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Discussion Starter #1
And then act surprised when they lash out at the mob of dogs surrounding to greet them! Yes, every single dog in the park (about 15) is "unbalanced" and this is definitely not the right place for your "babies."
 

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The caveat to that is I wish people at the dog park had the ability to control their dogs well enough so that a person and dog can walk through the gate without being mobbed... Soro used to get along beautifully with dogs he met in small groups and on his own terms; he'd lash out at a mob regardless if he's on leash or not.

Though, my solution to all of this is we stopped going to dog parks. Soro's not dog reactive at all, but he is in general bold and reactive *enough* that we don't belong in that environment. But yeah, dog parks are definitely not for the fainthearted and their precious 'babies.'
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Unfortunately, if you bring in a leashed dog and leave him/her on the leash, the mobbing won't stop past the gate. Everyone's going to want to check out what's up with the different dog. Even the most even keeled dog will get defensive when it is leashed and vulnerable in a mob of unleashed dogs.

Unfortunately, dogs with a good enough recall to be called away from the gate or a leashed dog are few and far between at most dog parks I've been to. People act like I'm some sort of magician and/or ask me for training advice when my dogs actually come when I call them!
 

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Those are also the people that should anyone already in the dog park suggest they remove their dogs' leashes they react defensively. I watched this happen before and the response to being told "the dogs will probably not surround your dog as much if you take them off leash" was met by "we are new to this. You think you know everything don't you? We don't know if our dogs are good with other dogs."

Really people?! Really?!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The thing that gets me is that the dogs seem to be really good dogs, the owners were clueless. They were fine when one or two dogs came up to them, but as the group grew larger and they began to realize there was no escape from the pushier dogs, they started to lash out.

When we suggested they remove the leashes, they said no because they only had the dogs for a month and they were still teaching them that they control everything in their lives. They need to learn to submit to them and the other dogs. They tried rolling them on their backs and making other dogs sniff them when they would start lashing out. It was really sad, I kept my pups on the other side of the park to play on the agility equipment so Brody especially wouldn't be upset by what was happening.
 

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The caveat to that is I wish people at the dog park had the ability to control their dogs well enough so that a person and dog can walk through the gate without being mobbed... Soro used to get along beautifully with dogs he met in small groups and on his own terms; he'd lash out at a mob regardless if he's on leash or not.

Though, my solution to all of this is we stopped going to dog parks. Soro's not dog reactive at all, but he is in general bold and reactive *enough* that we don't belong in that environment. But yeah, dog parks are definitely not for the fainthearted and their precious 'babies.'
Pretty much this. Back in my dog park days with Charlotte, I found most dog fights occurred just as dogs were coming in the gate, so to avoid getting her wrapped up in any messes, I focused her attention on something else until the mob died down. Then, if she saw the new dog and had any interest, I'd allow her to go greet them without the pressure and excitement of a million other dogs freaking out around her.
 

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And then act surprised when they lash out at the mob of dogs surrounding to greet them! Yes, every single dog in the park (about 15) is "unbalanced" and this is definitely not the right place for your "babies."
I have always been of the impression that if you cannot keep your dogs under control off leash that they should not be at an off leash dog park . . . . so why SHOULD someone with on leash dogs expect to get mobbed? Please explain as I don't get where you are coming from with this kind of post.

I have been bringing four of mine to an off leash park now every couple of weeks. It is an hour and 10 minutes away but I had had three of them attacked throughout the previous year (two almost killed) by rural loose dogs here and felt that they needed better experiences. I would not even think of letting any of mine off lead if I considered that they would 'rush' or approach a dog that was on leash. I would hope others would have the same courtesy.

Is it not common for people with large dogs that need socialization to bring them to parks on leash as well? I have met many who leash because a: their dogs are runners or b: they are rescues and their temperaments are not yet known well enough to let off leash.

If dog parks are full of uncontrollable dogs that rush up to newbies how does an owner of a rescue have any opportunity to assess their dog? Certainly they aren't expected to bring it in to run loose off the start?

BTW, mine have just begun to traverse the park that I go to off of leash. Up to this point in time they have mostly been on as we were sizing up the dogs that frequent the park at the same time I usually do. Not once were we ever rushed by a group of dogs, and that IS my expectation.

Our off leash 'parks' tend to be unfenced large walking and cycling paths along river valleys with adjacent large grassed areas for play spaces, if that makes any difference. At least half the dogs that go through are on leash.

SOB
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Our dog parks around here are mostly smaller fenced in runs. No matter where the dog is in the run, they can see the other dog come in, therefore they will be curious and often approach the newcomer. It would be very different if the park was large and there was reasonable concern of losing your dog on acres of land, however in this situation, there isn't much space for your dog to wander off to and a dog can easily feel crowded/confined if they're on leash. If your dog isn't social with other dogs, a dog park like this is NOT the kind of place for them to get socialized since you generally want plenty of distance to work with when you have a dog with issues.

In a large park where dogs are allowed, your expectations are absolutely reasonable and I would expect the same. It annoys me to no end when I go hiking with my dogs at a state forest (and I keep them on leash because I can't trust Charlotte's prey drive and can't trust that Brody won't follow her if she went after a critter) and we get ambushed by off-leash dogs that are not under their owner's control.

This size fenced run is pretty close to the size of the park we were at.

 

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This size fenced run is pretty close to the size of the park we were at.

Thanks for explaining. Dog parks here and there are obviously very different. I've yet to ever see a fenced in dog park but it would make sense that if they are such small spaces and you have dogs that are not social then other options for exercise or socialization should be used before ever venturing into these areas.

SOB
 

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I have always been of the impression that if you cannot keep your dogs under control off leash that they should not be at an off leash dog park . . . . so why SHOULD someone with on leash dogs expect to get mobbed? Please explain as I don't get where you are coming from with this kind of post.

...

I would not even think of letting any of mine off lead if I considered that they would 'rush' or approach a dog that was on leash. I would hope others would have the same courtesy.

Is it not common for people with large dogs that need socialization to bring them to parks on leash as well?

...

If dog parks are full of uncontrollable dogs that rush up to newbies how does an owner of a rescue have any opportunity to assess their dog? Certainly they aren't expected to bring it in to run loose off the start?
good questions.

Your dog is different on-leash than off. Ok, well, the most mature, stable dogs can be the same, maybe, under most circumstances. Somebody might know the psychology of it and provide a good explanation why, but I know its true from personal observation. They have a different attitude, one that makes them a target. Maybe they feel weaker, or maybe stronger, but with dogs, attitude is everything. For some reason, a leashed dog is at a distinct disadvantage among unleashed dogs.

Dogs "rushing up to each other" is neither bad nor good. Sometimes a dog will just run right over the top of another, rolling it over, and they both just jump up and run off for a game of chase. That's not random -- both dogs know what's going on because they've already communicated their intentions to each other and to any other dog (or person) who happens to be watching. They communicate with each other in their own language, which includes gestures, facial expressions, vocalizations, odors and maybe some other techniques I don't even know about. A well-mannered, socialized dog reads the signals sent by the other dogs and responds appropriately. A dog whose just learning might have some awkward moments, but dogs learn alot from observing other dogs. They have amazing powers of observation, sometimes we just don't realize it.

The dog park is not the place to learn whether your dog is aggressive or dominant or fearful or well-adjusted. Get together with trusted friends who have stable dogs, or take a training class. Start with a small, known group in an environment you can control.
 

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IMO, the safest dog parks are the large, open, unfenced ones. There's no gate where dogs enter, so the dogs there don't always notice newbie dogs right away, which minimizes the "rushing" behavior. In addition, there's plenty of space for dogs to get away from the pack, if they choose to. Also, an unfenced dog park is not going to be frequented by people who don't have any control over their dogs, because their dog will just run off. By leaving the place unfenced, you attract better trained dogs and more watchful owners.

Five of the six dog parks in my area are unfenced. I've only ever seen one fight break out, and it was very minor. I avoid the one fenced dog park like the plague. It isn't big enough for real fun, anyway.
 

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I agree, the dog parks here (Alberta) tend to be much bigger than that. Most are the size where you could walk for about an hour and do a loop back to where you started from. In Calgary they have started gating the parks one by one, so there are gates to come in and out, but there's usually multiple gates. The smallest ones are usually longer strips without a fence, not really a park so much as a green space beside the road (with a fence on the busy road side). And there are lots of dogs still on leash in them, but it's not usually an issue since they're quite big.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I wish there were more big parks that allowed dogs around here! We're confined to the state forests and "dog runs" in the people parks. You get fined if your dog is anywhere but in the dog run area and they do enforce it. That's what I get for living in an urban area.
 

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IMO, the safest dog parks are the large, open, unfenced ones. There's no gate where dogs enter, so the dogs there don't always notice newbie dogs right away, which minimizes the "rushing" behavior. In addition, there's plenty of space for dogs to get away from the pack, if they choose to. Also, an unfenced dog park is not going to be frequented by people who don't have any control over their dogs, because their dog will just run off. By leaving the place unfenced, you attract better trained dogs and more watchful owners.

Five of the six dog parks in my area are unfenced. I've only ever seen one fight break out, and it was very minor. I avoid the one fenced dog park like the plague.
This!
There's only two dog parks I'll go to now and both are huge and unfenced. Now I just need a good mode of transportation to get to them.

And maybe I'm just crazy but I think Kaki is more easy going when there's no fence in sight. She has never been in even a tiny tiff at our unofficial "yappy hour" where there is no fence.
 

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I dunno about you, but when I did use dog parks (I don't anymore) we arrived on leash. I wasn't going to let them off leash near a busy road before going through the gate. I hate how people hang around the gate area. Why can't they move a bit further away from the gate, so that people can arrive without being greeted by a large pack of excited dogs??

Even when the park was almost empty, there would be a dog running at us before I could get their leashes off.
 

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The one small park we visit when we travel has a double gate, so you can go in, and take the leashes off in there (it's a small dog run sized space) and then let them into the park, and so on. There are no benches or anything near the gate, they're away from it and the center of the park is ten feet lower than the outside, so even if a dog is running at a dog the dogs coming into the park are higher up and can see them quickly. It's not a bad design for it's size.
 

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I think it's a huge design flaw to even have the park entrance visible to the main area of a park, which is why I hate the "dogs in a box" style of just a big fenced square dog park. The double gate is an ok solution, but better to have enough space so that it's not an issue. Leashed dogs around bunches of unleashed dogs is just asking for trouble. And yes, it would be nice if all dogs at the dog park had 100% recall so that the mob wouldn't happen, but unfortunately we live in the real world and not hypothetical land.
 

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I just don't go to dog parks. If a fight happens to break out, other dogs join in, and it quickly becomes unmanageable. I've never actually had a problem at a dog park, but there's too much potential for danger IMO.
 

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So I'm confused... are we complaining about the controlled dog on the leash or the out of control dog off the leash? I understand that at these parks the norm is that dogs form a group and mob the new guy, but how can we find fault with an owner who is trying to keep their dog under control? This seems backwards.
 

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Well, I think it depends on the dog park's layout (e.g., is there a double-gate, how big is the space, is it fenced) and the park's rules (lots of small fenced parks forbid leashes), but I think it's easy to find fault with an owner who keeps their dog "under control" by leaving them on the leash when it's against the rules, against logic, and will obviously provoke all the other dogs. It's creating a situation of out-of-control dogs that wouldn't otherwise exist without the unnecessary leash. Again, this depends on the dog park's design and rules. But I will say, the leashed dog in an off-leash fenced park is a pet peeve of mine.
 
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