Is Your Dog Safe At The Dogpark?

Many dogs have no desire to play with strange dogs, and this is perfectly normal dog behavior. You have to think whose wish is this, is it your dogs or yours? Many dogs are inappropriate for a dog park. One of the most described problems we hear is that irresponsible dog owners bring the wrong dogs to dog parks.


Aggressive dogs may prompt fights with people and dogs getting bitten. Overly offensive, overly assertive, overly unruly, obnoxious dogs, under socialized dogs and puppies do not belong in a dog park.

Some may have genetic deficits, social deficits and are unable to read another signals may likewise get into trouble. Puppy farm, pet chop, on line dogs may not have learned how to read dogs properly.

Dogs much like people may have bad communication skills; puppies and adolescent dogs especially can often be inexperienced communicators leading to mistaken interpretations.

Puppies and fearful dogs can also be dangerous, because they might fight or bite as a fear response. Besides, dogs that have a loving relationship with their owner would rather interact with them than run around with unknown dogs. Who told us that we needed to do this for our dog?

Why do people expect their pet to be social with other dogs? This isn’t how dogs have survived. Dogs are scavengers, they only gather at food sites to scavenge, they feed in streets, backyards, garbage dumps, and then they go on their merry way alone or perhaps with another dog. They don’t form packs as the old literature has led us to believe.

Much of what we have assumed about them is imitated from studies of other species. Do we study the Zebra to understand horses? Outdated assumptions about dogs have disallowed us to study the dog. What could be the best model to study dogs by? It’s the dog itself, but that’s for a different article.

Undeniably guilt plays a role here in having them so called playing with other dogs. Our lifestyles have become so much more complex, which means our pets mean far more to us. So, what better way to compensate them than allowing them the chance to frolic with their own kind and become one with their inner dog? This coming from the human’s perspective of course and not the dogs.

Why do people assume that all canines want to be with other canines? This is yet another human assumption. In realitycanines are scavengers and are normally more semi-solitary and much prefers the companionship of people to that of other canines. A scavenger doesn’t want or need other canines competing with him for limited resources.

The domestication of cannes has developed dogs to be man’s companion. Your dog should be focused on you, enjoying you, playing with you. You should to be the most valuable, interesting fun buddy he has rather than stranger dogs.

Humans have spent more than 10,000 years, 40,000 maybe even 90,000 years domesticating canines so they would prefer humans over canine companionship. Do we really want to encourage pets to play by canine rules rather than human rules while at the same time we demand more of them in their friendly interactions with us?

Many canines have little desire to interact with their own species. This doesn’t mean that these dogs are unfriendly toward other dogs; they’re just not interested. Regrettably, people falsely think that there is something “wrong” with these dogs and keep taking them to playgroups or other multi-dog activities in order to “fix” them. People who realize this as actually purely normal behaviour find these dogs make wonderful companions.

I love and enjoy the fact that my dogs would rather play with me than play with a strange canine. I have dogs to interact with them, to play with them, to share life with and to be my companions. I don’t want to be treated like just another canine. I want to be all I can for my dogs, and vice versa.

More importantly I want them to want to be with me because I’m a heck of a lot of fun, I can throw a mean Frisbee, I can play tug, I can open cans, opens doors, provide affection, provide structure, they know exactly what I expect from them through training, and they feel safe.

A large number of people take their pets to canine parks or doggy day care because their dogs have behavioral problems which they hope these activities will somehow magically remove.

Keep in mind if your canine doesn’t feel comfortable and feels he has to be defensive you are then placing your dog in that position. And every time your dog feels he needs to do something he is perfecting his tactic by repeatedly rehearsing the behavior. If he keeps rehearsing the behavior it will intensify and turn into aggressive behavior.

It’s up to you to not put him in a position of defense. Part of your job as a leader is to protect your dog. There is no need for your dog to learn how to greet other dogs politely, successfully, or at all. This is not what the dog wants.

And finally, don’t forget to ask why you think your dog needs this kind of activity. If your dog is well-behaved and healthy, chances are that he or she is perfectly content to spend time with you rather than other dogs. Is that not why we call them companion dogs, to be people companions rather than another dog’s companion.

As long as your dog can ignore other dogs, he does not need to be able to GO UP to another dog and meet another dog politely or in a playful manner in order to be a good canine citizen.

The best human dog relationships are created by experiencing positive interactions with you. Our canines have no reason to run up to canines. Sure, some timid ones do toughen up when thrown into a doggy environment in which they must learn to stick up for themselves if they don’t want the other dogs to bully them mercilessly.

However, a real risk exists that those bullies are there because of aggression problems now you have put your timid dog in a position of defense.

The more quarrelsome dogs will overpower and bully the more timid ones, the net result being that each dog’s problems will be reinforced rather than lessened by the experience. When we add these dogs to all those whose owners hunt for an enclosed doggy location because their dogs will not respond to their requests, does this sound like a place where a dog will learn good habits?

Does that mean that you can’t engage in doggy activities because you enjoy the companionship of other people who like canines, too? Not at all. However, just be sure to select those activities that will meet your canine’s needs and not just yours.

If canines of any age experience behavioral problems such as shyness, timidity, separation anxiety, or aggression, discuss these problems with someone knowledgeable about both animal behavior and the human-animal bond before involving that dog in any doggy group activities.

Not every dog can romp through a dog park. Dog parks do have their uses for some dogs, is it one that will fulfill your dog’s needs? Think carefully about this. My advice is the old saying “let the buyer beware”. That way dogs won’t be placed in activities and environments that make their problems worse rather than better.

Dianne is a Certified Animal Behavior Therapist as well as Master Trainers in her field. Specializing in evaluating and treating behavioral problems in domestic dogs. Dianne gives advice to dog owners on a daily basis and writes articles for the Ottawa Dog Blog and Animality Pet Magazine the Orleans Star as well as La Nouvelle. She has appeared numerous times on television providing advice to dog owners.

Dianne has been featured in several magazines with her dogs including Dog-Sport magazine and profiled for Progressive Choices – Ontario Women in business, being described as having a blend of talent, skill and passion. Dianne shares her life with her husband Richard and their three dogs and two parrots.


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