Should you go to dog parks?

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT DOG PARKS

Dog parks sound like a great adventure and can be very tempting for many owners, but more and more dog trainers are recommending people avoid them at all costs. But how can something made for fun be such a bad idea? Here we’ll discuss five reasons you should find better outlets for your pup’s energy.

    #1 – Untrained Dogs With Bad Manners

One of the biggest problems at dog parks is the lack of trained dogs. While many owners think their dogs are trained, they soon find out that they can’t catch their dog when it’s running from them at the dog park; and they certainly aren’t going to come when called. This poses a variety of problems, because an uncontrolled dog is always at risk for starting fights or getting involved in fights, or even escaping from the park and getting lost.

    #2 – Irresponsible & Oblivious Owners

Oblivious owners are the biggest problem when it comes to dog ownership. Many owners don’t understand how to read basic dog behavior and often think their dogs are never displaying any signs of aggression. In fact, a large number of dogs that frequent dog parks do lack social skills. These are the dogs that bully other dogs while their owners think they’re just trying to play. Dogs that mount other dogs often are also typically displaying signs of insecurity and trying to prove dominance over the rest of the group.

Even if you have a shy, sweet dog, you’d be surprised how quickly they’ll attack when they feel overwhelmed with fear by a group of dogs running to greet them. The biggest issue when dealing with other dogs and owners is that we really just can’t trust what they know and how much reliable training their dogs have actually had.

    #3 – Sick Dogs

We can never be sure all of the dogs visiting the dog park are healthy and many owners have no idea their dogs are even sick. Things like kennel cough, fleas, giardia and other parasites can easily be spread at dog parks. After all, it only takes sharing of water or exposure to other dog’s fecal matter to catch something.

Further, many people will bring dogs that might not be up to date on vaccinations or young puppies that haven’t had their full series yet, meaning exposure to more dangerous diseases for your dog. It should go without saying that bringing a puppy to the dog park is definitely a bad idea, for this very reason.

    #4 – Resource Guarding

Many owners think it’s funny when their dogs refuse to share toys, but this could create problems, especially at a dog park. Even if your dog doesn’t have problems sharing toys and food with dogs they know, you might find that fights break out very easily at dog parks when they’re surrounded by strange dogs trying to take their prize possessions. 

   #5 – Dangers of Playing With Collars On

Leaving collars on dogs while they play is very dangerous, as they can easily get caught on something or each other. The number of dogs that have been choked to death might surprise you and it’s best to take them off if you know your dog will be rough-housing with another pooch. That said, removing the collar at the dog park could be risky itself if your dog gets loose and escapes. 

Instead I recommend finding people with dogs that you trust and make regular playdates together so you can monitor play in a safe and healthy way for your dog.  Take your pet to socialization classes to teach him/her how to be a good pack member. 

(written by Katie Finlay)