My 15-week-old puppy’s "bowling" habit got us in trouble at the dog park – 90% vent, 10% advice solicitation

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/puppy101/comments/9lvaxq/my_15weekold_puppys_bowling_habit_got_us_in/

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I've been taking my 15-week-old lab puppy to the local dog park once a day for the past two weeks. She has this admittedly very naughty habit of knocking over the bowls of water owners set down for their dogs. When she does this at home (starts to paw at the water in the bowl) I remove it from the floor so she can't. (I also bought a bowl with higher walls to buy me a few precious seconds to get to the bowl before all its contents are spilled.)

Most of the time when she knocks over one of those flimsy collapsible bowls people like to use at the park or goes "bowling" as one of the dog owners that got harassed today likes to call it (my puppy got to her bowl and her neighbor's bowl. I apologized, and they both laughed it off saying my puppy likes to go "bowling" and that she's doing so well today she basically got a strike; I was grateful for their good humor) I apologize and everyone has a laugh about it. "Aw, she's just a puppy!" they might say. On a few occasions they say that their dog did the same when they were a puppy, or still does and that's why they now use a handheld water dispenser, etc. I thank them for their patience and / or advice (handheld water dispenser has been ordered and is arriving any day now!) and everyone continues to have a good time watching the dogs play.

Today was different. I'll say now that my puppy is definitely "in the wrong" – she isn't supposed to knock over other people's bowls of water. It's super annoying behavior, but I and most other people cut her slack because, guess what? She's a puppy! After my puppy has been at the park for 15 or so minutes, most people either lift their bowls off the ground, leave them empty and only fill them when their dog approaches for water, or (and these people have truly enviable patience) continue to fill and leave bowls of water on the ground. I feel like, as annoying as it is to do any of this, it's sort of par for the course. People bring their dogs to the park so the dogs can socialize and just be dogs. As long as the dogs aren't being overly rough with each other, live and let live.

Today I met an obstinate woman who insisted on leaving a flimsy bowl of water on the ground, and after my puppy got to it once (oops), would stand over the bowl and use her feet to push my dog away whenever she approached. After she did this twice, I went over to sit next to her and said I would watch the bowl so I could intercept my dog beforehand so she wouldn't have to do that. A few minutes pass, and some dogs get into a friendly play flight nearby. My puppy is part of the fight, then suddenly breaks and darts over to mess with the lady's water bowl. She gets to my puppy before I do and pushes her away with her feet. At this point I ask her if she wouldn't mind setting the bowl on the bench and only lowering it every few minutes for her dog to drink so we didn't have to spend all our time guarding the bowl. She says her dog needs to drink. I sort of mentally roll my eyes and say okay, but could she please be more gentle when intercepting my dog? She doesn't say anything. I continue, would she mind using her hands to keep my dog away instead of her feet since I worry she might accidentally "kick" too hard. She says what if my dog bites her? I said she won't. She retorted she definitely will. At this point I lost it and called her unreasonable (and possibly another choice word…I try my best to be diplomatic at all times but she really pissed me off). I exchanged a few more sentences with her: no dog here is going to go thirsty just because there isn't water on the ground at all times (relevant fact: it was a cool evening); did she get her dog as a puppy? ("no – I mean yes"); did her puppy act this way? ("he did but I trained him to stop") and at this point I really just wanted to leave. I said something along the lines of, "well aren't you a talented dog trainer? /s" I leashed my pup and said (omg I don't know why I engage in such petty behavior, I must have anger management issues…) to my pup "c'mon, let's go before we cause any more trouble for this woman" and then to her "I've brought my dog to this park every day for two weeks and everyone has been completely tolerant of this behavior. You're the only one who is being so unreasonable. Congratufuckinglations on being a uniquely horrible bitch."

Whew, okay. I feel…I don't know what I feel. Less angry, but a little guilty, and also confused why this happened / what I was supposed to do / what I should do in the future. That's my vent. Thanks for listening.

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