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Discussion Starter #1
Before I start this rant, let me say, I'm most upset with myself. I feel I let my dog down by not avoiding this situation entirely and rolling the dice when I knew the risks. It's going to take work to undo what he went through today and that is work he shouldn't have had to do. I'm just glad everyone is ok and thankful the results weren't worse. My puppy could have died today and it would have been MY fault.

I knew we shouldn't go, but we went to the off-leash dog park twice this weekend. We scouted it out first and it wasn't busy and was mostly an open field surrounded by trails that you could take your dog on off-leash. It was completely open to the public. The first day we went, it was great. The other dogs were friendly with Sam, but not overly pushy. He loved the trails and we were able to get him exercise with it being so hard on dh's knee injury. It seemed perfect and Sam was more comfortable interacting with the other dogs off leash. We all had a great time.

Still, I knew better and I shouldn't have taken him yesterday, let alone doubled the risk by taking him back today. The fact that there were small dogs there and friendly dogs there should not have given me a false sense of security. It only takes one aggressive dog to change everything. We met that dog today.

We'd barely set foot in the park and unleashed Sam, headed for the trail when the dog came running at him, very pushy. It wouldn't back off and the owner didn't care or have control of her dog. As her dog chased Sam, pinning him as Sam cried, biting him as I ran after to pry them apart, all she said was, "He plays rough." She didn't run after her dog as we ran and her dog chased mine out of the park and into the street, my puppy running for his life. Thankfully, Sam ran under a parked car and hid there, giving us time to catch up. Her dog ran off to find another victim as we coaxed him from under the vehicle. She stayed inside the park. When we got him out, her dog again ran out of the park, headed for Sam.

I yelled to her, "Get your d&$n dog. I will kick your dog if he comes near mine!"

Her dog found another target and we leashed Sam and left immediately, our hearts pounding as we thought of how much worse it could have been. What if Sam hadn't found a place to hide? What if the dog had chased him into traffic? As bad as it was, it could have been SO much worse.

It didn't matter that Sam was behaving well. He threw off appeasement signals like crazy during the attack and saw doing everything he could to beg the dog to stop. It didn't matter that we and a couple other dog owners were trying to intervene. I put my dog into a situation where I was depending on the other dog owner to control her dog or be responsible enough not to bring her aggressive dog to the park. Even worse,mI didn't have enough control of my dog in such an extreme situation to get him to come to me and let me fight off his attacker.

Ultimately, it's my responsibility not to put him in situations like this one, situations I can avoid. I let him down and at an important point in his socialization and I'm going to have to work to undo that damage.

As angry as I was at that woman for being irresponsible with her dog, I'm more angry at myself for being irresponsible with mine. I won't make that mistake again and we won't be going back to the dog park.

Hopefully someone else will read this and learn the same lesson with their dog having to suffer for it.

Sam is ok and we spent time at a smaller on-leash park with no dogs and some kids after we'd all calmed down, then had some good play in the backyard. He starts puppy obedience this week, which will hopefully help undo the damage I've done.
 

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I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience. You are right, it only takes one aggressive dog in a park full of lovely dogs to ruin the experience. Some people I just don't understand, how someone could think that was acceptable behavior for their dog!

It's entirely possible that Sam will not be scarred by this, every dog reacts differently to a trauma and it may not phase him, only time will tell. If he is traumatized it can be undone, and you are perfectly capable of doing it. What's going to be important immediately is how you react when seeing ill behaved dogs that remind you of the attacker, because Sam will take his cue from you, and even though dogs aren't great at generalizing, I see them do it all the time and he may generalize a dislike to more types of dogs if it's reinforced that dogs are scary, so watch your breathing and body language, I know from experience how traumatic this is for the humans too, sometimes worse than it is for the dog!

Try not to beat yourself up, we all take calculated risks in life all the time, every day. You took one and it went badly, that's how it happens sometimes. :grouphug: It doesn't sound like a risk you'll be taking again.

I wish so badly dog parks were safe places and people used them responsibly, they are such a wonderful concept!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
We have plenty of on-leash trails. If Sam had been on leash, I could have given the attacker a quick kick, body blocked, or otherwise done something to help the situation. At the very least, he couldn't have been chased off to the road, and, worst case, I always carry bear spray when hiking.

You're absolutely right, though, I'm going to need to work extra hard to be calm and confident around other dogs so that, hopefully, Sam does read from me that there's something to be afraid of.

After we left, he seemed to recover quicker than we did. Dh and I have felt "off" all night after coming down from that adrenaline. I'm actually glad that we were able to leave quickly after it all happened. I would have had nothing civil to say to that woman. She probably was unfazed by what happened and from her response, "He plays rough," it's pretty obvious he's done something like this before and likely will be allowed to do it again.

But not to my dog because we won't be there. Lesson learned.
 

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I have panic disorder and panic attacks, and when Apollo was younger and got attacked as soon as it was broken up I had a full blown attack! On the ground hyperventilating. There is totally an adrenaline dump in that situation. Your body will follow your breathing, so it's the most important thing to keep track of, and don't hold your breath, that's the worst thing to do and if you pay attention to your breathing when you're anxious you'll totally find you are doing just that. Apollo is dog selective and I have to watch my breathing very closely, it's a total habit for me now.

I keep imagining poor little Sam hiding under that car. That woman should be banned!
 

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A part of me wishes I could have been a fly on the wall when the couple that helped us when Sam was under the car reached the woman or any of the onlookers. I know if I'd seen all this happen to someone else's dog, I likely would have said something to her. As it was, I knew that I was too emotionally charged at that time to say anything that might have done any good. I just focused on making sure Sam was ok and getting him out of there.

I think the reason the park likely isn't fenced on that side is because the road there is a dead-end. Every other dog park I've been to is fenced, but this one is mostly a series of trails around a lake. From now on, though, we'll stick to the leashed trails higher up in the mountains. I think our odds are better with the bears than the aggressive dogs, oddly enough. ;)
 

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Try not to beat yourself up, we all take calculated risks in life all the time, every day. You took one and it went badly, that's how it happens sometimes. :grouphug: It doesn't sound like a risk you'll be taking again.

I wish so badly dog parks were safe places and people used them responsibly, they are such a wonderful concept!
Above pretty much says it all, there are people who have used dog parks all their life with nary a problem. You are ahead in the dog game, lesson learned and you and dog survived without serious injury.
 

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I'm so sorry this happened to you and Sam. I know firsthand how scary dog-on-dog attacks can be and how guilty you can feel for not preventing them. About ten years ago, after getting our first rescue dog (Rudy, a sweet GSD-collie mix), I was walking him at an on-leash park. Out of nowhere, a large breed mix of some kind came towards Rudy. The other dog had on a collar, but no leash, and its owner was nowhere in sight! Rudy came to us afraid of other dogs, so he immediately starting hiding behind me and barking. The dog ran towards Rudy, sunk his jaws into Rudy's neck, and shook him around like a rag doll. Rudy was trying to lay down and submit throughout the entire attack, which was heartbreaking. I yelled and kicked at the dog to no avail, and a nearby landscaper saved Rudy's life by running over with a broom and hitting the other dog until he ran away. Rudy's neck was torn open and he had to be rushed to the emergency vet for surgery (one office turned him away because they were closing, so we had to go to a second animal hospital to get him care-- obviously never returned to the first!). My neighbors later identified the owner and reported the attack. It turns out their dog had bitten a child in the neighborhood previously and the dog was PTS. Terrible outcomes for all.

We worked for several years trying to help Rudy become more comfortable around other dogs, and he got to the point where he had a few pals in our neighborhood who he could greet nicely. We were unable to get him comfortable enough to trust meeting unfamiliar dogs, but that was okay with us. We compensated with extra-vigilance on our walks and dealt with the annoying people who let their dogs run up, off-leash in on-leash areas, shouting "He's friendly!" when I was clearly trying to get Rudy out of their vicinity! Our biggest issue, as has been mentioned on this thread, was how anxious WE got when we saw strange/aggressive seeming dogs approach, which sensitive Rudy always picked up on. Do your best to keep trusting other dogs so that Sam can trust them, too!

It was extremely traumatizing for both Rudy and his humans. I felt a lot of guilt for being unable to protect Rudy, but after reading your post I remembered what I had eventually realized- that no matter how safe we try to be with our dogs, we have to accept that some things are out of our control. Aggressive dogs can be dangerous outside of dog parks, too, and I think it is really about owners being responsible for their pets rather than you denying your dog a fun experience (a safe dog park romp). I hope you don't beat yourself up too much, because it sounds like you are a great and loving owner to Sam, and nothing you did caused this unfortunate incident. All in all, I'd say Sam is lucky to have you, and my hunch is that he will recover from this incident. I'm happy Sam was able to escape with no injuries, and it warms my heart to think of other responsible dog owners coming to your aid at the park (like my landscaper-hero!). And thank you for being one of those responsible dog owners who pays attention to and takes seriously dog aggression.

A picture of Rudy, who lived a long and happy life until age 15 despite the attack :)
 

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Sorry for what you guys went through! I don't know Sam, but I have witnessed very similar accounts of chasing/pinning at public dog parks, and have heard accounts from clients. Most dogs are not permanently phased by it. Don't coddle him or your could nurture a reaction from him.

As was said, unfenced dog parks are probably the worst idea, EVER.

I'm very glad that I have a safe, large, fenced in dog park to use... stories like this just make me all the more grateful.
 

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I am sorry this happened to you and Sam. I am glad he is ok though. I have been in your shoes, and it is not nice seeing your dog being attacked. I hope Sam will be ok with dogs still.
 

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O Packetsmom, I am so sorry that happened to Sam....
He will enjoy the trails more I am sure.....
Maybe just maybe when he is older and bigger you guys might test the waters again at a dog park....(Bring your hubby or another adult for a lookout)....
However, it does not seem like you guys need the Park with all the fun places you have to go anyway....
Again so sorry that happened to Sam, and hopefully he will get continued socialization in puppy class!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I think puppy class and more organized gatherings, like dog sports will be far better for socialization and we'll hit the real trails for exercise and hikes. With so many wide open places to go, it just isn't worth the risk of going back there.

It is kind of a shame, though. It's a very nice place to go if you don't want a strenuous hike uphill and you'd like to hike with your dog off leash. Saturday, Sam was having a blast sniffing everything and seemed more confident meeting other dogs off leash. We do occasionally run into people with their dogs off leash or on retractable leashes on the trails, but it's a little easier to manage that since I have ahold of Sam and can body block or otherwise deal with the other dog better.
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He seemed to recover far more quickly than the rest of us and I'm hopeful that with lots of fun and healthy play experiences at puppy class, this will just be a blip on his radar.

It did also get me thinking about the future. What if Sam had been fully grown and stood his ground against that dog, which then would have been about half his size? Even if the other dog was completely the instigator, his owner would have simply seen him as "playing rough" and my dog would have been seen as the aggressor for putting the smack down. I don't think it would be responsible for me to put him in that kind of situation. Kind of like how if you're driving a semi truck on the highway, you need to be extra careful driving, even if the idiot on a motorcycle is weaving in and out of traffic and pulling wheelies.

With great power comes great responsibility and I need to keep that in mind, for Sam's sake if not for the other dogs with the stupid owners.
 

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This is one of the reasons I hesitate to go to dog parks. When it comes to dogs communicating to "knock it off" one dog has to back down, otherwise a fight is going to happen. I mean, that's it. JJ always backs down, she never escalates, what if one day she didn't for some reason? More so I worry about Lucas, because he truly has amazing social skills in every situation I've ever seen him in, but he doesn't appreciate rude behavior. If a dog is fearful, he ignores it, but if a dog is over excited, not reading signals, trying to mount him, he doesn't have a problem letting them know it's not okay. It's all very appropriate, meaning just enough assertiveness to get a point a crossed, a gruff in his throat, getting in another dog's space with is body, turning quickly and staring down the dog, herding the dog away from other dogs if it's too rough or just not getting it (I call him the fun police) but what if another dog took that as a challenge and escalated the situation? I don't think Lucas would back down, and it's very likely Lucas would be the one to hurt most other dogs worse than he'd get hurt due to his size. Plus, I can't have a deaf dog under voice control, not that I'm sure he'd listen to me anyway in those circumstances.

Yeah, not a big dog park fan. There are risks, and sure many people love their dog parks, and there are risks everywhere you go walking your dog, it's just a matter of what risks you're comfortable taking.
 

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This is something that unfortunately most people have to learn the hard way about. I know I did. I use to be a HUGE dog park advocate, would scoff at people who warned me, until the day my own dog was attacked. Bad things can happen anywhere, but they are FAR more likely to happen at an off leash dog park. It only takes one bad apple to ruin the whole barrel.

I'm sorry this happened to you.
 

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I'm so sorry this happened to Sam! Don't beat yourself up over it. I'm sure with lots of other positive experiences he will come around. Puppy class will help by pairing him with dogs his own size and physical ability level (adults are so much faster and more coordinated than pups and can really knock them around). In our puppy class there were two timid pups, and by the end one was much more willing to play, while the other had become the roughest player and totally comfortable around the other dogs.
 

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I don't think Lucas would back down, and it's very likely Lucas would be the one to hurt most other dogs worse than he'd get hurt due to his size.
Please do not think because a dog is bigger he will automatically be the hurter and not the hurtee. That old saying about "it's not how much dog in the fight, it's how much fight in the dog" is true. Thinking large dogs can't/don't get hurt is like playing russian roulette with a six shot revolver with 3 bullets in it. A 50-50 chance of not shooting one's self. "Bad odds)
 

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Please do not think because a dog is bigger he will automatically be the hurter and not the hurtee. That old saying about "it's not how much dog in the fight, it's how much fight in the dog" is true. Thinking large dogs can't/don't get hurt is like playing russian roulette with a six shot revolver with 3 bullets in it. A 50-50 chance of not shooting one's self. "Bad odds)
This. The dog who attacked Charlotte at the park was twice her size, and it was Charlotte who finished the fight. Size has very little to do with a dog's ability to fight. Larger does not = better fighter.
 

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Please do not think because a dog is bigger he will automatically be the hurter and not the hurtee. That old saying about "it's not how much dog in the fight, it's how much fight in the dog" is true. Thinking large dogs can't/don't get hurt is like playing russian roulette with a six shot revolver with 3 bullets in it. A 50-50 chance of not shooting one's self. "Bad odds)
I completely agree. I have a German Shepherd, Pit Bull, and Border Collie. And the only one who I think *might* defend himself in a dog fight, is Recon. The smallest of the bunch. Frag and Sir would be running away from a dog like that just like yours did, only they'd be trying to calm, not acting afraid... If it didn't work, they might correct once, or continue moving away from said dog and that is my cue to step in.
 

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Poor Sam...poor packetsmom, too.

Where is this place, so I'll know to avoid it?

The only place in town we've taken Sammy off lead so far is an elementary school hocky rink. I would prefer a grassy area, but at least she can run a bit and play with friends there. We always have the place to ourselves, but of course we have to wait until after school hours.
 

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Please do not think because a dog is bigger he will automatically be the hurter and not the hurtee. That old saying about "it's not how much dog in the fight, it's how much fight in the dog" is true. Thinking large dogs can't/don't get hurt is like playing russian roulette with a six shot revolver with 3 bullets in it. A 50-50 chance of not shooting one's self. "Bad odds)
I certainly do not want to assume Lucas could not get hurt just because he's huge, that would be silly. I do not imagine actually that he would continue a fight the moment he would get an opportunity to get out of it but the truth is there is no way I could ever know what the outcome would be until it happened, he could no not much of anything and end up seriously injured. He could easily seriously injure another dog. I do not EVER want there to be an opportunity for a dog fight with any one of my dogs for anyone's sake, Lucas's, another dog's, my sake or another dog owner's sake. There's no winners IMO. I am not one of these "my dog can kick your dog's butt" kind of big dog person. I do know no matter who starts it or finishes it big dogs often get the blame for it. I also know if I had my choice of being bitten by a "red zone" Dane or a "red zone" Yorkie I'd pick the Yorkie.

So rest assured I am not sitting around disregarding dog fights as dangerous or putting my bigger dogs in any potential dog fight danger just because they're bigger so "they can handle themselves" or any such nonsense.
 
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