First, a note- Okay, okay, I know I promised the “Dog-Fight-Pull” this article, but feel that it is important to first focus on how to recognize and handle Rough play in dog group situations. So, please forgive me; The Dog-Fight-Pull will be covered in full in the next article. Promise! Really. No need for a rolled-up newspaper!
In the previous articles, DawgHugger suggested that you check out several dog parks before deciding which one(s) are best suited to your own dog’s personality and play needs. San Jose has a variety of choices, both large and small and with each having different ‘personalities’ of their own.
> South Bay and regional Dog Parks
The following is a good way to judge which park(s) is best for your bud.
Dogs can have many different styles of play, and some of them can quite rough. Some dogs prefer chase games (chase or be chased), some prefer ‘jaw-wrestling” (biting each others’ faces, without injury), some prefer wrestling and biting (biting each others’ necks, without injury), some like to body slam. Boxers and pit bulls, for example, seem to like to rear up and slam into each other; huskies seem to like to run and slam into each other sideways; and many sighthounds like to run and chase.
Many dogs have several play styles and experienced, socially-adept dogs can modify their play style to meet their partner’s. Other dogs ( yours?) are intimidated by unfamiliar play. When you see your pal retreating, guide him away from the group and look for a more compatible playmate.
Often rough play looks like fighting, because it is play-fighting. Teeth flash, necks arch, growls are heard. Often this is “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Sometimes rough play can start out appropriately but spill over into something more intense. Sometimes even when it’s appropriate, dogs can get injured. In some ways, slightly cut ears or lips are the skinned knees of the dog park – they just happen even when everyone is playing appropriately and having fun.
The main idea here, is for you to remain alert of your dog’s behavior at all times.
Don’t get so engrossed with another dog companion that you aren’t aware your dogs mood – or the mood of the other dogs. Even rough play should have moments where both dogs pause for a moment. Sometimes they just stop and stand still, pant, turn their heads away for just a moment – before signaling play starting again (with a play bow, a raised paw, etc.) One feature to look for is whether or not all play partners seem to be having fun. Here are a few clues.
Are their bodies loose or stiff?
Are ears neutral or pinned back?
If the play is interrupted, do both dogs want to return to it, or does one of them seem to be glad it’s over?
Does one seem to be hanging back or trying to fight the other one off?
In short – what is the attitude being exhibited by all the dogs involved?
“I don’t recommend letting the dog play wildly the entire time you’re at the park.” Says Stacy of Wag-n-Train. “Just like little kids, they can go over-the-top and out of hand if you don’t ask them to take a break and tone it down.”
For a dog like yours who is well-trained to follow commands, it should be easy to get his attention and ask him to focus on you for a few quick sits, downs, etc. But -don’t keep him in a stationary, socially-unnatural position like sit or down while other dogs are coming to interact with him, no matter how impressive his stay is.It is not fair to him, and may cause him to overreact when released. Worse, it may cause other dogs to treat him differently. Just ask him to take a break long enough that he can calm down a little, maybe drink some water, and return to play in a mannerly way.
So. what to do about the dog companion who seems oblivious to the fact their dog’s rough play is upsetting your dog? In short – ask them politely to keep control of their dogs.
And if they don’t – or won’t?
The last article in this series will be about dealing with dog rough play and their bubble-head companions who don’t seem to have a clue. You’ll want to read this one!
Next : Dealing with Dog Fights in the Park.
Some good reading on dogparks, etiquette, and dangers can be found here:http://www.southloopdogpac.org/dogpac/images/Dog_Parks.pdf
Read the previous articles in this Series:
Part One: Love your well-behaved dog by being the well-behaved companion
Part Two: Love your well-behaved dog: Know your dog
Part Three :Love your well-behaved dog by preparing for your outing at the dog park.
Part Four: Love your well-behaved dog_Going to the dog park
For a Quick-Link reference guide to the entire Series, please go to: Preparing your dog (and you) for the dog park.
Woof for Now
Wrapping my arms around all things Dog
Again, a hearty tail wag to San Jose’s own Stacy’s Wag-n-Train for providing the basis for this well behaved dog series. Contact Stacy for personal and professional services for you and your dog! You’ll be glad you did.