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I agree that there are lots of different ways to keep dogs happy and fulfilled. Training is hugely important for mental wellness, and we used to take Maddy to doggie daycare a lot, too. It was AWESOME for a super-energetic, curious young dog like her. And not to say off-leash tramping around in the forest is without risks either; we see a lot of wildlife and there are traplines around here. It's just an alternative that works best for us right now.
 

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minipoo I think I would worry about giardiasis with puppies, but not for an adult. Dog flu is another story though.
 
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I agree with unstructured time being very important for health and wellbeing of kids and dogs. However many kids have appropriate amount, but are on the internet or xbox when they really need to be running around outside.

Maybe most of the time dogs benefit from germy areas because it exercises their immune system. Not a bad thing. But like Minipoo said , beware of dog flu. And worms too.

With Giardia and Cocci, I know that cocci is something that dogs develop immunity with age. Possibly the same with Giardia.
 

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I don't believe that anybody that I know here would tell me that this does not greatly enhance Timi's life?
Nope I don't think anybody would tell you that, but you know her and you are good at reading the other dogs and you share with me a New Yorker's ability to call a spade a spade when needed. For myself though I have other social outlets and more a#@es at my dog park than people like you. We will continue to rely on our back yard dog park, but am happy that those who use them well have them as a resource.

Back before we had Lily and Peeves we took a road trip to Nebraska for BF to do 1/5th scale RC national championship racing. Across the road from the race track was a 20 acre dog park that we were told was Lincoln's smaller dog park. If I had a place like that to go...a different story.
 

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Nope I don't think anybody would tell you that, but you know her and you are good at reading the other dog's and you share with me a New Yorker's ability to call a spade a spade when needed. For myself though I have other social outlets and more a#@es at my dog park than people like you. We will continue to rely on our back yard dog park, but am happy that those who use them well have them as a resource.

Back before we had Lily and Peeves we took a road trip to Nebraska for BF to do 1/5th scale RC national championship racing. Across the road from the race track was a 20 acre dog park that we were told was Lincoln's smaller dog park. If I had a place like that to go...a different story.

Ahh, part of me dreams of having one of those huge sprawling parks to take Timi to, yet I think that those types are rarely size separated, and that is not a risk that I would be willing to take.
There is a benefit to small urban parks where I can quickly size up every dog that is in there and keep my eye on the entrance for new comers, call Timi to me, and see what the newbie does with other dogs before I set her loose again.
Of course we would much rather have a yard like you do, but I think that Timi still deserves some fun despite our lack of personal space...
 

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I think Bob and Sam are professional lobbyists. I have a bit of a cold and was thinking that I should stay home rather than go to the dog park. Hmmm. Someone else did not buy that, not not at all.

At around 4:45 (we usually leave between 5 and 5:30), Sam started coming over to me and staring intently at me. Then he brought his ball to me and dropped it in my lap. Bob had the same idea, but he is not as mobile, so he just started barking. Barking, barking, barking. Of course I knew what they both wanted. And the moment I stood up, all 3 dogs rushed to the front door. Ready to go.

I cannot possibly describe how much all 4 of us love this regular outing to the dog park. We've started going to the smaller park that is only a block from my house. The same people and dogs are always there between about 5:15 and 6:30 or 7 and it is just a handful of dogs.

Bob and Cammie and Sam all enjoy the time in different ways. Sam has all sorts of games he plays with his ball. He wants me to throw it, then he doesn't, then he does, then he takes it to someone else to throw it, then back to me. Funny boy. Cammie is the meeter and greeter. She is SO cute. When one of her friends arrives, she goes flying over the them, gets into totally submissive posture, wags her tail furiously and then comes flying back to me. She loves seeing the same dogs/people every day and has such a huge smile on her face. She also loves sniffing around and making sure all the squirrels stay in their trees. My old man Bob loves going to the park too. He just sits in the grass and takes whatever affection or treats are being handed out. Two of the regulars really like him a lot and they will often next to him on the grass and pet him, or just sit next to him and let him lean against them.
 

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Peppersb, you really made that sound like such a great daily outing for everyone, I envy that. We took Abbey to our only dog park a handful of times, our experiences were mixed, everything from a great time to close calls with aggressive dogs and their neglectful owners. We made the decision the risks out weighed the benefits at our particular park. We have a large fenced yard for playing, and now Abbey has a sister to play with, but it would be nice to have a safe and beautiful park to go to sometimes. We seem to have an over abundance of well meaning people adopting all kinds of bully breeds, and they are often first time dog owners to boot.
 

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Since I can never take Coal to a dog park this won't be an issue for us BUT I have to say that I find more often than not the dog park is not a safe place for dogs. I think its even less safe for well behaved dogs as they are more often than not the victim. I try to find place that the pups can run where there are no other dogs such as the school yards during the summer when they are empty or tennis courts in the winter.
 

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I think the long and short of dog parks is they definitely can be a good thing if your dog likes it and you find a good bunch of dogs/owners that come when you take your dog there. For people with dogs in an apartment or house without a fenced yard, dog parks can be a very very good thing.

For people who have fenced back yards, multiple dogs who can play with each other, and dog activities like obedience and agility, dog parks are just not needed so much as an outlet for their dogs. In that case, why take the risks of possible aggressive dogs and diseases like dog flu?

So dog parks can be good and they can be bad. It just depends on your circumstances.
 

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Peppersb, you really made that sound like such a great daily outing for everyone, I envy that. We took Abbey to our only dog park a handful of times, our experiences were mixed, everything from a great time to close calls with aggressive dogs and their neglectful owners. We made the decision the risks out weighed the benefits at our particular park. We have a large fenced yard for playing, and now Abbey has a sister to play with, but it would be nice to have a safe and beautiful park to go to sometimes. We seem to have an over abundance of well meaning people adopting all kinds of bully breeds, and they are often first time dog owners to boot.
We have well-meaning people around here who adopt pit bulls too. What a bad idea. A month or two ago, a neighbor arrived at our nice little park with a huge pit bull. The pit bull actually lunged at Sam. Fortunately the owner had her dog under control in a matter of seconds, but it was still pretty scary. She (the owner) kept telling us that her dog was "really very friendly." I think she really wanted to be part of our little group. Fortunately one of the park regulars (bless her heart) took up the challenge and explained very firmly to the owner that her dog was a pit bull, that pit bulls have been bred for fighting, that her dog had just exhibited some very unfriendly behavior and really should not be allowed around other dogs. So dog and person left and have not come back. I have seen the dog being walked in the neighborhood. So sad. I wish they had gotten a different breed.

I really am very fortunate. While there are always risks anywhere and everywhere, I do think that the risks we face are pretty minimal. And the rewards are tremendous.
 

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Peppersb,

This is a very nice story. :) It is as if the place is personalized. You are lucky indeed. :)
Thanks, Myleen. I do feel very lucky. It is just a neighborhood park, not fenced. I think that is one of the things that makes it so nice. Almost everyone who comes lives within a few blocks.
 

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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 happened 40 years ago to you must have been terrible to experience and you have my deep sympathy. What I don't fully understand though is why you connect it to dog parks, when the tragedy occurred between your own two dogs. It could have happened in your own backyard, inside your home even. It seems like more of a training related issue than a dog park issue. I understand that poodles won't come out on top all that often in a fight but if one follows your logic, only dog breeds which come out on top should visit dog parks and heaven help us all then.

Like you, my distressing personal experience when I was a young teenager has played a large role in how I see this. Back then I researched every dog breed under the sun before deciding on a Labrador Retriever. I poured my heart and soul into him but the one thing I didn't do, through sheer ignorance, was socialise him, either with other people or dogs. He had a slightly anxious temperament as a young pup and developed a very scary form of fear aggression. At the time I just thought he was a psycho dog (a sweetheart to us, terrible to others) but it was only many years later that I realised with deep remorse that we'd created the monster. The poor dog must have been so anxious! Eventually he went to a farm and was reportedly much happier there, no doubt with people who had more of a clue than me and my family. I was both heartbroken and relieved. Anyway, the point of this story is that it took me many years to get another dog. This time I researched madly again and settled on a poodle (what a wonderful choice! :)). I was determined that this time my dog would be extremely well socialised with dogs and people of all sorts.

We go daily to dog parks. Like others have said, I always keep an eye on him and the other dogs around him and I check the group out before we go over to them. I'm not sure what it's like in the US but here in Australia in the outer suburbs there are quite a few very large parks with grassland, lakes etc where the whole area is off leash and almost all of the owners are responsible and/or you can find times of the day which are good. Ragamuffin is very used to meeting dogs of all shapes and sizes and adjusts his behaviour accordingly. He's pretty respectful but confident. Since we've been visiting off leash areas since he was a young pup, he is now also accustomed to not going near a group of dogs if I quietly warn him off. He also scoots over to me as soon as I call him (my husband and I developed a game specifically for these off leash areas where we stand 100m apart and make it a game for him to go back and forth between us - very useful!). In the mornings I walk him on a lead and in the evenings he goes to one of several off leash dog areas and he absolutely loves it. He races over to his mates, springing as he goes. He has lots of regular friends and it's such a big part of his life that I can't see myself stopping it. I'm not saying that something won't happen ever but I am careful and if a dog looks a little intense, we move on. Obviously it's a personal choice and I'm not advocating it to people who aren't interested but for us off leash play is a daily part of our lives. One thing I would suggest is to favour the gentler playmates as regulars and avoid those who might lead to overly aggressive play.
 

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MiniPoo you are right the answer about dog parks really is different for different people.

Caddy and peppersb it is too bad that so many naive owners end up buying/adopting dogs that are unsuitable for their level of experience or their living arrangements. That doesn't just mean people who adopt bully breeds, but people who get tiny toy dogs for a home full of little kids, people who get spoos or salukis and the like that need room to run but who live in tiny apartments or people with border collies that don't have the time to satisfy their need to have jobs. This is how so many dogs end up in shelters and breed rescues.

This discussion has been so nice with diverse opinions being offered and countered with reason and clear heads. Given that it could be a very "hot" topic I have really enjoyed seeing everybody's thinking. I wish everybody well with their choices.
 

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Since I can never take Coal to a dog park this won't be an issue for us BUT I have to say that I find more often than not the dog park is not a safe place for dogs. I think its even less safe for well behaved dogs as they are more often than not the victim. I try to find place that the pups can run where there are no other dogs such as the school yards during the summer when they are empty or tennis courts in the winter.

Actually I am going to disagree with you about the good dogs usually being the victims - knock wood, Timi never has been. At worst she might insight a little prey drive where someone nips at her heals, one time one actually caught her tail. But she really is a dog who stays far away from trouble - even if every other dog there get riled up over something and runs to a fence making a ruckus, Timi just stays where she is and waits until they are done and ready to play again. She doesn't have any interest in trouble, and trouble has no interest in her.
 

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This thread is a great communication with different opinions expressed. So true we should not live in a shell of fear for ourselves, kids, and family pets. I remember growing up in Wisconsin, we all played in our unfensed yards with our dogs hanging around panting with their tongues hanging out in exhaustion from everyone running around. Things are just different now, just like letting your kids run around in the neighborhood untethered from noon 6 pm, you just don't see it often. I hope to see dog parks evolve in safer venues. How did this all happen, does any body remember a dog park in the 1970's or 1980's?
 

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Since I can never take Coal to a dog park this won't be an issue for us BUT I have to say that I find more often than not the dog park is not a safe place for dogs. I think its even less safe for well behaved dogs as they are more often than not the victim. I try to find place that the pups can run where there are no other dogs such as the school yards during the summer when they are empty or tennis courts in the winter.
That's exactly where we would take the dogs to also. There was a school yard that was only blocks from our house, so we would walk the dogs on leash, and then let them romp and play. It worked for us. We would also drive to Linn-Benton Community College most Sundays, and play hike and seek throughout the corridors with the dogs. That was so much fun. We would sometime meet up with our friends there too, who had dogs, and the dogs would all enjoy romping and playing. Now, to me, that is so much better than a dog park. More fun, and it's with people and dogs that you already know.
 

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Some months later I'm still taking Ragamuffin daily to dog parks. He has a play if it's all friendly, if not, we move on and he's quick to come with me.

I wanted to share this pic (Raggy has since been clipped and is now looking very sleek) - each weekend he has a lovely romp with a whole bunch of dogs he knows (they are always so happy to see each other), including this young dalmation from a week ago.

Raggy loves holding on to his lead and flying all over the park with him. The owner is fine with it as he doesn't seem to damage the lead that much (it's an old lead, makes her feel like she has more control) and the dalmation likes him. She also thinks that Raggy keeps her dog from running away too far. Not sure about that theory but they have a great time.
 

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Some months later I'm still taking Ragamuffin daily to dog parks. He has a play if it's all friendly, if not, we move on and he's quick to come with me.



I wanted to share this pic (Raggy has since been clipped and is now looking very sleek) - each weekend he has a lovely romp with a whole bunch of dogs he knows (they are always so happy to see each other), including this young dalmation from a week ago.



Raggy loves holding on to his lead and flying all over the park with him. The owner is fine with it as he doesn't seem to damage the lead that much (it's an old lead, makes her feel like she has more control) and the dalmation likes him. She also thinks that Raggy keeps her dog from running away too far. Not sure about that theory but they have a great time.

That is so cute! Glad he continues to enjoy the dog park!
 
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