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  • Rick Alto

Dog Park Etiquette 101 with Rick Alto, Certified Professional Trainer!



My small dog (30 lbs. and less) loves to play with big dogs. Is it okay to bring my small dog into the large dog area?


The Select Board set the rules with your dog’s safety in mind. Dogs 30 pounds and under belong in the Small Dog Area. It doesn’t matter if your small dog likes big dogs or is accustomed to big dogs. Predatory Drift is real and can be deadly!


What is Predatory Drift?


Despite being domesticated over 12,000 years ago, being fed food from a bag and sleeping on comfy beds, dogs remain hunters at heart.


There are several behaviors we can observe in dogs today that stem from their hunter origins in the wild. Your dog still walks around in circles before lying down, buries his bones, and marks his territory, even though these behaviors may no longer be needed in a domestic setting.


Among these ancestral behaviors is also a phenomenon known as "predatory drift."


This phenomenon may take place when larger dogs play with smaller dogs, even dogs that are known to them. The dogs seem to play very well, when out of the blue, the larger dog suddenly goes in for the kill. It is hard-wired behavior that can be triggered in any dog. Once the trigger starts, the behavior continues to its end with disastrous results, and sadly, the smaller dogs often don't survive the bite and accompanying head shakes once grabbed by the neck.


This is a serious safety issue so please keep your small dogs out of the large dog area and the big dogs out of the small dog area.


Rick Alto is a member of the Friends of Brewster Dog Park Board of Directors and the owner of ExFed Dog Training.

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