Dog Park Class

Today, Cabana and I took a class at the Marin Humane Society called "Dog Park Survival Skills". There were 8 dogs in the class, one of which is Cabana's dog pal Mindy, a tri-colored springer spaniel. It was confusing to Cabana and Mindy to be there with each other but not be allowed to greet or play.

cabana and brown and white springer spaniel mindy standing on grass, a little ways apart from each other, both on leash, looking off to the side in same directionThe class was okay, but honestly, I didn't feel like I learned a ton. They talked about body language, group dynamics, human responsibility, and prevention tactics. I would have liked more depth on everything, especially the dog body language component, but it was only a 2-hour class, which isn't much time.

cabana and a black, brown and white spotted dog romping together on the grass, heads close togetherThe fun part of the class was for the dogs to actually get to meet and play. I could tell Cabana was interested in this male dog named Darwin from the moment she saw him. She likes those rambunctious male types.

cabana and the spotted dog, cabana has her head down slightly to expose her neck, the other dog has his mouth open to grab her neckFirst, Darwin and Cabana had to meet each other on leash politely, where ideally, we want the dogs to arc around each other and sniff each others' bottoms. But Cabana was so amped up and eager to meet Darwin that she kept trying to meet him head on, which is an etiquette no-no. I think Cabana would have been much more polite off leash, plus Darwin was sending definite "let's play" signals so she already knew they would be fast friends.

When they were finally allowed off leash, they had a great time with each other. Cabana's play style would please Twilight fans (which does NOT include me, I am compelled to make perfectly clear)--in vampire style, she loves to have her neck bitten. She always presents her neck to the other dog, encouraging them to grab her scruff. Darwin's owner said that Darwin doesn't usually do that when playing with other dogs, but he definitely did that a lot with Cabana, a confirmation that she's encouraging that behavior.

mindy and cabana facing each other with big grins on their facesFinally, Mindy and Cabana got to play, too. Mindy didn't even want to play with the other dog she was supposed to be playing with, but instead came running over to Cabana. It was really sweet!

The instructors encouraged us to call our dogs out of play often, to help keep the play mutual and under control, and to let our dogs know that when we stop them, it doesn't automatically mean it's time to go home. I saw some things that I still need to improve with Cabana--when she was focused on Darwin while on leash, she was totally blowing me off. She couldn't have cared less about me at that moment--dog distraction, it's her nemesis. Other than that, though, I was pretty proud of her.

Martha G  – (July 9, 2011 at 9:03 PM)  

Actually, it sounds like you learned a lot. I also think it's an excellent topic for class! Whole Dog Journal just did a great article about dog parks. Sadly, I learned that Ardella is one of those dogs that just shouldn't go to them. At best she could go to a dog park when there are only a few dogs, but ideally she would do best with 1 or 2 friends with similar personality and play style.

Sierra Rose  – (July 9, 2011 at 9:35 PM)  

Great class review! We had signed up for this class months ago, and it was cancelled by rain. It is always so interested to learn and read body language signs!
Hope to see you two this summer!

Sweet hugs,
Sierra Rose

Amber-Mae  – (July 9, 2011 at 10:37 PM)  

Sounds like Cabana had a fun time at class! You can always ask the trainer to explain a little more about body language when you go back to class the following week. That's what trainers are for!

Kari in WeHo  – (July 10, 2011 at 9:45 AM)  

Mine are so bad at leash meetings :(

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com

Mango  – (July 10, 2011 at 3:45 PM)  

Sounds like a worthwhile trip, especially practice calling your dog when she is having fun with her pals.

Mango Momma

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