Dog behavior, unleashed

BAZETTA – Wanting to make sure that all dogs are safe when they come in contact with other dogs, the Friends of the Mosquito Lake Dog Park hosted a public dog-behavior program for local dog owners.

Ugo Scarnecchia, president of the Friends group, said Jenny Falvey, co-owner and safety trainer with the Learning Dog in Hubbard, provided safety tips for understanding dog body language and behavior to more than 35 pet owners.

”We want to make the dog park safe for everyone who comes there with their dog,” he said.

Falvey said ”bullying” is never okay for any dog. She said often dogs, starting as puppies, will bully less active and calmer dogs.

”Play uninterrupted for a long period of time has the potential to turn into unacceptable behavior and possible dangerous behavior,” she said, showing a video of acceptable and unacceptable play among dogs such as pinning a dog beneath it and then standing still, freezing on top of the other dog .

Falvey said too often, one dog will not challenge another and the other dog may begin to bully and harass the less dominant dog, which becomes innappopriate.

”The one dog may be trying to get away from the bullying dog by running behind a chair to get away and may require the owner to stop the bullying and pull one dog off the other,” she said.

Falvey said dogs give other dogs signals through body language to back off.

”No dog should be put in a position of submission and pinned not able to move,” she said.

She said acceptable pinning is when one dog pins and immediately gets off and then they take turns.

Sandy Waltenbaugh of the Friends group said people bringing their dogs to the dog park will likely have dogs encountering one another.

”We wanted to make sure all dogs are safe at the park.

The dog owners need to be aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior,” she said.

Scarnecchia said the Friends are planning improvements at the 5-acre dog park.

He said funds have helped provide cleanup stations at the park so visitors can clean up after their pets.

He said people attending the event learned the signs and body language of what is clearly a threat by one dog to another dog.

Scarnecchia said he learned ways to break dogs apart, including lifting dog’s back legs like a wheelbarrow, throwing water in face, and dog horns, which he said ”stops every dog when they hear the noise.”

He said events for dogs and owners are being planned for the year, including a chance for dogs to wear costumes at the “Howloween” event in October.

The Learning Dog, 757 N. Main St., Hubbard, will hold an open house 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday to benefit local dog rescue groups. Donations of dog food wil be accepted.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com