Saturday, April 11, 2009

Doggie friends

Last weekend Tetsu and I discovered another dog run that isn't too far from us so I tried it out with Choco yesterday.

I don't think I understand what a dog run is all about. This one was privately owned and the very nice man in charge has cut timber from his land and put in water and gates and leash holders and sun umbrellas. When we arrived Choco and I were the only ones there and after taking her off her leash she ran around about 5 minutes. (Another dollar a minute run!) Then she sat down next to me and panted.

"Run! You silly dog! Run!"

Choco doesn't seem to know what to do with her freedom. I threw balls for her but she doesn't know what to do with a ball either...

Pretty soon a young man came with his three miniature Poodles. But he went into the section for smaller dogs and Choco just looked at the Poodles through the fence. Oh well, I got out my book and read awhile and Choco sat under my chair.

A little bit later a lady came with her medium size Shiba dog. She came into Choco's area so I put Choco back on her leash and we went over and introduced ourselves. (Good dog manners.) The two dogs sniffed at each other and then we all walked around the pen together. Good, good. It looks like the dogs will get along so we both let our dogs off the leashes. The Shiba gave a half hearted jog and Choco went chasing after her. That startled the Shiba and she ran a little faster and Choco started chasing. The other lady and I stood there nervously thinking "Is this a game? If Choco catches the Shiba is this going to develop into a fight? " I tried to catch Choco but she's much too fast and the other lady was getting worried about her dog and finally scooped it up in her arms. Choco comes barreling in and jumps up scaring the poor lady and the Shiba. The lady quickly took her dog to the small dog pen apologizing that her dog wasn't used to other dogs. Mine neither. I'm apologizing too. In the other pen, all the Poodles and the Shiba did about the same thing and the Shiba cowered at her owner's side.

The Shiba leaves and in a few minutes a Papillon came in, the owner taking one look at Choco and making a u-turn for the Poodles. The Poodles were happy to have another friend and they gathered around barking and the Papillon owner couldn't even put her dog down. The Poodle owner gathered his dogs in a corner allowing the Papillon to be put on the grass but the Poodles rushed over again and started a new chase game. Choco and I decided to go home just as the Papillon owner was getting hysterical that the Poodles were attacking her Papillon.

Was this a successful dog run day? I don't know. The purpose was to give Choco some freedom (which she didn't really take advantage of) and to get her used to other dogs and people. Except for the Poodle owner, I think the rest of us were way too nervous about our dogs. It reminded me of nannies around their precious charges, fawning over them, talking baby talk, making excuses for their behavior etc. And the dogs? They reminded me of children who play solitary computer games all day and when pushed into a group of children don't know HOW to play. None of those dogs (except for the poodles) even knew what the word "PLAY" meant. And we owners were too nervous to let the dogs be dogs...

In some ways, Choco has come a long way. I mean when she first joined our household I wouldn't let ANYONE near her because she would attack. I used to worry that she'd bite people who reached out to pet her. She's gotten better about people but she still hates any dogs that walk by her yard. So the encounter with the Shiba was good for Choco just because it never developed into a fight...

Any dog owners with opinions? Should Choco be visiting dog runs and meeting other dogs and owners or is it just better for everyones' peace of mind to try not to make "doggie" friends?

She sure looks bored though just sitting at home.


Allie said...

Oh gosh that bottom pic of Choco cracked me UP! I'd never do a dog run personally - my Weimeraner is way too big to control, although she's a licker of people and terrified of other dogs, lol. Truly, I think Choco's daily walks with you are enough.

Diane said...

I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't know. Have you heard of the man they call the "Dog Whisperer"? His name is Ceasar Malan I think. He has several books and a show on television. I am not sure if you could find one of his books in a library or not.

Yvette said...

I have had dogs all my life and have had them for work companions as well. We currently have two "rescued" dogs at home. We do not take them to dog parks because they are just not dog-friendly, but they LOVE each other. We know one was abused by his previous owner, but he is finally very trusting of us. We do take them for walks and they are happy and healthy and seem to get enough exercise that way. Dogs will naturally bark at other dogs, and often times people, who are walking by their property. They are natural protectors and are trying to protect their property and the other members of their "pack". Our dogs bark at other dogs and people who pass by our property. Do the people who reach out to pet your dog ask you first? They should, for their protection as well as your own and they should only pet her once you give them permission to do so and after you have properly introduced them to your dog.

The Calico Quilter said...

I would definitely try to look up a book by Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. I watch his program about dog training on TV and he is the only dog person who makes any sense to me. He doesn't bribe, or do conditioned responses. He analyzes the behavior of dogs relative to the inherent instincts of pack animals (just like the wolves the dogs developed from) and, in his words, "rehabilitates dogs and trains people". It's not like teaching a dog to do a conditioned response for a stimulus like a command or a treat, it's more like understanding why the dog does what he does from his innate characteristics and changing the situation so that he does what you want him to. I tried some of his ideas on my brother's dog, which is sweet but completely out of control, and while I'm not a dog person, could make the mutt behave better. I think his methods have merit.

andsewitis Holly said...

Oh you are brave. I'm scared of dogs even though I have one. Mine doesn't have social skills so I am always tense when she meets up with another dog. Of course she can pick up on that, too, so it doesn't help matters.

Happy Easter Tanya!

scottishlass said...

Hello Tanya, and Happy Easter to you and Tetsu.
You asked if a dog run is helping Choco and I answer with a resounding yes. How is she supposed to learn that dogs are playmates if she doesn't meet them on neutral ground? Her barking and snarling whenever dogs go by her fence is the typical sign of marking her territory. Any dog meeting would be strained in her territory, but in a dog run? She can learn how to interact and react.
We are about ten to fifteen dog owners who all have 1 - 2 (or more) rescued dogs from Southern Europe (mainly Spain and Italy as the dogs there are getting killed when they get into animal asylums). The dogs enjoy these walks at the River Rhine (our area where dogs can run around unleashed) and always run around in a pack.
Pack 1, Pack 2
A lot of these dogs have been termed problem dogs (mine inlcuded asone of them is deaf and the smaller one was afraid of dogs) but strangely enough in a pack they quickly know how to behave and they learn from each other.
My two dogs in front - the beige one is Cenour and deaf, the little red/white one is Chandini and she was afraid of dogs - meeting new dogs
So meeting other dogs, even bigger or smaller ones, will be good for Choco. She will learn that she doesn't need to be territorial and that snuffling and saying hello can be fun. Besides, a dog who can meet other dogs and run around with them or just stand and snuffel each other is most of the time much more content at home. After a two hour run at the River Rhine mine are always sooo sleepy and they dream a lot more.

Rae Ann said...

OMG I love the pic of Choco sitting on the bench, LOL. This just cracked me up. I guess Choco thinks that he is human, yes!
It's wonderful that you have such nice areas to take your pets to. Around here, we don't have any and we can't even take them for a walk in the park! Rae Ann

Laurie Ann said...

I personally have decided not to take my dogs to the dog parks we have available in our area. There are just too many unknown factors. Dogs will be dogs and you never really know how they will react with one another. If you knew the same group would always be there and the dogs got to know each other, maybe. But there would always be different dogs with different temperaments. I wouldn't want to take the chance with my dogs or others. Choco sounds like he's got a pretty good life with you. She gets nice walks with you in the morning and time in the house too. She's lucky.

Mary said...

Chesty never played with other dogs until we moved to Minneapolis and now we visit the dog park some and when we travel he stays at a kennel where they play during the day and only go to their cages at night (all with a lot of supervision).

I was nervous at first because he is small and timid but we kept taking him to the dog park and if I'm concerned about a bigger dog, I just stand nearby so I can scoop him up if I need to. Chesty tends to do more watching than playing with the other dogs but I think he likes being outside and off his leash.