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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Unsociable Dog Park Walker

I'm not labeling others, I'm labeling myself here. We ran the kids down to our local dog park this evening after dinner thinking that we would miss the "afternoon crowd" since it was evening and a thundershower was moving on in. Our timing was not so fortunate but it seems my general air of trying to stay away from certain people seems to be paying off.

By this, I mean that several people who tend to annoy me seem to have kept their distance. Mind you, I don't hold my peace regarding these people any better than I do other things. I've shared my views of them and their dogs in ways that if not able to be absorbed by them there and then, in ways that have gotten through to them.

You see, I have very unpopular views it seems regarding dog parks. Maybe it's easier for me to describe what dog parks are not in my world view.

  1. They are not places to take your insane dog to run lawless and amok.
  2. They are not places to do training, they are places to reinforce your training.
  3. They are not places to socialize aggressive or fearful dogs.
  4. They are not someplace for you to come let your dog run and crap while you sit in your car smoking, eating, or talking on the phone.
  5. They are not a replacement for your backyard where you don't clean up after them.

In the long and short of it I feel a dog park is a place you can bring your trained, socialized dog to be off leash in a controlled manner to socialize with other dogs and be monitored by other like minded dog owners. Is this a reality? Ha ha ha No. My thoughts are not the general thoughts of other dog park users. For what appears to be their thoughts regarding appropriate dog park usage please review my above listed points for what I believe them not to be.

I have put a lot of work into my dogs. So much so that as we walked the back area tonight and my pack of four scared up a rabbit I was able to call them off and have them disregard the poor panicked thing that no matter what way it tried to run ran into another dog. And yes, I am proud of the time and work I've put into these dogs. I'm proud that I can trust them off leash to interact with other people, dogs and wildlife in positive ways that keep us all out of harm. And as unrealistic as this is, I do think if you are going to take your dogs to a leash-less, unfenced area not far from two busy roads and a fairly major intersection, you should put the same work into your dogs. Not just for other peoples sakes, but for your dogs and it's safety's sake.

I know, I know, this is crazy talk. Actually, bat shite crazy. And because I realize this, I tend to walk my dogs away from others. There are the few that I will walk with because even as we chat, like me they are watching the dogs for any aggression, fixation, limping or any other difference they feel needs to be noticed and addressed, but by and large I tend to walk away from everyone else. I keep my dogs in line, often still in a heel and monitor their behavior. I don't allow them to chase other dogs unless they are actually playing. I don't let them just run up to other people and dogs assuming that they are dog friendly (you would be amazed how many un-dogfriendly people and dogs are at a dog park), and I demand the good behavior I expect from them at all times despite the chasing, swimming, running and goofing off I allow them to do.

In the end, I guess I feel a dog park is just like a play ground. If allowed, there will be bully's, hell I have a pack of 3-5 dogs anytime I go down there and know they will "pack up" and bully if I allow it. There will also be the fearful dogs that run that cause other dogs to chase, there may be the fearful dogs that bite that cause fights, there will always be those that think carrying around large amounts of dog treats is a great idea and do not notice the tension they often put into a group of "stranger" dogs with no set pecking order. And there will always, always be the people that think bad behavior is cute and that a dog park is a place for them to do such bad behavior or simply can't see their own dogs poor behavior because they are their furred children.

So for now, I will continue walking my kids off on our own, and when possible, not at the dog park at all. Let us hope I do not feel the need to tell any other walkers that they're "F'n Morons". Hey, it only happened once and I do regret it, more so I regret not being able to end my tirade when they did send me over the edge, because he really was an F'n Moron and I have luckily not had to interact with that person again, but there were lessons to be learned on both sides of that issue and I hope that I learned mine. If you see us out, feel free to wave and come on over, just be prepared, we aren't running wild, we're still walking cool, controlled and under command whether we're leashed or not.

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