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Dog Parks…Beware



The concept of a large fenced in space for dogs to be able to run freely, meet other dogs and play together; a place where dogs can exert all of that stored up energy and come home happy and tired sounds like heaven to many dog parents. It kind of reminds me of the TV show “Leave it to Beaver” with the Cleavers being the perfect middle class family, in a perfect little town with each episode always with a happy ending for all. Just like in our real lives, things can get messy sometimes and not turn out as we may have expected. Unfortunately that’s what happens in dog parks if you’re not careful – so think “dog parks – beware. The concept sounds great, but without the proper understanding of dog behavior and dog body language, tragedy is bound to happen. Bringing five, ten, fifteen or more dogs that don’t know each other into an enclosed area can and unfortunately does result in disaster. I’ve visited many dog parks and without exception I witnessed either an act of aggression, intimidation and on one occasion a Chihuahua that was swarmed at the entrance gate and had it’s back broken by a labrador retriever. The lab was not an aggressive dog, but pack mentality and primal instinct kicked in and in a frenzy all bets are off. This is not a rare thing at dog parks.




I do not recommend going to dog parks but if you do decide to bring your dog to a dog park here are some tips to help in keeping your dog safe.

How to utilize dog parks safely:


  • Without your dog visit the dog park that you would like to bring your dog to. Observe the behavior of the dogs, the energy, see if the people are paying attention and managing their dogs behavior.
  •  How are the dogs acting, are they extremely aroused, are they out of control, are there any dogs bullying other dogs?
  •  Are there too many dogs to keep track of? Try to visit at the time of day that you would like to bring your dog.
  • Talk to the other dog parents about their experiences. A closed in gated community dog park where everybody knows each other and are responsible and are paying attention to what’s going on as the dogs are playing is a good option. We’ll discuss alternatives to dog parks in upcoming blog posts.

Photo credit: tunaboat / Foter / CC BY-ND

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