We’ve discovered Gunnar has a new favorite place and no, it’s not under the table where he can find falling table scraps. He’s been hanging around the Davison Dog Park enjoying his first taste of being off the leash since he was a puppy.
My son, Sam, and I have taken Gunnar on a couple of visits to the park and the dog has run until he was too exhausted to run any more. It was great to see him enjoying himself so much.
Getting loose at home always involves him dashing out the door without his leash and running around like a wild animal until he could be cornered and captured — or tricked into surrender. This option, running around a fenced in park, was much better.
But, of course, there have been some hurdles to overcome in taking Gunnar to his “special place.”
First, he still hasn’t gotten the whole “I throw the ball, the dog brings it back” concept through his head. Really, it’s hit and miss — sometimes I throw the ball and he chases it and brings it back, other times I throw it and he chases it and gives up to go check other things out. Things like watching passers-by, stopping to smell places other dogs have marked and, oh yes, barking (yapping) loudly at other dogs.
In fact, Gunnar’s social skills with other dogs are very poor. He can’t take a walk with us through the neighborhood without giving other dogs a piece of his mind. Generally he doesn’t bark until another dog either barks at him first or makes a sudden move toward him — then it’s on.
He barks at the offending animal mercilessly, increasing his tone and volume if the other dog dares to try and bark louder. I’m not really sure where he gets that from, not a clue, not even the part where he has to have the last word.
His tendency to bark at other dogs has been the center of some attention at the dog park. His first trip there he barked at some dog whose owner decided she was going to teach him, and I, a thing or two about who’s in charge. She came into our dog run with her dogs and told me “this is how you make them listen so they know you are in charge” and then she proceeded to smack Gunnar several times across his backside.
I was shocked. I would never think of correcting someone else’s dog, let alone striking a dog. I was unfamiliar without a good reason. Defending myself from being bitten, or one of my children or loved ones being bitten, yes, but just to show someone how to train a dog — absolutely not.
I grabbed Gunnar up and Sam and I left the dog park. We returned a few weeks later and let him run again, this time in a run next to a 7-month-old Boxer. Gunnar barked at the young Boxer, but rather than making her bark back, she found it to be a good game and she ran up and down the dog run leading him on a chase back and forth.
By the time they were done, both dogs were exhausted and panting. Gunnar drank his water and laid down on some cool cement to rest. He was burned out. Mission accomplished.