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Bridget 07-07-2014 11:32 AM

possible effects of dog parks on shelter dogs
My husband and I volunteer frequently at our local shelter. We are currently seeing A LOT of dogs come in that cannot be around other dogs. This is bad because those dogs sit in the shelter long-term, as most people these days either are looking for a second dog or hope to have a second dog some day. Also, I find that almost everyone wants a dog they can take to the dog park.

Two of the dogs who belong to us, Heidi, and my husband's lab, are dog aggressive and we have a theory that their problems were caused by taking them to the dog park when they were young. We learned our lesson before getting our other lab, Cori, and she doesn't have a problem with dogs. Now I am wondering if the shelter dogs' dog aggression issues also may have originated with dog parks. Most of them were dropped off at the shelter as adults and we don't have a detailed history. Not to start another thread about the benefits/evils of dog parks, but does anyone else suspect that much of the dog-on-dog aggression today could be traced back to this? It is very sad for the rescue dogs.

lalachka 07-07-2014 11:37 AM

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I believe it and I believe that I caused my dog's issues (or let them surface) by letting dogs rough him up at the park

martemchik 07-07-2014 11:41 AM

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I don’t think there’s any way of proving your theory. Many times I’ve seen the dog park used as an excuse for poor genetics. People always look for a “reason” that the dog is the way it is and always try to put the blame on someone else. Many times, they think they did all they could in finding a good breeder, so it can’t be genetics…it has to be an experience in the dog’s life at some point. Most people still really believe that it’s all about how you raise a dog that makes it the way it is…and they don’t believe that genetics plays a role in that. I’ve personally seen how much greater the genetics are as a piece of that puzzle than the raising, and how a dog will revert back to its genetics when its finally allowed to, so I don’t ever believe that a terrible incident at a dog park will cause unreversable fear/dog aggression.

My dog was attacked as a puppy by a neighbor’s dog. He got bit on the face pretty bad, no issues with other dogs to this day. He wanted to play with that other dog the very next day. He would get rolled/dominated at dog parks when he was younger. Has no issues going to a dog park today, except that now he is the dominant one that would do all the rolling…so we don’t go because I’ve learned how big of an affect that can have on a weaker nerved dog.

I think what you see is that in shelters, many times you have mixed breeds. Mixed breeds who’s genetics don’t line up. I know the most popular mix around her is a lab/pit. So you’re talking the calmer/weaker nerve of the lab, mixed with the aggression of a terrier. Just not a good mix.

Merciel 07-07-2014 12:21 PM


Originally Posted by Bridget (Post 5742970)
Not to start another thread about the benefits/evils of dog parks, but does anyone else suspect that much of the dog-on-dog aggression today could be traced back to this?


I don't know what the shelter population is like in your area, but in Philly, most of the shelter dogs are pit bulls or pittie mixes, and not infrequently they come from breeders who are intentionally trying to select for dog aggression (because they're trying to breed fighting dogs and/or just conflate all types of aggression and think it makes for a better guard dog, more macho displays on the street, or whatever).

That has an influence on the shelter population, especially over time as responsible owners spay/neuter their dogs and the shelter population tilts ever more toward what the least responsible segment of the city's dog owners are doing.

It has absolutely nothing to do with dog parks. I wouldn't be surprised if there's been an increase in Philly's dog park usage over the same time period, but it's a completely separate trend driven mostly by gentrifying yuppies and hipsters, and it has no connection to the increased rates of dog-dog aggression. The dog-park dogs aren't breeding and mostly aren't getting dumped at the shelters. The trend is completely coincidental.

Bridget 07-07-2014 01:49 PM

Our dogs also tend to be pit mixes, so you may definitely have a point. Another thing I consider is that living at the shelter itself could contribute. Of course the dogs are housed separately, and at ours, we have solid walls between them, but still they are hearing, smelling and seeing the other dogs, with the barrier between, which could be frustrating. From our own personal experience with our own dogs, though, I still really believe that dog parks strongly contributed to their issues. However, I am sure a lot of it was our reaction to events at the dog park, as well as our lack of experience and knowledge when we started taking them there.

Benny Boo's Mommy 07-30-2014 02:13 PM

We take our GSD to the dog park every day because we live in an urban environment (and no back yard). He's a rescue from the local animal control (the pound). We feel like the dog park has been a wonderful resource for him; however, he was already 9 months old when we got him so perhaps it was not as scary for him as he wasn't really young. He's had a few negative interactions (and one vet visit bc another dog bit him). But I feel like for the most part, it's been a great experience. He is super good with all sizes of dogs because of his socialization at the dog park.

DJEtzel 07-30-2014 02:18 PM

Well all of my dogs have been raised in dog parks and they all get along with other dogs very well, so as anecdotal evidence, I would have to say no. :p

Chip18 07-30-2014 05:04 PM

My dog were taught to ignore other dogs and that's what they do. They can go anywhere with me and they know how to behave around other dogs. I take "zero" risk with other people and what they my or my not know about there dog. My dogs have never been attacked and I don't need to deal with behavioural issues caused by bad dog park encounters!

Dog park stuff can be found here:

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