I’m going to do it, yes I am. I’m going to tell the world that I think their favorite place to bring their dog, is THE single WORST place to bring their dog. Obviously winning fans through telling people what they want to hear is not who I am. Telling you all what you NEED to hear is what I do, because it’s really all about saving dogs, not saving peoples feelings.
MY DOG NEEDS SOCIALIZATION
You’re absolutely correct. Your dog needs healthy productive socialization. Which is why taking your dog to the dog park is one of the worst things you can do. Whether puppy or adult dog, socialization is only productive if its good socialization. If you want your dog to learn how to be a polite and healthy member of the canine community then bringing him/her to a place full of unbalanced and impolite peers so he can learn all the wrong ways to communicate is at best a HORRIBLE idea.
Once you close that entry gate to the park behind you and make that first step inside, you have little to no control over what happens next. Your dog is instantly greeted by whatever dogs are in there, in whatever manner they see fit.
Would you take your child to a playground where you have no control over who they play with and what happens to them? If another kid were to walk right up to your child and punch them in the nose, or start bullying them, would you just sit back and let it happen?
These are all relevant questions as this is what happens at a dog park, only your dog can’t tell you verbally what is going on. Many dogs develop behavioral issues because of they way they have been treated by other dogs at dog parks.
YOUR JOB IS TO PROTECT AND LEAD
Part of why there are so many dogs with behavioral issues out there is because people forget what their job and role is as a dog owner. It is very similar to parenting in many ways. You must control the learning and the experiences of your dog to ensure proper and healthy development. You can’t do that effectively at a dog park, YOU JUST CANT!
Anybody who has been to one knows how all it takes is for one jerky owner to show up with their even more jerky dog, and the entire dynamic of the park changes. Then when, not if, there is an issue, not only do you have to deal with the dogs, but then you have to deal with a human who shouldn’t have been welped either.
SO, YOUR DOG NEEDS SOCIALIZATION
Try this, go to the local dog park. Confused? Let me clarify for you. Go to the local dog park, WITHOUT your dog. Go and observe the park and its regular visitors. Introduce yourself and socialize with the HUMANS. Make friends, enjoy yourself. Begin looking for some people who have dogs that are balanced and stable. Look for dogs who just have fun at the park without excess bullying and other dominance based tomfoolery. Make friends with those dogs owners in particular and explain how you are looking for some dogs to socialize your dog with. This is how you can begin to socialize your dog while still maintaining control of the situation.
After you have done that a couple times, bring your dog but do NOT bring your dog inside to run crazy with all the others. Meet up with the people and dogs you have already spoken to and selected. Some parks have smaller enclosures, this would be perfect to introduce them in a smaller more controlled environment. If your park doesn’t provide for that perhaps you can find another area altogether for the dogs to interact.
Either way, your goal is to maintain control of who and what your dog comes in contact with. You are responsible 24/7 for the experiences your 4-legged family member has.
Go set up a play date, I bet you will enjoy it as much as your dog!