Why Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue Does Not Recommend Dog Parks
A common question we ask potential applicants is how they will exercise their newly adopted dog and a common response from these applicants involves “the dog park.” Not only can dog parks be a cesspool of disease and filled with parasites or fleas, but they also can be a pretty significant behavioral issue as well.
The information we are about to discuss applies to dog parks as well as any other place where people decide to let their dog be off-leash despite the fact that there are strict leash laws. A miniscule percentage of dogs have been properly trained to the extent that their off-leash skills are flawless and worthy of actually being off-leash. For the majority of dogs, this is not the case, however this does not stop owners from letting their dogs run wild, while also not understanding how to gauge the temperament of their dog as well as other dogs.
We hear it constantly, people saying how friendly their dog is and how fantastic they are with other dogs. The excuses are never-ending when dogs start to growl, snap, snarl, and pin other pups to the ground (or worse). Some owners are unable to come to terms with the idea that their dog might not be as friendly with people, other pooches, or in social settings as they thought. This is NOT to say that these people are bad owners! It is simply because most people are not in touch with or do not have a legitimate understanding of dog behavior, body language, and basic obedience/training.
Taking your dog to a dog park can sometimes be as reckless as sending your kid to a party when you don’t know if the parents are home. Dog parks are powder kegs of emotionally charged dogs and humans and can be a social experiment gone bad. There are no trained professionals on site to interrupt interactions based on observations learned from years of experience. And this is why dog fights erupt unnecessarily.
We hear people say that dog parks are a great way to “socialize” their dogs. Many think that a dog park is a key part of socialization – a dog experiencing many unknown people, dogs, and stimuli all at once. Placing a dog under environmental stress is NOT appropriate “socialization.” Dog parks place unnecessary social pressure on our dogs. Our pups do not need to say ‘hello’ to every dog they come across, nor do they have to love every dog they meet – we certainly don’t love every human we meet! It is the same for a canine. Forcing a dog in to an already awkward and uncomfortable social setting is a sure recipe for disaster.
Leash laws are there to protect your dog as well as other dogs and other people. Not having your dog on a leash is spoiling the experience of owners who are truly being responsible. Please remember to be knowledgeable about your pup’s threshold and his or her ability to be in social settings and always leash your dog. If you want to let your dog off-leash with other dogs, our suggestion is to take them to a facility that runs a structured group socialization class or, better yet, join a group that does pack walks together.
Written by Liss M.
President & Founder, Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue, Inc.