Dog parks and daycares can provide an excellent energy outlet for dogs. Off-leash play environments can help reduce a dog’s stress and boredom, and give dogs a fun way to meet new people and other dogs. I’m a big fan of off-leash play when it’s done for the right reasons with the right dogs. But there are three dogs that shouldn’t be at the dog park or the dog daycare.
- The adult dog that needs socialization. Socialization is vital for dogs. It’s an important part of how puppies learn about their world. I talked about some misunderstandings with socialization in this post. But if an adult dog needs socialization, the dog park or local dog daycare is probably not the best environment. Normally owners are told their adult dog needs socialization because the dog is not getting along well with other dogs (often these dogs are fearful or showing some for of growling or snapping at other dogs). Some believe that exposure to more dogs will solve these problems. However, exposure to more dogs is rarely the solution. The solution more likely involves very controlled exposure to a specific group of carefully selected dogs. This type of control and selection is not usually available in the average dog park or daycare. The dogs that don’t do well with other dogs may need behavior modification, not just exposure to large numbers of random dogs in a dog park or dog daycare.
- The dog that pins, rolls, or knocks over other dogs all the time. Part of the fun of off-leash play is watching the crazy antics of the dogs. Dogs have different playstyles and it’s important to match them with appropriate playmates. However, any dog that consistently rams other dogs, forcefully slams other dogs onto the ground, or repeatedly pins dogs on the ground is being a bully. It might look like fun play to the average owner, but these dogs should not be allowed to practice this kind of bad behavior. Good dog play is fun for all the dogs interacting. Good play is loose and wiggly, and the dogs take turns chasing or rolling around on the ground. If this isn’t happening, then there is a good chance at least one of the playmates isn’t having fun.
- The dog that hides. The dog that hides under a rock, under the bench, behind the owner’s legs or under the playground equipment, is saying, “I don’t really like it here.” You might also see dogs jumping up on people or on the gate. This is often a sign that the dog is asking for help. If the dog isn’t having fun, he shouldn’t be at the dog park.
If you have one of these three dogs, then perhaps it would be more fun to find another energy outlet for your dog. These are many great dogs that just prefer a different environment. Take a hike alone, go to the park when no other dogs are around, do some training (agility, flyball, nosework, rally, etc) or just hang out at home with your best friend. There is no reason every dog needs to go to the dog park or dog daycare. Choose the best activity for your individual dog.
Do you encounter any of these dogs at your dog park or daycare?