Just Say 'No' to Dog Parks

Why taking your dog to the dogpark is a bad decision resulting in potential issues for your dog.

I’m going to do it, yes I am.  I’m going to tell the world that I think their favorite place to bring their dog, is THE single WORST place to bring their dog.  Obviously winning fans through telling people what they want to hear is not who I am.  Telling you all what you NEED to hear is what I do, because it’s really all about saving dogs, not saving peoples feelings.


  You’re absolutely correct.  Your dog needs healthy productive socialization.  Which is why taking your dog to the dog park is one of the worst things you can do.  Whether puppy or adult dog, socialization is only productive if its good socialization.  If you want your dog to learn how to be a polite and healthy member of the canine community then bringing him/her to a place full of unbalanced and impolite peers so he can learn all the wrong ways to communicate is at best a HORRIBLE idea.

Once you close that entry gate to the park behind you and make that first step inside, you have little to no control over what happens next.  Your dog is instantly greeted by whatever dogs are in there, in whatever manner they see fit. 

Would you take your child to a playground where you have no control over who they play with and what happens to them?  If another kid were to walk right up to your child and punch them in the nose, or start bullying them, would you just sit back and let it happen?

These are all relevant questions as this is what happens at a dog park, only your dog can’t tell you verbally what is going on.  Many dogs develop behavioral issues because of they way they have been treated by other dogs at dog parks. 


Part of why there are so many dogs with behavioral issues out there is because people forget what their job and role is as a dog owner.  It is very similar to parenting in many ways.  You must control the learning and the experiences of your dog to ensure proper and healthy development.  You can’t do that effectively at a dog park, YOU JUST CANT!

Anybody who has been to one knows how all it takes is for one jerky owner to show up with their even more jerky dog, and the entire dynamic of the park changes.  Then when, not if, there is an issue, not only do you have to deal with the dogs, but then you have to deal with a human who shouldn’t have been welped either. 


Try this, go to the local dog park.  Confused?  Let me clarify for you.  Go to the local dog park, WITHOUT your dog.  Go and observe the park and its regular visitors.  Introduce yourself and socialize with the HUMANS.  Make friends, enjoy yourself.  Begin looking for some people who have dogs that are balanced and stable.  Look for dogs who just have fun at the park without excess bullying and other dominance based tomfoolery.  Make friends with those dogs owners in particular and explain how you are looking for some dogs to socialize your dog with.  This is how you can begin to socialize your dog while still maintaining control of the situation.

After you have done that a couple times, bring your dog but do NOT bring your dog inside to run crazy with all the others.  Meet up with the people and dogs you have already spoken to and selected.  Some parks have smaller enclosures, this would be perfect to introduce them in a smaller more controlled environment.  If your park doesn’t provide for that perhaps you can find another area altogether for the dogs to interact. 

Either way, your goal is to maintain control of who and what your dog comes in contact with.   You are responsible 24/7 for the experiences your 4-legged family member has.

Go set up a play date, I bet you will enjoy it as much as your dog!




This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cindy Paradiso Mayville January 27, 2013 at 04:36 PM
I agree with the author about this particular subject. Completely. But there is another thing that I find alarming that was not part of this article. Dog parks are filled with extreme concentrations of dog waste. Even if the dog park is very well maintained, you can't pick up every speck of poop & pee soaks everything. The trees, the ground, the grass, etc. And unfortunately, not every dog is healthy. Sometimes you can't tell if your dog is sick for a while. Meantime, other dogs are sniffing where the sick dogs poo & pee & getting whatever disease/sickness sucked right up their noses. I know it sounds paranoid, but it is a thought to consider. Also, I do not let my dog sniff around the entrances of the vet's office. Not all dogs that go there are sick, but many of them are or they wouldn't be there. Please consider this as we all love our dogs and don't want them to get sick. And! it's very expensive!!
Dale Evers January 27, 2013 at 09:17 PM
I am concerned about the dog park that is contemplated at Henry & Ola Park and would be located more towards the corner of Henry and Otis Ave. While there is a parking lot available east of the proposed dog area, that parking lot can sometimes be full, especially in the summer for all the usage the soccer fields get. In addition, the parking lot is not nearly as convenient as it would be to park right in front of the dog park entrance. I see this as a real drawback for those of us who live on Henry or Otis. This street gets clogged very easily, and it will definitely be a negative to all the people on Henry who will now have cars parked either in front of their homes or across the street, in addition to the overflow which will likely spill onto Otis Ave., like it does now for the soccer games. If this dog park is going to happen, I really believe that some consideration needs to be given to the parking situation. A dog park that occasionally benefits others should not be a detriment to those of us who live right in front of it 24/7. I am not saying I am against it, but I believe that there should be some parking ideas addressed that will give those of us who actually LIVE there some peace of mind.


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