Dog park politics – what’s your dog’s personality?

Puppy and soccer ball

Dog parks are social playgrounds for our four-legged friends. At dog parks you can meet dogs of all shapes and sizes, but what I find interesting is the myriad of different doggy personalities you can encounter. What’s your dog’s personality when it comes to dog parks?

Let’s discuss some of the different dog park personalities and see if you can identify your dog’s personality from below.

Ball chaser

Ball chasers are one of the most common types of doggy personalities at dog parks. These fast runners are only there for the sole purpose of chasing and retrieving a ball. The owners of ball chasers are often equipped with high-tech throwing gear, such as ball throwers to aid in projecting the ball as far as possible. The rest of us are in awe of ball chasers’ agility.

Many breeds are into chasing balls, but in the area I live in, I most often find the ball chaser breeds to be Border Collies, Labradors and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

Ball chasers will try to get anyone to throw their ball. So if their owners want to have a break from ball throwing, ball chasers will go from human to human to get anyone they possibly can to throw a ball. Have you ever picked up and thrown a strange dog’s slimy ball? Oh, and ball chasers will also try to steal other dogs’ balls, so remember to hold onto your ball tightly if you’ve got one for your own dog.

Ball chasers can be such fast runners that they also sometimes accidentally tackle other dogs while their chasing their ball. So if you’re taking your small to medium-sized pooch to the dog park, remember to keep it out of the ball chasers’ way.

Pug sitting on grass

Foot sitter

I didn’t know about foot sitters until I had one of these guys sit on my foot. As the name suggests, a foot sitter will sit on their owner’s or any other human’s foot rather than play with other dogs when at the dog park. The foot sitters I have encountered have mainly been Pugs and French Bulldogs. Whether it is to get extra pats or for extra warmth underneath the bum, the reason remains unknown.

Us humans tend to like foot sitters as they make us feel special. “Oh, he chose my foot, not the other person’s foot!” is the thought that often follows when we’re chosen by a foot sitter.

Foot sitters are very adorable I must admit.

Shy observer

Every now and then you encounter some very shy dogs at dog parks. The owners of shy observers are clearly doing the right thing by trying to socialize their timid little friends, but sometimes you can’t help but feel sorry for these poor things, as they clearly would like to be anywhere else, but at the dog park. Mostly shy observers are scared of other dogs, not humans.

Sometime ago I saw a shy observer at a dog park. She was a relatively big dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. This poor girl hid behind her owners, while her owners were desperately trying to get her to explore her surroundings. When another dog approached this shy observer, she initially showed a little curiosity, but instantly shot back to her owners’ feet when the other dog did a sudden move.

I really hope this shy observer will come out of her shell one day.

Shy boxer puppy

Independent sniffer

Not many dogs classify under the independent sniffer category, but in my observation Beagles or other hounds are the most evident independent sniffers around. The independent sniffer doesn’t really care about other dogs, but will rather methodically work his way through the smells of the entire dog park.

Midst of all the exploring, the independent sniffer might roll around in some exciting smells to cover up its own scent, much to the owner’s delight. The owners of independent sniffers often wonder why they brought their dog to the dog park as the point is kind of to play with other dogs not explore alone.

Polite pretender

Ok, so this is an interesting category. The polite pretender is a crazy wild thing at home, but when you take them to the dog park, they behave so nicely that other dog owners compliment you on your wonderfully well-behaved dog. The polite pretender will usually greet all humans (not dogs) at the dog park and sit at their feet similar to the foot sitter, to scout for attention.

The polite pretender will also play with other dogs, but is usually careful at choosing whom to play with.

Overall the polite pretender is similar to how children sometimes can be: naughty at home, but well-behaved in front of strangers and out in public.

Puppy at dog park

All the above?

I find that most dogs probably fit under several categories, depending on the mood they’re in on their dog park day. In the early days my puppy definitely was a shy observer, terrified of every other dog. Then my puppy developed some courage and he became an independent sniffer. He’s now alternating between the independent sniffer, foot sitter and polite pretender.

My puppy is definitely not a ball chaser. He might run after a ball, but half-way through chasing the ball he’ll abort mission and go after an interesting smell. I guess I’ll never have to buy a ball thrower.

Overall I’ve discovered my puppy is a human-dog, not a dog-dog, i.e. he prefers the attention of humans to dogs. The funniest thing I find about my puppy’s personality is that he clearly is a polite pretender. He can be so mischievous at home, but out and about he’s so well-behaved that other people constantly compliment him on his behavior.

It does make me a proud owner.

I would love to hear your comments on your dog’s dog park personality.

To many happy barks & walks,

Lotta