Why Going To The Dog Park Is Risky For You and Your Puppy Or Dog

Posted: June 19, 2014 in Dog Behavior, Dog Parks, Puppy Training
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dog park

 

 

 

I get emails every week from people who are trying to figure out how to raise their puppies and dogs to be good canine citizens, but are concerned with some particular behavior that is causing them problems.

I want to share with you one of these emails that I got from a lady who takes her 10 month old Belgian Malinois to the dog park on a regular basis.

The email reads like this:

“Hi,my name is Mary and I have a problem.” “I have this 10 month old Belgian Malinois and I take him to the dog park to play and socialize as often as I can, usually 4-5 times a week.” “Lately he has been showing a nasty bit of behavior towards other dogs at the park.” “He will put his head on them and push them down, if they lay down, he stands over them like a statue growling even louder.”

“I am worried that he is going to attack one of these dogs.” “I try to correct him but he pays no attention to me,..I am worried about him and I don’t want to do something that will scar him for life..please help.”

P.S. “I was wondering if going to a different park would help?”

This was my reply:

“Hi Mary thanks for the great questions.” “What I am about to tell you is straight up dead serious.”

“I don’t fool around when it comes to problems like yours.”

“I’m probably being politically incorrect, but I really don’t give a damn.” “Dog aggression is dangerous, serious, business, and I don’t take it lightly.”

“Neither should you.”

“People get bitten every day by their own dogs, because they tried to break  up a fight at the dog park.”

“I need you to listen to me when I tell you this.”

“You can NEVER take your Malinois to ANY dog park as long as he is showing aggression.” “To ignore this advice is dangerous not only to you and other people, but to any dog that is around your dog.”

You need to learn how drive plays a big part in your dog’s personality.

When an educated dog that is in control of his drive, they will not be aggressive.

I suggest you visit my website and read the article I wrote on how to establish leadership with your puppy.

Thanks for writing, I hope I have been of some help. I completely understand your frustration.

Aggressive and dominant dogs are a pain in the keester

All the best

Harley

This email got me thinking about dog parks so I decided to tell you why I think taking your puppy or dog to a dog park to run wild with 15 or so strange dogs off leash is a very risky idea.

Dog parks were born out of necessity. People who live in town and city apartments needed somewhere to take their dogs to exercise and play.

While the concept was no doubt conceived in good intention, all I see when I visit one of these parks is a lot of dogs off leash with no human leadership to speak of, and just about every one of them is out of control.

A high number of these dog owners don’t know about how powerful the instincts are in their family pet, and how these drives effect a dogs behavior.

When a dog is introduced into the dog park his drive and instinct is running on max power.

If you stand back and observe dogs interacting in the park you will see that the dogs are grouping together in packs. If there are more than 3 dogs in a group then this is a pack. Within that grouping the dogs will vie for rank, the dog with the best leadership skills will set the rules for play.

I see this play out often when the same dogs go to the same park all the time. They will see this area as their territory and if an outside dog comes into the park, he is not going to be welcomed like a long-lost buddy, and this is where the problems start.

The dogs who are familiar to the park will become territorial,dominant,and some will be fearful.All of these behaviors can result in aggression which can very quickly, in the blink of your eye quick, turn into a full on dog fight.

Where a lot of people make a mistake is by thinking that because those dogs are playing with other dogs they will play with yours.

This is dangerous thinking.

Those dogs who are playing have already established the pecking order, and the game is being played by their rules. If your dog has a different idea about how to play the game, he may well be attacked by the leader of that grouping of dogs, and the other dogs in that group might very well attack your dog as well.

Mixing puppies and adult dogs together in this kind of situation is just plain wrong. Some older dogs don’t really tolerate a puppy’s behavior and have no qualms about putting that puppy in his rank. When a older dog corrects a puppy for any certain behavior, the punishment can range from a tooth bump, which might draw a little blood and certainly make the puppy yelp, and run for the hills, to a full on aggressive attack that can result in sever injury to the pup or even death.

If your pup is approached by one of these dominant aggressive older dogs you have got to get your pup behind you and protect him at all cost. If you fail at this and your pup gets attacked you will most likely raise a dog aggressive dog.

And just because you got a Rottweiler or a German Shepard, that really don’t  make any difference, a puppy, regardless of breed, is not ready to defend it’s self against any dog that is not in his age group.

To let your puppy work things out for himself with an older dog is the same as putting your 7 year old pee-wee hockey player into a game with kids 10-13  years old, in most cases the 7 year old is not ready, physically,mentally or in any other way to play with those boys, and is at some point end up hurt.

I take my dogs and puppies to the dog park, but I stay outside the fence and work on having fun and keeping my dog focused on me, not the dogs or people in the park.

The only good thing about a dog park at least for me and my dogs and pups, is that it can serve as a great distraction learning environment, as long as I keep outside the fence.

Harley

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