Oct 14, 2009

Training Lucie: Session #1

Lucie is a natural! She was brilliant in her first lesson.

Addie also was showing off her skills this evening at the dog park. I am very pleased with her progress around lots of dogs and people.


Dog Parks

Before we started working with our trainer Matt, we had only been to a public dog park once. I'll be honest, the horror stories have made me fearful of them. I love giving Addie and Lucie the chance to stretch their legs and play in such a large area. Addie is the one that really enjoys it and sprints all over. Lucie simply prances around visiting.

It is safe to say that almost on a weekly basis we have experienced a dog fight and in the last two fights people were bitten (one being this evening).  Tonight there were just too many dogs at the park. It is the first day that the sun has come out and the rain has stopped in a while so everyone was out. Our dogs have never been involved in any of the fights. When we see them happening we immediately call Addie and Lucie to us.

The fight that stands out most in my mind happened a few weeks ago. A lady was headed to the gate to leave the park with her large sporting dog on its leash (I don't remember the breed). Another large dog simply walked up to her dog and started circling them. The lady got scared, started screaming and pulling her dog close to her. The attacking dog started lunging in their direction. A bystander stepped in and removed the dog from the park placing him in the gated area to leave so he would be confined. The lady released her dog and fell flat on the ground clutching her chest. We noticed that no one was going over to help her that was near her so we headed over, but by the time we got there a few people had gathered. The lady had been bitten by the attacking dog. A dog park regular starts yelling at the lady on the ground, "You never scream like that in a dog park!" Some choice words were exchanged and the lady left with her dog. Where was the owner of the attacking dog? Good question. The owner showed up after her dog had been removed from the park. She was on the other end of the park not paying attention to what her dog was doing.

I don't believe that I will ever be comfortable at the dog park. Either someone is not paying attention to their dog or their dog starts fights and they don't remove the dog from the park for the day. I wonder if this many fights is normal at a dog park. For our blogging friends that frequent dog parks, do you experience a lot of dog fights? 

20 Treats:

Scottie the 'Cutie' said...

Wow, your training lessons are going very well, Lucie & Addie! Looking at your photos made Mom miss my training lessons too...I really hope she'll get well soon and take me for lessons coz I'm feeling bored! =P

I haven't been to a real dog park before, coz we don't have them here in Malaysia...=( But I guess there will always be some owners who fail to look after their dogs who are off leash (even here in Malaysia). Which is why Mom never lets me off leash in case I went missing. She will only let me go off leash in controlled conditions (eg: confined areas where she can see me or training school) just to be safe. =)


Tabatha and Echo said...

I have only gone to the dog park a couple of times here because its pretty much the same story. There is always someone who is not being responsible for their dog. I have gotten to where I try to time it when I know there is hardly anyone there. Unfortuanatly I dont think it will ever improve. Its sad to say but these parks almost need a lifeguard type person to babysit and make sure everyone is being safe and responsible.

Emma Rose said...

We live out in the country so we don't have a dog park close by. However, we would probably not go to one anyway because of the same reasons you wrote about. We are very fortunate to have a lot of room to run without leaving home.

Emma Rose

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

In the year plus our park has been open, I've only been there twice -

I went the other week and had a blast (and blogged about it) - that day I found the humans to be well khontrolled - but we did go at an off time (not weekend) -

Mom was khwite diligent about always keeping an eye on me and my travels - I think she khovered almost as much of the 6+ akhres as I did - she was pretty pooped when we got home too!


Amber and Nala said...

Glad the girls are doing well in training! :) Bummer about the dog park....that is horrible about the lady being bitten. I don't understand why people don't watch their dogs more closely?? As for us, we have only been to a couple of dog parks when traveling and most times there weren't too many dogs. All the dogs we did meet were always very nice and the owners seemed to watch them well. Is there another dog park in your area you could try?

Nala & Amber

happypitbull said...

I am not a big fan of dog parks myself, but Star is a very social dog and really seems happiest when she's around other dogs.

I try to go at off times when I know there won't be many other dogs (i.e. during the weekday, not evenings or weekends). That makes it much easier to pinpoint troublemakers right away. And if I see any situation that's not safe (i.e. owner not paying attention to his/her somewhat dominant or aggressive dog), Star and I leave right away.

We have not had any bad experiences happen to us at the dog park, probably because we live in a small town with a small dog park, but I have definitely seen some very, very stupid, oblivious owners bring unfriendly, unsocial dogs. One time, some guy brought his possessive-aggressive dogs to the park and told everyone "As long as you keep your dogs away from their water bowls, it'll be fine!" Needless to say, Star and I practiced loose-leash walking outside the dog park until that guy left!

On the other hand, I will give credit where credit is due; many of the dog owners at the park where I go are pretty alert and responsible folks, and very focused on their dogs. I like going to the park when those types of owners are there, because we all work together to watch for trouble.

Erin and her Dogs said...

Yep we stay away from dog parks unless we go really early,I just don't trust other owners to know how to read their dogs body language or to help if a fight broke out. Having stopped fighting dogs BY MYSELF I don't even want to risk that again.

Princess Eva and Brice said...

We go to the park at least 3 or 4 times a week for the last 5 years and have only seen 2 fights. We only go to really big parks- 20 acres minimum.

I broke up one that my dogs were not involved in and Doug broke up one between Tasha and another dog. Tasha was the self-designated park police and went between one dog and another that it was harassing. Some snarking broke out and even though Tasha obeyed her "out" command, the other dog went after her and Doug ended up getting bit by the other dog.

Both of our current dogs have great recalls and Brice has been taught that when I say "be polite" that he is playing too rough and needs to settle down.

Most of the people around here are very aware of their dogs and don't let them stray too far.

Maggie and Mitch said...

What a shame this had to happen at your dog park! We've never been to one before.

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Raising Addie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raising Addie said...

WOW... 20 acres of dog park... and I thought our park was big! Our park is nothing compared to that! Being in Texas you would think that we would have something "big" like that.

We will have to keep looking!

Thank you for all of your great comments!


Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

After a 2 week span with our new girl Roxie, I'm thinking I need to find an obedience trainer! I've never had a large dog puppy! WHEW!
What gangly legs and entergy! :)

Keely said...

I don't take my dog to the dog park because she had very poor recall. We took her a couple of times before realizing that, and some guy kicked her to get her away from his dogs (she was inviting them to play, she wasn't aggressive at all, but they weren't interested and growled so he booted her). We could probably go now, but it just isn't worth the headache.

Fred said...

Lucie is doing great! Meanwhile, we have only seen one fight at Fort Woof, and the owners were both very much present and on the scene. Tempers cooled immediately. Of course, we are always on the small side; I don't know if that makes a difference.
I can't believe someone would bring a dog to a dog park and then not pay any attention to what's going on! Crazy!

The OP Pack said...

We worry so much about dog fights in dog parks that we just don't go to them. We figure ours have each other to play with and we would rather be safe than sorry. That is a horrible situation you are describing and the owner of that dog should be held accountable for what happened.

We are so glad that you know the right thing to do with Addie and Lucie.

Woos, the OP Pack

Sagira said...

We go to the dog park a lot. We used to have a REALLY nice private dog park that all the money went to the local rescues groups around but b/c of so many public parks opening they didn't have enough people wanting to do it and had to shut down (still very sad about this). But I must say, some dog parks are better than others. We are willing to drive farther to go where we feel comfortable. If we are ever there and just don't feel comfortable we leave. I haven't seen any major fights just a few little tangles, but like I said we always follow our gut and if we get a bad vibe we don't stick around.

Canine Crusader said...

We love your blog. Thanks for stopping by our blog (Dog blog for five dogs). Where there are lot's of dogs there is the possibility of a fight. Dogs are like people, we don't always like someone due to first impressions. We haven't been to a dog park, but we have been to dog events supporting the Humane Society. One wrong "look" and you could have a fight. With five dogs even I watch the way they communicate. I'm a bit of a drama queen so it is hard to control my emotions, but the worst thing to do during a fight is to panic and yell. I've read a lot of stories about owners not supervising their off-leash dogs. A dog park just opened in our area, I'd like to check it out sometime. Thankfully we have a big yard and an occasional friends dog come for play dates. You guys are beautiful, all three of you. I have known a few border collies and they were all obedient and smart.

Dog By Nature said...

Good form in the training there! We stopped going to dog parks here in LA because of fights and bad owners. We've had our own visits to the vet after our dog being attacked by another dog who clearly wasn't under control. $800 later we learned our lesson. You're not unjustified in your fears.

Abbey said...

We only have one small park and we only had a problem with a young (probably 10ish) girl with an unneautered male staffy who she couldnt control.

The main problem we have is children under 5 left to wander amongst the big dogs unsupervised. The parents seem to get in a huddle talking. Its only a matter of time before the playing dogs knock one of these kids for six... Its a dog park not a childrens playground. A dane at full speed could really, unintentionally hurt a child if they ran into it...

When I researching dogparks for my site I found heaps of horror stories on Youtube...

BCxFour said...

We avoid dog parks at all costs. I have become a master at finding obscure areas where my dogs can run and exercise without running into people or other dogs. We are surrounded by lovely huge (50+acres) dog parks. When I first got my border collies I would frequent the dog parks often (twice a week) at first we didn't have any problems. Then the more popular they became the more stupid owners started coming. It turned into social time for the owners - and in turn they stopped paying attention to their dogs. I would see countless fights and other BS. When you try and say something to the owner you are verbally assaulted - like you have the problem. I blame this crap on the Cesar Milan phenomenon. People watch dog trainings shows on television then become armchair trainers - then think they know it all and act like bullies in the park. I decided to NEVER again visit a dog park after our last visit


Never again....I place too much value on my dogs well being to place it in the hands of some stupid jackass. That is essentially what you are doing when you go to a park - you are taking a chance every time (not to mention the cesspool of potential diseases your dogs are being exposed to) More often than not - it will be okay, but that one time just isn't worth it.


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