Should My Dog Go to the Dog Park?: Tips from Rick Alto, Certified Professional Trainer
Most dog trainers will tell you to avoid dog parks. Fortunately, I am not one of those trainers and, I believe that done properly, particularly here on the Cape, that the benefits of our dog park far outweigh the negative aspects. There are pros and cons to bringing your dog to the dog park and it is imperative that we are aware of them. The Brewster Dog Park was designed and rules promulgated with your dog’s safety first and foremost in our mind.
Is your dog 4 months of age or older? Puppies less than 4 months are not allowed.
Is your dog up to date with vaccinations? Dogs that aren't up-to-date should stay home.
Is your dog showing signs of illness? An illness may be contagious or they just may be unsocial if they don't feel well.
Is your unspayed female in heat or coming into season? If so, keep her at home.
Is your dog nervous or shy? The dog park may be very uncomfortable for them.
Is your dog reactive or aggressive? Dogs frequently rush up to the entry gate when new dogs arrive and your dog may not welcome this mad rush by strange dogs.
Does your dog respond to basic obedience commands? If your dog will not listen to you at home and in increasingly distracted environments, you won't get their attention or have control at the dog park.
I agree that many dogs that go to the dog park are very social; however, many dogs that go to the dog park are either antisocial, or don't know how to socialize correctly. Additionally, some owners do not supervise and control their dog's behavior, due in part to not fully understanding what correct social interaction is, and failing to intervene in a timely manner may lead to disastrous results.
If your dog enjoys the dog park and is sociable, then take them, but know when it's time to leave. It's all about balance!
Rick Alto is a member of the Friends of Brewster Dog Park Board of Directors and the owner of ExFed Dog Training.