Recently we stopped going to the dog park and I’m bummed, because it was such a fun place to go. I get another dose of bummage when we walk by the park and our dogs whine to go in and I have to say “no.” Talking to other dog owners, I’ve found that I’m not alone in being frustrated with the dog park. Dog owners seem to agree on these 9 annoying things about the dog park.
1. Uneducated Dog Owners – we all have a different learning curve, but it’s frustrating when a dog owner brings an unaltered female to the park who is in heat and freaks when she’s mounted.
I also see dog owners who will hold their dogs, afraid that the noisy play is fighting. I try not to be irritated, because I’ve picked up my dogs (when they were puppies) and I’ve worried about rough play myself. If you’re worried, then visit the dog park a few times without your dog – get a lay of the land.
2. Aggressive Dogs – one of our dogs is very protective of our new puppy so we suspended dog park visits until the puppy is older. We might take the puppy alone, but never with his protector, Rodrigo. I would like to see more dog owners show the same consideration.
Sometimes we can’t predict when our dogs are going to lose it, but if your dog has a few instances of hurting other dogs on his record, then it might be time to suspend dog park visits and consult with a dog trainer.
3. Aggressive Dog Owners – a man threatened to kick my Sydney one day and I almost lost it. I know that people become agitated, but to take it out on an animal is unacceptable.
I especially don’t like it when I see dog owners “training” their dogs using the alpha roll over. Although many see this as a legitimate form of training, a novice dog owner risks injuring their dog, themselves, and the people around them by aggressively rolling their dogs.
4. Food at the Dog Park – I don’t mean training treats, I mean lunch. The dog park is not a place for a picnic. Especially one that involves chicken. My dogs will snatch up a cooked chicken bone before I have a chance to react and I believe that bringing something like this to the dog park is irresponsible.
5. Small Children at the Dog Park – It’s become common for me to see toddlers playing inside the dog park, which raises many issues. There’s dog poop within reach of their tiny hands. Some dogs aren’t socialized around children and may not react well. Dogs play roughly and run at high speeds, not caring that humans are in the way. Some children don’t know the protocol for approaching a dog and some dogs see direct eye contact as aggression.
I don’t think the dog park is a place for small children to play – carry them in a carrier on your back so that they can experience the dog park with your family, but don’t trust that the dogs are going to take precautions, because your kid is there.
6. Failure to Pick Up – I wonder if the dog owners who won’t pick up their dogs poop realize that we all know that their dog is taking a poop and we all know that they're purposely trying to avoid looking in their dog’s direction. Just pick it up. No one likes to step in it and we don’t want our dogs tracking it into our car. Just pick it up!
7. Dog Owners Don’t Pay Attention – I’ve been guilty of chatting on the phone at the dog park and I stopped, because I can’t focus on a conversation and keep an eye on three dogs. I need to be ready to react should something not go as planned. I can’t do that with a cell phone to my ear.
8. Unfair Judgment – When we lost our puppy, Riley, to Canine Parvovirus, a fellow dog parker told me ‘well, that’ll teach you to bring an unvaccinated dog to the dog park.’ She had been sharing my misstep with the world, not knowing that we were told that she was fully vaccinated.
We’re all doing our best and one of the wonderful things about the dog lover community is that we support each other. Instead of judging someone, offer support and recommendations (although I do judge the guy who was aggressively rolling over his dog).
9. Car Prowls – Several cars have been broken in to at the dog park. It’s great pickings for thieves who are looking for a little cash or for something to sell. People leave wallets in the glove compartment and purses beneath the seat, not realizing that the person acting busy two cars over is going to bust out your window the moment you and your dog head off for an hour of fun.
So that’s my list of annoying things about the dog park. I’m not 100% ready to give up on the park and have been working on finding the best time of day for us to go. So far, it’s 7pm during the week (during the summer) and 8 am on the weekends. When we’re unable to make it to the park, we schedule play dates with friends, take the dogs on long walks, we go on hikes, and take the dogs to the beach.
Well exercised herding dogs are happy, sleepy dogs.
Kimberly Gauthier is the Editor in Chief of Keep the Tail Wagging, an online magazine for dog lovers that shares tips on dog training, dog healthy, dog nutrition, and other ways to provide our dogs with happy healthy lives. Kimberly supports and promotes dog rescue and believes that if you don’t rescue, you shouldn’t breed.
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