Does your dog have a dog park personality?
Part of COLA’s mission is education, and we are working on how to most effectively get the word out that some dogs just don’t have dog park personalities. Recently we emailed with a dog owner who has three dogs that just don’t get along with other dogs very well — she is looking for a way to have a separate area to let her dogs off-leash so they can play with each other (which they do well). We’d love to hear from you if you are one of the heroes of Seattle who adopted a “difficult” dog, and struggle with how to exercise her/him! In the meantime, here is WebMD’s take on dogs that just aren’t ideal candidates for dog parks (link to full article at the bottom):
• Unvaccinated puppies: It’s essential for young puppies to meet and interact with a variety of different dogs during their socialization period, from about 3 to 16 weeks of age. However, before they’ve been fully vaccinated, puppies are extremely vulnerable to potentially deadly contagious diseases, such as parvovirus. Because so many dogs frequent a dog park, the chances of exposure to dangerous pathogens are higher there. Until your puppy has had all her shots, don’t take her to the dog park. Instead, you can arrange play dates at the homes of friends and family who have healthy dogs and puppies. You can also enroll your puppy in a puppy class that includes off-leash playtime in a safe, hygienic area.
• Females in heat and unneutered males: To avoid unwanted pregnancies, don’t take an unspayed female dog to the park when she’s in heat. Avoid taking an unneutered male to the dog park as well. In addition to siring accidental puppies, intact males can experience social problems. An unneutered dog’s high testosterone level can make him the target of harassment or aggression from other male dogs.
• Undersocialized, fearful, anxious or aggressive dogs: Many people mistakenly believe that dogs who fear or dislike other dogs just need more socialization. However, if your dog is fearful or nervous around other dogs, exposing her to the hectic environment of a dog park will only worsen her problems. Similarly, if your dog is aggressive toward other dogs, visits to a dog park might exacerbate her behavior and put other people’s pets at risk or ruin their enjoyment of the park.
• Bullies: Some dogs, because of their personalities or learning experiences, just don’t play well with others. Dogs who bully can traumatize their weaker or more timid playmates or provoke fights. If bullies are allowed to practice their behavior at the dog park, their behavior often worsens over time-and bad experiences with bullies can cause aggression problems in other dogs.
• Dog dorks: Some dogs don’t bully other dogs on purpose, but they lack more refined social skills and just aren’t capable of playing politely. Despite their good intentions, they seem socially clueless. They’re usually high-energy dogs who enjoy play with lively wrestling, hard mouthing and crashing into other dogs like canine bumper cars. When their playmates dislike the rough treatment and try to communicate their desire to quit playing, these dogs don’t seem to understand. They can also hurt or upset people at the dog park if they jump up and mouth on hands, arms or legs. Because rough players can easily spoil the fun for other dogs and their people, they’re not good candidates for dog parks either.