Dog Blog

Sunday, September 09, 2012


I'm done with dog parks.  There are just too many people who are ignorant of the rules that apply to everyone who enters a dog park.  The rules are clearly posted at the entrance, but no one ever bothers to read them or if they do, they seem to think the rules don't apply to them and their dogs.  Of course, if you possess any common sense and are a responsible dog owner, you don't really need rules to inform you of proper behavior.  It doesn't hurt to read them, anyway.

Yesterday at Glenbrook Dog Park, Beau was attacked by two of the dogs I just wrote about in my last Pets & Their People column, Australian cattle dogs.  Beau is the friendliest, most laid-back fellow you'd ever want to meet, and whenever he visits the park, he likes to have a good belly-up roll in the grass.  Well, he should never have exposed his belly to these dogs.  They apparently perceived that as some kind of signal to attack, and attack they did.  In an instant they were on Beau, snarling and biting.  I was beside myself.  No one had any time to react before the attack.  Beau was at a disadvantage being on his back, but he managed to get back to his feet and gave good account of himself.  I tried to keep the dogs at bay with my walking stick.  Wish I'd whacked them with it, or better yet their dumb-ass owner who did nothing while all this was going on.  He was too busy reading under a tree.  He finally came over to call off the dogs, commenting that it was Beau's behavior that had caused the problem.  Excuse me, Beaus' rolling on his back is considered a sign of aggression?  In what alternate canine universe?  

Another lady I'd been talking to earlier was there with her small Maltese.  She also was very concerned about the incident since the killer cattle dogs had also gone after her dog, which could have been truly disastrous.  She noticed some blood specks on Beau's side.  I found no wound there, but it looked like Beau's ear had been torn slightly.  Either that, or the blood was from the other dogs.  Beau may have nicked one of them in the skirmish while trying to defend himself.

Either way, I was furious and told the guy park rules dictate that he should take his aggressive dogs out of the park immediately.  Dog parks are no place for vicious dogs like his, and dog fights are not what we come to dog parks for, at least I don't.  He did not leave the park after I told him he should and did not even leash his dogs after this incident.  

If there are going to be dog parks in Sacramento, then someone should be responsible for policing them and making sure everyone, and I mean everyone, follows the posted rules and is always in full control of his/her dog(s). Keeping the dog parks in good condition with working water fountains and well maintained, foxtail-free grounds would also be beneficial. That way pets and their people are safe to enter the parks.  Until then, I'll have to find safer places to exercise my basset hounds (exercise basset hounds, an oxymoron).  Apparently, scofflaw morons like the one we encountered are mostly hanging out with their attack packs at the dog parks, forcing the rest of us to avoid them so they can have the space all to themselves.  


  • At 3:14 PM, Blogger Danielle said…

    I too have decided to stop taking my 1 year old Mini Aussie/Border Collie to the dog parks. She's been attacked twice, luckily there was no blood,but it was still a scary situation. One case the owner couldn't control his dog and had to pick mine up so we could leave! I also have watched owners completely ignore their dogs bad behavior countless times. It's an unsafe environment and I care too much for my dog.

  • At 10:36 AM, Blogger Sue said…

    Thanks for your comment, Danielle. It's a real shame we can't go there any more because Beau loved it so much, at least until this happened. I would never set foot in a dog park if it weren't for him. My other shy girl, Peaches, couldn't care less about going to the dog park. I'm sure the beating Beau took scared the life out of her.

  • At 12:58 PM, Blogger Kathy Farrales said…

    I feel the same way ... It's just sad some people act the way they do with their animals. Makes you wonder if they raise their children the same way. ; ;

  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Owen Howlett said…

    Australian Cattle Dogs are known as "heelers" because they herd by nipping as well as by barking. I don't know what exactly happened in the situation you're describing, but heelers and other herding dogs often enjoy pretty intense wrestling that looks like a vicious fight if you're not familiar with that kind of behavior. Not all dogs or breeds behave in the same ways, and I can imagine that those dogs might have pushed your dog beyond his comfort zone, and it certainly sounds as if the owner should have been paying attention instead of reading a book!

  • At 9:25 AM, Blogger carolyn schimandle said…

    Dog parks would also be helped by owners learning some basics of dog behavior, such as the common problem of an owner bringing a leashed animal into an unleashed park. (As I'm sure YOU know, but lots of people don't seem to know,many normally-mellow dogs get defensive if approached by an unleashed dog while on leash.) It's a shame when something like you experienced happens at an off-leash park, because they are such a boon for both dogs and people when everything is going smoothly.

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger carolyn schimandle said…

    Besides following dog park rules and the basic commonsense of keeping an eye on their dog at all times, I wish more people would learn some basic dog behavior to avoid similar situations, such as not bringing a leashed dog into an unleashed area. (As I'm sure you know, Sue, but others don't seem to, a normally mellow leashed dog can get aggressive if approached by unleashed dogs.) I also wish people would leave toys they don't want to share at home, instead of expecting all the other dogs to leave them alone. It's a shame when something like you experienced happens; dog parks are such a boon to both dogs and people when everything is running smoothly.

  • At 10:49 AM, Blogger Sue said…

    Thanks for your comment, Carolyn. I totally agree. If only people could follow the rules and use a little common sense, there would be fewer ugly incidents at the dog parks and the experience could be a pleasant one for everyone and their dogs. Part of the problem is that a lot of people who come to parks are first-time dog owners who don't know much about the species. Then others are just numbskulls. Perhaps it would be a good idea to require people to pass a dog ownership course before they ever acquire a dog.
    One day, I watched a man come in our park with his young Cocker Spaniel on a leash. I suspect it was the dog's inaugural visit to a dog park. The poor thing wasn't having much fun. It was going berserk, barking its head off and lunging aggressively at the leash at every dog that approached. I'm sure it was scared to death. I suggested he take the dog off the leash, which he did. The moment he did, the dog stopped barking and began to socialize on dog terms. It was like magic! He came back to Dad once for reassurance, much like a child. Soon he was playing with the other dogs.
    Why do people bring their dog to a dog park and keep it on a leash? Take leashed dogs for a walk on the street, instead. If your dog can't behave with others, take it out of the park. Just like with kids. So simple.


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