Love or hate dog parks?

Dog park
Dog park

 

By Dr Joanne Righetti (visit Pet Problem Solved website)

Dog parks were the promised nirvana. I have a puppy and want her to meet other dogs. This is such a critical part of her development and socialisation. We can meet other dogs in the street but a tangle of leads inevitably results as the dogs wrestle, play bow and run circles around one another. An off leash area seems ideal. I can let my puppy run free and play to her heart’s content.

Why then do I spend my time watching what every other dog is doing? Are they going to be friendly? Is their owner watching them? What if I want to do some training with my pup, will other dog owners call their dog away from us? (No chance!) Should I intervene in every dog argument?

It seems to me that there are positives and negatives to these designated dog friendly areas:

Pros

Cons

Allow dogs to run and exercise and to socialise with other dogs

Some dogs are not social & may be scared or aggressive towards other dogs

Allows owners to socialise with other dog owners

Not all dogs want to play

Dog owners need not walk pavements for hours

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Owners often let dogs do whatever they want

 

I wonder if these parks need to be better designed. Mine is great in that it is fully fenced, has access to water and poo bags. (Off leash etiquette is extremely important.) But it is a flat field. There is little to entertain my dog except other dogs. We can’t use it when sport is on.

So what’s the overall concerns us on dog parks? Do you have a point of view (councils will be reading so now’s the chance to speak!)

·         Do you wish you had an off leash area and why don’t you have one in your neighbourhood?

·         Have you had good and bad experiences in an off leash park? Were you or your dog to blame? Do you still use the park?

·         What would you change about your off leash area? Separate ones for small and large dogs, more to do in the park? What is the ideal dog park?

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19 comments

  1. Really not into pet parks. Leo loves being with other dogs but he has a tendency of getting beaten up due to his over zealous nature.

    1. I agree fully, I have a large black shepherd who loves to play with other dogs and be around people, however, as a puppy, she can be overwhelming to older dogs, and ultimately gets beat up on. We usually take her up the road to an island park where she meets other dogs and goes hiking with them, or to family property with a group of other dogs, usually about 4-6. I admit she is very hyper, and will jump, but we have a special harness for her in public.

      One time recently I went to a park with her, and she was attacked by another dog, and was on her back, another individual came up and kicked my dog, literally several feet, and proceeded to rant about the breed. I was horrified, and have heard similar stories. I was literally railed out of the park, while they defended the aggressive dog who was still trying to go after my own, wow, if that is dog park behavior, I’m done with them!

  2. i have my dog some pet gate because i want to create area just for him.because i believe that having an animals as a pet is a big responsibility.We have to take good care of them like our own.Giving them the right food and shelter is one of the best care we can give

  3. Not only do dog poop bags come in handy when you’re on a walk, but they can also be convenient for cleaning up in your own yard.
    Having a dog waste bag can make cleaning up easy, no matter what the poop is like. It’s as simple as putting your hand in the bag and picking it up with your protected hand, then tying the bag shut and tossing it in your garbage.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Amazing how many people still can’t pick up after their own dogs. It’s not hard is it. No one likes to do it but no one likes to step in it either. People who don’t clean up give all other dog owners a bad name. When you see someone ignore their dog’s poo it can help to offer them one of your poo bags 🙂

  4. I am not a huge fan of off leash parks….I stay away from the 4pm-6pm week night time slot as it is full of people chatting and letting their dogs run wild and calling it “play” and I keep away from the SAS (Saturday and Sunday) squad!…You know the ones, the dogs that dont get out through the week then they go to “play” at the dog park……..Dog parks need more than just a flat piece of land with nothing but other dogs to play with, a lot of dogs want to play fetch or other games with their dog guardian they don’t all want to play with other dogs. I use partly fenced off leash areas as I know the really out of control dogs will not be there. I also have small dogs who love to fetch, it’s really hard if the park has a few herding breeds in it that are “having fun”!. Dog parks could be great if built for dogs not simply built to remove dogs from everywhere else!

  5. We have off-leash areas here in Toowoomba but no properly fenced dog parks. I would actually love a fenced off-leash area here, as we have a Siberian Husky who can only be let off-lead in a secure area. She has been trained and well-socialised but I would worry about other dogs, and how she might react if she felt threatened. She tends to be submissive but I wouldn’t blame her for lashing out if some other dog just came and jumped on her!

  6. Can’t help feeling that we should start a list of how we would like off lead parks to be…
    Myself – I would like more interesting surroundings, a bush trail perhaps. Any other ideas?

  7. @JoanneRighetti My rescue pooch loves the off leash park – it teaches him how to socialise & have fun with other dogs! Love seeing him happy

  8. I think fenced areas for dogs is a great idea. One of the dogs I regularly look after for a friend is obedient and will come when called….unless there is a bird around. If he sees a bird, he will chase it right out of the park and across the road if necessary. A fenced in area would allow him to be off lead AND chase birds, but not out of the area and across the road. (He’s a gundog, so it’s in his genetics to be obsessed with birds and to chase them. No matter how obedient a dog is, you can’t fight genetics.) I don’t mind a flat boring field either. It’s MY job to entertain my dog when I’m walking him. Bring a ball. Bring some treats and do some basic obedience training with him. Chase him and play with him…that should be enough to entertain him. If other dogs are been around, letting him sniff and smell will be fun for him. Dogs just love to be out of their backyard and out in the open. I enjoy the walk with him. A good owner will interact with their dog/s and not just let it off the lead and socialise with other owners. I am vigilant when minding dogs and if I let them off the lead in a fenced off area, I am still watching them every step of the way.

  9. i find the best dog parks are the ones with lots to do and plenty of space to roam. i would love to go to one with trails and lakes!
    The one down the road to me is fenced in, flat and boring…and gets so crowded.
    When we have gone to spacious, landscaped parks, my dog has been so chilled and not so on edge, its been a pleasure!

  10. I have a little Tenterfield Terrier. I would love to take her to a place with nice surroundings where she has somewhere to hide. (Lots of trees & Bushes) Large dogs rush at her (playing) and because she only has 1 eye and the other one is limited she is terrified. She hasn’t been properly socialised and we have had to give the flat paddock type of off leash a pass. It is hard because my husband And I are elderly and can’t take long walks any more. Besides we want nice surroundings too. Can’t seem to find anything suitable.

  11. Bring a ball. Bring some treats and do some basic obedience training with him. Chase him and play with him…that should be enough to entertain him. If other dogs are been around, letting him sniff and smell will be fun for him. Dogs just love to be out of their backyard and out in the open. I enjoy the walk with him. A good owner will interact with their dog/s and not just let it off the lead and socialise with other owners. I am vigilant when minding dogs and if I let them off the lead in a fenced off area, I am still watching them every step of the way.

  12. Dog parks are fine if well designed, maintained and properly sited away from residential areas. Fenced in ones are actually horrible in truly smaller residential parks. There are even community members who are avid dog lovers and owners who now at least hate enclosed off-leash dog parks at the moment. I have never thought that there would be so many irresponsible and very inconsiderate dog owners out there together in some of these enclosed off leash dog parks. It got to a point where actually more and more responsible dog owners would bypass a few of these residential enclosed off leash parks. Animal Control services and other bylaw enforcers are basically not allowed to fine, ticket or reprimand those repeat offenders as per Park, Forestry and Recreation and the current ward councilor in the district. Dogs have been neglected in there, dog fights have happened (one lady was crying for help as other owners ignored her pleas while her dog was being literally attacked – a community member from across the way came to her rescue), shouting matches have happened among community members regarding not picking up, incessant barking, being there before 6:30am and after 11:30pm at night yelling at the dogs to play, socialize because the dogs were interrupting their social cliques with other dog owners, allowing dogs to roam off leash in non-designated areas like children’s wading pool, playground and into neighboring front/backyards, or do tricks like jumping over the fence.

    An ideal dog park would be in a bigger park away from residential homes, hired maintenance crew to up-keep the park, some professional dog handlers (animal first aid/CPR certified) to watch over the facility or even provide training for new dog owners, sections for big/smaller dogs, and perhaps a nice outdoor dog friendly kiosk etc. Many considered their dogs as children so why not the best for them.

  13. Never take my dog there, too many other dogs running wild and owners who seem to think off leash means they don’t have to keep their dogs under control.

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