Trouble at the dog park, and what we learned… about ourselves

Buddy, the 3 legged Border CollieRemember this little guy? Cute little Buddy, the three legged border collie. Well, he doesn’t look like this anymore. He looks more like, well, this…



As you can see, a bit of attitude there. And it doesn’t just happen in our kitchen, either. It happens at the dog park, with other dogs, too. Darn it, anyhow.

He’s been going to the dog park since he was about six months old, and both he and my husband had a great time.  (I don’t “do” the dog park. for 2 reasons. 1 – I’m antisocial. And 2 – I get nervous around a lot of dogs. MY dog picks up on it and goes into “defender” mode, which doesn’t work for anyone. So, I don’t go.)

Fast forward a year and a bit. Now all of a sudden, Buddy prefers to hang out with the people and acts like a dick around the other dogs. And pit bulls — don’t even get me started on the pit bull situation! (He pisses them off no end.  Way too assertive for a pit bull’s sensibilities, and it’s been that way since he was a puppy. We should have guessed that eventually to dog park would become problematic… however we can be quite thick, at times.)

A couple of weeks ago, Buddy got into a fight that looked like it was going to go badly Buddy started it by nipping at a young dog while the young dog’s owners were petting Buddy. Their other dog — older and bigger and much stronger — decided to tune Buddy in, but instead of backing down, Buddy decided to fight.  Not the best plan for a three legged dog…

The next time he and my husband went to the park, he bit another puppy. (Same reason. Buddy was being petted by the puppy’s owners.) Yay. Buddy was brought home in disgrace, and suddenly we had a dog with an issue.

So, we decided to ground him.

Grounding is an excellent resource we found when our first dog decided he was higher than our daughter in our little pack. (That was a nasty bit of business, and quite scary. I never would have thought Bear had it in him, but he did.) We grounded him for a couple of months, and he learned his place.

The biggest thing we learned from the Bear experience is that our daughter was inadvertently giving off submissive signals to the dog. That’s why he thought he was above her in rank.  And I think my husband was doing the same thing with Buddy.

Actually, I don’t think this. I know it. From what I’m learning about the dog park, Buddy was treating my husband like crap. (Refusing to give up balls and toys.  Jumping at him and pushing him around.) In other words, Buddy was treating my husband more like another dog than his master.

Which explains Buddy’s attitude out at the dog park. Oops.

My husband’s problem is, he feels sorry for Buddy because he only has three legs. However, that has to stop, or he’ll never get control of that dog.  So now my husband’s  being taught tough love, and the dog is grounded.

I hope it works.

The biggest issue we have is, Buddy is naturally more assertive than Bear was. And he’s smart. I’m starting to think he might be too smart for us. (He does what we ask, for a while, but then the tests start. And if we don’t catch them (that hesitation when we tell him to sit, for example) we lose a lot of ground.

I don’t think he’ll be able to go back to the dog park — but I hope we can teach him that he’s just above the goldfish in our little pack — and that he can’t act like a dick around either my husband, or other dogs.

I hope this works. I’ll keep you posted.

Have a dog with an attitude? This is one way to sweeten his disposition, and get him back on track.