When the dog park goes wrong
First I will say, we are not fans of dog parks! There are too many uncontrolled variables that could mean disaster for you and your dog! Don’t get me wrong, some dogs are perfectly suited for this environment. We will still teach those owners proper dog park etiquette and how to gain voice control in that environment. But in our line of work we see what happens when the dog park goes wrong. It can create some pretty serious behavior issues!!
Dog parks were first created as a place for dog owners to come socialize and play with their dogs off leash. Usually in a neighborhood where the dogs already knew each other. The most important part of this is that the dogs were usually walked to the park! Getting their initial energy and excitement out on the way to make them calmer in an already stimulating environment. Dog Parks were never meant as a place of exercise. They were intended for socialization. I’m sure all you dog parkers have seen that dog come in full of energy and disrupt the whole pack vibe!
Below I’m going to give you a list of my biggest dog park pet peeves. I hope this at least makes you think twice before making the decision to bring your dog to the dog park. These are in no particular order… they are all equally annoying!
- Unstable dogs – I see people do this all the time! I like to believe that they just don’t know how to interpret their dogs behavior. What I see the most are dogs that are overwhelmed and fearful (the easiest way to get bit), or dogs that are being super dominant and pushy (we see you Mr. or Mrs. Humper Magoo). Some dogs are just plan being a bully and/or aggressive!! You need to educate yourself on dog body language before you bring your best friend there! Also, DO NOT be afraid to advocate for your dog!! You see how this can create behaviors when there was none…right?
- People not paying attention to their dogs – This one really toasts my biscuits! And it is what I see the most of! This is also very dangerous to every dog and human in the park. I see a lot of behavior issues start and/or get worse with every trip to the park. The dog park is not the place to go to catch up on the latest episode of walking dead or read that book you just can’t put down. The dog park is a place for you and your dog to interact and socialize with other people and dogs. An opportunity to build on the relationship you share with your dog! A time to build leadership and trust. Gaining the trust of your dog is the easy part. To have your dog never question your leadership is very difficult indeed! This means advocating for your dog… at all times! This is the easiest way to lose your dogs trust so don’t take this lightly! You have to show your dog every day that you have control over what happens in his environment. If you don’t they will start making decisions off of natural instinct. This is usually bad for us! Do not be afraid to advocate for your dog! You are responsible for creating their reality. Use your gut… if you think your dog is being bullied or getting overwhelmed take action and get your dog out of there! It’s not worth the behaviors issues that it can create. On the other hand, if it’s your dog that is being dominate and bossy take immediate action as well! We also don’t want these guys to be practicing that behavior because they will get good at it and it will escalate!
- Unvaccinated dogs – Almost every dog park has rules posted in front. Among those rules are required minimum vaccinations. The problem is, no one is usually there to check or enforce compliance. This means someone can bring a sick dog in and the germs will spread… fast.
- Female dogs in heat – This one surprises me every time I see it! But still, I see it all too often! When your dog in heat she wants nothing more than to mate! It is very irresponsible to bring your dog into an environment where there may be intact males to do just that! Neutered males will still react the same way as intact males! This causes absolute chaos among the pack! Just like every other animal they will fight to the death for the chance to mate. If you see this get your dog out of there as fast as possible!
- Diseases – Dog parks are DIRTY! We have all seen people not pick up after their dog! This is not only horrible for the environment but it exposes other dogs to possible sickness. Your dog can still contract diseases while vaccinated!
- Everyone in the park is a professional dog trainer – I hate to break this to a lot of people but training a couple of your personal dogs does not make you qualified dog trainer. People should really consider the source when receiving advice from random people at the dog park! If you think that there may something going on with your dog, please consult a professional for advice. Otherwise you’ll be taking advice from a plumber about fixing your lights.
You know your dog the best and you know what your dog can and cannot handle. If you do decide to go to the dog park, make sure you know what to do if the unimaginable happens! Have a plan because it happens fast and you must react fast! However, never ever ever reach into a dogfight with your hands!! I will cover this in separate blog so stay tuned and stay safe!
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