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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My trainer is very anti-dog park. Which I was surprised by because I would think they'd be good for socialization. She said my dog doesn't need to learn to play with other dogs - she needs to learn how to ignore other dogs. Thoughts?
 

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I agree with your trainer. You have no control in a dog park what dogs they are in contact with. I don't want my dogs thinking every dog they see, they can play with it. A few bad meetings with the wrong sort of dog can make your dog very reactive with strange dogs which is hard to get them over.

Much better to socialize your dog with dogs you know are good with other dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I agree with your trainer. You have no control in a dog park what dogs they are in contact with. I don't want my dogs thinking every dog they see, they can play with it. A few bad meetings with the wrong sort of dog can make your dog very reactive with strange dogs which is hard to get them over.

Much better to socialize your dog with dogs you know are good with other dogs.
Yeah, I get it. Problem is - I don't know anyone with dogs she could play with. So she doesn't get time with dogs. I can't imagine that's good for her.

She's reactive but she actually does well at the dog park. She doesn't bark at the dogs and she plays nicely. We haven't been since the trainer said not to - but I'm also not allowed to take her around triggers (dogs while she's leashed). So I can't leash walk her and I can't take her to the dog park. It makes exercising her problematic.
 

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As a dog park advocate, I can still agree with your trainer in some cases. Dog parks should be a safe place for dogs to play and socialize. It is also a great place to pick up an illness and bad habits. It is a risky place to bring our dogs but in my case, my dog loves the dog park so much, we have learned a few things to minimize the risks. I do not think one can eliminate the chance of having another dog get aggressive or the chance of respiratory infections but this is my choice that is not to be judged by anyone unless my dog and I are the problem for others.

My dog park rules to help reduce risks...
  • Solid Recall
  • No toys around other dogs
  • No treats around other dogs
  • Try to stick with dogs I know and times they will be there
  • Read the signs of dogs and people to avoid (listen to your instincts)

Bottom line...
Dog park is dog specific but always realize that a majority of the dogs will not be trained and a good portion likely not vaccinated either. (this info gathered from discussions and experience at dog parks)
 

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She said my dog doesn't need to learn to play with other dogs - she needs to learn how to ignore other dogs.
Thanks for the chuckle over morning coffee. You'll probably get a host of opinions on why dog parks are dangerous and shouldn't be used - but when I see all the dogs running around these parks... Everything from Cane Corso's to pit bulls, to chihuahua and pocket pups. The MinPin loves running through large open fields, and hunting for mice down trails.

Socialization is important for dogs, I can't teach a dog how to be social with other dogs. Our pup has met everything possible - from other dogs, to cats, to mice to kids, I don't want surprises. Other dogs can teach dog behaviour - ours never lifted a leg to pee, always squat. He actually watched a male dog lift the leg, have a pee and it was hilarious to watch the pin try it for the first time trying to balance on 3 legs. I don't care if he squats or leg lifts, but it's something he's learned in the park. He's taken corrections, and given them - this is all part of dog social behavior.

The only downfall with parks is owners that bring their amped up dogs there for exercise. These dogs large and small are brimming with energy and explode into the park, sometimes they engage in rough play. If you want the best experience, drain some energy from your dog before hitting the park. I've met many people that take new rescues on leash to the dog parks

Having your dog running free through a park allows you to engage other dogs - you will learn to read your dog - you will learn to read other dogs. I can't stress enough how important it is to read dogs, I know when my pup is being a bit of a jerk and earns a correction from another dog - it's how they learn. I won't allow harm to come to him, but he's learned to be confident, and he's learned to take care of himself.

Lots of people bring toys and treats to engage their dog, people will train their dog at the parks - and through all the distractions of other dogs and people, they succeed.

But everything can dangerous if you look hard enough I guess.
 

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Dog parks have a lot of positives and negatives. They can be great, but they can also have their disaster moments. I'm personally not a fan, because you just never know who these dogs are. Plus you never know if the dogs are up do date on vaccinations or not. I'm kind of with your trainer on this one. Plus, she doesn't want to recommend you go to one, then you have a bad experience there. Some clients might get mad at her for that, even though it wasn't directly her fault. Not saying you would do that, but some people might. She's being careful. But she probably also feels that way about parks too.

If you want you dog to play with other dogs in a safe environment, look for a dog training facility in your area. A lot of them host socials for dogs. Only a few dogs are allowed in and they need proof of vaccinations. Plus its great, because they're supervised by a trainer.

I suggest this, because socialization isn't just socialization (Throw your dog in and hope for the best). It's best to set them up for positive experiences. And a dog park you just never know what will happen there. Some dogs have bad experiences there and they instantly have fear problems of other dogs and become reactive. It can take a lot of undoing.

Plus theres this dog flu doing around the country, and I just don't want to take that risk.
 

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I personally think it all depends on what kind of life you want to live with your dog. While it is important to know that your dog doesn't have to be social with other dogs to be happy, especially for those struggling with a dog reactive/dog aggressive dog, I think people should use their judgement to assess their situation before taking a black/white stance on a gray issue.

I have been taking my 5 year old beagle to the dog park since she was a puppy and I haven't had a single issue. I usually go to the park early in the morning or around dinner time so there isn't much of a crowd, I talk to the regulars who are usually pretty informed on the best times to come and which dogs/owners to look out for, and I remove my dog from a sketchy situation before it escalates, not after.

I love dog parks, it's a nice social activity for both me and my dog. However, my dog has been very well socialized with other dogs and respects their signals. I also know she will take a passive approach if faced with a conflict. For the most part, she just keeps to herself. Going to dog parks means both knowing your own dog and using your best judgement when it comes to the park and it's occupants.

As I said before, just make sure to assess any situation you put your dog in. Some dog parks are nice, well regulated places, some are not.
 

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This may be a stupid question, but if your dog is up to date on shots why do you have to worry if another dog is not. Won't they be safe since they have had vaccines

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There is no blanket statement to this question that can cover every dog and owner. EVERY dog is different and EVERY owner is different. Some dog and owners do great at parks, some should be no where near them for a range of reasons. I lump owners in this as their expectations and control play just as big a part of the experience as the dog's behaviors.

Pax has been highly socialized at dog parks since he was four months old. I take treats and toys...but I know what I am getting into and how to manage the situation. He has gotten into scuffles due to his confidence when he was younger and he himself is sometimes a brat, but an occasional negative does not define his entire existence compared all the positives he has had.

Take the trainer's advise, take the lessons and warning of those here that have been through it both positive and negative, but only you can make a decision what is right for you and your dog.

There are good parks, and not so good parks...there are good times to go and not so good times to go...to say they are all good or bad would be an impossible statement to make.

While I agree that learning to ignore other dogs is a valuable skill, to say that she does not need to learn how to play with other dogs is freakin absurd in my opinion even if dog parks are not for you. It is not an either/or.
 

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This may be a stupid question, but if your dog is up to date on shots why do you have to worry if another dog is not. Won't they be safe since they have had vaccines

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Let's say a dog bites you at the park. You wouldn't know if the dog had its rabies vaccinations and who knows, maybe that dog went out and killed a raccoon the week before. Not every owner is responsible and watches what their dogs get into. The owner might not care and try to escape the situation to avoid trouble. You'd have to go to the hospital and get the painful vaccinations yourself. :eek:

Not a super common situation probably. But anything could happen.

Plus its a place where dog poop is around a lot, even remnants of it from being picked up. Dogs could be there who have worms, parasites,..etc
 

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Let's say a dog bites you at the park.
Let's say you get hit by a car crossing the street. Choke on a cherry pit. Get hit by lightning.

Dogs can get hurt, matters not how careful an owner is. How many dogs were chasing balls thrown by the owner, ending up wrecking a leg in a gopher hole.

Can't live based on what might happen, one would never leave the house. Life in general can be dangerous, might as well enjoy it.
 

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Let's say you get hit by a car crossing the street. Choke on a cherry pit. Get hit by lightning.

Dogs can get hurt, matters not how careful an owner is. How many dogs were chasing balls thrown by the owner, ending up wrecking a leg in a gopher hole.

Can't live based on what might happen, one would never leave the house. Life in general can be dangerous, might as well enjoy it.
I was never implying this.
@brnewman asked a question about why to be concerned about potentially unvaccinated dogs and I was answering his question.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I haven't taken her since we started training but I will likely take her again. She seems to enjoy it and to me it's good that she has the opportunity to be around dogs. I don't like it when it's packed but a few dogs is good. At the dog parks in Louisville the owner has to have proof of vaccination before they're given access to the parks (key and tag for collar). This isn't fool proof because people could share the key but I think most of the dogs there are vaccinated.

I just think there's risk to existing and we can't eliminate risk. My older dog has been jumped twice - neither were at the dog park and I couldn't have prevented them. But they happened. Can't keep them in a bubble.
 

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My trainer is very anti-dog park. Which I was surprised by because I would think they'd be good for socialization. She said my dog doesn't need to learn to play with other dogs - she needs to learn how to ignore other dogs. Thoughts?
Just my personal opinion but for the average pet, both doggy social skills (not neccessarily loving and playing with every dog, might be just ability to get along with other dogs) and ability to focus on owner/ignore other dogs when needed is important. Good Socialization actually includes both.

Depending on the individual dog and owner one may be or important than the other though...


As for dog parks, I personally am not a big fan. I prefer classes, play dates, and other options I have more control over for dog to dog socialization and interaction.
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Can't keep them in a bubble.
Good attitude.

You have a Lab pup, water dog and retrievers - that's what they are bred for. Find some water and something to retrieve, you'll probably find your dog is happier when you get it doing what it was bred for.

Good luck and keep us up to date.
 

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I'm not real keen on dog parks, for several reasons. There is always the risk of some weird infection from another dog, there is the issue of idiot irresponsible owners that ignore what their dog is doing, and don't seem to care anyway. Yes I agree you can't live in a bubble, but why engage in an activity that is higher risk, when there are IMO safer ways to socialize and exercise your dog.
 

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My trainer is very anti-dog park. Which I was surprised by because I would think they'd be good for socialization. She said my dog doesn't need to learn to play with other dogs - she needs to learn how to ignore other dogs. Thoughts?
I'm not a fan of dog parks. But if I did decide to go, it would be early when there are not a lot or people and dogs there.
The bigger issue here is that you and the trainer be on the same page, and maybe decide to 'agree to disagree' on small things and decide whether this is a small thing to both of you.

Communication is important, so if you have issues with something she says, talk to her.
 

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This may be a stupid question, but if your dog is up to date on shots why do you have to worry if another dog is not. Won't they be safe since they have had vaccines

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Vaccines can help a dog's immunity against certain viruses but at the end of the day they are not a silver bullet... A lot of illnesses like kennel cough have multiple strains of virus, much like a flu.
 

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Vaccines can help a dog's immunity against certain viruses but at the end of the day they are not a silver bullet... A lot of illnesses like kennel cough have multiple strains of virus, much like a flu.
Yes, and any vaccine is never 100% effective, just greatly reduces the chances of infection. As Kelly says, there is no silver bullet!
 

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So, question for the ones that tend to veer away from dog parks - and socialize with good or known dogs... If all your dog knows is the good side of things, how to they learn to recognize and deal with the bad?

One of the benefits of heavy socialization is good social skills - owners should learn to read dogs and other owners - but your dog needs to recognize the good and bad in dogs as well... No? This pup can read dogs and people like a book, knows when another dog wants to meet - or knows they aren't in the mood. Seldom, but it happens, he recognizes that a dog means to harm, this is when he is more apt to come to me for a bit of help - but he also has all the confidence in the world to defend himself.

He can also recognize when people are afraid of dogs in general, especially kids. Last summer for example, a mother approached me, said that our pup seemed to be pretty confident and her kid was afraid of dogs. Explained to the kid how to deal with the dog, let the dog come to him - before long this scared little boy had Jagger on leash and running around happy, wanted to take him home. If Jagger wasn't well socialized, this wouldn't have happened.

Just curious.
 
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