Friday, August 17, 2012

Dog Park

I've been very nervous about taking my dogs to any dog park. Bell is great on her own but she's had a few times when dogs have gone for her for no reason. I think this has contributed to her overall fear of other dogs (unless they are smaller than which case they are toys) and her general nervous behavior in unfamiliar situations.

She was my first choice to take to the new dog park in Enfield. I knew she at least wouldn't start a fight and I was hoping she would actually enjoy meeting other dogs. The first visit wasn't really great. She stayed near me or any other human she could find. Most of the dogs were fine with her; a sniff here a sniff there and they were on their way. The one exception was a small-ish black dog (forgot his name now) who seemed to sense that Bell was timid and made it his business to bother her at every chance he got. His owner was not really on the ball about dog behavior (no surprise there) and did nothing to stop him when he snapped at Bell's face and kept grabbing at her ears and feet. I was happy to see that Bell snapped back at him and gave him a curled lip when he came too near her but this was defeating the whole purpose of bringing her to the dog park. I wasn't there to watch my dog be intimidated. I found myself taking charge of the situation...because his owner wasn't.

I gave treats for good behavior to both dogs (and others that were just moochers) and the little black dog got my loud manly voice telling him NO and NO BITE when he tried grabbing Bell. I even resorted to grabbing him by the collar and telling him no. She did nothing. He decided he had to listen to me. Wise choice little dude.

On visits since then we haven't come across that dog again. I can't say I miss him. I've also added Nicki to the mix and even brought the two of them together. Nick is a trouble maker sometimes and Bell will join in if Nicki starts something so I have to keep a close watch. Bell is very good and likes running with other dogs. Nicki likes them if they are her size and seems to want to rough up some of the ones that are a little smaller than her. I guess that make Nicki a bully! But I don't allow it even if the other owners don't mind it. I jump to correct Nick as soon as she starts something...even if it's just barking at a dog. I know barking is probably just smack talk for dogs but I also know Nick will escalate it if not stopped. Somewhere along the way she decided it's ok to irritate other dogs and I don't know where she got that but I'm not having it. Luckily for me she stops immediately when reprimanded...and I do the same thing with her that I did with the snappy little black dog. I grab her collar; shake her neck and tell her NO! But she does get treats when she's being a good girl too. I don't want it all to be a negative experience.

Nick flat out refuses to share the water bowl with other dogs. I don't push that...I let her have her way on that one. I can't say I'd like to share a glass of water with people I don't know either. She will share with Bell and only Bell. That's good enough for me because I happen to know she won't share her food even with Bell at home. Bell gets a warning growl if she tries sticking her nose in Nick's dish. I don't blame her there either. :)