Enter at your own risk!
Every day people come into the dog school with problems they never had until they started either dog-park or daycare on a regular basis without balancing it out with other activities. We all know the saying, that too much of anything is not good, and “balance” is the key to everything in life, and it is most applicable here.
Most people who know me understand my position on using dog parks. Your dog will only be as well behaved as the worst behaved dog he interacts with. But, if incorporated into your pet’s life in moderation, and with certain guidelines, they can be a valuable resource, a place to play with your own dog off-leash and to socialize him.
By first building a strong relationship with your dog through obedience training, play, walks and so-on, you and your dog will enter the dog park as a team who prefers one-another’s company. Training your dog to come when called is a critical first step. These are all things you can learn using the Mann’s Best Friend programs and principles!
Most people don’t recognize when their own dog is in distress at the dog park. Dogs’ signals are much too fast and subtle for the untrained human eye. We humans are almost always too late by the time we notice what is happening between dogs. There is always someone at the dog-park who coaches others to let the dogs just “work it out” on their own. This attitude ill-informed at best and those people are not professionals. A quick YouTube search on dog park attacks results in over five million results!
Things to consider:
- Dogs at dog parks are not meant to be our pet’s babysitter while we catch up on emails. So keep your eye on him as you would your two-year-old human child at the playground!
- If your dog is left to the dogs and ignored by you, he will begin to adopt survival skills that may include fight-or-flight behaviors that can get your dog killed.
- Your dog can become more attached to going to dog-park than to you! Lunging and barking towards dogs when on leash is a common byproduct of poor use of dog-parks and can create barrier aggression such as leash, car window, house window, and fence-fighting just to name a few.
- Your dog may not come back when called reinforcing not having to listen.
- If your intention is to socialize your dog to other dogs, you are taking a risk he/she will have a negative experience that will last a lifetime. Young impressionable dogs especially.
If you decide to visit a dog park, it is important to be able to read the body language of your dog and the other dogs present. The Mann’s Best Friend programs are loaded with lessons on Dog Speak and Body Language. Your dog may not even be comfortable there! The ideal body language is playful, but dogs will exhibit a variety of behaviors as they contact new dogs and spend more time at the park.
Overall you are looking for balanced play between dogs. It’s always wise to leave the park if your pet shows signs of tiredness, stress or fear or if there are dogs present who seem threatening.