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Dog Parks: The Good and The Bad and The Ugly

You might think I don’t like dog parks judging from the title of this post.  I own a reactive dog so dog parks are the last place she and I would like to visit.  Having said that, I think they have their place for certain dogs and dog guardians.

But let me point out a few things for you to consider the next time you go or if your considering introducing your dog to these spaces.

The Good

Dog parks offer dogs a place to run without fear of upsetting non dog people, the by-law officer or the dog catcher.  It offers freedom, with permission, within the city limits.  Your dog can meet other dogs and do doggy things with you close by. Its a convenient way to get the dog exercised without having to walk him or her and its also a way for people with mobility issues, to get the dog out.

Its a place to socialize with other dog guardians and develop connections with a common interest.  For some, thats an important aspect of the dog park; Socializing.  It may be the only interaction they get in their day.

The Bad

Control: You have none of it in a dog park.  The only thing you can control in a dog park is yourself and maybe your dog.  You can’t control:

  • the behavior of the dogs.
  • the behavior of the people.
  • the knowledge of the people and their interpretation of that knowledge.
  • the dog skills of said people

Its important to keep it this in mind if you choose dog parks to exercise your dog.  Its a public place and anyone, with any dog, can go there.

The Ugly

People can get frustrated when they can’t control anything outside of themselves so they’ll call out to others in an effort to get it.  They are met with a variety of responses from reasonable to rude to irrational and hence, problems ensue.

Dogs with a wide variety of behaviors attend dog parks.  They are accompanied by guardians who’s level of knowledge varies and who’s opinion of what is acceptable and what is not is mixed from one extreme to another.  This is the reality of dog parks; Inconsistency.

The lack of control; This why a busy dog park doesn’t appeal to me.

However, if you are ok with the lack of control you have there and you accept risks along with benefits, then by all means, go to the park.  Take full responsibility for your dog’s actions but don’t expect  to change what is not in your control.

*The dog park is NOT the place to socialize your puppy.   Find a class or familiar dogs that play and act in a safe and friendly manner.