German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 64 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
What’s your opinion on dog parks? Do you guys have Any horror stories or have you only had good experiences?

The first time I brought kuru to a dog park was when she was 18 weeks old and it ended up easily being the worst decision of my life lol! At first it was all good, I had the whole thing to myself and it was a great area for offleash training, I was hoping I could maybe get some dog socialization in with a chiller dog.. but not these dogs.... Shortly after people brought their dogs in that absolutely harassed my pup 🙄 I couldn’t get to my poor girl in time to ward off the other dogs as I was mid fetch, a huge mastiff and another gsd went after her and chased her about and boy I was angry! She finally B lined to me and seeked refuge under my legs.. I didn’t have any problem warding off the other peoples dogs with all means necessary. The owners tried to call back their dogs... which ignored and continued to tell me ‘ oh they’re just playing ‘ ... yeah, right.
Just as I got done speaking to the owners about their dogs acting this way towards mine, a dog fight broke out between 2 other dogs.. I picked up my puppy and we headed to the beach lol. * photo below *

But two weeks later I decided to give it another go and actually met a couple people who had very nice sheps who were very well trained! It was nice getting to talk to them and let my pup actually enjoy her time with other dogs! So I’m about 70/30... not being in dog parks favor.

What’s your experiences?
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
107 Posts
As someone who lives in an apartment, dog parks are the primary way my pup can get some exercise. He also goes to daycare at least for the time-being before I have a better stay-at-home option for him.

Knowing the risks, I think it's all about how you handle it. Of course there are going to be bad experiences, but you can find bad experiences just walking down the street, too. Or on the beach. As long as you are vigilant, I don't see any issues with them personally.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
Oh no! You opened Pandora's box. It's somewhat of a touchy subject. People here have gotten into fights over this issue. There are a lot of threads in these forums about it. I suggest you do a search. My estimation...there are more people against dog parks than for.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
495 Posts
They're okay. Jack seems to prefer going to the boarding facility for the day where he interacts with the same small group of dogs every time. The constant strange dogs at the dog park sometimes makes him nervous and uninterested in playing. Though we'll go other times and he'll find a friend to pal around with.

Regarding puppies, Jack was bullied a lot as a pup. Thus, we're probably not going to bring any new puppies we get to the dog park for some time.

However, I did notice he will growl and chase puppies until they roll over. This inevitably happens when the puppy rushes up to him excitedly and gets in his face, begging for attention. He'll intimidate them until they submit, stop getting in his face, and respect his request to be left alone. So long as they show proper "dog manners" (not jumping on his head, not licking his mouth obsessively, not excitedly nipping), he's fine with them and will tolerate some of their antics.

That said, Jack is the type of dog where, were he a human, he'd be annoyingly "by the book" and "prim and proper". He generally has a low tolerance for misbehavior and poor dog manners across the board.


It's entirely possible that sometimes your puppy gets chased and harassed because he got up in another dog's face and annoyed them. Dogs tell each other off by growling and chasing the offender away until they get with the program and submit (showing they understand).
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,255 Posts
Pandora’s box indeed. Almost as bad as “the breed who shall not be named.” Lol

Dog parks have their uses. I enjoy them for the outside work. As in, we are outside the fence, and I work my dogs with the distraction of other dogs nearby. If the park is empty and CLEAN (why people can’t or won’t pick up after their dogs drives me bonkers), then I will let mine loose to play together. As soon as I see someone coming, they get the short leash and out we go. I’ve had people tell me “it’s fine, my dog is totally friendly.” I normally respond with “thanks, but mine aren’t.” We go back to outside the fence training, same dog the owner told me was friendly attacked the next dog that came into the park, and the two ladies went into pure panic mode and didn’t know what to do to get her dog off the dog it was death shaking. Had it by its jowls. I clipped Crios and Lyka to the fence, jumped over, and pulled them apart. Pretty sure the friendly dog caused enough damage to the other dog that extensive vets bills were incurred. Blood was just flying everywhere.

I find most GSD’s would be fine in a park setting, IF the other dogs leave them alone. And that rarely happens.

We have 3 dogs parks where I live, and one is by appointment only. So there is a dedicated Facebook page to this park, and people sign up for times with like breeds. I went once, stayed outside the fence line again, and it was a total mess.. All Shepard’s or shepherd mixes, and fights galore. Looked to be more of a social hour for the owners, who just let their dogs go at each other while they all sat and gossiped.

I think most owners see it as a place to let their dogs loose without having to watch them, instead of being engaged with their dogs while they are there. I rarely see people engaging with their dogs when I’m doing outside fence work. When I let mine loose to play, I chuck balls, practice recalls, run around with them. Even if it’s them chasing each other, they come to me as homebase for tag. If the owners would stay engaged with their dogs at the dog park, a lot of the fights would never happen. But 90% of the time, the dog is let off leash, and the owner never looks up from their phone.

That my drop in a bucket regarding the dog park discussion!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,673 Posts
The purpose of dog parks is for dogs to play with dogs and socialize with each other. It seems that the success of a dog park experience often lies in where you live. Some dog parks are huge while others are smaller than most people's backyards. Seems that courtesy and a basic knowledge of dogs is also dependent on location. I live in the city and those who frequent dog parks do closely monitor their dogs and take action if necessary. Of course there is always "that" person.

There used to be a fellow on here that had nothing good to say about dog parks, aggressively advised against them, but did not have much first hand experience with them. One day he came to the realization that he had many attacks on his dogs and they all occurred as he walked his community. Seems that avoiding dog attacks takes more than avoiding dog parks.

Most people who use dog parks are local to those dog parks. Trying to avoid diseases becomes a bit more difficult when the sick dog lives next door or down the alley. Diseases aren't exclusive to dog parks or veterinary offices.

With that said, I frequent dog parks. I enjoy the experience and so do my dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,046 Posts
I figure anywhere that a Great Dane gets attacked is a bad place.
I have made use of empty dog parks on my journey, so Punk gets some "dog time". I had an issue with cleanliness but since Shadow knows "leave it" I opted to let her enjoy the time off leash.
I have always found that dog parks are a haven for poorly behaved dogs and their clueless owners so I avoid them for the most part.
Bud was actually really ok with the concept, but got targeted a lot and since I assumed his patience had limits we generally avoided them.
Sabi had a dislike of poorly behaved dogs and since her preferred method of dealing with them was to step on their heads she was not very welcome. But she also did not like male dogs specifically so it wasn't a good idea anyway. She was content to ignore other dogs, or allow them to run with her but she reacted fairly quickly to snapping, shoving, growling and posturing. And if anyone thought humping was acceptable things got ugly fast.
Lex liked dog parks, the weirdo. But she was fast and agile enough to run circles around most dogs and if she couldn't out run them she jumped over them.
I think common sense should prevail. GSD's are not known for being social butterflies and while individual dogs may be ok, and individual parks may be well run, I think in general they are a crapshoot and should be used with caution.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,588 Posts
I only used dog parks when they were empty. We had play dates for my big-boy with dogs that we knew were of good temperament. Most of the dogs nearby were small and older and didn't want much to do with a bigger active youngster. Other than that we just never felt it was worth taking the risk of dog parks. We do take hikes and go on adventures on weekends. We've trained for various sports. We don't miss avoiding dog parks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
My experience is, its all about the dogs and the owners who are there. It can make or break the experience...
Both my dogs have loved the dog park. They stay mostly with us but run around, sniff and socialize.

My male was the barking problem child in the beginning but the people who go to our park were open to him being nervous and being a puppy. They welcomed us in and said just to relax and let him be a dog. After he sniffed a few butts he calmed down and he was amazing with everyone. Both our puppies listen and know there commands. There are no problem dogs at our park (so far... ) the owners are very attentive. There are a few people who allow there small dogs in the big section and I really don't understand that but all the big dogs respected them.

There is a older GSD who goes and he does grump around and bark a lot but never mean to anyone. A lot of large fluffy poodle looking dogs... its funny to see them prancing around.
The only time we saw 2 dogs get into it was 2 medium cocker spaniel looking dogs and it was a quick snap, redirect by the owners and they were fine after that.

Again you have to be in control of your dog, pay attention and know when it doesn't seem right. Leave, go for a walk by yourself and then go home. Both my dogs have defiantly benefitted from it at their age.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
I think breed aficionados and trainers tend to be against dog parks to a greater degree than average dog owners. I doubt the anti-dog park sentiment here on the forum is typical.

Take that how you will.

My experience with my 8-month old has been mostly positive. He doesn't go there to play with other dogs, he goes there because it is the only place I can legally let him off-leash to run. We spend almost all of the time playing fetch with a tennis ball, which he loves to do. There is one dog, a Rottie-Dobie, who he loves and they wrestle peaceably whenever they see each other. After 30-45 minutes, he's pooped and rests until late afternoon. He doesn't destroy the house, he doesn't cause any problems, he's happy. That's the good side.

The bad side is that Jupiter has the typical chase/nip instinct of a shepherd. He only seems to do it to certain dogs, the kind who like to be chased or very submissive/puppylike ones. And he'll go weeks and half-months without chasing anyone. But then every once in a while, he'll run, he'll nip, the dog will yelp, and hard feelings will result. In almost all cases, that dog gets chased by other dogs, too, but it's still my responsibility, and somehow when a husky does it, no one cares, but if a GSD does it, it's almost a felony offense in the eyes of other owners.

Also, in the 5 months or so we've been going, I have seen two or three relatively serious dog fights, where the owners had to step in and pull the dogs apart. Any of them could have eventually become serious, with someone getting bit or the dog needing to visit a vet. Jupiter was once attacked by an aggressive dog, which chased him and bit him multiple times while he ran and yelped. It was heartbreaking, and I understand that can cause a dog to become fear-aggressive, but he didn't seem to suffer any psychological effects from it. Jupiter has a "hard" temperament, is well-socialized and extensively trained, and comes from stock with good nerves.

But you know, bad things can happen outside of dog parks, too. Jupiter has been attacked in a pet store and several times on the street by random dogs on leashes. We've had people let their dogs come up to our fence and bark and jump on our fence aggressively.

Dogs running free can cause their owner to get a ticket. They can get run over by cars, which are more dangerous than even pitbulls. They can go momentarily crazy and bite a stranger or a kid. They can get lost. Are dog parks really that dangerous, when you look at it that way? If they serve a purpose, maybe the risk is worth it. After all, most of us voluntarily get in cars to drive around, even though that is the most dangerous part of our lives. We drive because it's worth it to us.

I know I have to watch Jupiter to make sure he doesn't hurt or get hurt. Honestly it is a little stressful. Now that he's a "teenager," it's less about him getting bullied and more him stepping out and being a jerk. It's very possible that I'll see that he can't coexist with the other dogs as he gets older and harder. We'll see. But to be honest, I see very little of the awful things that the anti-dog park camp seems to think is common behavior there. Mostly the dogs that go there get along fine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30,708 Posts
I"m so lucky. I"m in the country, 2 miles from our school grounds. I use the creeks to swim in, the playgrounds and baseball fields to track in and the soccer field to do obedience. I have kids on bikes, seniors on bikes, people flying remote control air planes, soccer practice, runners, others walking their dogs. And we all have 40 acres to do it on.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,255 Posts
@CactusWren, I know for myself, I avoid dog parks because of MY dog. She’s fine being around other dogs that are chill and leave her alone, she ignores them and does her own thing. But dog parks have a lot of dogs with different personalities, and if one pesters Lyka, she’s not going to move away or even give any warning, she just bites. She’s not the dog park personality. I’ve never had her attacked on leash, because again, if something approached her, she takes charge if I don’t catch it soon enough. I stupidly wore earbuds listening to music and didn’t hear dogs coming up until Lyka hit the end of her leash and bit. Now I walk earbud free so I can place her in a down behind me while I handle the loose dog.

Crios is the annoying dog that chases, jumps over people and dogs, thinks everyone and everything in the world loves him. The manic energy that most dogs have a problem with. So while Crios might be happy at the park, he makes all the other dogs miserable. It’s also the reason he’s been trained to leave Lyka alone, or approach with a calm energy. Between me and Lyka showing him the no’s of the household, he caught on quick that hyper would get him rolled and bitten by Lyka. I don’t allow them together unsupervised either. The do play fight, but when I notice it getting a little too ramped up, the get “enough” command and separate rooms to cool off in.

I think dog parks are great for some dogs. Just not my two dogs. Seiran still isn’t fully vaxed, so it’s not even a possibility that she will experience a dog park anytime soon.

I’ve seen plenty of dogs get along and have a great time while I’m working outside the fence with mine. But the times I’ve seen serious damage done to a dog during a fight makes it not worth it to me. My dogs are perfectly fine not having dog friends outside of our home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
35 Posts
We've started to do some obedience training on the outside of the dark park fence because it's highly distracting. I would never/could never let Kona loose with strange dogs in a dog park - there would be blood. She won't bother dogs that mind their own business (like in obedience classes), but she's not the type to back down at all if one of them decides to start something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,303 Posts
As someone who lives in an apartment, dog parks are the primary way my pup can get some exercise. He also goes to daycare at least for the time-being before I have a better stay-at-home option for him.

Knowing the risks, I think it's all about how you handle it. Of course there are going to be bad experiences, but you can find bad experiences just walking down the street, too. Or on the beach. As long as you are vigilant, I don't see any issues with them personally.
I mean...I guess...but percentage wise it's a whole other ballgame as far as likelihood for something bad to happen to your dog.

I have 3 living dogs, 12, 4, and 15 mo.

One deceased at 10. Of all of them...only one has gone to a communal "dog" area. Unfenced dog park I guess you could call it. THAT one was bullied and had to be worked on to undo social damage. All other 3 never set foot in any such place. All other 3 have never had that kind of bad experience with another dog.

And yeah, we don't live in a bubble and there has been some dog conflict outside dog parks. But nowhere near the frequency or amount of damage done the dog. My old male who is gone now had one conflict to speak in his whole life when he warned off some free roaming dogs to protect me and my other dogs. He handled it beautifully and there was no fight.

My current male has been "gone after" once by a friend's dog. They were friends as puppies but then hers developed male aggression as an adolescent and it was the last time we tried to walk together. Lesson learned. My dog wasn't traumatized by it because we handled it in seconds...two dogs with training , two owners on top of it. Not how it is at dog parks.

My dog had another GSD go after him at an AKC trial and in the ring of all places...but no contact was made. I am not sure it effected him but it did shake me up. I can't tell any difference in him in competition. MY lesson learned there was that dog went after him at the end of ribbon pinning in our first class and I did not report it and thought it was a fluke. Same dog, same thing second class they called us for a ribbon and when my dog moved the other GSD went for him again only this time of course the judge saw it and they were asked to leave. I should have reported the first incident. I should probably not have brought my dog back for ribbon pinning on class 2 either.... tbh I wa sleep deprived and I just didn't think it thru like I should have.

But say I had encountered that same dog at a dog park. No leashes or competent ppl and there probably would have been a nasty fight.

So that's 2 things in the whole life of my 4 y/o dog who continues to be fine with other dogs....has had a very large amt of positive social interaction. Opposed to my other dog had 3 scary incidents in less than a month at the "dog park" type place which did definitely change her personality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,046 Posts
My experience is, its all about the dogs and the owners who are there. It can make or break the experience...
Both my dogs have loved the dog park. They stay mostly with us but run around, sniff and socialize.

My male was the barking problem child in the beginning but the people who go to our park were open to him being nervous and being a puppy. They welcomed us in and said just to relax and let him be a dog. After he sniffed a few butts he calmed down and he was amazing with everyone. Both our puppies listen and know there commands. There are no problem dogs at our park (so far... ) the owners are very attentive. There are a few people who allow there small dogs in the big section and I really don't understand that but all the big dogs respected them.

There is a older GSD who goes and he does grump around and bark a lot but never mean to anyone. A lot of large fluffy poodle looking dogs... its funny to see them prancing around.
The only time we saw 2 dogs get into it was 2 medium cocker spaniel looking dogs and it was a quick snap, redirect by the owners and they were fine after that.

Again you have to be in control of your dog, pay attention and know when it doesn't seem right. Leave, go for a walk by yourself and then go home. Both my dogs have defiantly benefitted from it at their age.
Aren't your dogs quite young?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
260 Posts
Aren't your dogs quite young?
Yes there babies, 7 and 8 months old almost. Which is why we have luck with them and socializing them. They have both been going to the dog parks as long as we have owned them and they have been vaccinated. I understand it may get to the point there temperaments will not be so friendly. Right now they are both friendly when we are outside the house but at home they are more protective of there space, which we are ok with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
794 Posts
Pandora’s box indeed. Almost as bad as “the breed who shall not be named.” Lol

Dog parks have their uses. I enjoy them for the outside work. As in, we are outside the fence, and I work my dogs with the distraction of other dogs nearby. If the park is empty and CLEAN (why people can’t or won’t pick up after their dogs drives me bonkers), then I will let mine loose to play together. As soon as I see someone coming, they get the short leash and out we go. I’ve had people tell me “it’s fine, my dog is totally friendly.” I normally respond with “thanks, but mine aren’t.” We go back to outside the fence training, same dog the owner told me was friendly attacked the next dog that came into the park, and the two ladies went into pure panic mode and didn’t know what to do to get her dog off the dog it was death shaking. Had it by its jowls. I clipped Crios and Lyka to the fence, jumped over, and pulled them apart. Pretty sure the friendly dog caused enough damage to the other dog that extensive vets bills were incurred. Blood was just flying everywhere.

I find most GSD’s would be fine in a park setting, IF the other dogs leave them alone. And that rarely happens.

We have 3 dogs parks where I live, and one is by appointment only. So there is a dedicated Facebook page to this park, and people sign up for times with like breeds. I went once, stayed outside the fence line again, and it was a total mess. All Shepard’s or shepherd mixes, and fights galore. Looked to be more of a social hour for the owners, who just let their dogs go at each other while they all sat and gossiped.

I think most owners see it as a place to let their dogs loose without having to watch them, instead of being engaged with their dogs while they are there. I rarely see people engaging with their dogs when I’m doing outside fence work. When I let mine loose to play, I chuck balls, practice recalls, run around with them. Even if it’s them chasing each other, they come to me as homebase for tag. If the owners would stay engaged with their dogs at the dog park, a lot of the fights would never happen. But 90% of the time, the dog is let off leash, and the owner never looks up from their phone.

That my drop in a bucket regarding the dog park discussion!
What kind of "fence training" do you do and for what purpose? Distraction work? To get them used to other dogs? Not criticizing...just learning. Because I think I need to do some of that work too. My dog has had very limited interactions with other dogs since I brought him home, so much so that now he barks at every dog he sees. I usually have to cross the street or give way, because he just looks like an aggressive lunatic. So, any pointers could help.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,255 Posts
Yes, I do fence work to train them to ignore other dogs and handlers, and have them fully focused on me and what I’m expecting of them.

Lyka was leash reactive and dog aggressive when I first got her, now we can walk past a dog on the street, and so long as the dog isn’t an ahole, she’ll pass right along with no issues now. If I see the owner being pulled along, or the dog hyper focused on Lyka, I can put her in a heel and move to the street to avoid the dog.

With Crios, it’s the opposite, he wants to play with ALL the dogs. I want him focused on me when we are working, so again, fence training helps to gain focus with distractions. He’s actually a lot harder than Lyka was. He’s the “squirrel” type dog, so he easily loses focus. But he’s gotten much much better at it, probably half because he’s just maturing, and have because I work him in dog heavy environments.

Essentially, they can see and hear the other dogs, but can’t engage with them.
 
1 - 20 of 64 Posts
Top