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Discussion Starter #1
Is it alright for your dog to wear a basket muzzle at the dog park? My german shepherd hasn't been to the dog park in 9 months because he got into some fights. There would be days when he would get along with everyone and then some when fights would be started(no injuries). When a new dog would enter the park, he would run/charge the gate to meet newcomer, that would scare the other dog, that wouldn't always start anything but how do you get your dog to politely great other dogs when there not on leash? My vet said if he is aggressive to one dog and then it should be to all dogs, its not. My neighbor recently got a female gsd, 1 yr younger and my dog barked like he was going to kill her through the fence, after a week and they were fine, now they love playing together, I think mine might actually be a little scared of her sometimes. But back to original question, would it be bad dog park etiquette for the muzzle, I don't want to keep him from playing at the park. I would apprciate any advice.
 

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I've seen people come to the local dog parks here with basket muzzles on. I don't mind it, but it's almost guaranteed to scare some people away. Best thing I could say is to strike up a conversation with some of the people so that they'll be a little bit less apprehensive about it.

I would give it a go though...nothing to lose. :biggrin:
 

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Did your dog get proper socialization classes as a puppy?
 

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I wouldn't. Not so much because I might have an unpredictable dog that needs muzzling, but if another dog gets aggressive with my muzzled dog, my dog would be unable to defend herself.

It would be like bringing a declawed cat into a room with a bunch of other cats which had claws intact. If there's a scuffle, the declawed cat is relatively defenseless.
 

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No. I wouldn't recommend using a muzzle at the dog park. This is for several reasons.

First, you are masking the problem with a quick fix instead of working on the core issue.

Second, if your dog was to get into a fight with a dog while wearing the muzzle he would be free game to any of the other dogs and not be able to defend himself if needed.

What I suggest you do, speaking from experience, is to not go to overcrowded dog parks like the one you used to take him to. I personally don't like them, for many reasons. Especially the small ones that have one entrance that all the dogs gather around to greet the "new meat." My dogs would run up to say hello in the same manner as your dog, and every once in a while would start a fight. You just never know who is going to show up and how they will react to their dog and to your dog. I have had people try and abuse my dogs...not ok. I don't go to these parks anymore. I take them to a bigger (hundreds of acres of land) off leash park and keep them far from the entrance, if there even is one really.

If you do go to these parks, you MUST gain control of your dog every single time a new dog comes into the park. Get your dog on leash and in a sit/wait until you can do a polite greeting with that new dog. It is just too risky to not do this 100% of the time, because you never know when a "harmless" dog fight will turn for the worse...not worth your dogs well being or even life. Consistency is key when working on training and behavior modification. I use a command when greeting other dogs, which is "go say hi" and when I say that, its like my dogs know that it is ok to go and say hello and that dog isn't a threat to the family/pack.

My guess is the behavior is going to elevated now since its been so long since you've taken him to the park and he is going to be more sensitive to other dogs. Be extra diligent and keep him in control.
 

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It sounds like your dog may be showing aggression out of fear. If this is the case you may want to consider that going to the dog park is not the best way to handle his fear. Start small with just one on one dog contact- like with the neighbor's dog. Make positive relationships with several other dogs to build his confidence.
Wearing a muzzle may keep him from biting another dog but his overbearing stance may still provoke a fight and HE could still get bitten. Plus, being in another fight is only going to reinforce his fear of other dogs.

Just my 2 cents... I also have a (sometimes) dog aggressive boxer. She is ok with some dogs she meets and really goes after others, usually larger dogs. I also think her aggression is out of fear. Sort of a "I'm going to get them before they can get me" attitude. Like your dog she gradually accepted a neighbor's dog on the other side of the fence and they would play together through the fence. She does NOT however go to the dog park.
I think your vet is partly right, if he has shown aggression to dogs and caused fights he shouldn't be trusted in an uncontrolled environment like a dog park.

I've been ninja'd! :p
 

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Discussion Starter #8
He didn't take puppy socialization classes(I know better now) but he has been walked twice a day since he was 11wks old, he would meet all kinds of people and other dogs almost every day and he was fine, he went through obedience class at just over a yr old and he did great, no problems with other dogs in the class. It wasn't til he was about 18 months old that the problems started. He has had about a dozen instances where we have encountered loose dogs chasing us on walks, that may have added some fear. I wish there had been a dog park where we lived when he was a puppy so he may have had a better start. Good points about the dog park. I guess he may not be able to go back but the neighbors dog does sometimes come over and play, I guess thats better than nothing. Thanks for the advice.
 

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I wouldn't stay away from socializing him at all. I would just take him to social settings that are controlled and healthy for him. Which is not a busy, unpredictable dog park. Ask friends and family to come over or to meet somewhere for play time. You can also post an ad on craigslist for a dog playdate. I've done this with success and found some great people that way. Either way don't give up on him and socializing him just give him healthy opportunities to do so.
 

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I totally agree with Natalie- don't let this stop you from getting him the socialization that he needs. That will only make matters worse.

I don't, however, think that a dog park is the right kind of environment to socialize a dog that has shown aggression to other dogs in the past. Start small. Like natalie said, do playdates with just one or two other dogs, until that is entirely in his comfort zone. It's important that you remain confident and relaxed as well, because if you're tense, the dog will more than likely be as well.

Once playdates are constantly successful, move up to a daycare type environment. The security with daycares over dog parks, is the dogs are all temperment tested before being allowed to stay, with dog parks, you have no idea what to expect. All daycares are not created equal, though!

Only then would I move up to the uncontroled, unmonitored environment of a public dog park.
 

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Someone on a different forum I frequent made a comparison that I find interesting.
She said that doggie day care and other organized social programs (puppy play groups, etc) were like preschool, whereas the dog park is akin to
" The Lord of the Flies".

Just some food for thought. ;)
 

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I'm not an advocate of dog parks in any shape or form, too many righteous people think that their dogs are socializied and they are too lazy to completely pay attention to what is going on.

Doggie day care where someone is always watching and dogs have to go through an evaluation is much better for all concerned.
 

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I agree with the others.

I do not like dog parts at all, really. My huge problem with them is that, for the most part, they are filled with dogs that have no manners (training) and owners who don't have a clue. Lucky, my GSH Pointer, does great with calm respectful dogs that have manners. However, she does not do good with young dogs that don't have any training and no manners. Dogs that just run up to her and get in her face, jump up on her, jump up on me, etc. She likes to have order, I guess! LOL. A random dog park is not the place for her. She does much better with one on one, or two dogs at a time.

I would keep up with his socialization. Do this in a controlled, calm place with only a few dogs. Lots of praise when he does things right.
 

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unlike a lot of people, i love the dog park. granted...the owners that come to the dog park i go to regularly are quite knowledgeable. but yea, i've been to a few parts in other cities that are insane. the parents literally bring the pups to do whatever they want to while the owner reads or talks on the phone. i just wanna run up and punch em in the gut.

but anyways...my friend has a dog similar to yours. Max is a beagle. An unsociable, angry little bugger. since i know my dog(s) well, I found a park that has a separate enclosed area for troublesome dogs (people sign up one at a time) and had him socialize with my husky. one on one, then brought in another pup, then another, etc. Unlike you, who is trying to figure a way to fix it, my friend thought and still often thinks he can "cesar milan" his dog into behaving. rawr!!! :mad:
 

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I happen to love our dog park for socialization and the dogs have a lot of room to run. But mine is huge, large lake, different sections and space and people for the most part do watch their dogs. Visit the parks a few times before taking your dog. My dogs are very good but I dont speak to people very long because I do not want to be distracted just in case something would happen.

I would use the muzzle if his incidents are isolated and try it to see how it goes and be sure he stays with in a reasonable distance. The other thing you could do is wait outside the dog park as dogs come and go and see how he acts/correct behaviors that are not acceptable and repeat this. Often people leaving dog parks know what you are trying to do.

We have 2 greyhound rescues that go to ours one has a potential and they do muzzle him and he does great and he gets to be with the other dogs.

Lastly it does not hurt to contact a behavorists either get an evaluation.
 

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I'm not a fan of the small, crowded dog parks that are nothing but a barren patch of land. Those are the parks that I tend to stay away from. The dog parks that I go to are very large and wide open, the kind where I can go for a 2 hour hike with my dogs. I don't stand around and socialize with other people, unless they are hiking with us or we are hanging out at the pond/lake letting the dogs swim.

I'm not saying that dog parks are no good at all, you just have to make sure that your dog feels comfortable and most importantly YOU feel comfortable and confident that your dog will do ok. If not, I would start socialization off slow in controlled environments and work your way to getting to the dog parks.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks to everyone who has commented. Frodo has been socialized since he was a puppy but the fighting didn't start til he had been going for a few weeks. He encountered dozens of different dogs with no problems. Then all of a sudden things changed, good one day and bad the next, its not a huge dog park but its all we got here. I guess I'll just start working more on finding people who can get together for 1 on 1 play sessions. I just dont know anyone with dogs except my neighbor and he's fine with their dog. Again, thanks for all the advice.

Ann
 

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Maybe sign up for obedience classes - the trainers usually do an eval there, and things are pretty controlled if something were to happen. I wish you luck in your attempts, I can imagine how hard it is to want to partisipate but being careful too.
 
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