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Old 12-18-2013, 01:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dog Park Theory/Question. (moved from chat to General Puppy)

Most of you know I just got my new little pup :-D. I have been exposing him to everything and anything I can, and it's been great. Knowing that he's being trained in a sport, and all the things I am doing to encourage drives, confidence, etc..It's made me realize how unbelievably impressionable these guys are, I mean he is constantly learning. It takes one exposure, for him to become completely neutral to something...first time he saw a cart, watched it inquisitively, sniffed it, looked at me, and then went about his day, not looking at it again. Same with work equipment, motorcycles, bikes, tents, everything. You just see his little brain working when he checks it out, decides it's nothing interesting, and then ignores it at any encounter in the future.

It made me start thinking about dog parks, and how he would be affected if I took him to one and let a pack of dogs rush up on him and try and chase him....what would he learn? What perceptions would develop? What problems would develop, especially if I repeated this over and over...following the "let them figure it out" or "he needs to get over it" rule that SO many people are advised to do, even by some vets and trainers. I believe, regardless of his genetics, that environment would create huge issues with him, and if done enough possibly irreversible dog aggression. Even though he exhibits ZERO dog aggression right now.

How many problems, fear aggression, dog aggression, resource guarding, are created by this environment? How many dogs would have never had those issues if they hadn't been put in those situations? It just makes me wonder if so many of the issues we claim to see SO much in shelter dogs, pet dogs we encounter out and about, etc...aren't genetic at all (like we are so quick to jump on), but are created because of this new idea that seems to be spreading in our culture, that all dogs must play together, get along, and "get over" anything uncomfortable via flooding them with it (continually sticking hand in food bowl to "desensitize" the dog, is what comes to mind along with the dog parks...another myth encouraged by many many people). Obviously a lot of them do have poor genetics, I just wonder how many have perfectly fine genetics, just crappy environments and experiences. Thoughts?
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think one of the traits of a dog with a good temperament/genetics is not being easily traumatized by bad experiences. My dog has even been bitten(not at a dog park) and he didn't develop any behavioral problems from it.

Not all dog parks are bad. I've personally never been to a dog park so small that I experienced what you described. And it sounds like bad owners and bad advice are the main culprits, not dog parks.

Dog parks helped me eliminate the leash reactivity in my dog when absolutely nothing else worked and some minor resource guarding. Now he won't even react on leash when another dog is reacting within mere inches of him, and he freely shares his toys with other dogs.
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Old 12-18-2013, 04:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Good dog boarding kennels will let the puppies and very stable dogs play and interact together under constant supervision. They aren't like dog parks where owners are present and refuse to discipline or don't see a need to intervene in the interactions to prevent fights. It obviously isn't kosher to go in there and give another persons dog a correction (especially a physical one) even when the dog clearly needs it, so the control is just not there. When a dog shows he clearly does not want to play the good kennels keep others away from him till he is feeling "social" again. If there is a need to remove problem dogs that happens too. Items that can be fought over are generally not present, although the water bowls could become issues, in my experience they generally are not.

We see a ton of dogs that come in with dog or human "aggression" or environmental fear issues that would be perfectly fine had they been socialized properly. Genetics and breed plays a role in how much socialization a puppy needs early on, but when it comes right down to it the greatest blame with socialization issues lays at the feet of the owner or breeder in terms of handling. If you were to raise a puppy, or anything really, in a boring bubble (most households) any small event suddenly becomes a huge deal. Most owners simply never see what a great benefit it is to have an environmentally and socially sound dog. Lots of them will come in with dogs that are practically terrified of their own shadow and wanting the dog to do advanced off leash obedience and just don't see how there is a conflict in there.

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Old 12-18-2013, 05:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Dogs in packed dog parks can often end up feeling like this especially when you bring a new one into one that has a bunch of dogs that have been around each other for a bit already. They all have a tendency to converge on the new guy.

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Old 12-18-2013, 06:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syaoransbear View Post

Not all dog parks are bad. I've personally never been to a dog park so small that I experienced what you described. And it sounds like bad owners and bad advice are the main culprits, not dog parks.
Nearly every horror story I hear about dog parks are due to this. It's not the dogs. I think dog parks are a bad idea in general and not because of the dogs. People are stupid and I don't exclude myself from that statement.

I wouldn't take my dog to a dog park for anything. It's just a bad idea especially for a pup. I believe early socialization needs to be controlled, there is no control at a dog park.
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Old 12-18-2013, 07:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I made the "mistake" of taking my dog to a dog park when he was a puppy. He would get rushed, he'd get pinned, never actually got attacked...but there was definitely dominance being worked out. At about a year old the tables turned and my boy started being the dominant one, no more submission, he wasn't taking crap from any dog. None of those "bad experiences" ruined him. He's very friendly with other dogs, actually almost too friendly, and no matter how much I've worked with him on being neutral, there are still plenty of dogs out there which do excite him.

The only reason I stopped going to dog parks was because its very difficult to get a dog to listen there. He would blow me off, and I can't have that happen. So we stopped going and now go to places where I can have his undivided attention even though he's off leash and having a blast.

So to answer your question...no, I don't believe environment and experience can ruin a good dog. They just brush it off and go on to the next thing. I'm currently fostering a female from an excellent breeder of mine. She witnessed her old owner go through a stroke, then was kenneled for 3 weeks at a vet before the breeder got word of the situation and was able to pull her out. You couldn't tell at all that this dog went through that. She's perfectly happy, loving, and doesn't worry about a thing in the world.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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We frequent 2 dogs parks and have only had 1 issue. The lady had an aggressive towards shepherds dog ...her dog came at Roxy ...lady saw there was going to be an issue and escorted her dog right back to their vehicle.

Other than that one episode we've never had a problem.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:24 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I dont do dog parks anymore. I dont dislike them but i dont feel comfortable letting my 2 rescue dogs rip around with the potential of hurting another dog, they are great dogs dont get me wrong but they are large and like to play really rough with eachother. Plus the dog park around here is turning into the local junkie drug addict spot. Plus i was talking to a lady who took her dog to the park and some idiot had a agro dog on a leash and was screaming at people to keep there dogs away from his..seriously why are you at the OFF LEASH SPOT when you have a agro dog that needs to be leashed and cant be around other dogs? that is crazy, and what other parts of the park are for.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I wonder the same thing too, Dani. What really gets me curious about DA these days is that when I was growing up, everyone used to just let their dogs out the back door and do their thing. No fences, no tie-outs, nothing. The dogs didn't suffer for it. Mind you, this was a small town and the cars weren't zooming around like they do today either. The only animals that I saw ever get into trouble were the cats, because they fought all the time. But the dogs all got along. It seems like when the dogs are given the freedom to be social, then they are very social beings.

My first GSD was raised in a similar fashion. He didn't get to roam the neighborhood because by that time I was living in the city. But he was always off leash and he was always running free in the park - with all the other dogs, in the days before leash laws and actual penned-in 'dog parks.' I never saw any dogs fighting back then either.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syaoransbear View Post
I think one of the traits of a dog with a good temperament/genetics is not being easily traumatized by bad experiences. My dog has even been bitten(not at a dog park) and he didn't develop any behavioral problems from it.

Not all dog parks are bad. I've personally never been to a dog park so small that I experienced what you described. And it sounds like bad owners and bad advice are the main culprits, not dog parks.

Dog parks helped me eliminate the leash reactivity in my dog when absolutely nothing else worked and some minor resource guarding. Now he won't even react on leash when another dog is reacting within mere inches of him, and he freely shares his toys with other dogs.
agree with everything. this has been my experience as well. my dog got beat up around 3 months old and even pee'd himself. he's fine and didnt develop anything bad. a solid dog will get over things easier.

i also used the dog park as a training tool. also helped get rid of my dogs reactivity. i only went when there were a few dogs in the park so i can control the situation. i stopped going at 6 months though after i felt there was no more need to go.
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