Home > Dog Behavior, Dog Park, Pet Safety > Dog park safety – Do you know how to keep your dogs safe? (video)

Dog park safety – Do you know how to keep your dogs safe? (video)

IMG_0536Ask most dog trainers how they feel about dog parks and I guarantee that most of them would say they hate them. I know many of my friends, who are dog trainers, have told me as much when I have told them stories about things that have happened there.

Perhaps the biggest issue most trainers (and I) have with dog parks aren’t the dogs, but the owners – they don’t pay attention, they don’t have control over their dog, and they don’t intervene soon enough. It’s one of the reasons I am so hyper-vigilant at the dog park. I want to know where my dogs are, where other people’s dogs are, and want to walk away from trouble before it begins. My dogs love the dog park, but I think they would love it less if I wasn’t so focused on making sure they are safe and having fun while they are there.

Being a dog owner means not only being responsible for your dog, but also being his advocate. If you go to a dog park, you better take this role seriously because if you don’t your dog, or another dog, could get hurt. Here are some suggestions on how to keep them safe:

  • Keep your dogs moving. The more they are moving and exercising, the less chance they will be engaged in trouble with another dog.
  • Intervene if you see more than one dog ganging up on another. Way too many dog owners don’t intervene when they should. This often leads to trouble and can cause a dog to be injured. If more than one dog is harassing one dog, it is not play, it is bullying.
  • Walk away when they excitement level between dogs at the dog park reaches a hyper level. When I see dogs overly excited, I take my dogs in the opposite direction. Overly excited dogs tend to get other dogs excited and pretty soon you can have over-the-top trouble. Better to stay away from that kind of activity.
  • If your dog is hiding between your legs, hiding under a bench or picnic table, or looks scared and unhappy to be there, LEAVE. A dog that is scared to be at the dog park is not a happy dog. Why would any owner force their dog to stay in a fearful state?
  • Make sure your dogs are well-trained and respond to your commands. If you don’t have control over your dog, you should not be at a dog park. Period. No one wants to deal with an unruly dog and an irresponsible owner.

Not sure what to watch for? Here is a great video that illustrates some of the behaviors you should be watching for at the dog park.  I highly recommend every dog owner watch it. 

Dog parks can be fun places, but it takes knowing your dog and knowing what to do if you see trouble. Not every dog wants to go to a dog park nor should every dog be at a dog park. Owners need to know what to watch for and to be an advocate for their dog and know when the dog park is not the best option.

  1. October 21, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    We have stopped going to dog parks because of out of control dogs and owners that are on the phone not watching what their dog is doing. It just became too stressful. Luckily we have a nice park 3 blocks from home that we can run the dogs at. The other dogs that go there are well behaved and have not had any problems.

  2. October 21, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Great post 🙂 It”s good to know this kind of stuff – Harvey got into a bit of a scrape when 2 big dogs pinned him down, he was OK luckily but it definitely didn’t help that their owner had no control over them!

  3. October 21, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    I always watch carefully when we get the chance to go to a dog park. Especially my tiny Roxy.

  4. October 21, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    I agree, it’s more the owners than the dogs that need supervision. I have no problem disciplining some else’s dog at the dog park if necessary.

  5. October 21, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Max and I love the dog park but we only go on weekday afternoons – there are too many dogs on the weekends. He is very social and has an excellent recall but I always keep a close eye on him. We are fortunate to have a several acre wooded park with walking trails. My biggest complaints are people who don’t supervise their dogs and dogs who don’t belong in a dog park!

  6. michelle
    October 21, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Narrated by Sue Sternberg???

  7. October 21, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Great tips! We don’t go to the dog park anymore – too scary. And I think you are right about dog trainers. Our trainer doesn’t go to the dog park. He says he’ll only let his dog have supervised playdates with other dogs/owners that he knows.

    I think the point about leaving with a scared dog is so important! A scared dog is not having any fun – and scared dogs can bring out the worst in other dogs. I’ve seen that unfortunately from both sides with my dogs.

  8. October 21, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Its unfortunate that dog parks have become so unruly due to out of touch owners. We used to take our Sally all the time and 90% of the time it was a great experience for her – lots of fun, good dog interaction. But now, I don’t even take Jack & Maggie – the level of excitement is too high and the owners are too busy chatting. Great video though.

  9. October 21, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    I attended a Nicole Wilde seminar in which she showed dog park videos. Some were humorous, others made me want to smack the owners….

    • Mel
      October 23, 2013 at 6:42 AM

      Rebekah – I felt the same way about the first dog in this video. I wanted to smack an owner for not intervening. I wish I could have attended Nicole’s seminar.

  10. October 21, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Really wonderful post. Thank you.

    • Mel
      October 23, 2013 at 6:41 AM

      Thanks Audrey!

  11. October 21, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Love this! I feel the ‘keep them moving’ part isn’t emphasized enough. I always cringe when I see a circle of owners chatting in a small space – not moving, dog circling around a tight space, and owners also not paying attention (leading to your second point). I’ll take a wide berth around that pending disaster every time.

    • Mel
      October 23, 2013 at 6:41 AM

      Oh yes Jen. I completely agree with you. It’s the standing around that usually allows for trouble to start. We give it a wide berth too.

  12. stasi
    October 23, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    I can’t get any of the videos on your blogs to play. I just get the unhappy face. Is this something going on now or is there a problem on my end?

    • Mel
      October 23, 2013 at 6:58 PM

      Must be on your end Stasi. I see them just fine.

  13. November 3, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Unfortunately to many owners give dogs a bad name. I have so many friends with dogs that complain about certain dogs when they walk them, simply because the owners are so uninterested in their dogs anti social behaviour. I think dog training classes should be compulsory.

  14. November 18, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    Great stuff here. Have noticed with Scooter that I’ve become more wary of his actions these days at a dogpark. I think he’s just been on the receiving end too many times in the past (big & goofy & overly social & in every one’s faces) & is starting to stand up for himself & get feisty back so now I’m like you, watching every move!!

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