Lady at the Dog Park: *A Rant*
Hey Chazhound; before I begin, I'd like to warn readers that this is 'mainly' a rant... in case you're not into that sort of thing
Though I suppose there is 'some' technical application in this story. The main points in summary I guess are:
1. The rant about the lady in the park
2. Question: What to do about Wanta's random/seemingly-irrational barking.
Basically I'm a little upset at myself for being somewhat sloth-minded. Also, in times of pressure I get really fuzzy-minded, which is also a real bother. But essentially I was at the dog park today, and Wanta got scolded. Or I suppose you could say I got scolded; a little bit of both actually.
There's a lot I can say I personally did wrong. Wanta started to bark at -something- at the park. I wasn't sure what it was...usually Wanta likes to bark at big dogs (whenever she does that is, which is rare altogether), but today, she started barking at certain people, or a direction, I -don't even know!-. She just kept barking and didn't stop. The politically-correct thing to do was to do what most people at the park do at this point in time: make it seem like you're trying to do something about it. But the problem was I was really 'somewhere else' today so I just slowly walked up to Wanta trying to see -what it was- that she was barking at. Occasionally she does this schizophrenic style of barking (at nothing), but today was the most lengthy/confusing. I mean, most of the time when this occurred in the past -at least- she was barking at another dog to 'go play'. But today just ...'barked schizo-style' for about 2 minutes incessantly. It made no sense to me at all.
By the 2 minutes mark I started to get a bit nervous (started to register that this wasn't too good of a rep for Wanta). The important thing to note here is that in the last couple of months at the park (and for her entire life from puppyhood), Wanta has displayed minimal aggression towards anyone. She runs from threat, is somewhat easily startled, and is extremely gentle/friendly with children/adults (even more so with children). In other words, I can say pretty objectively that Wanta isn't an aggressive-dog and if anything, leaning more on the weenie-side. This is only bolstered by me joining this forum since she was young, and asking incessant questions to make sure she was socialized properly as a pup.
But Ms. Lady comes over and says "you know, you really shouldn't let your dog bark at people like that". Already, I was a little peeved, but since I get flustered by confrontation, I tried to avoid conflict and say something like "Well, I don't know what my dog is barking at". In short, I wanted to resolve the problem, and locate the source of Wanta's barking (even now, I still don't know however).
At this point, she has to add (rather high and mightily too), "Well yeah, You really should tell her to stop, because she'll think she's the boss". At this point, I was upset at two points. a) 'um...tell her to 'stop'? How exactly is that a miracle solution? b) oic...you believe in the dated-alpha-dog theories
The problem is I got even more flustered and just said something completely-useless like "oh...well..I don't think that's the case".
Ms-Lady has to go on in a sing-song/pompous voice: "well...just saaayinnng, cause someone once told me the same thingggg...and she turned out to be aggressive".
Then she goes over to Wanta and makes the most futile move ever....
"...No..." <----general situation I expected...
*Wanta keeps barking*
My logic was to find the source of the barking, which was why I didn't really focus on 'telling Wanta to stop'.
At this point I just let out a flustered-silent-ish "well...she's really gentle..she even plays with kids..". Basically a -horrible- comeback. It was only until after I fled the park that I started getting mad in my car. I didn't say any of the stuff I thinking in my head. Nothing about alpha-theory being flawed. Nothing about Wanta's true personality (this was like 2 minutes of barking out of 4 months of dog-parking). I just lost due to wussiness...
It's going to be nerving to have to see her again (which will probably happen because I go almost every day). I hated seeing Wanta looked-down upon with such injustice. There was a kind lady though, and she kept telling me it was ok for Wanta to bark. I told her that even though the other lady was pretty silly about it, she was maybe being -over- lenient, because incessant barking is still a potential problem (alpha-myth aside). She seemed concerned that I was going to 'punish Wanta', especially after this incident. She kept going "Ohh, don't be too harsh with the dear", etc., but I smiled politely and said "Don't worry Ma'am, I'm not that silly" (indirect reference to the fact that I didn't believe in ineffectual punishments, much due to what I learned here)
Sorry for the mess of text. I just needed to vent this out to people who would 'understand'. But on a more level-headed discussion, I really need to learn what went wrong here. I can't stop her from barking if I don't even know what was causing it. I can imagine me telling her she was wrong, and then proceeding back to my 'perfect-dog' who would keep dodging me (I don't have an effective recall) and keep barking at.....something back there. (almost every person near that bench felt they were the target, and eyed Wanta with such judgmental-stares).
But I have to be fair. I -should've- at least made it -at least look like- I was saying "No Wanta! No!" for the sake of face....but I didn't. I also need to 'understand' what happened, because I still don't. Why did Wanta bark at seemingly-nothing for such a long period of time? Why does she sometimes bark off into the distance at 'nothing' at home (but not for long periods of time). Her eyes kept shifting from target to target like she was struck with paranoia (and it started out of nowhere). I suppose I should dig this problem from its roots by trying to make sure Wanta's schizo-bark-streaks stop before they become habitual. Or according to the Lady, 'make Wanta feel like she's boss'.
Thx in advance
Breed: Chihuahua/Dachshund Mix
Age: 10 months so far