How to Avoid Trouble at Dog Parks

How to Avoid Trouble at Dog Parks

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in interviews, tips n' tricks |

If you’ve frequented dog parks, I’m willing to bet you’ve witnessed a few scary experiences. Maybe they even turned you off to dog parks altogether. I had the pleasure of interviewing a doggie daycare worker who spends five days a week at an enormous dog park with 100-200 dogs daily! Gina Castagnozzi spends an hour and a half each morning driving through the Hollywood Hills, picking up lucky dogs to join her and the dogs from her five coworkers at the off leash dog park. There, the pups enjoy three hours of playtime. Each of the workers transport 10-12 dogs in their SUVs, which creates a super pack of more than 40 dogs. Over the last several years she’s learned a great deal about triggers, pack behavior, and how to avoid altercations and escalations. We got her to share the top ten tips for preventing mistakes at the dog park: Avoid holding your dog on a leash. Instead, drag the leash if necessary. This seems counter intuitive, right? If I have my dog on a leash I can better protect him. But what actually happens is you create an uneven playing field for them. Other dogs want to interact, but by restraining your dog he may feel threatened. Instead, if your dog is new to the park, try dragging the leash allowing him to explore on his own. This way he is able to interact and smell other dogs. If anything should happen you can catch him easily with the leash. Avoid letting new puppies roam in the large dog area. Puppies don’t understand pack life politics and run blissfully unaware up to an alpha dog the same way they would to a geriatric dog. This lack of etiquette and personal space gets under the fur of many dogs. You should also keep your pet in the small dog area if your dog scares easily (yelps or cries), since that attracts the prey drive in surrounding dogs. You always want to immediately pick up your dog if he yelps. Avoid losing your cool. When things escalate the last thing you want to do is lose your cool. Dogs can sense fear and anxiety. If your dog is approached by an aggressive dog, keep your cool and direct behavior with firm commands and motion. If you freak out and freeze you might as well have screamed “Fight!” (and flash back to junior high) inviting any other dogs to join the brawl. Intact male dogs regularly attract negative attention. Gina has witnessed countless dog attacks and harassments simply because the animal was intact (not spayed/neutered). Call it jealousy, or a pheromone craze, but it can really stir the pot at the park. Oddly enough, it happens almost exclusively to male dogs. Females may receive attention in the form of mount attempts, but fly under the radar with irrational fights. Avoid staying...

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