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Why We Won’t be Visiting the Dog Park

When we got our first dog, Kaeto, he wasn’t particularly friendly with other dogs. We used to stand outside the dog park near our house watching all the dogs play, wishing we could take Kaeto in. I’m sure we looked kind of creepy. When we got Mauja, she was socialized to go to the dog park when she was old enough. Same goes for Atka.

We would have so much fun watching all the dogs run, play, and tire themselves out. It was also great because we got to meet new people and dogs. We would look forward to our time at the dog park. As time went by, I started to notice things that really frustrated me about the dog park. This is why we won’t be visiting the dog park anytime soon.

1. People don’t pay attention to their dogs. I can’t tell you how many times an owner has been on one end of the dog park, while the dog was on the complete opposite. How are you able to read your dog’s body signals and make sure he/she is acting appropriately? The dog park isn’t a place for you to sit back and let your dog tire himself out. You need to constantly monitoring your dog’s behavior.

2. People bring ‘people food’ into the dog park. Again, not a time for you to sit back and relax. Plus, do you really want ten dogs jumping on you trying to snatch your burger? What if one of them is food aggressive? That’s just a fight waiting to happen. And on that note…

3. People give treats to other people’s dogs. This one I would think would be common sense. Just like people, many dogs are on special diets. Either they’re allergic to something or an ingredient doesn’t settle well in their tummy. Would you allow a stranger to give your kid a cookie?  A stranger shouldn’t give your dog one either.

4. People bring unsocialized dogs. This is one that frustrates me to no end. For some reason, people think the dog park is the place to socialize your dog. Wrong. The dog park is a place for social dogs to mingle and play. An unsocialized dog can shift the balance of the entire pack. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an unsocial dog come into the park and then fights happen within minutes. Another part of this is bringing your dog in on a leash. Leashes create frustration for all dogs involved. There is a section to remove your dog’s leash. Do it.

5. People get upset at dirty clothing. Don’t come to the dog park in your Sunday best. It’s that simple. The dogs are going to be running and rolling in an often muddy environment. With all the stimulation their excitement level rises to the point where the most well-mannered dog may jump on you. If you can’t handle muddy paw prints, slobber, or fur… go wait in your car.

6. People ignore the warning signs. Dogs give warnings when they are unhappy or uncomfortable. Rarely, do things ever happen “out of the blue”. Imagine this scenario. Dog A is playing with a tennis ball. Dog B approaches and tries to steal the tennis ball. Dog A emits a low growl to get Dog B to back off. This sequence occurs three or four times. Finally, Dog A gets fed up and snaps at Dog B. Now you have a dog fight. The warning signs were there. The ball should have been taken away and the dogs separated to cool off a bit. It’s very common to see owners ignore situations like this.

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7. People don’t pick up after their dog. Really, how difficult is it to clean up after your dog? It’s like walking through a minefield out there. Pick up after your dog! It’s unsanitary and just flat out lazy. Pick up after your dog. All the time. Got it?

8. People bring females in heat. Unaltered males. Female in heat. Enough said.

9. People bring tiny puppies to the dog park. Every dog park I have ever been to has stated that puppies under four months are NOT allowed. They are not fully vaccinated and extremely susceptible to diseases like parvo. Puppies are also in an extremely delicate state. One bad experience can harm them forever. I could write a whole post on bringing puppies to the dog park, but we’ll leave it at that.

10. People bring tiny children to the dog park. Not all dogs are good with kids. Not all kids act appropriately with dogs. Dogs can be in mid play and knock a child over. Also, don’t be mad if you’re holding a child and a dog jumps up on you. It’s likely the dog hasn’t seen a human that small and is very curious. Little kids should really just stay at home for safety.

Notice how all my statements started with “people”? I am never frustrated with a dog when we visit the dog park, even if the dog is bullying my own dog. It is the owner’s responsibility to step in and take control of their dog. The dog park used to be a pleasant place for us, but now we see fights almost daily.

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