German Shepherds Forum banner

241 - 260 of 289 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
Dog parks remain closed in Ohio. While people don't always respect social distancing here, and you see plenty of people on bike paths, softball diamonds, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and for God's sake, dozens of kids on a track/ football field, the local dog parks are locked and the ranger would undoubtedly ticket anyone he saw there, or at least warn them the heck out.

As to their merits, I also liked them the first couple of times, actually more than a couple of times. No incidents, plenty of fun to be had. Then one day, I let my puppy in (at maybe 5 months old?), and immediately a Chihuaha got chippy. That is a no-win situation for a GSD of larger than say, 20 lbs. Then a Great Dane. Then some mutt. And you'd just have to take my word for it, she is a social, confident pup. She wasn't taking this dog's ball, or missing that dog's social cues. They just wanted to pick on a puppy to boost their own status, or because sometimes, that's what some dogs do. And you can't always predict it, with 100% accuracy. Get it right 99 out of 100 times, and on the 100th time you get a serious, mauling fight, that's a fail in my book.

So I got her out of the big dog park without incident that day. Started taking her in the smaller one, based on a "green book" of dogs she had god experiences with before. As mentioned in other posts, the nature of this park was, we fairly rarely saw the same nice dogs and owners twice. We might meet new ones, but rarely saw the same ones.
Then we had to go out of town for almost a solid month due to illness, death and funeral. She went with us, and we got off the dog park train. When we returned, COVID hit soon thereafter.

I keep an open mind, but part of that open mind is noticing that even those on this forum who have good things to say about dog parks have had what I would deem some pretty negative experiences there.

Risk is inherent in life, sure, but that doesn't mean you wear golf spikes in a lightning storm, tailgate on a freeway at 93 mph, play pickup basketball with people who settle disputes over fouls with gunplay. I'm just not sure for me the upside is worth a possible vet visit, whether my dog goes there, or sends another dog there. And when I take risks myself, that's one thing. When I take them with a puppy who depends on me to make decisions for it, that's different.

As to effects of one fight, guess it depends on the dog, but probably depends far more on the severity of the fight. A much more experienced guy at Schutzhund training was talking with me about his Doberman, acquired from Europe after a long search. This guy knows his Dobermans and is also around GSDs all the time. He mentioned that his male Doberman got in what he described as a pretty bad dog fight while he was still overseas, when a GSD sprang up from a long down at some training site and grabbed him. His dogs are pretty amazing,and anything but nervy, in the times I've seen them. But he said the fight did affect the way his dog behaved, at least for a while. Food for thought.

To take this in a little different direction, I've dealt with two quality breeders of GSDs and a Schutzhund trainer, none of whom thought dog parks are a good idea for GSDs. And that is putting it mildly. Any breeders or Schutzhund people here who see dog parks as a definite positive?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,274 Posts
Squidward, let's look at it this way. In Schutzhund, you are teaching your dog to bite. If it gets into a dog fight at a dog park, dogs or people get seriously hurt, and the owner(s) of the other dogs come after you, how do you think it's going to go?? :rolleyes:

It just isn't worth taking the risk. And any schutzhund club I've been to takes very strict precautions to not allow dogs to interact, due to the risk of fights.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
68 Posts
We camp a lot and I like dog parks at the campgrounds. However, we only go when we will be the only ones there and we leave when we see somebody else headed that way. Way to many little white dogs that have never had any training.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
314 Posts
I keep an open mind, but part of that open mind is noticing that even those on this forum who have good things to say about dog parks have had what I would deem some pretty negative experiences there.
As you said, risk is inherent in life and there is a definite risk in a dog park. To carry the analogy further, yes walking in lightning or playing pickup ball with gangsters or driving drunk at 2am are Bad Ideas. The question is whether or not the dog park is that level of risk, no? And that depends on the setup of the park, the particular dogs who go there, and the owners who go there.

And your dog.

I don't go any more, but it's because my dog's social skills were subpar (mean to puppies). I think that generally GSDs are too rough and too disliked to fit into most dog parks. But some GSDs are nicer than others, and some have stronger social needs.

Breeders, trainers, and dog sports people don't like dog parks because their dogs are expensive investments and they desire their animals to have highly specific, unnatural behaviors (ie, be well-trained). Whereas interacting with random dogs can result in damage, physically or mentally, and their dogs can learn or develop behaviors that don't fit in with their goals. The individual owner has to weigh their priorities, but most people don't need the razor-sharp responsiveness of a sport dog, nor has their animal been trained to aggressively use all their power in a sleeve bite.

Reading "The Hidden Life of Dogs," a classic, really opened my eyes to the inherent social needs of dogs. Many, if not most dogs, enjoy interacting and socializing. Withholding that from them is similar to keeping an animal in a zoo. And having them at home with other humans would be like living in a foreign country where you don't speak the language, except worse. While dogs are very domesticated and love their people, in the natural course of things, a properly socialized dog wants to spend some time with its own kind, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
78 Posts
Perhaps true. I do wonder, however, when pondering the "Hidden Life of Dogs," if this is not a little like experts speculating on what trout see from below in a stream or river.
How does one really know, without being a trout? Or know what dogs secretly yearn for without being a dog?

But even so, I'd concede one can look at a dog's behavior, including some of my own dogs, past and present, and say, yeah, they are generally social creatures. The key word being "generally." Some of them more than others, and some, far less so to not at all. When my kids were small, I had a female Newoundland, bought from a breeder at 11 months. She had lived in an outdoor, very nice kennel setup with other dogs. But still, at the end of the day, a kennel, not sleeping and eating and hanging out indoors with humans. She also saw that the breeder had some prissy little dog who had house privileges, i.e., never got confined to the outdoor kennels, and got to go inside with the owner. From the Newf's body language, it was pretty apparent she did not care for that little house dog. And when the Newf came to my house, there was a small (well, compared to a Newf) hound dog, very inoffensive and friendly, who would sometimes get in our yard. The Newf not only did not want to meet him, she wanted to eat him. Or at least chased him in a way that convinced him he better keep running. And that held true every time he strayed into our yard, until he just quit doing it out of self preservation. My take on it was, as a dog who did not get bought or adopted as a puppy, but lived a life somewhat more like a rescue, she valued the human connections far more than any socialization with other canines. Now, lest any assumptions be made that she was a rogue, or not breed standard for a Newf, she loved children, never snarled at or offered to bite anyone she was introduced to, was a great favorite of house guests, and neighbors. Indeed, a neighborhood kid used to stop by to play with her in her yard every day, until he got interested in other things and quit coming around. But she could not have cared less about socializing with other dogs.

And I'd say this: domestic dogs made a bargain, millenia ago, that they valued human connections moreso than socializing with other dogs as they were accustomed to do in the wild. Maybe for some, like hounds that are kept as true hunting dogs and run in packs, the bargain was much more elastic. Part of that bargain was, and is, humans decide where they get to go. Their sociability might be satisfying to them at some deep level. It can also get them into deep trouble if not hemmed in by the owner.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
314 Posts
And I'd say this: domestic dogs made a bargain, millenia ago, that they valued human connections moreso than socializing with other dogs as they were accustomed to do in the wild. Maybe for some, like hounds that are kept as true hunting dogs and run in packs, the bargain was much more elastic. Part of that bargain was, and is, humans decide where they get to go. Their sociability might be satisfying to them at some deep level. It can also get them into deep trouble if not hemmed in by the owner.
Good thoughts, but permit me one addition. The life of most dogs throughout history and prehistory has not been cooped up in suburban homes. Mostly, whether domesticated or only tame, they ran free. They worked, they chased, they ran with their fellows. I don't mean to romanticize any of this--thinking of dog-fighting, bull-baiting, or even shepherding, it was hard, brutal work. And then there's the turnspit dog, an extinct breed kept in England that ran in a hamster wheel-like contraption all day merely to keep the roast going for its distant (and cruel) masters. But I do think the inside, one-person dog is a fairly new experiment.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,415 Posts
Discussion Starter #247
Good thoughts, but permit me one addition. The life of most dogs throughout history and prehistory has not been cooped up in suburban homes. Mostly, whether domesticated or only tame, they ran free. They worked, they chased, they ran with their fellows. I don't mean to romanticize any of this--thinking of dog-fighting, bull-baiting, or even shepherding, it was hard, brutal work. And then there's the turnspit dog, an extinct breed kept in England that ran in a hamster wheel-like contraption all day merely to keep the roast going for its distant (and cruel) masters. But I do think the inside, one-person dog is a fairly new experiment.
This is a really good point! It's really only in last 20-30 yrs, sort of when political correctness became a thing, that dogs have been so contained and micromanaged!

When I was a kid there were dogs all over running loose. They didn't bite people or fight with other dogs they'd meet very often. They were used to it and knew better.

Dog parks are a relatively new phenomenon, and I never even heard the term nor visited one with any previous dogs I've owned.

But, whether your dog is social or not, it's much less of a "risk" for them to be comfortable around and know how to behave around other dogs. Because chances are they'll encounter some during their life...no matter how careful you are!

So from my perspective, allowing your dog to frequently interact with other dogs minimizes the chances that your dog will fight the strange dog that runs upto them on the beach, walking down a trail, our just out for a walk.

That they seem to enjoy it is just icing on the cake!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,896 Posts
This is a really good point! It's really only in last 20-30 yrs, sort of when political correctness became a thing, that dogs have been so contained and micromanaged!

When I was a kid there were dogs all over running loose. They didn't bite people or fight with other dogs they'd meet very often. They were used to it and knew better.

Dog parks are a relatively new phenomenon, and I never even heard the term nor visited one with any previous dogs I've owned.

But, whether your dog is social or not, it's much less of a "risk" for them to be comfortable around and know how to behave around other dogs. Because chances are they'll encounter some during their life...no matter how careful you are!

So from my perspective, allowing your dog to frequently interact with other dogs minimizes the chances that your dog will fight the strange dog that runs upto them on the beach, walking down a trail, our just out for a walk.

That they seem to enjoy it is just icing on the cake!
Well said Tim.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,495 Posts
Cat people I’m sure have this same conversation. I do sure have a different memory in the late seventies early 80’s in regards to dogs. Though I did not live in on a open range or vast farmland. I did live in the suburbs with lots of woods. Many people came from the city to live and seem to think they were living in the country. Dogs roaming the suburb streets were hit by cars, poisoned going through people garbages, shot, dogs were stolen, dog fights were common, female dogs getting raped, I remember a neighbor shot a loose dog in the eye with a bee bee gun because he got to his female, remember male dogs would try to get in our house my mom had a big dopey male dog standing in the kitchen because our female dog was in heat. She swatted him with a broom. Dogs followed us on school buses -most looking lost. Most of the dogs were not aggressive or the ones that were may have been exhausted as they been traveling from town town. . I tried to bring home many. There was one neighbor though had 6 aggressive dogs and would chase us in the way to the bus stop. If you did not have a dog just get a belt or leash and leash up a dog in the streets and go for a walk - as kids we sure did that and also fell in love with a few dogs that were passing through and tried to keep them. The vast amount not all dogs that were picked up by the pound and gassed were probably not missed by their owners. I don’t see it has anything to do with political correctness but I assume it goes by ones experience how they view it. In mine all those owners the actual reason why leash laws and spaying and neutering laws , took place. It is interesting to look back and see how times have changed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
314 Posts
Cat people I’m sure have this same conversation. I do sure have a different memory in the late seventies early 80’s in regards to dogs. Though I did not live in on a open range or vast farmland. I did live in the suburbs with lots of woods. Many people came from the city to live and seem to think they were living in the country. Dogs roaming the suburb streets were hit by cars, poisoned going through people garbages, shot, dogs were stolen, dog fights were common, female dogs getting raped, I remember a neighbor shot a loose dog in the eye with a bee bee gun because he got to his female, remember male dogs would try to get in our house my mom had a big dopey male dog standing in the kitchen because our female dog was in heat. She swatted him with a broom. Dogs followed us on school buses -most looking lost. Most of the dogs were not aggressive or the ones that were may have been exhausted as they been traveling from town town. . I tried to bring home many. There was one neighbor though had 6 aggressive dogs and would chase us in the way to the bus stop. If you did not have a dog just get a belt or leash and leash up a dog in the streets and go for a walk - as kids we sure did that and also fell in love with a few dogs that were passing through and tried to keep them. The vast amount not all dogs that were picked up by the pound and gassed were probably not missed by their owners. I don’t see it has anything to do with political correctness but I assume it goes by ones experience how they view it. In mine all those owners the actual reason why leash laws and spaying and neutering laws , took place. It is interesting to look back and see how times have changed.
There's definitely two sides to the story. I grew up on military bases, so dogs couldn't run free. However, that didn't help my 5-year old brother, who made the mistake of getting too close to a chained-up Doberman. My wife lived in the country and there were packs of dogs roving there. Sometimes she had to run from them. Dogs still run free in India in enormous numbers (tens of millions of them).

We had a Siamese named Blue who was declawed, and we gave him to my Grandpa when we moved once. He set the cat free at once, and it proceeded to beat up all the other resident cats in the neighborhood and be the top cat somehow. How he managed that without claws, I have no idea. I'm pretty sure he was neutered, too, so I don't see what the point was.

In many ways our society has become safer and more controlled. The life I had as a child is completely different from my daughter's life. I was a latchkey kid and I was allowed to leave the house and "go play" with the kids in the neighborhood until suppertime. I could take my bike and go wherever I wanted. I don't know any 10-year old who has that kind of latitude. A kid walking around like that could conceivably be reported to CPS and get the parent in trouble.

That kind of freedom and boredom and those experiences were probably, on the whole, good for me. I'm not so sure what's going to happen to these kids now--what I've seen has not been impressive. I think there's a pretty good parallel with dogs.

I'd say around half of all dogs I see can't meet another dog on the leash. They're unsocialized and have only been around people. Their main experience with other dogs is barking at them from the other side of the street, or maybe one or two frenetic experiences at PetSmart puppy training. It's basically a normal behavior now to cross the street or avoid dogs. I let Jupiter meet other dogs because he's been socialized and he's fine... but many if not most aren't. One of the minor miracles of life is to see a small dog who's not yapping at us.

And our local German Shepherd Club isn't that much better. There's a lot of tension in the air and a standing rule to keep the dogs apart. It's a known fact that some of the dogs are fear-aggressive and/or have bad nerves.

All in all, I guess I'd rather keep my dog (and my child) safe at the cost of their social development and problem solving skills, but I'm not sure the dog park is equivalent to being a stray, and there is, make no mistake about it, a cost.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
710 Posts
I temporarily had a doberman that could succesfully interact with other dogs, she had good social skills. But those skills were telling other animals to leave her alone she had no interest in them, only in her human. As eager as she was to please and confrontational she was I could have probably kept her with no or few incidents. But my other dog loves and requires other dog interaction and it wasn't fair to her, or what I needed in a second dog. But she was certainly a dog that would not have missed other dog interaction at all. We had another small dog who liked my cat, but had no interest in other dogs, (except for females in heat). We had multiple dogs and he just wanted left in peace to enjoy attention from people. (We have a cat who despises all other cats with a vengeance, ocassionaly enjoys attention from the dogs, but only on her terms.)
Even with having multiple dogs in my case while they all enjoy playing with other dogs and get some things they just can't get from people. At the end of the day their human is #1 and they're who they crave attention from. Not all dogs are like this, particularly those left alone to get doggy, but raised in a house and given attention there's a good chance they are. I do think though we do need to do better in the US, both in teaching social skills and breeding for it.

Before I got my second dog I could tell that Codi really missed having another companion and dog her size to play with. But I was resolute in not going to dog parks. They are too high of risk and very few people actually keep small dogs in the small dog areas, and those can be some of the most aggresive. One guy got bit in the face by his doxie after it attacked a blue heeler, tried to blame the heeler when ACO got there but luckily other people saw what happened. Her dog still got a strike on it's record though and she eventually stopped going to dog parks, her dog was too likely to finish a fight. I actually used those as a meeting place when letting a family meet the foster I had. While in there I watched multiple fights break out. One owner was walking in circles around the area and his poor dog didn't know where he went so she was just following another dog owner around. Too many people bring in toys, I get people like to play fetch but if there are any other dogs there it's just asking for a fight. And when kennel cough goes around every fall, an outraageous number of dogs get it. My aunt's dog had it 3-4 times before she was even a year old, and she was vaccinated. When a mutated flu strain from horses got into dogs it's spread through an insane amount of dogs, due to the dog parks primarily. They are a very high risk area, there is no doubt. Some areas may be better but it only takes one person coming in to turn it into a nightmare. Somebody brought a ferret into the dog park once and let it on the leash on the ground, needless to say that person no longer had a ferret. I do not trust the average pet owner enough to risk my dog's life. Any GSD owner needs to be aware their dog will likely be blamed unless there is video and/or public support of you and your dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,896 Posts
There's definitely two sides to the story. I grew up on military bases, so dogs couldn't run free. However, that didn't help my 5-year old brother, who made the mistake of getting too close to a chained-up Doberman. My wife lived in the country and there were packs of dogs roving there. Sometimes she had to run from them. Dogs still run free in India in enormous numbers (tens of millions of them).

We had a Siamese named Blue who was declawed, and we gave him to my Grandpa when we moved once. He set the cat free at once, and it proceeded to beat up all the other resident cats in the neighborhood and be the top cat somehow. How he managed that without claws, I have no idea. I'm pretty sure he was neutered, too, so I don't see what the point was.

In many ways our society has become safer and more controlled. The life I had as a child is completely different from my daughter's life. I was a latchkey kid and I was allowed to leave the house and "go play" with the kids in the neighborhood until suppertime. I could take my bike and go wherever I wanted. I don't know any 10-year old who has that kind of latitude. A kid walking around like that could conceivably be reported to CPS and get the parent in trouble.

That kind of freedom and boredom and those experiences were probably, on the whole, good for me. I'm not so sure what's going to happen to these kids now--what I've seen has not been impressive. I think there's a pretty good parallel with dogs.

I'd say around half of all dogs I see can't meet another dog on the leash. They're unsocialized and have only been around people. Their main experience with other dogs is barking at them from the other side of the street, or maybe one or two frenetic experiences at PetSmart puppy training. It's basically a normal behavior now to cross the street or avoid dogs. I let Jupiter meet other dogs because he's been socialized and he's fine... but many if not most aren't. One of the minor miracles of life is to see a small dog who's not yapping at us.

And our local German Shepherd Club isn't that much better. There's a lot of tension in the air and a standing rule to keep the dogs apart. It's a known fact that some of the dogs are fear-aggressive and/or have bad nerves.

All in all, I guess I'd rather keep my dog (and my child) safe at the cost of their social development and problem solving skills, but I'm not sure the dog park is equivalent to being a stray, and there is, make no mistake about it, a cost.
I follow a free roaming dog caretaker in a third world country. He is a good hearted person that loves animals but is learning about them, especially dogs, through the school of hard knocks.

In his country, many dogs are free roaming and have raise their puppies in the streets living off of handouts, garbage and dumps. It is amazing to watch bitches in heat, pregnant or with new pups living peacefully with other similar bitches as long as a modicum of social distancing is maintained.

Every now and then the caretaker makes an observation about the dogs and puppies that IMO are really off base or else are spot on. One observation he made recently is that is was easy to tell what dogs were never owned, free roaming street dogs vs stray / dumped dogs that once had owners or dogs that are currently owned but sometimes wander off. He said the never owned dogs had an ease relating to other dogs and humans where the once owned / owned dogs struggled with relationships with other dogs and even with humans.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,726 Posts
makes sense. As much as we love our dogs and socialize them, being kept on a 6 ft leash and in fenced yards really does stunt their social growth with the wider world. We work and work on engagement with our dogs, some even trying to make ourselves the best thing ever in the dog's world. But if these dogs loose their human anchor life will be far more chaotic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,896 Posts
makes sense. As much as we love our dogs and socialize them, being kept on a 6 ft leash and in fenced yards really does stunt their social growth with the wider world. We work and work on engagement with our dogs, some even trying to make themselves the best thing ever in the dog's world. But if these dogs loose their human anchor life will be far more chaotic.
Well said.

Dogs, like all living creatures, NEED some autonomous time for their mental and emotional well-being.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
337 Posts
This might sound weird, like many of my other training ideas.

I taught Ole to scamper under (or on top of) a table whenever he needed a minute to figure out what is happening around him. We have picnic tables and benches spread all around our dog park. Even now, that he is often the biggest dog in the park, it is not unusual for him to run over to a table and hang out for a few seconds to a minute when a dog causes a commotion when it arrives. Ole just watches and figures out how to interact with the new dog or just avoid it if necessary.

We are also pretty successful walking laps around the park instead of just hanging out. For some reason, Ole is calmer when we are 'on the move.' We pause and interact with the other dog for 30 seconds to a minute every lap then move on. Interestingly, several other dogs have started joining us on our laps. They seem pretty happy to just explore together. If a dog finds something interesting, the others run over to check it out.

What does drive me nuts is how so many people just hang out just inside the entrance to the park. To get into the park we have to pass a pack of overly excited dogs (in my opinion) barking at the new guy. It seems a recipe for disaster. When things open up, I am going to try to figure out how to encourage owners to move away from the gates so other dogs can enter in peace.

FWIW, I grew up in a world more like Tim's. We didn't have any stray dogs. Every time a kid or adult went outside they would let their dogs run loose. Weekends and afterschool could get pretty busy. I don't recall ever seeing a dog fight. It was not until I move to college in the big city of Madison, WI :) That I saw anyone pick up their dog's poop in a little plastic bag.

Things did get interesting for a while when a neighbor adopted a former racing greyhound. At first, she was pretty jumpy. After a few weeks, she settled in. She earned her street cred by catching gophers.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,726 Posts
This might sound weird, like many of my other training ideas.



What does drive me nuts is how so many people just hang out just inside the entrance to the park. To get into the park we have to pass a pack of overly excited dogs (in my opinion) barking at the new guy. It seems a recipe for disaster. When things open up, I am going to try to figure out how to encourage owners to move away from the gates so other dogs can enter in peace.

FWIW, I grew up in a world more like Tim's. We didn't have any stray dogs. Every time a kid or adult went outside they would let their dogs run loose. Weekends and afterschool could get pretty busy. I don't recall ever seeing a dog fight. It was not until I move to college in the big city of Madison, WI :) That I saw anyone pick up their dog's poop in a little plastic bag.

Things did get interesting for a while when a neighbor adopted a former racing greyhound. At first, she was pretty jumpy. After a few weeks, she settled in. She earned her street cred by catching gophers.
One problem with dog parks is just what you mentioned. People go in and expect the dogs to tire each other out. The dogs might see it as a chance to walk as a new pack. Things tend to go smoother if everyone is walking in the same direction with some sort of shared goal of going forward. Even humans, with nothing to do, can turn nasty.

I also lived in a time and place when you could open the doors and let your dog out. The forest rangers didn't like it. They were concerned about packs of dogs running down deer.thought my dog was a special one who wouldn't do such a thing until she brought a leg home 😳. I never did see her in a pack, though. There just weren't that many dogs in our neighborhood. Houses were pretty spread out. She also came home with porcupine quills on her nose. That is one thing my leashed dogs probably won't ever experience.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,628 Posts
I have a dilemma with my girl. She really really misses playing with another dog since Carly died. They played and wrestled constantly. The few times Russ has come over has been a bust, because he just isn't interested in playing with her. Going to a dog park is not an option. She's been trained anyway to ignore other dogs when we are out. It's a show dog thing. I feel bad for her, but short of getting another dog (which I can't afford right now), she's out of luck. Poor friendless dog!
 
241 - 260 of 289 Posts
Top