I have been taking my 4-year-old dog Bruno to the dog
park in our neighborhood for about six months. He likes
to sniff around the area, but avoids other dogs and has
bitten a few that come too close. What can I do to get
him to enjoy the park and get some good exercise playing
with other dogs?
In a word, Robert, stop. You are doing both your dog and
the other dogs at the dog park a great injustice.
great thing about a dog park is that anyone can go there
with their dog ó thatís also the worst thing about a
dog park. Iíve been to many, and itís troubling to
see the inappropriate behavior of both dogs and humans
on any given day.
idea that dogs both require and rejoice in spending time
playing with other dogs is not at all accurate. Many
dogs, while in various stages of puppyhood, welcome a
good romp with other dogs, but as they mature into
adulthood those desires often disappear. This does not
indicate a problem with the dog, but merely a dog that
has grown up and no longer finds it rewarding to play
disturbing to see owners placing their dog repeatedly
into situations it clearly doesnít enjoy, while the
owners drink coffee, become absorbed in their cellphones,
and leave the dog to "figure it out" or fend
disturbing are the "armchair" dog enthusiasts
who insist they know whatís going on with the dogs due
to their many hours spent watching canine TV shows, and
take it upon themselves to discipline the dogs present.
dogís behavior, Robert, is a clear indication of his
increased level of stress when heís there. Do him a
favor and remove him, permanently, and find other ways
to give him the exercise he needs. Long walks or jogs
with you, and general play sessions with you are a good
start. Your dog doesnít need interaction with other
dogs to be happy.
best way for dog owners to utilize a dog park is to
remain connected with their dog, in the visual sense.
Study body language and watch how other dogs behave and
dog that avoids interaction with others and tucks his
tail, continually avoids eye contact, backs up, lowers
himself toward the ground, pins his ears and shows his
teeth or snaps, is a dog that needs to be rescued and
removed from the situation. The dog that wags or
wiggles, seeks out other dogs, sniffs genital areas and
allows others to do so, goes into play bows or other
exaggerated movements, etc., is clearly enjoying the
company of those particular dogs.
if your dog is enjoying himself, itís smart to
frequently interrupt play. Failure to do so can result
in play getting more intense, and drifting into
something inappropriate. So dog owners should have
treats on them, and occasionally call their own dog away
from others, praise and deliver treats when he comes,
and spend a bit of time lavishing him with praise and
petting. After a few minutes, permission can be given to
go and resume play.
line: When taking your dog into a social situation with
others, be present, be aware, and be your dogís