Dog Parks?

        There have been so many articles written about the dangers of dog parks and I hate to recreate the wheel, but I feel it would be negligent not to. 

        In theory, dog parks could be a wonderful place where friendly dogs could go to play with other friendly dogs, but the problems start before we even arrive. Let me explain. 

        In most circumstances people are taking their dogs to the dog park because they’re not able to give them adequate exercise on their own on a regular basis, so the dog is in a hyperactive frame of mind before you even get out the door. 

        Often people drive to the dog park, and their dogs are often loose in the car, able to run about get themselves even more hyped-up. They get excited because they’re going places, and in this excited, hyperactive state it’s very easy for them to get overstimulated. 

        Now, what happens when you put half a dozen (or more) hyperactive, overstimulated dogs together and allow them to run free, and you add into the mix that their owners are also taking this as a socialization opportunity? You get dog fights. Typically these start over something that most closely resembles a miscommunication or lack of “cultural” understanding (ie. herding and working breeds find it offensive that another dog will run right up to them and get right into their space). The owners get upset, and blame each other’s dogs for the fight because it “couldn’t possibly be their dog,” but the truth is it’s not one single person’s fault. 

        These aren’t bad dogs, and I don’t even think they have bad owners. Everyone had the best of intentions when they left their homes, but because of their lack of knowledge of canine behaviour and body language, their dogs got out of control faster than they could react. 

        Moral of the story? Dog parks are not the place to take your dog to socialize. Take a class with your dog. Go for walks in popular dog-walking areas and see who the regulars are with well behaved dogs and ask if you can join them. 

        What dog parks are good for is proofing a dog’s concentration. Parks (of all kinds) provide a plethora of distractions which you can ask your dog to ignore while they focus on you and what you’re asking. Take them as an opportunity to proof behaviours. 

© Shari Joanisse 2023