Dog Parks Can go Horribly Wrong!


Dog parks are sort of a newer craze among pet owners.  The general thought here is to let dogs interact off leash, play, and socialize.  This concept SEEMS great.  Here’s the problem though…


Often I’ve seen and heard of incidents at dog parks where playing turns into bullying… And too often, the owner of said bully is not right there to intervene, or worse, chooses not to.  Have you ever heard these excuses?

“Oh they’ll be fine!  That’s what dogs do!”

“Your pup’s gotta toughen up!”

“They’re just playing…”

“They’re establishing their roles…”

Yadda, yadda, yadda…


Here’s the problem with all of that nonsense logic… The pup who’s roughed around can have long term behavioral effects of his or her own.  Aggressive behavior can stem from these exact situations.  Think about it.  The victim here is being bullied, ganged up on by multiple dogs sometimes, and nobody’s intervening.  He learns that MAYBE if he gets to other dog first, if HE plays the bully role, he won’t get picked on.

The biggest thing to take away, is knowing the difference between playing and bullying. Bullying should absolutely not be acceptable!  If one dog is showing submissive signs and the other isn’t backing down, it’s bullying.   

 It makes me wonder if some of those cases had bad “socialization” incidents themselves…    

Bottom Line: Socialization IS important, and dogs NEED other dogs… but make sure it’s SUPERVISED socialization, and never be afraid to be protective of your dog.  

Some places that I do recommend for socializing your puppy are:  

  • Most Tractor Supply stores allow and welcome puppies and dogs.  Must be on a leash at all times of course.
  • Most Lowes stores will also allow puppies and dogs to come in with their owners.   Must be on a leash at all times of course.
  • Obedience classes,  If you go to the AKC website,  you can find a club in your area and then you would contact them to see when they are having classes, so you could sign your puppy/dog up for them.  This is a great place to take your puppy to get them acclimated etc. as you are in a controlled environment with other dogs and they learn how to be calm, and interact with other dogs etc.   You will do most of the training at home,  but the socialization is very good for puppy.
  • I have taken my young dogs into a local nursing home to cheer the residents also.  You would want them to be well-trained with leash and sit and down commands etc.  And, please be very respectful as not everyone wants to see a dog in a nursing home. But, many residents will welcome them and want to pet them etc.  
  • Taking your puppy for walks in town or just different places is good training as well.  
  • Some people take their puppies/dog to softball games etc.  It is a good idea to have a crate handy, so if puppy gets stressed or too much excitement, they have a "safe" space to hang out and watch the excitement.
  • A dog show is a good place to take your dog also.  And, can be very exciting to see all the dogs etc.  Again, if you go to the AKC website, you can find different dog show listings etc. that may be in your area or not too far away.
  • Please be responsible in your endeavors to socialize your puppy.  You want the experience to be positive for all involved.  
Patricia Holley