The safest thing you can do in a dog park is never go into a dog park. My reasoning is that I don’t want my dog injured or sick due to another dog. For those of you who go to dog parks how do you know the other dogs are not going to attack your dog? Do the other dogs have their Rabies and other vaccinations? Veterinarians do not typically vaccinate for kennel cough. There is a myriad of illnesses dogs can pick up and I would prefer my dogs not be introduced to any of them. Recently in our area a dog was killed in a dog park by two Newfoundlands. This could have been avoided by never entering a dog park in the first place.
I recently evaluated a dog that was reactive. Reactive means getting aggressive; show teeth, bark, growl and bite. The dog was fine with some dogs and wanted to kill others. The owner’s veterinarian recommended taking the dog to a dog park. Wrong! Do not do that, you will be putting other dogs at risk of getting injured. If you want to properly socialize your dog find a group of calm well behaved dogs for your dog to interact with and do it with a professional. Yes hire a behaviorist or dog trainer that has experience with reactive dogs. Don’t go it alone because you’ll mess it up and it will be a mark against your dog because it bit. You will do it wrong by feeling nervous, tightening the leash, and misinterpreting your dog’s body language. If your dog is reactive you’ve already been doing a lot of things wrong or your dog wouldn’t behave in that way.
If you own a reactive dog you just might acknowledge he/she is reactive and keep it away from dogs. It is really not that hard. I do it all the time and my dogs are social. Here is what I do. I walked my dogs to the park with my boys the other day. I sat on a park bench and put my dogs in a down. I saw a lady enter the play area with a golden retriever. The dog was the typical leash puller. The dog dragged the lady around the park as she made her way towards me. I could hear her talking to her dog from behind me as she approached. She said, “Do you want to go and say HI to the dogs?” I turned and looked at her as her dog was dragging her towards us. She asked can my dog say “HI”. I replied, “No my dogs are not friendly.” She said a surprised, “Oh” and dragged her dog away. Now my dogs are friendly but she doesn’t need to know that and I don’t want her nasty ass dog’s fleas jumping on my dogs. How do I know her dog has fleas? I don’t but I don’t want to take the chance either. I have no idea when that dog was last bathed, if it’s on a flea preventative or is sick. One thing I do know, my dogs are not going to interact with it.
My impressions of dog parks are this. Dog parks are dangerous and for lazy people. I have no problem giving my dogs plenty of exercise. I walk them, play fetch, swim them, hike with them and they get to go to work with me. If you do all these things and your dog is still pacing the house and driving you crazy, maybe you need to teach your dog to chill. I don’t allow pacing in my house. Pacing will get you a long down stay or time on the place board. My dogs all do crate time when I’m at work and they take advantage by getting in a quick nap. At work they hang out with our day care dogs, train, and play fetch. I’m even thinking of getting a pool for them at my kennel. How cool would that be?
So dog parks are bad. Exercise is good and don’t pick up any parasites from strange dogs.