Even though we are lucky to have so many beautiful off leash areas in Brisbane, a dog behaviourist will often tell people to avoid their local dog park. Dog parks are supposed to be places for dogs to exercise, socialise and learn proper dog behaviour. They would be perfectly safe if people and their dogs knew how to behave.
Check out this list of some of the things to be aware of in your local dog park.
How often do you see people standing around chatting or mindlessly scrolling through their phone in a dog park? Meanwhile, their dog is wreaking havoc or bullying other dogs. A dog behaviourist will see the frustrated dog owners trying to manage the behaviour of someone else’s dog because they’re not paying attention.
Would you take your kids to a playground, put them on the equipment with other kids and then turn your back on them and walk away? You would have no idea if your child was about to fall off the equipment, have sand thrown in their face, or if a fight was about to break out. The same level of attention needs to apply for dogs in dog parks.
When there are many dogs in a confined space, stress levels and adrenaline increases. Owners simply do not pay attention to their dog’s body language. They fail to recognise that trouble is imminent and “play” escalates into aggression very quickly.
Dogs on heat
This should never happen but it does, more frequently than you would think. If you want to see Armageddon break out among a group of dogs, then watch what happens when a pregnant female or a dog on heat ventures into a dog park. The outcome can be heartbreaking.
Dogs on leads
We get it. Some owners feel more secure keeping their dog on a leash in an off-leash area, thinking it will be easier to control their dog.
But a dog on a leash in an off-leash area could become extremely panicked or anxious when approached by another dog and they can’t move away. Sadly for these dogs, their experience in dog parks becomes one of fear and anxiety, creating more behavioural problems. A Dog behaviourist knows that shy and anxious dogs can be extremely aggressive sometimes.
Dogs with fear and aggression issues
Owners think that a dog park can fix fear and aggression and that it is an appropriate way to socialise an aggressive or scared dog. However, this will only make the behaviour worse and place your dog and others at risk. In fact, this is the reason why a dog frequently dies in a dog park. Even if your dog is not fearful or aggressive they may develop these issues because of their experiences at a dog park and learn inappropriate play.
Dogs with resource-guarding issues
Dogs who guard toys, water bowls, treats and even their own human can be very dangerous to other dogs who want to play, but don’t take cues to back-off. If your dog has issues with resource-guarding then the dog park is not a safe space for them or other dogs.
Don’t make the dog park your dog’s only out-of-home experience with you. Dog parks should not supplement your dog’s daily activity or be the sole source of exercise and socialisation. Take your dog swimming, go for walks or take them to training sessions.
Fur Get Me Not offers private behavioural consultations for a variety of behavioural issues. We help owners train their dogs to come when called in off leash areas. Find out more at https://furgetmenot.com.au/dog-training-brisbane-positive-coaching/.
There is no one solution that suits every dog, so please contact us to talk about what you want to achieve with your dog. We will recommend the best training solution for you and your dog.