Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dog park politics

Yesterday afternoon, Montana was involved in a minor incident with another dog at the dog park. Well, I say it was minor. The other owner might not agree. I still haven't figured out what to make of the whole thing.

First, as background, there are a few pertinent facts.
  1. Over the nearly five months that Montana has been with us, she has gone from not knowing at all how to engage with other dogs to truly enjoying playtime at the dog park. Her favorite type of playing is chase, followed closely by doggy wrestling.
  2. There are some dogs that she won't play with and some dogs that she always plays with. There are also a couple dogs that always want to play with her when she doesn't want to, and some dogs that she always wants to play with when they don't want to. This is the case for most dogs at the dog park.
  3. For the most part, dogs seem pretty well able to regulate themselves at the dog park. Occasionally a skirmish or fight will break out, requiring owner involvement. But most of the time, if a dog wants to play and another dog doesn't want to, the other dog will make its feelings very clear by walking away or snarling at the other dog.
  4. The other dog involved in the incident with Montana is a 10-month-old shepherd puppy that Montana absolutely loves, and who does not love Montana. Every time this dog comes to the dog park, Montana tries to play with him, and he never wants to. This does not deter her from trying.
  5. Montana's way of playing involves running after a dog until she catches up with it, then gently pouncing or otherwise trying to engage in wrestling with the dog. She is also very verbal and barks loudly at dogs she wants to play with. She does not take shit from dogs she doesn't want to play with, and she also doesn't beat up on other dogs. If a dog she's playing with ends up on the ground, she will wait excitedly for it to get up. She has never once tried to go after a dog that was on the ground.
  6. Many other dogs play the same way as Montana. They run after each other and when they catch each other, they wrestle. The way they normally catch each other is by cutting off the angle so that the dog they're chasing can't get by.
  7. The dog in question is extremely submissive. He always crawls on his belly and rolls on his back when playing. He is also intimidated by Montana. I think her playful barking scares him. Whenever she tries to play with him, he ducks down low to the ground and slinks away.
So yesterday at the dog park, Montana caught sight of the other dog. Wanting to play with him, as always, she ran after him, full-speed. He ran away. She caught up with him, and most likely tried to cut him off, at which point they collided, hard. Montana was fine, but the other dog collapsed on the ground, yelping. This attracted the attention of all the other dogs at the dog park, who all ran over to see what was happening, which caused all their owners to run after them to pull them away.

The dog was fine, just shaken up. His owner pulled him up and he wasn't injured, limping, or anything else. Within three minutes, he was happily playing again like nothing had happened. Still, it was one of those incidents that was very noticeable. At first I didn't realize that Montana was the other dog in the collision. She had walked away like nothing had happened and was sniffing around maybe 100 feet away, totally unconcerned, which is always what happens when there's an incident at the dog park--she never gets involved.

Once I figured out that it was Montana who collided with the other dog, I went to the owner and apologized, and petted the dog and made sure he was OK, which he clearly was. And I thought that would be the end of it, except that the owner was clearly pissed about it. He didn't scream or pitch a fit or anything, but when I apologized, he said in an annoyed voice, "She always does that to him." When I asked what he meant, he said that Montana was always trying to dominate his dog, harassing him and trying to cut him off when he ran so she could knock him over.

I didn't quite know what to say. In that moment, I saw the way he must perceive us: Montana as the out-of-control, aggressive dog and me as the passive owner who thinks it's all in good fun when really it isn't at all. There are dogs like that at the dog park, and owners. But I have been thinking about this since it happened, and I absolutely do not think Montana qualifies. The dogs that I see as aggressive are the ones that bite, and snarl without provocation, and go after dogs that are already down, and instigate fights. The useless owners are the ones who don't watch their dogs at all and who ignore situations where their dog is clearly being aggressive toward another dog.

And that's not Montana, and it's not me. She is never aggressive toward other dogs, ever. She never tries to dominate. And this wasn't an act of aggression--it was an accidental collision.

Still, I could see how the owner perceived it, and I could sort of see where he was coming from. Montana does always try to play with his dog, and his dog never engages back. Now that a collision has occurred, the owner looks back at those other times with more annoyance and frustration than he did before.

The thing is, his dog never regulated the situation. Yes, he's submissive, but Montana never attacked him, never tried to hurt him, never really even bothered him. All she ever did was run after him and try to play with him, and dogs do that with other dogs all the time. And most of the time, if a dog doesn't want to play with another dog, and the other dog is being persistent about it, the first dog will set limits by snarling or something. This dog never did that.

And the owner never talked to me, never said, hey, I know your dog is just playing but could you call her off? So I had no idea that he thought this behavior was a problem, and in fact I don't think he did think it was a problem until this collision happened, and then he looked back at it and decided that it had been a problem.

Anyway, he was angry about it, and since I could sort of understand it, even though I felt like he was overreacting, I didn't want to stand there making a bunch of justifications about it. I did say that I really thought she was just trying to play and was definitely not trying to dominate his dog. He did concede on that point, but he said it didn't matter because the point is, my dog harasses his dog and that's what led to this whole thing.

So, I told him that in the future, when my dog tries to play with his, I'll call her off. And he said OK, but he was clearly still pissed about it.

And actually, I'm a little bit pissed about it too. I thought about it long and hard, after going to the gym to clear my head, and if the situation were reversed, there's no way I would have reacted like that. In fact, Montana was once trampled by a pair of labs chasing after a tennis ball, and when the owner apologized, I said, quite honestly, that it wasn't a big deal and that you have to expect that these sorts of things will happen at the dog park. And I still believe that.

If you can't deal with the occasional accidental collision between your dog and another one, when all the other one wants to do is play, you probably shouldn't be bringing your dog to the dog park. It's one thing if a dog displays aggression, but that's not what this was, not at all. Montana is always under control at the dog park, she plays very well with pretty much every other dog there, and she is a big favorite of most of the other owners.

To me, it seems like an unfortunate incident where luckily, nobody was hurt, the dogs have most likely already forgotten about it, and it generally wasn't a big deal. Now that it's happened, I'll pay more attention to Montana's interactions with this dog, but I still don't think that she has ever really crossed a line with him. But I guess what I'm trying to figure out is, am I seeing this all wrong? Was this guy justified in being so pissed off?


  1. I think you're in the right.

    I have a dog who doesn't like other dogs or dog parks, due in large part to not really knowing how to regulate her interactions with other dogs. Our solution is easy: we never go to dog parks. I mean, she hates them! Why would we ever go? even if she were a puppy and we were trying to socialize her, I don't think a dog park is the best place to do that (although it's obvious that I don't know how to socialize my dog, so...)

    But it doesn't seem right for someone to get mad at you just because his dog is miserable--if his dog is miserable, maybe he shouldn't bring it to the dog park.

    And this is from someone who regularly gets cranky on behalf of her own poorly socialized dog (I have very little patience for people who let their dogs run around off leash--that's what dog parks are for, people! My dog doesn't like to play! That's why she's on a leash and we're not at a dog park!)

  2. Fast forward yourself a few years into the future with the KID PARK. LOL!

    There are just some folks.... Well, I'll just say that I think you did the right thing. And now you know to avoid this dog/owner in the future!

  3. That's a tough one. I would maybe feel the guy out next time and see if he still seems mad. Hearing his dog yelp and thinking it was possibly injured may have frightened him and he overreacted.

    Dog parks are supposed to be fun. There will be minor tiffs and collisions; that's just how it goes.

    It's a fine line. Shorty is a small dog, but he LOVES to play with other dogs. He'll usually be submissive because he's almost always the smallest one there, but he gets rolled a LOT and pushed into fence corners and some of the bigger dogs get so rough with him because they don't know their own strength. Sometimes it's hard to watch because I feel it can't be that much fun for him when he doesn't get a chance to run around without being smacked by another dog, you know? (Shorty doesn't mind, though. It's just me worrying.)

    It could be the guy feels the same way about Montana and didn't know how to approach you about it, and now he's mad for not speaking up before.

  4. Sadly some people think they're dogs (and children too!) can do no wrong but see the problem in everyone else.

    To me this dog owner is the passive one. You can't expect to bring your skittish dog to a dog park which is designed for dogs to PLAY in and then get mad at dogs for trying to play with your dog! And that's all Montana was trying to do.

    People like that infuriate me to pieces.

  5. My two Shepherds yelp at each other all the time when they are playing too rough- and then the other one backs off. It seems to me that what happened is exactly what was supposed to happen - his dog said, "Hey, I don't like this, get away from me," and your dog walked away.

    Shepherds play rough. Seriously - I take my dogs to a GSD only play group (that was started b/c the Golden Retriever owners at the big dog play group had a minor heart attack every time one of the Shepherds got near their dogs. It sounds like Montana was playing at herding. It's not misbehaving, it's just what she's wired to do (she's a Shepherd mix, right?).

    I do think that short of condoning aggression, there's a point where you have to let dogs be dogs. They're working things out that we don't fully understand. I'm guessing Montana learned something from that incident and might not do the same thing again.

  6. This is something that I've been thinking about for a long time... "Their perception is their reality".

    I don't know if it is worth it to consider who is "right" in this situation or any other. Because in any situation people think what they think and they feel what they feel.

    Now that you know how the other owner feels, I think what you did the right thing (offer to call off Montana from this point forward). Afterall, you can't change anything if you don't know how the other owner feels... but once you do know, it's best to accommodate if possible.

  7. I think it's impressive that you've been so thoughtful about seeing it from his point of view. And we all do what he's done, sometimes- decide that someone, or something, or some dog, is like "x", and then only seeing the "x" behavior from then on. I think the best you can do is keep your word that you'll call Montana off his dog, and not worry too much more about him. Annoying, yes, and he's almost certainly overreacting, but there's little you can do about it. The more you engage with him the more you'll probably validate his feelings that it's your dog that's the problem, you know?

  8. Sunny plays the way Montana does with some dogs, and I have learned that while I know she means well, it would NOT feel that way if I were the other dog. Or, the other dog's owner, I mean.

    Domination is more than typical aggression -- in doggie, uh, style, our girls ARE being domineering to the other dogs by trying to chase them down, and some dogs hate it. Sadly, I learned that some dog owners see it as Sunny trying to (please, commence laughing at any time) "kick [their dog's] ass."

    My old downstairs neighbors were like this, and worse, their goddamn shih-tzu was a free-ranging dog -- no leash, no lead, just ALWAYS outside. Ergo, I couldn't walk Sunny in the freakin' yard without having a confrontation.

    I've learned to just call her off in certain situations. It makes everyone feel better.

  9. I think I'm more like you in that I recognize that these are things that happen in the dog park. Your dog wasn't acting maliciously, and accidents are going to happen. We don't take our dog to the dog park because I'm a big wuss, but like CAQuincy said, it's much like taking a kid to the park. Stuff happens. Kids get bumped, there are occasional tears and we move on.

    Unfortunately, with both the dog and the kid, my husband is much like the other dog owner - quick to blame and anger in situations like that. I try to temper that with realistic expectations, and point out that more often than not it's OUR dog or kid doing the accidental pushing, chasing, whatever, but I think it's more of a personality thing.

  10. UGH. Dog parks are 99% great fun most of the time and then there's that little 1% that always gets in the way!

    We finally had to stop bringing Chief to the dog park about 6 months ago. We weren't ready to get him fixed and he started humping other dogs, and I just didn't think it was right to have a humper who isn't neutered yet at the dog park. Even if it was male on male humping!

    You are obviously a responsible dog owner, with tons of insight. And admirable for apologizing, because I'm not sure I would have for such a tiny incidence!

    I think this was more about the owner's emotions and feelings. At this point the only thing you can do is what you told him, just try (and boy that's hard when dogs want to play!) to keep them apart.


  11. Just think of it as practice for PLAYGROUND PARENTS. Those folks are WINNERS.

  12. Wow. Having never been to a dog park, these doggy politics are pretty surprising.

    Like you said, call your dog away from his dog. Obviously his dog is stuck up if he won't play with Montana anyway. :-)

  13. Sorry, I disagree with many of the posters here. If your dog is consistently chasing down other dogs, that IS aggression. If they hit hard enough for the other dog to potentially get hurt, there was aggression involved. I would not appreciate a dog like that in a dog park. However, I should state that I firmly believe a dog park is not the place to learn "doggie manners." If your (in the general sense) dog is unpredictable and doesn't speak "dog", then having it off leash in a large dog park is a really bad idea.

  14. I take my two dogs to the dog park every Sunday, and over the past few years of people watching at the dog park (my favorite pastime), I have identified 3 distinct types of dog park owners.

    1. The type that takes their dog to the dog park expecting that their dog will not interact with any other dogs and that no other dogs will interact with their dog. This type of person is very defensive about any type of interaction at all and NEVER allows their dog to play with other dogs - often, they walk their dogs around the park on a leash or hover around their dogs like a dark cloud. These people are unfriendly and unlikely to pick up after their dogs.

    2. The people who take their dogs to the dog park so that their dogs can be dogs with other dogs for a while (this is the best type of owner). These people are like you - they understand the way dogs behave, understand what is playing and what is not, remove their dogs from bad situations quickly, and allow their dogs to play and have fun. These people are also the most likely to have friendly, fun dogs and are likely to pick up their dog's poo.

    3. The people who take their dogs to the park so that they can smoke and talk to their friends at the park. These people are regulars - they are there every time you go to the park, no matter what time of day or day of the week. These people's dogs are generally prima-donnas, bark at (and sometimes bite) people and other dogs, and are generally a$$holes. These owners never clean up after their dogs, ever... not to mention the litter of cigarette butts surrounding their regular bench.

    I think you are in the right here! That guy sounds like either a type 1 or a type 3 of the dog park - probably a type 1. :) Ignore him, keep Montana away from his precious baby, and go about your business. No dogs got hurt, there wasn't a fight, and nobody's teeth came out. Shepherds are notorious fear biters anyway.

  15. I guess I agree with you in that I can sort of see where they might be upset, but you were apologetic and it sounds pretty obvious that Montana was trying to play, so still being angry over it seems like an overreaction. I find it annoying when a person stays mad even though the instance is over and done with, and you've already tried to apologize. What did he want you to do? Sacrificially whip Montana for the viewing pleasure of all?

    I don't think you are in the wrong at all, and I can see where you would be annoyed.

    (I also wanted to thank you for your comments! They were comforting and honest, which is refreshing :))

  16. It sounds to me like both the dog and the owner are very passive. The dog expected Montana to get the message that he didn't want to play with her and the owner expected you to get the message that your dog was being aggressive and call her off without him saying anything. Then, this incident brought it all to a head and the man was madder than he should have been because he's been mad for a long time and hasn't said anything. I think they have some unrealistic expectations of the dog park. The dogs are going to play, it's not going to be his dog playing and all the other dogs leaving him alone. If that's what he wants, he needs a yard, not a dog park.

  17. I mean, it's the dog park - that's what happens! The dogs chase each other, tussle, knock each other down, snarl, and wrestle around. I've had my dog get BITTEN at the dog park and have gotten less apology than you gave (although granted I was really pissed off by that). If you can't handle your dog being knocked down, you REALLY shouldn't be at the dog park because that's just how puppies play. IMHO.
    The only dogs I have a problem with are ones that are unfixed and aggressive. If Montana had knocked down the puppy and then gone after him when he was on the ground, then that wouldn't be so cool. But knocking down a dog when she's just playing? That's what happens at the dog park.

  18. I agree with what everyone else says... it's a dog park- things happen and if you're that uptight you should probably not be there.

    I know I'd be angry at that person too... it's one of those things that you just have to keep Montana away from his precious little puppy and not give him another thought.

  19. My dogs have each other to play with (and play exactly how you described Montana playing) so we don't really need to take them to the dog park but we used to. They can seem a little aggressive at times but that is how they normally act together so why would they act differently around other dogs?

    Until Hubby had a little situation, similar to yours and got chastised by some lady because she thought our dogs were to rough with her prissy dog we enjoyed it. Sadly, he just decided to never take them back.

    Pretty sure that is what dog parks are for, so dogs can play with other dogs and since they are DOGS not humans, their interaction is much different than ours. If you don't want other dogs playing with other dogs, you shouldn't go to a dog park...

  20. It's a dog PARK. Dogs are like kids. They like to PLAY. I think that guy needs to lighten up and take the stick out of his ass.

  21. I don't understand the other dog owner's deal, and I don't like his use of "always." I also think that chasing and running is what dog parks are FOR. If he wants his dog kept away from other dogs, and if his dog doesn't like to interact with other dogs, it seems like there are a lot of other places he could take his dog where they could be alone.

  22. I could have written this exact same post about taking my 3 year old son to the park.

    I agree with you though, sounds like he's overreacting and maybe needs to socialize his dog a little better, maybe with less dogs, or dogs he's familiar with, before bringing his dog to the dog park.

  23. I totally agree with Sheila. This is definitely a "perception = reality" situation. I do think THEORETICALLY you're in the right, but it doesn't matter b/c the guy is seeing everything colored through the experience of seeing his dog being, in his mind, attacked.
    I think all you can do is make nice and try to keep Montana away from his dog.

  24. As a fellow dog owner, I can *see* all this playing out in your dog park. And I absolutely believe your description of Montana and her intended playfulness.

    However, not all dogs or dog owners are created equal. And just because this other owner doesn't appreciate that Montana is super playful and also doesn't appreciate that he has the wimpiest dog on earth doesn't mean he's not justified in being upset that his dog had such a collision.

    SoMi is much like Montana in terms of physical (but harmless) playfulness. Last weekend, she was rammed HARD by another dog at the dog beach. I mean, really HARD, to the point I thought there might be internal damage. My heart dropped and I was definitely shaken up for a few minutes. Had another dog owner approached me in those moments, I might have said some not-very-well-thought things ... as a reaction to how I was feeling at the moment. Maybe that's why the words that came out of the owner's mouth were more hurtful than they deserved to be.

    I say cut the guy some slack. Don't worry about what you can't control. And just keep an eye on Montana as she playfully engages with all the other cool dogs at the park. =)

  25. I think the owner of the other dog is being a Mama Bear with his dog, which he's justified in doing I guess. Maybe he's worried that Montana's exuberance may lead to his dog being actually injured one day...though we know that it would never be Montana's intention, it could happen inadvertently.

    I think your game plan concerning his dog and Montana is a good one from now on — I'd steer clear of them.

  26. This thing is tough.

    I think you did a good job of knowing your dog's temperament and keeping an eye on her. I don't think playing is aggression. Aggression is snarling and biting and pinning a dog down.

    But, things happen, you know? We don't always know what is going on in those fool heads of theirs.

    Also, dogs operate in hierarchical packs; they will - and have to - determine the pecking order. This isn't aggression - it is just figuring things out. It just sucks if your dog is the low dog on the totem pole. It is hard not to feel like they are getting picked on!

    I think the owner may have just been a bit flustered because his pup yelped and there was so much attention drawn to it. I would approach him when you see him again and let him know that you will call Montana off. Or maybe offer to introduce the two dogs while they are both on leashes? Then they can at least "know" each other. And still call her off.

    Our dogs get along with 99% of other dogs, but because of that 1% we don't go to the dog park unless we are the only ones there. Otherwise, they are always on leashes. It is as much for their own safety as anything.

    What a bummer, Jess.

  27. P.S. I am really glad you went over and talked to him and checked on the pup. This shows you are a responsible pet parent!

  28. If it was just an accidental collision and Montana wasn't demonstrating any aggression then you are completely in the right. Dogs run and are not always graceful about it.

    In the future I guess just call Montana when she's approaching the puppy, but otherwise, I wouldn't change anything about the behavior. Frankly, if the owner's going to be oversensitive, he shouldn't be at the dog park.

  29. I think people tend to forget that, despite the fact that they're members of our families, and sometimes feel like our children, THEY'RE DOGS. In the wild, establishing the pecking order is WHAT THEY DO. They play rough, they bark, they dominate. All dogs, no matter how well trained, have those instincts. It's when we put our human perspectives on their behavior that guys like that get their boxer briefs all in a wad! :)

    That being said, of course there are bad dogs because of bad owners. But those are the people who leave their dogs chained in the back yard all day.

    P.S. We do need to get our doggies together to play - they sound like kindred spirits!

  30. I don't think he was justified at all in being pissed off. Dogs play rough, and they don't get hurt bs feelings like humans do. Sounds to me like the owner is a wimp and has subsequently turned his dog into one too.

    I'd say just keep her well away from the pair of them. Does the dog itself actually play with any other dogs? Does it interact with other dogs? Going to a dog park you'd expect things like this to happen, and if you don't want them to because you're a dumbass, then don't go to the dog park. Simple.

    Gah. I would've been so pissed lol.

  31. Oh and ya know, some dogs really put on the "i'm-so-hurt" act when they're really fine. I bet the yelping was just because he got a surprise, and the owner took it as a hurt sound.

  32. I would have to agree that consistently chasing down a dog or dogs that don't want to play is a bit aggressive.

    In your eyes, Montana has come a long ways in learning how to play and she doesn't mean to be aggressive. But looking through other dude's eyes, Montana is constantly chasing his dog, who is still pretty young, and is being aggressive.

    That said, I do not think you were in the wrong. He should be watching and monitoring the situation as much as you. And dogs do generally regulate themselves at the dog park.

    I would from this point forward avoid him and his dog, who actually doesn't seem like a very good dog park dog. And he isn't a very good dog park person. And just call Montana off when she sees that dog. Or leave the park, which sometimes may be the easier option.

  33. I think when you own a younger dog, especially a puppy that's not even a year old, you are more protective. I was like that with my dog when he wasn't fully grown. The guy probably chilled out by now, but hearing your dog yelp is the worst sound on the planet (when you don't have children
    ...once you have kids, I assume hearing your kid scream on the playground will make your heart stop).

    So, the guy might be a little too uptight about it and I probably would have been not openly as pissed, but at least now you know and can call her off and show him that she totally minds you :)

    Cut him some slack. The first time a big dog stepped on Duke and he let out a yelp, I thought he had broken a leg. My heart plummed and my knees went to jello and were like that even minutes later and I was FURIOUS. Totally wasn't the other dogs fault, the owners fault, my dogs fault, my fault. My dog had to learn to haul ass when it gets too busy...but still, I was really scared for the sound and shook up ;)

    the other day a big dog jumped on Lani. There was no way of knowing what the dog was up to and I knew the dog wasnt always friendly. My reaction was (and I quote) standing next to his (dense and stupid, really, the guy should NEVER let his dog off leash cause his dog is trouble), I said to him "Get your FUCKING dog off my dog NOW. Why the fuck is she not on a leash." then he wanted to punish her and I yelled at him again "Don't HURT her, it's not HER fault. You need to keep her leashed."

    Hehehehe. He now runs away when he sees me.

    And by the way, i do think a dog park is a great way to socialize a dog, unless the dog is aggressive. :) That's how I did my dogs, always.
    This puppy is probably still learning how to socialize and is submissive. He or she might or might not become more assertive, but keeping them out of a dog park is not smart.
    Montana is clearly totally non aggressive and chill and just wanted to play. They are dogs, she doesn't know how strong she is and wham, they collide. Shit happens. dude just got freaked by the yelp and his dog being a bit whoozy for a bit.

  34. I think you handled it fine. I guess I don't get what the big deal is, really. They're dogs and dogs will run into each other and sometimes they might irritate each other, but the dog probably forgot about the incident 1 minute after it happened.

    I could see him being mad if she was truly being aggressive and wasn't controlled, but that doesn't sound like case to me.

  35. oh man, i have NO IDEA. i don't have dogs or kids or go to parks. i think i agree with the general consensus, though - montana wasn't being aggressive, just an accident, but the other owner was probably (justifiably) scared by it and overreacted in the moment. i wouldn't bother trying to talk to him again, though, in case he is just an asshole.. i'd just do exactly like you said, and call montana off his dog.

  36. Sounds like someone was having a crappy day and decided to make you a handy target for his frustration. If he never said anything before, and for pete sake his dog won't even hint at Montana to back off, I say it's no big deal - like you said.

    My juvenile side suggests you tell him that if he pulled the stick out of his ass, maybe his dog wouldn't be playing alone. :)

  37. Well I think you handled it admirably. And its probably best to keep away from the man and his dog since he seems to have issues.
    Keep having fun Montana!

  38. Oh good Lord, people are so uptight at the dog park sometimes. From what you described, it doesn't sound like Montana did aything wrong. We have a lot of people that annoy me at the dog park we go to. There's always this one group of women who get so annoyed if a dog walks near them and drools or something. They don't want to get dirty and they don't want their dogs to get dirty. Umm, hello? You're at the dog park. It is pretty likely that your dog and yourself will get dirty. Get over it or don't come.

    Our one dog also likes to "dig" in all the water buckets. He's not the only one and it's pretty funny to watch him. Well some people get so mad bc it makes the water dirty. I'm not going to replace the water the first time he does it, bc he's going to keep doing it. But if we're there for a long time I always replace it halfway through and again before we leave. the ones that complain, coincidentally, are always the ones who NEVER seem to go get fresh water.

  39. Agree with the cut the guy some slack comments. Dogs usually sort out their chain of command themselves with regards to play, but when there is a collision and one dog is yelping, you really don't know what's wrong. Could it be nothing? Something? Head injury? You see and hear a collision and a dog yelping (whether it's scared, hurt, etc) and your heart just drops. He was probably freaked. You don't have an agressive dog and he probably doesn't have a "wimpy" dog. Dogs learn how to deal with each other. But a collision IS scary for all involved, and emotions do run high when an animal appears to be in pain.

    - Mon

  40. I think you handled the situation really well. I don't think the guy was completely justified in snapping at you but I would cut him a bit of slack. He doesn't have the right to speak to you like an ass but he does have the right to feel protective of his pup.

  41. People are way too protective of their dogs. You were definitely in the right. Dogs are dogs- as an owner you can't control which dogs your dog wants to play with. Tell the owner that their dog needs to grow some balls! :-)

  42. My limited experience at the dog park leads me to believe there are two types of owners - those who belive dogs will work things out themselves and those that are overprotective of their pooches.

    My two dogs play hard and what you described has happened plenty of times. Yet they snuggle up with each other and freak out if the other is away; the love eachother.

  43. I don't know much about dogs, but I was going to say what you said - if he doesn't want this to happen, he shouldn't bring his dog to the dog park. I would just assume those things happen there!

  44. I loved reading this post because it sounds just like a regular park. Only with kids. And some ignorant parents. :)

  45. I have a 1 year old shepherd I've had this same experience far too many times at a local dog park near Philadelphia. I'm now looking for a new dog park because it seems like every other time we go there we run into owners who feel their dogs are precious flowers that shant be touched or chased by my big scary shepherd.
    Today she was chasing a husky and the dog changed direction and my shepherd ran into. The dog whimpered and the owner and I both went to check on her dog. It was clearly fine, but the woman asked for my name and number, as if my dog running into hers at a dog park is something for which I'm liable. It was the last straw.
    My girl loves to chase and wrestle and she didn't do anything wrong, but those owners always seem to outweigh those of us that understand how dogs play and the difference between rough-housing and dangerous aggression. My shepherd has never bitten another dog or person and it sucks that she's too often not welcome at her favorite place in the world.