Before I had Little Bear and became a SAHM I had been working with dogs for about five years. I worked at doggie day cares and, when I found out I was pregnant, was in the process of starting my own dog walking business (which has been put on hold, hopefully not indefinitely). I spent 90% of my time in the company of large groups of dogs. Not to mention controlling large groups of dogs. This experience, I think, makes me better inclined to understand the nuances of dog “language” and behavior than your average pet owner.
A lot of people think that the dog park and doggie day care are basically the same environment: lots of dogs running around and playing in an enclosed space. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as there’s one BIG difference between day care and a dog park. Day care is a CONTROLLED environment! Whereas the dog park is basically a free for all.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that dogs are like kids, their “parents” generally think they can do no wrong. And it’s these puppy parents that make going to the dog park an absolute nightmare for others.
I recognize that Rooney needs a spot of training and is generally as rambunctious as a bull in a china shop. He’s also a bit of an, ahem, hump magnet. Contrary to popular belief this has nothing to do with sex. It’s a dominance thing. And as evidenced by the fact that Rooney is bossed around by twelve pound Polo he is NOT a dominant creature. Which all the other dogs at the park immediately recognize and so feel the need to assert their…ummm…dominance over him. In the form of humping. Sometimes two at a time. It’s not a pretty picture. Eventually Rooney will get tired of this less than polite behavior and do something about it. He’ll generally warn whatever dog is currently expressing it’s dominance over him by turning around and snapping. Read: warn. Snapping doesn’t mean he’s going to bite. It is his way of telling another dog that he has HAD ENOUGH and they need to stop…now.
Unfortunately, because he’s a Pit Bull, uneducated owners wrongly assume that he’s going to attack their sweet, precious, wouldn’t hurt a fly Golden Retriever; even though it’s the Golden (Or whatever other dog has decided to see that Rooney knows who’s boss.) that is exhibiting the bad behavior. He’s come home with scratch marks on his belly from another dog’s dew claws and once someone even bit him on his, uh, manhood.
But the dog discrimination doesn’t stop there. We’ve had incidents of Rooney and another dog innocently playing and the other dog’s owner will begin to freak out that our dog is attacking their dog! Seriously? Do you not know the difference between play and aggression? Sure it gets a little loud and boisterous, and I’ll even give you that Rooney is very vocal when he’s playing. But don’t you think that if your dog was in any danger from my BIG SCARY PIT BULL that I would try to stop it?!? Apparently not.
Once the owner of another dog actually kicked Rooney. To say this didn’t go over well is an understatement. Don’t kick my dog. You’re going to see repercussions. Period. Would you kick my child? No? Well you just did.
After the the kicking incident there has been a ban on the dog park in our house. It’s just too much drama. Every time we go something crazy happens and we have to leave early. If only dog owners would admit that their dogs have faults, be aware of what triggers their pets, and, you know, have some control over them! Then the park would be a much happier…and safer…place for all! Until that happens we’ll be sticking to supervised play dates with dogs we know!