Dog Parks

I personally don’t take my dogs to dog parks for a number of reasons.

From the moment you enter you assume full risk and have no recourse

If your dog gets injured by another dog.

I’ve heard of far too many serious injuries that have occurred at dog parks.

There can be a “pack mentality” going on and I am not just referring to the dogs!!

People can also be aggressive and think they know dog behavior just because they have watched a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer.

As I stood as a silent observer while filming this video I witnessed some hair raising events. There were several minor fisticuffs that could have turned serious. One man started shouting out profanities to another owner demanding that person take his dog and leave and not come back until his dog had discipline. Others joined in to scream him out of the park.

From my behavior perspective the screaming owner’s dog was at fault.

There were also a few lovely dogs, a goldendoodle and a 12 week old puppy (double yikes) that appeared uncomfortable and afraid.

Trust me when I tell you that this unpleasantness is extremely common and many of the dogs at dog park have questionable temperaments and should not be there at all!

Your dog also may be more susceptible to picking up fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites!!

With that said, it is your dog and your decision so I will give you a few tips to reduce the likelihood of trouble.

NEVER EVER TAKE A PUPPY UNDER 6 MONTHS OF AGE TO A DOG PARK!!!

If you have a dog that is unsure around other dogs, is over-excitable or pushy, is possessive over toys, dog park is not a place for your dog!!

Look at what’s going on before entering, if you see dogs posturing (stiff body language) dogs grouped together, lots of barking or bully behavior do not enter!

Practice a few minutes of obedience with your dog before going in. Make sure your dog sits calmly and politely before you open that gate. That way you have established some control.

PUT AWAY YOUR CELL PHONE AND BE 100% VIGILANT OF WHAT’S GOING ON AT ALL TIMES!! IF YOU SEE ANYTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE REDIRECT YOUR DOG AWAY AND LEAVE IF NECESSARY.

Many of my students form their own play groups with others from classes or nice people and dogs they meet from other venues. I strongly encourage this!!

We are caretakers of our precious dogs so be aware and keep them safe!!!!

 

Laura Christiansen, CPDT

Comments 2

  1. Simply a quick question, I have a 8 month year German Shepard mixed and I’ve been taking her to the dog park. It goes pretty well when there isn’t any toys involved. She tends to be possessive with tennis balls and squicker toys. Any advice?

    1. Hello Jonathan,
      Possessiveness is quite common, especially in herding breeds.
      Your girl is also at the age of testing to see if she can work things to her advantage and if the other dogs back off this behavior is strongly becoming reinforced.
      There will always be toys at the dog park so you must be super vigilant.
      Always praise her for good behaviors.
      The moment you see her think about the possessive behavior you must interrupt it. Tell her a firm no and then re-direct her back to another activity.
      If she makes another attempt at the behavior I would calmly tell her “too bad” and remove her from park.
      If you use the correct timing and are consistent she should get the message but you may have to do this ongoing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *