Hope everyone has been enjoying a beautiful and relaxing weekend! At least here in PA, the weather has been perfect. So perfect, in fact, that we decided to head out on a new adventure with our darling pups. We took Tonka and Gaige about 45 minutes away to Misty Pines Dog Park. We had never been there before, but were impressed by their website and wanted to check it out.
The dog park is a full service facility that includes a dog park, dock diving and pond, agility courses, training classes, boarding, and a retail store, to name a few! They are vigilant in requiring every visitor to bring updated proof of vaccines, including bordatella. Additionally, they welcome dogs that are working on socialization issues, simply requiring that they be fitted with a Gentle Lead halter that prevents biting.
We pulled in to a beautiful 25 acre wooded property, complete with safety fencing and many trails. Much of the doggie play areas are set in heavily shaded areas, allowing for fun to be had even in inclement weather. Sunday is the only day of the week that Misty Pines is open by appointment only, which allowed us to enjoy the facility with limited traffic by other visitors. We registered at the main office, and were checked in by a very friendly and helpful staff member. We then walked down to the pond area, which was complete with a covered pavilion and multi-level diving dock! Of course, Tonka was in doggie heaven! He showed off his skills, making impressive leaps and dives to catch toys off of the dock. Gaige watched in appreciation, and tried her best to copy her big brother. There were only two other dogs at the lake, and they politely kept their distance from ours.
Once the dogs had their fill of the water (or, more accurately, once we were soaked and decided we had had enough), we followed the trails to the fenced-in agility area. Although Tonka has been properly socialized from a young age, he has been twice attacked by an intact yellow lab, so he can have some fear issues with other dogs. We let Gaige watch from the sidelines, as this was her first time in an area with many other unfamiliar, unleashed dogs. Tonka entered the area confidently, and was greeted by a young yellow lab. This dog was boisterous and untrained, but harmless, and perceptive to the body language of the other dogs. They played well together. After a few minutes of introductions, we brought Gaige in, leashed. Things went well for a while, until an older woman came in with her aged shepherd mix dog. This dog was unleashed and also harmless, but a bit of an instigator. Gaige, who was still leashed, was working on an agility obstacle with Jonathan. The shepherd rushed up to her from behind, and began barking and nipping at her sides. Gaige turned away multiple times, and let out a low growl. The woman saw all of this, but never once called her dog away. Neither did the dog hear Gaige’s signals, and back off. He kept barking at her and pushing into her space. Jonathan pulled the dogs apart, looked pointedly at the owner, and went to another obstacle. The shepherd lost interest for a short period of time, and then came rushing back to bark and nip at Gaige. She growled again, and when the other dog still would not back off, she did try to bite. Although she never made contact, and calmed down as soon as the other dog backed away, we ended up taking her out of the park to cool off.
We really need some help here from our readers. What are your reactions? We need to take Gaige somewhere to improve her social skills. She has never had an issue with other dogs, and my instinct is that this dog was a bit of a bully. If someone got in my space and refused to back off when I made repeated requests, I can only imagine that I would react similarly. My new worry is that her only association with a dog park is now a negative one. I know that many responsible dog owners swear off of dog parks entirely, due to issues such as these. Do you feel that we could have done something differently? What do you suggest for socializing our dogs in the future? Do you take your own dogs to dog parks? Why, or why not?
I do NOT think that this was a situation of an ‘aggressive’ dog, or a terrible owner. Rather, I think she lacked the control over her animal, and worse, lacked the acknowledgement of this fact. Tonka listens well, and so he has the privilege to go off-leash in safe areas. Gaige, however, has a much shorter attention span, and sometimes lets her own free will over-ride her obedience. Because of that, we do not allow her off-leash in areas other than our own property. She has never displayed aggression with other dogs, but has not been exposed to a large variety of new animals. I am really anxious to hear what some of you might suggest for us.
In other news, we will unveil our foster dog on Monday! Please tune-in then 🙂 Enjoy some pictures of our pups until then. Thanks for stopping by!