When to take your Shiba out of the dog park.

What’s one place you’re not going to find Tierce this summer? At the dog park. It looks like his tolerance for puppies and ‘paws-on’ dogs there has reached its limit.

Tierce and Tex

Tierce and one of his friends at daycare.

A four-month-old puppy was in the dog park the other evening. Tierce went over and was sniffing her. She started licking Tierce’s face and he lost it on her. Snarling, snapping, pinning her to the ground, screaming imprecations in Canine… it was scary.

We checked the puppy and she did not appear injured, just scared. Information was passed on in case she did have an injury discovered later on. Luckily for us, once the owner realized that we were taking responsibility and the puppy wasn’t hurt, he was mollified. The puppy perked back up a little, but of course she was frightened and it was unpleasant for all concerned.

So, I think it’s time to retire Tierce from the dog parks permanently. He is just become too intolerant of dogs getting into his personal space. Previously, in the dog park, he would snap or snarl if a puppy got too up close and personal – just enough to tell them to get away.

I’ve talked to a bunch of people about this incident and there have been several theories advanced.

One is that face-licking can be viewed as intrusive even if it’s done very submissively. The puppy wasn’t doing anything I would view as ‘rude’ enough to warrant Tierce’s reaction, but I have very little idea what goes through his head at times. I can guess, but in the end, I’m kind of feeling my way.

Several people have mentioned that their Shibas have ‘cut-off’ dates, where their Shibas have up and decided that, nope, the Shiba was no longer open or business with other dogs or certain types of dogs – puppies, ‘rude’ dogs, overly energetic dogs, etc.

This makes sense, based on what I’ve observed with Shassi. After the age of about a year and a half, Shassi hated other dogs, cats, you name it. She warmed up to very few other dogs – Tierce was tolerated at best and threatened with early neutering at worst.

And, of course, there’s simply the Shiba explanation: Tierce is a Shiba and thereby motivated by dark forces to lead me into a false state of complacency and humiliate me at the most inopportune times.

Anyway, this blog post is about when to take your dog out of the dog park. Well, even though he didn’t hurt the puppy and may have been expressing his disapprobation with the puppy being in his personal space, I think that’s way too intolerant for him to be brought back.

I’ve had some experience swallowing my pride over the last nearly-20-years-with-Shibas, so maybe this decision isn’t as hard as it would be otherwise. I don’t want to go, “Oh, he didn’t hurt the puppy, so whatever,” and then have him hurt another dog down the line.

One thing I’m conflicted on: Tierce seems much more at ease on off-leash trails and I’ve never had a problem with him there.  Is it the environment as much as the dog-to-dog interaction?  So far, at daycare, he is doing well, possibly because he is part of the ‘regulars’ and has his friends and is mostly left alone by the younger dogs.

It’s so difficult trying to get into this dog’s head and I’d like to hear people’s opinions on the matter.