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Old 10-08-2019, 09:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Ever since my last dog was repeatedly mounted by the same dog at a dog park (literally every time we visited, for the duration of our stay, no owner in sight) I've steered clear not just of that dog park, but of all dog parks.

But we were out and about this weekend and saw that the fenced agility part of our local dog park was completely empty, and decided to pop in with Peggy, just to show her the strange obstacles and let her sniff around.

My husband had left to get his sunglasses from the car, and I was standing at the furthest corner of the park while Peggy explored, quite a ways from the gate, when suddenly a bunch of people showed up and opened the gate for their dogs to excitedly pour in.

First a senior lab sauntered over (no biggie) but then a big, boisterous husky loped across the field, straight for Peggy. I didn't even have a chance to register all the other breeds that were streaming in, as Peggy was already sprinting away from me, yelping loudly, with the husky in hot pursuit.

I still feel a bit nauseated as I type this. I've heard that terrified sound only three times before: When my mini mix Gracie was chased by a Rhodesian ridgeback, when my same tiny girl was picked up by a husky who seemed to think she was a toy (or prey), and when I held Gracie out of reach of an unleashed boxer.

I kept my tone cheery and authoritative, calling Peggy back to me and chattering about the silly husky, who I tried to hold back while anxiously planning our escape. There was a wall of dogs between us and the exit, all eager to sniff and crowd the young, petrified poodle. I felt like such a fool. Keeping control of the situation with no sympathy from the other owners was extremely stressful.

Needless to say, we eventually made our way out. But that was certainly not the best way for my puppy to meet most of those breeds for the first time, and I feel terrible for getting her into that mess.

The day before, she was kennelled while waiting for me at the groomer, and got sniffed up and down through the bars by a loose St. Bernard. The groomer said Peggy growled and showed her teeth, so......not a positive experience for her either. I've got a sinking feeling dog reactivity might be in our future, but I'm trying to remain positive.

Moral of the story: Don't take your puppy to even empty dog parks. There are just too many variables beyond your control.

Does your dog enjoy dog parks?
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don’t do dog parks. We went once and my dog was chased by a Rottweiler as prey. The other dog owners helped me pick her up and the Rottweiler body slammed me trying to get to her. The person with the Rottweiler was not the owner it was her son’s dog and she had no control and t care. Luckily the other people were nice and several left the park with their large well behaved dogs on leashes so my dog could have a positive experience so we left the park on a positive note.

I will never take my dog to an off leash dog park again.

The local humane society has small and tiny dog socials weekly as fund raisers where small dogs can run off leash in a room while their owners are there. They have several people without dogs there to supervise. I’ll behaved dogs are not tolerated and all dogs must show evidence of up to date vaccinations. I did take my dog there for several months until it didn’t work for my schedule.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don’t do dog parks. We went once and my dog was chased by a Rottweiler as prey. The other dog owners helped me pick her up and the Rottweiler body slammed me trying to get to her. The person with the Rottweiler was not the owner it was her son’s dog and she had no control and t care. Luckily the other people were nice and several left the park with their large well behaved dogs on leashes so my dog could have a positive experience so we left the park on a positive note.

I will never take my dog to an off leash dog park again.

The local humane society has small and tiny dog socials weekly as fund raisers where small dogs can run off leash in a room while their owners are there. They have several people without dogs there to supervise. I’ll behaved dogs are not tolerated and all dogs must show evidence of up to date vaccinations. I did take my dog there for several months until it didn’t work for my schedule.
I similarly encountered someone who had her son's dog at the park. They were in the small dog section, but had been asked to leave by multiple owners, as the dog was completely out of control and obviously had a lot of pent-up energy and frustration. I wonder if that's common — parents stepping up when their sons don't properly train or exercise their dogs?

That Humane Society program sounds wonderful. I've asked our trainer if she'd similarly consider opening her property up for a "Dog Park Day" once a week. Not just for small dogs (as mine's a standard), but at least for dogs with educated, engaged owners. She's thinking about it, so fingers crossed!
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Aww, so sorry you and Peggy had a bad experience :( We've had our fair share of negative experiences, but overall, my dogs really love going to the dog park. It just depends on who is there. And I am NOT afraid to referee all interactions with my dogs, confront clueless owners, etc.

Here is Maizie when she was 6 mos., her first time playing with larger dogs. It was a perfect mix of dogs--got lucky. Does your dog park have a small dog side? I only take mine on the small dog side now due to the unpredictability of large breed dogs. Even on the small dog side we occasionally get a**holes (e.g., a certain French bulldog), but overall, it is safe for spoos.

6 mo. puppy video:

Here's another video I like because it shows really good dog play--notice the give and take. Both dogs are adolescent puppies, so a good age match. Yeah, it's a pit. I wouldn't let my dogs play with an adult pit, but this one was a very nice pup. Also, his trainer was supervising closely (the woman in the long black coat). Also notice at :50 the husky was properly called by his owner because three is a crowd at dog parks.


Bottom line: I totally respect everyone who doesn't do dog parks. They can definitely be very dangerous. But occasional dog park experiences enhance my dogs' lives (esp. Maizie, as she has such a need for human social interaction by all the people).
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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No dog parks for us either. First my intact males are not welcome and second if Lily finds a ball she will try to gurad it from other dogs and then will present it to every person she can find who is willing to throw it. It encouraged her ball obsession in ways I don't like at all and since the people get tired of her it ends up being really sad to watch as she tries to convince the people to keep playing with her. She also has been chased in ways that were scary and as a puppy Peeves got repeatedly rolled by an aggressive mix breed dog. BF eventually kicked the dog to get it off him at which point the owner finally came over to pick a fight with BF. Never been back.


The concept of a dog park as the nice fun place for dogs to run and play is a pretty dream but the reality of them is more often nightmarish and mostly because of jerky people who will intervene on a playground where children but look at the same behavior in dogs and dogs just being dogs. There are plenty of dogs with poor social skills that get tons of practice on those bad social skills at dog parks where resource guarding, bullying, gang aggression and the like are all just fine.


I am sorry to say your pup probably has already had enough bad experiences in a short amount of time that the road to big time reactivity has started to be paved, so work on counter conditioning that response ASAP. I would start by sitting in your front yard with your pup on leash so she can see dogs going by. Teach her Look at That so she comes to understand that when the presence of another dog makes her uncomfortable she can look to you to make sure there are no problems. This assumes of course that people walk their dogs on leash in your neighborhood and they can control their dogs' on leash responses well.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I plan to use a dog park. My apartment has its own dog park in the complex I’ve met some of the residents dogs and most of the ones I met are very chill and well mannered. Honestly there’s only 1 dog here that I plan to keep my pup from and it’s not even a large breed dog it’s this rambunctious loud yorkie. That dog is a nightmare the owner has resulted to only walking him late at night because he barks and lunges at everyone and every dog it sees and for him to be so small his owner struggles pulling him back which I don’t understand maybe she’s worried she’ll hurt him but he almost got loose once trying to go after one of the resident’s lab. We also have a large park across the street that I plan to use when it’s not busy or crowded.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MaizieFrosty View Post
Aww, so sorry you and Peggy had a bad experience 😞 We've had our fair share of negative experiences, but overall, my dogs really love going to the dog park. It just depends on who is there. And I am NOT afraid to referee all interactions with my dogs, confront clueless owners, etc.

Here is Maizie when she was 6 mos., her first time playing with larger dogs. It was a perfect mix of dogs--got lucky. Does your dog park have a small dog side? I only take mine on the small dog side now due to the unpredictability of large breed dogs. Even on the small dog side we occasionally get a**holes (e.g., a certain French bulldog), but overall, it is safe for spoos.

6 mo. puppy video:

Here's another video I like because it shows really good dog play--notice the give and take. Both dogs are adolescent puppies, so a good age match. Yeah, it's a pit. I wouldn't let my dogs play with an adult pit, but this one was a very nice pup. Also, his trainer was supervising closely (the woman in the long black coat). Also notice at :50 the husky was properly called by his owner because three is a crowd at dog parks.


Bottom line: I totally respect everyone who doesn't do dog parks. They can definitely be very dangerous. But occasional dog park experiences enhance my dogs' lives (esp. Maizie, as she has such a need for human social interaction by all the people).
I loved seeing Maizie's confidence grow in that first video! And I definitely think engaged owners are the key to a positive dog park experience. Unfortunately, that's a hard variable to control.

I was thinking the small dog side might ultimately be a better fit for Peggy, especially if she maxes out at 45 lbs like her parents. But what's the etiquette around that? Do other owners mind?

P.S. Peggy was enthralled with your videos!!
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I loved seeing Maizie's confidence grow in that first video! And I definitely think engaged owners are the key to a positive dog park experience. Unfortunately, that's a hard variable to control.

Yes! That's so cool you observed her growth She came to check in with me a few times, but then she was like, I got this!

And yes, the owner variable is near impossible to control. If you have a bad person or dog, it's best to leave and try again another day.


I was thinking the small dog side might ultimately be a better fit for Peggy, especially if she maxes out at 45 lbs like her parents. But what's the etiquette around that? Do other owners mind?

I can only speak to my experience about my dog park, but for us, everyone except one person in the last 3 years has been fine with my dogs on the small side (which goes up to 40 lbs., but my dogs are 48 and 56). As long as large dogs are gentle and regulars (so everyone knows their record), they are allowed. Many people are very excited to have their small dogs socialize with NICE large dogs like mine. I usually get nothing but positive responses. I think trying the small dog side when there is no one there, or maybe just one other dog would be a good start if you want to try again.

P.S. Peggy was enthralled with your videos!!
Aww, that is so cute!
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Awww .... I am sorry she has bad experience. With puppies, our dog park,people are really good about asking before letting their dogin.,or asking if they don't recognize the dog.

Annie was mostly socialized at a membership only small town dog park. It was great. There were seldom more than 5 dogs,often noone The people were pretty dog savvy and would leave or be asked to leave if their dog showed any aggression,and you quickly recognized vehicles to know who was there (we avoided one good natured but rough playing dog). A few of the owners were very stern if your dog was an issue saying it wasn't welcome.

I decided to take her to the dog park here. Its awful. We went 4times. She had issues with aggressive dogs 2 X, (she only met 2 aggressive dogs in maybe 3 months of going daily at the other park) which passed my test of enough good experiences to counted the bad. The owners were like "that's just how he meets new dogs" or "he's just telling off your young dog". Umm no. Going for the throat, chasing with tail down anxhackles up is aggressiion, especially if done to a dog standing10 ft away playbowing.The dogs mostly didn't seem to really enjoy it either,one of the aggressive dogswas on an e collar and had obvious hip dysplasia. I dragged a 5month old collar free mastiff puppy off a 10 week old German shepherd puppy who was yelpng in fear whose owner was trying to leave. Twice. The mastiffs owner was sitting on a bench with a stroller ignoring the dog. Our final time, my very brave dog, who has great social skills,actually asked me to leave(catchingher was the issue at the other park). We will not go back.

Dog parks are great if you have the right culture. But way too many seem to be "leave if your dog is being picked on" instead of " leave if your dog is a problem".
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't do dog parks, when Renn was young he had neighborhood dogs running loose at him and it scared him badly. I don't think he really has a need to play with other dogs. I'd rather he just ignore them. Not lunge, bark just ignore.
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