Dog Parks




      I wanted to make a page about dog parks, since they are growing in popularity with some dog owners.   

     On the surface, they sound like a fantastic idea. Dogs can romp off leash in large fenced areas, play with other dogs and enjoy a lot of fun.  In reality, more dogs than not will not have a good time.  Dogs are not made to socialize with a large number of random dogs they've just met.  Asking most dogs to do so is asking for trouble.   In dog society, they may have close knit family groups and then some neighbors they know and interact with some, and other dogs are strangers.  In a more natural setting, these strangers are avoided.   Most dogs will no more enjoy being turned loose in a large area with totally strange dogs than a person would enjoy a social event with dozens of random strangers, many of whom will treat them badly.   Most of us would prefer to engage in social events with some of our regular friends who we know and like, and who display rather predictable behavior.  By that same token it is FAR better to find a few compatible dogs and get together for regular play dates.  The dogs will get a lot more out if it and will be safer as well.  Dog parks may be visited by all manner of dogs and dog owners, including dogs who are not going to be good with other dogs, and owners who have little to no skill at reading their dogs' behavior and knowing how to react appropriately.  Many dog owners just turn their dogs loose to fend for themselves while they socialize. Shyer or insecure dogs will be bullied or worse yet, attacked.  Dogs who are pushy and obnoxious will terrorize dogs with a softer nature, and that pushy behavior will be reinforced. Many dogs who could have been stable, balanced dogs with other dogs can be really traumatized at dog parks, making it hard for them to trust any new dogs.  

   Some ways to look for compatible dogs would be to meet new puppy owners when you take your dog to puppy classes. Or if you take your dog to day care, as other owners if they would like to meet outside of that environment.  Even as you walk around your neighborhood or in local parks, you may meet owners of compatible dogs.  Sometimes you can find a less busy dog park and meet to play there, at times when there are few if any other dogs. There are so many ways to find fun and safe play partners for your dog than relying on public dog parks.

  If you DO decide to risk taking your dog to a dog park, I suggest you study canine body language and social behavior, so you can read and understand what is going on with dog to dog interaction. I have several pages here on my site about canine social behavior, including calming signals.   Never be reluctant to remove your dog from a questionable interaction with other dogs, whether your dog is being scared or your dog is the assertive or aggressive one.   Be honest as you watch your dog, don't make excuses like "he just wants to play", "oh, he's friendly and wouldn't hurt anyone."  Dogs are dogs and not all will get along, especially with a bunch of random strange dogs.  You also have to know if your dog even WANTS to interact with other dogs or is happy being an only dog. Most do enjoy a romp with a canine friend, but a few dogs are happy not having to. 


     By taking this into consideration you will build a better bond with your dog, keep him safe from bad experiences especially in the first year or two of life (when he is forming his opinion of the world and all the people and dogs in it).  Most of all he will know you really have his best interests at heart, and not be forcing him into situations that are not going to be good for him, all in the  name of "socialization."




    "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."   Matthew 5:9