dog. As that dog was chasing my dog (three different times that day), I had to jump on top of my dog and cover him in order to protect him. The 3rd time the other dog pursued my dog and was inciting a fight w/ him...I just happened to be fortunate to be within grabbing distance of the other dog as he was running past me. I grabbed the other dog w/ my hands in a non aggressive manner w/ my arms outstretched so that it showed I was NOT choking the other dog...merely "holding" the dog. Guess what happened next? The dog owner's bf (a guy in his 40s) pushed me/snatched his dog from my hands and said to "get my hands of his dog". This was AFTER we were all engadged in stopping his dog from pursuing my dog. Legally, I could've charged the guy w/ battery. And guess what? The owner of the dog (a woman) said...oh...he gets a "warning". And "three times" and they'll go home. GUESS WHO was pulling random rules out of their a$$?

In the end, the ONLY rule is to ensure all parties are safe. If a dog is being overly aggressive...ask that they go home. If they want to be a ***** about it...everyone else in the park can go home. It isn't worth your dog's safety if someone is an a$$. Emergency vet bills are extremely costly. And that is ASSUMING your dog is alive from an injury.

If a dog fight occurs or a severe injury occurs as a result of a dog bite...that dog will be destroyed by animal control. PERIOD. No discussion. No 2nd or even 3rd chances. And who's fault is it when this occurs...the owner who didn't curb the behavior, and the other dog owners who didn't speak up.
 

bagnshoofetish

Oh. Gee.
O.G.
Feb 12, 2006
33,575
2,984
earth
I used to take my dog to dog parks but not anymore. Its just too much of a gamble for many reasons. there is always one unruly dog with a bad owner who has the potential to injure either a human or another dog. not to mention not knowing if every dog has had its vax or is being treated for fleas, etc. Its just not worth it for me. Instead, we have gotten to know our neighbors dogs and have playdates for them. This way, the dogs know each other all the time and we "mommy and daddy's" know the care that each dog is given. dogs are pack animals and taking them to the park every day is like groundhog day for them (ie the Bill Murray movie) - always new dogs to be introduced to. its like introducing them to a new pack over and over and over and over again which isn't natural and quite stressful whether you realize it or not. as in their wild nature, things do not always work out between them.
 
Feb 10, 2008
447
2
i would not even bother to be polite to her or people like that. In my opinion, she is already being rude so she deserves no respect. people like that need to control their pets, or not bring them. If it were me, I wouldve had to hold myself back from punching her out.
 

darlinga

LV Addict
O.G.
Jan 5, 2009
1,622
136
Pittsburgh, PA
I am sorry to hear about your dog park experience. It is for this reason that I don't take my dogs to a dog park. IMO there are alot of people who frequent the dog parks that have absolutely no control over their dogs. If you are going to let a bunch of dogs play together safely, then you have to be able to control your dog in case an unforeseen issue comes up, like a dog fight.

I love to let my dogs socialize with other dogs, but I only socialize them with dogs that I know. This really helps to keep any problems to a minimum. :smile:

I agree. It's a shame some owners don't understand proper dog park etiquette!