We are big fans of the dog park. Not as big of fans as Caesar and Dixie are. We like that the dog park allows them many options: socializing with other dogs, exploring things, walking, and their favorite getting petted by people. I’m pretty sure Caesar and Dixie refer to it as the people person park. As much as we all love it, there is always the chance that we’ll be dealing with dumb people at the dog park.
I don’t think everyone is dumb. And I have my moment’s of stupidity. But over the last year I’ve seen my share of dumb people at the dog park. Let’s get into it.
Last week Carter and I took Caesar and Dixie to the dog park. Caesar is a 90 pound lap dog. When we got him the rescue organization said he was all Chocolate Lab. We had two pure bred Chocolate Labs before him. He ISN’T all Lab. We suspect he has some Pitbull in him.
Dixie is a 50 pound Catahoula Leopard Dog Mix. At least that’s what the rescue organization. I’ve bugged my husband for years about getting a Pitbull. We love them. But when we rescued Dixie we didn’t see the Pitbull in her. But everyone else does. People always comment on what a sweet Pittie she is. As soon as she meets a new person they say “She’s Pit Bull and what?” And now we see it. She definitely looks more Am Staff than anything. It’s so funny that we never noticed it.
Caesar and Dixie are both cuddle bugs. They love snuggling. Sure, they also love wrestling with each other. But these two part pitties are lovers not fighters.
The dog park has two separate areas. One is for small and frail dogs. The other is for any and all dogs. We always go to this side of the dog park, where all dogs are welcome.
On this particular night when we got there this lady with a Pug was on the ‘free for all/all dogs welcome’ side. As soon as we entered the play area she looked at our dogs and said, “I’ll bet your dogs would use my dogs as a chew toy.”
“If your brains were dynamite there wouldn\’t be enough to blow your hat off.” ― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Yes. That’s why we bring our dogs here. So they can eat other dogs. But you found us out. You know what we’re up to. You figured it out. Then I said, “Stop talking to me.” And I walked away.
No one has time for that nonsense. It’s so rude to judge a dog by their size or breed. And if you we’re really worried about your dog being used as a chew toy wouldn’t you just pick up your dog when a potential threat appeared? Or not even come to this side of the dog park?!
About two months back (so a month after we got Dixie) I took the dogs to the dog park. Since Dixie was new to us I had my pockets loaded with treats.
I don’t love bringing treats because then all the dogs follow you. But it was the one way I could get Dixie’s attention. I was luring her into the park with treats. This other lady was already inside the park and quite a ways away from us. Her dog heard my treat bag and came running over to me. The lady screamed at me, “DON’T GIVE MY DOG TREATS!”
I had no intention of giving her dog treats. But I was super annoyed with her yelling at me without knowing the situation. So I stooped to her level and screamed back, “IM NOT GIVING YOUR DOG TREATS! I’M GIVING THEM TO MY DOG WHO IVE ONLY HAD FOR A MONTH!”
She recognized my tone as being super annoyed and immediately backed off. She said her dog had just eaten and then some other stuff which I didn’t stick around to hear. Her dog started following me because of the treats. Then she said. “Now you have to put the treats in your bra so my dog won’t get them.” I said, “Or we can just walk in separate directions and not have to deal with it.” And then I walked off in a direction away from her.
Our paths crossed two more times. At one point she said, “Your dog is so well behaved for only having her for a month.” Yeah, that’s because I reward her wjth treats. You should try it sometime. Then she wanted to be all buddy buddy with me. I wanted nothing to do with her.
Another day at the dog park, I was taking Caesar in. We got the front parking spot so I didn’t have him on a leash. Even if we didn’t get one of the close stall we still don’t put Caesar on a leash if we don’t have to. He works well under voice control. I like that I don’t have to hassle with two dogs on a leash because they always seem to tangle each other up. Also there is no sign that says the dogs need to be on a leash when they enter or leave the dog park. (Some parks do say that your dog needs to be on a leash. Ours doesn’t. For now anyway.)
As I was walking in this man said, “You’re supposed to have your dog on a leash.” I said, “Show m where it says that?” Then he said it’s on the website. So I looked on the website and couldn’t find it anywhere.
Another time a lady said. “Are your dogs friendly?” Yes, that’s why I bring them to the dog park. What a dumb question. You can tell by the way that they run up to you at the dog park wanting to be petted that they are friendly.
Comments like this are usually made by small dog owners who assume that because they have a small dog it is automatically friendly. This isn’t always the case. In my experience at the dog park the bigger dogs are friendlier and better behaved than the dog park.
Yesterday when I was at the dog park, a man asked my dogs’ names. Then he told me that Dixie isn’t a politically correct name. He kept egging me on about it and I tried to politely ignore him. He finally said, “Don’t worry. I’m a Trumper so I don’t care that her name isn’t politically correct.” What the heck dude?! Do you really think my dog’s name has a political agenda?
I took my dogs and started walking to another part of the dog park. He followed me and kept wanting to talk about Dixie’s name. Thankfully Carter called me so I was able to talk on the phone until I could get away from him.
I’m a rule follower. And I don’t like confrontation. So if I’m supposed to have my dogs on a leash when we enter and leave the dog park I’ll do that. If there is a lot of activity coming into and leaving I will definitely have Caesar on a leash. And I always have Dixie on a leash because I don’t trust her yet.
But I also believe in minding your own business. Why do you care how I interact with my dog? Especially when it doesn’t affect you at all.
I love the dog park. There are a lot of great dogs and people there. But I don’t have time for dummies. A lot of the people at the dog park are as poorly socialized as their dogs.
So how do you deal with dog park dum suns?! I’ve got some ideas.
Alter the time you go to the dog park and the dog parks you go to. We have a pass to the Three Rivers Off Leash Dog Parks. He pass gives you access to nine pairs throughout Minnesota. I have two that infrequent regularly. They are 10 and 20 minutes from my house. My favorite park is about 35 minutes from my house so I don’t get to it as much.
Dog parks have their cliques. I try to go when I know those groups aren’t going to be there. This isn’t an exact science. People change their dog park schedule all the time. Be flexible to when and where you go.
A good resource for finding dog parks is the Bring Fido website and app. We used it a lot last year when we took Caesar to Colorado with us. Taking him to a dog park in the morning made him more relaxed and better able to handle a day of driving.
Ignore them. They’re usually lots of people at the dog park so ignoring dumb comments is easy. Don’t give them the fight they’re looking for. Sometimes pretending you didn’t hear them can help avoid an unfavorable situation.
Train your dog. Sometimes the best way to show that not only is your dog not a threat, but they are actually well behaved and properly socialized is to get them trained. Take your dog to training. Who can argue about/ criticize a well trained dog? I mean, people can but they’ll probably look pretty stupid doing it.
Walk instead of congregating. I like to take a lap with the dogs before I let them play. It gives them time to explore and sniff everything. It also allows us to avoid certain people. A lot of people go to the dog park so they don’t have to watch their dogs. I tend to avoid these people. I don’t trust people them or their dog. Although I’ll always trust a dog more than I’ll trust their human.
Don’t engage. I don’t like conflict. But I also don’t like bullies. While I try not to get into it with people, sometimes it’s unavoidable. And by unavoidable I mean that I blurt something out rather than just walking away. It happens to all of us.
Pick your battles. I’ve learned that if I let dumb people get the best of me, then I don’t look forward to going to the dog park. That’s not an option. Caesar and Dixie love the dog park so much. If we didn’t go they’d think they’d done something wrong. And I don’t want that. So I do my best to not let dumb comments or unfavorable interactions ruin my dog park experience.
Enlist the company of a friend. The dog park can be easier when you’re with someone else. There is safety in numbers. The dog park is always more fun when Carter can go with us. We can read what each other is thinking. It’s also easy to say to someone, “Should we take a walk?” Although I’m comfortable saying this to my dogs when no one else is around.
Take your dog to daycare. If aggressive dog park personalities are getting the best of you, consider sending your dog to daycare. Doggy daycares are staffed by trained professionals who love animals. When dog park people are getting the best of you, a daycare can be a great way for your dog to get the exercise they need. They can also get lots of love from dog-centered people.
Host a dog or two are your house. Another great way to avoid dog park people is to have a friend and their dog(s) over to your house. All you need is a fenced in yard and some nice weather to be outdoors in. Indoor playdates work as well. But being from Minnesota, it’s nice to be outside as much as possible.
Fake a phone call. I always have my phone. And 99% of the time it’s on silent mode no matter where I’m at. (I’m getting better as turning on the sound though.) So I can fake a phone call without it needing to ring. (Actually, anyone can but if the phone rings while you’re taking your fake phone call it might blow your cover. But really, who cares.) If you have to fake a phone call, medical emergency, or anything else to get away from someone, go for it.
Cut them some slack. Last week a lady talked to me for almost an hour. I had wanted to run some errands but instead I stayed and listened to her. She was the only woman in her family (she lives her husband and three 30-something sons). It was obvious she needed someone to talk to. I realize this woman isn’t dumb, just lonely. But sometimes we need to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Every once in a while she’d ask me a question. She wouldn’t listen to my answer and just go right into the next thing she wanted to talk about. Carter laughs at this situation because he knows that someone will always come up and talk to me. And I will generally listen. She shared some really personal information about her and her family’s personal struggles. While it altered what I had planned for the afternoon I felt she needed someone to listen to her. So I obliged.
“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.” ― Frank Zappa
You meet all kinds of different people at the dog park. Years ago my vet and our dog trainer both cautioned us about going to dog parks. They said that dog parks were most often frequented by owners who don’t take the time to properly socialize or train their dog. They just bring them to the dog park and let them do whatever they want.
While I do think there are people who use the dog park as a substitution for proper training, I also think that most dog park people are pretty well mannered as are their dogs. I don’t believe in avoiding the dog park just because there are a few bad apples. Or stupid people. Ba-dum-dum.
Make the most of your dog park experience by limiting your exposure to dumb people. It will save you hours of frustration. Besides, your attention is way better focused on your dog(s). Always.
How do you handle dumb people?