Dog Parks Dilemma: Pros and Cons
When you get a new pup, it seems natural to want to take him to a nearby dog park to play and to socialize with other dogs and their owners. However, this decision should not be made lightly, and needs to be researched beforehand. As most things in life, dog parks have their benefits and downfalls.
- It allows a young dogs to learn how to play with other dogs. You must have heard about how important it is to socialize your puppy too many times to mention. Dog parks provide a perfect opportunity for your pet to learn the acceptable manners of the dog world.
- It allows you to connect with likeminded owners. This is a no small thing. Having someone to share your experiences, worries, and concerns with, makes us feel like part of the community.
- It allows for an easy exercise for your energetic pup in a confined, fenced in area. I'm sure there are days when it may seem almost impossible to tire out your bundle of joy. Dog parks provide an outlet for such days.
- It allows you to train with your pup when faced with real distractions. Asking your dog for a sit or a down inside your house is very different than asking Fido to comply outside, with other dogs running around.
- Young puppies have a fragile immune system, and before the full round of vaccinations is complete, the owner should be mindful of connecting with other dogs, who may be sick. Even an adult dog can pick up a disease from a communal dog park. After all, not all owners are vigilant about the health of their pets, and the possible risks to others.
- While everyone should be following good dog park etiquette, not all owners are alike, just like not all parents are alike. Some will have poorly behaved dogs taking over the dog park, without much consideration offered to you and your beloved pet. The problem is, in the dog world, a poorly behaved dog can cause serious damage when off-leash.
- It may be too easy to fall back on the dog park for the exercise, but dog parks are in no way a substitute for daily walks and training, especially for large, working breeds.
So, is it worth it?
I believe that not all dog parks are the same. I find that some have a better culture than others; some of them are visited by a group of polite dog owners, who expect their pets to behave well and are in control of their dogs. Other dog parks are not safe places to be, for you or your dog. If you have a dog park in your area, you should visit it and judge for yourself, whether or not it provides a safe and respectful atmosphere for you and your pup.