Our Protector

As promised, I want to tell you about our recent trip to the dog park! Even though I wanted to go last night, I had to take Aaron to bowling, and it was too dark and too cold by the time I got back. To make up for it, I gave her an egg on her food this morning!

We went to the park Wednesday night, despite the darkness, and there was an all new crew there for Sammie to play with. While she can enjoy making new friends, it takes her a little while and she stuck pretty close to us. About 20min. after we arrived, a woman came with her two pups named Winnie and Chloe. The owner was super nice, and she said her dogs love to run, too! We were excited and hoped they would all hit it off. While Sammie immediately took to Chloe, she wasn’t so sure about Winnie, and neither were we. Winnie was very vocal – unlike Sammie who barks to get another dog’s attention or lure them into play, this girl would growl. Of course, you hear growling and you immediately think the dog is being aggressive, but I’m still not entirely sure that was the case… Either way, Sammie didn’t take to it well and would run back to us, the other dogs right behind her. As a result, as soon as she got close to us, she felt the need to protect us and would lunge a bit, trying to intimidate the other dogs away.

At that point, everyone would break apart and do their own thing, Sammie joining Aaron and me on our walk along the track. Since that’s not the kind of exercise she needs, I tried to encourage her to play by jogging around in the grass (can’t go too fast ’cause she likes to cut you off!), Sammie loping along beside me. However, with the other two dogs still at the park, that just caused problems: Winnie and Chloe wanted to come and join us. Instead of it staying light and fun, Sammie went into protector mode – again, not in a harmful way, but in an intimidating fashion, like “leave my girl alone!” At that point, I would go back to towards the watering hole and benches where everyone likes to congregate. We thought they might eventually work it out, but the tensions seemed to grow the longer we were there, so we just left.

I wish I knew more about dog behaviors and could read them better. I think even if I could, it would have been difficult in the dark. If I sign Sammie and myself up for obedience training/lessons, is that something that they teach as well? I think it would be very useful in these kinds of situations!



  1. scarlybobs · November 7, 2014

    I’ve heard great things about the book: On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals

    I’m saving up to buy it, but a lot of people really recommend it. It has photos of dogs (including lots of dogs interacting with other dogs) and goes on to point out what their body language is saying. Could be useful…though maybe not so much in the dark 😉


    • Saving Sammie · November 7, 2014

      Thank you so much! I’ll definitely look into it. Maybe my public library will have it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mk22llewis · November 7, 2014

    Sammie sounds beyond sweet! It is hard not to think it is cute when they are protective but at the same time you are the pack leader and she needs to understand that you have got it handled.
    I use settle for any behavior that needs to be corrected. Currently, protective barking is Kinley’s issue. I use settle if she carries on with the barking. She has made me aware and needs to calm down.
    Right now, Sammie thinks she is doing her job. If you train her with a phrase like “leave it” or something to let her know you are good.

    Usually at obedience you will use treats to distract her and get the wanted behavior. Get her to ignore the stimulus and pay attention to you.


    • Saving Sammie · November 7, 2014

      She is beyond fantastic. At first, when she came over to us, I thought it was going to be for US to protect HER, that she was intimidated by the two dogs. Then, when she actually got over to us, she went from being on the defensive to being on the offensive – letting the other dogs know we’re her people and we aren’t to be messed with.

      She’s never exhibited this kind of behavior before, so it kind of caught us off guard. I just hope taking her to the dog park isn’t like taking a kid to school or whatever: that she doesn’t pick up on bad habits and KEEP those bad habits. That’s why I’m starting to lean toward obedience training. That and I’ve never had to work with a dog before!

      Thanks for the insight. Sounds like I need to be looking for a class a little harder!


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