What do you all think of the dog park? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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What do you all think of the dog park?

I live in a medium sized town with a great dog park, grass and trees and a separate area for little guys... Lots of room to run. Unfortunately, no one seems to control their dogs at ALL, but kind of have the " let them sort it out" attitude. I have brought Loki (4 1\2 months) there a few times, but in the last trip, there was a "mob" of dogs, chasing around a smaller female. She had her tail tucked, was trying desperately to escape and to me appeared quite afraid, but owners just watched, including hers, presumably.
The mob came charging at Loki the second they spotted him; all the hair went up in his body, and he cowered back. I stepped between him and them, and ordered the pack away, and they did swerve off. I then took him out of the park and we went on a solo walk.
What do you guys think of dog parks? When is it ok to let dogs to sort things out themselves? Am I being overly protective? I was so uncomfortable with the lack of any human direction ... But boy, the other dog owners were watching me with scorn.
Just would like some opinions on the subject.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 10:15 AM
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Great for training outside of it! They are a disaster, takes ONE time for a dog to have a really bad experience in there and when you want to fix the problem could take months . It's better to have play dates which are really easy to control less distraction for the dogs

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 10:27 AM
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Bad experiences can happen any where. Most of the dogs attacks or problems I have seen have been in parks but outside of dog parks or on the streets of my community.

If you look to avoid problems by seeking somewhere more isolated or by going in off times as many will recommend, keep in mind that those places and times are often occupied by the "midnight dog walkers", i.e., being utilized by people with dogs who are less congenial.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 11:29 AM
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Choose carefully. Read reviews online with a critical eye. Visit the parks without your dog - you want to find one that's based on walking/hiking trails instead of big green areas for the dogs to run in a pack. Get a sense for when the dog-savvy people come and when it's amateur hour. The very best time at my favorite park is early morning (like before 8:30). It's not empty, but the people who are there tend to be the more serious dog people. Six hours later, anarchy rules the day.

I would (personally) say 4 months is too little. I would wait until the dog is older/bigger, fully vaccinated, and able to hold its own. I wasn't going to do them at all, but when my puppy was about ten months, my husband made a case for trying one. He did the research and found a couple to try. They are one of the greatest joys in my dog's life - actually probably the greatest joy with the liquor store being a close second - and she's very dog-friendly even as a mature dog, so I'm glad he did. But if I had it to do again, I'd still wait until the dog was older, and I would watch carefully to evaluate whether the dog actually enjoyed them or whether she was stressed. And I would continue to watch as the dog matured, because things can and do change at two years and at three.

I would say basically wait, pick your park carefully, and make sure your dog has a decently strong recall. This is where the trails become important: If you don't like a situation, you can call to your dog and say, "let's go walk" and leave without ruffling feathers. Keep a brisk pace and other owners should understand you don't necessarily want to mingle. Carry pepper spray if legal; if not, a large stick.
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Last edited by WateryTart; 10-04-2017 at 11:34 AM.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 11:47 AM
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Yeah dog parks are tough in New York City where we live because of the lack of backyards and space. Compound that with the fact that half the people in this city are nuts and you?ve got your basic dog park nightmare. I go with Hudson only when I know his two best buds will be there and later at night around 8:30 pm. That way it?s usually quiet there and if a dog I don?t know does come I can easily approach the owner beforehand. Also with his buddies by his side Hudson is less apt to become a target if there is a an aggressive dog.

I will say that we still have had a handful of issues with people and their unruly pets. One lady with a Dalmatian told me she was friendly and then her dog lunged aggressively at Hudson - with how I reacted I don?t think she?ll ever go to a dog park again as long as she lives.

Make sure if you do go to a dog park your recall with your dog is on point. Too many variables to risk not having that control to get your dogs attention. And like others have said issues can arise anywhere - Hudson was attacked by a terrier who?s ?leash broke? as the owner walked by. After all the work we have done with Hman to get over his puppy weeks with horrible breeders I was a wreck but honestly he took it okay and the owner did feel badly. I still got right in the guys face and when it happened did whatever I could to put myself between the two.

Bottom line there?s risk everywhere, dog parks amplify it, 4.5 months just seems too young an age to take a chance.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 11:54 AM
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Never; too many questionables (dogs and people).
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 02:09 PM
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No. Just No. Messy grounds, untrained/unstable dogs and witless/clueless owners --- some of whom appear to have been just released from one kind of facility or another.

Find a school with an athletic field and see if you can access it after hours.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 04:01 PM
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I'm in the no group unless like WateryTart mentioned, the park is based on hiking trails where cross over is limited. When I visit my family back in BC, the parks are off leash friendly but they're all hiking trails. Dogs also aren't allowed unless they're also 6 months of age (not that it stops anyone). It's great there because you rarely encounter anyone except for entering or exiting the hiking trail, in which case I'm always prepared for the bumbling idiot who has too many dogs who aren't under control.

My issue with them is that dogs will take a pack mentality and pick on the weak, as you've seen. And it can turn very ugly, very fast. I don't believe in a wait and see approach when safety or health is involved.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 04:08 PM
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I don't know anyone close to me that currently has a puppy, so playdates, as it were, were not an option for me. My pup also had some leash reactivity to other dogs early on, so I really needed to introduce her to other dogs (IMHO). So, off to the dog park we went.

When I first visited, I kept her isolated from the other dogs by utilizing the small dog/puppy enclosure. We started this AFTER she'd had all of her vaccinations at around 5 months. At 6 months I let her go into the main area with the older dogs, and yes, she got rolled over and or ran over a bit. But it didn't seem to bother her at all, so we kept at it. At 9 months now, it's her favorite place in the whole world! We go daily, and she has her own little circle of buds to play with.

I agree with what others have said about timing and in our dog park that definitely rules out late night excursions, as several people bring their less-than-social dogs late at night.

In the 4 months we have been visiting the dog park I have only seen a couple of dog fights, and the owners swooped in quickly to break them up. I have not seen any dogs get hurt, though one owner probably did get some stitches because he chose to grab for a collar to pull his dog out of a fight. The dogs were fine.

I "thought" my puppy had pretty good recall before going, but noticed that her memory of such things sort of went away at the dog park. Puppies go through many stages as they grow up as well, getting rebellious at times, and that's pretty natural. If you wait until your puppy will recall dependably under any circumstance, you won't be going until much later on. But, for my puppy at least, she would still recall pretty well once I got close enough to her, so I didn't worry too much about that. IMHO it's actually a good training environment. At 9 months my pup will recall 100% from anywhere in the park, whether she's chasing and or playing with other dogs or not! I wouldn't be at all surprised if that changes again when she hits another rebellious period, but for now she's great in that regard.

There have been a few instances where I've had to intervene when another dog was picking on her and the owner wasn't paying attention. But I was able to break it up without a problem, so, so far at least, that hasn't been a big issue. I've also had to intervene a couple times when my pup was the offender...

But I frequently have more problems just taking her for walks in our neighborhood...with off leash dogs. I could go on about that, but I'll just leave it at that, hopefully your neighborhood is better about that sort of thing😉

I've seen lots of dogs come to the dog park here acting very fearful and timid, initially, and within a few weeks make HUGE strides forward in terms of sociability and confidence, so in that regard I think socializing with other dogs at the dog park for them was a great thing. My puppy too has "mostly" gotten over her leash reactivity toward other dogs, which is usually a fear response. And she's friendly to most all dogs big and small, which I don't think would have been possible for her without that exposure, so it has been a very good thing for her and her development IMO. She can now look at another dog, and judge whether to approach and play, or to avoid them. You cannot teach that to your puppy, it has to come from other dogs, and it will involve some less than pleasant experiences. It is, however, a life skill that may very well save you and your dog a lot of grief later on. IMO if you avoid other dogs until your dog is much older, they either will never learn that skill, or they'll learn it in a much rougher fashion than they would have as a puppy.

Obviously I can go on and on on this topic😉 But I will end by saying that if you're not one of those owners who just cuts your dog lose in a dog park while you browse Facebook or check your email, I have found the dog park to be an excellent source of learning for my puppy, and for myself, and I've met some very interesting people there as well.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-04-2017, 04:17 PM
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I hate dog parks but use one if it’s empty. They are only as good or as bad as other owners who use them. I will not go during crowded times. Make sure the one you use is relatively clean. I heard of one that was causing so many illnesses, local vets warned clients not to use it.
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