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Interesting article. I'm just happy that the two dog arks I go to are great and the owners and dogs are well behaved. No problems at all. Thanks for the info!
 

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Good read, thanks. I'm a big advocate of dog parks. They are not for everyone, but well socialized dogs do very well at them and they educate the dogs as only dogs can.
 

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There was certainly a lot of good info in the article but the sidebar about good things and do's and don'ts for a dog park was a little confusing or maybe just a little too much of the P+ approach to dogs. An example was one of her "Don'ts":
"Assume a dog is aggressive when it is only trying to​
communicate its discomfort."

Anybody guess what she means with what she meant by the dog "trying to communicate it's discomfort" My guess would be growling and/or snapping or similar behavior - how are we mere normal people supposed to know the difference when a growling dog is aggressive and when it is trying to communicate it's discomfort?

Anybody know? I would assume myself that if a dog is growling it is aggressive - maybe the reason might be fear but it is still aggressive and needs to have its behavior changed or else it is very likely to escalate to a bite or a fight.
 

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There should probably be some sort of test given before a dog is deemed socialized well enough for a dog park, but in the mean time... we need to be vigilant and completely tuned in to what the dogs are communicating. Dog parks always present some sort of "risk", but to me it's one worth taking. Protect your dog as you expect him/her to protect you. Good play is always a great thing!!
 

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Very good article. I think it makes an excellent point about the possibility that dog parks may be contributing to aggression problems in dogs, in large aprt due to misunderstandings of animal communication. I actually think that pictures accurately represent the majority of dog parks I have been too with owners who are not actively involved with their dogs, socliazing with other people and not paying attention to what is happening. I also absolutely agree that the entrance to a dog park is one of the most dangerous places. Heck even among my own dogs at the door to my back yard I can see craziness when I open the door to let another dog out with the others.

I also would not consider a growling dog aggressive. You ahve to look at the whole body picture and assume that maybe if the dog is growling at your dog...it might be your dog that is the problem. To my mind if you don't know why a dog is growling and jsut make a blanket statement of "That dog's aggressive" You probably shouldn't be at a dog park because you don't have a clue.

From what I have seen dogs that exist well at dog parks are either totally dog neutral dogs that spend their entire time at the park retirveing things thrown by their owners and basically ignoring the other dogs or Beta animals by nature that generally have no strong drives. Dogs with very strong drives tend to cause problems with other dogs that do not share their play style. A dog with strong herding instinct can make other dogs uncomfortable. A dog with strong toy drive will take a Pinecone or a stick and turn it into a toy to be guarded. A dog with strong prey drive will chase down other dogs. Argos was always great with other dogs until someone would bring in some crazy dog with the hyper erratic zoomies...and then if I didn't grab Argos he would give chase and plow the other dog. Poorly socialized? No. But strong natural instinct to give chase and catch prey. (There's a reason you will rarely see retired racing Greyhounds in dog parks...I've only seen 2 and they were both muzzled) I've seen dogs with strong pack drives establish their own temporary packs among the dogs from the social group their person plays with and guard and defend the pack from new dogs entering the park. I've seen dogs with even moderate protective instincts very clearly warn off other dogs that jump on their owners.

I think what people are missing is that a dog park is NOT about socialization. You don't take your dog to the dog park to socialize it. A dog park is only for dogs that are already well socialized and dog neutral and have a very neutral laid back easy going personality. Overly friendly rude dogs can be just as problematic as aggressive dogs. I do occasionally take my dogs still to offlead parks at the beach so I can swim them and give them exercise (the primary purpose of those parks to my mind) but we try to go at off times, I keep my dogs with me and under my control and usually choose a spot away from the "action" to play with my dogs.

I agree. Tests should be given...but ask anyone who works at a doggy day camp if there are ever any squabbles...cause even tests don't predict every behavior. I guess until you have a problem, people just don't realize...but I've seen too many dog fights, too many injured dogs, too many wrongly accused dogs to ever want to take the chance with one of my kids.
 

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Very good article. I think it makes an excellent point about the possibility that dog parks may be contributing to aggression problems in dogs, in large aprt due to misunderstandings of animal communication. I actually think that pictures accurately represent the majority of dog parks I have been too with owners who are not actively involved with their dogs, socliazing with other people and not paying attention to what is happening. I also absolutely agree that the entrance to a dog park is one of the most dangerous places. Heck even among my own dogs at the door to my back yard I can see craziness when I open the door to let another dog out with the others.

I also would not consider a growling dog aggressive. You ahve to look at the whole body picture and assume that maybe if the dog is growling at your dog...it might be your dog that is the problem. To my mind if you don't know why a dog is growling and jsut make a blanket statement of "That dog's aggressive" You probably shouldn't be at a dog park because you don't have a clue.

From what I have seen dogs that exist well at dog parks are either totally dog neutral dogs that spend their entire time at the park retirveing things thrown by their owners and basically ignoring the other dogs or Beta animals by nature that generally have no strong drives. Dogs with very strong drives tend to cause problems with other dogs that do not share their play style. A dog with strong herding instinct can make other dogs uncomfortable. A dog with strong toy drive will take a Pinecone or a stick and turn it into a toy to be guarded. A dog with strong prey drive will chase down other dogs. Argos was always great with other dogs until someone would bring in some crazy dog with the hyper erratic zoomies...and then if I didn't grab Argos he would give chase and plow the other dog. Poorly socialized? No. But strong natural instinct to give chase and catch prey. (There's a reason you will rarely see retired racing Greyhounds in dog parks...I've only seen 2 and they were both muzzled) I've seen dogs with strong pack drives establish their own temporary packs among the dogs from the social group their person plays with and guard and defend the pack from new dogs entering the park. I've seen dogs with even moderate protective instincts very clearly warn off other dogs that jump on their owners.

I think what people are missing is that a dog park is NOT about socialization. You don't take your dog to the dog park to socialize it. A dog park is only for dogs that are already well socialized and dog neutral and have a very neutral laid back easy going personality. Overly friendly rude dogs can be just as problematic as aggressive dogs. I do occasionally take my dogs still to offlead parks at the beach so I can swim them and give them exercise (the primary purpose of those parks to my mind) but we try to go at off times, I keep my dogs with me and under my control and usually choose a spot away from the "action" to play with my dogs.

I agree. Tests should be given...but ask anyone who works at a doggy day camp if there are ever any squabbles...cause even tests don't predict every behavior. I guess until you have a problem, people just don't realize...but I've seen too many dog fights, too many injured dogs, too many wrongly accused dogs to ever want to take the chance with one of my kids.
Can't disagree with anything you wrote. Fact is, there are plenty of dogs that thrive well in that environment and they should be allowed to have that time. That's all.
 

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We have a new park opening, the first in the area...I can imagine the sqabbles that will go on. This park is open to the public.
I don't even think they will be looking at tags or anything, as long as you pay the park entrance fee. I'm sure the rules will change as they get more and more complaints.
It is located inside a County park, 10 acres for the dogs. I won't be taking mine there.
 

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Ewwwwwe.... very scarry... don't dare take your dog there!! God only knows what kind of hooligans might show up!!!
 

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Just got back from the dog park and Onyx had such a great time with all the dogs there. We spent an hour and a half and he just ran and played well with them all. Great place to meet dog lovers.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I found it interesting that many of the same issues mentioned as being associated with dog parks were issues I saw associated with doggy daycare and free-for-all group play in puppy classes. Nearly all of the daycare regulars became leash aggressive with other dogs to some degree and many became barrier aggressive towards other dogs as well. It is sort of ironic that these activities are viewed as a way to socialize your dog/puppy but may actually end up causing the very problems people are hoping to avoid.

Personally, I don't trust people to be honest about their dog when deciding if they should or shouldn't go to a dog park. working at the doggy daycare, a surprising number of people would want to bring their dog to daycare because "he doesn't like other dogs". When I told them that the daycare dogs couldn't be put at risk while seeing if their dog can learn to play nice, many asked me if I knew of any dog parks locally. :help: And I know for sure that several dogs who were "kicked out" of or turned down for daycare were then taken to dog parks.
 

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Anyone who's heard my on dog parks before know I hate public dog parks... Anyone with their dog UTD on shots can come in. It's a rare dog park that temperament tests every dog and makes SURE it has no diseases.

I mean, for one, diseases and parasites... When anyone can come with their dog, what might they pass in the water bowl or when they take a potty break and your dog checks it out?

And temperaments.. How do you know something about your dog won't set off another? Every dog is an individual, and can react to anything... The dumb owners who bring high-value things, like their dog's toys or treats, start fights... and you had better believe that when Max the Labrador starts a scuffle with Ruger the German Shepherd that all fingers will be pointed at the 'vicious' breed.

Fights can happen out of nowhere... (note the stupid boxer owner screaming and helping nothing, and then asking HER dog "What did you FEEL?" lol )



How are you to know if all of the owners there are responsible?

I'm sorry, but I don't think it's responsible to let your dog run off-leash with a bunch of strangers and strange dogs.

Now, private dog parks (where the dogs are HEALTH and TEMPERAMENT tested), privately set up play groups, a group of friends getting a together a few times a week with their dogs, THAT is different IMO. Not just anyone can waltz in with Cujo, and the likelihood of someone getting their pants sued off for a dogfight is a lot lower... As are the chances the dogs will have real temperament issues.

And if you think that complete idiots won't go to a dog park, people who know their dogs are aggressive, you are so wrong... Look, my brother knows J's issues, and he was actually arguing with me that I was wrong not to take J up to the local Dog Park and let him work out his dog-aggression and human-aggression.. The thought of someone bringing a dog like J to a dog park and dropping him over the fence is terrifying. And if my brother had him instead of me, that's what would happen at least once, likely resulting in a dead J and a very heavily fined brother.
 
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