Dog walking 101 - what do you do when a big dog approaches?The curious thing when you see a new person or dog at a dog park is that their inexperience often shows in palpable anxiety. Both dog and owner share being scared of the unknown and if read wrongly by other dogs (social or otherwise) this can end in dog violence. Mostly it will be from a new dog experiencing a fight or flight reflex, but even social dogs can misinterpret the energy as excitement rather than fear.
That is almost always the concern for new highly strong powerful dogs in dog parks. It isnt always their intention to have fights, but sometimes they can get picked on for their size, or their anxiety can be misinterpreted. A social pack of dogs mostly knows through experience how to approach a new dog, or how far to let a new dog play with the pack before its intentions are read as being too dominant.
Some times in the park I think that our pack is providing such a community service that we should be paid for our interactions. But then again, it is only through the foresight and care of the owners of the dogs I take to dog parks, that they are there in the first place,
This article is centred around the image at the top of it. A prime example of a dog breed that can do some serious fighting (boxer breed) that stayed stationary about 40m from our pack. It was eying off the big dog in the pack Kara (bull arab). Kara is 100% social, so it was fine for her to lie down in hidden stalker mode, but we didn't know about what level the boxer was at.
The boxer ran over to our pack sniffed the biggest dog, then stood and submitted to be sniffed and sniff the rest of our pack as they socially greeted them. This was a very good meeting. Made more tense because of the stand-off and because we didn't know what level the new big dog was at.
In our packs we have small, large, various breed class and various age dogs. Rarely will dogs in the same pack play hard with each other until a dog from another pack visits, because they all know their status in the pack, there is no reason to play or challenge. They will at the beach, or if another dog comes in and excites the pack ... but they play within very safe limits as they don't want to damage their relationships.
This is why our walks are mostly sedentary affairs unless a couple of dogs seriously want to play with each other, then its mostly during scheduled play stops. The walks are mostly each dog investigating the park. They are so social they are not threatened by each other they just want to know about their environment and what other animals have been there before them. They are getting physical stimulation by walking but the mental stimulation from the sniffing scents, and honing their skills of interrelating with the pack and all new comer dogs provides extensive satisfaction. And its only the freedom afforded by being off lead, having to make their own choices that makes all of this possible - to become the most balanced dog they can be.