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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

Yesterday I took Loki to a "reputable" dog park. He had a blast, made some friends and slept all night long!

I just had some questions about unwritten rules about dog parks.

I feel like this would be a good opportunity to train Loki ( lots of distractions, other dogs which makes him excited etc). Will training him cause issues with other dogs ... treats, attention?

Toys ... seems like chasing a ball would be a good game ... but again could it cause problems .. object guarding ?

There was one dog that was clearly trying to be "dominant" over the others, pinning, biting nipping ... and not in a playful way everyone else was ... how do you avoid these dogs when their owner literally just sits on the opposite side of the park and takes no interest in what their dog is doing.

Small dogs ... I know its the owners responsibility ... but Loki is big and likes to play rough .. especially with small dogs ... I cant hold him there and expect him not to play with everyone just because there is a small dog there .... should I just leave them to their own devices. Loki eventually gets the hint hes not wanted but it takes a while ...

Anything else I should be aware of ?
 

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Don't bring treats or toys into a normal dog park (a fenced area with lots of dogs. If you have a hiking-type dog park it might be OK). If you want to train with distractions, go to a regular park or train outside the dog park. In some dog parks that's actually a written rule (no food or toys in park). . .does your park have a list of rules? Does it have a separate small dog area?

If there is trouble with another dog, just leave. It's not worth the risk to stay.
 

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Thats what I figured. I didnt see any thing posted other than the stoop and scoop signs everywhere. But I will take a look again. I was thinking about training him outside the park that seems to be when hes most distracted .. try that today!

Thanks Willowy!
 

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My dog park never has more than 3-5 dogs at a time including my own so I do train there, but if the other dogs come over I give everyone a treat (with owner permission) and then the treats go away for the rest of our time there. Usually it's big/empty enough that I can go to the opposite end though and train. My dog park allows "small training treats".
 

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The are no "unwritten rules". You will find everyone there will have their own rules.
It's best to just look like you are trying to follow every conceivable rule people may think exists. Some people go freaking crazy if your dog takes their dogs toy LOL. If you see someone trying to chase your dog around just lazily call out your dogs name and start walking lolololol.

Teaching your dog to come to you on command is very important. It can keep them out of danger from other owners who may hit your dog or it can prevent them from getting rough with a dog who is too small/clearly in distress.

My dog plays well with 99% of the dogs at my dog park. It's not the BIG dogs that scare me, it's just the odd small one that panics/runs/barks like it's going to die, then all the big dogs chase it, then when you try to save it not only do you get bitten by the thing but it's owner will go off at you XD! Saw it happen FIVE times in 2 hours LOL.
 

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I wouldn't bring food to a dog park. That's a 17 dog brawl waiting to happen.

I stop Kabota from doing anything anyone might remotely find annoying, whether it concerns me or not. For example, if Kabota gets really into playing, he barks. It's not aggressive barking, just excited. He does it with me, too. But I'll call him back and pet him for a minute or two before I let him go again.

Get to know the other owners and their dogs. I've been there enough to know the good, knowledgeable, proactive owners and their dogs. Watch the dogs when they enter. Normal dog protocol seems to be to do a quick greet, then spend a few minutes sniffing the border of the park (all along the fence), then start playing. Dogs who don't do this always seem to be the troublemakers.

If you see a dog causing problems, leave. Even if you just got there. If you see the good owners packing up when a dog arrives, ask why they're leaving. Last night, we had a great time. (I vowed not to go back after an incident with an obnoxious dog and an even more obnoxious owner, but Kabota had a traumatizing experience on Sunday and was still very quiet and unresponsive yesterday. The dog park always cheers him up.) A great owner shows up, then 3 minutes later gathers his dogs to leave when a Boston Terrier showed up.

I left with him, then asked why he left when we were out of the enclosure. He said that dog is very aggressive and the owner insists that the dog park will fix him. Sure enough, as we were standing there talking, the BT went after a dachshund mix.

Just be aware, there's some danger to the dog park and act accordingly.

Also, wipe your dog's feet with a baby wipe when you get to your car. There can be bacteria in the ground and if your dog licks his paws, he'll get sick.
 

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I'd have treats and toys in your car, in case you get there & you're the only one there. If there's other dogs, leave them in the car
 

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I'd have treats and toys in your car, in case you get there & you're the only one there. If there's other dogs, leave them in the car
That's another thing I forgot. I keep a dozen tennis balls in the car, and I go in with at least two. (Tennis balls and frisbees are allowed at this park. If Kabota guarded such items, I wouldn't bring him.) Last night, a weimaraner calmly walked up to me, grabbed the ball right out of my hand and walked off. ("Thank you for bringing me my ball.") I have so many, I don't get worked up about it. Usually, I just leave the balls I brought in when I go. I get them 2 or 3 for $1, so why search the park for them, or get mad when another dog takes them?

Well, not everyone is so understanding. I've seen people bring expensive toys and then get bent out of shape when another dog takes them.
 

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As others have said, definitely do not bring treats to the dog park!!

Toys can be ok, if you are ok with the possibility of other dogs taking them, but in general, they aren't necessary. Usually, the dogs are just so happy to play with each other that they don't need toys. One exception that I have seen used is to bring a favorite squeaky toy to help with recall when they are learning - but there are better ways to train recall in a dog park. A lot of it is going to be paying attention to your dog's behavior - to start with, wait for them to tire a little before you call - its really difficult to start teaching them to come away when they are right in the middle of playing! Over time, you can build up to being able to call them away no matter what, but you will have to build up to that.

It's always a good idea to keep your dog on the leash for a little bit when you arrive - watch the other dogs, see how they are playing, and what the general mood and situation is. You may have to leave right away, or you may then be able to let your dog go join in. Doing this also teaches your dog some restraint!! Stops them barrelling in straight away, which could cause some issues.
 

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I used a dog park to help train and socialize Donatello a few years ago; It was almost always dead, which worked in our favor at the time. If there are dogs in the park, it'd probably be best to train outside, your dog will be distracted enough wanting to go play which will you give you chance to squeeze in a few minutes before entering; which will be the ultimate treat for a good session! :) I see people weekly, coming to the dog park when it's packed, trying to train their dog; Their dog, still being a novice is waaaaaaaaaay too distracted for training to be useful; Then there are others that try to train their dogs while it's off-leash, and that's probably the funniest.

And like someone else had mentioned, it's very important to have a good recall with your pup. You never ever know what could happen or come about, and you don't want to be one of those poor saps screaming your dog's name a million different ways with no results.

I've never bothered with toys at the park; My dog is picky about what toys he even wants to play with so it's pretty pointless; I would be more concerned with how other dogs behave with toys than my own... But taking inexpensive toys that you wouldn't care to see chewed up and dirty or lost would probably be best. :p

Of all the years Donatello and I have frequented dog-parks I can count on one hand the number of times we've left because of Donatello or other dogs. I heard a guy say one time, "once a fight breaks out, it throws the whole energy in the park outta' whack," and I hate to say it, but I believe it. Several months ago for example, in the "all dogs" park, two Huskies came in that obviously had severe small-dog aggression. There weren't many dogs there, Donatello was the smallest, they fixated on him from across the park and came running. It was pretty intense. I flat-out told their owners, "the sign clearly states as you enter, NO AGGRESSIVE DOGS!" They looked at me and said, "then take him to the small dog side," I about flipped my lid but calmly replied, "there is not a rule against MY dog being here, if you can't control your dogs then I will control them for you," They looked at me like, "we dare you," but you know what- they left and I've never seen them since. They mumbled something like, "our dogs have a right to get exercise too," Yeah well, if my dog was aggressive, bringing them to a dog park would be the farthermost thing from my mind!

So yeah, I don't usually do anything other than leave if there's ever a problem; and Donatello knows by now too, that if he acts up in any way we leave. So he's quite content just wandering around and having a meet-and-greet with the owners. You're going to come in contact with owners that sit in a corner on their phone, and it won't matter what you say or do, they probably won't change, so it's easier and better to leave and come back in an hour or two when they've left, because people like that usually don't stay long either....

Using my previous example as another, as long as you're in the "general dog area" where all sizes are allowed, as long as your pup isn't being down-right terrifying to other dogs, I would let them be; It is difficult to watch dogs that don't take correction from other dogs, harassing the same dog over and over and over and the owner doesn't step in, but as long as your pup takes correction or can "leave it" quickly, I wouldn't be too worried about letting him mingling.

Oh oh oh!

BRING YOUR OWN BOWLS AND WATER!!!!!!
 

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We went again the next day. Did a little training to get Loki focused outside the park ... I have a camera back pack that I bring practically everywhere .. I have a cheap ball, small bag of treats and water in it at all times. It went great for about half an hour in the park. When I have gone there have been at least 5-7 dogs there all around Loki's size and they all play great. He is learning to greet properly and follow the "pack" around running and playing. We left then that poodle showed up I could tell ( and I'm fairly inexperienced at this) that it was trouble waiting to happen. So as I washed Loki off -- it had been raining and of course they found the one mud puddle to play in -- this poodle comes over and starts snarling at Loki! He just ignored the other dog but it wouldn't go away! Frustrated I asked the owner to please remove her dog so I could finish up ... didn't even budge ... just sat there. Sure enough as we were leaving a fight breaks out.

I think I will avoid that dog all together. Loki is getting better with recall .. when hes playing he always stops and looks (which is a step up) I was rather impressed when he ignored that poodle!
 
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