Behavior and Training · Exercise

Dog Park People

Dog Parks are a relatively new cultural phenomenon, and have increased in both number and popularity over the last 15 years. It is an understatement to say that people are rather polarized in their views of dog parks. Advocates maintain that these designated areas provide invaluable opportunities for dogs to enjoy off-lead exercise, socialization and play with other dogs, and for owners to meet and befriend like-minded people in their communities.
Dog Park Comic 2

HOW ADVOCATES VIEW DOG PARKS

At the other end of the spectrum, critics argue that off-lead dog areas are often poorly managed and supervised and present unacceptable risks to dogs. These risks include aggressive (or predatory) attacks,  physical injuries caused by large groups of dogs running together, and the transmission of parasites and disease.

Dog Park Comic

HOW OPPONENTS VIEW DOG PARKS 

Full disclosure: I should admit at the forefront that I am personally not a fan of dog parks. My reasons include all of the aforementioned plus the fact that I genuinely just prefer to go walking or running alone with my dogs. However, a fair number of our training school clients frequent dog parks because they provide an opportunity for off-lead exercise and play with other dogs. While it is not for me, I have respected their choice and have provided students with the usual set of precautions that have hopefully kept their dogs safe.

The Study:  A recently published study focused not on the dogs who visit dog parks, but rather upon the people who give them the ride there – their owners (1). Patrick Jackson, a sociologist at Sonoma State University in California, was interested in the emerging social norms and group dynamics of people who gathered regularly at a community dog park with their dogs.Dog Park People

DOG PARK PEOPLE

Study methods:  The author used an ethnographic method of data collection, an approach that is commonly used by sociologists when studying complex interactions among people. Over a period of 15 months, Jackson visited a local community dog park with his two dogs. They visited the park between three and five times per week and at various times during the day. He collected data that included owner and dog demographics, the activity patterns and spatial distributions of people and dogs, visit durations, topics of conversation among owners, the frequency and type of conflict between dogs, and the approaches used by owners to resolve problems. Data were recorded during visits and immediately afterward and behaviors and interactions were coded according to emergent themes and patterns.

Results: A number of owner behaviors and interaction types were found to be consistent from day-to-day and  appeared to represent the social norms of the dog park that was studied:

  • Public Demonstration of Owner-dog connection: Dog park visitors frequently (and often repeatedly during a visit) demonstrated their attachment to their dog through active play with the dog, offering (and often receiving in return) friendly eye contact, and speaking to (and for) their dog. This public display of connection appears to be an important component of dog park culture as it allows all visitors to place each dog with his/her owner.
  • Types of Problems: Four major types of problems were regularly observed. These included: mobbing/aggression at the gated entry into the park; mounting behaviors; aggressive behavior (attacks and fights); and feces clean-up issues. Behavior problems that dogs showed that were considered annoying but not necessarily in need of intervention included jumping on people, urinating on the benches, and excessive attention-seeking behaviors toward people other than the owner.

greetingdogs5    mounting                              MOBBING                                                            MOUNTING        

dog park aggression    Dog Defecation Posture                       AGGRESSION                                                          CLEAN-UP

Owner Roles in Problem Management: Jackson identified a set of approaches that the park attendees regularly used to avoid or respond to problems in the park. These were summarized as:

  • Avoidance: This occurred when people witnessed a commotion such as a dog fight or a dog being mobbed by several dogs at the gate. Others in the park would simply “steer clear” of the area and would not get involved.
  • Leaving the area or the park: This tactic was observed both by people whose dogs had been attacked or were being repeatedly mounted by another dog (see below) as well as by owners whose dogs were the misbehaving party. Owners of dogs who had been attacked or bullied typically left angry and upset. Owners of dogs who had misbehaved often moved to another area of the park or “left early”.
  • Humor and Baby Talk: Humor was reported to occur most frequently when one dog was mounting another. Sex jokes were apparently popular (ick). Humor was also used at the expense of owners whose dogs were being mounted by another dog (and were trying to stop it) or were upset about the behavior of other dogs or owners. Finally, some owners would use remedial (baby) talk to their dogs to ostensibly chastise them for their bouts of misbehavior while doing nothing to actually stop or prevent the behavior or to help the targeted victim………

OKAY. That’s it. I’ve had enough. I can take no more of this paper.

soapbox

I started writing this essay with every intention of focusing on the topic of the paper – the behavior and social interactions of people who visit a dog park with their dogs. And, admittedly, the paper does present some interesting themes and observations about emerging social norms of the dog park. However…….as I read and then reread this paper, it was impossible to ignore its complete exclusion of any mention whatsoever of the potential or actual harm that came to many of the dogs whose stories were being told. Many were situations in which a dog was being emotionally harmed and possibly physically injured. Here are  four examples that the author reports:

  • Immediately after entering the park, a dog stares down and then chases another dog, holding his head over the retreating dog’s shoulder and snarling. The dog then switches to another dog, continuing this behavior. (Owner: Does nothing. Other owners: Watch and say/do nothing).
  • A black Labrador mounts another dog and will not stop. The targeted dog’s owner repeatedly attempts to get the Lab off of her dog, to no avail. Four people standing nearby watch this and laugh. The dog’s owner finally succeeds in removing the Lab from her dog. Upset and angry, she leaves the park. The observing owners joke about the incident.
  • An older dog is attacked by a young dog. The fight is prolonged and the owners have difficulty breaking the two dogs apart. Following the attack, the young dog’s owner said to his dog: “Bad dog; lie down, sit down. We are going home early because of you.”
  • A dog’s ear was bitten off (yes, her EAR) by another dog. The author states that this problem was “resolved” because the attacking dog’s owner offered to pay the veterinary bill. This incident is reported in a section describing ways in which owners “over-react” to problems.

Rather than provide needed research about developing cultural norms of dog parks, this study ultimately confirmed for me that:

  1. Dog parks are not safe for dogs.
  2. Dog park people frequently behave badly by not being responsible dog owners and by being inconsiderate and uncaring towards other people and their dogs.

Granted, this ethnographic study examined the cultural milieu of a single dog park. Certainly dog parks vary in size, type of rules, participant behavior, and numerous other factors. And of course, more research is needed. However, until a study comes along that convinces me otherwise, I will continue to hike and run with my dogs for exercise and companionship, and to provide play times for them with doggie friends who they know well (and whose owners I know and trust as responsible and caring dog people).

I am also going to modify my advice to my training school clients. For those who tell us that they visit dog parks, I will advise them to stop going and to seek less risky (and more dog- and people-friendly) ways to exercise and socialize their dogs.

Walking with dogs in a group

Take your dog walking with your friends and their dogs.

Be your dog’s best friend and his protector.

‘Nuff Said. Off of Soapbox.

 Reference: Jackson P. Situated activities in a dog park: Identity and conflict in human-animal space. Society and Animals 2012; 20:254-272.

40 thoughts on “Dog Park People

  1. I first looked at and checked on several dog parks. Some I will not visit, for the reasons you gave above. But at a local dog park I found about a dozen regulars who were attentive and familiar with dog behavior. Many new people have come in this year, and we all help the scared dogs (and people) adjust and learn, and introduce them to others. We do get a few idiots, but only a few. A Behavioral Vet recently sent a scared young dog (and owner) to the park, and she’s now comfortable while her dog has learned social skills that he can only learn from other dogs.

    I always tell people to first take a good look around before entering, and try to spot and meet the regulars who you can see are controlling their dogs and guiding many of the others. Spend the time to watch first, and walk away from the idiots.

    I am there nearly every day, and take perhaps a dozen foster dogs each year, in addition to running play groups at a shelter. My last foster was dog aggressive and several months in a program at a shelter didn’t help, but 3 weeks with guidance at the dog park and she’s now adopted.

    Yes, there are always mobs at the gate. Yes, there are dog parks where their people just ignore a dozen dogs mobbing a new entry. But at this one many people call back or pull back their dogs to let others enter. I have not seen any issue where people did not immediately respond, even if the dog’s owner did not. We did have one dog owner get mad about this, until a group of people confronted him. None of the bad examples you gave would be tolerated.

    While we do have a “small dog” area, most of the small dogs come into the main area instead. With a very scared dog of any size, we may redirect them to the small area at first, and may then bring in a very social dog for them to first meet.

    Clean up issues, of course, are a difficult human problem. But with several other people notifying and staring at the dog owner, most people then comply. For the others, we just pick up several each time our dog poops.

    While there are other approaches such as play-dates, how many of you walk your dogs down the street and hear the barking of many fenced in dogs who you have rarely if ever even seen out on a walk?

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  2. Phenomenal article. I have posted everywhere. I agree with everything you have written and this is also why I don’t frequent dog parks. The problem is that the people have not been properly trained to manage their dogs and/or just plain don’t care. They probably let their 2-legged children run just as wild.

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    1. Hi Paula – Thanks for your comment. While this blog piece has been a tad “controversial”, I think that most people do agree that all dog parks come with risks, and that some park environments are more dangerous than others. Personally, I am not willing to take the risk with my own dogs and agree that this is primarily because of the inability (or unwillingness) of some (not all) owners to properly train and control their dogs and to monitor interactions. Please feel welcome to share the blog wherever you like. Best, Linda Case

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  3. Love this!
    We are not dog park regulars. We might attend once or twice a month, and typically only to larger parks that allow for more of an “urban hiking” opportunity, than the small, boring ones where owners stand around in clumps and chat and don’t pay attention to their dogs.
    Truly, the owners are the worst part. There’s no end of blog fodder after one park trip.
    Dog park attenance is risky. I have to acknwoledge and accept the risk every time I go to one.
    And they’re also a privilege – not a right. Neither of our dogs got off-leash privileges without earning them (or we earned them as owners – however you want to phrase that).

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  4. I have been to our local dog park one time. My daughter and I took our dogs there to let them have a run. We wanted to keep our dogs on lead and walk them around a little before we let them go. We wanted to make sure that our dogs were comfortable and were not in an over excited state when we let them run.

    As soon as we entered the gate we were mobbed by about 4 dogs. We walked away from them trying to get some space for our dogs to get comfortable. One dog kept rushing our dogs. We eventually found a corner on the back side of the park and the rushing dog left us.

    We let our younger two run and play. They never stray more than 20 feet from us when they are off lead. Our older dog was still a bit unsure of the surroundings. We had a dog owner come up and ask us why we had our dog on leash. We explained to him that the dog was not ready to run loose yet and needed more time to adjust to all the dogs and the space. The dog owner told us at that point that it was pointless to keep a dog on leash at a dog park and that we should just get used to the fact that dogs are going to rush our dogs. He then tried to tell us how to handle the situation with our own personal dog. Just about everything he suggested was not the correct way to handle the situation with the dog we had on lead.

    We opted to keep our one dog on a long line while the younger two played. We were able to play soccer with all 3 of our dogs. The younger two did go off and play with some of the other dogs in the park.

    We met and spoke with some very nice dog owners that day.

    We then noticed that a dog came in that started to bully most of the other dogs. Showing a lot of dominating posturing and behavior. We decided at that point it was time to leave.

    On the path, after we exited the dog park, we ran into a gal that had a very large dog on a very thin flexi lead. This dog was snapping and lunging at people and dogs as they were making their way either to or from the park down the path. I had to at one point put myself between this dog and our dogs to keep it from attacking them. After we got past the woman and her dog my daughter and I both agreed that we left just in time. We also felt sorry for the other dogs and owners that were still in the park where the aggressive dog was headed. The owner of the dog obviously had no control over her dog what so ever.

    Our dogs had a great time at the park and loved the free running and exercise. We have never gone back. I am too concerned that there will be that one dog there, just that one time, and something bad would happen to one of our companion dogs.

    As for a good run and exercise for my crew of extremely high energy dogs, I run them with my bicycle once a day in the warmer months. I have to take two trips as I have four dogs to run. It is much safer than taking them to the dog park. In the winter months I enroll them in an extra dog class to burn off the extra energy. I play indoor games, such as nose work, that stimulate their minds and make them think, they get just as tired thinking as they do running around crazy.

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  5. Thanks for this post. We have a tiny (6-lb), highly social 4-year-old mixed breed who adores all people and most dogs. We live in a small apartment in NYC and the dog park offers his only day-to-day opportunity to get off the leash and stretch his legs, meet new people and dogs, and generally build the owner-dog trust that comes from a measured dose of independence.

    We visit multiple dog parks in the city and some are markedly better than others (in terms of the social experience, the physical experience, the cleanliness, etc) but the thing that they all have in common is that the overall quality of the experience is directly related to the behavior and attentiveness of the owners. It is amazing to me how hapless, disconnected, thoughtless and downright wrong many owners are with their dogs. We see all kinds of outdated “discipline” including people repeatedly shouting their dog’s name across the park (every 5 seconds… I would ignore you too), repeating commands ad infinitum (“sit! … sit! … sit! … sit!”), chasing their dogs around the park, bringing toys and treats that are explicitly prohibited because they start dogs fighting with each other, people “rolling” their dogs (your dog knows you are not a wolf!), you name it. Inevitably there are anywhere from 10 to 20 unscooped poops because owners are not paying attention and miss their dog doing its business. And the one that really upsets me — as the owner of what it almost always the smallest dog in the park — making light of threatening behavior (“she won’t hurt your dog, she’s just playing!”) even after I have politely/explicitly asked folks to intervene with their dog who is stalking or obsessed with mine.

    I learned in his puppy class that I can’t always be rescuing my dog, and the training has served us both well as my dog has developed excellent social instincts (we’ve never actually been involved in an incident at a dog park). In fact, if anything, he tends to be more intimidating to other dogs than vice versa, in spite of his size. But I trust my own instincts first and foremost. If there is a weird mojo in the park, or if some dog just won’t take no for an answer after my dog has given one or more “back off” cues, we leave, even if we just got there. I watch my dog like a hawk the entire visit and stop any undesirable behaviors immediately.

    Overall, I consider dog parks kind of a necessary evil in my dog’s life. I worry a lot, but I wouldn’t want to deprive him of an experience he generally relishes. The balance we’ve found so far is to keep going, but exercise unceasing vigilance and never take safety for granted.

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  6. We enjoy the dog park frequently but the thing that keeps our experience safe and pleasant is our parks Social Dog Facebook page. People post when they are going, the age and the size of their dog. Most of the time we know every dog there, the groups rarely get over 8-10 dogs, and having a bit of a connection before hand I believe makes people more accountable for their and their dog’s behavior. It’s also on an army post which changes the human social aspect. At other parks our biggest problem was small- medium sized aggressive dogs who’s behavior was not taken seriously by their owners because of there size. After our singular visit where my bernese was charged by a 25lb terrier (which its owner thought was funny) we never went back. It was way too big with way too many dogs. Each park has it’s own personality. I can’t imagine owners just laughing at bad behavior in our current park/dog play group.

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  7. This was an excellent article! I have been a witness to many dog attacks at dog parks and the apathetic and almost inhumane reaction of irresponsible owners. While it can be a wonderful place it can also pose a huge risk because so many bully dogs and not enough trained owners.

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  8. I’ve had some success explaining the perils of dog parks to owners by using the analogy of a human party. Owners seem to think taking their dog to the dog park is analogous to taking their dogs to a doggie party. I point this out but then ask them how much they’d like it if they went to a party every night with different strangers. Would they find that stressful? (probably so) Would they be ok with a party where some of the strangers were really drunk and behaving poorly but they weren’t allowed to leave, say, or do anything about it? (probably not) Would they be nervous about the next day’s party? Generally I’ve found that when folks stop thinking of the dog park as meeting up with friends and start to anthropomorphize a bit based on these new thoughts about what dogs parks are /really/ like for the dogs, they make smarter choices (which may include being much more vigilant at the park, or being more proactive to protect their dog, recruiting a static pack of friends for the dog to play with on a regular basis, etc). It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it is a useful way to teach folks quickly about what dogs often experience at dog parks.

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    1. Great analogy, Kristina!
      When people put forward their belief that “dogs in dog parks behave like a social group [pack]”, my response is always that believing that a group of dogs in a dog park are the same as a canine social group (sorry, I tend to gag on the word “pack”…… 🙂 ), is analogous to believing that soccer [football] hooligans are the same as a group of people at a family picnic outing. I would love to see a study conducted, preferably at multiple dog parks, that simply chronicles the number and type of stress-related behaviors that dogs exhibit while there. (Notice how I keep mentioning studies to you, in particular…….. 🙂 ).

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  9. It would be great to have a ‘3 minute rule’ – i.e., dogs and owners entering need to be on lead for the first three minutes. It is interesting that everyone feels the need to let their dog off lead, rather than learning to play just as nice on lead. I have a very high prey drive german shepherd (1.5 years) and I won’t let her off lead until she has met (and licked) and walked a bit with a dog or dogs. After that she is calm and submissive. If let off immediately she charges, barks and tries to make them run. Just a few minutes can dramatically alter behaviour from over the top to happy and playful. Jazzy was an extremely well socialised puppy who then had three surgeries for hip, elbow and knee dysplasias from 11 months and had little interaction and no play for 5 months and then frustration as she was allowed on walks but not playing/interacting. I very rarely use dog parks and am luckily enough to live near my dog club and many off lead walking areas. I tend to use dog parks to be outside the fence and rewarding for good behaviour – that makes them very useful 🙂

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    1. Angela, we often stop people from entering with their dog on lead, and city park rules also discourage this. If a dog is restrained by a lead when others come to greet, a scared dog cannot retreat and may fight. One of our regulars has a dog like yours, who she has been successfully teaching to calm down when entering. And teaching good behavior outside the fence does nothing for interactive social skills.

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  10. This is a timely article for me as I always leave the dog park frustrated and upset. It is usally due to a lot of the above but mostly the lack of involvement the owners have with their dogs. I bring a Chuckit and play ball with my dogs and often other people’s dogs will try to get in the game because their owners are socializing or sitting on a bench reading instead. My dogs aren’t interested in sharing this time or the ball with a strange dog that is trying to compete with them. Nor do I have the energy since this is our time to play. We will relocate and the dog will follow usually by itself or the owner may slowly tag along and just stand there with a blank look on their face. So I find it is the people that make dog parks unpleasant and not the dogs. They are just being dogs! Train the people instead is what I think!

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  11. Thank you for this story. I too am not a fan of dog parks although I know people who love them and have made some good “human” friendships there. I started going to the dog park when my family grew to 4 dogs and it was more difficult to walk them. I soon discovered that any behavior issues other dogs were having had more to do with inattentive dog owners, than the pets themselves. Many owners used the time to talk on the phone or play on their ipad and hardly ever looked up to see what type of mischief their dogs were getting into. They didn’t play or bond with their dogs. While one of my dogs loved having the others dogs chase after her, we stopped going to the park after one or two dogs became aggressive.

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  12. My dog is too reactive/hates puppies of any size/apt to wander to take to the dog park. I just gave up. She goes to supervised daycare 2x/week now and I walk her daily. But I do miss the dog park at a local lake, fenced on 3 sides with the lake as the 4th. There was lots of shade, water (duh) and room to play. She would get filthy and then we’d stop off at the self-wash for a bath on the way home. The dog mix is too unpredictable for her. My border collie mix, my first dog, I could take anywhere however. I think the success of the dog park depends on the dogs and the owners – the dogs’ temperaments and the owners’ responsibility and knowledge levels.

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  13. Unfortunately I have had the above experience (disease, unattentive owners and rude/aggressive dogs) with multiple dog parks through both first and second hand information. I am also aware of a situation in which a dog was killed at a local dog park because the owners of both were ill equipped to handle a common situation – rough housing dogs getting tangled in each other’s collars. As you may guess, I am not a fan and do not recommend them.

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  14. I also think many owners are not attentive to early behaviors that can lead to aggression. Learning to read your dog and intervening before things escalate is something I think far to many owners pay attention to.

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  15. I also believe that location can be a factor in a dog park’s reputation. For example, dog parks in Boulder, CO tend to be clean and spacious, with the general population being friendly and social, yet mindful of dog park etiquette. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for dog parks in Pittsburgh, PA.

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  16. Thanks for the article. While I agree with your concerns, perhaps I take a different view point of dog parks. I happen to love my local dog park. During seasonable months I take my pup at least three times a week and she needs it. I live in a suburban community with limited green space. My dog needs the park to run and burn off energy. She is also very social and loves to play. Since we started going to the dog park last March, she had never contracted and diseases or has been seriously injured. Yes, there are sometimes aggressive dogs with irresponsible owners. But for the most part, I’ve found most owners at my park to be be very responsible and mindful of their dog’s behavior.

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  17. Hi Lu, Yes, I know. (See the last section of the blog – this is addressed). However, this was a research study that used an accepted methodology in the researcher’s field and the results were reported in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal. As I stated in the blog, more studies are needed. However, until additional information is available, such as studies that examine the use of designated spaces and obstacles as well as the efficacy of dog screening and owner regulations, the results of this pilot study suggest that dog parks can be unsafe and that the owners who visit them do not behave well.

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  18. When we have traveled up north to Cincinnati I have visited two different dog parks with my boy Marley. The first one, a close distance to where my family lives and free admission. It was a free for all, for owners and dogs alike. We skirted around the perimeter and the next arrival of dog and owner come rushing in, the dog was in a very high arousal state and within minutes a conflict/fight broke out. Ok, I don’t feel I have to control every aspect of my dogs life but I can do about this type exposure . The second was a pay to play that does a standardized temp eval before allowing the dog to play. (no food hand) viewing other dogs, petting and a few others..Shot record proof too. Inside were docks for the pool, A-frames and other agility equipment, gushing hoses in the concrete that spurted water every 15 seconds or so, grassy area for ones that wanted to interact or play, and a wooded area. I only went a few times but it appeared to me that it was set up for the people to interact with their dogs or let them play. By charging, I think they knew not only would it pay for all the great stuff there was to to there but it would eliminate the riff-raff of it turning into a free for all. There were like playground monitors who walked the park for safety. Heres the link:http://www.wagspark.com/
    Looks like they have daycare and beer now.
    I will stick to doing the a frame and swimming if Marley and I happen to go again.
    Love your soapboxes, I mean topics Linda!

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    1. Hi Melissa – Thanks for posting. What a contrast between two dog parks, and it really was wonderful to hear that some places appear to be “getting it right”. (The beer thing made me chuckle…….so what do the owners drink?). Your comment about the park being set up for people to interact and play with their dogs (rather than a free-for-all of dogs with people sitting on benches or standing and talking in a lump), may be key. I would love to see a study that compares parks that designate space in different ways (and also that use screening, have a fee structure, etc), to see if there are solid approaches that can make the parks safe and can promote “owners behaving nicely” as well. (And, Yes, that ol’ soapbox…….gets me in trouble now and again, doesn’t it…… 🙂 ).

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  19. The same advice can be given to folks who want to take their dogs along when going to places that allow pets, such as PetsMart. I’ve seen some incidents, primarily with “bully” dog breeds, where owners were not able to control their dogs.

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    1. I’m sorry you’ve had issues with bully breeds. In my case I have two Pitt bulls and two Chihuahuas. When I was in the park with my bullies we were attacked by a lab. The people who saw the fight start spoke up after the owner of the lab called the police. Now none of the dogs were hurt yet the owner tried to convince the police to confiscate both of my dogs even the one not involved. For that reason we don’t go to dog parks any more. As a bully owner we are always blamed if something starts.

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      1. Amen, sister! I have a pitbull who does not start fights but feels the need to break them up – this includes people! There was an incident where people were arguing over a car accident and my girl was ready to go in there and set everyone straight.

        I am so glad there were witnesses to the fight so you did not lose your dogs.

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  20. Well spoken. We have avoided dog parks because we do not trust the behavior of unfamiliar dogs (and their owners) and, in rare instances, the behavior of my own dogs. One of our previous boys (may he R.I.P.) did, in fact, attack a neighbor’s dog while we were out walking (both dogs on leash). After I was able to separate them (at some expense to my own hand from our dog), I could no longer trust him around other dogs. In reflection, I believe his aggressiveness grew from being attacked by an older dog when he was a puppy. I recall that food (dog biscuits) were an issue at that time. He was a wonderful dog around people and his “dog-brother”, and he would not go looking for trouble, but when out walking, I had to be careful not to allow him to get too close to passing dogs. I believe he was being aggressively defensive, if that makes any sense – basically, bite first and ask questions later! So, I want to keep my dogs from being put in vulnerable situations – either one where they are subject to attack, or one where they feel the need to be aggressive. Dog parks just seem ripe to create those situations.

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    1. Hi Al – Thanks for your comments. Your point that you were not comfortable with your own dog’s behavior with other dogs (i.e. he was defensively reactive with unfamiliar dogs), hits the proverbial nail on its noggin. At issue is the responsible (and in my opinion, considerate) behavior by other dog owners (or more precisely, the lack thereof). The paper cited many more instances of “owners behaving badly” at the dog park than I listed in the blog. These included refusing to pick up after their dogs, mocking other owners, ignoring their dogs as they were misbehaving or being aggressive……and on and on (hence, my sudden segue into soap box world….. 🙂 ). While this was just a single dog park (and they DO vary, as Melissa describes well in her post), it was powerful in that it was a report from a research study that used an accepted methodology and was reported in a peer-reviewed journal (i.e. it was not simply anecdotal).

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