What new owners and dogs in the dog park in Melbourne doIf you do anything long enough, most people become expert at some part of the process of what they are doing. The only thing about that concept, is that a person needs enough basic skills mastered, and a desire and motivation to learn and to keep learning.
Springtime in the dog park can be wonderful, but as school holidays have arrived, we meet a lot of people in the parks who while well meaning often have little idea of what to do when they get there, or how to let their dog behave.
Fortunately most dogs we have met lately who are in this position (very rarely allowed off lead anywhere besides their backyard) are not aggressive, and if anything the opposite. Overly timid.
A non social large powerful breed dog without manners or discipline becomes dangerous quickly, however most dogs we have seen lately are more aware of what is happening than their owners. Here is the most common, regular, non critical mistake that if changed will make a profound difference to the dogs ...
The anxious owner and the dog pick upToday we saw an elderly couple in the middle of the grass area of the off lead dog park. They assumed our jack russell crouching coming towards their dog was "stalking"- a negative reference I am sure. It was actually a playful play stalking, to engage their dog in play. And it was enacted by one of the most social dogs I have ever met, so I know 100% that their dog was in ZERO danger.
Their dog was anxious because it wasn't social. It hid behind them a little bit, and although our pack was more interested in getting pats off the owners, their own fear of 'what could happen', because they are not used to dog parks or understand dog language, had them give more fear feedback to their dog.
At the point that the man picked his hapless dog up in the air, generating more excitement in the social dog pack than actually defusing a situation that they imagined. All I could do was call my pack over to me to continue on our way. There will be no generous free social dog lessons given today to these people.
No doubt the owners and this dog will think they had a frightening encounter and may choose not to come back to any park again. Any experienced dog and dog owner that we have met over the last year would have smirked or shook their head knowing how much all of those involved are going to miss out on some very natural happy good dog times.
It could have been far worse, they could have convinced their dog to try and attack one of our pack, and our pack would have had to defend until they got are enough away, so it wasn't all bad.
Its just such a shame that the spring weather brings dogs and people to the park who are closed to what could be such a great ongoing experience. If only anyone had the time and a broad enough mind to learn what dog parks are all about ...
SO it is in the internet age ...