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Discussion Starter #1
Just finished puppy kindergarten and wanted to share what the trainer said. She is dead set against dog parks, stating that at least once a week a dog that has been injured or attacked at one is at the training facility or being boarded. She said she is even thinking of doing a lecture series on the dangers of dog parks.
Now, where I live there a several off leash dog parks that I could easily go to but I haven't for several reason, he's still a little guy (5 mos.) and because I live where there are corn fields blocks from the house most people own labs or other large dogs.
Is there great value in going to a dog park? IF I did go, should my pup be reliably trained to come because there are no fences?
Love to hear everyone's thoughts and experiences.
 

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I do not do dog parks, I like my space and I like for my dog to have his. I don't like other dogs getting in his face or mine. The dog parks here are fenced but if they weren't I wouldn't let mine off leash unless he was reliable on recall.
 

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Thank you Mufar42! It's also my puppy's size. He's a 5 mos. old mini poo that could be overwhelmed by the labs etc.
I also thought about his "style" of play at this point. Although he is socialized and loved playing with the other puppies at training, they all played the same way. When he has tried playing with my daughter's 7 year old wiener dog he doesn't get the same reception lol. I want him to learn boundaries for nipping in play but at the same time not be traumatized by it.
 

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I agree with your puppy class instructor many times over. We do not go to dog parks. For one thing the only dog who could go is Lily as intact adult males are not allowed. But aside from that there are always balls laying around and Lily is very ball crazy. Once she finds a ball she just obsesses over it and will bring it to anybody who will throw it for her until they get tired of her and then she goes and finds someone else. I have seen some pretty nasty fights the few times we went when Lily and Peeves were puppies. Once Peeves was repeatedly harassed by a noxious dog and the dog's owner did nothing to stop it, but just about came to blows with BF when he had kicked the dog to get him off poor little baby (4 months old) Peeves. The other reason I don't like dog parks is that I don't find it at all useful to have my dogs running around like crazy disconnected to me. It is not an activity that builds the bond I have with them, but rather could deeply injure that bond if something happened to one of them that I wasn't able to protect them from.


If I could rent a space with a small group of friends whose dogs I knew well and trusted for a play date that would be a different story.
 
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I have two good dog parks near me. They are fully fenced, and have a large dog, and small dog area. Each area is sufficiently spacious. That way, the owners of small breeds can have their dogs play with other small dogs, without being worried about their 10 lb baby getting tangled up with a 100 lb dog.

I tend to go to the dog park on and off. Once I get a puppy, and it is fully vaccinated, I like to give it the opportunity to learn how to interact with all sorts of different dogs, with their own unique personalities and energy levels. Since we don't do dog sports, or group training classes, my dogs would not otherwise get socialization opportunities too frequently.

That said, at the dog park, my dogs usually stick fairly close to me, and don't usually do much in the way of "playing" with other dogs. There are occasional moments, but mostly, they just stiff, and carry on.

So, I'm not sure there is a ton of value in it for the dogs, but I have not had negative experiences either. It does provide a little exercise and stimulation, which beats hanging around home. It's good for us all to get out in the fresh air. I find it relaxing for myself. I like to have my dogs off leash, without having to worry about them taking off. I like to meet all the different dogs. I also sometimes enjoy interacting with the other dog owners.

Once my first dog was about 10 months old, we did not frequent the dog park much at all after that. We did not start going much again until we got our second puppy. Once he is about 10 months, and winter comes, we will likely stop going as much again. In any case, it's rare for us to go more than once a week.

I am aware that there is a risk of dog fights resulting in injuries, but in my experience, dog owners have been responsible, watching their dogs sufficiently closely, and intervening if their dog is involved in an interaction that is too aggressive.
 

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I don't do dog parks either. My trainers also have said to stay away.

However my daughter when visiting encouraged me to take my 1 yo minipoo dog along with her rough collie to a popular local dog park. My dog was chased "as prey", not as a fun game of chase by a Rottweiler who was there not with it's owner who might have been able to call it off my dog, but by the owner's mother. She did nothing, in fact she didn't even say she was sorry. I was very lucky that all the other dog owners rallied around to help me capture my dog - the Rottweiler body slammed me to try to get to my dog in my arms as I scooped her up. One of the women there was very knowledgeable about dogs (her husband is the head vet at the animal specialty hospital) and she had several friendly dogs play with my dog afterwards to help settle her down and re-socialize her so she didn't leave the park traumatized. I'm grateful because my dog wasn't scarred physically or mentally from the experience. She still wants to play with any friendly dog no matter what it's size.

We do not do dog parks.

I do take my dog weekly to a small dog social held by the local human society. Dogs have to be vaccinated (records kept) and well behaved and under 35 pounds. She loves to go and has several good friends she loves to run with. What makes this better than the dog park is there are several volunteers - 4-5 woman who are there without their dogs to supervise - and they do, they keep an eye on all the activity and are ready to step in if there are any problems. In the two years I've been going I've never seen any fights or dangerous situations. All owners stay with their dogs in the room.

I've also noticed very different kinds of dog play - my dog loves to run and chase - and she hangs with what I jokingly refer to as the rowdy gang - the dogs that love to chase a toy and run. My neighbor had beagle puppies - they like to bat in the face when wrestling - not my dog's style of play even though they are approximately the same size.

She loves my daughter's rough collie and they try to play, but the size difference comes into play. They can run in the pasture, but the collie doesn't have the same energy and zest for running as my dog - so she runs circles around the collie as the collie lays down. When they wrestle, my dog gets up on the couch and the collie stays on the floor - so they do work out a system.
 
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Maybe I should speak to the local pet store and see if they could set up puppy play times by size! I'm doing Recallers right now while I wait for their fall training schedule to come out. The training place I went to for puppy kindergarten had puppy play times but they were 6pm to 7pm and a drive away for me in the dark of a Minnesota winter that is coming. So were the next beginning obedience classes. Wasn't fair to ask my pup to upset his schedule that matches my early to bed and early to rise and show up to classes in the evening not hungry and very tired. Anyway, very interesting to hear about the play styles. He is a mini poo and loves to run. At free play he ran around to everyone!
 

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With our girls, dog parks never really crossed our radar. They were more people dogs and had each other and a fenced back yard.

Then we lost Noel and I was searching for things to do for and with Holly to keep her occupied and at least have the option of being around "her people".

There was a small dog/large dog park very nearby, so we went. This park is a dedicated section of a larger city park. I think she appreciated the park, and the company, even if she wasn't a romper.

We took the boys as soon as they were street legal and try to go once a month or so, so they can mingle and play with others.

Small dog parks were a godsend on our recent trip to North Carolina, so our active boys could get their play and zoomies on. There was a cute little park in Hendersonville, and a very nice facility in Paducah.

I wouldn't likely take the boys to a park where they'd be outsized, but I'm very comfortable with them in the small dog environment.

As you can see by the photos, the owners are as much a part of the pack.
 

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Skylar it is wonderful that there were people who knew enough to help jolly up and relax your girl before you left. Rotties have been a problematic breed for Lily too and I have done a lot of counter conditioning around them to help her be comfortable enough to work when they are present. Anyone who has a Rottie, GSD or other breed that needs a firm hand should never leave it to a novice to handle it, especially not in that kind of situation.
 
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Nope,no use for dog parks for me! Ours has small/large areas,and i helped support building it,but I do not trust other dogs/their owners enough to use it. Plus there have been reports of poisoned meat or laced with tacks in dog parks,so i prefer to take no chances. And ,if the "no intact males" holds true here,we would not be eligible anyway!

Playdates with friends would be another matter!

Martha et al
 

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Dog parks are not for us, but I have seen some gorgeous park pictures posted by PF members and happy experiences reported. My son’s late FIL, Peter, had just retired and got his very first dog, a sweet Boxer mix, named Sam. Their yard isn’t fenced and so off to the dog park they went twice a day. He made a whole new circle of friends and I can’t thank those people enough. They really stepped up when he was too sick to take Sam to the park or for a walk. It changed the way, I think about dog parks. Sometimes, it’s about community.
 

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Dog parks are not for us, but I have seen some gorgeous park pictures posted by PF members and happy experiences reported. My son’s late FIL, Peter, had just retired and got his very first dog, a sweet Boxer mix, named Sam. Their yard isn’t fenced and so off to the dog park they went twice a day. He made a whole new circle of friends and I can’t thank those people enough. They really stepped up when he was too sick to take Sam to the park or for a walk. It changed the way, I think about dog parks. Sometimes, it’s about community.
Mfmst, that was a very touching post.

We have a community in our local park. All dogs are on leash and people walk their dogs regularly so you get to know everyone and their dogs. We share pet resources in the community and information. I think it's similar to going to a dog park.
 
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When it creates a great supportive community whether an off leash dog park or a park where people walk on leash (like where I posted pics of earlier in the week) it is awesome. When Vita posted her poll about choosing the internet vs. a poodle I have to say I thought it was a rather odd question because I would never choose the internet over any real world aspect of life.


For me my dog community is the obedience and other performance sports world.
 
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I have two "unofficial" dog parks near me. They are unfenced public parks where people bring their dogs and let them run. They are the happiest places on earth. Neighbors chat while their dogs play with each other and/or chase balls. We go to the smaller of the two parks every afternoon and it is always the same people and dogs. Sam loves to chase his ball and he likes to choose who is going to throw the ball for him. He especially likes to have children throw for him. So he rushes up to them, drops the ball in front of them, and stares. So funny. Cammie is the meeter and greeter. When she sees a friend coming, she goes flying up to them and then flying back to me with a big smile on her face. But if a stranger (human or canine) comes up to our group at the park, she sounds the alarm and I have to tell her that they are also a friend. She's like a high school cheerleader -- very aware of who is part of the in crowd and who is not! Funny girl.

We have had very very few problems. Of course there are risks. A friend broke her leg at the bigger park when some exuberant dogs ran into her. I leave quickly if I see a dog that looks like trouble -- but that happens very rarely. For me, the rewards are great and the risks are small.

Our trips to the park are the highlight of Sam's day. And Cammie and I like them too.
 

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"It does provide a little exercise and stimulation, which beats hanging around home. It's good for us all to get out in the fresh air. I find it relaxing for myself. I like to have my dogs off leash, without having to worry about them taking off. I like to meet all the different dogs. I also sometimes enjoy interacting with the other dog owners."

"My son’s late FIL, Peter, had just retired and got his very first dog, a sweet Boxer mix, named Sam. Their yard isn’t fenced and so off to the dog park they went twice a day. He made a whole new circle of friends and I can’t thank those people enough. They really stepped up when he was too sick to take Sam to the park or for a walk. It changed the way, I think about dog parks. Sometimes, it’s about community."

"We have a community in our local park. All dogs are on leash and people walk their dogs regularly so you get to know everyone and their dogs. We share pet resources in the community and information. I think it's similar to going to a dog park. "

"Neighbors chat while their dogs play with each other and/or chase balls. We go to the smaller of the two parks every afternoon and it is always the same people and dogs."

"When it creates a great supportive community whether an off leash dog park or a park where people walk on leash (like where I posted pics of earlier in the week) it is awesome."

The nearly old-fashioned sense of community is definitely one I see in our local small dog park. We saw it in Hendersonville also, the same folks were there daily, and it was clear that some of the park goers in Paducah knew each other thru their dogs too. I think as a bonus, for some folks who find themselves on their own, it gives them a (hopefully) safe place to be, to get outside, and a reason to be somewhere where they can connect with other people with a mutual interest.

I suddenly have the urge to find a bandstand and an ice cream social :)
 
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