Good dog at the park for, oh, 10 minutes

Ellie B and Eenie meet.

Ellie B and Eenie meet.

My terrific daughter Elisabeth set up the play date by text.

She wanted her wonderful significant George Three’s pooch, Eenie, to meet Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle at Good Dog Park, the fenced-in roaming space with the optimistic title in Onondaga Lake Park.

Tell her she has to be good because it’s in the name, said my daughter, who knows our dog well.

My dear wife Karen and I agreed despite knowing Ellie B’s Dog Park pedigree from bringing her there as a pup.

George Three, Eenie "Any" and Elisabeth.

George Three, Eenie “Any” and Elisabeth.

We wanted to meet Eenie, too. Hey, the 3-year-old goes by the nickname Any, Ellisabeth says. Cool beans.

Our dogs met in the parking lot with no incident, then sniffed their leashed ways into the major pen. There were a handful of other mutts already congregated. The owners stood in a circle.

Ellie B investigates the small dog pen.

Ellie B investigates the small dog pen.

I got Ellie B off and running for some exercise, and she was good by herself. She took a big drink from the communal bowl, and barked at a small dog who was the only visitor to the less expansive pen set up for that set next door.

Still good dogs.

Still good dogs.

Eenie showed us how she can run over the balance beam. Very impressive!

Then Ellie B decided to trot over to circle of strange dogs. She sniffed. She barked. Woofed. They reacted. There was growling. The other owners said they were all just playing. I knew better and began worrying and planning my intervention. Our dog mounted a bigger Husky. Yes, our spayed female. The Husky pinned Ellie B to the ground. More growls and squealing and dog hustle-bustle until I could chase Ellie B to the water area and get her leash on.

We had, oh, 10 incident-free minutes.

Karen and I apologized to the other dog owners.

Taking advantage of the whole park.

Taking advantage of the whole park.

The four of us walked Ellie B and Eenie around the rest of the park for about a half-hour. We watered the dogs from a hose at Syracuse University’s Rowing Boat House.

Ellie B and Eenie’s play dates will have to be walks by themselves from now on.

Do you think my worrisome hovering over my dog cues her behavior in a group? Would you still bring your dog to the dog park with previous behavior such as this? Do you bring your dog on play dates, and if so, how does it go?

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24 thoughts on “Good dog at the park for, oh, 10 minutes

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a dog Mark – and she was a lab – very friendly but not much of a guard dog (she’d lick you to death if you survived tripping over her.) Ellie had history before you owned her and that could easily color her reaction to other dogs.As long as she is friendly to you and your family, then,for me,that is fine.

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  2. i don’t know much about dog behaviors, but i think if you see it’s hard for e to be with a group, maybe just the one on ones or small gatherings are best for now?

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  3. Our Great Dane before Mikey was very territorial – I don’t know why – so I was always scared to have him near any dogs of any kind. He especially had a great dislike of white fluffy dogs, and one day I was walking him and a person was walking a white fluffy dog, who was not on a leash, and the dog starts happily trotting towards us. Nunu takes off after this dog (all 180 pounds of him), and I couldn’t stop him he was going so fast, he ended up dragging my on my stomach down the street, until the owner of the white fluffy dog realized his dog was in imminent danger and picked the dog up. So since then, even with Mikey and Maxie, who are pretty friendly, I am so nervous when we are near dogs even though they have never been aggressive..

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  4. The mounting is a dominant behavior. Usually the other dog will growl and let the culprit know they don’t like/want it. In my experience, the dogs get crabby but don’t fight in that situation. But as Paul says, Ellie B has a history.

    Duncan doesn’t like the local dog parks at all. He always seems lost and doesn’t play with anybody else. But there is a real park where we take him every day. While not strictly allowed, everybody’s dog is off-leash. Duncan can run and chase squirrels and play with his many friends. He is not at all aggressive.

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  5. Puppy Cody has been making friends with other, older dogs on our daily walks, but all dogs are leashed. Dog parks scare me. Too many people around here are irresponsible pet owners, and I can just picture poor Cody being attacked by a bigger, more aggressive dog. As far as I can tell, Cody’s not a fighter – until she gets cornered, and then she gives as good as she gets. Not a scenario I want to get involved in.

    As for Ellie B – she was a good dog. She was showing the other dogs that she is Alpha and perfectly capable of protecting her humans, just in case they had doubts.

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  6. Aw, yeah. Our dogs have a past. Sadie was always dominated by a Rottie in her other home, so she’s passive and loves to play. The problem may be that Ellie B wasn’t socialized enough, that you’re stressed, or those particular dogs weren’t a good fit for her. I recommend scheduling some playdates with like-minded dog owners. Just because she was aggressive in this instance doesn’t mean she always will be, and it doesn’t even mean she instigated it.

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    • She was at Doggie Day Care for a whole year, twice a week, and socialized with other dogs, Joey. Then we noticed she was being put in the “isolated pen” a lot. (They had doggie cam online.) And she came home one day with a bite on her nose from a small dog. Now she growls at that small breed every time. I think she has a big past in many ways!
      But she loves most other dogs for 10 minutes, then gets going too much.

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  7. As a dog park devotee, I would appreciate your paying close attention to your dog and removing her when she gets too aggressive. Too many people take off the dog’s leash and then go sit on a bench looking at their phone rather than watch their dog – that’s how fights break out. Also, too many people really don’t *know* their dog and they miss the tell-tale signs that the situation is getting out of control.

    My Sabu is an Alpha Female. It took several years before I finally figured out why she had all these bizarre things she did when around other dogs. Now that I know, I can assess in a few seconds if any dogs in the park are going to be a problem and we leave before she can start a riot.

    It’s all about knowing your dog and their limits and leaving while things are going well – dogs are really into positive reinforcement 🙂

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  8. I have never been a fan of dog parks, and the dog we have now (a black mouth cur) is not always very friendly with other dogs – there were times when my husband would walk him in the neighborhood & I would go for the exercise & the dog acted so crazy that I would walk way ahead of them SMH . . .
    Part of his problem is though he isn’t really the alpha & doesn’t particularly act like an alpha – there’s not a submissive bone in his body and THAT causes issues – plus he has a lot of nervous issues. The dog we had before him, a newfie retriever mix was an excellent dog & ignored most others unless they approached him in an aggressive manner, which only happened once or twice in his 13 years, but he was pretty big and when he did lash out, the other dogs would back off – good thing since one time it was about 5 loose dogs in the neighborhood in the dark. After that my husband started taking some “back-up” with him. Caesar, The Dog Whisperer, would say they pick up on our nervous energy, and maybe so, but . . .
    I do think very early socialization can be key, but alas our dog came to us close to 6 months old (the vet’s guess), so he has only had a couple of doggie friends & those 2 have been my daughter’s dogs (a malti-poo, and a very laid back pit bull). Dog parks stress me out . . . so you are braver than I, my friend!

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    • I think it best that we not bring out dogs to situations that make us nervous, Sadie, because they read us. Caesar at least has that right, I guess. Have a good summer with your black mouth cur, my dear friend. ❤

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