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Does your poodle love the dog park?

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Olive, black miniature poodle, 9 months old
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Hi,
We are taking Olive to the dog park tommorow. Do you have any tips or precautoins?
Thank you
 

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I don't take my dog to dog parks. She is a miniature poodle and extremely well socialized and around dogs in training classes multiple times a week.

She was chased as "prey" in a dog park by a rottweiler who was there with the owner's mother who had no control over the dog and couldn't care less what was happening. Luckily I was in the park with many other people who saw and helped me - I was able to grab my dog as she ran by me and this dog body slammed me to get to my dog. I was a dangerous situation. This dog was in prey mode and once that kicked in, the dog couldn't be called off.

One of the women who helped me was the wife of the vet in charge of the large vet speciality hospital and she was extremely knowledgeable. She gathered some calm dogs to come near my dog and we played so that my dog wasn't traumatized by the situation.

I've known dogs that have been bitten and several killed. One gorgeous park in my area has a small dog and large dog off leash areas - a large dog bolted over the tall fence (wasn't tall enough) and attacked a small dog. The small dog died and it's owner required medical care for bites.

I would only go if there were a small number of dogs and the owners were very attentive and knowledgeable. Most owners don't watch their dogs, they sit and chat and aren't sensitive to dog body language.

I did take my dog to a small dog tea party at my local humane society. I found that a wonderful and safe environment. Not only were the owners supposed to be watching their dogs as we chatted, but there were several volunteers there without their dogs who's purpose was to supervise the event and also be available to step in when needed because they didn't have dogs of their own to watch. Sadly during Covid they do not have this fundraiser at this time. All the dogs had to have proof of vaccination and had to be well behaved. It was a safe off leash experience.

Some dog training clubs offer classes like this - an hour of off leash social time.
 

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Most dog parks do not allow leashes of any sort. Lots of dogs and people can get hurt, especially with long lines.

Personally I'm with Skylar on the whole issue of dog parks. In addition to my dogs having a fenced yard and experienced with dogs within and outside our family I don't see much need for them to have additional opportunities to run amok mindlessly and I would be horrified if one of them got hurt. And as the cherry on the cake Javelin and Peeves are not welcome since they are intact males.
 

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I go to dog parks - but only very select ones and at select times. Most dog park goers have dogs that are too rough in large cities. Honestly? If I had a larged fenced yard I had access to, I'd much rather that than the dog park.

My tips- first, you need to be VERY confident you understand dogs and what appropriate and inapporpriate interactions look like. Most dogs do not do well at dog parks.

1) Don't let it be your dog's first experience (or even second) with other dogs. Choose a good first experience with dogs you know, not a dog park.
2) Only enter if there is only 1 or 2 other dogs if your dog is young or experienced. I leave, even with Annie who loves her dog park, if the number of people is more than 5. I choose my time - not the 4 pm rush, but usually 7 or 8 pm when few people are there, or during bad weather or earlier in the day... the schedule varies depending on the dog park.
3) Watch the body language of the dogs very carefully - I grab Annie every time someone enters, and keep her away from the gate. Entering is when most dog fights happen. I also often go in first so I block the dogs from running at her. If I see a dog I dislike the body language of, I ask them to hold their dogs while I leave. I recognize one vehicle, and leave the moment they pull into the lot.
4) If you have a small dog - use the small dog area. If there isn't one, do not go. Many large dogs are prey-driven and will hop on smaller dogs.
5) Unleash the dog before going in. You don't want your dog feeling trapped, or getting tangled.
6) Leave if your dog is having a bad time, or if your dog is being a nuisance.
7) If dogs are being inappropriate, I often run away from them, calling their names, to bring them with me and change the tone of play.
8) Never bring a dog in heat. There are often intact males at mine.
9) Watch your dog and follow it around the park. Don't stand there like a lump and chat, supervise.
10) If your dog is new to dog parks or a puppy, always ask before bringing it in. Lots of dogs are not appropriate with puppies.
11) Practice recalls throughout the trip, and touch the collar, not just when you are leaving. Carry your leash with you in the park - I've used it on Annie, I've used it on other dogs who were being inappropriate or whose owners couldn't catch them, etc.
12) Leave if your dog is uncomfortable, and know the signs of discomfort.
13) Leave if your dog is making other dogs uncomfortable, or is becoming too rough/riled up.
 

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I go to dog parks - but only very select ones and at select times. Most dog park goers have dogs that are too rough in large cities. Honestly? If I had a larged fenced yard I had access to, I'd much rather that than the dog park.

My tips- first, you need to be VERY confident you understand dogs and what appropriate and inapporpriate interactions look like. Most dogs do not do well at dog parks.

1) Don't let it be your dog's first experience (or even second) with other dogs. Choose a good first experience with dogs you know, not a dog park.
2) Only enter if there is only 1 or 2 other dogs if your dog is young or experienced. I leave, even with Annie who loves her dog park, if the number of people is more than 5. I choose my time - not the 4 pm rush, but usually 7 or 8 pm when few people are there, or during bad weather or earlier in the day... the schedule varies depending on the dog park.
3) Watch the body language of the dogs very carefully - I grab Annie every time someone enters, and keep her away from the gate. Entering is when most dog fights happen. I also often go in first so I block the dogs from running at her. If I see a dog I dislike the body language of, I ask them to hold their dogs while I leave. I recognize one vehicle, and leave the moment they pull into the lot.
4) If you have a small dog - use the small dog area. If there isn't one, do not go. Many large dogs are prey-driven and will hop on smaller dogs.
5) Unleash the dog before going in. You don't want your dog feeling trapped, or getting tangled.
6) Leave if your dog is having a bad time, or if your dog is being a nuisance.
7) If dogs are being inappropriate, I often run away from them, calling their names, to bring them with me and change the tone of play.
8) Never bring a dog in heat. There are often intact males at mine.
9) Watch your dog and follow it around the park. Don't stand there like a lump and chat, supervise.
10) If your dog is new to dog parks or a puppy, always ask before bringing it in. Lots of dogs are not appropriate with puppies.
11) Practice recalls throughout the trip, and touch the collar, not just when you are leaving. Carry your leash with you in the park - I've used it on Annie, I've used it on other dogs who were being inappropriate or whose owners couldn't catch them, etc.
12) Leave if your dog is uncomfortable, and know the signs of discomfort.
13) Leave if your dog is making other dogs uncomfortable, or is becoming too rough/riled up.
I use pretty much the same rules. I rarely go to fenced dog parks but we do often go to a very large off leash area where all the dogs are regulars. I dislike fenced dog parks because they are usually too small and tensions run high in small areas. Also the sort of people who go to them often bring dogs that are not socially cut out for it.

The most important thing is you prevent your dog from bothering any other dog, and if your dog is being bothered you are responsible to solve the problem for them by either speaking to the other dog's owner or leaving with your dog. Before entering, watch the other dogs in the park for a bit and see if they all seem sociable and friendly together. I would be very cautious with a puppy because it is easy for a bad experience to hinder their social development.
 

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I echo what others said, most off leash pars don’t allow dogs on a leash, even a long line. Your dog’s body language while on a leash can set other dogs off.

if your dog is a puppy, taking puppy classes where they have positive experiences under supervision is a better idea. Making friends with fenced in backyards where you can meet for social distancing play dates is good.
 

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Olive, black miniature poodle, 9 months old
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We are going to Nose hill park, it is not really a dog park. There are of-leash and on-leash areas. We plan to keep her on a long leash the whole time.
 

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The only thing I can add to the excellent suggestions by FWOP and Raindrops is to have Olive wear a harness collar (she can keep on her regular collar too). This is for safety reasons.

This is what my first looked like on Bella when she was a puppy:

469551


I like the Voyager dog harness collars too.

The advantage is this: If an aggressive dog suddenly approaches her, you can snap her up in your arms w/o bending over to pick her up, and can keep your eyes on the other dog. Snapping up a toy breed with a regular collar can hurt its throat b/c they have a delicate trachea. This can be damaged, like coughing or even collapsing, from hard pulling, or even if a groomer yanks on the leash/collar too hard while bathing.

I took mine to the park as a puppy, but stopped. There's nothing quite unnerving like having your 5 or 10 lb poodle being aggressively or "enthusiastically" approached by a 80 lb pitbull mix, even when the owner has it on a leash. Residents in some neighborhoods don't have these, you know the area best.

The other thing I didn't like were fleas. I hate fleas, and they're hard to see on a black poodle. Some areas have ticks, and Lyme Disease is no joke. For us, a walk in the park is followed up by an immediate bath. Again, you know your area best.

Anyway, enjoy your walk!
 

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Olive, black miniature poodle, 9 months old
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The only thing I can add to the excellent suggestions by FWOP and Raindrops is to have Olive wear a harness collar (she can keep on her regular collar too). This is for safety reasons.

This is what my first looked like on Bella when she was a puppy:

View attachment 469551

I like the Voyager dog harness collars too.

The advantage is this: If an aggressive dog suddenly approaches her, you can snap her up in your arms w/o bending over to pick her up, and can keep your eyes on the other dog. Snapping up a toy breed with a regular collar can hurt its throat b/c they have a delicate trachea. This can be damaged, like coughing or even collapsing, from hard pulling, or even if a groomer yanks on the leash/collar too hard while bathing.

I took mine to the park as a puppy, but stopped. There's nothing quite unnerving like having your 5 or 10 lb poodle being aggressively or "enthusiastically" approached by a 80 lb pitbull mix, even when the owner has it on a leash. Residents in some neighborhoods don't have these, you know the area best.

The other thing I didn't like were fleas. I hate fleas, and they're hard to see on a black poodle. Some areas have ticks, and Lyme Disease is no joke. For us, a walk in the park is followed up by an immediate bath. Again, you know your area best.

Anyway, enjoy your walk!
Hi Vita,
Bella is so cute! :)
We allways use a harness, even on regular walks since she pulls on the leash. Since she has not had a bath for about a month I decided to bath her after her visit to the dog park. In our city agressive dogs need to be on a leash, even in an off-leash area.
Thank you,
Olive
 

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Aggresive dogs have to be on leash in an off leash area? Seriously that sounds like a recipe for disaster. If the dog is aggressive even on leash should be away from areas where there are off leash dogs allowed. If one of those dogs goes red zone it is unlikely the handler will be able to physically control it. I wouldn't stake the outcome of something involving any of my dogs if they wanted to kill something. Peeves weighs 100 pounds, Javelin just under 50 and Lily about 37. If I had one of them on a leash and they went red zone I would have a very hard time controlling either of the boys (thankfully they are very well trained and will pay attention to me if a bad situation is brewing while I carefully increase our distance).

The rules that For Want of Poodle and Raindrops elaborated are generally the rules at our dog parks, but no one is there to enforce them with any authority and most of the people are too self involved to pay any attention to the myriad microaggressions (I know some folks may not like my choice of this word since it has so much significance to the current culture clashes people are having over Black Lives Matter. I am not trying to trivialize BLM or the use of the term, but it applies to dogs too in a setting of a very loose and complex set of interacting individuals). I am currently working through Brenda Aloff's book on canine body language and there are many examples there of small facial expression and body language changes that are predictive of a coming outright fight if not dealt with by people) and worse that dogs are committing against each other.

Taking your dog to a dog park and setting it loose to run berzerkers while you have a latte and complain about your boss to someone you always see there on Tuesday late in the afternoon is not responsible dog ownership.
 

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I’m very experienced with dog parks. I did it for many years while I lived in the big city. The dog I had at the time was small/medium but tough and had a very solid build. I was always very aware of every dog and very careful. Fights do happen in dog parks, because of unknowledgeable or careless owners.

I would never, ever take my toy poodles in a big dog park. Ever. Even on 30 feet leash. They could hurt themselves trying to run away from another dog, leash or not. Toys can break a leg easily and they have no way to defend themselves against bigger dogs. Even a medium/big rambunctious puppy wanting to play could do serious damage.

I wish we had a small dog park around, but we don’t. So no dog park for us.
 

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My apartment building has a small fenced dog park as an amenity. It's nice and has benches. Aggressive breeds are not allowed. Dogs are usually leashed, and most of the time residents take them out only to eliminate early in the morning or evening. I've never had a problem when taking my toy poodle. There's another dog park near me, but I feel safer at my own or my neighborhood.
 

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I really dislike the idea of using a long line for dog introductions. It is very easy for the dogs to get tangled together. Then you have frightened dogs which can't be separated. Recipe for a meltdown and fright bite. Moreover, I think poodles are more likely to get tangled, because the play style of the breed involves a lot of jumping and spinning. It's much safer for dogs to meet and play off leash in a large fenced area.

Along with all the other advice you have received, I would also take a couple of friends or family members that Olive trusts and will come to. That way, if the situation gets out of hand, someone can grab Olive and hustle her out of danger while someone else runs interference with the other dog and its owner. I would not trust the idea that Olive will be safe in your arms. A big aggressive dog is entirely capable of jumping and taking you down to get her. Keep her close to things which could be a protective barrier (park bench, hedge, fence).

Finally, don't bring anything that might trigger competition with other dogs. No treats, toys, balls, frisbees. Some dogs get really aggressive when they see something they want for themselves. No need to provide the excuse for a fight.
 

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cowpony you mentioned something that I didn't but will add a special thumbs up for here which is that you should never pick up a dog that is part of a fight or involved in another aggressive situation. Now you are park of the fray and can be badly injured or worse....and yeah the other problem at our dog park is that there is almost always a ball or two floating around. Lily can obsess safely over balls at home without me putting her in the car for her to do so. The last time we went to a dog park (out of town visitors wanted their dog to have a chance to run) she found a ball and went from person to person to have them throw the ball she had found. Everyone eventually got tired of her and she kept looking more and more disappointed. I was upset seeing how sad she got.
 
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I'm another one suggesting that picking your small dog up in your arms is not usually the solution and can cause a dog to become more aggressive. That lifting up movement is very exciting.

I had no choice when that rottweiler was chasing my minipoo - as she ran by me I was able to scoop her up. If I had a chair or some good size object I would have thrown it at the rottweiler to break up the action and left my dog on the ground.

I was naive when I brought my dog to a dog park - I had only had her a few weeks and was ignorant of dog behavior and signals. Now I watch the behavior of dogs and their handlers to avoid potential problems.
 

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We are going to Nose hill park, it is not really a dog park. There are of-leash and on-leash areas. We plan to keep her on a long leash the whole time.
Is that in Calgary, Alberta? The first time there we had a good experience. Second time, a huge Rottweiler attacked and bit our dog with absolutely no provocation. Of course the owner claimed "he never does that" and ran away before I could ask for proof of rabies shot. Fortunately Charlie was ok

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I really dislike the idea of using a long line for dog introductions. It is very easy for the dogs to get tangled together. Then you have frightened dogs which can't be separated. Recipe for a meltdown and fright bite. Moreover, I think poodles are more likely to get tangled, because the play style of the breed involves a lot of jumping and spinning. It's much safer for dogs to meet and play off leash in a large fenced area.

Along with all the other advice you have received, I would also take a couple of friends or family members that Olive trusts and will come to. That way, if the situation gets out of hand, someone can grab Olive and hustle her out of danger while someone else runs interference with the other dog and its owner. I would not trust the idea that Olive will be safe in your arms. A big aggressive dog is entirely capable of jumping and taking you down to get her. Keep her close to things which could be a protective barrier (park bench, hedge, fence).

Finally, don't bring anything that might trigger competition with other dogs. No treats, toys, balls, frisbees. Some dogs get really aggressive when they see something they want for themselves. No need to provide the excuse for a fight.
Wish people would leave the toys at home too. I've seen a few snapping skirmishes over toys happen. Charlie is usually bored with balls, but will run with the dogs who chase them just because he loves the running with friends thing. I taught him "leave it, not yours" so he stands back at the capture stage so the other dog gets the toy and doesn't need to defend its prize

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I would recommend just avoiding dog parks and places where there are dogs you don't know off leash. I took Rory a few times when he was a puppy and thankfully he had good experiences (and honestly loved it), but I have heard horror stories and personally stopped taking him after I researched about it and saw the a consensus between both a lot of vets and dog trainers .
Its a bummer, because I would love for him to just run free and play, but we stick to non-dog parks for on long lead fun and then have schedule play dates in friends' yards with dogs we know and trust!
 
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