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Dog parks, owners and voice command

Let me share some Information before I delve in. Molly hates, let me emphasize that, HATES, small dogs. Molly was a rescue, so we don't know that much about her story. What we do know now is that she is fence, toy and food aggressive. She hates and reacts badly to large diesel trucks/engines and she is fiercely protective of our children.

Missoula Dog Parks and Molly

Shortly after we adopted her, we took her to a couple of dog parks around town.

(Molly pictured below)

1. Fort Missoula Dog Park (our experience)

This park was fun because it has separate play areas. One for small dogs, and one for everyone else. She had fun for a little less than an hour, playing and carrying on with a few other dogs her size. Most of the owners were hanging out in a group talking and sharing stories of their furry friends, laughing at pups playing and carrying on. Each time A new dog at the gate! Yay! All doggies have to greet this dog! Unfortunately, this owner brought a ball, and not just any ball. A Chuck -it! We had previously played ball in our yard at home, and there wasn't any problems. However, this was a ball that everyone wanted. We quickly found out that Molly was and still is toy aggressive, especially with balls. All balls are Molly's balls.

2. MRL Bark Park (our experience)

We had an unfortunate encounter with a ridiculous dog owner who didn't listen to me saying "Hey give me a second to put my dog on a leash and let us leave first before coming through(the gate)."

Molly had been fine up until that point. There were several (Est. 5-6) dogs running and playing (midsize to large breeds), no biggie.

The owner blew me off and brought in his toy poodle. Even though I told him at the gate, please do not bring your dog in until mine is out, he did it anyway.

Hey Dog Owners! Listen to people please! When people say "Oh don't worry my dog is friendly", that just makes me nuts.

Whoop-de-doo! Other dogs may not be friendly, and that's why we, the owners, have them on a leash. Some people are afraid of dogs galumphing up to them. Just because you think your dog is friendly doesn't mean that we want your dog in our face or our dog's face. Please listen, and pay attention.

Molly could have killed his dog. There would have been zero poodle left if I was one of those owners. Thank goodness, I'm not. I know my dog doesn't like small dogs, and was able to control her on a leash, barely. She really wanted to eat his poodle. Snarling, lunging, pulling on the leash, it was scary. I wish he would've listened.

He was screaming, carrying on, acting as if I was a monster, whatever. Still didn't pick up his dog to protect her.

Hey idiot, I told you to wait for us, I feel in this instance, if Molly would have attacked his dog, it was his fault for not listening. There were witnesses.

After that, we don't take Molly to dog parks, in fact we only take her up mountains. We don't comingle with other dogs, people, horses, etc.

Owners need to pay attention, and most do, but you get those who look at their phones the entire time, or bring their kids or hey, don't listen to the other owners. Hey! some dogs don't like kids. but hey let's bring small children to a dog park! Really smart right? What if by chance, oh I don't know, a dog bit a child, whose responsible, the dog who is at a dog park, not a children's park, or the child's parent who brought the child into a "dog park?"

3. Jacob's Island Bark Park

I wasn't even attempting this dog park, since we had brought our previous dog here (Missy)and she escaped. We had to grab her out of East Broadway and Van Buren rush hour traffic. (perfect example of a dog not under voice control)

(Ellie, parent's dog, pictured left, and Missy pictured above)

Voice Control/Command

But I digress. After the MRL incident, we don't take Molly to dog parks, ever. In fact we only take her up into the mountains. We let her run off leash in the mountains, but she is under voice control at all times. We whistle, she comes. We call, she comes. We say heel, she heels. This is true voice command. This didn't happen overnight. This took years of training, practice, and patience. We don't set her up for failure either. We tend to go when there is less people and dogs on the trail. We usually don't run into dogs, but when we do, we whistle and she comes.

1. True Recall

I want to stress the importance of true recall. This is the most important command to teach your dog, but not the easiest. It takes time, hard work and patience.

True Recall is an essential training component. It keeps your dog safe as well as others. If you have a dog that will return 100% of the time, you don't need to be the person saying "my dog is friendly." You just call them back. You won't have to worry about if the other person, dog, animal is friendly or not, because yours is back, by your side, safe.

If you "think" your dog is under voice control, you are wrong. If you know that 100% of the time, your dog will come no matter what, then your dog is under voice control and you have mastered true recall.

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