Big-dog-little-handler: when your dog is the biggest dog in the dog park.

Today we braved the “big dog walk”. On Saturdays our dog training group take all their pooches out for a walk together. Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? For us it’s our worst nightmare; people for Duke to annoy and dogs for Duke to wind up. Now it sounds like I am being very mean to my pride and joy… not so! I’m just very aware he is fundamentally unaware of the acceptable way to behave in doggy society. He just wants to run and play! And if you don’t want to play tough luck mate you are playing.

My first worry was my dog’s young dog nature, the second? Bikes, the third? Deer. The fourth? Duke jumping at strangers. The fifth? We really rely on our dog training group for duke’s learning and development and for our own we definitely didn’t want to get kicked out because Duke’s a pickle ! The man who part runs the club put me at ease first assuring he would help should we get in trouble. Duke has a bit of an obsession with the other trainers dog; he likes to windup her lurcher (which is great fun for both of us) so automatically I’m nervous. Duke’s also a big dog who likes to play a little rough. Tougher and rougher than most other dogs.

To give Duke his due he was very good as we waited for everyone to arrive. Very good! And as we all set off we let him off. I love seeing Duke play, it really is a beautiful sight, a noisy beautiful sight. And yes duke picked on the Lurcher, I think he has got the dogs equivalent of an unrequited crush, and like any teenage boy he just makes noise till he’s noticed. He kept barking and knocking over one of the puppies out of pure excitement, body slamming her every time he caught up to her, poor thing!

Duke proved himself to be the biggest and loudest of the group. Barking whenever he got too excited, because he was a little over the top at moments, we did pop him on his lead for a while and walked him side by side with some of the other dogs. Something I never thought he would be able to do; walk side by side with another dog calmly. Without jumping out or being a general pain. It’s was quite lovely. I also got a chance to chat with people outside our normal environment of the training hall.

It was really nice to hear positive comments about him. The other dog owners commented on how well he was doing and he was just excited. Its nice for others to repeat your thoughts so you know you aren’t t looking at your hound through rose tinted specs. It’s lovely when people see his real nature, an annoying, but ultimately playful pup. With encouragement from the others we let him off again when a smaller group broke off. He played with a lot less barking and bravado.

He had such a lovely time, but being the biggest dog of the pack I still worry he plays a little to rough at times. I like seeing him play with dogs who hold their own. And owners who understand.

We managed to walk calmly past horses, bikes and unknown dogs. I’m pretty happy with our first big dog walk; although I’m hoping he’s much more settled on the next one. But we will definitely be attending another. I just love seeing him play; they get something from playing with another dog that we humans just can’t give them.

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