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To dog park or not to dog park

We could easily talk about why dog parks may seem like a good idea: a place to socialize our dogs, a space where our dogs can run for exercise, a meeting place for dog owners, but have we considered aspects of dog parks that may not be a good fit for our dogs?

To dog park or not to dog park

Many dogs are uncomfortable or apprehensive in this space because of other dogs that may be too rambunctious for them, paired with owners that don’t supervise their own pets, or they may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of dogs there. Or they’ll learn unwanted behaviors that triggers them, that then leads to triggering other dogs too. It’s a cycle that may not be observed or realized until there’s a fight or heightened anxiety among the dogs. Then it’s the dog owners who are now pointing fingers at each other without looking at how their own dog’s behavior and reactions led to why the situation escalated. And that’s just to name a few negatives of what your dog may experience at dog parks.

We’ve probably all been there before. We bring our dog to a dog park and people ask if you’re dog is friendly. Of course your dog is friendly but what will your dog encounter at the dog park? They are entering a space full of unknowns. Will other dogs trigger behaviors in your dog that are defensive or apprehensive or even aggressive? Often dog parents fail to realize that their dog’s behavior may trigger responses in other dogs. It’s a disservice to each other to ask if your dog is friendly. It’s the wrong question to ask. They should ask, “ how does or will my dog’s behavior impact your dog’s behavior?”

And added to behavioral topics, what about health concerns? Dogs may be exposed to other dogs who aren’t current in their vaccinations or may be feeling sick. Even sharing water bowls can lead to unintended illnesses.

This well-written article dives into all these questions in depth with key topics covered by Veterinarians, Dog Behaviorists and more. It’s well worth the read for every dog parent and foster parent.

This article may help us to understand how we are setting up our dogs for success or failure, to understand how our desire to provide for them in human terms may not be in their best interest in canine terms. To dog park or not to dog park may be an appropriate question to ask for your dog’s sake.

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