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Hi! My first V--and first dog--just got a sort of bite at the dog park. There is a small circle where her fur is gone on her nose, and possible another smaller spot where I think the skin was broken just a little bit. It's small enough that I can't really tell. Two questions.

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[li]Should I take her to the vet? Is there some sort of salve she'll need?[/li]
[li]Should I report the other dog? The owners said she's old and blind in one eye, and I know that biting is a way of communication for dogs, but I'm pretty sure if you have a grumpy dog like that, that you shouldn't take her to the dog park... I'm just not sure what to do.[/li]
[/list]

Thanks so much!

EDIT: Just FYI, Rowdy is a 6-month-old puppy, and she got spayed a little under three weeks ago...
 

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I stay away from dog parks all together. Never gone to any of them. Had a German Shepherd dog before so we were pretty much banned from entering, even if the dog behaved well.
I socialize my V at places I know the other owners have the dogs under control and trust them off leash. Dog parks, in gereral, are breeding grounds for aggressive behavior. Someone is always growling or barking at the other dogs.

As far as the damage inflicted on your dog, there is little that can be done unless the other dog bites all the time and the owner ignores it. :'(

Hydrogen Peroxide the area, IMO. Hopefully the experience will hot cause psychological trauma for your V.
I look for Labs, GSPs, Goldens, Jack Russels, English Setters mostly. I know there are many other good dogs but these are the ones Sam (our V) had only good experiences.
 

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Did you see what precipitated the bite? My boy, Jasper, occasionally gets a corrective growl or nip because he's being an absolute pest. Not that I'm saying this was the same thing--biting hard enough to remove a little fur sounds more than a normal correction, but did it look unnecessarily aggressive? If the dog is blind in one eye and your pup came up on it on that side and spooked the dog, then I can understand the response--although I do agree that if the dog is that easily spooked and subsequently aggressive, it should probably not be in such an uncontrolled environment. That being said, 6-month-old puppies can be a handful, and occasionally annoy the older dogs. How did Rowdy react to the bite? This sounds very strange, but I can tell the difference in the way my dog reacts to a correction and to aggression. Did the owner have to pull their dog off of Rowdy, or was it a one-and-done kind of deal?

Dog parks can be good, and they can be bad. Depends on where you go, when you go, and whether or not every owner there is vigilant about keeping their dog in check.

As for the bite--if you think the skin is not broken, I would just clean it up and keep on eye on it. Maybe some triple antibiotic cream if there's a very small bit of broken skin? Anything bigger and you'd probably want to take her to the vet, but I'm not sure if this warrants it. Of course, I tend to make my dog in to the vet at the drop of a hat, so...

In regards to the owner--was the owner keeping tabs on her dog? As datacan said, unless it was a totally unprovoked, continued attack on Rowdy, it may be hard to get anything done unless there is a strong history of this kind of thing with the other dog and owner. I assume you got that dog and owner's information? Plus, to be frank, a lot of dog parks, especially those run by the city, do not have anyone around enforcing the rules. I don't know about your parks, but the park police aren't hanging around a lot checking for tags or for dogs that aren't supposed to be there. Luckily where we go, everyone is really responsible for their animals.

I'm sorry your baby had such an unfortunate thing happen at the dog park! Hopefully it wasn't too emotionally traumatic for her, just keep making sure she has lots of positive interactions with other dogs.
 

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Rowdy has some growing up to do. See item #5.

Dogs are pack animals, but a dog park is a forced pack situation where the weak are insecure and the dominate have to "prove themselves."

A good read is "A Dog's Purpose." From an article posted on my blog here are some points to keep in mind.


1. Male dogs have a rigid hierarchy.
2. Female dogs have a hierarchy, but it's more variable.
3. When you mix the sexes, the rules get mixed up. Males try to follow their constitution, but the females have "amendments."
4. Young puppies have what's called "puppy license." Basically, that license to do most anything. Bitches are more tolerant of puppy license than males are.
5. The puppy license is revoked at approximately four months of age. At that time, the older middle-ranked dogs literally give the puppy **** -- psychologically torturing it until it offers all of the appropriate appeasement behaviors and takes its place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. The top-ranked dogs ignore the whole thing.There is NO physical domination. Everything is accomplished through psychological harassment. It's all ritualistic.
6. A small minority of "alpha" dogs assumed their position by bullying and force. Those that did were quickly deposed. No one likes a dictator.
7. The vast majority of alpha dogs rule benevolently. They are confident in their position. They do not stoop to squabbling to prove their point. To do so would lower their status because...
8. Middle-ranked animals squabble. They are insecure in their positions and want to advance over other middle-ranked animals.
9. Low-ranked animals do not squabble. They know they would lose. They know their position, and they accept it.
10. "Alpha" does not mean physically dominant. It means "in control of resources." Many, many alpha dogs are too small or too physically frail to physically dominate. But they have earned the right to control the valued resources. An individual dog determines which resources he considers important. Thus an alpha dog may give up a prime sleeping place because he simply couldn't care less.
So what does this mean for the dog-human relationship?

Using physical force of any kind reduces your "rank." Only middle-ranked animals insecure in their place squabble.

To be "alpha," control the resources. I don't mean hokey stuff like not allowing dogs on beds or preceding them through doorways. I mean making resources contingent on behavior. Does the dog want to be fed. Great -- ask him to sit first. Does the dog want to go outside? Sit first. Dog want to greet people? Sit first. Want to play a game? Sit first. Or whatever. If you are proactive enough to control the things your dogs want, *you* are alpha by definition.

Train your dog. This is the dog-human equivalent of the "revoking of puppy license" phase in dog development. Children, women, elderly people, handicapped people -- all are capable of training a dog. Very few people are capable of physical domination.

Reward deferential behavior, rather than pushy behavior. I have two dogs. If one pushes in front of the other, the other gets the attention, the food, whatever the first dog wanted. The first dog to sit gets treated. Pulling on lead goes nowhere. Doors don't open until dogs are seated and I say they may go out. Reward pushy, and you get pushy.

Your job is to be a leader, not a boss, not a dictator. Leadership is a huge responsibility. Your job is to provide for all of your dog's needs... food, water, vet care, social needs, security, etc. If you fail to provide what your dog needs, your dog will try to satisfy those needs on his own.

In a recent article in the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) newsletter, Dr. Ray Coppinger -- a biology professor at Hampshire College, co-founder of the Livestock Guarding Dog Project, author of several books including Dogs : A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution; and an extremely well-respected member of the dog training community -- says in regards to the dominance model (and alpha rolling)...

"I cannot think of many learning situations where I want my learning dogs responding with fear and lack of motion. I never want my animals to be thinking social hierarchy. Once they do, they will be spending their time trying to figure out how to move up in the hierarchy."

That pretty much sums it up, don't you think?

Melissa Alexander
mca @ clickersolutions.com


My suggestion is to stay clear of dog parks unless you know your pup will not be "taught" it's place by older dogs. Rowdy no longer has "puppy licence."

Rod a.k.a. redbirddog
 

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I go to a park with a very relaxed atmosphere and well balanced dogs (mostly trained hunt/retrieve breeds) and Avery gets corrected constantly for her obnoxiousness. She's a happy-go-lucky 8 month old and like a cheetah wearing a jetpack with the way she tears around trying to greet and play with everyone at once. She doesn't take it personally and she doesn't get hurt. It's just part of maturing and learning manners.

If I was in your situation I might take my pup to the vet just in case, but my concern would be more about the social aspect. He's not going to worry about a mistimed correction (a dog with one eye won't have great depth perception) but if it was proper aggression I'd want to overwhelm him with positive doggie experiences over the next few weeks. Vizsla's can be sensitive.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Wow, guys, great advice! You convinced me to just call the vet, who recommended what you guys did: hydrogen peroxide and triple A ointment. There's still fur missing, but it's healing up nicely.

@datacan: We've been going to this dog park for a month without any problems at all, and I haven't seen/heard any other aggression; I'm not against dog parks, I just wasn't sure if I should report or not.

@RedRover: I think it was a corrective nip. Nope, didn't get the owner's info. Didn't think it was too bad until I got home and told my husband the story. I will next time, despite what I think, I guess.

@RedBirdDog: Good stuff! We've stopped allowing her cute puppy stuff since reading that. If other dogs have revoked her puppy license, we should too.

@AfroViz: "like a cheetah wearing a jetpack with the way she tears around trying to greet and play with everyone at once." Love it! That's how Rowdy was before, but since the bite, she has been much more cautious at the dog park, and with new people. Part of me hates to she her get "shy," but another part likes to see her getting wise and cautious.

Thanks again for all the great advice, fellow V lovers!!
 
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