September 13, 2009

Over-protective at the dog park

We were at our local dog park today with Brandan and Lola. As with most dog parks, there are signs that say you must remove the dog's leash before entering the park. There is always one person who is too 'afraid' to cut the cord and take the leash off. Today there were two.

The first person was a man with a male Rottweiler. He had slowly made it to the middle of the 5-acre park still on leash. The dog was visibly getting more and more frustrated at every step. Multiple dogs had run up on him and were trying to play but as soon as he would attempt to play back he would hit the end of the leash which probably felt much like receiving a leash correction. I watched for about 5 minutes (maybe not even that long) to see what this man's intentions were. I then approached him and kindly encouraged him to remove the leash to lessen the dog's frustration. He did, although not happily and the dog went off to play with all the other dogs without incident. His reason for keeping the dog on leash was it was their first time and he wanted to acclimate the dog to the park.

The second person was a girl with a mixed breed puppy probably about 5-6 months old. As I worked my way over to her I observed the puppy growling and snapping at the dogs surrounding him. I mentioned to the girl that he probably won't have that same "aggressive" reaction if she took his leash off and he can move about freely. She said "he is very dominant with other dogs". So I said there are plenty of stable adult dogs here that will put him in his place if he is too rough with them. As soon as she released the leash off he went running along side three other dogs and I never heard another growl from the little guy.

It just amazes me how very few of us humans prevent dogs from acting like dogs and doing what they would do naturally if we didn't intervene at every turn. Below is a video clip of my mom's dog, Maggie playing with Brandan and Tyson. She is a perfect example of someone who simply can't let dogs be dogs. Throughout this short clip you can hear her instructing the dogs to 'be careful' and 'not too rough'. I am the one laughing and saying 'they're just playing'. At the end you will see her break up the fun because she's afraid someone will get hurt. Maggie lets out these sharp yelps and at the time she thought she was hurt, however now she realizes it is just her way of showing how excited she is.

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I train dogs using positive reinforcement training to modify unwanted behaviors.  I step outside the traditional training box and use therapeutic-grade essential oils to assist in my behavior modification regime when it comes to dogs plagued with fear and anxiety as well as aggression.  My philosophy is to heal the dog's mind, body and spirit, not just to rid the dog of unacceptable behaviors.  I specialize in shelter dog rehab, reactive rover, and fearful fidos.