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  1. #1
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    Dog Park Disaster!

    I had a bad experience with my 1-year-old dog at a dog park recently. She is a pitt mix. I adopted her at 5 months of age. I had been going to puppy socials at the pet store every weekend with her. She loves other dogs and people. Only problem I saw with her was jumping up on people, which I am in the process of breaking, and working out pretty well with that.

    Now the problem I encountered this week. I am very disappointed to say I found out the hard way that she is not dog park material. On her 4th trip there (the first 3 were okay, she was a little over excited to see new dogs coming in), she lunged at a smaller, timid dog and had it by the throat. I had to use my hands to release her mouth from the dog's neck. I didn't see any injuries to the dog, people were very upset, I got the leash and removed her from the park. Havent been back since.

    I called the city dog park office today just to see if there any complaints filed, I didn't say who I was because I wasn't asked. The clerk said there were 3 complaints filed so far about this incident and she gave me her email address if I could send her an email describing what happened, a description of the dog and its owner, but she had the dog's name right. She said they would try to look up the information on their system (which I find strange because they have all the information when I registered, I'm surprised I havent been contacted yet quite frankly). She also said a police report may be filed. (?) I asked if anyone was injured, and she said no (big relief on my end, because I couldnt tell by looking at the other dog if any damage was done. The owner carried it out of the dog park after having a few choice words with me.)

    So now I'm waiting to see what happens next. This is so devastating and I feel badly for the other dog and its owner. I do NOT intend on returning to a dog park ever again.

    Anyone ever have something similar happen to them or someone they knew. I just wonder what I'm in for.

    And I'm not defending my dog, I never thought she had this in her. There were a few other aggressive dogs there as well, but not to the extent that she carried this out.

    I'll say one thing. On my first visit, I sensed people didnt like the fact that she was a pittbull mix. When I registered her, they didnt have any breed restrictions, and they knew what breed she was.

  2. #2

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    We recently had an issue with our neighbor's dog attacking my dog and husband while they were on a walk. The neighbor's dog has an electric fence collar and the batteries were dead. My dog was on a leash. We decided to file a complaint with the neighborhood association and file a police report, both only as a warning and to start a record -- no fines. The "attack" was such that a smaller person and dog could have been hurt much worse than my Siberian Huskey and sturdy husband. The whole episode was witnessed by another neighbor.

    Anyway, my point is that it is possible that the other dog owners also just wanted to make sure there was a formal police record in case anything happened again. You are wise to stay out of the dog parks. My doggie day care center is very good about creating small (2-5 dog) play groups that have the same play style and won't hurt each other. It is not free, but might be an option for you.

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    I'm sorry. This is very upsetting.

    My dog is a Pit mix, too. At least we think she is. We adopted her from the Humane Society and they had her listed as a Boxer mix, but she has the Pit eyes and head shape. We adopted her when she was 6 months old. We had two cats and another dog in our home at the time. Everything was fine for about three months, and then she started becoming very aggressive with our other dog. At first it was just some barking and snarling, but then it became all out attacks. I don't know if three months was enough to make her feel comfortable enough to pull this kind of stuff, or what.

    We put up with it for a while, and then fearing that one of the dogs was going to wind up dead or seriously injured, we had a trainer come into our home to look at the situation. She gave us lots of good advice, but unfortunately, our other dog died (of natural causes, not from being attacked) before we got to finish training them to co-exist peacefully.

    This may not be the answer you're looking for, but since I know the aggressive nature of my dog, I don't take her to dog parks, Petsmart, or anyplace where there will be a lot of other dogs. I also try not to walk her at times when a lot of people are out walking their dogs. I just don't want to risk another dog getting hurt and me being sued. I do take her on walks in the neighborhood, though, and I notice that she isn't bothered too much by other dogs who ignore her. She is fine with people and cats. She snuggles up with our cats and lets them clean her.

    Maybe you could seek the advice of a trainer?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by KCC View Post
    We recently had an issue with our neighbor's dog attacking my dog and husband while they were on a walk. The neighbor's dog has an electric fence collar and the batteries were dead. My dog was on a leash. We decided to file a complaint with the neighborhood association and file a police report, both only as a warning and to start a record -- no fines. The "attack" was such that a smaller person and dog could have been hurt much worse than my Siberian Huskey and sturdy husband. The whole episode was witnessed by another neighbor.

    Anyway, my point is that it is possible that the other dog owners also just wanted to make sure there was a formal police record in case anything happened again. You are wise to stay out of the dog parks. My doggie day care center is very good about creating small (2-5 dog) play groups that have the same play style and won't hurt each other. It is not free, but might be an option for you.
    I'm hoping it's just a warning. I've heard things ranging from the police will come to my house, confiscate her, and have her impounded/tested/put down, to the police report being published in the local paper with my name! This is a dog park. I have to believe this type of thing is not a rare occurrence. I do think the fact that she was a pitt mix is making some of the owners overreact, the police must know this.

    We go on walks all the time through the neighborhood and she has never provoked or attacked or growled at anyone or their pets. I think it may have been the pack mentality of all these dogs (there had to be at least 20 of them) that brought this out in her.

    My sister said to me that there are two personalities to deal with at dog parks: the dogs and the dogs' owners.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bev Johnston View Post
    We put up with it for a while, and then fearing that one of the dogs was going to wind up dead or seriously injured, we had a trainer come into our home to look at the situation. . .

    This may not be the answer you're looking for, but since I know the aggressive nature of my dog, I don't take her to dog parks, Petsmart, or anyplace where there will be a lot of other dogs. I also try not to walk her at times when a lot of people are out walking their dogs. I just don't want to risk another dog getting hurt and me being sued.

    Maybe you could seek the advice of a trainer?
    I do plan to talk to the trainer at her puppy socials. I remember him saying she had a high prey instinct, I didnt think he meant she would turn vicious on another dog!

    And she seems to love other dogs! When I went trail walking with her yesterday, it seemed almost like she was wondering where all the dogs were? She loves to play, but it must have been too overstimulating for her at that dog park.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupid View Post
    This is a dog park. I have to believe this type of thing is not a rare occurrence.
    The thing is- I think it is rare. I have never heard of a dog being attacked at a dog park, and friends frequent them, and talk/gossip about them all the time.


    Our dog doesn't socialize well with certain types of dogs, so for the unknown- we wouldn't ever take her to a dog park. I wouldn't want to risk her becoming aggressive because she feels dominant or on the other end because she feels scared.

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    I'm sorry to hear this happened, Cupid. I can see that you have only the best intentions, and I do think it's wise to keep your dog out of dog parks.

    I agree with KCC that it's probably just a way to make a record. If there was no damage, I don't believe anything else will happen. But be aware of your state's law. Many states follow an old principle, rather misleadingly called the "one free bite" rule. Broadly stated, this rule says that if a dog injures someone, the dog's owners aren't legally responsible until they had reason to know that dog might cause that kind of injury. In contrast, other states have laws on the books (dog-bite statutes) that make owners liable no matter what they knew or didn't know about the dog's temperament. Since there wasn't any damage, you shouldn't have any issue ... this time. But now that your dog has a record, you are imputed with the knowledge that your dog could be dangerous. So, be really careful from this point on. If something else happens, it could be more serious because of your dog's "record."

    I sympathize. I had a Rottie for many years. And, although she was very calm and composed and never bit or attacked anyone, I certainly had to deal with the stigma that came along with having that kind of breed.

    Just do your best to be careful. Even if you don't think your dog will behave in a certain way, try to assume s/he will and guard against something else happening. I'm really sorry this happened.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    The thing is- I think it is rare. I have never heard of a dog being attacked at a dog park, and friends frequent them, and talk/gossip about them all the time.


    Our dog doesn't socialize well with certain types of dogs, so for the unknown- we wouldn't ever take her to a dog park. I wouldn't want to risk her becoming aggressive because she feels dominant or on the other end because she feels scared.
    My sister who lives in another state witnessed a woman's two pomeranians being attached by a larger dog at the dog park, one of them had to be put down and the other was seriously injuried. The poms' owner was talking on her cell phone and didnt notice the larger dog approaching hers. She said the woman was about 80 pounds and she herself got bit by the larger dog during the attack.

    There should almost be some kind of testing done to allow membership. They probably don't care too much because everyone who signs up has to sign waivers release the city and park from all liability from any harm that occurs there.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bev Johnston View Post
    My dog is a Pit mix, too. At least we think she is. We adopted her from the Humane Society and they had her listed as a Boxer mix, but she has the Pit eyes and head shape.
    My brother in law's wife found a stray dog who the vet said is boxer mix, but they think it is pitt boxer mix. Has the eyes, head, mouth. She is just the sweetest thing ever - she loves and does not bother cats, she doesn't eat the cat food on the floor, and she has never shown any sign of aggressiveness. I hope that doesn't change. They've had her about a year and a half now. She's about 3. They don't take her to dog parks, but she is really good with other dogs in small numbers.

    So sorry Cupid, this is so hard to deal with. I have only been to a dog park once, but 2 dogs were playing really aggressively and were terrorizing my friend's dog (and some kids) so we left. Just like anything else, it isn't for every dog.
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

  10. #10

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    My husband and I used to take our viszla Seamus to the dog park when he was a puppy and a young dog. He is a friendly, gregarious dog who loves people and enjoys playing with kids and with other dogs.

    Sometimes there have been 20 or more dogs at the park, but that didn't seem to create a "pack" mentality. If there was trouble it was always because one particular dog had aggressive tendencies. In once case, it was a pair of Shar Peis that seemed meek and mild but who tended to gang up on other dogs. In another, it was a retreiver mix who attacked other dogs while his owner stood there and grinned. There was one pit bull mix who attacked and seriously injured another dog. And there was a border collie who would challenge any dog who dared to approach the ball the collie was chasing.

    I agree that sometimes a dog owner either tolerates aggressive behavior or is in denial about it. Some of the offenders brought their dogs to the park again and again, even after an aggressive incident, and despite warnings from other dog owners.

    When we saw one of the problem dogs enter the park, we would take Seamus and leave.

  11. #11
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    My previous dog was a pit mix as well. I understand that a lot of people see pitties and make assumptions that have nothing to do with the actual behavior of the actual dog, but.....

    The other owners are NOT overrreacting. Your dog suddenly attacked a smaller dog and the only way to get the attack to stop was for you to physically intervene. What happened is exactly what people expect to happen when a pitbull (or mix) comes to a dog park. It sounds like you are doing the right thing - you removed your dog immediately and are not planning to take her to off-leash parks anymore - but I'm not at all surprised that there were choice words. As owners we are responsible for our pets' behavior. The only suggestion I would make is that you should have given your name and phone number to the owner of the other dog and made it clear that if it turned out later there were any injuries that you would gladly foot the bill 100% (that's just good ownership no matter what the breed of your dog).

    Good luck - it sounds like she's otherwise a good dog, and understanding her needs (i.e. needing to always be on leash) means you two can hopefully have a great, long life together .
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by genevieve View Post
    My previous dog was a pit mix as well. I understand that a lot of people see pitties and make assumptions that have nothing to do with the actual behavior of the actual dog, but.....
    I have a german shepherd who wouldn't hurt a fly (as far as I know), but because she is a german shepherd and their bites are particularly nasty, I am very careful when she is approached by anyone (especially kids) to be petted. It actually surprises me how many kids want to pet her when we go camping - she kind of looks like a wolf, not all cute and cuddly.

    Cupid, you are doing the right thing about avoiding the dog park/keeping your dog leashed. Just be careful, as hopefully everything will be fine.

  13. #13
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    It's not just pitt mixes. You just never know whether a dog is dog aggressive by its breed or temperament around people.

    Our first dog was a golden retriever, although he was small so he was probably a mix with a setter or something. Sweetest thing around people, never snapped at anyone, even annoying children who pulled his tail or hugged him when he ate.

    However, he HATED other dogs. He'd lunge at them when out on walks, and not in a friendly, "I want to get to know you" way. We never did have to separate him from another dog, we simply never took the chance. Obviously never went to dog parks.

    I'm so sorry this happened to you. You just didn't know and it was probably the worst way to find out your dog was capable of this kind of behavior. (((HUGS))) I hope they don't throw the book at you or her.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupid View Post
    I'm hoping it's just a warning. I've heard things ranging from the police will come to my house, confiscate her, and have her impounded/tested/put down, to the police report being published in the local paper with my name! This is a dog park. I have to believe this type of thing is not a rare occurrence. I do think the fact that she was a pitt mix is making some of the owners overreact, the police must know this.
    We did have the police make a visit to our neighbor to deliver the notice/warning. However, we are a small community where the officer is another neighbor. We told the him specifically that we did not want their dog impounded or to impose any fines. But the attack was significant enough that we wanted to make sure it would be forgotten or dismissed easily. We have small kids on our road and a 100-pound neighbor that walks her poodle almost every evening.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupid View Post
    I do plan to talk to the trainer at her puppy socials. I remember him saying she had a high prey instinct, I didnt think he meant she would turn vicious on another dog!

    And she seems to love other dogs! When I went trail walking with her yesterday, it seemed almost like she was wondering where all the dogs were? She loves to play, but it must have been too overstimulating for her at that dog park.
    that is exactly what the trainer meant. Some breeds simply do not do well around other dogs even if they've been properly socialized. They are very territorial and smaller dogs may ilicit the prey response. I had an Akita who was very much that way. That is typical of the breed. My Akita was very socialized with people including children, but would not tolerate another dog or any other animal for that matter. I never walked her without a pinch collar so that I had absolute control.

    I'm sorry this happened to you, but you have to recognize breed traits for what they are. All dog breeds were selectively bred for specific traits be they physical or behavioral. Pit bulls were bred for agression. It was their job as varmit dogs and unfortunately recently as fighting dogs. Your dog is what she is. She may even have felt that you were being threatened.

    There is nothing you can do about what has already happened. You do need to understand your dog, the breed and make certain you know how to contol her. Obedience classes with owners are really to teach the owner. The other option is to send her to a trainer, but you will not get the same dog back. This option is really more for dogs being trained for guarding or protection.
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    My last dog (lab shepherd cross) attacked a small dog once when she was protecting our new puppy. And my golden retriever has had several instances of dog aggression, all against small dogs. It doesn't help when the owners of the small dogs start swinging their dog around the leash, which provokes the predatory instinct in the aggressive dog.

    I had to a pay a vet bill for injury caused by the last dog's attack and another for one of Luna's attacks. Needless to say, I am very very careful with her now.

    The odd this is that the behaviour is not at all consistent. It only happens at certain places, particularly one park near our house. We regularly go to an off-leash park a bit further away and never once has Luna got herself into a fight.

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    Hmm, I really don't want to be negative repped. But. I am SO tired of these pit owners saying how sweet and cuddly they are and it's just the OWNER that makes them aggressive and deadly. Pit bulls have a rep because they EARNED it. I can't imagine your insurance company accepting you with a Pit. Or maybe you don't have insurance.

    Out of all the dogs in the world, WHY go for a Pit? You should know their reputation, and you should be dealt with accordingly. I'd be pissed if your Pit attacked my dog. I would sue you for every cent of vet bills, loss of work, pain/suffering and heaven help you if your Pit touched my family. I'd take you down.

    But... You do own this pet, and love it, and it is sweet to you. So just KEEP IT IN YOUR HOUSE AWAY FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD. And if it attacks your kid, grandkid, whatever, at least it's just in your family and it's your conscience for causing a family member to be harmed, and medical bills. Love your beautiful sweet Pit doggie, but do NOT put others in harm's way.

    I agree, the police reports were probably just to get a record on you and your aggressive attack dog. Next time, babydoll will be put to sleep. And if you do have home insurance and don't report it, they will not cover you if your dog harms anyone/anything the next time. You now really need to think if you should even own this pet. First strike, you need to adjust. I personally would not take your dog out ANYWHERE after this attack has been documented. You are in a tough situation.

    I respect that you have the right to own this kind of dog and love it. Great. But keep it away from everyone else. For the record, the Pits that I have known have been incredibly sweet and cuddly and playful and loving. But you think I'd get one? HTTN.
    Last edited by Alex Forrest; 08-16-2012 at 11:15 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bev Johnston View Post

    This may not be the answer you're looking for, but since I know the aggressive nature of my dog, I don't take her to dog parks, Petsmart, or anyplace where there will be a lot of other dogs. I also try not to walk her at times when a lot of people are out walking their dogs. I just don't want to risk another dog getting hurt and me being sued.
    Wouldn't it be easier on you to have a muzzle around your dog when you walk it?

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    I agree with Alex. Pitbulls are a breed that have literally been banned here. For the numbers of them here, which is quite small, the number of incidents have been disproportionally high.

    If you are going to take your dog out, put a muzzle on it. There is a reason why racing greyhounds, which is a breed that has a reputation for attacking small furry things because they are bred to chase small furry things, must wear a muzzle when outside in Australia. I love greyhounds, grew up with them and think they are the most friendly dogs - I never met a vicious one when it came to reacting with people. In fact they are one of the few dogs that I would not hesitating patting if I didn't know the dog. But I totally respect the inherent risks involved with that dog breed and would do all I can to reduce the risks if I owned one.
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    I'm sorry this happened to you, but you have to recognize breed traits for what they are. All dog breeds were selectively bred for specific traits be they physical or behavioral. Pit bulls were bred for agression. It was their job as varmit dogs and unfortunately recently as fighting dogs.

    +100.

    Border collies will herd, retrievers will retrieve, dachshunds will go to ground and hunt rodents. Doesn't matter if they're bred as pets, they still maintain what was selectively bred into them for centuries.

    When Floyd Boudreaux was busted, the agents who went in to seize his Pits were able to walk up to the dogs, who were shackled on short leases. Most dogs who are shackled are very defensive and will attack an approaching stranger, but Boudreaux's dogs were docile around people because that was selectively bred into them. Had the agents been Poodles, every one of them would have been mauled because he also selectively bred extreme aggressiveness towards other animals into them. The most gentle Pit bull cannot be trusted around other animals, period. I'm sure there are exceptions, but it's not worth the risk.

    You are responsible for your dog at ALL times. Your dog had someone else's dog by the throat-That's not people "overreacting" because that dog is a Pit-It's because your dog is is an animal aggressive breed which was mauling their dog.

    Yes, if your dog developes a history of attacking, being a Pit or mix will stimatize the dog, and yes, it may be put down. You need to keep this dog well excercised and away from other dogs in an uncontrolled situation. Dogs aren't always the cute little domestic pets we think they are.

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