Off-leash dog park? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Now that spring might finally be coming (although we still have snow, but I'm hoping!) I want to start taking my dog Titus (7.5 month old pug) to the dog park to interact with other dogs and get some exercise.  The humane society has a fenced off-leash dog park but I am a little nervous about taking him.  I know they say no aggressive dogs but what if a dog is aggressive and the person doesn't tell the truth? He is such a little dog and I am worried that another dog will be too rough with him.  Would you/do you take your dog to an off-leash dog park?


Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#2 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 12:03 PM
 
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I've been taking my pup to off leash dog parks since she was 4 months old. We go at least five times a week: it is the BEST exercise! I don't know what we would do without it. My dog gets so much exercise and dog socialization there.

Many dog parks have "small dog" and "large dog" areas. I took Merlow to the small dog area for a month before I felt comfortable in the big dog area (she was quite young and a bit shy). Once she hit 5 months (about 30 lbs) I took her to the big dog area.

Many people take their smaller dogs (pugs included) into the big dog area at my local park if the small dogs are able to handle it. A lot of those little dogs are spunky and really hold their own, and get much more exercise in the large area. So if your dog park has a small dog area you might want to start with that, and then see if you want to try the big dog area. If it is one big park, then give it a try!

Occasionally little dogs really do feel overwhelmed in with larger dogs, though. Once comes to mind: a few months ago someone had their little dog in the large area. My dog (45 lb pup) wanted to come and play. The little one was VERY encouraging: play bowing, charging forward, giving all of the "come chase me!" playful happy signals. But whenever Merlow would come near to play the little dog would YELP and run for the owner. Merlow never got close enough to touch the dog befre the yelp and run.
This went on for about 15minutes, with the little dog asking my dog to come and play, and then running and yelping before Merlow could come close. The owner kept giving me dirty looks before I finally suggested that she try the small dog area. She didn't like that, but my dog was behaving just fine, and hers was not ready to play with big dogs.

It does happen occasionally that a dog acts inappropriately at the dog park. Stick close to your dog at first, watch who he is interacting with, and prepare to intervene if necessary. At our park there is a rule that all handlers must be able to exert leash control if there is a problem. I have seen a couple of scuffles so far, but nothing serious. A few times owners have had to remove their dog from the park if things get carried away.

My dog is rather submissive, and there are a few dogs who seem to feed on that. There are two dogs in particular, and I always sigh when we come to the park at the same time. I try to keep Merlow away from them and play elsewhere, but occasionally the other owner will need to come and distract their dog from picking too much on mine.
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#3 of 10 Old 03-14-2011, 01:42 PM
 
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I've been taking my pup to off leash dog parks since she was 4 months old. We go at least five times a week: it is the BEST exercise! I don't know what we would do without it. My dog gets so much exercise and dog socialization there.

Many dog parks have "small dog" and "large dog" areas. I took Merlow to the small dog area for a month before I felt comfortable in the big dog area (she was quite young and a bit shy). Once she hit 5 months (about 30 lbs) I took her to the big dog area.

Many people take their smaller dogs (pugs included) into the big dog area at my local park if the small dogs are able to handle it. A lot of those little dogs are spunky and really hold their own, and get much more exercise in the large area. So if your dog park has a small dog area you might want to start with that, and then see if you want to try the big dog area. If it is one big park, then give it a try!

Occasionally little dogs really do feel overwhelmed in with larger dogs, though. Once comes to mind: a few months ago someone had their little dog in the large area. My dog (45 lb pup) wanted to come and play. The little one was VERY encouraging: play bowing, charging forward, giving all of the "come chase me!" playful happy signals. But whenever Merlow would come near to play the little dog would YELP and run for the owner. Merlow never got close enough to touch the dog befre the yelp and run.
This went on for about 15minutes, with the little dog asking my dog to come and play, and then running and yelping before Merlow could come close. The owner kept giving me dirty looks before I finally suggested that she try the small dog area. She didn't like that, but my dog was behaving just fine, and hers was not ready to play with big dogs.

It does happen occasionally that a dog acts inappropriately at the dog park. Stick close to your dog at first, watch who he is interacting with, and prepare to intervene if necessary. At our park there is a rule that all handlers must be able to exert leash control if there is a problem. I have seen a couple of scuffles so far, but nothing serious. A few times owners have had to remove their dog from the park if things get carried away.

My dog is rather submissive, and there are a few dogs who seem to feed on that. There are two dogs in particular, and I always sigh when we come to the park at the same time. I try to keep Merlow away from them and play elsewhere, but occasionally the other owner will need to come and distract their dog from picking too much on mine.


This is very good advice.  Especially the bolded.  Watch the other dogs for signs of aggression.  Also, talk up the regulars.  Most everyone there will know the other dogs and can tell you which ones (if any) need to be watched.  Any aggression I've seen has been handled immediately - often by other owners unfortunately.  It usually happens when someone new comes in with a very untrained, unsocial dog.  They are usually clueless as to what to do but I've seen others step in.  I always have a leash in hand or next to me if I'm sitting down.

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#4 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 04:58 AM
 
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Dog parks are not for all dogs.

I'd say my dog is borderline - some days I feel the confined space amps him up a little, and I have to distract him before he gets overstimulated. Other days are wonderful, but because of this, I tend to avoid them, and go to a large wooded area that I have to drive to, but my dog is more relaxed and happier there.

 

Before you go to a dog park, I would make sure your dog has a reliable recall, so you can call him off a situation you are unsure of.

 


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#5 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 05:43 AM
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Dog parks are not for all dogs.

I'd say my dog is borderline - some days I feel the confined space amps him up a little, and I have to distract him before he gets overstimulated. Other days are wonderful, but because of this, I tend to avoid them, and go to a large wooded area that I have to drive to, but my dog is more relaxed and happier there.

 

Before you go to a dog park, I would make sure your dog has a reliable recall, so you can call him off a situation you are unsure of.

 


So true.

We have an off leash park that is not fenced in so large and small dogs mingle, I personally hate that but it is the only one in town. I have a very large very rambunctious dog who is incredibly friendly but treats small dogs as she does large dogs and often bowls them right over playing. 

I used to take her and baby to the park every day but sometimes she would get in this mode with a submissive dog where she just wouldn't let it go. Never aggressive just intense dominant behavior. She is a highly dominant dog which means it is difficult for her to respect and understand the many submissive signals other dogs will give her. I know there were several people at the dog park ( I was a regular and knew most people by name) who rolled their eyes every time we showed up. We never had a an aggression incident because she is not vicious and NEVER hurt another dog but there were some owners who were total PITAs in general. 

 

If you are a nervous nervous person when you are around other dogs with your own pup, your dog is going to immediately pick up on that energy and behave accordingly. If you are nervous they will be nervous because why would you be nervous without a reason right? I can't tell you how many times I got dirty looks because someone's dog (who was often bigger than mine) would yip and yelp before my dog even touched it! There was one woman in particular who freaked out when my dog came over to sniff her dog and she yelled at me, called my dog vicious (I am not exagerating what happened here, my dog just literally sniffed this dogs butt) and dragged her dog away on a leash. Yikes, the message to that dog, be afraid of other dogs!

 

So my point, you need to exude confidence if you bring your dog to a park. Be aware that there are big dogs who play rough with small dogs. Dog play in general when you watch it as closely as I have and researched behavior as I have is often very easy to see the hallmarks of play invites, rejections, true fear and a real issue when it arises. It makes me roll my eyes when people here loud noises coming from dogs and panic when they are just playing. Dogs are noisy in play, they are vocal, the barks have meaning. Just watch your dog and remove your own pet if there is a problem. Sometimes people are too distracted to pay attention to their own dog. I always had to watch mine like a hawk because although she only ever wanted to play I had to respect that other dogs weren't always able to handle her energy.

We don't go to that park anymore actually, we go to a nature preserve that lots of other dogs go to, more active energetic dogs. I don't want to be mean but the dog park was like an old person hangout, with their old dogs....Sigh not best environment for a crazy 80lb puppy. The place we go now is much better.

 

Goodluck and be prepared to accept that your pug might not be able to play with the big dogs, although as a PP said often the little ones dish it out as well as they get it.

 

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#6 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 07:38 AM
 
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I've found it's like taking a child to a playgroup. You always have to be watchful of how the interaction is going. And it can be better at certain times of day than others. We always have gone to the small dog area, and we just bring our pointer in there too even though she isn't small. But she is very gentle with small dogs as that is all she has grown up with. If you can I'd go check out what it's like at different times of day without bringing the pug and see when would be the best time to go. Our pug really liked the dog park.

 

I would not take a pug puppy to a dog park that doesn't have separate areas for small dogs. There are too many irresponsible owners that don't pay attention to their dog and don't correct behavior and size different does matter in those situations.

 

And ya chat up the regulars, but be prepared to ignore the know it alls.

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#7 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 10:12 AM
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oh OP, I wanted to add that since your pug is still a puppy you might want to try a puppy play group for some really valuable intereaction. A lot less stress involved when it is all just puppies playing.
 

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#8 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 02:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ldavis24 View Post

oh OP, I wanted to add that since your pug is still a puppy you might want to try a puppy play group for some really valuable intereaction. A lot less stress involved when it is all just puppies playing.
 



Awesome idea! The puppy play groups in my area either have separate rooms or times based on dog type/size.

Example: My basset hound, altough only about a foot tall is considered a large breed dog so he gets to play with the german shephards and great danes! I really apperciated that since he plays pretty rough, his 'sister' is a 9 year old german shepard. Basset hounds have the densest bones in all the dog kingdom, so they can take really rough play, not much knocks them over!  

 

As far as watching dogs at dog parks, I'm torn because I believe we need to let dogs be animals and interact without us interferring, however there is always the overly aggressive not trained dog that you need to watch out for. My husband is more of the 'dogs are like children and you need to teach them to behave' mindset. Its true that domestic dogs are evolving to take on more human characteristics and read human emotions (watched an amazing natural geographic show on this. Here's the link http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/dogs-decoded.html) however they are still animals with instincts.


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#9 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 03:29 PM
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Awesome idea! The puppy play groups in my area either have separate rooms or times based on dog type/size.

Example: My basset hound, altough only about a foot tall is considered a large breed dog so he gets to play with the german shephards and great danes! I really apperciated that since he plays pretty rough, his 'sister' is a 9 year old german shepard. Basset hounds have the densest bones in all the dog kingdom, so they can take really rough play, not much knocks them over!  

 

As far as watching dogs at dog parks, I'm torn because I believe we need to let dogs be animals and interact without us interferring, however there is always the overly aggressive not trained dog that you need to watch out for. My husband is more of the 'dogs are like children and you need to teach them to behave' mindset. Its true that domestic dogs are evolving to take on more human characteristics and read human emotions (watched an amazing natural geographic show on this. Here's the link http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/dogs-decoded.html) however they are still animals with instincts.


hehe my DH is more of the panic before anything happens type of doggie daddy. I don't even like to take him to the dog park (well when we used to go) because he was always so nervous "something" was going to happen.

 

I really do think most issues between the dogs at a dog park can be resolved amongst themselves, however, my own dog doesn't know when to quit and so I have to watch her like a hawk to make sure she doesn't accidently hurt another dog. She has never ever been vicious just rough and won't stop trying to get a dog to play even after it has rolled over on it's back. She will run around the poor dog and nip at their feet and basically jump all over them trying to initiate play. It is very frustrating unless a dog will stand up to her, then she is wonderful to watch as she races around like a nut.

 

I personally am of the opinion that most owners at the dog park we attended to were way way too paranoid about their pooches getting hurt. I was a regular for a while and we always laughed when someone new brought their dog and would panic as soon as the dog was swarmed by 20 others. Why even bring the dog if you are going to panic you know? Also maybe this is our area only, but our local dog park really had mostly elderly people and rather elderly or small dogs. Very few 2 or 3 year old large breed, ready to rumble type dogs. Mostly little corgis or shelties that were 12 years old....Fun funeyesroll.gifwinky.gif

 

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#10 of 10 Old 03-15-2011, 05:05 PM
 
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hehe my DH is more of the panic before anything happens type of doggie daddy. I don't even like to take him to the dog park (well when we used to go) because he was always so nervous "something" was going to happen.



That's my hubby too! He's grumped at me for not watching our girl doggy close enough! Its so obvious that she's his baby. In his defense, she's can pretty disobedient. She's so smart that she knows when she's being naughty and will do it anyways with this mischevious look in her eye. She doesn't listen to me most of the time anyways, so he has to come too. And the Basset Hound can't go off leash since he has the second best dog nose (related to a blood hound) and our dog park isn't fenced off all the way - which is annoying. He will bark the whole time we're there and so deep and loud. Makes the dog park a rare treat.

 


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