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post #1 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Great article about dog parks

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Carolina Johnson

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post #2 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 09:59 AM
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That was a good read. You see constantly on here about the fighting but I've been an advocate against dog parks for the disease risk LONG before even owning a dog. That scares me more than anything because I can't see that coming.

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post #3 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 02:56 PM
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Thanks it is a good article. I'll add it to my anti Dog Park data base. And yes the "unknown" dog and owner. I had two dogs that would have been great Dog Park candidates "ironically" my OS WL GSD with high Rank Drive "issues" being one of them and of course my goofy Boxer! But they never went (to a Dog Park) because my first dog my American Band Dog made it pretty clear from day one that he would not be a good fit!

I chose not to "inflict" my problem on others! Lot's of dogs like him out there and unfortunately they don't have responsible owners!

Again unfortunately those owners don't wear T-Shirts that say "My dogs issue's are not my problem, it's your problem!"

I protect my dogs and knowingly putting them in harms way makes that job more difficult in my view.
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post #4 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 03:56 PM
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"because the positives are, in my opinion, only theoretical."

I don't get it. Well exercised and dog savvy dogs are theoretical? Dog parks have been in my area for over fifteen years and I have not found this to be the case, especially the part where the positives are not considered positives, but theory? That doesn't even really make sense to me.


"First, dog parks are rife with disease, especially giardia. Soft stool, diarrhea that comes and goes, horrible gas? Have your vet run a test for giardia. And then, of course, there’s kennel cough, as well other fungi, viruses, fleas and worms."

Am I correct in understanding that all dogs passing outside the dog park are immune to all these purported diseases inside the dog park? Can somebody explain to me just how they manage to corral all these nasty things and isolate them to the internal realm of the dog park and none of these are contagious if they are contacted through a sick dog being walked through its neighborhood or through an on leash non dog park area. I find the concept fascinating. People that tend to go to dog parks are people that obviously tend to spend time with the care of their dogs vs those that just open the gate, (if it ever was closed) and allow their diseased dog to wander the community.


"Second, I have seen way, way too many dog bites that have occurred at dog parks for my personal comfort. Mostly to other dogs, but also to people who reach in to break up a dog fight or a to grab their dog out of harm’s way."

I can't speak for the author, but maybe their dog park experience is very limited. Most of the dog bites / fights I have witnessed have been in neighborhoods or in on leash areas of parks. Most people with dogs that have dog issues tend to not go to dog parks but to walk them on leash in other areas or in their communities. Who brings a dog aggressive or dog reactive dog to a dog park? Who has a dog aggressive / reactive dog and never walks it? If they don't go to dog parks common sense dictates they have to go somewhere.


"Dogs thrive on stable relationships. ...Thus you’ll get what appears to be random fighting, random aggression towards a dog they know, random odd behaviors (“gee, never done that before”), seemingly sudden guarding behaviors (territory, owner, another dog) etc. It’s not random or unpredictable--it’s the stress you, as an owner, causes by going to the dog park!"

This does not seem to be the prevailing behavior at the many dog parks I frequent, I wonder how many dog parks the author has been to. My experience has demonstrated that most dogs are comfortable in a dog park, and immensely enjoy the playtime with other dogs. Most bad behaviors I have seen were directly related to food, toys, and dog fighting breeds. I wish the author had been clearer on her experience instead of making a broad sweeping statement which can't be supported by most of the dog parks in my area.


"Lastly, I’m very wary of the “unknown” factors. Unknown dogs, unknown owners, unknown relationships and interactions, unknown damages. I don’t like surprises, and dog parks hold way too many unknown factors for dogs’ safety."

And all the strangers walking their dogs in communities, in on leash dog areas, and even in training classes aren't unknowns full of surprises? I have seen many a leashed dog attack and harm a passing dog.

​"One of my main reasons for not being a dog park advocate is what I can’t control my dog’s experience and/or other people’s dogs (and I think it goes without saying, the dog owners)."

Can the author control loose dogs on the streets? How about owners walking dogs that have aggressive dogs and choose not to control them? How about a child on the end of a leash of a large problem dog? I think not.

"Because dogs are learning all the time, I must control as much of their experiences as possible..."

Avoiding dog parks in favor of just as many unadmitted unknowns in a different territory does not provide any more control, maybe even less. In a dog park, the owner is usually there to control a problem dog, or if they won't, there ususally are other good samaritans willing to help, can't say the same about an empty city street with the same variables.


"..thus I must make sure my dog has only positive experiences for several years, until they are mature and have a solid foundation before I expose them to a possibly unsure environment."

As stated earlier, exposing your dogs to all the same diseases and dangers that one asserts are found in a dog park, while denying the very same that occurs outside a dog park is a little bit biased and unbalanced.


"If your dog gets bullied, attacked, frightened or even just overwhelmed at the dog park, he will bring that experience and the subsequent conclusions he made with him everywhere."

What happens if your dog is attacked while walking in your own community, no impact? How about a dog in a yard or being walked by its owner that lunges and carries on? That won't make a dog feel overwhelmed?


"Also keep in mind that fighting and bullying in dogs is a learned behavior just as much as anything else, and therefore once your dog does it a few times, it’s now learned and bound to be repeated over and over again."

And this only counts if it occurs in a dog park?


"Of course I recommend dog-to-dog play! If your dog has a few friends that he or she really enjoys, please go for it!"

What if your dog has never met a dog it did not consider to be a friend and the other dog(s) feel the same way? Some dogs are social butterflies and these are normally the types found in dog parks. Perhaps if fighting and bullying is just as much a learned behavior as the author states, then perhaps not fighting and bullying is just as much a learned behavior?

"So considering all the above, is this something you actually want for your dog? I doubt it! Take your dog for a walk instead."

So considering all the author wrote holds true for a walk around the block or an on leash park, why would one demonize dog parks while recommending the other? I think the article misleads people into a false sense of security regardging disease, dog fights, and the ability of other people to control their dogs which are not characteristics attributed to solely dog parks, but anywhere where it is legal to take dogs.
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post #5 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 05:32 PM
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"because the positives are, in my opinion, only theoretical."

I don't get it. Well exercised and dog savvy dogs are theoretical? Dog parks have been in my area for over fifteen years and I have not found this to be the case, especially the part where the positives are not considered positives, but theory? That doesn't even really make sense to me.


"First, dog parks are rife with disease, especially giardia. Soft stool, diarrhea that comes and goes, horrible gas? Have your vet run a test for giardia. And then, of course, there’s kennel cough, as well other fungi, viruses, fleas and worms."

Am I correct in understanding that all dogs passing outside the dog park are immune to all these purported diseases inside the dog park? Can somebody explain to me just how they manage to corral all these nasty things and isolate them to the internal realm of the dog park and none of these are contagious if they are contacted through a sick dog being walked through its neighborhood or through an on leash non dog park area. I find the concept fascinating. People that tend to go to dog parks are people that obviously tend to spend time with the care of their dogs vs those that just open the gate, (if it ever was closed) and allow their diseased dog to wander the community.


"Second, I have seen way, way too many dog bites that have occurred at dog parks for my personal comfort. Mostly to other dogs, but also to people who reach in to break up a dog fight or a to grab their dog out of harm’s way."

I can't speak for the author, but maybe their dog park experience is very limited. Most of the dog bites / fights I have witnessed have been in neighborhoods or in on leash areas of parks. Most people with dogs that have dog issues tend to not go to dog parks but to walk them on leash in other areas or in their communities. Who brings a dog aggressive or dog reactive dog to a dog park? Who has a dog aggressive / reactive dog and never walks it? If they don't go to dog parks common sense dictates they have to go somewhere.


"Dogs thrive on stable relationships. ...Thus you’ll get what appears to be random fighting, random aggression towards a dog they know, random odd behaviors (“gee, never done that before”), seemingly sudden guarding behaviors (territory, owner, another dog) etc. It’s not random or unpredictable--it’s the stress you, as an owner, causes by going to the dog park!"

This does not seem to be the prevailing behavior at the many dog parks I frequent, I wonder how many dog parks the author has been to. My experience has demonstrated that most dogs are comfortable in a dog park, and immensely enjoy the playtime with other dogs. Most bad behaviors I have seen were directly related to food, toys, and dog fighting breeds. I wish the author had been clearer on her experience instead of making a broad sweeping statement which can't be supported by most of the dog parks in my area.


"Lastly, I’m very wary of the “unknown” factors. Unknown dogs, unknown owners, unknown relationships and interactions, unknown damages. I don’t like surprises, and dog parks hold way too many unknown factors for dogs’ safety."

And all the strangers walking their dogs in communities, in on leash dog areas, and even in training classes aren't unknowns full of surprises? I have seen many a leashed dog attack and harm a passing dog.

​"One of my main reasons for not being a dog park advocate is what I can’t control my dog’s experience and/or other people’s dogs (and I think it goes without saying, the dog owners)."

Can the author control loose dogs on the streets? How about owners walking dogs that have aggressive dogs and choose not to control them? How about a child on the end of a leash of a large problem dog? I think not.

"Because dogs are learning all the time, I must control as much of their experiences as possible..."

Avoiding dog parks in favor of just as many unadmitted unknowns in a different territory does not provide any more control, maybe even less. In a dog park, the owner is usually there to control a problem dog, or if they won't, there ususally are other good samaritans willing to help, can't say the same about an empty city street with the same variables.


"..thus I must make sure my dog has only positive experiences for several years, until they are mature and have a solid foundation before I expose them to a possibly unsure environment."

As stated earlier, exposing your dogs to all the same diseases and dangers that one asserts are found in a dog park, while denying the very same that occurs outside a dog park is a little bit biased and unbalanced.


"If your dog gets bullied, attacked, frightened or even just overwhelmed at the dog park, he will bring that experience and the subsequent conclusions he made with him everywhere."

What happens if your dog is attacked while walking in your own community, no impact? How about a dog in a yard or being walked by its owner that lunges and carries on? That won't make a dog feel overwhelmed?


"Also keep in mind that fighting and bullying in dogs is a learned behavior just as much as anything else, and therefore once your dog does it a few times, it’s now learned and bound to be repeated over and over again."

And this only counts if it occurs in a dog park?


"Of course I recommend dog-to-dog play! If your dog has a few friends that he or she really enjoys, please go for it!"

What if your dog has never met a dog it did not consider to be a friend and the other dog(s) feel the same way? Some dogs are social butterflies and these are normally the types found in dog parks. Perhaps if fighting and bullying is just as much a learned behavior as the author states, then perhaps not fighting and bullying is just as much a learned behavior?

"So considering all the above, is this something you actually want for your dog? I doubt it! Take your dog for a walk instead."

So considering all the author wrote holds true for a walk around the block or an on leash park, why would one demonize dog parks while recommending the other? I think the article misleads people into a false sense of security regardging disease, dog fights, and the ability of other people to control their dogs which are not characteristics attributed to solely dog parks, but anywhere where it is legal to take dogs.
Well it's a good rebuttal! And it would do Cesar Milan proud (that's not a slam) I like a lot of the things he does; not all, but a lot! When I watch his shows I usually cringe when at the end he sends his clients ..."off to the Dog Park!"

I don't have much faith in JQP's ability to control there dog myself?? And if I can drop names, neither do Jeff Gellman, Peter Crain, Sean O'Shea and Lou Castle! They all are on the record and they advise there clients to "Stay out of the Dog Park!"

I did not need them to tell me that. I figured it out myself from day one! And no dogs harmed in the process.

In the real world if your dog gets hit by another dog ...you were to freaking close! I step aside or cross the street or if that's not an option I am between a passing dog and mine. Not that difficult to do.

I know personally of two Boxers that were left blind in dog v dog encounters. One was a Dog Park encounter and that Boxer lost both eyes! The other Boxer lost one eye and needed 15,000 dollar worth of reconstructive surgery! He's on FB now and the owner was rather vague on details other than a dog attack??

My American Band Dawg never interacted with any dog outside his pack for years. He was also never allowed to or got to be "Reactive on Leash" nonetheless he learned by inference how to behave around other dogs.

Off leash and "On the lawn" one day while I was working on my car in the driveway, my neighbors little piece of crap dog got by me and got right in Gunther's face!! Yap Yap Yap!! Four feet away from him and Struddell on Gunther's flank waiting to see what to do???

My eyes were big as saucer, I said Good Boy and calmly but swiftly got the little miscreant away! No problem, granted it was just my one dog but I know had I taken him to a Dog Park out the gate, he would have been looking to do damage! Plenty of others just like him out there and some of those owner's don't care! Those would be the people "not" on dog boards looking for solutions ..."they " don't have a problem as "they" see it.

But Gunther never got a chance to "practice bad behavior" and he was never a problem. I have worked with more dogs at rescue and I can't really say how they are as regards other dogs I have no problem walking them by dogs, someone else in control, who knows??

There are most likely a lot of Dog Parks out there with good dog owners?? I don't know, but telling people to just say "No to Dog Parks" is "sound advice" in my view and I always "advocate" go with the Pro's.

And since I sigh .... yet again brought up Boxer's here, these are my usual "Dog Park warnings." :

Lou Castle:
Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums - View Single Post - Dog Park Ready

And stuff to know:
Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums - View Single Post - Dog Park Ready

Dog Parks are an "unacceptable risk" for me, others are free to do as they see fit long as they know.
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post #6 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 06:42 PM
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Well it's a good rebuttal! And it would do Cesar Milan proud (that's not a slam) I like a lot of the things he does; not all, but a lot! When I watch his shows I usually cringe when at the end he sends his clients ..."off to the Dog Park!"

I don't have much faith in JQP's ability to control there dog myself?? And if I can drop names, neither do Jeff Gellman, Peter Crain, Sean O'Shea and Lou Castle! They all are on the record and they advise there clients to "Stay out of the Dog Park!"

I did not need them to tell me that. I figured it out myself from day one! And no dogs harmed in the process.

In the real world if your dog gets hit by another dog ...you were to freaking close! I step aside or cross the street or if that's not an option I am between a passing dog and mine. Not that difficult to do.

I know personally of two Boxers that were left blind in dog v dog encounters. One was a Dog Park encounter and that Boxer lost both eyes! The other Boxer lost one eye and needed 15,000 dollar worth of reconstructive surgery! He's on FB now and the owner was rather vague on details other than a dog attack??

My American Band Dawg never interacted with any dog outside his pack for years. He was also never allowed to or got to be "Reactive on Leash" nonetheless he learned by inference how to behave around other dogs.

Off leash and "On the lawn" one day while I was working on my car in the driveway, my neighbors little piece of crap dog got by me and got right in Gunther's face!! Yap Yap Yap!! Four feet away from him and Struddell on Gunther's flank waiting to see what to do???

My eyes were big as saucer, I said Good Boy and calmly but swiftly got the little miscreant away! No problem, granted it was just my one dog but I know had I taken him to a Dog Park out the gate, he would have been looking to do damage! Plenty of others just like him out there and some of those owner's don't care! Those would be the people "not" on dog boards looking for solutions ..."they " don't have a problem as "they" see it.

But Gunther never got a chance to "practice bad behavior" and he was never a problem. I have worked with more dogs at rescue and I can't really say how they are as regards other dogs I have no problem walking them by dogs, someone else in control, who knows??

There are most likely a lot of Dog Parks out there with good dog owners?? I don't know, but telling people to just say "No to Dog Parks" is "sound advice" in my view and I always "advocate" go with the Pro's.

And since I sigh .... yet again brought up Boxer's here, these are my usual "Dog Park warnings." :

Lou Castle:
Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums - View Single Post - Dog Park Ready

And stuff to know:
Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums - View Single Post - Dog Park Ready

Dog Parks are an "unacceptable risk" for me, others are free to do as they see fit long as they know.
Cesar recommends dog parks? On what basis?


If you base your opinion on dog parks on the ability of JQP to control their dogs, then please explain to me the difference between JQP taking their dog to a dog park or JQP allowing their dog to run free or walk their dog on the streets? If JPQ can't control their dog at a dog park, then surely they lack that ability when in home territory, even if it is going out to get the mail and the dog slipping out the door as you walk by. A dog attack is a dog attack regardless of where it occurs. In the past year, I have had three attacks on my dogs, one right in front of my house, one in a dog park, and one in an ON leash area in a park. I know it is deeper than that, but based on those attacks, two out of three did NOT occur in a dog park but in other areas being portrayed in this article as safe. I think not and to say so is not just misleading but potentially dangerous. It gives people a false sense of security.

I have frequented many dog parks, and although some can be quite large, or at least I have heard, all that I have been to are not so, and you are right there with your dog. Heck, my own town has a dog park, which I have never frequented, that I would guesstimate is the same size as my own yard. Besides, what makes you so sure that another dog is determined to bite your dog unless the dog is a) possibly dog aggressive so is not a dog park candidate (among many other possibilities, of course), or b) my biggest concern would be a problem owner. It is no secret among dog park enthusiasts that a leashed dog in an unleashed area is usually attached to a problem owner, not the other way around.

Out of the Boxer encounters you mentioned, I would be very curious about the circumstances. Where there treats involved? How about toys? Seriously, how did a dog come to lose both eyes in a dog fight? Do you think if those same two dogs had fought on the street that the outcome might have been different? Egregious as those injuries are, I know of many dogs that have lost their lives to dog attacks while leashed and walking the streets with their owners. One such attack occurred about fifty feet from my home and another two blocks away. In both incidences, there was no owner to remove the agressing dog. I have never seen a dog without an owner or "responsible" person in a dog park although I am sure it happens.


Does it matter what method, as long as the method is humane, is used to prevent or deter dog reactivity? How to "behave around other dogs" is subjective, some want ignore, others want friendly, and a host of gray shades.

One night as I was sitting on my front porch, an OS solid white intact male Boxer came to my front gate. Thankfully my yard is fenced, but I thought things could get ugly with my dominant male. Who would have thought that these dogs decided to have a huge play fest and ran up and down the fence for about a half hour until the owner came for his Boxer? These "playdates" continued until the owner was able to finally permanently secure his dog.

Personally, can't tell you how many times through the years little dogs have confronted my big dogs, never an incident. Perhaps good breeding has a hand in this?


My dogs don't get to practice bad behavior, when it occurs it is corrected. I used to work with dogs in rescues at one time too, the problem dogs were usually the nerve bags, many of which were never let off leash or run free. Barrier aggression and leash frustration can be terrible things if allowed to develop.

I do agree with not having to stick your hand in a pot of boiling oil to learn for yourself, but when things are presented as in this article stating that all these potentially evil harms can come to your dog if you take him to a dog park while denying that all the things mentioned as evil were also a real life potential threat by just walking your dog around your own block at home, I have to cry foul and deceitful.

I have all the respect in the world for Lou Castle, but his statement parallels that of this article and I say prove it. Show me one study done where dog parks are the roots of all those evils. I have a coworker who lives in an apartment, her cat which never goes outside contracted giardia, no dog park necessary. Evidently, it was tracked in. I do agree that you can encounter people looking for bait dogs, but that is not strictly confined to dog parks. That can, and does, occur anywhere. Insofar as somebody not being able to control a pack of dogs they brought in, I have never seen anybody bring in a pack of dogs to a dog park, although it can happen. The same could be said about somebody walking down a street with a pack of dogs.

How do you, or anybody else, know that dogs in training classes are safe dogs? Prove it. Prove they don't have fleas, giardia or a host of other illnesses. It would appear to me that obedience classes could be a hot bed for problem dogs. You read about it on here all the time where somebody has a problem dog and the first thing everybody recommends is training and lots of it.
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post #7 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 06:46 PM
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That was a good read. You see constantly on here about the fighting but I've been an advocate against dog parks for the disease risk LONG before even owning a dog. That scares me more than anything because I can't see that coming.
My pup's trainer hates dog parks and risk of disease is at the very top of his list of the hazards owners will expose their pups to at those yucky places.

Great article!!!
GSDBESTK9. Thx for posting it.
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post #8 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 07:23 PM
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WorkingLine, I think that your dog park experience is the exception. Here, all of those things are HUGE problems in dog parks.
I can count on 1 hand the people who have had good experiences with dog parks and those tend to be private parks with paid membership and careful vetting of all potential members.

I've met others who have LOVED dog parks until they had an issue. That seems to be the mantra of public parks - it's all good until an idiot shows up.

Yes, people take aggressive dogs to dog parks. People take rescue/shelter dogs that they've owned for a couple hours and go to the dog park when they have no clue how the dog will react (not to mention the dog barely knows them so is going to be stressed anyway).

Yes, people take sick dogs to dog parks.

People put their tiny dogs in the big dog side and then freak out when the little one gets stepped on by a larger dog. God forbid one of the big dogs doesn't like small dogs.

In a class setting, it is assumed that 1) the trainer requires proof of vaccines before enrolling dogs and 2) the trainer is expereinced in working with dogs and will be controlling the class setting.
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post #9 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 07:43 PM
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WorkingLine, I think that your dog park experience is the exception. Here, all of those things are HUGE problems in dog parks.
I can count on 1 hand the people who have had good experiences with dog parks and those tend to be private parks with paid membership and careful vetting of all potential members.

I've met others who have LOVED dog parks until they had an issue. That seems to be the mantra of public parks - it's all good until an idiot shows up.

Yes, people take aggressive dogs to dog parks. People take rescue/shelter dogs that they've owned for a couple hours and go to the dog park when they have no clue how the dog will react (not to mention the dog barely knows them so is going to be stressed anyway).

Yes, people take sick dogs to dog parks.

People put their tiny dogs in the big dog side and then freak out when the little one gets stepped on by a larger dog. God forbid one of the big dogs doesn't like small dogs.

In a class setting, it is assumed that 1) the trainer requires proof of vaccines before enrolling dogs and 2) the trainer is expereinced in working with dogs and will be controlling the class setting.
I agree that all those things can happen at a dog park, but they happen walking around the block too, no difference.

There are tons of people around here that go to dog parks, the regulars. I am sure most have had an incident or two in dog parks. I am sure that most have had an incident or two in on leash areas and near their homes as well. Same difference is my point.

Yes, there are trainers that are in control in obedience classes, but that does not detract from the likelihood of problem dogs being brought there in numbers. Dog parks are not the place to go with problem dogs. It happens, owners step in to help bring things under control, same as a trainer will step in to stop problems.

Yes, these are my experiences, but the way these wonderful dog parks are excoriated as h double l holes just isn't necessarily true, and the viable options are not any better.

Being that I go to so many dog parks and meet so many people that regularly go for literally years, I have to question the dog park experience of the naysayers. So somebody has one bad experience at a dog park, that does not make the dog park bad. What do those people do when they have a bad experience walking their dog around the block once they have a bad experience?
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post #10 of 102 (permalink) Old 11-01-2015, 08:11 PM
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Sometimes I wonder if certain dog trainers actually spend much time in the real world? Many dog owners never worry about dog reactivity or dog aggression, because their dogs have never shown this issue. Their dogs are perfectly social, without need for training at all.

My guess is trainers see a very skewed sample of the dog population, because often only people with problem dogs bother to go to a trainer. Thus, when the trainers imagine all the problem dogs they work with at a dog park it would be a disaster. Truth is, mom and pops lab-mix does just fine at the dog park with no training needed. I've never seen any dog fights at the dog park or any real issues with aggression. I have seen fights and aggression in non dog park areas.

I worry more about the attack-beavers in the lake at my dog park than about disease or other dogs.
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