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The hard part about having Standard Poodles is people don’t think they are real dogs. They think they are stuffed animals.

All breeds have their PR challenges, but imagine walking down the street and people suddenly run out and hug your dog. Or if they play rough people say, “She’s like a real dog.” People think all Poodles are girls.

Poodles are real dogs.

-All Poodle owners ever

Charming, he’s the white Poodle, is the first dog I raised from a puppy. I wanted another black one, but Charming had a great temperament and I’ll pick temperament over color any day of the week.

Charming all fluffed and puffed at about 5 months

He is Cute

I planned to attend the Dog Bowl in Frankenmuth, Michigan, on Memorial Day weekend when Charming would be 5 months old. It was important he walked well on a leash.

The first time I took him around the block the people on the corner had their son’s dog staying with them and it scared the crap out of him. The dog is marked like a Boarder Collie. After this, Charming barked at any dog marked like a Boarder Collie–and not a normal bark; a rolling alarm bark only a Poodle can do.

I socialized him with other dogs and he was always good. He went to the Dog Bowl and was great. He went with his dog buddies, Gunner and Grinder. Gunner is the same age as Charming. The only incident was when we walked up a hill and there was a Boarder Collie at the top. Charming went off—Ra Ra Ra RAAAAA! Ra Ra Ra RAAAAAAA! About six times. Everyone stopped and looked at me. The Boarder Collie didn’t know what to do.

The Dog Park

The real problem began at the dog park when Charming was about a year old. I want to be clear. Charming is not dog aggressive and has never started a fight or attacked another dog. However, his behavior, if allowed to continue, could lead to a fight.

All my dogs learn to walk off-leash because I hike though the woods with them. There isn’t a need to take them to a dog park for exercise. I joined in order to go with the friend who owns Charming’s buddies, Gunner and Grinder. And to meet other local dog owners. In New York I met the most interesting people at the dog park.

There was a Weimaraner puppy at the dog park about 8 months old. The two dogs played together fine several times. They were about the same size, but the Weimaraner outweighed Charming by about 20 lbs. One day, the Weimaraner attacked Charming and to my surprise Charming stood his ground and the Weimaraner backed-off. Unfortunately, the Weimaraner’s owners saw it as ‘playing.’ I knew it wasn’t and stayed clear of the Weimaraner.

When Standard Poodles play they do this thing where they spin in a circle and hit each other with their noses. It’s not so pronounced when they play with other Poodles because the other Poodles are hip to the move. But when they play with other breeds it is very pronounced. They go faster and faster and it scares the crap out of dogs not used to it.

Poodles are very light boned dogs. A Standard Poodle may appear bigger than a Labrador Retriever, but the Poodle will weigh 50 lbs and the Retriever 70 or 80 lbs. The spinning action is a great defense because with their fluffy coats they look like a very strange animal. Poodles use their brains to get the better of other dogs at play or in a fight.

After the encounter with the Weimaraner, Charming went on the defensive with all smooth hair dogs at the dog park. He’d show them who’s boss first. Charming is a very confident dog who will submit to a more confident dog. Unfortunately, there were none in the Woodhaven Michigan Municipal Dog Park.

He’d play with the Pit Bulls and do his spin and poke and they would not know what to do. They’d run, he’d chase; it was big fun for Charming. Soon he’d have them hiding under benches. He’d peak under the bench like, “Well, are we playing or not?” This is when I’d intervene.

It wasn’t long before he learned he could intimidate dogs twice his size. Ever see a Great Pyrenees try to hide under a bench? The more they ran from him, the bolder he got. It became self-rewarding. I was unable to stop him. When he started intimidating dogs entering the park, I decided to no longer take him there.

I read posts on the Dog Park’s Facebook page about The White Poodle. The Pit Bull owners were the maddest. Not because of any real safety issue, but because their Pit Bulls were afraid of a Poodle.

“I will not have my Pit intimidated by a F____g French Poodle!!” one person wrote. I laughed. My little Charming was infamous.

It’s not MY Dog

At first I thought it was just that dog park and those people, it can’t be my sweet puppy Charming. My sweet little puppy could not be a bully. He is just playing. It’s not his fault the other dogs are afraid. Charming loved the dog park. The photo at the top of the page was taken at The Woodhaven Municipal Dog Park.

I tried him at another, smaller dog park with dogs he knows and he started to bully his buddy, Gunner. It was because Gunner was neutered, I told myself.

Charming would pick-out what he believed was the leader of the ‘other’ pack (GG, Henry, Gunner and Grinder were Charming’s pack) and pick on the leader mercilessly. He’d follow them around and spin and poke and spin poke until they were cowering under their owner’s feet. Sometimes he would nip them because he wanted them to run.

I had to admit it…

My Poodle is a bully.

The only time Charming does not do this is if my sister’s dog, CBGB, is present because Charming acknowledges CB as the ultimate pack leader. CB once made a horse go away and Charming has worshiped him every since. I often wonder if Charming would bully other dogs at the dog park if CB was there. I’ll never know. CB is dog aggressive and cannot go to dog parks.

CB–Charming’s idol

I no longer bother with dog parks. GG never liked them and Henry, my black Standard, could care less as long as he goes where I go. They can be a good thing if you don’t have a yard and you’re not comfortable with allowing your dog to run loose in unfenced, open spaces.

Charming runs with a pack of hounds owned by me, my sister and our friend Sue. We meet at Field of Dreams (FOD) Flying Field in Sanford Road Park, Milan, Michigan. I don’t usually have an issue with Charming, but CB is present.

The Pack; Charming, Henry, CB, GG, Binky. (Not pictured: Maggie and Max.

Just today we introduced a new member to the pack, Max, Maggie’s Puppy. Charming had to be on a leash because Max was afraid of both Poodles. He had never seen fluffy dogs before. Charming was going to take full advantage of his fear. CB was ready to intervene, but we thought it best to put Charming on leash and let them get used to each other in stages as Max was ready. By the end of the walk, Max played with Henry.

To this day Charming is not aggressive and often visits in the hospitals.  It is important to know your dog. This bulling behavior could start a fight in a dog park and as a dog owner it is your responsibility to recognize it and act accordingly. 

As I write this Charming is 5 years old and has never started a fight, but he has also never backed down from one. He still does not like Boarder Collies.

Meet Max the newest member of the pack.

Have you ever had to admit “It IS your dog?”

Let me know in the comments below.

Let me know in the comments below.

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