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I understand the desire to have our dogs get together, play, and socialize. When I was around 18, 40 some years ago, my Alaskan Malamute attacked and killed my toy poodle. I was working on CD and CDX titles with them. My malamute attacked my poodle, broke her neck. They were both obedience trained, but the uncontrollable variable was jealousy over me. My mom had the malamute put to sleep immediately.

Each time I see a post of a dog park incident, I am afraid of read it. If your poodle, big or small gets attacked, they will get the shortend of the stick. No matter what you think, you are not going to be in a position to protect them and they are not bred or equipped to come out on top in a dog fight. Don't go to dog parks. Let's not have a real tradgedy this summer. PLEASE!
 

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I understand your worries but the way I look at it is that we hear about every scuffle at a dog park but we hardly ever hear about the positive trips. I'm betting many members of PH go to dog parks every day but our forum isn't blown up with posts about the fun their dog has....just about the bad trips.

The news is very much like that as well. We only hear about the school shootings and bombings... not the millions of ordinary, safe school days our children have attended. Car accidents happen every day and are relatively common but people still hop in their cars without much worry. I still let my children ride their bikes, go to a public restroom by themselves, and play with children that might occasionally be mean to them... because the bad stuff hardly ever happens... despite what the news tells you.

So, I'll continue occasionally taking Polly to the dog park while using my good judgement and supervision from afar.... knowing that bad stuff does happen rarely... but the enjoyment she and I get from it are worth the risk. Just like driving to my sister's house is worth the risk of getting into an accident.

Just my 2 cents :0)
 

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Dog parks would be fine if owners of Known dog reactive breeds would stay away as their forums advise. If you put a few thousand people on a beach eventually one of them will attack another even without alcohol. Some breeds of dog are reactive to other dogs and can not be trusted without supervision. Many owners of tough breeds have no idea and care less. They often select the breed to bolster their own weak ego. To see their pet dominant over others gives them a lift in their egocentric, weak lives. We should all keep our dogs safe. Some of us need to keep others safe from them.
Eric
 

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I agree with the OP for the vast majority of dog parks in the US. However, I have seen a handful of really well designed dog parks - like a 25 acre woodland trail park outside of Milwaukee, WI, which feels more like hiking in the woods than standing around a dog park. There's also a nice one in Arlington, VA which has access to a creek, where we've played for hours. But I absolutely agree for the typical chain-link fence rectangular dirt patch most cities call a dog park.
 

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I understand your worries but the way I look at it is that we hear about every scuffle at a dog park but we hardly ever hear about the positive trips. I'm betting many members of PH go to dog parks every day but our forum isn't blown up with posts about the fun their dog has....just about the bad trips.

The news is very much like that as well. We only hear about the school shootings and bombings... not the millions of ordinary, safe school days our children have attended. Car accidents happen every day and are relatively common but people still hop in their cars without much worry. I still let my children ride their bikes, go to a public restroom by themselves, and play with children that might occasionally be mean to them... because the bad stuff hardly ever happens... despite what the news tells you.

So, I'll continue occasionally taking Polly to the dog park while using my good judgement and supervision from afar.... knowing that bad stuff does happen rarely... but the enjoyment she and I get from it are worth the risk. Just like driving to my sister's house is worth the risk of getting into an accident.

Just my 2 cents :0)
Amen! I couldn't possibly agree more, and I was searching for the words to say exactly what BeckyM said so eloquently.

With an elderly dog (almost 16) and 2 young ones (2 and 5), I don't know what I'd do without the dog parks. Bob lies in the grass (or in his stroller if we walked to the closer park) while Sam gets some serious exercise chasing his ball and Cammie runs around sniffing things and greeting friends. A local newspaper once ended a piece on the park with a quote from a dog person who said that the park was "the happiest place on earth."

I am well aware of the risks and I try to be careful. But we still go to the park almost every day.

A few photos of the happiest place on earth ...
 

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Amen! I couldn't possibly agree more, and I was searching for the words to say exactly what BeckyM said so eloquently.

With an elderly dog (almost 16) and 2 young ones (2 and 5), I don't know what I'd do without the dog parks. Bob lies in the grass (or in his stroller if we walked to the closer park) while Sam gets some serious exercise chasing his ball and Cammie runs around sniffing things and greeting friends. A local newspaper once ended a piece on the park with a quote from a dog person who said that the park was "the happiest place on earth."

I am well aware of the risks and I try to be careful. But we still go to the park almost every day.

A few photos of the happiest place on earth ...
Thanks :) Yet another thing we have in common! :) Those are the happiest dog park pics! I wish we had that park near us! Ours is nice but not nearly that nice!
It's wonderful that all of your dogs, at their various life stages, can enjoy that space with the other dogs.
 

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I agree with a lot of what BeckyM and peppersb said. Life is full of risks and most of the bad outcomes represent a tiny percentage of the experiences of dog parks, playgrounds for kids, driving your car and the like.

That being said I don't use our local dog parks. They are the proverbial dirt patch with a chain link fence. The rules would prohibit me from taking either Peeves or Javelin since they are both intact males, yet would permit a clueless owner with a maladjusted dog with a nasty bullying streak to attend if it was a neutered male.

Part of why we have three dogs is so that they don't need dog friends. They have each other, but more importantly they have us as their companions and their champions who keep them safe and happy. All of my dogs work in rally, obedience and other sports. Their lives are very rich with those activities and I wouldn't risk losing that because of getting injured either physically or psychologically in an altercation at a dog park.

At a seminar I attended given by Ian Dunbar he spoke about the idea of members only dog parks. His vision is for people to pay a membership fee to bring dogs that have been certified by AKC CGC or other similar testing to an environment where there would be a lower chance of bad experiences. Sadly where I live I don't think that would ever be possible since land is so expensive. I doubt anyone would cough up the fee (which would have to be very hefty).

In the meantime I will continue to have my dogs play in their back yard dog park with agility equipment, a pool, shade and chicken viewing.
 

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I understand your worries but the way I look at it is that we hear about every scuffle at a dog park but we hardly ever hear about the positive trips. I'm betting many members of PH go to dog parks every day but our forum isn't blown up with posts about the fun their dog has....just about the bad trips.

The news is very much like that as well. We only hear about the school shootings and bombings... not the millions of ordinary, safe school days our children have attended. Car accidents happen every day and are relatively common but people still hop in their cars without much worry. I still let my children ride their bikes, go to a public restroom by themselves, and play with children that might occasionally be mean to them... because the bad stuff hardly ever happens... despite what the news tells you.

So, I'll continue occasionally taking Polly to the dog park while using my good judgement and supervision from afar.... knowing that bad stuff does happen rarely... but the enjoyment she and I get from it are worth the risk. Just like driving to my sister's house is worth the risk of getting into an accident.

Just my 2 cents :0)
Totally understandable. Even with bad stuff happening in this world, if you and your dogs live life in a bubble, then that's no life at all. People take risks every day. We just have to do the best that we can, and hope that we will have a fairly normal uneventful day.

As for dog parks, Ive never been one for using dog parks. I always preferred my dogs to meet and greet only with other dogs that they knew. We would accomplish this by taking turns going to each other houses in a secured backyard envirenment. Sometimes the interaction time was short, depending on what the owner had going for the day. But, it just worked better for us. Otherwise, I would walk the dogs in out of the way places, and after we moved to the country, I would walk Trina and Kaydee on our country road, where not as many cars go by. When a neighbor was outside with their dog, I would let the girls play a little. Then we were on our way.
 
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Looks like so much fun! Great pics!!!
 
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Dog parks would be fine if owners of Known dog reactive breeds would stay away as their forums advise. If you put a few thousand people on a beach eventually one of them will attack another even without alcohol. Some breeds of dog are reactive to other dogs and can not be trusted without supervision. Many owners of tough breeds have no idea and care less. They often select the breed to bolster their own weak ego. To see their pet dominant over others gives them a lift in their egocentric, weak lives. We should all keep our dogs safe. Some of us need to keep others safe from them.
Eric
I totally agree Eric, most that own bully breeds need them for their ego, and do not really train the dogs properly
 

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While I do plan to set up play dates with friends when we get our dog, we have small urban yards. Visiting dog parks may be a necessity for adequate exercise. Our town locks the parks and dog owners get keycards after paying an annual fee and providing proof of registration and vaccination. I hope that ensures at least a minimal level of responsibility on the part of the dog owners at the park ... but I will not be surprised if there are problems. There is a woman in our neighborhood who brings her snarly, jumpy, completely untrained collie to school for pick-up everyday. The dog is registered and she stays on the sidewalk off school property so there is nothing we can do about it. Other dogs and kids have learned to steer clear best as they can. I really hope she does not use our dog parks!
 

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Dog parks should always be used with caution, but as someone who takes my two at least once a day, I wouldn't ever say: "Don't Use Them Ever" as a blanket statement.

We are fortunate to have two large parks within 15 minutes, and I take my two 50+ pound pups very early in the morning, when the only other people around are those equally dedicated to good dog ownership. Most of the "regulars" we see are older dogs or those owned by retired individuals who have spent a good deal of time training them.

I do not take my dogs to the park between 3 and 5 pm, because by then the irresponsible owners are out with their poorly behaved dogs running wild. My two are large and confident enough to take care of themselves (Piper has broken up a few scuffles even) but I do my very best to avoid any situation in which they'd need too.

With precautions, dog parks can be wonderful places. Without them, they can be dangerous and even deadly. It's all about knowing yourself, your dogs, and the environment :)
 

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I understand the desire to have our dogs get together, play, and socialize. When I was around 18, 40 some years ago, my Alaskan Malamute attacked and killed my toy poodle. I was working on CD and CDX titles with them. My malamute attacked my poodle, broke her neck. They were both obedience trained, but the uncontrollable variable was jealousy over me. My mom had the malamute put to sleep immediately.

Each time I see a post of a dog park incident, I am afraid of read it. If your poodle, big or small gets attacked, they will get the shortend of the stick. No matter what you think, you are not going to be in a position to protect them and they are not bred or equipped to come out on top in a dog fight. Don't go to dog parks. Let's not have a real tradgedy this summer. PLEASE!
wow... this is heartbreaking. :( I need to thank you though ... I would rather know before hand, then after when it would have been to late. Thank you for sharing.
 

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I understand the desire to have our dogs get together, play, and socialize. When I was around 18, 40 some years ago, my Alaskan Malamute attacked and killed my toy poodle. I was working on CD and CDX titles with them. My malamute attacked my poodle, broke her neck. They were both obedience trained, but the uncontrollable variable was jealousy over me. My mom had the malamute put to sleep immediately.

Each time I see a post of a dog park incident, I am afraid of read it. If your poodle, big or small gets attacked, they will get the shortend of the stick. No matter what you think, you are not going to be in a position to protect them and they are not bred or equipped to come out on top in a dog fight. Don't go to dog parks. Let's not have a real tradgedy this summer. PLEASE!

What a terrible tragedy! You are right about any poodle getting the short end of the stick. I would be terrified too. We started going to the dog park so my dog could really run around (17 weeks old) and burn off some energy. Being that I'm a responsible adult pet owner, and there are many idiots out there, I think it's best to prepare with any deterrent that will work, be it vinegar, pepper spray, a big stick, taser, or pellet gun. This sounds cruel to some but my dog being injured is even crueler.

My mom has had 2 dogs twice that had a serious fight that led to one rehomed. Mom almost lost her thumb and ended up in the hospital breaking up one fight. Yes jealousy. When I had 2 dogs, learning from seeing mom, if one got whacked they both got wacked. They were treated with a jealous dog fight in mind. It also helps to have 2 that are not too different in size. I'm in the puppy or under 30 pound area now. Later, I don't know with the big dog area. But I will be prepared.

I hope nothing like that ever happens again to you or anyone else. I know you've beat yourself up a lot about the occurance. It happens to the best owners of animals. I've had my share with different animals, and do beat myself up about it and need to be more rational about letting it go.
Go prepared-anywhere.
 

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I agree with others saying it's more about weighing risks vs rewards and knowing your dog and your area. Archie is a super social dog who lives in an apartment with no yard - he LOVES dog parks and he visits them regularly, pretty much daily. I wouldn't say they're absolutely necessary, but they definitely enrich his life and make him easier to live with. But I also know the regulars at our local parks and I don't have a problem leaving if I get a bad vibe from someone.

I think it helps to have a park close by so it's not a special trip, by the way - that way you don't feel bad about leaving. You run into more problems when you're doing the calculation of "this feels off, but it took us 45 minutes to get here and I'd hate to waste all that time for no reason..."

But yes, there are risks, and it's not something to walk into casually. I think there are some very good dogs and some very good owners who shouldn't go to the dog park, just because it's not an appropriate environment for them. They don't enjoy it, or they aren't good at managing different personalities and conflicts, or it's too high risk for whatever reason. It's just not everybody's thing. Not every dog is a dog park dog and not every owner is a dog park owner, either.
 

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As others have already said, it's risk vs. reward, and not all dog parks are the same.

When I go to fenced parks, before entering, I always check out how the dogs in the park are interacting. If there are any dogs I feel uncomfortable about, we don't go in. If it's busy, we don't go in. If there is a dog that is known for being snappy/aggressive/too rough, we don't go in.
I try to stay within 10 ft. of my dog/dogs, or closer if they are interacting/playing with unfamiliar dogs. When new unfamiliar dogs enter, we move to the opposite side of the park until we get a feel for them.

I'm not saying that being cautious is foolproof, but I've only ever had one close call, and that was as we were leaving.

If you don't have the luxury of a large backyard, I recommend off leash areas that are UNfenced. That keeps the unruly, untrained dogs and crappy owners away for the most part. I've never had an issue on off leash trails or beaches.
 

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Well the idea that a dog needs to run like a maniac to burn off energy is part of the problem IMO. My dogs get much more tired from working on obedience, rally and other interactive things we do with each other. I don't run anywhere if I don't have to. I have a bad knee, bad hip and bad back now too. Going for long walks to fatigue my dogs just isn't in the cards. They aren't missing the world for lack of a dog park to run like a fool in and they aren't getting in trouble either. But they are happy and well adjusted. I think being a responsible owner does entail knowing your dog and reading your own and other dogs well. Thinking that physical running is the only way to make a dog tired though means you are missing out on thinking and therefore tiring activities that bond your dog to you. I just got back from my obedience club. Javelin took the novice class and then had to remain relaxed in his crate while Lily took the open class and then did utility exercises as a routine. They are both out cold on the floor on either side of me. Good tired dogs who didn't run anywhere.
 

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If you don't have the luxury of a large backyard, I recommend off leash areas that are UNfenced. That keeps the unruly, untrained dogs and crappy owners away for the most part. I've never had an issue on off leash trails or beaches.
I totally agree. Both of the parks that I go to are unfenced, unofficial dog parks. Quite a bit of self-policing goes and the regulars are willing to tell newcomers that they need to pick up after their dog ("do you need a bag?"). They are also willing to tell people with aggressive dogs that they are not welcome -- I've seen this done quite forcefully on a couple of occasions. I actually think that responsible owners who are willing to speak out can do a better job of creating a nice park than all of the rules and regulations that come with an official dog park.

That's not to say that there won't be problems. A friend of mine ended up with a broken leg when a couple of labs went plowing into her at the wrong angle. But as others have said, it is all about weighing the risks.
 

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Chicago - A Wonderful Town

Our town locks the parks and dog owners get keycards after paying an annual fee and providing proof of registration and vaccination. I hope that ensures at least a minimal level of responsibility on the part of the dog owners at the park ...
I love that idea... a cardlock.

The only problem I would see as a paid up member is that if you arrived at the gate with your dog not knowing about our policy... I just know that I'd let you in. I can see it all now... ARRRRG! ;)

Other than that, I'm dogparked out for now. :sleep:

But loving the thread. :)
 
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