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Old 12-17-2012, 09:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Dog parks? Good or bad?

I frequently take my dogs to the dog park (2-3 times a week for 1.5-2 hours). I tend to go during the week (I work from home for the most part) so it's less crowded. However last Sunday I went, only because I was too....umm... "tired" (code for hungover) to actually manage a walk but wanted to give my boys some exercise. It was incredibly crowded (15-20 dogs) which always makes me nervous. The moment i walked in, a dog fight broke out and it took 3 guys to break it up. My boys stay as far away as they can from all the growling, barking and yelling. After the offenders left the park we walked over to the group and everyone played normally.

About 15 minutes later two pits were playing extremely rough and again mine stayed away. I took hades away to let him drink and Snoop followed like a good little border collie. Just then another fight broke out between these pits and one guy brings his pit over and asks to borrow the hose because his dogs mouth was bleeding. It drank from the bowl and tons of blood mixed with the water. I've also seen a cane corso attack another dog (these people also owned a Doberman so I initially assumed they were intelligent) and the owners said oh sorry he's really protective of his frisbee. (Ummm don't bring the frisbee then. Ugh...)

I know my boys love the park and its nice to let them run, but I don't want them to end up getting hurt or myself if I have to save them from a fight. Maybe I should just go during the week when there are under 5 other dogs at a time. What's your opinion of dog parks?



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Old 12-17-2012, 10:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The general opinion that I've gathered from my time on this forum (and one that I share) is that dog parks are generally a "bad" and this is especially so for dobermans.

Some things to consider...
  • Same sex aggression is a real thing in this breed, especially with males, and can happen at any time without any warning.
  • Dog parks are full of people who know NOTHING and rarely care about their dogs.
  • While you may know a whole deal about dog signals and what-not keep in mind that you don't know a whole deal about the random dogs at the park.
  • Dog parks tend to be filled with untrained dogs and dogs that really shouldn't be there.
  • ETA: Keeping the above in mind, dog parks are where people bring their under-socialized (and sometimes aggressive) dogs to get socialized.
  • Dobes are considered an "aggressive" breed (like rotties and pitties) so if a fight happens and your dog gets caught up in it chances are you/your dog will be blamed even if that is the farthest thing from the truth.


That being said, until I moved out of Austin I frequented a dog park multiple times a week (even during the busier hours). My boy was not fully mature yet so I wasn't too worried about the same sex aggression and I was a "regular" who hung out with the other regulars and so if something ever happened, which it didn't, and my dog got wrongfully blamed they would back me up. I've also spent years working with dogs, including big groups of dogs, so I am pretty good at reading the signals that the dogs gave off and I stayed forever vigilant while my dog was at the park.

I still visit the dog park when I go back to Austin but I go during the very off hours with a single friend who I know and trust (and Dreizehn LOVES his dogs) and we go into the smallest section,of three, that almost never gets used.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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it depends.

lots of bad owners out there.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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For what it's worth....we stopped taking major to dog parks when he was about a year old. It became clear to us that he became the target of other big dogs and he was forced to defend himself. I think dogparks are a bad thing for Dobermans. They are just too aggressive and other dogs are the same with them.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Last week we went for the first time since Wrigley reached maturity. Wrigley does not get to go into the dog park. She is allowed to walk on the outside of the fence though. She is leash reactive. She may be okay off leash with some dogs, but I don't want to take the chance. My hound is allowed to go to the dog parks. She doesn't play. She just walks around and sniffs. It's good for her because she is a little leash reactive to people (uncomfortable, no petting), but if she doesn't have a leash on then she can say hello and leave on her own. She acts very happy meeting these people.
But... There were some dogs (husky) that ran up on her a few times looking very dominate. It would stop and sniff then go on its way. Dover had no reaction to it. But, I know if wrigley was in there, she would have lost her mind.
To answer your question, it just depends. I would stick to your week time schedule and go during the off hours. It just sounds safer.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KentnBarbara View Post
For what it's worth....we stopped taking major to dog parks when he was about a year old. It became clear to us that he became the target of other big dogs and he was forced to defend himself.
Any chance that your boy was intact?
Often, male dogs (neutered and intact) will target other male dogs that are intact.



Quote:
Originally Posted by KentnBarbara View Post
I think dogparks are a bad thing for Dobermans. They are just too aggressive and other dogs are the same with them.
Do you mean play style or their general nature?
If it's the first, I'd agree that many dobes have a rough/hard/"aggressive" play styles.
If it's the latter and you're saying that dobermans are generally aggressive, I'm not sure I agree. I have yet to meet a dobe, and I have met many, who are aggressive in your run-of-the-mill, everyday situation.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with PWR.

Jones loves the park and it's a really nice park with some actual responsible owners. SHOCKING! Sure there are a few idiots, but I think I've seen 5 fights in 4 years and I go every Saturday morning.

But if fights happened on a regular occurrence I would find somewhere else to go or something else to do. It's not worth my dog or my safety.
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I started taking Rou to the dog park immediately following his vaccination series. I wanted to keep him up to snuff with socialization. He took right to smaller dogs and held caution with bigger dogs. He still stays away from fussing and large groups, and for the most part sticks close.

He was a target of two potential attacks by a male intact Whippet. The dog in question has a reputation for being unpredictable and has even bit other people while at this park. The last time I brought Rou there, and this dog happened to be there, once my dog had to hide in a bush while the Whippet tried to kill him, my "Mommy mode" came out and I grabbed this Whippet without any regard for myself... luckily no one was injured, but the dog almost had his testicles ripped off, but his owner really had her rear reamed a new one!

They should really make Doberman Only dog parks
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Old 12-17-2012, 10:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This is the first time I've seen a major fight where blood was drawn. It was two aggressive/dominant pits and one of them was fine with all the dogs there until another pushy pit showed up.

It's a great park during the week. You have the regulars and typically more responsible owners who go at that time bc they're probably like me.

I don't know it's south Florida and filled with idiots who all have pits bc they think they're cool and i think you're right they go to try to socialize their non socialized dogs. I have nothing against pits but I think a lot of people get them thinking they're cool but aren't willing to put in the training required for a dog in general, especially a bully breed.


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Old 12-17-2012, 11:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The dog park I go to is 18 acres, so there is more than enough space for everyone when the park is really busy. I do not go to any rinky-dink ones, unless it is fairly empty. There is one that I go to if I take Marshall to work with me that is quite small, but there are generally only 2-3 dogs there maximum, if any. I am constantly watching other dogs, seeing who causes trouble and who is nice. I know which dogs to stay away from and which ones Marshall gets along with. I also try to stay away from loitering around large groups of people/dogs, as someone always picks a fight. I am not sure if it is some sort of 'mob mentality' when there are more than 5 or 6 dogs congregating in the same area, but something usually happens.
There are great people at the dog park and there are stupid people at the dog park. I think the key is to just always be aware of what's going on around you.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I am completely anti dog park. But if you do decide to go, don't blame anyone but yourself if your dog is ever put at risk. Common sense will tell you that YOU are the one knowingly putting your dog in a potentially bad situation. People complain about the idiots they encounter at dog parks and the dogs that shouldn't be there, and people shouldn't do this, and people shouldn't do that. Obviously that is never going to change, and there is only one way you can have control over it, and that is to not be around it. If I frequented dog parks and something happened to one of my dogs I would only be mad at my OWN idiocy, it wouldn't matter who started what.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:47 PM   #12 (permalink)
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This is a very common topic here on DT. Here are a few other threads you might find useful on the same topic:

Dog Park Fight
Dog park
Dog parks
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I agree with Julia W. There are too many people that bring their dogs to dog parks that have NO business being there.
I'm not risking my dog just so he can run around.
It's not just his health you need to worry about, all it takes is one attack, and your dog can become dog reactive/aggressive
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Old 12-18-2012, 10:24 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I don't go to the park near my house at all. It's always crowded, people here do not understand dog behavior or body language, and there's been fights. From the way you described yours, I would never take my dog there unless there wasn't anyone else in the park. Socializing your dogs in a dog park is not the world's best idea. It's too uncontrolled, and I'd avoid that park if people were using it for that purpose too. Not to mention, many pit bulls are not good dog park candidates because of dog aggression, just like some of our Dobermans are not due to same sex aggression. If you're in an area with a large pit bull population, and their owners like to take them to dog parks to 'socialize', avoiding that park is a good idea. Like I've said before, I like pit bulls as a breed, but I know a lot of them are not good matches for dog parks, especially the ones owned by people wanting to look tough.

Just about the only dog parks I will go to are ones that are large, 5 acres or more, or parks with off leash trails. They're all in quieter locations, and Griffin can run without ever interacting with another dog. It really is not worth it to risk your dog getting hurt. Small dog parks are just flat out risky, especially if you live in an area like mine where it's overcrowded with people who don't know jack about dogs.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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We only go to the un-popular dog parks during off-hours when we have scheduled play dates with people we know, and dog(s) we know.

Like many have already stated, dog parks are full of dog-ignorant people and unsocialized dogs. I learned a few lessons very early on that if I don't feel comfortable, we either go back to the car without even entering the dog park or leave the dog park immediately if there is the slightest chance of a red flag.

In the end, it's really not worth witnessing your fur-child get hurt by another. What makes it worse is if the other dog's owner doesn't acknowledge or blames you for something your fur-child did not do.
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Old 12-18-2012, 05:48 PM   #16 (permalink)
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That's a great idea to go to a dog park with play dates. I have a lot of friends with playful dogs (and all female!) perfect for my boy. There's also a dog park by my house that no one goes too. I don't prefer it bc it's not shaded (its brand new so no big trees yet) and Hades is albino

The dog park I do frequent has a third fenced area that people can go into and close the gates and people are respectful of others in there if the gates are closed. I do obedience training in there with Hades. That would be a perfect place for play dates.


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Old 12-18-2012, 06:46 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I don't take Keno to the dog park just because I'd rather be safe than sorry. He hasnt shown and REAL aggression, other than those monsterous possums and raccoons that makes really upsets him. There are alot of dogs there that are just plain out mean and WANT to fight,, and I'm not up for that mess.
I live in the city, so I take Keno and Chicko to Ekersol or Stagg football stadium here in Chicago that is COMPLETELY enclosed and no one uses other that the people that exercise or walk the track in the weeeeee morning hours. They have a enclosed yard, but sometimes they just want to STRETCH THEIR LEGS.. THEY LOVE IT, they chase ducks, the run up and down the bleachers, they just RUN like wild dogs. I may even get a minute or two of training.
I feel bad about not having the acres they deserve, so I'm there freezing with my butt frozen to the bleachers with my audio book. *sigh* The things we do for love.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:31 PM   #18 (permalink)
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THe only dog park we have has the following rules: One dog per adult person, no kids under 11 in the fenced area, and no food inside the fenced area. I've taken Ilka to the park on the weekend (when other people were there) once. After the woman with her dog, her dad's dog, and her three year old daughter broke out a package of doggie treats, we left.

I've taken Ilka when nobody else was there, because it lets me throw her dummies a distance that would be two or more houses down the block if we were home, and lets her really run. I was going to take her and Leo both a couple of weeks ago, when I had my husband available to go with us, but there was someone there already, so we didn't even get out of the car.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:14 AM   #19 (permalink)
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We just got one about a year ago and I was very leery of allowing Ahren to go there, we have plenty of land for him to run on and we often allow other people we know to bring their large dogs out to play. About 3 months ago I decided to go, we went on a Thursday around 1:00 while everyone was still at work as I wanted as few distractions as possible his first "dog park day" Our dog park allows no colors to be worn, no leashes ect, I thought that was unsafe, but was willing to follow their rules, upon entering the park I give Ahren the okay to take off, im walking around checking for anything bad, and find not 1 but 2 side gates open, one leading to woods one leading to the highway! several pieces of glass, tons of dog feces, ect. We will not go back, I posted a complaint to the owner of the park, and the maintenance people along with a general remark on the parks page that when you take your dog be sure to check all gates got closed (especially with puppy's that may dart through it and still be iffy on recall) I got a rude letter back and banned from the park lol. Personally I think they are a bad idea, I know every dog that steps foot on my property is utd on shots and worm/parasite free. The dog park just screams worms, fleas, ticks ect. yuck- I don't want my boy picking up any of the above, plus your pup can get nipped, bit, attacked, lots of safety and health issues to consider-
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:50 AM   #20 (permalink)
u mad?
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SGranger Ph.D View Post
We just got one about a year ago and I was very leery of allowing Ahren to go there, we have plenty of land for him to run on and we often allow other people we know to bring their large dogs out to play. About 3 months ago I decided to go, we went on a Thursday around 1:00 while everyone was still at work as I wanted as few distractions as possible his first "dog park day" Our dog park allows no colors to be worn, no leashes ect, I thought that was unsafe, but was willing to follow their rules, upon entering the park I give Ahren the okay to take off, im walking around checking for anything bad, and find not 1 but 2 side gates open, one leading to woods one leading to the highway! several pieces of glass, tons of dog feces, ect. We will not go back, I posted a complaint to the owner of the park, and the maintenance people along with a general remark on the parks page that when you take your dog be sure to check all gates got closed (especially with puppy's that may dart through it and still be iffy on recall) I got a rude letter back and banned from the park lol. Personally I think they are a bad idea, I know every dog that steps foot on my property is utd on shots and worm/parasite free. The dog park just screams worms, fleas, ticks ect. yuck- I don't want my boy picking up any of the above, plus your pup can get nipped, bit, attacked, lots of safety and health issues to consider-

Glad nothing horrible happened with those gates open. I'm pretty sure I know which park you're referring to (Long view?) and.I went once close to opening and haven't been since. The place was a huge mud hole when I was there and I got a pretty "iffy" feeling about the place in general.
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:56 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Never been to a dog park, and I don't think its anything we missed.
- my last dobe had a blast, running through a woodlot (with a walking trail) in peace and quite (on the edge of our city park, with a 20 acre pond)
- I don't want my dog(s) to pickup fleas or get stool worms, so dog parks are avoided
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:22 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatchworkRobot View Post
Glad nothing horrible happened with those gates open. I'm pretty sure I know which park you're referring to (Long view?) and.I went once close to opening and haven't been since. The place was a huge mud hole when I was there and I got a pretty "iffy" feeling about the place in general.
You got it- they intentionally flood it for some of the large dog meet ups- for real why do I want a muddy dog that has to ride back in my car? Smh I wasn't big on it to begin with but now I'm just not interested/ ill hold play dates


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Old 12-20-2012, 06:46 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Been there, done that. We loved going when it was brand new. Then people who don't give their dog shots, etc. go there. Yep, intact males, etc. Yep, we go to doggie day care where I know they have to have at least the basic shots. Too, bad, though it's a nice dog park.
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:49 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Where is doggie day care? I know there is a spa place opening- but not sure when it will be operational


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Old 12-20-2012, 07:57 AM   #25 (permalink)
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kpal4978 and I met up in the field next to the local dog park. After a while we decided to let the boys in (the entire area was full of mud and the boys already dirty, so we gave it a go). The group inside the park was pretty small- one lab, a lab mix, a husky, a little pitty girl and a basset hound.

Needless to say our boys had fun in the enclosed area, but we are well aware it is at our own risk! The people that were in attendance yesterday were ok with their dog's behavior (not great on signs, but knew to leave when things got a bit too rowdy).

The boys had a blast but we didn't stay terribly long as it was getting dark and the boys were still wired after we left :/ Our favorite trails were all mud! And we all know a happy puppy is a tired puppy

But I agree- it is at your own risk as anything can happen.

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