Socialization suggestions (Warning: dog park rant)
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    Hey guys,

    I'm sorry for the ranty wall of text, but happy Martin Luther King Jr day!

    My main question is where do you guys go/what do you do to socialize your dogs if you decide not to do the dog park anymore? My trainer has informed me of some puppy socials in the area that are conducted by a trainer, but Katsu has already hit the age limit on those. They're also only once a week things. I'll see if she knows of any for older puppies though. Unfortunately, most of our close friends don't have dogs and the ones who do... have dog-unfriendly dogs. There are a few dogs I know I can set up dog dates with, but I'm not sure that's enough.

    (Feel free to skip my rant, there's a shortened version of what happened at the bottom; there's also a couple other behavior questions near the bottom of the rant.)

    We pretty much just had a bad day at the dog park. We've been going to this park almost every day for the past two weeks and it's been good so far. There are regulars on the weekdays that Katsu gets along with. However, on the weekends, it's a vastly different group.

    It started off with a large gray dog (it was some sort of hound) that was very fixated on Katsu. It liked to play with Katsu which was fine. However, it was quite a bit taller than him and would repeatedly grab him by the side of his neck, flip him over, and then hold him down by the throat. I didn't feel comfortable with this--I'm not sure if I'm just overreacting and that's actually acceptable play. Katsu didn't seem to enjoy being held down like that, so whenever I felt it was holding on too long, I would try to get the large dog off. The owner of the dog didn't seem to care and just let him go on though. At this point, it's not a bad experience yet.

    A little later, a shiba inu comes in and just kind of chills out for a while. Barks at some dogs to try to get them to play, then just hangs around. Shortly after that, a group of 3 small dogs comes in. One of the dogs, a cocker spaniel, is deathly afraid of dogs (or just larger dogs). As soon as it was put on the floor, a large dog headed over to sniff it and it started crying loudly (sounded like it was being bit) before the dog was even near it. The owner scoops up the cocker spaniel. All the dogs at the park immediately run to the entrance because of the crying dog and crowd around him excited. Naturally, some of them start barking at it. All the while, the cocker spaniel is still crying and the owner realizes it's time to take the dog out of the park. I was watching him leave with the crowd of dogs around him.. and saw the shiba inu jump up and bite and hold on to the cocker spaniel's lower leg for a second. I don't know if the owners noticed him do this. I told Nick that what it did made me a little uncomfortable.

    After the dogs leave, the shiba's owner comes up to us because they notice Katsu looks similar but not the same as a shiba. We explain what a Shikoku is and they call their dog over to play with Katsu. The shiba starts by barking a lot at Katsu to get him to play and the owner tries to get him to stop. I'm not sure if it's because she doesn't like him barking or because it's rare for him to treat a dog that way. Regardless, japanese dogs are often rather vocal, so it seemed fine to me. They started off with pretty normal play (for in nihonken at least)--a little mouthy at each other's faces, paw each other in the chest a little. They play for a while and it's completely fine until the large gray dog comes bounding over because it hears the shiba's play barking. It starts nipping at Katsu from the other side and Katsu starts freaking out a bit because he's being nipped at from both sides in a 2:1 situation. I've noticed he doesn't do well when he's ganged up on, so I start heading over to grab him. I pick him up, but the shiba starts doing the thing it did with the cocker spaniel earlier--jumping and trying to bite him while I'm holding him. I've seen other dogs do this when I've picked up Katsu, so I immediately put him back down. I figured it's better to let him fend for himself until the other owner can also grab their dog than let him get bit while I'm holding him and he can't do anything. Maybe I should work on grabbing the other dog's collar too... I'm just always afraid of offending the other dog's owner. Anyways, the three get a ways away from me--you all know dogs can be fast while playing or doing anything. I see that they're obviously all still too worked up. While I'm walking over to get him again, his tail goes down, he haunches up a little, bares a little more teeth and turns towards whoever last nipped him (so back and forth) but doesn't bite or snap his teeth at either of them yet. The two dogs are both just focused on him. The large dog just wants to get in on the play and is barking this entire time to get some attention. The big dog's barking and Katsu's aggressive actions start agitating the shiba inu even more. It then bites Katsu harder than play biting on the side which finally got Katsu really mad and the two are about to start a fight. I get there just in time to grab Katsu by the collar and pull him 5 ish feet away before they actually go at each other, but the shiba was still worked up. I had my arm out in front of me to keep Katsu from moving further forward and the shiba came towards us and bit me on my upper arm just above my elbow really hard. This entire time, the shiba's owners made no move to come get or correct their dog. They just stood there and watched this entire thing unfold. I'm not sure if they were afraid of getting bit by their own dog or just didn't think there was a problem or what. They eventually got over to their dog after I was bit and leashed him for a bit. I walked Katsu elsewhere to let him cool down a bit and then let him go so I could check on my arm (letting him go was a mistake; he wasn't as calm as I thought). I couldn't see the area under my elbow easily, so I pulled up my jacket sleeve so Nick could check it for me. It turns out the shiba drew blood on me through my somewhat thick jacket and the area under the bite is bruised. It just looked like a scrape at first but then it started bleeding quite a bit. While we're occupied with this, Katsu apparently still had pent up aggression from what just happened and nipped a collie too hard. I didn't see it happen but the collie cried. The owner checked on it and the collie was okay though. Some other stranger that was fawning over the said collie earlier proceeded to angrily yell at me "That's the second time! You're not going to take him out of here!?" I was frustrated and just told him "Sorry, the dog earlier drew blood on me" while showing him my arm--which probably made no sense to him. It was our mistake to not keep an eye on Katsu--we grabbed him afterwards. This entire time, the shiba's owners had not come to talk to us or anything. They just stood in solitude at the center of the park. After a while, they decided it was time to go. I also decided it was time to take Katsu home because the entire experience had just made me very frustrated and I needed to clean the bite. We met them in the double gate--I had Katsu in my arms and we left first. We awkwardly didn't say anything to each other. While pulling out of the parking lot, I noticed that they let their dog back into the park to play. So it kind of feels like they didn't think anything was wrong with their dog and everyone blamed Katsu. They were only leaving because we were still there. (Not the end of the world... but still upsetting.)

    I was fuming the entire way home and greatly regret not talking to the shiba owners about what happened. It was kind of an awkward situation... I didn't want to be "that person" that tells people off at the dog park and then tells them how to raise their dog(s). (Just the day before, I saw a lady on the small dog side of the park loudly/angrily lecturing strangers about putting your dog on the right side of the park and how the hyper/more aggressive play style small dogs should be put on the big dog side.) I was probably upset enough that I would've sounded rather mean when talking to them. Looking back on it, I think it would be for their own good to recognize that their dog is sometimes reactive and they need to correct or grab him when he gets aggressive. From what I can tell by the short time the shiba was there, he's normally relaxed and just hangs out until something happens. I wanted them to understand that if I didn't grab Katsu and they didn't grab their shiba, one of them may have actually gotten hurt. I didn't want Katsu hurt and I'm sure they didn't want their dog hurt either. Maybe something like this will happen again and their dog will bite someone else if they don't grab it fast enough... and maybe that person will be way fussier than me and try to get him put down or something. I wanted to drive home that you have to be responsible for your own dog.

    With all the people seemingly pointing fingers at Katsu, I'm starting to wonder if I'm turning a blind eye to things I need to correct with him. Nick keeps reassuring me that there wasn't anything else we could've done. We did what we could except for letting him go while checking on my arm; we should've known better. Lesson learned. I know he plays on the aggressive side and some dogs take well to it while others don't; on the other hand, some dogs are even more aggressive than him when playing. We watch him closely for this reason. He's also occasionally vocal during play--but not always. I'm still working out when and what his vocalization means. I know that sometimes it's because he wants the dog to pay attention to him and play with him. Other times, I'm not quite sure--maybe the play is getting serious; it seems to be on a dog-by-dog basis. Most of the time, other dogs don't react negatively to him being vocal though. Fortunately, most of the dog owners that are there every day are also accustomed to dogs with vocal play styles. I also know that he loves chasing dogs (you know.. the prey drive and all). He's often not quite as fast as them.... but I noticed that he starts nipping at their sides or trying to bite when he gets close to them. I'm trying to correct it, but I can't exactly get to him and put him on time out right when he does that--given that they've run across the park already. At the moment, we've been yelling "Katsu no" or "Nuh uh" to get him to stop then put him on time out after, but I'm not sure if he's making the connection that the nipping/biting is bad or the running dog just happens to get away every time. I'd be glad to take suggestions on correcting this.

    Lastly, I'm wondering if other dogs are more reactive to him because he's still intact. There are other intact puppies about his age or older at the park all the time, but they don't seem to get the same reactions that he does. So maybe it's a personality thing. Maybe I'm just too focused on him and I just think he's getting more reactions than other dogs, but he's not. I've noticed that deaf dogs reallllyyy love playing with him. There's a deaf dalmation puppy and deaf pitbull that frequent the park and they both play with him as soon as they see him. Maybe it's his body language or smell.

    TL;DR: Went to dog park. Shiba inu comes in and plays with Katsu. It all starts out okay. Large dog comes over and barks at them and nips at Katsu. Katsu doesn't like being nipped at from both sides. Tail goes down, shows some teeth. I start heading over to grab him before a real fight starts. Shiba inu doesn't like how he's acting/the large dog's barking is agitating it. It also starts to show aggression (bares teeth, gets snappier, moves faster). Shiba bites Katsu on the side hard enough that Katsu gets really mad/defensive and they're about to really fight. I'm finally there just as it's starting and grab Katsu. Shiba is naturally still in aggressive mode and bites me in the arm while it's trying to get to Katsu. Draws blood through my decently thick jacket. Whole time, shiba's owners just stood there and watched. They made no move to grab or correct their dog after it showed signs of aggression.

    Given that we're at that park so often and usually have a good experience... I think I'll just try to avoid it on weekends and keep him socialized with the regulars at the park. Most of them know when to stop their dogs. But just in case the dog park stops working for us, it's still good to have other ideas of how to keep him socialized. He really, really loves other dogs. It would be a crime to not let him play with others.
  • We used to go to the dog park alot as well but we are slowly weaning off because of the incidents of people bringing in dogs in need of socializing during the heavy 'rush hour' and the dog ends up becoming a risk that Kuma decides to put down. We go in the morning or late afternoons. I'm usually pretty good about grabbing my dogs before a confrontation starts so its pretty frustrating when people won't do the same.

    Kumatora is very nice with dogs until she considers them threats or 'prey' (shes not allowed to chase dogs because she goes instantly into prey mode) and because the only dogs to withstand her are dogs 80 pounds and up or extremely rough players that leaves her mainly attached to me at the dog park. Though every once in awhile she'll find that perfect dog and they'll play for a half hour. The more empty the park is the less protective she is. This has gotten worse as she has gotten older, but shes really just largely protective. We just like to play it safe because if she were to get into a real serious fight she would most likely come out on top.

    Maybe look up at places like Thats a site where you can join groups, we are apart of a pitbull group since they specialize in socializing reactive dogs and they meet up frequently. We also sometimes walk to petsmart or petco when they are about to get done with training classes and some people are nice enough to let my dogs sniff theirs. We actually got to be examples for a dog that barks and charges at every dog walking by him and Kuma did very well and the dog got nice positive experience. If you have any regulars you meet up with planning play dates is a good thing to, see if you can find a local park in your area and what times people are usually not there and let the dogs interact either on leash or off leash. We walk to alot of places so it typically helps with checking their behavior.
  • That was a really, really, sucky experience. :(

    You will outgrow the dog park, and it's always sooner than you want it to be. He doesnt need to go every day- just as a child doesn't need to go to Chuck E Cheese everyday. While it is still enjoyable, just arrange to meet known dogs there that Katsu does well with and proactively leave when things are still good. 30 min in the dog park is plenty.

    It also sounds like this park is one where people stay still and watch the dog play. It would be healthier if people and dogs were moving together- like take a walk together. When Reilly was a youngster, we had access to a 30 acre off leash field at a college that wed go to and meet friends with their dogs and some new dogs, but we walked around it together, always in motion, occaisionally stopping but it really takes the social pressure off the dogs and allows them to to something in unison (travel, sniff, brief play) with lots of breaks and the ability to move away. Bite size pieces.

    Eventually though, this canine paradise we had began to fill with more casual people, more dogs, there were fights, it was less fun. My dog Sage - it became clear- was NOT dog park material at 8 months old- he was nervous, he wasn;t having fun, he was jumping at me to take him home, dogs were targeting him and he was telling dogs off. Owners got miffed, I got upset, I hated to say goodbye to something that used to be fun, but it had to be this way. We started by not going on weekends, then only going VERY early in the morning, then not taking Sage and only taking Rei, and then meeting a small group of friends and dogs who all got along for hikes at other places (state parks, the reservoir, conservation land, etc) a few times a week. That worked great- then we moved out of state.

    Katsu needs to know you will keep him safe from ugly situations and that he doesn;t have to take the law into his own hands. The more this repeats, the quicker he will be to decide "Ugh this again, well I better shut this jerk up!" next time he sees the beginning of worrisome situations or individuals. Don't let it repeat.

    Remember this: If the dog park isnt a safe fun experience for him, or if you feel its rolling the dice and don't know if it will or wont be a safe fun experience for him, then you aren't doing him any favors going there. OR to put it a better way- if the park is where bad stuff happens too often, dont feel bad NOT going there anymore. I felt terrible Not taking Sage to the field anymore, this is why I say this, because I think you will similarly feel bad about denying Katsu the joys of the park... and there WERE joys, to be sure, but it doesn't stay that way. Circumstances change and in end we have to appreciate that we were there during one of the 'sweet spots' :)

    NK don't tend to be dog park dogs, there is nothing wrong with Katsu. It IS common for neutered dogs who have not been socialized to intact dogs to be weirded out by them, but that's only one small piece of the story. This stuff would happen anyway- you have no control about what clueless or asshole owners are going to dump thier dog into the crucible and check themselves out. :(

    Way more important than roughhousing with other dogs is Katsu's connection with you guys, his owners. And Way more important than his ability to navigate the mosh pit of the dog world is his ability to see dogs around town and not worry, or look at you, or greet a dog nicely "Hey, How ya doing? Great, me too! See ya later!" and move on. His job is to be your buddy, not to be a dog park butterfly. and it's okay! PIcture him grown up and spend this time teaching him to be that dog, and avoid things that go against that. Sage cannot even see a strange dog while out on a leash without going into a reactive anxiety spiral and if I were to do nothing to help him, spike up into lunging and roaring. You do NOT want that. We have strategies that work for him, but it's a very high-maintenance way to live with a pet.

    Take a class, work toward his CGC award, take him on long walks with friends from the park that he likes. Teach him fetch, make a flirt pole, teach him that social dog time isn't always let's-go-crazy time, dog time can be parallel time, calm and fun, and that he can trust you to handle any situation for him. You'll be so proud of him!!
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1905
    I agree with everything @WrylyBrindle has brought up. Socialize him in other areas if the dog park isn't fun - or decrease the amount of times you are going to decrease the chances for things to go poorly. This was a really bad experience for all of you. :(

    I bring my Kishu puppy to the dog park ~2 times a week. She does fairly well, but sometimes that means leaving the dog park after 10 minutes if I get a "bad vibe" from someone there or the situation. I would rather "waste" a trip than stick around if I think there's a chance for things to go poorly.

    Work toward socializing him in other areas, as was mentioned - work toward his obedience/CGC, take him out with good dog friends or people friends.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 ||
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    Thanks for the thoughtful replies! I think we'll cut back on how often we go to the dog park and change how we handle being at the park. We generally follow him around the park to see what he's up to and stop anything before trouble brews. We don't interact with him as much as we like when there. We were working on getting him to listen to commands at the park and in the two weeks, I'd say he'd fully focus on us about 25% of the time (which is a huge upgrade from 0% for us). He's gotten better at it over the week. It sometimes depends on what treats we have on us. Anyways, I'll try and get the contact info for the dogs he does get along with and see if any of them are interested in meeting outside the dog park. I'm guessing that outgrowing the dog park may be a common experience. I've noticed that most of the dogs there are under a year old. The remainders are either untrained or very, very well trained. I think I'll take @Crispy's tactic of just leaving if I get a bad vibe. It's definitely for the better.

    @WrylyBrindle you bring up a really good point about what we want him to be and helping him get to be that dog. (You bring up a lot of good points, actually.) I hadn't thought about it that way. I was mostly thinking about just making him happy and getting him out and socialized. At the end of the day, the quality of the socialization matters the most, so we're going to be more careful with the dog park. We also just ordered a lunge whip to make a flirt pole. I can't wait to try it with him! :D He likes toys and has started liking treats outside the house, but we haven't found that one thing that consistently makes him really excited. We were having a hard time with him not being food motivated for a while, but he was suddenly more interested in treats outside a couple weeks back. I have a feeling the flirt pole might work really well with him.

    Fortunately, we found a pretty good trainer. Surprisingly, she's worked with two other shikoku before him, so has an idea of how they are. He just graduated puppy 1 last week and we're starting puppy 2 in a few days. :) Bekki's brindle JA pup, Heimdall, happens to be in the same class. I should see if they're be interested in meeting up with Katsu outside of class.

    I looked through the CGC test requirements earlier this week. It's something we're really striving towards--we're not sure if we'll get there, but we're going to try! We're mostly worried about his reaction to other dogs and walking through a crowd. He currently jumps forward on lead when there's another dog around and whines/gets very vocal if he can't greet it. He gets really excited when he sees another dog. He sometimes jumps to sniff and greet other humans too. We're working to correct both, but it's been a little tough. I'm hoping he gets better ignoring others as he gets better at loose leash walking. Open to suggestions there too if you guys have any. :P

    Also! Almost forgot about that. We tried the shiba inu meet up in our area a few weeks ago and that went pretty well. I'll see if there's other similar groups. :)
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 151
    I personally don't pick up my dogs as I think it makes things worst. Most of the time I position myself so that I can separate them (of course things haven't escalated yet, just barking and teeth baring) so far that has worked fine.

    What dog parks do you frequent? If I remember correctly you're in the Bay Area as well? I love going to fort funston because it's roomy enough for every dog to have their space. Rarely see any problems. Going there this Saturday in fact, if you want to join! Recall is a must though. ;)
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 529
    I was just gonna say @Bootz is arranging a Fort Funston day soon! :) If you are worried about recall, a long line works well.

    Dog parks are so hit or miss, and for a lot of NK owners the bad eventually outweighs the good. Especially with reactive dogs and puppies still learning how to socialize. I wish we had stopped sooner with Kouda. But definitely YES, speak up for your dog and yourself - it's better to come off as an ass than regret it after something happens. Or just leave if it's not worth it. Avoid holidays and weekends if the parks get really populated.

    Keep going to doggy classes and you will make new friends with other dog owners. Puppy dates are the best! Meetup is fine, but usually still dog park events. Also utilize the forum and meet up with other members. I've met a lot of awesome folks that way, and Kouda made friends too ;)

    I think @sukiandluna is also in the area, and the zoom room is a great place for indoor classes and as a private play room.
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    We've just been going to reed dog park since it's the closest, fenced off leash park. We've picked him up at the suggestion of our dog trainer to essentially time him out; when he does something wrong, play time is paused. Walking him away from the other dog/isolating him works just as well though. The problem is that not all owners grab/call their dogs or are even paying any attention to their dog so dragging him away doesn't help since the other dog simply follows him. I have noticed that picking him up makes it worse with some dogs as it did in this particular case. When it makes it worse, I put him back down immediately. I can only think of two other dogs that gave me problems when I picked him up though. I usually just try to separate them when it's possible. In this case, I tried to separate them but the two were still all over him and nipping at him while I was holding onto him. Neither of their owners were making any moves to get their dogs, so I figured I'd pick him up--which didn't work either. :'( It turns out the large gray dog was one we'd met before. It wasn't problematic in the past. The couple that owns them... apparently the wife takes him to the park on weekdays and watches him closely because she's trying to teach him to play more gently. The husband takes him to the park on the weekends and essentially just ignores him the whole time. Soooo yea. I'm just not comfortable handling other people's dogs. It almost feels like spanking or scolding someone else's child--some parents just don't appreciate it (even if the kid deserved to be scolded). Buuuut you're right, I should just speak up. Better safe than sorry. Nick is definitely going to do so if I'm too much of a wussy though. :x

    We went to fort funston with the shiba inu meet up group a few weeks ago. It was awesome! :) We kept him on leash until the beach though. His recall is really iffy. Sometimes he'll come back... but more often, he won't. :( The nice thing is if there's another dog in the area, he won't go anywhere. He pretty much finds a buddy and sticks with him/her. He was fine off leash at the beach because he just stayed around all the shibas. We do have a long clothes line that we wanted to use to simulate being off leash at an empty park though. :) @Bootz what time were you guys planning on going? I feel like I had plans this weekend, but I can't remember what they were. Nick also works the weekend, so not sure if he'd make it.

  • This was very interesting for me to read! This is why I love this board. Just wanted to add to what others have said, that as someone who works with groups of 50-60 dogs a day for the purpose of socialization and exercise, picking up a dog is against one of the top rules for anyone attending the dogs at my workplace. Our hypothesis is that it turns a dog into a prey object while bringing very focused attention to it - two bad things in dog groups! Occasionally, it will be necessary to pick up a dog, but it can only be safely done at our facility if there are additional attendants to create a bubble around that person and dog to keep other dogs away. If you don't have anyone to back you up, then it is better to create the bubble yourself (through the same guarding behaviors you'll see any dog exhibit over a bone or something) in order to isolate that dog. Or if you're REALLY good, you can pick them up and make the bubble at the same time, but that's pretty challenging.

    Also, I agree with the points of A. Be open to leaving the park as soon as you don't like the vibe of the group or an individual and B. Be in movement as much as you can, and avoid groups/people who stand around or worst of all, sit. Lastly, I think it's important to lead and have your dog keep up. I'll pause if one of my dogs has made a friend or is investigating something very interesting, but as soon as interest wanes and I know I will be important again, I will call to them and begin moving away again. I think that helps when the wrong dog or situation comes around, to reinforce yourself as the most interesting/important point, especially since some of my dogs are the type to potentially jump into a fight, if I had not trained them to be in the habit of keeping up with me.

    That big grey dog sounds like exactly the type of dog I hate running into at the park. Sometimes a dog will start to aggressively obsess over one of my dogs, and if I were to get involved by leashing up my dog, it would trigger an attack and if I try to move away, the dog just follows us with an owner nowhere to be found or to care. I could correct the dog, but then the owner would magically appear to chew me out! I don't have enough strong presence to correct dogs that intense without a lot of mean, over-exaggerated posturing and noise (and if I were to attempt halfway, it could also set them off more), but luckily my husband does so I don't typically take my more vulnerable dog to the park without him. And if something does happen, I usually appeal to other park-goers, and ask around, "Do you know where this dog's mom is? I think he's a little too much! Could you help me? My dog is getting scared." Just to get some people on my side before laying the smack down in case of a confrontation. In the end though, my dog's safety is most important, so in those moments of sometimes chaos and trying to make a quick decision, I try to remind myself of that. Better to apologize to another owner for scruffing their dog or grabbing their collar than for them to have to pay for your emergency vet bills.

    A lot of my customers have made successful playgroups out of acquaintances met at the park or even at our daycare, and I encourage it because daycare is really mainly focused on providing supervised socializing/exercise for dogs under 2 years of age, and it's good financially and for the dog, to wean them off after puppyhood. I feel like most adult dogs aren't meant for the intensiveness of daycare and probably, also a crowded, unpredictable dog park. And I bet some of those people you've met with nice dogs would enjoy a chance to socialize their dog without the risks of the park also!

    As far as deaf dogs making good playmates, I have a theory about that too! We have several deaf dogs at our facility, and I also have noticed that they are extremely tolerant and steady playmates. I think the loss of one sense just heightens their awareness of social cues and ability to roll with the punches, so to speak, of a dog who might be over reactive or dramatic. Probably has something to do also with getting lots of corrections when young for bumbling around more clumsily than a hearing pup might. I find this is NOT the case with vision impaired dogs - the opposite happens! Which makes sense.

    Lastly, at our facility, we ask that all dogs be spayed/neutered by 7 months of age, or at our request. Sometimes the neutered dogs will begin reacting badly to an intact puppy at 4-5 months of age, and sometimes an intact dog will have "puppy license" all the way until 7 months, and probably would continue for longer if we didn't have that age limit. But we definitely see a change at some point, and it's rarely a change in the intact dog, it's more often a change for the worse in the behavior of the neutered dogs. Prospective customers often say defensively that their intact dog is beautifully behaved and friendly, and I have to explain to them that it's typically the other dogs who react badly. So sometimes, that probably is the case with some of the bad encounters you've had.
  • Yes we're also in the area :)

    @emi802 You should set up some playdates with Dream and Aura!

    Also, I was the same way as you when we first started taking Suki to the dog park (regarding not wanting to handle other people's dogs). But handling someone else's dog doesn't mean you have to scold them. When I feel like Suki has had enough, I go over to her, usually kneel where she is, put my arm around her and just "stiff-arm" the other dogs until they give her some space. It doesn't require much movement on my part and I've never had someone else upset with me doing that. If they don't back off, then we leave. I want her to know that I've got her back and I'll protect her. Similarly, if she's getting too rough, she goes into the little entrance/exit box for a time out.

    I've also found that if you go at the same time, you generally find out who the "regulars" are at that time and you can either find that you don't like those regulars and their dogs or you like the regulars and their dogs. If Suki and Luna go to the dog park (which is only about once or twice a week), they generally go at ~7:30-8:30am and they can usually find their friends, BoBo the Yorkie or Bear the Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. The early crowd seems to be less rowdy/more attentive than the 5-7pm "right after work" crowd at the dog park we go to.
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    @esquimeaux thanks for the advice! It makes sense that picking him up does make him a prey object. I'll try to stop picking him up in those situations. I'm starting to wonder if I misinterpreted my dog trainer. In class, we would pick up Katsu if he was troubling another dog or just if the entire class was getting their dogs used to being handled. The other dog was not fixated on him when I picked him up in these cases. I'm also really not good at grabbing two dogs at once. I've tried on occasion. Fortunately, I never go to the park alone, so Nick can help out box out other dogs if needed. Katsu's currently 5 months old, but we're considering keeping him intact... because Peggy is considering him for the breeding program. If she (or whoever decides these things) decides he's not a good candidate at 1 year, we'll neuter him.

    @sukiandluna yep! :) We did meet up with them once at the petco she works at. Turns ouuuuuttt..... Dream really, really doesn't like Katsu, but Aura was fairly fond of him. As soon as we entered with Katsu, Dream freaked out, but Aura was fine playing with him. It surprised their owner because Dream is normally the playful, love everyone dog... while Aura keeps to herself and doesn't like to play with others as much. She'd never seen Dream like that. She took him out for a while, then brought him back on lead. She kept him on lead until he seemed less aggressive towards Katsu. At the end, they were okay being in the same room and near each other, but Dream still didn't exactly like him. If Katsu got too close, Dream would get snappy or growly. The funny thing is she said she originally wanted to take the two boys home (Dream and Katsu), but Dream and Aura were more bonded. I'm not sure if Katsu and Dream had issues with each other when they were younger or if it was just a natural rivalry between the two. They seemed okay with each other in their puppy videos though. We haven't talked to her since. We should send her photos from that day. :) Here's a photo from that meetup:
    I'm not sure if it's a good idea to schedule more playdates if Dream really hates Katsu. Maybe Dream felt that he was encroaching on his territory (since he's there most days, but with lots of other dogs). Maybe we should try a group walk in a neutral zone next time. We just figured the doggy daycare would be a great place to let them run around off leash and without other dogs--and it was a good place for exactly that.

    I'll give the "stiff arm" tactic a try next time. I think I did something like that when I got bit yesterday though. I pretty much squatted down, grabbed his collar with one hand, then stuck my other arm around/in front of him to keep the other dog away. Not quite sure if it was the same thing.
  • Interesting! How old are the three of them now? But maybe just playdates with Aura then. Lol. But I'd definitely just keep going the route of going to puppy classes and exchanging info with owners so you can do your own playdates with them. But yeah I definitely like the daycare thing, even if he goes once a week.

    Give it a try. You can also walk between the dogs, so that if one does go for the bite, hopefully your jeans will take most of it. The goal is to make both of you as boring as possible to the other dogs. And don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and for Katsu. Unfortunately, chances are that no one else will do it for you. But again, if you do want to keep taking him to the dog park, try different times of the day, days of the week or even completely different dog parks. Like people have said above, meet with familiar dog friends and keep it to a shorter amount of time. And if you ever get a weird/bad feeling about the park before you step foot into it, just leave. Trust your instincts because they're probably right.
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 151

    We usually go around 10:30-11am. We meet at the steps left of the observation deck and walk down to the beach first.

    Let me know if you're interested in joining!
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    @Bootz I think we're free in the morning and interested in going!
    @roninshiba if you have time and don't mind driving to the city, Fort Funston on Saturday morning with Bootz and friends?
  • Myabee09Myabee09
    Posts: 552
    I'm a little late to the game on this one, but in case you have to deal with dog scuffles in the future I have some advice.

    Getting bitten by any animal sucks, especially when they're mad. I've been bitten numerous times (worked as a groomer and in doggie daycare), and this is what I had to learn the hard way.
    Don't crouch down when you have to physically break up a fight. That leads to possibly getting bitten in the face. (It REALLY hurts)
    If you are a more than a few feet away when the fight starts (they can start pretty suddenly sometimes), clap really loud and holler out "hey!" as you power walk towards your dog. The idea is to distract the dogs from the scuffle long enough to separate them. This has stopped more than a few scuffles from turning nasty at my house.
    Lastly, use your legs instead of hands or arms to physically break up a fight. In theory, it's harder for a dog to get hold of a leg than a hand or forearm. I've never had to use this one myself, but I've heard it many times and it is good advice.

    I'll agree with other posters in saying to trust your instincts. Watch your dog closely, too. Body language tells a big story. :)

    I hope you never need to use any of this, but I thought I would throw it out there for you.
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    All great tips! Thank you! And yes.. Definitely do not want to get bitten in the face.
  • @Bootz & @emi802, unfortunately we have a 12:00 appt on Sat so we will not be able to make it.
  • Wow, that's an awful dog park experience! I don't have much to add because others have already said it, except that I don't think Nihon Ken are dog park dogs, for the most part. I have a great loathing of dog parks because you never know what you're going to get: dogs that shouldn't be there, owners not engaged (I can't even believe those Shiba people, except I can because of the level of irresponsibility and denial I see everyday with newer Shiba people), etc. It's too chancy, and it can really set a dog back if they have a bad experience.

    Plus, I have two Akitas and a Shiba and a Kai. Akitas are really not good at dog parks. And my Shiba is old and reactive (it would be a nightmare for him!) My Kai is good with other dogs, but he would hate it too--he prefers smaller groups of dogs he knows. We used to take him to a puppy play group (similar to a dogpark but way, way more managed with very good trainers there to help stop problems) and he hated it, though he is fine with other dogs once he gets to know them. So dog parks? No thanks.

    But there are plenty of other ways to socialize. I just took my dogs a lot of places, and was very heavy on classes esp. when they were young, and looked for all positive reinforcement classes with a bit of play time included, so they could all work on appropriate play. And I have friends with appropriately behaved adult dogs to socialize them with, etc.

    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • Kira_InuKira_Inu
    Posts: 315
    I wanted to add some input on great ways to socialize besides dog parks, I hope you find it helpful.

    I live in a smaller city but it is actually quite dog friendly. I go to local rescue and dog organization websites as well as dog meetup groups and scour the events calendar every month in search of dog friendly and focused events. I will also travel as far as 2 hours to visit expos, dog walks, etc.

    I typically have 2-3 events scheduled to bring Kira to every month. There are farmers markets, dog pack hikes, and other outings that can offer your dog the socialization that a dog needs without the danger of a dog park. I have only taken Kira to a dog park 3 times in the almost 2 years that I have owned her.
    Cynthia, Proudly owned by Kira
    Kira the Cream Shiba Inu 吉良 - Facebook Page
    Follow Kira on Instagram! Kira_the_cream_shiba_inu
    Kira's Life Story & Photo Thread - Kira the Cream Shiba

    “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    Sorry that happened. I stopped going to the dog park because of issues of people not watching their dogs. Most talk, study, or mess on their phone. :\

    Next time inform the owner their dog bitten you if it happens again as the owner needs to take things more seriously and help when their dog is causing issues..

    Luckily there is a lot of forum members in the area who might be able to give advice on socialization opportunities.
    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    Thanks guys! We've only gone to the dog park once since this incident. We take the lunge whip w/ tug toy and long clothes line leash out to a nearby park to burn his energy instead. I'm trying to set up more dog dates. :)

    Jiggzor was a little worried he's been getting more dog aggressive on walks. I'm think it might be frustration from being unable to play. He did fine in his puppy class last night once he was free to play. On the other hand, I did notice he was a little more aggressive towards the other dogs when we were on leash outside before class. He eventually calmed down just before class started though.

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