Percy is a very very loud player - you can hear him from across the dog park just about. When he gets really into it/finds another dog that wants to play with him he makes a lot of growley noises (sometimes barks too but mostly just play growls). He's been this way since he was very young and we always get comments on how loud he is which is usually accompanied by some laughs or little jokes about him sounding tougher than he looks etc. However after a not very nice experience (more for me than Percy) today I decided to see if I could get some advice.
We were attending a small corgi meetup of sorts at our local dog park (which we visit probably every two weeks or so) and had been there for about 30 minutes when a labradoodle and it's owner arrived. The dog seemed a little bit of a timid player but was still approaching the other dogs in the park and then came over to Percy and the two of them played a little before it went off exploring for a while. About 10 minutes later or so I'm watching Percy play with the labradoodle again from across the park (I was standing with my husband who was talking to some friends while keeping watch of him from afar since he doesn't usually stay in the same place for long). All of a sudden I see the owner trying to 'shoo' Percy away from her dog and starting to swing her leash at him to get him to back off. I start making my way over a little confused about what was going on as it didn't look like anything was wrong with the dogs playing. She grabs her dog and holds onto it for a while as I try and round Percy up while he makes a break to play with a corgi puppy that's nearby. I can't remember fully what was said but from my understanding she thought Percy was being aggressive and I sort of made a comment about how he's pretty loud but isn't ever mean to other dogs she then got very defensive and said he was being mean and biting her dog (which looked perfectly fine but worried me a little) so I watched pretty closely as she put her dog back down to play again. The dog went straight over to Percy and started trying to initiate play (great, I thought, they're both fine and ready to play with each other again must've just got a little to rough at the end). Percy manages to get ontop of the other dog and does his loud play growls as the other one lays under and they sort of do the whole play biting at each other mouths. All of a sudden the owner runs over and screams at me to get my dog off and how he's being aggressive and awful to her dog and starts batting him away. I go over to pick Percy up and try telling her he's not being mean at all and that they're just playing but she isn't listening at all and just keeps half yelling at me about how awful he's being to her dog.
Thankfully another group of corgi owners were next to us and had seen the whole thing (including the parts that I was further across the park for) and they assured me Percy had done nothing that they felt was aggressive or mean towards the other dog but that he was a noisy little guy.
Overall the whole experience left me feeling pretty bad and a little upset most of the day as well as making me scared to take my little pup to the park again in case this happens in the future. Thankfully the owner didn't get rough with him but was pushing him away and did swing her leash at him but it worries me that maybe someone might hurt him if that was to happen again.
I really just wondered if anyone had any tips for either what I can do to assure people he is being playful and not aggressive or if there is anything we could to that would teach him to play more quietly so he doesn't scare another owner?
Arrrghhhh! Here's our problem: we have to share the world with other humans. If only it weren't so...
This person has no clue about dogs or about how dogs play. If your dog was seriously biting her dog, he would have drawn blood -- trust me. If he was serious, he would have gone for the front of the dog's throat: one of my German shepherds was dog-aversive, and that was exactly what she would do. If he saw her dog as prey, he would have tried to pick the dog up by the back of the neck and shake it hard to break its neck...not an easy trick when you're a corgi.
Don't take your dog to a dog park -- not because of the dog but because of the owners. Do not let your dog off the lead around other dogs that you don't know, and don't do it anywhere other than in your home or in your friend's home. Sorry to put a damper on the "fun," but dogs are not kids: they are DOGS. Dogs are cushily evolved wolves. They still indulge in wolf behavior, something few humans are prepared to interpret.
You should not be upset at your dog; possibly you should be upset with your fellow human, except that what you're seeing is human behavior in exactly the same way you're seeing dog behavior. Apes behave one way -- and as apes, it's easy for us to interpret that -- and canids behave another way, which is sometimes hard for us apes to understand. Really, neither creature has elicited behavior that should upset you: they are what they are.
Dog parks are unsafe. Your dog can have plenty of fun in his own backyard -- invite your friends over to your house and let them bring their dogs.