Bannock Bark Parks

Good or bad? The dog park debate.

debateDog parks offer a number of benefits to pets and their owners - dogs that enjoy vigorous, social exercise can be healthier, better behaved at home and may be less likely to bite people. Dog parks are a way for people to meet friends, get active and learn how to better care for pets. Dog parks reduce problems of pet waste and loose pets in people-only areas and improve overall park safety. In all, dog parks have been a positive presence in communities across the country.

However, not all pet owners have a realistic grasp of their own dog's behavioral tendencies. Some have not trained their dog (or themselves), or may even bring sick pets into a dog park. Under these circumstances, other visitors - canine and human alike - could be at risk. Although these risks are less common than successful play sessions, they are a real possibility. It is because of these risks - and the occasional bad event - that dog parks have critics as well as fans.  It is up to you to decide whether the unstructured setting of an off-leash dog park is appropriate for your dog's temperament and your ability to handle your dog.

A basic way to prevent traumatic events at dog parks is to PAY ATTENTION to what your dog is doing at all times, staying near enough that you can maintain physical control over your pet if necessary. Also, by being educated about dog body language, you can interrupt your dog from getting too excited or too domineering in a group play/off-leash situation. Likewise, you will also be better tuned-in to when it may be time to move your dog away from other, overly excited dogs. Download the ASPCA checklist on 'canine body language' (below) or visit Doggone Safe for illustrated information on dog body language.

If you own a Pit Bull or other 'warrior' breed, or are concerned about dog aggresssion, please read this article by a Pit Bull owners group on Pit Bulls and Dog Parks. Pets with these bloodlines may be best suited to social play off-leash only when immature (before 1 to 2 years old), otherwise multi-dog situations could trigger latent fighting instincts. Small, private backyard "play groups" have been successful alternatives for adult Pit Bulls.

Bannock Bark Parks believes that all healthy non-aggressive dogs, regardless of breed or size, should be welcome at a dog park.

Click here to download a pdf file about Reading Canine Body Postures

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