Thursday, November 20, 2014

WTF Dog Park People? Or, The Mystery of the Moronic Dog Owners

What is wrong with people at dog parks?

Not all, of course. My park is not technically a dog park. It's an open space, where, in control, off leash dogs are allowed. The majority of the dog/owner combos I run into are affable, social, Lab/Golden Retriever/Doodle/Laid Back Suburban Owner types.

As a matter of fact, Brockle tends to be the resident bad boy. He likes to periodically bolt, fly like the angel of death straight at some hapless innocent and roll them like a Firestone All Weather tire dropped down a  gully.

BUT.

Because he has this despicable behavior, he stays leashed the majority of the time and is going through some serious training. I only release him to play ball or work on his obedience and recall when the park is empty.

He spends lots of time on the long line, learning to resist temptation and tolerate the random "Don't worry, he's friendly," dogs who approach him anyway.

I accept that my dog is a bully. I understand his primary goal in life is to protect me, the second being to play soccer with the occasional King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. I keep him contained AND under control.

In return, I protect him. If a dog charges, I step in front of Brockle and shout "No! Bad Dog!" It has worked so far. Until yesterday.

I stopped at the open space on the way home from errands for a quick fetch.

There were no dogs, so we ran out and began. Brockle was keen on the ball and kept his focus, even when a man and his Airedale came into the park. They were a good 100 yards away. When I saw the Airedale coming at a run and the owner doing NOTHING I called Brockle in and put him on his leash.

He was awesome. He tolerated the rude young dog extremely well. I was proud. The owner arrived.

"Don't worry, he's friendly." he said.

"Mine isn't.  Your dog is lucky mine is well trained," I replied.

The owner said nothing.

We headed off in a different direction, putting enough distance between us to resume our game. I let Brockle off leash.

Zoom! Airedale came flying up behind us and yanked Brockle's ball right out of the thrower thingy, which I had just extended behind me.

"Erp!" I said.

 I kept my balance with the ever-graceful Parkinson's flying pinwheel. The Airedale turned and ran back to his owner with the ball, who still said NOTHING.

Brockle heard my squawk, tore past and nailed Don't Worry He's Friendly to the ground. Charlie joined in and they proceed to beat the crap out of DWHF. By the time I got there, Brockle had made his point, taken his ball and came to me.

I told them, "Good dog."

The owner said, "DWHF really likes balls."

His now terrified Airedale learned that bad things can happen at the dog park. He learned his owner will do absolutely nothing to help him. DWHF is now well on his way to the world of dog aggression.

We dusted that one off. I threw a few more times, then ran through some quick obedience to re-center Brockle and decided to leave.

With both dogs leashed, we approached my car. A woman with a BC, on-leash, and a man with a large Aussie, off-leash, were headed towards us on the same path.

I switched paths, I was done with socialization practice. Because of the Airedale incident I made the mistake of watching Brockle instead of the off-leash dog.

You guessed it. BAM! The Aussie came flying straight into us and I was caught in the middle of a huge dog fight. Brockle broke off and jumped behind me. He looked at me with the clearest "WTF?" I've ever seen.

I tried my dog blocking technique and yelled "No!" at the Aussie. He hesitated, then stepped around me, intent on Brockle, who threw all our hard earned dog tolerance out the window and launched at the enemy.

The Aussie's owner stepped in, grabbed his dog by the collar.

"Brockle, OFF!" I yelled.

Bless his pea-picking heart, he released and came to heel.

That jackass never said a thing, just drug his dog off.

I am done with the dog park. Done, done, done.

My dog is awesome.

32 comments:

Jamethiel Crabb said...

This. This right here is why, when I jhad the foster boxers, I never went t the dog park, even before the rescue I worked with stopped allowing it. No matter how clear you are that a dog is unknown, or in training, or being worked with, the world is full of oblivious people and I my primary goal is getting the foster dogs to trust me to keep the world a safe place, so they don't have to stress about being the boss all the time. Their job was to be safe, happy, goofy pets; mine was to give them the confidence to be just that, since some boxers do have a protective atreak in their breeding. Sorry you had to deal with it :(

mugwump said...

We did deal with it. I've already scouted out several areas I can go practice at. I am sooo ready to be on my own property.

SquirrelGurl said...

And that too is why my sheltie no longer goes to dog parks.

Is it bad that I cringe every time I hear someone say, "Don't worry he/she is friendly?"

We no longer greet "randoms" I fake that my dog is aggressive to avoid the inevitable dust up. Some people approach anyway and I watch their dog like a hawk and break away as soon as possible.

I'm over it, I spent a lot of time and effort training my dog to be a solid citizen (he was an absolute terror as a puppy). Please respect our space when I say "No, not today" when you approach with your dog straining at the end of the leash eyes locked in on my dog.

SquirrelGurl said...

Am I bad for faking?

I feel like it's better than saying, "I think your dog is obnoxious."

mugwump said...

Squirrel Girl, I don't think so. I run into people not believing my dogs can be aggressive, because they're sitting quietly and looking at me.

I'm just avoiding the whole mess.

SquirrelGurl said...

Agreed, a dog can be obedient but not friendly. People don't understand that the two aren't the same.

Avoidance is a good tactic.

My friend said of her rescues who each have aggression issues, "They are great dogs but I just can't share them with the public because I can't be 100% in control of every situation."

Austen Gage said...

I'm sort of done with being an avoider and a smoother-over. If someone's dog comes at mine and into our space, I am okay with them teaching it a lesson. I expect the same to happen when my puppy-mill-reject of a Siberian sticks her nose where it doesn't belong. She's slow on the uptake, but getting faster. And, she's starting to listen to my advice before she goes leaping in. Funny how that works.

If someone desperately wants their obviously troubled dog to meet mine, I've started telling them "Your dog is rude. Take him away."

My biggest problem is while running in the city. I like to run in the poor parts of town. The more run down and "scary" the better. Most of the dogs in that area are chained if they are aggressive, and the ones who roam have learned their socialization skills and leave us alone. It's the pampered pets of the rich part of town that cause the real problems. They chase us into the street, some playful and some snarling. Often the owners don't even notice, and never do they have control over the dogs. If the dog chasing is aggressive, I've often found myself darting through heavy traffic to get away. I'd hate to be the reason a dog gets hit by a car, but I would hate watching myself or my dogs get attacked more.

Austen Gage said...

I'm sort of done with being an avoider and a smoother-over. If someone's dog comes at mine and into our space, I am okay with them teaching it a lesson. I expect the same to happen when my puppy-mill-reject of a Siberian sticks her nose where it doesn't belong. She's slow on the uptake, but getting faster. And, she's starting to listen to my advice before she goes leaping in. Funny how that works.

If someone desperately wants their obviously troubled dog to meet mine, I've started telling them "Your dog is rude. Take him away."

My biggest problem is while running in the city. I like to run in the poor parts of town. The more run down and "scary" the better. Most of the dogs in that area are chained if they are aggressive, and the ones who roam have learned their socialization skills and leave us alone. It's the pampered pets of the rich part of town that cause the real problems. They chase us into the street, some playful and some snarling. Often the owners don't even notice, and never do they have control over the dogs. If the dog chasing is aggressive, I've often found myself darting through heavy traffic to get away. I'd hate to be the reason a dog gets hit by a car, but I would hate watching myself or my dogs get attacked more.

redhorse said...

I have the same trouble walking down our country road. It doesn't help that too many people have totally untrained dogs. I used to not have so much trouble when my large, protective Aussie was still alive. Now I have a smallish elderly dog and I've had to train a Mastiff cross and pit bull to not run at me full tilt, and a (unneutered) pit bull lab cross, who I had to threaten with a big stick a couple of times before he decided he would stop running at my dog and I, growling, hackles raised and seemingly with the intention of ripping something to shreds. I keep meaning to get some mace. A jogger was killed by a pair of Mastiff's not far from me this year.

jenj said...

This is why I never allow my dog off leash, and never EVER go to dog parks.

It's not the other dogs. It's their owners.

Fyyahchild said...

I loved my last dog. She was an aussie or border collie and German Shepard mix. Smartest dog I have ever owned....atheletic, brave and protective. She was also a rescue and not well socalized as a puppy. I have a feeling she sat in somoeone's back yard or on a chain alone for her entire first year. We did tons of work with her to socialize her and she was very obedient. There are few things I would never trust her with:

1. Kids alone
2. Other animals/dogs alone
3. Dog Parks

Even when you know your dog and their limitations there will always be a risk that someone else just doesn't get it. I was always too worried about any litagation that would have put my dog in harm's way.

Stacey said...

People are so crazy. I am glad both you and Brockle are okay.

The woe of dog parks and moronic owners is written across dog blogs far and wide. If you haven't run across the lovely, snarky bitches at thedogsnobs.com, you should check them out sometime. I don't agree with everything they have to say, but they've got their heads on straight and are not afraid to laugh at themselves and other people.

Good luck with the new practice spaces.

SprinklerBandit said...

Ugh. Yes.

I have one dog (a really scary looking beagle) who was attacked at a dog park as a puppy and is now fear aggressive. He only goes out on a leash with me and I HATEHATEHATE the "DWHF" crowd.

Hullo. Mine isn't. Go away.

The corgi is a well socialized little bastard and the two of us work to keep other dogs from approaching the third, but I am not above yelling at/kicking a strange dog in front of it's stupid owner.

Nope. I'm not on your property and I am well within my right to defend myself.

Valerie said...

I took my dog walking one day on a leash only trail. She had fear aggression issues (had them when I got her, they had gotten better but where never fully fixed) but I could walk her past another dog without her losing it. I had a lady come past me with a very friendly dog and ask if they could "meet" I said "No my dog doesn't do well with other dogs" She immediately glared at me and said that "Well if she's not friendly with other dogs you shouldn't have her out where she might meet up with one" and promptly left.

My jaw was on the ground... seriously? She was on a leash, was under control but no I don't let her play with other dogs she doesn't know as her play can quickly turn if she feels that I am threatened or herself is threatened.... duh

Muppet said...

Dog parks. Just the term gives me chills.

Jessica Adams said...

Blech. I HATE "DWHF" people!! I have a 95 lb. pittie mix who is the absolute sweetest with people, and... not so much... with dogs. We are constantly working on it, but I don't trust him off leash, especially with other male (unneutered) dogs. He himself is neutered, but he is really protective of me and has not learned how to back down from a challenge.

So I was in the park one day, not a dog park but other people bring their dogs there, some off leash. We were playing frisbee on the long line, and this huge mutt mix just starts running up from over 200 feet away. I reel my guy in, constantly saying "Hey! Get your dog! Bad Dog! NO!" and blocking him from my dog who is now barking. Male dog, laser eyes on my dog, hackles up, tail and ears stiff and high. CLASSIC escalating possible aggression signs. Asshole owner says "don't worry, he's a great dog, won't hurt you!" while STROLLING up to me. Doesn't call his dog when I obviously don't want him near me, doesn't even come up to grab him. He's still 100ft away at this point, his dog is all up in my business. I said.. "my dog WILL hurt him! Can you call him??" "Oh... well... ok. Here dog"- which obviously doesn't work. so he strolls on over to me, grabs his collar and walks away. Let's the dog go about 20 ft away, and he RUNS to my dog and they start to go at it. Then the asshole has the audacity to give ME a dirty look! And tell me to get control of MY dog. I seriously almost lost my crap on him. I did tell him MY dog was the one on the leash, and we packed up and left. I don't need the bad publicity, because my pittie would be blamed. People are stupid.

Anonymous said...

I remain a believer in dog parks, but it took me years to develop a set of guidelines that I follow (or will follow, I'm dogless at the moment) to keep the experience positive for my dogs. I nearly lost one of my dogs as part of the learning process.

It can be a hell of a challenge to make dog park visits work. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right time, or the right place in the park. It's always about vigilance, knowing your dog well, and being able to read other dogs well. Add in the ability to leave without having the last word. The last was the hardest for me to develop.

The benefits are play and socialization for my dogs with a changing set of playmates, plus opportunities to reinforce that they come to me when there's trouble. It took a lot of work to get there, but instead of me having to call or physically draw them away from potential trouble, both my dogs would run to me if another dog got too snarky around them.

Doing that in the dog park and keeping it going as a regular practice made it that much easier to handle 'other people's dogs' problems outside the dog park.

All of that's assuming you and your dog, as a team, can handle the dog park. As many of us know from experience, there are people who take their dogs to the park who just don't get that.

Snipe said...

DWHFs can be frightening even if you don't have a dog with you. My husband and I had a run-in with such a dog when we were skateboarding at a church near our apartment. The property had a large grass field where dog owners would bring their dogs to run around and play fetch. The church was fine with both activities. We were out there one day and a dog owner allowed her dogs to run off leash as she began to walk off the property. We were walking, not skating, but we had our boards with us. The dogs zeroed in on us and began to charge. The woman kept frantically yelling, "Don't worry, he's friendly!" while my husband and I fended off the dogs with our boards. I was using mine as a shield while he had his raised back, ready to strike. The owner came up, maintaining how friendly her dogs were, and leashed and led them away. I don't believe people for one second when they say DWHF. I get ready to defend myself.

lytha said...

The version of DWHF that I hate the most is the one I hear the most, "Don't worry, he won't do anything." And this is while the dog is approaching, circling, and sometimes feinting, even air-nipping at my horse. "That's not NOTHING," I've learned to say, but mostly I say, "My horse is/I am afraid of dogs." If they grab their dog and leash it, I say Danke. If they don't, I stand between the dog and my horse, which will one day perhaps end badly for me.

Anonymous said...

Same anon here who posted in favor of dog parks.

What Snipe and Lytha said - As a dog owner who had two awesome dogs in the last 16 years, dogs that I could take almost anywhere, I hate the DWHF crowd.

They do so much to set back the cause of treating dogs as companions to go places with us instead of pets for the back yard. Their disrespect of other people's feelings about dogs, what seems like willful ignorance that not everyone loves dogs, clueless disregard of leash laws, assumption that because their dog likes people it likes other dogs. It adds up to them being almost as bad for the image of dogs in public as the people who let their dogs run loose, or who like to keep (and brag about) dogs that are dangerous.

Anonymous said...

I live in a neighborhood of "dog whisperers" who love to have their dogs off leash in their unfenced front yards. I have been bitten by an attacking DWHF dog and my own when I tried to keep the attacking dog off mine. It makes me CRAZY. I am seriously considering getting a cattle prod to poke the DWHF dogs w/.

paintarab said...

1254I have given up on dog parks. My dog is such a wuss She thinks she is a big bad tough dog, but when another dog looks funny at her she changes her mind. I had to spend the whole time at the dog part pulling her out of people's laps because she was trying to get away from every dog there (most who just wanted to sniff her butt).

paintarab said...

1254I have given up on dog parks. My dog is such a wuss She thinks she is a big bad tough dog, but when another dog looks funny at her she changes her mind. I had to spend the whole time at the dog part pulling her out of people's laps because she was trying to get away from every dog there (most who just wanted to sniff her butt).

2 Punk Dogs said...

The last time I heard DWHF I said "yeah, mine are kind of A-holes". New neighbors had 2 large plot hounds off leash & collarless that came out of their yard and across the street to get up in Maggie's face. I explained that they don't like other dogs getting too close & Maggie has put other dogs on the ground, to which the guy said "that's how they'll learn." I wish I had said "learn what, how to get bit?"
Duke just wanted to head for home, but turned, bulldozed & bit the younger hound when it got too close to me & Maggie. The hound yipped & headed for its yard while the owners grabbed the other one; luckily no one was hurt.
The funny thing was my other neighbor yelling "PUT YOUR DOG ON A LEASH!" across the neighborhood at the other dog owners. Love my neighbors. :)

2 Punk Dogs said...
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2 Punk Dogs said...
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MichelleL said...

Yeah dog parks suck.

My first experience with this was when this woman brought a pack of Afghan dogs to the 2 acre park and let them go. The 5 dogs proceeded to terrorize the entire park and hunted the other dogs. The woman squawked and flapped her arms. The dogs ignored her. I took my dog and left.

The entire mindset of the DPN is one of entitlement. The rules don't apply to them or their dogs.

Becky said...

We have a local off-leash park.

I don't have to worry about Artemis - she has no desire to play with other dogs. I just take her to the creek portion and let her go swimming after balls - it works for us.

The other day I wanted to see what Sudo would do with water. I considered going to the river, where I'm technically not allowed, but decided to do the right thing.

I pulled up to the off-leash park area, but even though I'd chosen the quietest time of day someone had two yellow labs running around. One sweet, one was.... young. And a bit of a bully in that forcefully clueless way some labs can have.

I sat in my car as Bully bolted towards my car - head high, tail waving frantically in a high arc, nearly perpendicular to his back.

Artemis stared at the ball his owner threw for the older, sweet lab, silently wishing for the ability to melt through walls so she could be the one to fetch it.

Sudo stared hard at Bully through the window, barking a couple of times in that "Hey, a stranger's here, owner, you should be wary" way that shepherds tend to do. I watched her, trying to gauge what she felt. I haven't introduced her to anyone but Artemis yet.

Bully's owner glanced up, noticed Bully leaping and circling my car with his too-bright eyes, high head and tail wagging high in the air.....

And she waved and returned to throwing the ball to her other dogs.

Sudo tracked Bully with her eyes, and let out a soft "go away" growl.

Bully circled my car two or three more times, then settled for circling at the back of my car, waiting for me to get out and open the hatch so he could pounce on my dogs the moment they hopped out of his car. What a "friendly" dog.

His owner continued to ignore him.

I turned my car back on and put my car into reverse and started backing out, not even bothering to pay attention to where Bully was. If he was stupid enough to get run over at 3 mph, it was probably for the best.

His owner jumped up and started frantically calling for him as soon as I started I backing up. Apparently she wasn't totally blind.

Sudo, Artemis and I went to run at the high school football field instead.

I agree. What is it with dog park people?

Shadow Rider said...

Lytha, when that happens to me and my horses, I give the owner a chance to do something about it, but if they don't my horse and I start playing 'stomp the dog.' We have never actually stepped on one, but owners always grab their dog quick when I start and my horses don't fear dogs now.

As for dog parks, I never do them. I have Irish Wolfhounds, and their size is a magnet for aggressive behavior from other dogs. But I also don't go because of health reasons. I don't want my dogs picking up some nasty virus or parasite.

mugwump said...

Shadow Rider - I'm right there with you. Horses love to play "Stomp the Dog."

Unknown said...

I have a love/hate relationship with my local dog park - I love it when I go at my regular time on a week day, however at other times of the day when I have gone there I've been the mad cow yelling at someone to "call your bloody dogs in" while mine comes flying back to me for protection. At our normal time there is a good bunch of people and dogs. Although I did have words with someone recently that gave my dog a treat because he lined up with her dog when she got it to sit. He's a 50kg Rhodesian Ridgeback and he is NOT allowed to mug/pester for treats, and that is what she was training him to do. I got called mean for not rewarding other peoples dogs for just sitting in front of me.
We've done a lot of work with him, he's sometimes inclined to forget his huge, and think he's a pup (he's 14 months old, so huge in body, a bit immature in mind). so that's when he's back at heel (and sometimes on leash) if we see another dog at the beach or off leash tracks.

Anonymous said...

not only dog parks, but anywhere people are walking their dogs on the long, retractable leashes. These people usually feel no need to shorten their leashes or move there dogs away, even when asked. Used to own a very unfriendly Blue Heeler who had excelent manners as long as other dogs kept their distance. I could warn, beg and plead with other owners to keep their dogs back and they would just look at us. Even toy sized dogs, which our dog could have killed with one shake. People now a days have no sense or respect for others!

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