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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just wanted to share this story to vent a little bit and also potentially warn other owners here about public dog parks. For starters, just don't go to them. Even if the people there have good intentions, they're often unable or unwilling to control their dogs if something happens. Today I took my 4 month old GSD puppy to the dog park. He has been around other dogs a few times now and had no issues. I had to go to work and wanted to give him a good workout before being crated for a bit. Anyways, we spent about an hour there with no issues. Towards the end of our experience, some lady walked in with a husky mix and a great dane. My pup was too focused on fetch as he always is when we go to the dog park, as that is mostly what we do, and paid them no mind. Eventually I began to notice the husky kept wanting to chase my pup. I would throw the ball and the husky would run as my pup chased the ball, but not for the ball, rather for my pup. Anyway, on my last throw I began to notice the husky running over to him and I could see this would become an issue, so I started running over there. Before I knew it the husky had my pup pinned to the ground and he began yelping out for help. I continued running over there and, seeing the owner was several yards behind us and simply walking up slowly yelling "stop it!" I grabbed the husky's collar and yanked it away. I scooped up my pup and he continued to whine and yelp even after I had snatched the husky off. When I was holding him he had his tail tucked between his legs and continued to whimper. There was no blood, ripped fur, or any other signs of bite marks so I assume the husky simply pinned my poor pup. I sat him down inside the dog park, and the husky as well as the great dane ran up to him. I smacked their faces away (at this point not caring what the owner had to say) and picked him up to leave. The husky ran up to us again and I shoved it with my knee, then it finally backed off.

After this experience, I don't know how my dog will be. He has always been an ultra-confident puppy. He was the biggest one of his litter and would often run up to any dog he encountered confidently to play. I feel terrible about this incident and I feel like an idiot for going to the dog park after being warned by other owners that they're not good places for your GSD. I neglected the advice because I wanted him to get a good workout in before I went to work and be happy. I'm personally just hoping this has not ruined his confidence. When we got home I played around with him and he seemed fine. He was nipping at my hands like he always does when I begin to play with him, chasing balls, and running up to me and barking. Anyway, the lesson here is that dog parks are often filled with unpredictable dogs and ignorant and/or careless owners who you cannot rely on to handle their own dogs, and taking your GSD there, especially as a puppy, is potentially setting him/her up for failure.
 

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I think you will find that many agree.

We pass a dog park on our walking loop and sometimes there is very stressful stuff going on. One time a dog had another one pinned to the ground- the “ underdog” was making high-pitched distress noises and the “ top dog” was snarling. The owners were standing in a circle around them and one lady was saying, “stop it. Stop it.” I can’t believe what people allow their dogs to do. There is a general ignorance about what is dog play and what isn’t. People need to watch videos of dog play so they can tell when their Fluffy is out of line. If the other dog is in distress, call your dog away! But nobody’s dog listens or recalls - that’s probably what scares me the most.

For socializing, Better to go for a walk with another nice known dog or have a play date!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Agreed on all points. The worst part (other than your dog potentially being hurt) is the awkward feeling of having to handle someone else's dog because they cant or wont do it themselves. I don't want to be grabbing a strange dog and pulling it away from another one
 

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Actually the problem was most likely the ball. Toys and treats are both big no nos in dog parks. They cause a lot of dog fights.

If you choose to be fair and give dog parks a chance, take your dog in and let him play with other dogs. He will get a good work out.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Perhaps when he is older but at this point he is far too young and uncoordinated, and there are too many uncontrollable dogs with apprehensive owners, from everything i've seen (and this seems to be forum consensus)
 

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Agreed on all points. The worst part (other than your dog potentially being hurt) is the awkward feeling of having to handle someone else's dog because they cant or wont do it themselves. I don't want to be grabbing a strange dog and pulling it away from another one
You should not take your puppy, at any age, to a public dog park if you feel awkward about stepping in and managing a situation with ANY dog that is getting out of hand or bullying another dog. It isn't awkward, it's essential...it takes a village.

Everyone there should be willing to intervene if needed, even if your dog is not involved!

I once stopped at a new dog park and there were 80+ dogs there. Walking around I broke up several sniffles between dogs I'd never seen before, and probably never will again. It's not awkward! BUT DON'T GRAB THEM! That's a great way to get stitches.
 

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Perhaps when he is older but at this point he is far too young and uncoordinated, and there are too many uncontrollable dogs with apprehensive owners, from everything i've seen (and this seems to be forum consensus)
And there it is...the whole point of the "anti-dog park" group: you can have the most well behaved, adjusted, and obedient dog, but you can't control other people's dogs. All it takes is one incident and your pup's trajectory in life can change. (Speaking from past experience.) An incident may not happen with your dog, with 2 of your dogs, or 5 dogs, but at some point it's going to happen unless you have a real "utopian" dog park where everyone pays attention to their dog, takes responsibility for theirs, picks up after their dog, no fights ever happen, dogs are all balanced and play well together, etc. etc. etc. I'm not trying to convince the "pro dog park" people. They already know the risks. I'm just trying to make the newbies aware.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
And there it is...the whole point of the "anti-dog park" group: you can have the most well behaved, adjusted, and obedient dog, but you can't control other people's dogs. All it takes is one incident and your pup's trajectory in life can change. (Speaking from past experience.) An incident may not happen with your dog, with 2 of your dogs, or 5 dogs, but at some point it's going to happen unless you have a real "utopian" dog park where everyone pays attention to their dog, takes responsibility for theirs, picks up after their dog, no fights ever happen, dogs are all balanced and play well together, etc. etc. etc. I'm not trying to convince the "pro dog park" people. They already know the risks. I'm just trying to make the newbies aware.
Would you mind sharing your past experience that you talk about? I'm curious
 

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So I've read both active topics/posts about dog parks. And watched a recent youtube video with a "trainer" that is training his dog and brought his dog to a dog park for the first time. Cant vouch for what actually happens cause all you see is the edited footage but 90% good and 10% bad. To me though the 10% bad outweighs the good... Perfect example (and this is only 1 of a few) is seeing his dog hiding under a bench with a woman sitting on it with her face locked on a cell phone and not her free running pooch. Regardless of that, I attend training with my 6 1/2 month old GSD at a park that has a dog park enclosure. We train outside of the enclosure, not inside. I pay attention to what is happening with Nessie and not inside the enclosure so I can't link the sounds to any actions, but it definitely does not sound like good interactions, socializing or whatever else people call it. I'm not sure if it was said here or in the other topic/post but I agree... your dog doesn't need to be friends with strange dogs at dog parks, they need to be friends/companions with you and the others in your house. Teach them a SOLID recall and you can play with them in any open field, play ground, ball field or yard. Stay away from dog parks.
 

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Yes, OP, I totally agree. Dog parks are havens of dog fight potential. Kias will never be going to a dog park in the entirety of his existence. If he got into a fight we would be set back with his reactivity towards dogs by years.
 

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I have been going to dog parks for 17 years and have found them to be the least likely place for a dogfight. Most attacks on my dogs have happened on my property line, walking my community, or hiking trails.
 

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Would you mind sharing your past experience that you talk about? I'm curious
I've mentioned it several times in other threads so I figured other members were getting sick of hearing about it, but yeah sure.

I was a pro dog park person with my previous dog. He was the friendliest GSD, got along with all the dogs in the neighborhood and even at the dog park. Used to go 2-3 times a week. Long story short, one day at the dog park, he was attacked by a big white "breed." From that day on, he hated all large white dogs and would lunge and bark and growl aggressively at them. Every new dog we came across on walks or at the stores or in public....it was a 50/50 shot if he was ok with them. That incident completely changed him...changed his trajectory. Before the incident, no problems with other dogs. After...completely different. Like I said, you can't control other people's dogs. And all it takes is 1 sec for a dog nearby to snap. No matter how fast you are, you're not faster than a dog.
 

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Here are just two threads (on another forum) showing how some owners know their dogs are aggressive and causing issues and STILL take their dogs to dog parks. These people are the reason dog parks are a bad idea. They’re everywhere. The owners often say their dog has tons of energy, they don’t have any other way to exercise the dog, the dog loves being with dog “friends”, etc. They don’t care that they’re putting other pets at risk. Their dog needs an outlet. ?
 

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You didn't ruin your dog. The way you grabbed him didn't do your dog any favors but he'll recover. You care for your dog so you'll keep working with him. He knows that and he'll be looking forward to future adventures with you. We all make stupid choices at times. Just don't let it end there.

In puppy socialization we all have special treat(wet dog food) in a jar. A time out happens when someone gets a little out of control and then they all get their treats. So the dog isn't going to feel punished for stopping play. It's a good thing with a yummy reward. Of course, food at dog parks is also bad. Toys and fetch at a dog park are both equally bad. See how hard it is to get any work done there?

I guess like me your yard isn't fenced in and that's why you used the dog park for fetch. I used tennis courts and baseball fields. At times the owners would ask us to leave. We always did since they all had very clear no dog signs that I always failed to notice. Eventually I started to hit those areas around 5 am and I'd be gone by 6. Now I have a number of fenced in club areas to use. And yet I miss going to those off limit areas.
 

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Eventually I started to hit those areas around 5 am and I'd be gone by 6.
I guess I am not the only one who searched out fenced in areas to burn off energy until I can trust Ole's recall.

I have had good luck with the local American Legion baseball field. It probably helps that I am a veteran so I had an in.
 

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Some constructive feedback: Taking toys to a dog park is considered risky at best, asking for trouble at worst. Picking up a dog in a dog park tends to attract negative attention and should be avoided if possible. Grabbing a dog's collar if he's excited, even if it's your dog, is just begging for a dog bite. Slapping another person's dog is extremely risky and also an inappropriate and usually ineffective way to deal with them. The knee or hip check is a much smarter play and also more respectful to the dog and its owner.

IMO you were very lucky not to get bitten. Obviously this all happened in a snap and you probably weren't planning on having to deal with it. As you can see, the other owners weren't either--this is common.

In the six months I went to a dog park, I saw dogs bleeding and I saw owners bleeding (from different incidents). I heard about fights that occurred--between owners--because of things stemming from dog confrontations (I imagine something even less than slapping someone's dog).

Another thing to keep in mind is that "running up to another dog" is often interpreted as aggressive and not good in dog behavior (nor in human behavior), so while you considered your puppy to be friendly and confident, it's likely that his social skills were poor and contributed to the incident. Dogs run up to Jupiter all the time, and I can see that he doesn't like it and always am a bit afraid he's going to go off on them, and I wonder why their owners allow it. I would never allow him to run up to another dog.

Puppies are sometimes given "puppy license" and given more tolerance for their social failings, but not always. It sounds like the husky and the Dane were simply not very tolerant (but they didn't actually hurt the pup, did they?.

My analysis of this incident is that there were mistakes on both sides. There are more lessons to learn from it than just don't go to dog parks, or that just the other owners screwed up.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Just an update on this situation. I haven't taken him back to the dog park since. We found a fenced in football field to play fetch and get plenty of running in. I also leave him at a trusted dog sitting place twice a week thats reasonably strict with what dogs they take in, and only mix dogs of similar size in to play with each other under supervision.

He hasn't had any problems whatsoever. In-fact, even the same week as this dog park incident, he didnt act scared or aggressive towards any other dogs. This last week, I was walking him through the mountains on the Appalachian trail and a lab twice his size came running up to us growling. He didn't run, whimper, or lash out aggressively at the lab. Both him and I just stood our ground and the charging lab stopped short of us and turned around running back to its owners.

In Summary: hes just fine and gets along with other dogs perfectly. I'm actually amazed at how well hes growing despite some of my mistakes hahaha
 

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So in the end, do you realize, beyond being in a dog park, the mistakes you made?

Glad to hear your dog got over it, but I am concerned still about your perspective of the whole thing....the problem was not the dogs!
 
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