The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rules of Doggie Playgroup

Posted by Seeking Solace |

On Monday nights, I take the Boy to a doggie playgroup. For five bucks, he gets to run around and play with other dogs for an hour. I am required to stay with him, just in case he decides to do his business indoors.

I have really enjoyed our little play dates. I have met some nice people and some really nice dogs. Even GML has brought her boys to playgroup. The Boy does have a couple of dog friends that he plays with. He also has a few doggie girlfriends that he tries to mount, even though the plumbing isn't working. (Can't fault him for trying!) Lately, the playgroup has gotten a bit crowded because word of mouth has surfaced about the playgroup. Also, the head trainer who is also the owner, is absolute fantastic when it comes to dogs and their behavior. But, this has introduced new people who do not understand the rules of playgroup.

Often same sex dogs will mount each other as a sign of dominance over the other. The Boy does this a lot. He seems to think that he is the king of playgroup. There are some dogs that he knows not to try mounting because that dog will kick his ass. So, the Boy only goes after dogs that he thinks he can dominate. The dog on the opposite end of the Boy's attempt at dominance either submits or runs in fear. There are trainers at the playgroup who supervise the play to ensure that the dogs are safe and also break up any fights that may occur. Usually, the offender is placed in doggie time out until he or she can behave. And the Boy has done his share of time out.

I don't get too worried when the Boy goes after females. Many usually run off or one of the trainers removes him. And there have been a couple of dogs who have kicked the Boy's ass. But, the Boy can be very persistent when he has his sights set on another dog. No amount of time out will stop him from bothering another dog. I have spoken to the trainers about the Boy's "behavior". They tell me that he does not act like this when he is at daycare, in fact, he plays very nicely with the other dogs. Most likely, he is showing off for me, his mom. It does not excuse his behaviour; it only explains it.

So last night, we arrived at playgroup. And there were a few new faces. When we were told to "release the hounds", the Boy found what he though would be a potential playmate, a male Lab mix. This dog was new to playgroup, so he was a little shy. The Boy tried to initiate play with play bows, paw slaps, yips and the like, but this dog wanted nothing to do with the Boy. The Boy attempted to mount this dog, which was met with removal by one of the trainers. Of course, the Boy was not going to give up that easily. He kept trying to mount this dog. I even stepped in to remove him from the situation, without touching the other dog. I sensed that this dog's parents were none too pleased at the antics of my Boy. I apologized profusely, stating that the Boy is not vicious, but I would do everything that I could to keep him away from their dog.

At one point, one of the other dog owners said to me "I think that guy kicked the Boy." I was shocked. I didn't want to confront him without having actually seeing his foot hit my dog. About five minutes later, I saw what appeared to be this guy kneeing or kicking my dog. I still was not sure. Finally, I actually saw this guys foot leave the ground and kick my Boy. The Boy did not yip or anything; he is a very strong dog. But, I was furious.

Rule #1 of doggie playgroup: Do not discipline another person's dog.
(I would also submit Rule #1A: Do not hit a dog...EVER!)

How dare this jerk hit my dog! No one is allow to discipline my dog except me, Husband and the trainers. And to hit an animal is just wrong on so many levels. If this jackass hit my dog, who knows what he does to his own dog.

With my urge to kill rising, I went over to one of the trainers and told her what I saw. I guess my rage got the best of me because before she could say anything to the jackass, I got in his face and said "If I see you kick my dog again, I am going to kick your ass." You do not under any circumstances touch my dog. That's what the trainers are for." He looked at me and muttered something unintelligible, to which I replied "I can and will kick your ass." (Did I mention that the jackass was about 6'4" and I am about 5'4" on a good day?)

The trainer finally made it over to us and I guess she had a talk with the guy. He did not get kicked out though. It didn't really matter because it was almost the end of playgroup.

But I was fuming. Some of my fellow dog parents came over to lend support for me and the Boy. They did not blame me for getting pissed. I did feel bad about losing my temper. I should have allowed the trainer to handle it. I did apologize to her for my actions. And, I should have said something to one of the trainers when I was told about the first kick. But, I didn't want to accuse someone without actually seeing it firsthand. I definitely should have handled it better, but I don't regret standing up for my Boy.

I guess I know how parents feel about anyone trying to harm their kids. I know someone will comment that you can't compare the two, but my point is that when you care about someone as much as I do with the Boy, you will protect them.


PhDLadybug said...

I totally understand you and I think I would have done the same thing. I hope the trainer can be more vigilant next time and can take care of the issue right away. As a dog's mom I won't let anyone hit my dog (nor other's dog).

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I'm with you -- and the fact that he did it twice is really icky.

If he were to nudge The Boy away from his dog in a threatening situation, that might be one thing--- but, after that you go to the trainer and tell them of your concern about The Boy's behavior -- you don't kick him again!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, I totally agree with you. What an asshole! If NLLDH had been in that situation, he WOULD have kicked the guy's ass (not to say that you should have or that it would be a good thing! just that we share your strong protectiveness!).

Prisca said...

Oh no! That sounds horrible.

Do you suppose the mean guy is not a very experienced 'dog person'? I only say that because although I love animals, I'm not very knowledgeable about how they interact in groups. I find I (not my dog!) get very nervous at doggie play dates because I don't know enough about what 'proper' play entails. Sometimes the whole dominance thing is intimidating to ME. I'm NOT excusing him (nor do I kick other people's dogs!), but I'm wondering if he's just stupid and didn't know what else to do. It's kind of like when we have to tell preschoolers to 'use their words' instead of pushing or hitting to resolve conflict. Does that make sense? Either way, I'm hoping he got a stern talking to and will be too embarased to show up again!

I hope The Boy hasn't suffered any ill effects. Poor sweetie.

rented life said...

I said it already. The guy is a jerk. Can I hit him?

k8 said...

Can he be banned from the playgroup? Anyone who would so easily/quickly abuse an animal does not belong in that group. He shouldn't own a pet, either. I have to wonder if his dog is used to being dominated since it didn't really respond to your dog's attempts at dominance.

zerodoll said...

catch me on a bad day, and i would've kicked the loser in the shins.

Alice said...

I agree -- regardless of the circumstances, hitting an animal which is not a threat to your life is shameful. The guy should have been removed immediately.

Psychgrad said...

I would have snapped too and likely also threatened to beat up a man a foot taller me.

It's sad too, because if he's willing to kick another person's dog in public, what will he do to his own dog in private?

Seeking Solace said...

Thanks everyone and big kisses from the Boy.

I don't think he can be banned from playgroup. I will see the owner tomorrow and see what her take is on the whole thing.

I am thinking about taking the Boy on a different day for a while, at least until things settle down a little. I shouldn't have to, but I am wondering if he is overstimulated by the large number of dogs. When he is at daycare, there are fewer dogs. He also does not have any behavioral issues.

joanna said...

Well, you are probably right about your dog, but that other owner had no right to kick your pet. He should have come to you and tried to speak with you. And maybe your dog does need a smaller group to run with.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

ooo - don't you hate that? I get all riled up too when someone does this although I think it's okay for someone else to shout at my dog if there is real trouble. But kicking!

And yeah, the whole humping thing is dominance...many different species do this and you may notice that females will hump females too. It only has to do with sex if one is in heat.