I’m O B S E S S E D with this Alaskan Klee Kai, they are my second favourite breed after Pomeranians. I want Georgie to be bff with her and I can be bff with her owner and it’d be great, except her owner is one of those unfriendly dog park people who always keeps her headphones in.
Last week one of my neighbors/fellow dog park habitués pointed out to me that my dog is one of the few Pomeranians seen at the park regularly. It’s kind of true; while there are a couple of people who bring their poms into the off-leash area there are many more who walk them around the outside of the park and glare at all of us inside the fence with distrust.
Pomeranian crosses like Blondie here are a different story. She’s a total jerk though. But so pretty!
Sometimes people bring full-grown poms into the park that have clearly never been there before, or even around other dogs, and it’s always a disaster. The other park dogs will run over to say hello and the poms will start yelping and snapping, and the pom’s owner will grab them and swoop them up into the air, out of harm’s way. This is such a bad habit to get into- it prevents the dog from ever learning to relate to other dogs in an appropriately doggy manner, and by lifting it higher than the dogs on the ground, the owner is reinforcing their pet’s feelings of unearned superiority and alpha-ness.
I guess a lot of people with poms feel like they are dainty delicate puffs of fluff that need to be protected at all times, but this isn’t actually the case (I mean, except for those crazy small Lux Pup-style poms).
WHAT EVEN IS THIS??? I saw one of these tiny things irl once and it was like two cotton balls stuck together. It’s whole body was the size of Georgie’s head!
Poms are friendly, sturdy little dogs that love to play and run and chase, and a trip to the off-leash park allows them to do these things. Coddling them and preventing them from indulging in typical doggy behaviors leads to unpleasant, unfriendly, snappy yappy monsters that give all poms a bad name. The number of times I’ve had someone marvel about how friendly and non-yappy my dog is… that is how poms are SUPPOSED to be!
I’m obviously not a dog professional (so take all my thoughts with a grain of salt) but I do think I’ve done a pretty good job of raising Georgie to be a functional member of dog park society. Here’s how I did it:
1. I introduced her to all the dogs in the world.
I was lucky in that Georgie came from a good breeder with lots of different dogs and kids and people around the puppies, so she was already well socialized when I got her, and we had two dogs at home (Kichou and Dougal) for her to be friends with right away.
Classic babby Georgie; Kichou was her first bullying victim and she’s still pulling his tail to this day.
I think Dougal was an especially important friend for her because he is so much bigger than she is, and it helped her to get used to dogs of all sizes. We also have a lot of neighbors with dogs I know and trust so even before she was allowed to go to the park she was able to play in the back yard with a variety of dogs. Once she’d had all her shots I started taking her to the dog park across the street, which is pretty big and has quite a few bigger dogs that go there, and she quickly learned to love it. If you don’t have a backyard or dog park handy you could always look into a dog meetup or social group, although I think a lot of those are breed-specific and I don’t think that’s the best way to get a small dog used to being around big dogs.
2. Let her fight her own dog battles.
This was something that was sometimes hard, especially when she was really little, but unless it is a serious situation with danger of real harm coming to a dog, you have to let them fight their own battles! That is how dogs, especially young ones, learn and play and develop proper social skills, as well as learn their place in the dog world. There were some times when a bigger, more aggressive dog was hassling Georgie and she was overwhelmed and scared, but I never, ever picked her up in the dog park.
One time I had Georgie in the park when she was about five or six months old, and this bullet-headed terrier mix would. not. stop. hassling her. It was bigger and faster and stronger than she was and I could tell she was getting really upset and frustrated. She just wanted this big bully to leave her alone! She kept running over to me and begging me to pick her up but I refused. Eventually the terrier found someone else to pick on, much to Georgie’s delight, but get this: the very next time we went to the park, that terrier was lying under a tree and Georgie ran over, jumped on its back and started humping the back of its head! She told that dog “I AM THE BOSS OF YOU NOW!” and after that, she wasn’t afraid of it at all; in fact, they played together and had tons of puppy fun!
Georgie used to be P E T R I F I E D of my neighbors’ chocolate labradoodle Emily (she’s huge but still a puppy and therefore totally demented with flailing limbs everywhere), but the last couple times we’ve been at the park together they’ve played and chased together.
3. Let her play!
This should be the easiest thing, but it seems for some people it’s not. One of my neighbors got a puppy a few months ago and every time I see them outside it’s all “Rosie, stop, Rosie, come, Rosie, bad dog!” when Rosie isn’t doing anything but engaging in some typical puppy wrestling. Dogs wrestle and bite and chase; that’s how they play. If they are really uncomfortable or being hurt, YOU’LL KNOW. Georgie plays with all kinds and all sizes of dogs, especially in the park. Her favourite thing is when all the big dogs get into a big chase- she joins right in and runs after them like a little golden rocket.
Sometimes she finds herself leading the chase, which isn’t her favourite, but she’ll just run under a bench and then rejoin the back of the pack. The only time I have to intervene is sometimes when she plays with little puppies- she’s kind of a bully (like that long-ago bullet-headed terrier mix!), and so if it seems like the other dog’s owner isn’t comfortable with her wrestling I’ll call her away and send her to play with a different dog. Usually though, I just sit down and let her do her doggy thing!
Her doggy thing is very goofy.