I was so excited to finally be able to take Dakota to the dog park. He had just gotten his last round of shots and was cleared by the vet to interact with other dogs. As a special surprise for being so well-behaved at the vet, I thought that we would venture over to the dog park for the first time. And that's where the adventure started.
When we got to the park there were two sections to chose from: small dogs and big dogs. Being a puppy, my initial thought was to head over to the small dog section; but when I scanned over the area there were no puppies in sight. All the small dogs seemed to be older and looked about half the size of Dakota. At home, Dakota had met a few of the neighbor dogs and got along with them really well. They were larger older dogs so I thought that playing with big dogs might be more fun for Dakota. So I headed for the big dog section instead. In hindsight I realize that wasn't the smartest decision on my part and for that I feel like the worst dog mom ever. I also realize now that I over-estimated Dakota's aggressive play and underestimated the nature of the big dogs. Needless to say, he was over-powered and ganged up on within minutes of playing with the larger dogs. Although the group of dogs just wanted to play and weren't being super aggressive towards him, Dakota quickly became overwhelmed and scared. Before that day I had never seen a dog actual play dead, and might I add that Dakota could win an academy award for his performance. Not only did he play dead but he ran for his life looking for his mommy to save him. On that note, we left the big dogs and headed to the small dog section. And again, a posse of "I'm too good for you" mini dogs picked on my sweet pup and again he resorted to playing dead. After that incident, we stayed away from the "nasty mini dogs" and started hand selecting the dogs that could play with our pup. Eventually Dakota found a few dogs that were friendly and gentle. Before you knew it, he was the happiest puppy on earth wrestling and chasing his new-found friends.
Looking back on this whole ordeal, I have few takeaways:
1. Even if your puppy plays with big dogs one on one, they may not fair well with a group of them.
2. Yes, even small (albeit mini) dogs can be aggressive.
3. For the first few times at a dog park, map it out and find the friendly dogs.
4. Puppy play is not equivalent to rough-housing.
5. Dog vs. Human... Dakota always choses the human.
6. Personality traits of my dog: sweet, gentle and submissive. If predicting the future, I see him as a gentle giant only attacking you with doggy kisses.
7. Everyone loves puppies, especially Goldendoodle puppies :-) I've received so many compliments towards our pup. I thought I was the only one that thought my dog was THAT cute!!!
© Stephanie Marie Photography