“We’ve been watching Henry at the dog park…there are other dogs who play too rough with him. In those cases he spends a lot of time hiding under benches. For the first time yesterday, he snapped aggressively at another small dog who had cornered him multiple times under a bench. Would the best thing to do at this point be to remove him from the dog park? Or should he get used to other dogs acting like that?...”
Bad behaviour at the dog park should not be tolerated. Bullying and other dominant or aggressive behaviours can really lower Henry’s confidence and we don’t want Henry to be scared or anxious around dogs as he grows up.
On Henry’s snapping: Dogs would much rather ‘flight’ than ‘fight’. If Henry has snapped, he’s indicating to you that he has had enough. This does not mean he is an aggressive puppy. Pet parents should keep an eye out for calming or stress signals, which act as warning signs of a stressful situation.
On what to do: Ask your dog to come to you. Perfecting the recall is extremely important. The next best thing to do is to ask the other dog’s pet parent to call their dog off. Do not get in between two dogs without assessing the situation properly.
On preventing bullying and getting bullied: Practice to have a good recall so that your dog will come back to you. Don’t let your dog run into the dog park, or run up to any dog. Exercise them before coming to the park so that they are tired and less likely to behave in an unruly manner. Set up play dates with dogs who get along and let them socialize elsewhere. And finally, KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR DOG.
On dog park etiquette: Pet parents, you have to watch your dog!! Keep texting and chit-chatting to a minimum.