The dog park is a place for dogs to unleash their inner butterfly! Who doesn’t love the dog park? You get to hang out with fellow dog lovers, get some exercise in, and let your pooch have some playtime. However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Dog parks are no exception.

Frequent Visits to the Dog Park Can Teach Bad Lessons

Unfortunately, many people don’t monitor their dogs while they roam around the park. This often leads to rough housing, fighting, and other unwanted behavior.

While at the park, your dog will watch and absorb these bad behaviors. Though that same rough-housing may be ignored at a park, during daycare and boarding it is a serious problem.

When dogs learn that rough play is acceptable, they unintentionally bully other dogs who don’t want to be bothered. This is a perfect recipe for dog fights, something we want to avoid at all costs on the Ranch and elsewhere.

If you regularly take your dog to run off leash in a dog the park, the chances of them picking up one of these behaviors increases drastically. We recommend going to the park about once a week to avoid habitual exposure. All dogs vary a little, and some can handle visiting dog parks more often. But young dogs full of energy need other stimulus.

Watch Closely, And Get Your Dog Out Of Bad Situations

Dog parks are fun, but every owner needs to be attentive and careful.Paying attention to your dog’s surroundings is the best way to keep them from developing bad behaviors. If you see an unwanted behavior playing out, leash your dog and walk away. Watch for:

  • Wrestling
  • Biting
  • Chasing
  • Humping
  • Cornering

These activities are often frightening and uncomfortable for the dog being subjected to them. The aggressor dog may be having a great time, but it’s important to know that this is not mutually beneficial playtime. It’s bullying.

Remember to stay proactive, cautious, and engaged during the entire trip. You should be actively walking with your dog instead of:

  • Sitting down
  • Staying on your phone
  • Standing with other owners
  • Talking to friends

That way, when you spot unwanted behavior from any dog you can quickly get your dog out of harm’s way. This prevents your pup from learning about or becoming afraid of bad behavior.

There Are Alternatives For Dogs That Can’t Go To The Park

For some dogs, the dog park is just not a good option. They might be naturally shy, or have difficulty getting along with other dogs and owners. Luckily, there are other options available.

Parks should be a place for you and your dog to safely bond with one another.First, a PSA: if you have a small white dog, please don’t bring them to a dog park to play with big dogs. Some dogs have a prey drive that compels them to attack certain animals. Small white dogs, especially fluffy ones, look like rabbits to them.

This is a serious issue, and it’s not a matter of your dog being chased at the park. Prey-driven dogs don’t know any better and will try to hunt them. Please exercise extreme caution.

On the weekends at the Ranch, our private dog park is open to dogs that have been evaluated for good behavior. However, we still do not allow dogs under 20 pounds to participate for safety reasons.

At DogBoy’s, we rent out our park on weekdays and weeknights for just such dogs. If your dog has problems with others or is small, you can schedule a session for them to enjoy the benefits of a park with less danger.

Just like humans, dogs are social creatures. They benefit from hanging out with each other! But it is important to know how much time is too much time and when to head home.

If you have any questions about how to have a safe dog park experience or how to schedule a session for your dog, contact us today!

Image Permissions

Hyde Park by Hernan Pinera

Butterfly Dog by BigOakFlickr 

Dog Park by BigOakFlickr