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I just have a mini rant. I wanted to bring up a point about fearful dogs and how while most everyone knows it's irresponsible to bring an aggressive dog around other dogs, it's also irresponsible to bring a fearful one!

Sometimes at dog parks I see dogs that I can tell are just really off. They look uncomfortable and all twitchy, nervous, fearful...Why put your dog through that?? They are clearly not enjoying themselves, and you are putting them at risk.

My dog is 8 months old and extremely playful, so I take her to the park because I know she LOVES it there. She wants to play with everyone, but when a fearful dog comes around I really have to be on guard with her because she is so persistent in her play style. Even though I know Bella just wants to play, I feel so bad for the other dog who clearly is not comfortable.

Okay, so my situation is one thing, but imagine if there was by chance a dog that was in the least bit aggressive? Dogs pick up on these things and an aggressive dog will easily attack a fearful one. I'm just saying, you should look out for your dogs best interest and not put them in vulnerable situations.

I know for this reason, many people do not even go to dog parks. I have also considered this at times. However, I have decided to continue going because Bella loves it so much and we usually go at the same place and time when it's not busy and we know all the dogs 90% of the time.
 

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I just have a mini rant. I wanted to bring up a point about fearful dogs and how while most everyone knows it's irresponsible to bring an aggressive dog around other dogs, it's also irresponsible to bring a fearful one!

Sometimes at dog parks I see dogs that I can tell are just really off. They look uncomfortable and all twitchy, nervous, fearful...Why put your dog through that?? They are clearly not enjoying themselves, and you are putting them at risk. . . .
So . . . those with fearful dogs aren't supposed to bring them around other dogs?

How are their owners supposed to socialise them?

I happen to disagree with your assertion, BTW. Fearful dogs benefit from socialization with other dogs . . . even if it makes them uncomfortable to a point. It may be that the circumstances you are speaking to are TOO overwhelming and that might need to be rethought with opting for socialization in a small group, but not all owners have the connections or knowledge of how to get involved in such things.

SOB
 

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Fearful dogs need to be exposed and desensitized to other dogs slowly, not flooded with a bunch of rambunctious dog-park dogs. OP is correct, taking a fearful dog to the DP is not fair, or helping that dog in any way shape or form.
 

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I have to agree with the OP. the dog park is way too intense for a fearful dog. It's like taking a person afraid of crowds and starting by taking them to Times Square on New Years Eve. You may end up there eventually, but you shouldn't start there. As to unknowledgable owners or those unable to use other resources, I'd say doing nothing is safer in that situation- for your dog and the other dogs.
 

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Fearful dogs need to be exposed and desensitized to other dogs slowly, not flooded with a bunch of rambunctious dog-park dogs. OP is correct, taking a fearful dog to the DP is not fair, or helping that dog in any way shape or form.
I have to agree with the OP. the dog park is way too intense for a fearful dog. It's like taking a person afraid of crowds and starting by taking them to Times Square on New Years Eve. You may end up there eventually, but you shouldn't start there. As to unknowledgable owners or those unable to use other resources, I'd say doing nothing is safer in that situation- for your dog and the other dogs.
I agree with both posts! Potsie is a very fearful dog, and I can't imagine taking him to a dog park - ever. Maddie, on the other hand, would love it (but I'm not a dog park lover, b/c other people don't control their dogs sometimes, as everyone knows). I have to introduce Potsie slowly to human company in my own house, and we've had him for about 2 years now. Severe abuse is hard for some dogs to overcome, and Potsie is among this group. He gets along well with other nice dogs, but I've never had him around more than 2 other dogs at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It may be that the circumstances you are speaking to are TOO overwhelming and that might need to be rethought with opting for socialization in a small group, but not all owners have the connections or knowledge of how to get involved in such things. SOB
Just to be clear I'm talking specifically about dog parks. I'm not saying that fearful dogs should not be socialized. I'm just pointing out that the dog park can be just as dangerous for a fearful dog as it is for an aggressive dog. A fearful dog can be an easy target for aggressive dogs. They can also be overprotective and bite out of fear. It's not fair to take a dog like this and bring it to a dog park filled with strange dogs. It's risky enough with a seemingly well balanced dog, as you can never be 100% sure what dogs are going to be there, or even 100% sure how your dog will react to another strange dog...
 

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Thank you for being clear.

I do believe it depends on the level of fearfulness displayed and the type of dog park and if you know those that frequent it. I know a couple of people that have socialized their fearful dogs at dog parks and also at meet ups. Not all dog parks are alike. I know a few that predictably have only two or three regulars there many times during the day. That situation is controllable and perfect for socializing a somewhat fearful dog IF you know the park and the dogs that frequent at those times well. I have done just that myself in fact driving a full hour to a specific dog park where I knew it could work. Did that through last Sept/Oct/Nov for a foster and he came along wonderfully. I was always prepared to leave if more than the regulars were around but that never happened in over a dozen visits.

SOB
 

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My dog park never has more than 3 or 4 other dogs at once so I take my slightly fearful dog there for socialization and remove her if it's too much. You can see her enjoying herself there in my sig and avatar.
 

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I do believe it depends on the level of fearfulness displayed and the type of dog park and if you know those that frequent it. I know a couple of people that have socialized their fearful dogs at dog parks and also at meet ups. Not all dog parks are alike. I know a few that predictably have only two or three regulars there many times during the day. That situation is perfect for socializing a somewhat fearful dog IF you know the park and the dogs that frequent at those times well.
I do hear where you are coming from on that. For me, around here, the parks are used pretty frequently and there are a lot of people with dogs. Even though I go at the same time everyday and there are usually the same people, there are always four to five random dogs as well. The park I usually go to is the least crowded of all around our area, and I'm sure downtown Vancouver is an absolute zoo!:p

So if you live in a remote area, with only a few dogs there, that you already know...but that just isn't the case around here...
 

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So how do we start off with a fearful dog then, any advice? Especially when you have a pack and one of them is a fearful one while the others are more aggressive.
Sorry I am totally not an expert in fearful/aggressive dogs. I am just pointing out what I have observed at the dog parks. Which is bad experiences with fearful dogs. Maybe some of the other member can give you some advice as I am a single dog owner :)
 

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So how do we start off with a fearful dog then, any advice? Especially when you have a pack and one of them is a fearful one while the others are more aggressive.
Hi, I've been through that road before. I have an American Eskimo pup name Fluffy. I got her at 10 weeks and she wasn't exposed to any socialization so she was fearful of strangers and other dogs.

1. Bring her to socials. Check with local shelters, pet stores, or clubs. Sometimes these places hold gatherings for dogs at a specific age. Young/Adult dogs alike. Some are free others cost money.
**Trainers there verify each pup is up to date with vaccines, so you'd have to bring a copy of vaccinations from the vet. Groups are split between small/big dogs each with a trainer supervising the play. If the dogs get aggressive they are brought to a isolated area to calm dog. It took a few gatherings but Fluffy opened and was comfortable playing with other pups in the group. (According to my experience)
2. Once your dog is less fearful and more open towards other dogs, you can either keep going to the gatherings or stop. I chose to stop because it cost money and it adds up. If you have friends that have dogs, set up a play date and see if they will get along with each other. I set up a play date at a park or friends place and have our dogs play with each other. (At least this way, you know if your friends dog is friendly compared to meeting a stranger.)
3. Or you can take her out for walks, have her meet friends, strangers, other dogs and show them they aren't scary. Do it slowly, like having meet 1 or 2 people a day and gradually increase the encounters, they can be outside or at your home.
4. Once your dog is more open with other dogs, try visiting a dog park. Let your dog wander around but be close by at the same time, and let him/her interact with other dogs. If aggressive play happens or you think your dog is scared then reassure them it's not scary or end it for the day and try again another time. (Have the interactions close by and leashed so you can grab your dog if anything happens)

This is according to my experience. Fluffy is at 6months right now and she's very playful with other dogs. I make occasional doggy play dates with a couple from the social and another friend. Or just take her to the park to interact with other dogs of the same/similar size.
Fluffy is more alert when it comes to people but we do have her interact with friends and strangers. Though I do prefer the alertness because my parent's want her to be alert and on guard of strangers instead of welcoming everyone lol xP
 

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So how do we start off with a fearful dog then, any advice? Especially when you have a pack and one of them is a fearful one while the others are more aggressive.
I would (at my dog park the small dog side is ALWAYS empty. I've been there hundreds of times, seen a single dog there maybe once) put the fearful dog in the small side, and its pack members on the other. That way the fearful can walk away from the fence if it gets too much, but not so far that they are totally disconnected (its a small dog park). Then after a few times of going, when there is an unfamiliar dog in the big dog side that isn't too pushy, sort of does its own thing, put the fearful one in the big dog side as well. Honestly, when Moose went through his fear period as a 6 month old, I just took him to the big dog side and let him figure it out. After 2 days he was playing just fine with everybody else. It all comes down to knowing your dog I think. You have to know their personal limits so you know when they are slightly out of their comfort zone.
 

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I'm just going to add; It depends on the level of fearfulness. I think it's a little absurd to say all fearful dogs shouldn't be brought to a dog park. Unless you're talking to the owner you don't really know diddly about what they're doing with their dog, or how far along their dog has come, if they've just rescued the dog...

Donatello was one of those fearful, scared-of-his-own-shadow, dogs; Taking him to a dog-park a couple times a week, and forcing him to face his fears, and force him to socialize helped him tremendously! He's a dog that frequents dog-parks and doggie-daycares, and even has a "brother" that he plays with and snuggles with... Something he'd have never done if I hadn't have worked with him.

Dog-parks can help, and they can hinder; Some people have tried everything with their dogs, and the last option is just to help them face their fears in hopes they'll overcome them... Like WashingtonCowgirl, you have to know your dog's limits.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think my original post came out a little harsh. Sorry about that! I don't feel that any dog that shows any slight bit of fearfulness should not be allowed at the dog parks. I'm thinking about the dogs that I have seen that the entire time they are nervous and looking from left to right, tail between legs, ears back, foaming at mouth, pacing, etc. etc...

It seems like many members that have responded have the benefit of parks that do not have many other dogs using them. Like I said around here the parks are always busy and the dogs do form packs from running around with each other on a daily basis. If I had a fearful dog I would not risk bringing it into this kind of environment when it could be potentially be seen as a target for bullying.
 

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i agree dogs like that can cause a free for all on them for some reason, maybe because they are weak. those ppl should go to a place where the other dogs are restrained, like just walking on the street in public there they will meet tons of dogs & their owners under a controled enviroment.
 

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Fearful dogs is one of the main reasons I stopped going to the dog park. An owner would plunk a scared dog in the middle of the park, the dog would circle the owners’ legs with its tail tucked, hackles raised, snap out at other dogs who come over to greet the newcomer and generally “ruin the mood”. Owner says, “awww…poor pookie doodles…it’s okay! Go play!”

As soon as one of those dogs came, Bella and I left because more often than not all heck would break loose somehow…like a chain reaction.

Overly fearful dogs should be properly socialized in a controlled environment with direction & training as well….then try the dog park thing.
 

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I've never had a fearful dog but if I did, I would choose dogs & humans to socialize him or her. I wouldn't choose a dog park. I know they need to be socialized but I'd arrange other scenarios.
 

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A fearful puppy is different from a fear-aggressive adult. I can't address that extreme of the fear continuum.

However, a fearful pup may just be normal, but look 'extreme' in your situation. I imagine that in your distribution of 7 (?) pups, that one of them is also much more confident or friendly than the others? Regardless...

Normal socialization:
1. Find one person, pup, adult, or situation that matches the energy level of the fearful pup. Put one of them in a safe, fenced in area outside or large room inside, and then let the pup into the area...
2. Disappear and let them interact while you watch where they can't see you.
3. The fearful pup may freak out. That's OK. He has to learn that he is not being hurt. You are watching to make sure that the other pup, etc. is not a bully. Then, you separate. However, if you have a pup, such as a very young, lower-energy Lab (Don't laugh, they do exist :) ), the Lab may pester a fearful dog. The Lab may scare the fearful dog, but is not hurting it... with a few very short time-outs to separate them, you can set up a situation where the fearful pup has time to learn that he is OK, ad he may explore the Lab... or other dog.

We used my dog to help with some fear aggressive adult dogs. I don't know how to categorize them, and don't consider myself to be an expert... We only worked with dogs that were annoying, not dangerous. We put my dog in a fenced area, then we put the fearful dog. The fearful dog would rush up barking and growling (This was all predictable.) and my dog would turn and walk away. The fearful dog wouldn't know what to do next. We believed that he was the aggressor, to make the first move before an unknown dog could cause problems. Typically, things were escalate... but my dog just walked away - not aggressive and not scared.

Then, my dog started sniffing something on the ground. So, the fearful dog would come up, growl a little, to see what was interesting... and my dog walked off to another smell... and the fearful dog followed. If he didn't growl, my dog might smell him. If he did growl, my dog walked off. Eventually the fearful dog allowed sniffing. After they sniffed ... without the normal, stiff 'tentative' tail wagging, then my dog pushed him (or her) with his front paw.

Usually, a push elicited a growl or snark. Then, my dog would playbow and bark. The fearful dog might jump at the barking... but he'd learn that there was no other aggression. My dog would escalate the play behaviors... and in a few weeks of doing this once a week, the fearful dog would be on the way to developing social skills...
 

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Well, I took your advice and found out that there's club for dogs and their owners near my house. Signed up and I'll take Luci there this weekend. We'll see how this works out. Thanks for the help
No Problem. Glad I can be of help. The socials worked very well for me and I hope it works out for you too! Let us know how it goes.
 
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