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I feel like a new mom I have so many questions!
I took my 4-month-old Neeko to the dog park (we've gone a few times and he loves it) But a dog fight broke out under the bench I was sitting on (my dog wasn't involved I was watching him play chase) but when it happened he ran over to me and I petted him and everything, it was over by the time he got to me so everything was calming down. One owner left but a male owner of the other dog was still crouched by my seat and I was petting his dog and chatting with him and he reached out to let Neeko smell him so he could pet him and Neeko huffed like a horse and backed up and acting like he was going to bark but when the guy walked away Neeko curiously followed him. We were leaving in the opposite direction and he huffed at a lady on the way out. He was doing great being petted by people and playing with dogs, never even barking or growling. I'm just afraid we will take two steps back and lose his socialization skills? What should I do?
 

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You should stop taking him to the dog park! Socialization should be about accepting that people and other dogs and everything else in the world is part of the background in which he lives and are of no negative consequence to him. IT is not about loving on people (though a well balanced dog should be able to accept their petting) or playing with strange dogs. JMO.

Best 2 dogs I have ever had have not had any puppy play with other dogs after they left the litter. Boatloads of confidence and have no issues at all around all kinds of animals, strange dogs included.
 

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Dog parks are a tough place for socialization especially when having pups socialize with adult and senior dogs. They remove the control you have over the situation and they put the pup in an unfamiliar position of being off of the leash and away from their protector.


My advice would be to keep socialization up but pick just a regular park where dogs frequent and do leash to leash socialization with friendly dogs. Your puppy will be emboldened by having you right there and the other owner is there to quickly intervene if things get out of hand. It's not a perfect solution, stuff can still happen. But it certainly gives you more control over the situation.


My pups the same age, she thrives out in the park. I took her to a dog park near where we were BBQing this weekend ONLY because there were only like 3 dogs in it and two of them were GSDs. As soon as a bigger dog came over and knocked her over, she wasn't having it. She kept trying to jump into my arms and then hid behind the bench before I got her out of there. I think just being off the leash and not having me right there kind of confused her. Otherwise, she absolutely thrives in the regular park I take her too when meeting other dogs.
 

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Does he even have all his shots? I think 4 months old is a little young to take to a dog park where there are a lot of unbalanced dogs. The majority of people who take their dogs to the dog parks are working people who don't have the time or are too lazy to walk their dogs. And they work so their dogs are cooped up in the house or in their crate all day and then they're let loose at the dog parks. You're going to get a lot of frustrated dogs releasing their energies there. Fights are bound to happen. And you can't even predict what the other owners are like. Some people don't pay attention. Some don't care what their dogs are doing. Some don't pick up after their dogs.

Socialization doesn't just mean your dog meeting other dogs. It's also about being in different situations, being in different places, sniffing different objects, etc. etc. etc. Are there other STABLE dogs in your neighborhood that you can have your pup meet one on one? Puppy play dates with other stable dogs is much better than dog parks. When your dog is older and more confident and sure of himself, then maybe take him to the dog park.
 

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Sorry but I'm piling onto the dogpark-avoiding advice!!

My dog was attacked by an offleash dog in our neighborhood three times. So, what did his owners decide to do? They thought, wow, our dog needs to learn to get along better with other dogs. We will bring him to the DOG PARK. Last time I ran into his owner, he told me that his dog had gotten into a fight at the park, and was now refusing to enter ...

So there are some people trying to "socialize" their dogs at dog parks - dogs that are considered to "need socialization"...
these are probably not the dogs you want your little puppy to play with!
 

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Yeah, I'm also going to agree with no dog parks.

We took Jack to them from about 4 months old to maybe a year or so. It wasn't very helpful in getting him used to other dogs and people. In fact, I think it slowed down that development. Once we stopped going to the dog park and focused more on teaching him off-leash trail manners, he started feeling a lot more comfortable and friendly around other dogs and people. He's only gotten better since we started him at "daycare" once every two weeks, which we primarily did to teach him to trust the staff members since we were going to board him on a long vacation later in the year.

Anyway, yeah, I wouldn't worry about dog parks. Just teach him manners around other living beings and he'll eventually feel very confident in approaching them in at least a neutral manner.
 

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My response on dog parks is it depends. On the park, on your dog and you as an owner.

We go frequently to dog parks nowadays because we have a mix who is suitable to be a dog park dog. When I had strong working line schutzhund GSDs we never went to dog parks.

There are some dogs that should not be at the dog park due to their temperament. Many GSDs are not the right dog to be taken to a dog park. There is nothing wrong with a GSD that is not a good dog park dog because there is a lack of fit between the temperament of many good GSDs and the environment. First off GSDs tend to be a dominant breed that is born to control situations. A bunch of playing dogs can be seen by a GSD as akin to a herd of sheep that is unruly and must be controlled. No fun for other dogs and can lead to a fight.

Male GSDs tend to want to measure themselves against other males and figure out rank. Again, a potential dog fight. GSDs even if they do not start a fight will often be the last dog to back down if another dog starts something. Very strong GSDs will not even back down to strange humans which means a potential dog fight can escalate to some people being bit who try to step in to stop it. There are reasons why you never see police dogs and schutzhund dogs at dog parks. Even non-dog aggressive GSDs may not fit a dog park environment for the reasons I listed. And unfortunately there are also some GSDs who are too fearful and shy combined with aggression which means it's a risk to both other dogs and people at parks. Dogs with less than solid nerve and younger high prey dogs can have poor impulse control and not know that a play chase should not end with a bite. Not every GSD is well trained.

GSD puppies before they mature are ok to take to a dog park by 5 months to a year old for socialization if they are solid nerved and are physically well developed and coordinated as long as you are aware of the risk of other dogs and clueless owners, you are very good at reading dog behavior not just your dogs but all the other dogs around, and you are not at all embarrassed to step in before anything serious starts yet not be so paranoid that you misinterpret play as true aggression. True aggression is quite rare in a good dog park.

What is a good dog park? A big park with not too many dogs with a lot of escape routes so a dog never feels cornered. Almost all the dogs and owners have dog park experience, the dogs are solid and not dog aggressive and not too shy, the owners are dog savvy and mature. Sometimes time of day and week can make a big difference. We never go to dog parks between 4 and 7pm because that's when people with 9 to 5 jobs take their dogs to the park, park gets too many dogs - dogs that are hyper from being housebound or in crates or kennels all day. We never go to dog parks on Friday afternoons and evenings because that is when young single people come to take their dogs and hopefully meet another single dog person. Younger people tend to be on their first dog and be less dog savvy. The best dog owners in our parks are usually retirees who come in the middle of the day and have owned many dogs before and are dog savvy.

I have met a number of GSDs at the parks who are good dog park dogs. They are mainly from pet lines or show lines. Low aggression levels and low reactivity. Handler focused and better trained than the typical dog. The thing that immediately sets GSDs apart from other dog breeds is they are always the most handler focused dog at the park and are never really that interested in other dogs. Some GSD owners take their dogs more because it is a large area that is completely fenced where they can hike and throw balls off-leash not necessarily to play with other dogs and their dogs are neutral or indifferent to other dogs off-leash. The only 3 dogs that I have seen in the last few months behave too aggressively at other dogs in our parks have all been GSDs or GSD/husky mixes. Some of the best dog park dogs are pitbulls. I say this as a GSD aficionado.
 
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