I cringe every-time my clients start a sentence with “So we were at the the dog park”!
At best they say how annoyed they were that no one was paying attention to their own dog and some dog kept mounting theirs…
But more often than not such and such happened resulting in a dog fight. Now their pup is extremely fearful or aggressive with other dogs.
Note: The most incorrect statement I hear is “I got (2-57) dogs so they could play together and be socialized”. My constant response to this is “If the only people you ever saw and interacted with were your spouse and kids would you be “socialized”?
I am only speaking for Off Leash K9 Training, Atlanta but we do NOT recommend dog parks as a way to socialize your dog.
- Pack Mentality with strange dogs is not what you want.
- In large groups of “uncontrolled” dogs, they will try to establish pack order.
- The rush when entering the park is overwhelming to many pups.
- Just being in the crossfire when other dogs get in a fight.
- Your pup may think the pack is a threat to you and become protective.
- A lot of owners pay no attention to their pup, therefore have zero control.
- Human emotion: There will always be one owner that you’ll find chasing their uncontrollable dog from one end of the park to the other, screaming at it to behave. Others see a pitbull, doberman, rottweiler, german shepherd, or are just fearful of large pups. This can bring a lot of unneeded anxiety to the equation. Adding the human emotion element can create a ticking time bomb from even a relatively stable pack.
SO what is the solution and alternatives to dog parks?
The solution is simply, smaller groups of controlled dogs with more supervision.
- Play-dates – Dogs can have play-dates just as kids do. Less dogs with more supervision.
- Doggie Daycare – This one comes with a caveat, the daycare needs to have a sufficient amount of “competent” handlers to divide up and supervise dogs.
- Pet Friendly Stores – Proper socialization is not just with other dogs but with people and strange locations. Lots of home improvement store such as Lowes, Home Depot, and Tractor Supply allow dogs (call to ensure your local location does). These are not about running into other dogs but experiencing different environments and people.
If your dog has been in a dog fight and is showing signs of fear or aggression please seek help as soon as possible. The longer you allow this change in personality to go on the longer it will take to correct. Proper obedience training will built confidence while showing your pup you will protect them in any situation.