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Hi, I've read a few of the opinions on here about dobermans at dog parks and actually wanted some advice on how to speak to a doberman owner. I myself don't have a dobe, but I've been having trouble with a woman who's been bringing her adolescent and intact male doberman to the local dog park, where I've been taking my adult standard dachshund. This park isn't regulated - it's just the neighbourhood dogs. Dogs of all sizes show up, but all tend to get along. People are getting nervous with the doberman, however, but the woman and her father get really defensive and claim people are being prejudiced because of his breed. I get where they're coming from, but they don't see a problem with his behavior. He will play fetch with his owner for a while and attends to recall commands at first. But then I assume he gets tired of it, because he starts running wildly around the park and tries to engage other dogs in rough play - even little ones. This is when he doesn't respond to recall at all, which is the reason I'm no longer taking my dog when he's there. I'v seen dogs resort to growling and barking to get him to back off, and he has responded aggressively. Several discussions have happened because of this, but the owners still act like they're the victims and that it's their dog who's been getting attacked. Have any of you ever had to deal with a situation like this and actually gotten through to the owners? I thought of asking here because it would be nice to get the perspective of people who are knowledgeable about and love the breed and maybe could help me with constructive things to say. Thanking you in advance.
 

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Well I have owned 2 dobermans and no longer attend dog parks at all.
As an owner my first rule is to be a good advocate for my dog.
I never put my boy Hoss in a position that might lead to him or myself getting into trouble.
IMO dog parks are trouble.
With my dobermans rarely dog parks rarely resulted in a fun time.
In our city regulated dog parks will separate large breeds from small breeds.
BUT in my earlier days of Doberman ownership some owners would bring their small dogs over to the large breed side of the dog park.
They in turn would witness their dogs nipping at bigger dogs and think it was funny that their little midget was messing with a large dog.
There were occasions where small dogs would nip the underside of my dog.
Trouble trouble trouble......this Doberman owner might have to learn the hard way if it results in a human getting bit by accident while breaking up a dog fight.
Shoot I have seen people have pizza delivered to the dog park and could not understand why all the dogs were circling their picnic table.
So many Humans are just ignorant about these things or they do not care.
When my dog is in public he is with me and no one else.
Rarely do I let a stranger pet my dog because of the stupid things humans will do with little notice.
So all of you are entitled to this park maybe try figure out when this dog attends and try to not visit at the specific time.
 

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Pro Snake Wiggler
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This is why I do not attend dog parks, no matter what dog I've had. Either the dog is not suitable for such a thing (and responds much like the dog you describe) OR there's a risk that the dog is going to be attacked by such a dog. As a dog trainer I can't tell you how many of my clients have dogs with serious problems with other dogs now because they were attacked at a dog park.

If you must use the dog park, I would probably leave the second I saw such problem dogs come in. Sadly because of the lack of regulation, there's really nothing much you can do until an actual fight happens.
 

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Early on with my Boxers, my trainer warned me off dog parks. The only time we went was a pre-arranged play date with other Boxers that we knew very well and got along swimmingly with my boys. It was usually a really early or really late visit but that’s it. Most good veterinarians will advocate against dog parks, as well.

The only 2 times we went to a dog park (because I was strapped for time to go for a run) resulted in my Boxer getting attacked by an Akita (in Arizona) and me getting attacked by an Akita (in California). Neither was a fun time and I was unable to recoup medical costs for either incident.

Good luck with this situation, you sound like you are doing the right thing by staying away.
 

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1. A dog park where big dogs and little dogs play together is a disaster waiting to happen.

2. Proper animal behavior is if a dog tells another dog to "Buzz off I don't want to play" then the dog instigating the play tends to leave. I just had some little dogs over my house, when they indicated they needed space, my dogs listened.

3.For the most part dobes and working dogs in general, do play rougher. With that said, even with my own dogs, I have to watch that the play and drives aren't getting to be too much or a fight will ensue.

4. I would call the local city or animal control and see if they would be willing to speak to this person.

4b. If the city or AC is willing to do anything, likely they won't, I'd have a discussion with the owner and let them know. It's not personal it's for everyone's safety.

5. Having an intact male at a dog park is an accident waiting to happen. I know this from experience. Once my dog got to about 7-8mo old, he started getting attached by neutered males, which is extremely common. I'm always on top of surveilling for my dogs, so no dog actually got to him but one bit me. Intact males don't see neutered males as males, but neutered males still see intact males as threats. Many dog owners will say their dogs aren't dog aggressive but in reality they have no idea because their dog has never come into contact with an intact dog of the same sex. It's not a matter of "if" her dog will be attacked it's a matter of "when".

6. If they can't control their dog at ANY given moment in time, then the dog should NEVER be allowed off leash PERIOD! Sounds like they need an ecollar. Once a dog realizes it can ignore you, all of it's training is out the window. If he's adolescent then likely his behaviors will get worse before they ever get better.

7. Lastly, I'm not a fan of dog parks. They are filled with diseases. Most of the owners don't keep an eye on their dog and know little to nothing about dog body language. The other owners bring dogs that have no desire to play with any other dog. Some owners bring aggressive dogs (this applies to big and little dogs!) and they are a disaster waiting to happen. I'd suggest instead, make some friends at the dog park and meet up at each others house and let your dogs play. Much safer and a heck of a lot cleaner. For the dobe owner, I'd suggest joining the local doberman club (you can find them on the DPCA website) and local doberman facebook groups and find other dobes to hang out with (preferably of the opposite sex).

You have my permission to share my answer. Thank you for looking for advice and Good luck.
 

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joie de vivre
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I'm sorry you're dealing with this. With very, very, very few individual exceptions, Dobermans do not belong at dog parks. And it sounds like that Doberman is not one of those unique exceptions, nor are the owners handling the situation properly. It really does sound like a bad situation waiting to happen. I hate that, too, and not just because it's potentially endangering other dogs but because this kind of irresponsible Doberman ownership perpetuates breed discrimination and that affects all of us who own Dobes, even those of us who do handle our dogs responsibly.

You mention that the park isn't regulated but are there any rules posted? Who is responsible for the park maintenance?
 
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Big Lil pup
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Hi dogperson. And welcome from the Pacific NW.

Personally, I doubt that talking to the Dobe owner would do much good given the way you describe the situation. Here in Portland, which is an over-the-top dog friendly city our leash free dog parks are controlled by the county. While they generally reside within city parks, enforcement is left up to our Multnomah County Animal Services, our animal public control enforcement group. They are complaint based and don't routinely visit dog parks unless there is a reason. However... If a legitimate complaint is made, the will generally follow up. Hopefully this works the same way in your area.

That being said... I agree with absolutely everything that Gretchen_Red said. Especially the part about with interactions between neutered and intact males who are put together in an uncontrolled environment like a dog park. My 6 yo is an intact male. He is not an aggressive dog. When leashed he is totally non reactive to other dogs. He simply stares at them. Never the less, he is constantly barked at and acted very aggressively towards. Usually, completely out of the blue and often to the surprise of the other dog's owner. I get a lot of apologies. So... You might be able to see how this particular Dobe owner might, however mistakenly, assume that their dog is the one who is being wronged. So, as GR correctly stated: It's not a matter of "if" her dog will be attacked it's a matter of "when". And more importantly, when the Dobe retaliates (it will) and maims or kills the "aggressor", everyone loses.

So my suggestion is to get as much info on the Doberman and its owners as possible. Try to have a polite conversation with them without putting them on the defensive. You could even suggest that they visit this forum and enter into a discussion about Dobes and dog parks.

If that doesn't work, try going the Animal Control route and ask for an investigation. In the meantime, I would not have your dachshund running free at that particular park when the Dobe is around. Although the chance of your dog being injured by this dog is probably small if you keep your dog under control, it's really not worth the risk.

Best to you and your dog...

John Lichtwardt
Portland OR
 

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Thank you all so much for the thorough replies! I'm currently avoiding this park. One of the neighbours has already thought of contacting the authorities, but I don't think it will do much good. If I manage to catch the owners again, I'll try to be understanding and direct them to this forum. I think it really makes a difference when the advice comes from people who cherish the breed.
 

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I agree with the others, with few exceptions, Dobermans are not good dog park dogs.... especially not an intact boy. In addition, Dobermans are a breed that play very very rough - a lot of dogs cannot and will not tolerate that type of play. Hope you can get them to understand this.
 

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There is a community dog park around mile from my parents house. I have taken my intact male Dobe there a few times while visiting my folks.

What I have seen is that most ppl can not control their dogs... I put a remote collar on my boy and usually have him sit with me at one of the benches. We just watch. Then I will heel him in the soccer field on the other side of the fence while walking back to the car. I do feel bad not really letting him run around while there (except very early mornings when few ppl are around)...it’s just life in the city.

Back at home my boy runs on his own on my property...his gps tracking collar tells me his average activity is 12-18 miles each day. We tend to “stay home” a lot. 😬

Based on your post I don’t think speaking to the owners will help... there are a lot of bad owners.
 

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Dog parks are for owners that can't control their dog because they aren't properly trained and/or proofed. I'm not saying every owner and their dog are in that situation, but there is usually always an owner there because they can't take their dog off lead because they aren't trained and/or properly socialized. I will not allow any of my clients to take their dogs to a "fenced in dog park." The risk is too high. All training progress can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. It will only take one aggressive bite or attack to set your dog back for possibly their entire lives....
 

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Hi, I've read a few of the opinions on here about dobermans at dog parks and actually wanted some advice on how to speak to a doberman owner. I myself don't have a dobe, but I've been having trouble with a woman who's been bringing her adolescent and intact male doberman to the local dog park, where I've been taking my adult standard dachshund. This park isn't regulated - it's just the neighbourhood dogs. Dogs of all sizes show up, but all tend to get along. People are getting nervous with the doberman, however, but the woman and her father get really defensive and claim people are being prejudiced because of his breed. I get where they're coming from, but they don't see a problem with his behavior. He will play fetch with his owner for a while and attends to recall commands at first. But then I assume he gets tired of it, because he starts running wildly around the park and tries to engage other dogs in rough play - even little ones. This is when he doesn't respond to recall at all, which is the reason I'm no longer taking my dog when he's there. I'v seen dogs resort to growling and barking to get him to back off, and he has responded aggressively. Several discussions have happened because of this, but the owners still act like they're the victims and that it's their dog who's been getting attacked. Have any of you ever had to deal with a situation like this and actually gotten through to the owners? I thought of asking here because it would be nice to get the perspective of people who are knowledgeable about and love the breed and maybe could help me with constructive things to say. Thanking you in advance.
My Dobie, who died last June, grew up in dog parks (and our local forest). She was the dog park queen adored by everyone, including all of the dog regulars. She was a neutered female. There were also a half dozen other Dobies who came to various dog parks. They were generally either aloof or friendly. I used to not like Dobies, but after my son got one and then handed it over to me, I became a convert. They are grossly misunderstood. They are very intelligent and very sensitive dogs. If taken care of and socialized appropriately, they can be very sweet and friendly dogs. But, their sensitivity and intelligence will pick up on signals that can indicate problematic people and dogs. In such cases, they will let you know something is not right. But, this sort of behavior is also a part of many other dogs' repertoires. However, the biggest issue I've encountered with Dobies and just about all other dogs that act aggressively has to do with these dog not being neutered or being neutered too late, especially with males. In addition, play is how dogs develop trusting relationships. My Dobie loved to play roughly, but only after working up to a level of trust, which could take weeks of play with a specific individual, but occasionally only took seconds (like love at first sight). Dogs are exceptionally good at communicating their feelings during play. If a dog keeps going back into the play with a "rougher" dog, there's no problem. If a dog squeals or yelps during play, that is usually an alert of either pain or freaking out a bit. In a good relationship, the other dog will hold back or take a break. However, as with people, some dogs don't quite have the social skills to respond well to the communication during play, or charge into rough play without really being aware of what the other dog is communicating. You really have to watch for how dogs are communicating and behaving with one another. And, sometimes it can be difficult. My Dobie would often bark intensely at another dog when entering or leaving the dog park. It took me a long to time to realize it was some weird greeting. The dogs being barked at seemed to take the barking in stride. I finally got to a point of letting her go up to the other dogs while barking. Every time she got close, she'd drop her head and sniff or go into a play bow. The other dogs understood, but the people (including me at first) rarely did.
 
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