Friday a client at work had questions about taking his dog to the dog park. I first asked if his dog was other dog friendly and he told me he wasn't sure because the dog met his friend's bossy Pomeranian and his dog [a cattle dog mix] proceeded to try to grab the small dog.
This is WHY I do not like dog parks! There are too many variables! Here's a guy, who has seen his dog be aggressive towards another dog, but he still wants to try the dog park. I advised that I am not a huge dog park fan, that his dog might do better with larger dogs. I told him he could give the dog park a go, but that I think it would be better to go to a dog daycare and have his dog's temperament evaluated in a controlled environment. The thing is, dogs can still get into it at daycare but they are being supervised by dog people who know what they are doing [if it's a good daycare hehe]. At least at daycare the dog's temperaments have been evaluated and they can try to match dogs appropriately.
At the dog park you have no control over what comes in the gate. The dog parks around here are not monitored by anyone in particular. Almost every time I have been to the dog park it has not been a good experience. The first time I ever went was with my dog LiLo - she was my first puppy, I took her to the dog park where a medium sized shepherd went into prey mode. LiLo was screaming and rolling and peeing between my legs and the dog was trying to get her. The owner asked ME to grab HER dog! I was like 'huh?' Another experience was when I had Seth at the park, there was no one there. I called my friend with her Pit Bull and said that no one was there - the boys could play and we could leave if anyone came. My friend came out, probably 10-15mins later someone shows up with a boxer. These people have him on leash and they go on to tell my friend and I that the dog has attacked several other dogs and they are working with a trainer so they brought him out to test his progress.
Yeah, they were bringing a known dog aggressive dog to the dog park.
After the boxer experience I decided this was all not a good idea. Having Seppel now, I would never even consider taking him to the dog park. The issue is mostly that even if Seppel were a dog friendly dog he's powerful enough to kill another dog and if he and another dog got into a scuffel - caused by the other dog, I could end up in a lot of trouble even though my dog is just protecting himself. It's just not worth it.
As it is, Seppel is not super dog friendly. I believe Seppel gets along with Seth and LiLo so well because Seth and LiLo are pretty easy going dogs. LiLo can be a little grumpy sometimes but it's mostly noise and Seth is just a doofus. Seth and Seppel are a lot alike in personality, Seppel is just the more intense version of Seth. I have noticed that Seppel appears to get along better with female dogs. I watch my boss's older Golden - she and Seppel have had words a time or two, but for the most part they just ignore each other and can coexist just fine. I do a lot of house sitting and I did bring him with me to watch a female bulldog. The bulldog can be kind of bossy but she and Seppel got along really well playing chase out in the yard, they were fine in the house together because for the most part they ignored each other. Seppel also gets along well with my friend's Pit Bull Karmann. They like to play, when we first introduced them he would bark at her and jump around, I wasn't sure if it was friendly or not, but after a few days of him acting this way it looked more like a play behavior, they met and they get along. I did try introducing him to a lab puppy and he immediately wanted to put his mouth on the dog. I also tried introducing him to my friend's lab mix, she was really pushy and he reacted appropriately by growling but didn't immediately get nasty. Honestly, I'm just glad he and Seth and LiLo can get along. He doesn't need to have tons of friends.
This past weekend walking out of a pet store, the pet store owner had a GIANT American Bulldog - with his nuts. The dog ignored his owner and came up to Seppel, I kept myself between the dogs pushing Sepp towards my truck - Sepp was just starting to get a little riled up because this dog was posturing and being a jerk, when the owner smacked his dog and said 'sorry'. It was a tense situation, I'm sure Sepp could read the energy I was giving off, I was very tense and worried because this dog is giant and it would suck if they got into it, the dog was HUGE and all I could picture was having to try to break them apart.
This is my favorite Suzanne Clothier article, it talks about dog interactions and is a really good read:
He just wants to say "hi!"
The thing that I think is so weird is that people expect their dogs to
love every dog they meet. As people we don't like everyone that we meet,
why should our dogs??