Dog parks are WONDERFUL places where
your dog can socialize and play with other dogs. They
are also great places for people to socialize with
other dog people.
BUT ARE DOG PARKS GOOD FOR ALL DOGS?
As our dogs guardians we have an obligation to them.
We need to better understand our dogs and learn how
to interpret their body language. As wonderful as
dog parks can be, they can also hold the potential
for conflict and consequences.
WHAT IS YOUR DOG SAYING?
KEEP YOU’RE EYES ON YOUR DOG AT ALL TIMES!
Pay attention to your dog at the dog park. Be ready
to accept that your dog may not be an appropriate
dog to be in the dog park or may not enjoy the company
of other dogs or that many other dogs. Dog parks are
great fun for SOME dogs and are a nightmare for others.
IS YOUR DOG BEING A BULLY?
You may think, “He just plays rough.”
Look at the dogs your dog is playing with, if they
aren’t enjoying it, your dog is being a bully.
Dogs are great at communicating their discomfort and
fear. A dog who behaves appropriately will respect
that another dog is uncomfortable and either leave
the dog alone, or ease up. If your dog does not do
this, then your dog is being a bully. Take responsibility
and either remove your dog from the park or at least
make him back off of the dog he is bullying.
IS YOUR DOG AFRAID OF THE OTHER DOGS?
Dog parks can be too overwhelming for some dogs. Is
her tail tucked and ears back? Is she constantly on
her back? Does she feel like she has to defend herself
from the other dogs, by growling, snapping or barking?
Does she spend the whole time under the picnic table
or behind your legs? If so, maybe the dog park isn’t
a HAPPY place for your dog. Maybe your dog would rather
go on a walk or hike with you, or play a rousing game
of fetch, or learn something fun like agility.
You can NOT force a dog out of being afraid, yelling
at them for snapping at another dog or “rolling”
them on their back to make them “accept”
another dog, will only exacerbate the problem. It
will also reinforce to them, that the dog park really
is a scary place!
We take our dogs to the dog park because we want
them to have FUN, so let’s make sure they are
really having fun.
ENCLOSED FENCED IN DOG PARKS OR OFF LEASH OPEN SPACES.
Everyday there are more and more fenced in dog parks
opening up, they are great places to let your dog
off leash without the fear of losing them. But a lot
of times they can be very overwhelming because the
dogs are concentrated in a small space. They are great
places for dogs that are happy go-lucky and like to
play with other dogs. For dogs that are a little more
reserved, nervous, and older or puppies and small
dogs they can be stressful and not fun at all.
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where
there are off leash open spaces and trails, then these
are what I recommend most. In an open space the dogs
can still play with other dogs but you can always
walk away if there are dogs that are being too rowdy.
Open spaces are the best for those dogs that are more
nervous or older and for those that are not too interested
in playing with other dogs but are fine passing by
and saying hello. Open spaces or trails are great
places to socialize and exercise your dog without
having a concentration of dogs in a small space.
PUPPIES AND SMALL DOGS
It is very important that every new experience a puppy
has be a positive one. It can be very traumatizing
for a small puppy to be run over or barked at by a
large dog. If this happens within one of the puppy’s
fear stages it can cause permanent issues for the
rest of the dogs’ life. Some small dogs think
they are big and are perfectly comfortable around
larger dogs. But for a lot of small dogs having a
100 lb dog coming at them can be very scary! Plus
there is always the possibility of them getting hurt.
Again watch your dogs’ body language, if he
is uncomfortable take him away!
For puppies and small dogs, use the small dog areas
A dog park is an exciting environment but you don’t
want to see out-of-control dogs or situations. Watch
other dogs and dog owners carefully, if you see an
aggressive dog that’s not being managed by his
or her owner, play it safe and leave the park. Dog
parks provide a fantastic opportunity for off-leash
play when owners are alert and conscientious. Few
things can happily tire out your dog like a fellow
canine playmate. With a few precautions, your dog
can have a wonderful time with the only telltale signs
being a sleepy, tired and maybe, dirty dog!