Knowing what I do know now about dog socialization, the dog park is a spot I avoid entirely, unless I’m sticking to the surface to work on training.
The aim of dog parks is to create what is supposed to be a protected space for dog owners to take their dogs to play and get some exercise.
Because most city parks and concrete trails have leash laws, dog parks are one place where dogs can have some off leash time in a (often) fenced area without breaking the principles.
I don’t find them to be protected spaces, nevertheless.
Quite the opposite, I find them to be the other of protected and think they generate an inaccurate idea of what it means to socialize, exercise, and bond with our dogs.
I explain why I’m not a fan of the dog park below and the unwanted behaviors it could possibly teach each dogs and dog owners.
9 Poor Behaviors the Dog Park Teaches Dogs and their Owners
Due to the creation of dog parks, it teaches owners that that is the safest approach to socialize and exercise their dogs, after they can actually be quite the other.
The result’s lots of imbalanced dogs who’re essentially put right into a sparring ring with little training and no escape.
In my experience, I believe that most of the owners are taking their dogs to the park because of lack of time, training, and understanding of what is good for his or her dog.
This could result in quite a lot of undesirable behaviors in each dogs and owners, dog fights, and unconfident dogs, as listed out below.
Owners Don’t Must Communicate with Each Other
On the dog park, owners enter with their very excited dogs after which allow them to loose amongst a bunch of strange dogs.
There is no such thing as a communication among the many dog owners about whether the opposite dogs prefer to be approached in certain ways, if in any respect.
Granted, the belief is that for those who are at a dog park, your dog is friendly with other dogs, but I don’t find that that is all the time the case.
This develops a habit that extends to trails and other public spaces that simply because two people have dogs, they’ll approach to say hello without permission.
Making this assumption causes stress to other dog owners and might create dangerous situations.
Owners Don’t Must Teach Their Dog Recall
Since the fenced dog park is perceived as a protected space, and your dog can’t exit of bounds easily, this creates a scenario where there isn’t any reason to need to teach your dog recall.
Again, this transfers to the trail where owners decide to let their dogs off-leash before they’ve earned the privilege.
This could cause conflict between users on the trail because dogs without recall usually tend to rush an oncoming dog.
Not only is allowing a dog to approach one other dog poor trail etiquette, it could possibly be dangerous if the oncoming dog doesn’t appreciate other dogs of their space.
Owners Don’t Must Pay Attention to Their Dog
For those who’ve ever visited a dog park or watched from the surface, you’ll probably see a bunch of dog owners standing around watching dogs play.
Perhaps they’re chatting with each other or petting another person’s dog.
What you don’t often see is dog owners managing their dogs. They’re being attentive to other things or simply “letting their dogs be dogs.”
Once more, this translates to the trail.
A dog owner who frequently practices not being attentive to their dog means they’re not being attentive to the sound of other users ahead, to their dog chasing wildlife, to their dog pooping, to their dog running around off the trail.
This results in environmental damage and conflict between users.
Dogs Learn That They Can Approach Dogs Every time They Want
The structure of a dog park is in order that dogs can just rush up to 1 one other without permission or structure.
Outside of the dog park, this will translate to leash reactivity since the dog has practiced greeting every dog they see.
This behavior creates a negative feedback loop where the dog throws a tantrum and the owner gives in to stop the tantrum by allowing the dog to say hello. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.
Dog’s Develop Rude Socialization Skills
Dog parks teach dogs to greet each other in a rude manner–by rushing as much as other dogs, greeting head to head in a highly excited state. The brand new dog may not feel comfortable, especially if there are lots of dogs that rush them directly.
The brand new dog cannot escape the group or has little space to create distance due to the fence, which may result in dog fights.
Owners Don’t Learn Find out how to Read Dog Body Language
Learning to read dog body language is one of the vital essential skills a dog owner can provide for his or her dog. Dogs are great communicators, and unfortunately, their human owners often fail to read their subtle cues, resulting in discomfort, reactivity, and dog fights.
It’s unfair that we expect them to learn our language, but we don’t return the courtesy and learn theirs.
Since dog owners usually are not all the time being attentive to their dogs within the dog park, they miss those telltale signs of discomfort or aggression.
This teaches the dog that they should fight their very own battles, since their owner fails to step in and advocate for them. Again, this will result in reactivity in dogs.
Dog Owners Don’t Know Find out how to Break Up Dog Fights
When a dog fight does occur, as a rule, the dog owners will yell, perhaps use their legs to kick or separate the dogs, or reach in to grab collars with their hands.
This shouldn’t be the approach to break up a dog fight.
For those who are taking your dog to an area where there might be other strange dogs, then knowing easy methods to break up a dog fight is something that you must know easy methods to do.
There are two ways: you should use a break stick or you should use a leash to create a slip lead across the biting dog’s neck and essentially choke the dog. This forces them to choose from death and letting go.
The Dog Park Creates the Idea That Dogs Need Dog Friends
I so badly wanted Sora to be the sort of dog I could take to the dog park. I felt like a shitty dog owner because she was reactive and didn’t have any dog friends.
There’s this perception that dogs need dog friends as a way to thrive and be comfortable. While it’s great for dogs to have dog friends, they usually are not a life necessity.
What’s more ideal are slow, neutral introductions where the dogs greet each other in a controlled setting, calmly, and courteously. This is very essential for owners of reactive dogs who need more time to regulate to other dogs.
Teaches Dogs that Other Dogs are More Essential than their Owner
For those who are having trouble getting your dog to interact with you on walks or around distractions, or you think they “ignore” you once you call them, one likely reason is since you don’t matter to them.
Regular visits to the dog park teaches your dog that other dogs = fun. If you do finally concentrate to your dog, it’s since it’s time to go away, subsequently owner = not fun.
This cycle leads back to the formation of reactivity once you see dogs out on the planet and your dog believes they get to go meet them because that’s what you practice together.
This is the reason your dog isn’t being attentive to you around other dogs!