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Dog parks: yes or no? - Only Pawsitive Solutions

Dog parks: yes or no?

Today I went with a friend to a dog park, where she brings her dog from time to time, to let him play with his best friend.

It was supposed to be a quiet hour there, after lunch time. But we ended up with 12 dogs at the park.

And to those who know how to read a dog, it was pretty obvious that not all of them were having fun.

Worst 2 of them were basically overwhelmed or purely terrified…And it ended up in a fight…

Not all dogs want to go or should go to dog parks

Before deciding to bring your dog to dog parks, carefully consider if your dog is a good fit.

If you think that taking your puppy to a dog park will help him socialize with other dogs, well, you’re wrong.

A good socialization is a positive experience and a positive experience. Dog parks are far from being the good place for that. You can’t control everything and there’s no way you’re 100% sure that everything is going to be fine for your dog.

If your puppy get overwhelmed and scared, you might end up with a big problem later.

Will MY dog be OK in a dog park?

If your dog is super social, loves every other dogs, don’t mind being chased and knows when to go away from other dogs, then you’re fine.

You have to acknowledge that dog parks are a closed space, full of different kind of dogs and humans, that you mostly don’t know.

Sadly, for some dogs the dog park is the only activity they have within the day. So obviously, they are full of pent up energy once they get there.

They’re going to play roughly, eventually harass other dogs, chase, bite…

Is YOUR dog ready for the dog park?

Senior dogs, skittish dogs, puppies or dogs who can stand being around other dogs but don’t particularly enjoy that, would be better out of this crazy circus.

Senior dogs are usually done playing like crazy with random dogs in a closed space. If your dog might be in pain, if he doesn’t like too much excitement… He could get anxious and become reactive pretty fast.

Skittish dogs are just going to feel overwhelmed and either freeze, run away from other dogs or become aggressive. The “immersion” technique doesn’t work, it can only make things worst. Imagine if I bring you to a place full of spiders, snakes, clowns or whatever scares you and so you get used to it in the end and don’t fear them anymore Do you think that we’ll work? (Spoiler alert: it never does).

This is just torture for them. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want to torture your dog.(Right??)

Help your skittish dog: hire a R+ trainer

If you want to help him feel better around other dogs or other people, call a positive dog trainer. There are better ways to help your dog!

If you just rescued a dog, take the time to get to know him before bringing him to a dog park. See how he is with one dog, then two…Don’t just hope for the best!

Better safe than sorry!

My dog doesn’t have friends

It’s a common mistake to think that every dog should be friends with any dog. Some dogs, just like Humans, are not very social, and we should be ok with that.

Don’t force your dog to interact, let him choose if he wants dog company or not. You might turn a “not interested, thanks” dog into a “Get the flock away from me” dog.

Observe his behaviour and understand what he’s telling you.

Learn about dog body language:

Any dog owner should learn how to read a dog and be able to recognize canine stress signals.

Listen to your dog’s whisper so he doesn’t have to shout.” — Chirag Patel, Domesticated Manners

Do you speak dog?

A webinar about dog body language is included in my online courses, as it’s essential to be able to read your dog. For me, it’s the key to create a very strong bond and always be there for your dog when he needs you.

Are they really playing?

Another important thing is to be able to analyse the play, to see if it’s appropriate play behaviour or if should give your dog a break.

  • A positive play should have breaks, to breathe, sniff, pee, dig…
  • A positive play should be even: it’s not always the same dog who initiates the play, dogs should take turns at being the hunter and the prey.
  • A positive play should show respect when a dog asks for a break. No one is harassing no one, no bullies.

If every dog owner knew how to read dog body language, the world would be a better place (and kids won’t be the first victims of dog bites but that’s an other story…)

There are a lot of times where you’re going to need to get out of the park, either because your dog doesn’t behave well or because other dogs don’t, but the owners don’t get it.

They would be almost no fight in dog parks if everybody was paying attention to their dog instead of being on their phone (or their computer yeah I’ve seen that one time. Honestly I could have left with his friendly dog who wanted to be with humans but not with other dogs) or talking to other Pawrents.

Practice your recall:

Now that you’ve read all that, if you still think that taking your dog to dog parks is a good idea for him, this is not it. You still got to take some precautions!

Having a good recall on your dog in a distracting environment is absolutely essential if you take your dog to a park. Practice it outside, with a long line.

Don’t expect your dog to come right away if didn’t train him before.

Once again, better be safe than sorry!

Safest options: a group walk? Private playdates?

If you’re not so sure about dog parks but still want Doggo to interact with a few friends, here’s a wonderful option for you both.

Why not joining an on-leash walking group? It might be a safe option to assess and improve how your dog feels and behaves around other dogs.

Maybe private playdates with one or two of his buddies or long-leash sniffari are really what Doggo prefers, after all. Let him tell you what he prefers and make his choices.

Dog parks, OK, but…

Just a quick reminder: bringing your doggie to dog parks doesn’t mean you get to skip the walks and other activities he needs every day (and I talk about it HERE! Isn’t it fantastic? ).

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