Still Unsure if the Dog Park is Right for you? Tips from Rick Alto, Certified Professional Trainer
The dog park movement began in 1979 when Ohlone Dog Park became the first in the United States as an experiment. Today, there are thousand of dog parks across the country and much interest across the Cape.
Dog parks have been identified as the most frequent locations for providing outdoor activity and socialization for dogs. Owners want to enrich their dogs physically and many enjoy the social aspect with other dog owners.
There are pros and cons to dog parks; however while aggressive incidents are high up on this list of cons, irresponsible dog owners are the biggest problem. Many owners are on their cell phones, sitting on benches and not close enough to their dogs to intervene if there is an incident. Some owners don’t clean up after their dogs, and while others allow their dogs to bully others.
In a 2022 survey published by Sniffspot,15 percent of dog owners reported that their dogs had been attacked at a dog park. Injuries are bad enough, but even minor attacks can lead to extreme shyness and reactivity in victimized dogs. Even when dogs are not being aggressive, there is a potential for injuries from rough play. Other negatives include parasites and illnesses as we saw last summer with cases of Kennel Cough.
To ensure success, ask yourself (and please be honest!) if your dog in under your voice control and a good candidate for the dog park. If you do not have good recall with distractions, your dog may not be ready for the dog park. Owners must be ready and willing to advocate for their dog and have the social skills to give feedback to the owners whose dog is causing a problem.
If you have voice control, are attentive and observe your dog carefully and quickly intervene when necessary, you will ensure that your visit to the dog park is enjoyable.