"Dog park People"

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Adjecyca1, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Adjecyca1

    Adjecyca1 New Member

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  2. RBark

    RBark Got Floof?

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    My issue with things like this, is that it is a loaded statement without correlating documentation of risk.

    Dogs are always put in danger. If your dog is never in some danger, you probably aren't doing anything with the dog. I am not saying you shouldn't manage risks and minimize them. But taking dogs for walks might cause attacks by loose aggressive dogs, slipped leads to car accidents, and so on.

    And there's dog sports with it's risk of injury. Are the odds of injury higher or equal relative to those things? I doubt anyone can say anything that is not anecdotal. I have been going to a dog park for a long time, and Kobe has been on a receiving end of a rather vicious attack.

    But I have had more close calls while taking him to Petco than I ever had at a dog park, and I only take him to Petco once every couple months.

    So yeah, sure, there's a risk of injury at a dog park. I have yet to see anything indicating it's a higher risk than anything else.
     
  3. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    Exactly.
    Nobody is saying that dog parks aren't risky... but taking your dog OUTSIDE is risky
    taking your dog off leash is risky
    dog sports are risky
    herding is risky
    swimming is risky

    It's about cost vs reward. I consider the fun Merlin has at the park WORTH the risk of him getting hurt.
    And we go about 3-4 times a week and have YET to have an issue in a year and a half.

    Some dogs are good dog park candidates, some aren't. Fights happen... but to say that the MAJORITY of dogs that attend are stressed or attacked or whatever is ridiculous. Lots of dogs REALLY enjoy them and lots of owners are responsible.

    People who don't go to dog parks also seem to have the odd idea that dog parks are ALWAYS FULL and ALWAYS FULL OF STRANGE NEW DOGS. Wrong. ever wonder what all those people are doing huddled together? Chances are, they know eachother and their dogs know eachother.
     
  4. GingerKid

    GingerKid New Member

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    I just find the whole "essay" biased. Like, yes, of course there are reports of "lots" of bad things happening at dog parks... because comments about "normal" (i.e. responsible or proper) behavior are almost never made in general. You wouldn't applaud someone for putting their own trash in the bin, but you (generally) very well might say something to them if they toss it on the ground instead.
     
  5. krissy

    krissy New Member

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    I found the bit a out avoidance interesting. I suppose I am supposed to be extremely vocal about a Doug's poor behaviour. But in my experience that doesn't actually result in the owner bringing the dog less, just makes them hostile. So yes, I use avoidance. I know what dogs (or owners) are a problem and if I see them I immediately leash my dogs and leave.

    All of the attacks that have happened on my dogs have happened at work at the teeth of my boss' dogs (Summit was attacked by one that has since passed, Kili was attacked by the other one as a pup, and then just the other day their two "new" dogs went after her and I had to use the voice of God on them to make them back off).

    It is prudent to use caution at the dog park. But it's worked out pretty well for us. It's honestly more relaxing for me to go for a hike with my dogs though. Policing at the dog park is exhausting.
     
  6. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    It's honestly about how I feel, with my experiences with our local dog parks. I am well aware that parks vary a LOT. I've seen everything from the "just let the dogs work it out!" attitude, to people trying to correct dogs they don't own for behavior that they consider an issue.

    The people tend to form horrid cliques (no, I don't miss junior high, thanks) and some are flat out mean to new people.

    Thank heavens I live here, where I have about a dozen other very easy options for exercising my dogs. I understand the need for people in more urban areas to find some way to let their dogs off leash.

    I made Meg go to the dog park a fair amount when she was younger (which blows my mind now). Gusto has never been, and probably never will, despite his stellar dog skills. It's just as easy to hook up with friends for hiking or to let the dogs play in an open field.
     
  7. Airn

    Airn New Member

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    I think the blog is a bit ridiculous, to be honest. As others have said, anywhere can be dangerous.

    There are playgrounds for children. Do you avoid a playground because your child got a scraped knee?

    I've been to dog parks where there were some ignorant people. They either didn't know proper dog (park) etiquette or could care less. I think if you just pay attention to your dog(s) and the dogs around you, you shouldn't have many issues. The people are usually more of a problem. The dog park I went to was fairly cliquish but I liked it. People informed newcomers about the rules and the regulars. They weren't rude about it, but if a dog was getting out of hand, they would offer help.

    Dog parks are the ONLY socialization some dogs will ever receive. No, dog parks are not the best place ever or 100% safe but I don't feel like the alternative is something that should be promoted.

    Plus I'm lazy. Having a dog does not make me an athlete. I don't want to hike 5 miles so I can wear Gwen out. I don't like the outdoors. Walking is not enjoyable for me. And I'm not setting up play dates with dogs so she can be social.

    A dog park helps me out a lot. I understand they're not for everyone but I think it's pretty crappy as a trainer to tell clients dog parks are off-limits.
     
  8. Slick

    Slick Kristina

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    I agree with a lot that has already been posted.

    I also think that the number of "fights" is way higher than the fights where a dog is actually hurt.

    Leo has been in three small scuffles. Each time it was with a pitbull, and always taking the same scenario: pitbull body checks and plays too rough for Leo, Leo snarks because he doesn't like it (showing teeth, not making contact), pitbull takes offense at being snarked at, and happily starts something in a "I am not going to start it but I am going to end it!" kind of way
    Does it make me more hesitant when a pitbull shows up at the dog park? Sure. But the thing is, all three times it has been slobber and a lot of noise, and nothing else. Leo has always shaken it off and been happy to sniff the same dog once the situation resolved. So I am not going to stop taking my dog to the dog park just because of that. Do I tend to be more cautious of certain dogs and call Leo to me pre-emptively? Absolutely.
     
  9. Torch

    Torch New Member

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    I don't have a dog park dog and probably never will. I simply do not think it's a good idea to bring a bull breed to a dog park, for example. Never trust a bulldog not to fight. Not saying they start everything, but they most likely will finish it.

    My other dog is a great candidate for dog parks, but he dislikes them. In my experience they've been free for alls.
     
  10. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I don't know, I used to work for a trainer who used the "punctures are like scraped knees" argument for letting dogs work things out between themselves. I believed it and preached it for years.

    But the way I see it now, a puncture is like scraped knee - that my kid got because some other kid pushed him down. Not that he got because he was running and tripped.

    I don't consider it good socialization for my dogs to have to deal with pushy dogs by defending their own space. Or to have to be on the defense because there are strange dogs about. Meg's dog reactivity has dropped immensely since I stopped expecting her to deal with such things, and Gusto, who has never in his life been put in a position where he had to be defensive, has some of the best dog skills I've ever seen in a dog. He will play with anyone, and is an expert at eliciting play from dogs who are nervous, but he never, ever runs up to a dog and pushes into their space.

    It is easy for me to text a friend and say "hey, my dogs need to burn off some steam, want to meet at the fairgrounds/school?" and let them play with a couple of dogs I know very well, and whose owner has similar expectations for her dogs' behavior. Or to go for a 20 minute off leash hike in a field. I'm also happy to go for a 2 or 3 hour off leash hike in the woods a couple of times a week, which I realize isn't for everyone.

    I know dog parks work great for some people, but I'd never recommend them. I don't blame trainers for saying the same thing. Most people don't have the skills to read dogs and know when they need to get their dog out of there, so they learn by trial and error.

    Like I said, I get that they work for some people and their dogs. And I also understand (and am jealous) that dog parks mean different things for different people. Here, it's the acre or two of fenced in open space. I've seen pictures of "dog parks" on this board that are huge hiking areas.
     
  11. Saintgirl

    Saintgirl New Member

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    Couldn't agree more with Boston Banker!!! I am not a fan of dog parks. I used to avoid them at all costs but I do have a beagle that LOVES a good game of chase at the park. He loves it so much that every once in a blue moon I take him there. Simply put, 15-20 people who love their dogs dearly but have very little understanding of canine body language and communication always seem to be standing in a circle not watching their dogs anyway. The let them work it out attitude is NOT happening with my dogs. If I see a dog acting inappropriate with my dog we move away. I don't need my dogs to be able to work out little scuffles, I need them to look to me for guidance. The whole work it out attitude is irresponsible IMO, the first couple of times it is alot of noise and gnashing of teeth, but as time goes on the 'little scuffles' can and do escalate. The difference with chazzers and other dog savvy people is that we can see the behavior changing and becoming more serious. We remove our dogs from the situation. End of story. But in my experience too many uneducated owners and dogs go to these parks. I have seen nasty fights and I have heard of much worse. So for that reason, I don't recommend dog parks to clients who are beginner dog owners. They certainly have their place but people do need to be aware of the risks.
     
  12. RBark

    RBark Got Floof?

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    I am not sure what the correlation is between dog parks and "letting them work it out".

    It's true that sometimes I let dogs work it out, but not to the extent that there may be puncture wounds. I have always preached that one of the best ways to make a dog park a good experience is a really solid recall.

    Anytime I see a situation getting tense, I call Kobe to me and move to another area of the dog park. Or I leave altogether.

    I am a huge supporter of dog parks. At the same time, I am a huge supporter of people being responsible for their dog's safety while there. You can't save everyone's dog. But you can watch your own.

    Going to dog parks doesn't mean it's the park's responsibility to socialize your dog and ensure he has a positive experience. It's still yours.

    I mean that analogy about a kid getting pushed down. Does that mean you should never let your dog interact with other kids, ever? No, it just means you need to be smart about making sure that sort of thing doesn't happen. Teaching your kid what to do in that situation is one big way of going about it. There will always be someone willing to push someone down, even as adults. In the same vein, I trained my dog to come to me and avoid such situations.

    Sometimes that is not enough, and I have the scar on my hand to prove that from a Mastiff attack that ended with the Mastiff getting PTS and me getting rabies shots. But that was an extraordinarily rare situation, in the 8 years the dog park had been there, no one had seen something that bad happen (nor I.) It'd be like avoiding going outside for fear of getting hit by lighting. I got hit, it sucks, both me and my dog healed, we're moving on with our lives.
     
  13. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    The "let them work it out" thing seems to be the overall mindset at the dog parks in our area (maybe due to the trainer I mentioned). Dog humping? Another dog will tell it off if they are annoyed. Scuffle over a ball? They will work it out. New dog overwhelmed and scared? Don't help them out, let them learn to deal. And other owners are very vocal about those beliefs if you try to do otherwise.

    As I said, I think there is a lot of variation from area to area. I can only speak for the four local ones I have experienced
     
  14. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    The culture varies tremendously between parks around here. I am very lucky to have a huge, heavily wooded dog park near me. It's essentially a place to go hiking off-leash with your dog, and the people there are not there so much to socialize with each other. You don't see groups of people or dogs congregating, pairs or small groups may form for a quick game of chase or what have you as people pass each other but for the most part everyone is doing their own thing, and there is the space for them to do it. I find the people who go to this park are very dog savvy for the most part. I've been going there for 8-9 years with Pip and I've never had or seen a serious incident.

    There is another park nearby that is more the "big fenced yard" style and occasionally I have gone there when there is empty to practice recalls, but for the most part I would not set foot inside for all the money in the world. People are there to stand around chatting and drinking coffee while their dogs play Thunderdome, they are extremely cliquish, and there definitely is a "if you intervene you're paranoid/let them work it out" mentality.

    I think one of the worst design ideas for a dog park is to have the entrance visible to the dogs who are already there. It's ALWAYS a mob scene and so potentially dangerous. It's one of my dealbreakers. Although really I have no reason to go looking for another park with the one I have. :p
     
  15. RBark

    RBark Got Floof?

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    I guess I'm just pretty confrontational in general. If someone tells me to let dogs work it out when I remove my dog from the situation, I'd disregard what they said. If they tried to push the issue, I'd tell them to mind their own business as politely as possible. Third offense wouldn't be polite!

    I agree that there are some situations where it's better for humans to intervene. But I don't agree that there is never a situation where letting them work it out is better. A well timed correction by a level-headed dog is worth a hundred corrections by the owner.
     
  16. Slick

    Slick Kristina

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    I guess the main lesson here is that is depends on the dogpark and which people frequent said dogpark, rather than all dogparks being inherently good or bad.

    I go to a very small dog park (which I think helps since people are closer to their dogs) and people are all over any potential problem. In the dog park that I go to, if your dog starts something, you are the one who immediately takes your dog and leaves. Humping is not tolerated either. I thought it was like that in other places, but I guess I am just lucky.
     
  17. Airn

    Airn New Member

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    Same here. If there are any issues, the owners take care of the dogs. I've had an owner come up to me, because her dog was playing with Gwen, and ask if it was okay since he was playing rough.

    I can't imagine it being acceptable for someone to just stand by while their dog is being attacked or attacking.

    I got really annoyed at one family. They had a large pit bull type dog who was very playful but also pretty rude. They sat OUTSIDE the dog park eating food and playing on their phones. (Rules clearly state no food and that a person must be in the dog park while their dog is. It also stated no kids.) While their dog harassed every single dog in the park. If I was subject to that kind of behavior often, I would not go to dog parks.
     
  18. GingerKid

    GingerKid New Member

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    I agree 100%. With strange dogs, I try to intervene initially until/unless I've talked to the owners, or if the other dog is clearly not comfortable.

    I also think a lot of people either don't know the difference between situations where dogs can work it out themselves, or just aren't comfortable taking the chance that the other dog involved may not be level-headed. Especially if you have a bite-sized dog, I totally understand not wanting to take that kind of risk.
     
  19. Shakou

    Shakou New Member

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    I agree completely with a lot of what was said in the essay, because as a traveler and a former dog park regular, I've seen it all. Yes there are risks to taking your dog out no matter where you go, but the risks are MUCH higher at dog parks.

    To each their own, people can decide for themselves if they want to bring their dogs to those places or not, but in general I think they're an awful idea. I'll stick to hikes on private and secluded land with all dogs I own from here on out.
     
  20. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    It's also very easy for people who don't live in cities like mine and apartments and don't depend on public transportation to say things like..
    "Oh why not just go hiking?"
    "Meet some dog friends on a trail"
    "Go to a big open field"
    "Stay on my own property"
    etc..etc.etc..
    because I hear it from people that don't live here all the time and who don't get it like WHY would anyone risk going to a dog park, WHY wouldn't you explore other solutions, "I would never!"

    Trust me, if there was a world of dog friendly hiking trails and open fields in the middle of the city within commutable distance with no leash policies, Merlin has PLENTY of dog friends who would love to participate.
    These places just aren't available.

    Take a moment to consider that, for example, Merlin running off leash at the dog park is the ONLY chance Merlin gets to be off leash outside and run on a regular basis. This holds true for MANY dogs we know.

    Ya, we jog, we have fun doggy boutiques and stores and daycares and living in the city does provide a really cool way to raise a dog.
    BUT not all people who poo-poo on people who bring their dogs to the dog park perhaps don't realize that for A LOT OF PEOPLE, that one place is the ONLY legal place their dog has to run off leash where they live.

    So yes, in the game of risk analysis for
    A) Take my dog to the dog park and risk everything that comes with it
    B) Have Merlin spend 7 days a week on leash other than very special trips to other locations (when the weather and transportation comes together in time to take a day off and do this trip..which isn't possible for everyone)

    The dog park wins it.

    Dog parks exist for a reason. People enjoy them, dogs enjoy them and for MANY dogs, it's the only place they have to run outside off-leash (legally)..I for one would be very sad to see them go because of a few essays and opinions of people who don't understand the kind of beautiful rare and appreciated green spaces dog parks are for many city dog owners.

    Ya some are total **** shows and bad things happen and dogs will be dogs but say that to people who without them wouldn't have a place to let their dogs run off lead.

    This is of course without the obvious people who just let their dogs off leash anywhere and make the world their dog park but people don't take too kindly on them either.
     

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