Just had an AWESOME time at the park!
They opened a fenced dog park over a year ago just down the road, but we’ve been hesitant to take our dog (Fudge) because since puppy preschool (7 years ago) he’s only ever really met 2 other dogs and that’s my sister’s dog who stayed with us once (and Fudge spent the whole time looking depressed because the little dog was bullying him), and my BIL/SIL’s dog who I think he’s met twice, many many years ago…. and he’s sniffed a couple of dogs on the street, but he’s generally pulling at the lead to get to them, and he barks at every dog that goes past the house. I don’t think he’s aggressive, just really excited to see another dog…. and when he’s excited he’s all jumpy and I’m sure it looks like he’s aggressive.
Added to that, the one time we let him off the lead at a park when he was younger, we had trouble getting him back….. while we’ve tried to teach him commands …. he’ll really only obey if he wants to…. and if he’s distracted by something, like freedom…. there’s no chance… not even with tasty treats as bribery.
So we weren’t sure if he’d shame us by barking and chasing the other dogs (in excitement, not aggression) and if we’d ever be able to catch him to put him back on the lead… So we’d desperately wanted to give him the opportunity to socialise with other dogs, but we assumed it would end badly.
But he was PERFECT! When we got there I put 2 leads together to make one long one so he could walk a bit but not get away, he was a bit nervous and stayed around us just sniffing, then a dog came over and they calmly sniffed each other and Fudge then went back to smelling all the exciting smells the grass apparently has…. so we walked around a bit and he seemed perfectly calm and uninterested with the other dogs, so we decided to risk letting him off the lead…. Well he just calmly sniffed around a few metres from us…. no taking off! So we did a lap of the area and he pretty much ignored all the dogs, then we went to sit down and he wouldn’t leave our side, so we walked around with him. (or I did – MiniObsi and MrObsi went off bike riding.)
He had some other dogs come up and sniff him, and he sniffed back, all nice and calm, then they wandered off and he got the courage to join them. We still had to walk around or stand near the action or he would just come to be with us, but he had a whale of a time, hanging out with the other dogs, going up to all the people for pats (good thing we bathed him first!)
There was one dog who decided it wanted a bit of rough housing, but while Fudge was the one barking, he was playing the submissive role and letting the other dog jump on and nip him, so while the other dog’s owner was apologising and worried I’d think his dog was aggressive, I pointed out that it’s just play and if the dogs considered it more than that, we’d know…. (though since I was sitting down and Fudge wouldn’t leave me, I ended up having 2 dogs playing about almost on my lap lol)
So he was great. So that’s given us confidence to be able to take him again! I kinda wish we’d given him the benefit of the doubt and taken him before now…. but now we know, we’ll be able to take him more often. He was doing the doggy equivalent of grinning the whole time 🙂