Welcome to the Frat Party a.k.a. I’m not socializing my puppy that way so go away.

13 Aug

With a lot of new owners the concept of socialization is harped on endlessly. Socialize your dog! Take them everywhere! Make them meet everyone! They have to meet all the dogs! Take them to puppy play sessions twice per day! The dog park is great for puppies! They need daily specialized socialization classes! They should love this!

Even Atticus knows that is ridiculous.

Unfortunately, that extremist approach to a fairly simple concept has perpetuated something that’s hard to get around; There is an overwhelming belief that all dogs should love everyone and everything and anything outside of that assertion is somehow deviant, worrying, and likely a temperamental flaw to be crushed out, trained endlessly, or gotten rid of posthaste.

It’s beaten into our heads that dogs need friends and social lives and time off-leash, and freedom to be themselves and space and holy crap it’s starting to sound like you’ve got a child not a dog. Unfortunately what a lot of these voices berating us fail to take into account is that dogs are individuals and there is such a thing as too much too fast in terms of socialization. Enter, the dog park.

Dog parks, to many people are a welcome beacon of off-leash space in an on-leash world. In theory they could be wonderful, but a lot of things could be wonderful in theory.  Like deep-fried peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

Trust us, it’s not worth it.

Regardless of how you feel about adult dogs at dog parks, I think there is one thing we can all agree on.  Puppies do NOT belong at dog parks.  Period.  End of story.  Why, you ask?  Let us count the ways.  Illness.  Injury.  Stress and fear responses.  The list goes on and on.   Dog parks are like frat parties.  They are full of loud, rude, clueless, and overstimulated individuals who only get worse when part of a large group.  Plus, farting and humping is not only allowed, but encouraged.  For real, though. Think about sending your 13 year old daughter to a frat party.  Yeah.  Besides being a major parenting fail, it would also be a disaster.  So if you wouldn’t risk your teen daughter in a group of hooligans, why would you trust your impressionable puppy?

Like this, but with more poop in baggies… we hope.

There are plenty of ways to get controlled socialization for your puppy.  Find a stable adult dog for it to play with.  Set up playdates with other similarly aged puppies.  Attend a puppy class at your local trainer who doesn’t just release them into the wild like some kind of weird documentary film. The key here is to set your puppy up for success.   Be smart about it and use some common sense (sadly not all that common) and be your pup’s advocate.

The Slow Loris, the most common cousin of Common Sense.

And if your dog or puppy is a bit of a hermit? Well that’s really okay too. We certainly don’t like everyone; why should our dogs? They’re entitled to their opinions on the matter. The idea that all dogs must be friendly and get along all the time is at best naive. If more people spent time imprinting manners in their dogs rather than engaging in free-for-all socialization (which is usually more detrimental for sensitive pups) we’d have a lot fewer issues in the long-run.

Eventually we want training to supersede their opinions but until then, socialize your puppies elsewhere.

The socialization doesn’t have to involve tiny outfits but the teacups are necessary.

And the next person who suggests you take your puppy to the dog park?  We give you permission to punch them in the throat.

110 Responses to “Welcome to the Frat Party a.k.a. I’m not socializing my puppy that way so go away.”

  1. Deb A August 13, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    Totally agree and couldn’t have said it better! I also find dog parks, on the whole, to be dens of evil and not worth the trouble for my adult dogs, though I will admit some dogs do OK there.

    I find going out and just being with my dog to be much more rewarding for both of us in the long run.

  2. Kathleen Hansen August 13, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    Dog parks? No thank you. If I feel the need for concentrated cluelelessness I can accept a sub assignment at a local middle school without putting my dogs at risk.

    • Amy August 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      Love this!

  3. Angie August 13, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    This has to be one of my most favorite of your blogs EVER!!! I dislike dog parks so much for all the reasons you’ve listed. We even have “No dog parks when other dogs are present” written into our adoption contract (ePITome Dog Rescue) and I preach the evils of stupid owners who frequent DPs all the time. We do believe in socializing the dogs while they are pups, but with scheduled play dates where the owners know and trust each other. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

  4. Julie August 13, 2013 at 1:24 am #

    Dogs don’t need to be social with anyone but the people who live in the household and the other animals that live there. Outside the household? Flatly ignoring everyone else (human and animal) is a workable response. That said, my dogs interact and play with other dogs and humans on a regular basis — but they don’t HAVE to.

  5. Beth August 13, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    Dog parks are usually mayhem on ill mannered, untrained, disrespectful dogs being :supervised” by ill mannered, ignorant and disrespectful humans.

    • Beth August 13, 2013 at 1:32 am #

      Ooops = that was supposed to say mayhem ill mannered…..

    • liz August 16, 2013 at 3:54 am #

      kind of mirrors the play-dates of most humans nowadays.

    • Elice Shelton August 18, 2013 at 2:09 am #

      so true so that is why we have a puppy class supervised by instructors at Applewoods Dog Training!

  6. Cindy August 13, 2013 at 1:49 am #

    You have valid points it’s true. BUT!! Don’t swing too far the other way. I caught walking pneumonia when my little GSD was 4 months old…I was 55-nearly killed me. Was 3 months before I was out and about….and he seemed different. Then had to move-to a place where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t go anywhere or have visitors for months. Before I knew it my little love bug was a year old-and when we went to the family reunion he had to be muzzled. There can be too little of a good thing as well as too much. He is the most lovable, cuddly thing in the world-“If he knows you”. Otherwise I have to work with him constantly and there are many places I would like to take him and can’t. Socializing IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING you will EVER do for your dog.

    • Teri August 13, 2013 at 4:50 am #

      I believe the consensus here is not that socialization is bad, rather that “appropriate” socialization is the goal, and that the free-for-all environment of a dog park is not appropriate for many, especially puppies. There are many alternatives for socializing your young dog: mine went with me to any stores that allow dogs (Lowe’s, Home Depot, your local feed store and pet stores…(and she stayed in a shopping cart until she had received all of her shots) and I would go up to other people and ask them to pet her, even pick her up if they appeared to be good dog people. Her obedience classes with a reputable trainer with help further with her attitude towards both people and other dogs 🙂

    • Cendra Lynn August 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

      Socializing means understanding dog language. How do you say “I’m not going to bite you” in dog? [Answer: set up a context of play (often by putting front forepaws on the ground and wagging) and then wait until the other dog says, “OK. I won’t bite you, either.” [mirror that bowwag]. Then bark, snap, chase, etc. Learn also to understand “I’m done for the moment.” Especially learn: “Touch me and die” [respond by lowering every part of you including eyelids]. My dogs only play with dogs that *I* trust to be healthy, to play fair, to not have neurotic or punishment training owners. As they improve on household obedience, they are allowed to greet people and other dogs, a bit at a time.

  7. wkmtca August 13, 2013 at 2:01 am #

    Hallelujah..say it with me… Hallelujah

  8. szeremy August 13, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    Is it wrong to love a blog as much as I love yours?

    • TheDogSnobs August 13, 2013 at 2:13 am #

      Nope. In fact, we fully support it.

    • Janet Westendorf August 13, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      Me too. I haven’t had a dog in years and what do I get but a pit puppy!!! Needless to say, I’ve gotten advice from everyone from the postman to numerous neighbors, friends and felt so confused. So happy I found the link to your blog on Facebook!! Thanks for the common sense. Now perhaps I won’t feel like such a failure.

  9. szeremy August 13, 2013 at 2:13 am #

    Is u

    Is it wrong to love a blog as much as I love yours?

  10. Lolly August 13, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    So much depends on the dog park in question. The one in my town is a festering boil on the asspit of dogdom – terrible dog fights (three of my friends have had their dogs mauled there and stopped going), weirdos, and every pitbull owner in a tri-county area, as this is the only place pits can be offleash here. Because of the BSL, those dogs rarely get to “socialize” offleash unless their owners will drive them to my town’s dog park, and when they get there they are more likely to fight than play. I’m not blaming the breed, but I’ve seen some brutal fights out there and they all involved pits with clueless owners. I myself got muzzle-punched in the face by a pit out there before I stopped going (the owner, a teenage girl, was busy trying to flirt with college boys when her dog attacked me and my dog), and a dandy bruise to show for it. Meanwhile, at the dog park 30 minutes away, I’ve never seen a single fight or incident, no weirdos, and the owners are almost universally cool with the exception of one or two antisocial chuckers. It’s a heavenly dog park.

    • Angie August 13, 2013 at 3:01 am #

      This is exactly why we, as a bull breed rescue, say NO DOG PARKS…

      • Angie August 13, 2013 at 3:03 am #

        I should say because of idiot owners, not because of the dogs.

  11. Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Wow! Punching somebody in the throat! That seems just a tad to much of an overreaction to me and definitely the wrong advice!

    Here is another viewpoint. Just like anything else, with both dogs and people, dog parks can be right for the right dogs and wrong for the wrong dogs. I take my well socialized and well trained dogs to as many dog parks as possible, and they love it. For puppies, there is always the “Small Dog Park” and those work great.

    In an urban environment, dog parks can be absolutely the savior for high energy dogs that are alone for hours at a time.

    I know other dogs who are not dog park material, and should not go to any dog park. I would suggest having more of an open mind to socializing dogs, rather than a closed mind.

    • Tamandra Michaels (@HeartDog) August 13, 2013 at 5:51 am #

      I used to frequent dog parks, and had a very well trained, well socialized, chill German Shepherd. When mature, he could care less about other dogs, so going was more to play ball. However, I have seen far more than anyone’s share of horrific things, and have had incidents happen to him. With my current GSD, who is young, high energy, high drive, I wouldn’t DREAM of putting him in that situation. It only takes ONCE to ruin a dog for life. Unfortunately, the ‘right’ dogs are in the minority at most parks. At best, dogs will pick up bad habits, and worst, well, hate to say it, but I’ve seen carnage and death happen.

      One time an elderly man was mauled by the majority of the dogs in a busy park, because he put his tiny, freaked out dog down and it screamed, causing a mass attack, getting him as he held the dog. And everyone bailed, too, before the police got there. Sorry, but dog parks are not the place to socialize a dog. If you are in an urban environment, like myself, you WALK the dog, you find places to hike, play ball in a safe area (I go to an empty fenced in athletic field). I would not subject my pup to the huge risk. Just not worth it.

    • Christina August 13, 2013 at 5:56 am #

      I can agree with this! I do not frequent the parks in my new town but where we moved from had a wonderful dog park with largely wonderful frequenters. It really does come down to who goes there (and when) and how your dog gets along! We miss the old dog park a lot. My parents live near one that is 17 acres, it’s easy to avoid large clumps of people and the dogs tend to not clump together in large masses due to the space. They take their two every day and walk around together for everyone’s health. I’m quite jealous of their proximity to the park!

    • Stacy August 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Um, I think you missed the point of this blog.

    • houndsofgrey August 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

      For the love of… NO, do NOT take your puppy to the dog park, even the small dog area. Have you MET small dogs? How about their owners? The small dog area is where the teeny asshats are allowed to run rampant, yapping and snapping at each other without having to worry that they’ll face the consequences of turning that behavior on a properly-sized dog.

      It’s not only about whether a big dog will take a bite out of the puppy… small dogs carry just as many (if not more, due to clueless owners) diseases and parasites as the larger breeds, and their manners are often WORSE than those of a larger dog because people don’t see the harm in aggression from a teeny dog. Socializing a puppy is meant to teach him MANNERS, among other things, and he’s only going to learn how to be a jerk if you set him around that crew.

      Even a good dog park is not the place for a young pup.

    • Jennifer August 16, 2013 at 4:33 am #

      I have one word for you.


      It lives in the ground for a year. Can YOU guarantee that no moron in your community has taken a dog that has parvo (or is a carrier for the disease) to the dog park in the last year? Did you know that puppies can still get parvo EVEN IF THEY HAVE BEEN VACCINATED? (ESPECIALLY if the vaccination is recent?) Also – have you ever BEEN around small dogs? By far, the majority are MUCH more badly mannered than large dogs. Snappy, yippy, bouncy little balls of evil and anger. The only “dog fight” my adult dog has ever been in, he got his ass whooped by a ten pound Cairn terrier puppy. And he’s eighty frickin’ pounds.

      I take my dogs to the dog park when the park is EMPTY. Yes, I take my two seven month olds because God only knows I wouldn’t have a house to live in if they didn’t have a quarter of an acre to blow off steam three times a week. My dogs have had ALL of their vaccinations (plus an extra for good measure), and two of my dogs are show dogs, so they’ve gotten vaccinated for everything under God’s golden sun. I still leave when just about anybody else shows up because I don’t need somebody else’s dick of a dog teaching my puppies bad manners. I have enough on my hands dealing with whatever their little sadistic minds come up with to torture me with this week. (Don’t get me wrong. I love my girls. They just hit teenager period. They are making me crazy.)

      They’re not saying “DON’T socialize” your puppy. They’re saying don’t OVERsocialize your puppy. (Yes, there is such a thing.) They’re also saying what should be good common sense for ANY puppy owner – taking your <4 month old puppy to a dog park is STUPID and should be CONDEMNED. They're saying don't yield to popular opinion when popular opinion is STUPID.

      What they're saying is "get your dog advice from a qualified trainer who knows WTF they're talking about, not the moron walking down the street who owned a dog once thirty years ago." What they're saying is "socialize your puppy gently and correctly, keeping in line with their particular breed's general personality and their own particular personality." What they're saying is "most dog people fall in the KIAN category and /cannot be trusted/ to give good advice about your puppy."

      Punching someone in the throat for offering unsolicited advice is an under-reaction, if you ask me. I feel that people who offer unsolicited advice which is also stupid – and very much the worst thing you could possibly do for yourself and your young dog – should be tarred and feathered, and then drug through the streets to their own personal gallows where they are left hanging as a reminder to all the other nosy morons that this is what happens to nosy morons. We should sprinkle in the people who feed their dogs crappy grocery brand dog foods (on the well-researched basis that the commercial looks "delicious") and then complain about their dog's energy level, just for our own personal enjoyment and to generally remove these people from the breeding gene pool.

      Climb down off your high-horse. I think the thin air up there is making you woozy.

      • Jackie Phillips August 16, 2013 at 4:39 am #

        Why don’t you tell everybody how you really feel! You weren’t descriptive enough and didn’t swear enough.

        I think you need to read your own posts before you hit “enter.” It might save you a bit of public humiliation.

      • Jennifer August 16, 2013 at 5:07 am #

        Darling. I read it three times. I tried to consider whether or not I’d used enough curse-words. I’m still not sure you got the general drift of my post. I mean, the whole point was, in fact, to tell people how I really feel, since you obviously don’t get it. 🙂

        Frankly, it was pretty light. I mean, for me. Really, there’s no blue air anywhere! Which is sad. Because I like blue. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • TheDogSnobs August 16, 2013 at 5:13 am #

        We also tried to find the cursing and then got super confused. We’ve decided we like you (despite the lack of cursing) You get to sit by us and you get a puppy. Congratulations!

      • Janet November 6, 2013 at 2:01 am #

        I don’t see any cuss words or any reason to be humiliated. 100% agree with your post.

  12. tideeyed August 13, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    OMG, ATTICUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will squeeze you and love you and hold you forEVER!!! (Sorry, Elmira moment.) 😉

    • TheDogSnobs August 13, 2013 at 4:57 am #

      Be careful what you say–he just might appear in your mailbox. At least that is what Potnoodle has been telling me! For real though, he will be available for adoption…<3 BusyBee

      • tideeyed August 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

        Haha! Don’t make me throw holy water on you and hang garlic around my neck… (Wait… Does that work to repel puppies too?) He is adorable, but I’m in the market for a girl. And although I have no idea where you guys live, I’m going to duct tape my mailbox shut now. 😛

  13. HIghfive August 13, 2013 at 3:14 am #

    Dog parks…hell just the regular park can ruin your dog. I can vouch for that first hand. When I got my pup, I was told to make sure to get him out there and this is what happened…people squealing like a pig, running full speed, arms reaching out, leaning over and then the ultimate puppy grab. Of course, pup is afraid, because this is just like a big hairy man running up to you in the grocery store flinging his arms around for a great big hug. We don’t like it, why would they? So in turn, now I have a dog with fear aggression, that I have to TRY to turn around so he stops obsessing what every single person is doing that we see [even at a distance].

    Seriously to those who think it’s your god given right to man handle someone elses dog…stop, shut your mouth and listen. The proper way to greet is to ignore and not stare…and ffs, stop reaching over the top of the dogs head to pet. If you don’t have the time to greet a dog properly, don’t make a scene and keep on walking. I don’t want to listen to your pig squeals and neither does my dog.

    • Tamandra Michaels (@HeartDog) August 13, 2013 at 5:55 am #

      THANK YOU!!!! Just freaking being in public! I wanted my pup to be my service dog, so took him to shopping centers and such. Same thing would happen, though I did my level best to ward it off. Even having us run away from people running towards us. Being rude if I had to. Super bad for this to happen to a working line pup, for them to feel that vulnerable. Even women who would squeal and coo over him would get him highly overstimulated. I’m still working with that issue at 9 months old.

      • Jennifer August 16, 2013 at 4:43 am #

        From now on, be rude. Running away from people has taught him that people are something to fear. No. Bad. When people RUN up on you to maul them, tell them in a firm, commanding voice to “STOP.” Just that word. Stop. Most of the time, people will pause exactly where they are and look very confused and a little hurt. Explain to them calmly but firmly that you are socializing a working dog and they are NOT allowed to look, touch, or talk to your dog.

        A vest helps IMMENSELY with this process, especially if you have a patch on it that says “Service dog in training, please don’t pet!”

        When you take control of the situation and firmly turn people away, you step into the pack leader role in your dog’s mind, and he will start to relax. As he starts to relax, you can begin letting the people who don’t appear to be comPLETE ass-hats to CALMLY approach your dog. If he’s going to be a service dog, you shouldn’t let people pet him anyways. He should be completely ignoring people in general. Reward him when he focuses on you instead of on them and is calm. Then thank them for their participation (warmly, so they won’t think you’re a complete bitch. I mean, if that matters to you.) then walk away.

        I have made people CRY when it comes to my dogs. I don’t take kindly to the people who assume that my dog being in public makes them public property. I had a mother chew me out for making her daughter cry, and I turned it back on her and told her that she was a bad mother and an idiot for allowing her daughter to believe that she could walk up to any dog and maul their face without saying a word to the owner beforehand. (Yes, I also made her cry. I am not ashamed.) People are LUCKY my dog is people friendly and won’t maul you back (except for with his tongue and his tail.) Most dogs are NOT so accommodating.

      • cendra August 16, 2013 at 6:05 am #

        Actually, Puer autem sperábo. Kids read nonverbal better than idiot parents.

        Kid wants to pat my dog, fine. Vanille will hide behind me and growl. Lily will jump up on them and lick them silly. They don’t like that, they learn. If I know and like the kid, I hold Lily in one place and the kid can choose the distance. If I don’t like the people approaching, I say, NO! Lily doesn’t know what that means because I use positive training. If they don’t get it, I step forward, holding Lily in place, and say, Back Up. When they do that, I turn my back on them, praise Lily, put her on heel, and walk away.

  14. Paige McLachlan August 13, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    My dog’s are my children & I wouldn’t let my child just play with anyone! If my child (puppy, adult dog) doesn’t like someone I trust their judgement! They have a sense about these things & I have found they are never wrong!

  15. Paws Abilities Dog Training August 13, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    When I’m Queen of the Universe, every new puppy owner will receive a copy of this blog post when they bring home their new bundle of joy. (Oxford commas will also be required at all times, which is yet another reason I love your posts. But that’s really a subject for a different blog.) Anyway, snob on, Dog Snobs. Snob on.

  16. Me August 13, 2013 at 3:41 am #

    I hate dog parks more than I hate mustard. And I really, really hate mustard. There is no better way to teach your dog to ignore you in favor of sniffing another dogs ass. Socialization doesn’t mean (to me) toss them into a pack of unknown dogs and watch them play. A well socialized dog will ignore, or greet another dog briefly, in a non-rude way, and go about their business; NOT leap at the end of the leash and scream because he happened to spot another member of his own species.

    • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 4:12 am #

      I have found a dog park to be THE BEST place to work on recalls. With four dogs of all different sizes, personalities and ages, my recalls in any dog park are dynamite and “on the dime” because I intentionally train for that. My dogs are always looking back at me, waiting for that recall. I use all situations with my dogs as potential training situations.

      • Denise August 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

        You can work on PROOFING recalls at a dog park, assuming your dogs are dog park material in the first place, but you don’t TEACH recalls in a dog park.

      • paige August 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

        If I take my kids to the dog park it is play time for them! As far as calling them it is not a problem. They stay right beside me at all times & great others as I walk around! They prefer nice long walks on the beach or, around the neighborhood! I have never had a problem off leash.

      • Jennifer August 16, 2013 at 4:48 am #

        I LOVE working recalls at the dog park. It has gotten to the point where I can walk around and my male will not leave my side because I have the hot dogs and the other dogs are totally not as good as hot dogs.

        I know if he’ll ignore other dogs, he’ll ignore anything on the planet but small children. Which we are currently working on by working at the playground.

  17. doggimum August 13, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    Where were you all when my boxer was a pup? Unfortunately I learned all this the hard way…

    Love the blog… 🙂

  18. Beth August 13, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    My Frenchie loves dog parks, she loves to run with the big dogs and she seems lonely when we stay away too long… I watch every move she makes though of course! I take her to parties and she seems to crave the attention, also she’s WONDERFUL with strangers, very friendly, because I have always kept her SAFE and looked after – we have never had a “scary” incident, I watch which dogs she socializes with. I’m in a band, and she comes to gigs, and is so relaxed and loves the music so much, she sits or lies down by my microphone in the middle of the stage when she wants “mamma time”. My band is named after her! She’s 3 1/2 years old now, and is LOVED by EVERYONE – even just walking down the street, we stop and talk to other dog owners, even little kids who are “scared” of dogs, I hold her and encourage them to pet her, then they LOVE her and call her name when they see us next time! Of course, I tell the kids ONLY to ask owners of dogs on leashes if they can pet them, if they are friendly, and to never go up to a dog Off Leash. Some dogs are loners, for sure, but my little baby loves people and loves to party! My band is Friends of Chloe, and we are on FB with plenty of pics of her. I did NOT take her to dog parks when she was a little baby – waited til she was about a year old and had all her shots, etc. We also went to puppy school so I COULD learn how to train her and take care of her.

  19. AnnRan August 13, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    Thanks for this post. In general (although I realize this post pertains to puppies), regarding dog parks, I wish people would realize that simply because it’s a “dog park”, doesn’t mean every dog should go there! Some dogs aren’t comfortable at dog parks (our shy border collie, for example, doesn’t care one bit about other dogs and isn’t keen on people either) and others are unsafe for the other dogs that are there (aggressive, pushy, humpy, whatever). I never went to a dog park until we got our 24 pound Chi mix. Our other dogs weren’t DP material for one reason or another. The Chi LOVES to go there and run around and I often let him in with the big dogs if things aren’t TOO boisterous. He’s very fast and can hold his own, but I watch him like a hawk. Certainly I’m watching for his safety, but also to make sure he’s behaving himself around dogs that are smaller than he is!

  20. Aimee August 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    What a great post! I’ve been taking my small dogs to dog parks for 15 years, but always at times when the chance of encountering other dogs is slim. There are at least half a dozen local dog parks with varying reputations among the “clued-in” dog owners, who also belong to local dog training clubs. None of us would ever think of taking a puppy to a dog park. One of the best ways to socialize a new puppy is to join a local dog training club, enroll in a puppy or focus class there, and take the puppy to observe the upper level classes. Most handlers can’t resist saying hello to a new puppy, and the ones with “puppy-safe” adult dogs often enjoy spending a few minutes after class letting the puppy interact with a friendly adult. I’ve done that with most of my puppies, and they turned out to be well-socialized, well-mannered adults.

    • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      Here is alternate stories, as there will always be them.

      I adopted a 10 week old Catahoula/Pit Bull puppy from a rescue group in Ventura County in August 2011. Knowing his background coming from a horrible backyard breeder who had all their dogs confiscated, I set out immediately to socialize Palo in every way. Along with my other small dog, I took Palo along with me to small dog parks with well socialized dogs and friendly humans. When he grew out of the Small Dog Parks, I took him into the large dog parks, that have a variety dogs from tiny to large. He has been going to those parks weekly ever since and is the most friendly and squishy dog with both people and dogs of all sizes.

      As a fifty pound well muscled dog, his recalls are immediate and he sits in front of me when he returns.

      Several month later I adopted a dog from Thailand, who had a friendly temperament with people, per the people at the rescue group. When I got her home, I starting taking her into small dog parks since she was under the 25 pound posted size limit. She got to socialize with small and friendly and non-threatening dogs. In a few months, she was moved into the large dog park. Shortly, she was playing with all the dogs of all ages and sizes. She also has great recalls and sits on a dime.

      This past January I adopted a mini LH Dachshund from a shelter. He came to me highly undersocialized, so at first I just walked him around the small dog park and large dog park to get him used to the sights and sounds. After about a month I took him into the small dog park. He was mainly interested in the people and would jump in their laps, all the time working on his recalls, which weren’t too tough since he barely left my side. After a few months, I brought him into the large dog park, but only when the crowds were thinner, usually on weekday nights and we would stay until closing, so the groups were pretty thin. I taught him to stay by my side and he received treats when he did. Slowly, he has started to move away little bits at a time, and actually approach other dogs on his own with a wagging tail, but he still prefers the laps of the other people.

      What this all means is that each dog will see the parks differently, and have a different experience. These parks are also in highly urban environments so the dogs tend to be a lot more socialized and trained with wider experiences. The Dachshund obviously is not interested in playing with other dogs, and that is fine, but he does love checking out all the smells and peeing on everything and visiting the people. He is getting his own experience out of the park. While the other three dogs are having a great time running and chasing and barking and playing games and learning how to get along with stranger dogs.

      • Janet November 6, 2013 at 2:00 am #

        Pit Bulls, Pit Bull mixes etc, are the reason I am terrified of dog parks and should never, in my opinion, be allowed off leash in public. Also, if someone is not big enough to stop their pit bull/pit bull mix etc, if it ever does decide to attack, they should not own one. Dogs, even the most well trained ones, can be do unpredictable things. No one ever says “Oh, I expected that” after their dogs bite. My 20lb dog is a sweetie, but I won’t say never with him. And the difference between my 20lb dog and someone’s pit bull is if my dog bites, it hurts, if their dog bites, it does serious damage up to mauling and killing,

  21. paige August 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    So true!

  22. Denise August 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Ran into someone walking through my neighborhood a few days ago with a cockapoo puppy who was pretty clueless. I’m watching a 10.5 year old basset foster dog right now and was walking her along with my own 5 year old boy. I very intentionally and verbally held back the basset who I know is friendly in general but an old lady who doesn’t tolerate being jumped on by excited dogs, understandably so. Let my friendly and very puppy tolerant boy say hi, pulled him back and let the basset say hi after seeing the puppy didn’t try and jump on my boy. Basset didn’t like the puppy in her face and gave a mild air snap so I pulled her away.

    All well and good you’d think, right? Ignorant puppy owner (with flexi of course) allows the puppy to follow the basset as I attempt to remove her from the situation she isn’t happy with. The whole time I’m casually mentioning my boy is very friendly but the old lady doesn’t seem to like the puppy in her face. It wasn’t until I called her a grouch that it finally clicked with him to keep the puppy away from her. “But she’s just a puppy!” was his initial response. I really wish people would get that they don’t like EVERYONE and they shouldn’t expect their dogs to like EVERYONE either.

  23. Mel Reveles August 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on Fusion Vizslas' Blog and commented:
    Please…PRETTY PLEASE read this!!!! Read it about 10 times and memorize. Then, read it again BEFORE getting a puppy. Come up with a *reasonable* plan for socializing your new puppy.

    • paige August 13, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

      I have taken my kids to several dog parks! They get bored in about a minute & walk around the park right by my side. Here in FL we have one DP with a lot of senior citizens. They take their adult kids everyday & it is a nice place for both the elderly & their fury adult child to socialize.

      I would never bring a puppy to a DP. It is a tender age & I don’t want them to pickup any bad habits & they immune system isn’t formed at such a young age!

      • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

        What kind of bad habits are you referring to: running, chasing, barking, rolling in the dirt and acting like a happy, crazy dog? Like any situation, it can be used as training, so if your dog plays to hard with another dog, you can use the situation to teach the dog the difference and how you want them to behave. For example, my little terrier mix sometimes will sometimes key in a particular dog and try to hump them. Kind of funny to see a 15 pound dog trying to hump a 80 pound dog. If the dog does not tell him off and allows him to do it, I will tell him what I don’t want. He knows that and will stop, or I move him away from that dog. If her persists, he will get a “time out” and be put on leash for a few minutes, which he hates. He gets it that if he wants to keep playing off leash, he won’t hump that dog and he stops. Perfect training situation, which would never occur out of the dog park because I don’t allow my dogs to approach or be approached by other dogs. The dog park is the only time my dogs get to play off leash or on leash with another dog.

      • paige August 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

        I have never just had one dog at a time & they learn very fast from the other kids (doggies) in the house. They have a huge backyard to play in & get as dirty as they want! I do make them wipe their feet & clean them up if they get dirty! Never had a problem with one jumping another be it boy or, girl. They may have tried it once or twice. I just tell them no & they stop. If they bark at the neighbor’s dogs (which their dogs charge the fence & bark) I just tell them they are not to be rude & they stop.

        In case you can’t tell by now I have no human children so, I just treat them like I would if I had a young child! Their smart & all have different personalities. They are a pack & I’m the leader. Lots of love, exercise, & not much discipline! They are very loving & friendly to people & all different types of animals!

        Puppies just need extra care to get a good start in life & shouldn’t be exposed to dog parks! Find them a buddy in the neighborhood & a little older to hang out with. They will learn not to hump other dogs & will be much better off in life. They learn so fast & it is the traits you want instead of the ones you don’t.

      • houndsofgrey August 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

        Bad habits like ganging up on a weaker dog, unprovoked biting and snapping, bullying, humping, eating poop, urinating on other dogs… and yes, all of these are things that your puppy will witness at the dog park. Your puppy will also learn that other dogs may do these things to them before you can interfere, thus teaching the puppy – at a critical time in their training – that YOU won’t always be there and they need to take matters into their own hands sometimes. This can, and often does, spiral into a much larger issue because dogs generalize. My friend who trains service dogs had one who was attacked by a GSD; within a week he’d gone from never fearing any dog to getting nervous around GSD’s, in spite of having other good experiences. The fear quickly devolved, without further incident, to all black and tan dogs and eventually all other dogs of size. When my friend, the trainer, got the dog back she was able to work with him to undo the damage but he’d never be an acceptable service dog after that. Not a dog park story, but an example of a dog who was in a vulnerable position and had a bad experience that became a much bigger issue.

        Your dog continues to have issues with humping other dogs, even though he “knows that you will put a stop to it”? Sounds like your interference isn’t much of a deterrent… but I feel like we had this discussion recently.

      • paige August 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

        Oh no you have me all wrong! I would never take a puppy to a dog park! It isn’t safe!! They are my children & they have only gone a very few times to a Dog Park & they adults. Two age 13 & one 10 year old! I prefer they play in their own yard & go for walks around the neighborhood! The beach when no other dogs are around!

      • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

        Here is a link to the blog of the dog (all grown up and happy) that was taken to dog parks as a puppy and as an adult. By the way, last weekend he passed a National Temperament test with flying colors. With an open mind, it really can be done. http://woodacresluckydragon.blogspot.com/

      • paige August 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

        If your puppy hasn’t had all its shots you could lose it to all sorts of diseases! My kids are healthy, happy, & do go with me as pet therapy dogs! All three of them!

        I did have family dogs as a child & one humped the bigger hunting hound all the time! Different dogs & different owners (my parents)! To each their own!

      • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

        That is what vaccinations are for. After four months and the dog has had its rabies shot, and a couple of sets of DHPPC vaccinations, the dog can go to classes and dog parks with small dogs and puppy groups.

      • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

        The puppy you are referring to is almost three years old now. Obviously, you have misread the post.

        And the terrier who occasionally humps (a natural dog act), hardly does it anymore, because, through training, he has learned not to do it, and if he does, he knows what will happen (put back on leash). That is what training is all about. Let the dog make the mistake and teach how how to receive the reward and get what he wants (being off leash and playing with other dogs)and I get what I want (a dog who is playing off leash and being nice to other dogs.)

        Instead of avoiding potential training situations, and avoiding mistakes, which most people do, approach a situation with the idea, “How can I use this situation to teach my dog something?” If you need the advice of a trainer, then ask, and if your trainer says, “Don’t ever put your dog into a situation where they might make a mistake,” find another trainer.”

      • houndsofgrey August 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

        no worries, Paige, I was responding to the question of “what sort of bad habits?” You already mentioned that a dog park is not the place for puppies, and I was clarifying that position to the person who thought you meant “running around and having fun, chasing and barking”.

      • paige August 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

        No worries here either! Puppies don’t belong at dog parks!

      • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

        I love seeing puppies at dog parks, either in small dog parks if they are small or young, or large dog parks if they are mature enough. I see future well socialized dogs and people who spend time with their dogs. Obviously, if the park is not fenced, they should be on leash, and pick the right time for the maturity of the puppy. Don’t go at 2 PM on a Saturday if your puppy is new or small or not up to the rough play. Maybe pick an earlier or later time when the groups will be smaller. I don’t go on weekend days at one place that is fenced in because the groups are too big, but I can go on the weekends at the unfenced area because all the pro dog walkers are not there who are there during the week and fill the parking lot.

        With anything else, educate yourself and use good decision making skills.

  24. Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Here is a really good website: Dogfriendly.com and here is the page link to all their dog parks: http://www.dogfriendly.com/server/travel/guides/dogpark/dogpark.shtml

    My two favorites are Fremont dog park in Fremont, CA. It is fully fenced, has artificial turf, lighting for night visits, a ton of parking and borders on Lake Elizabeth if somebody wanted to combine a visit to the dog park with a walk around the lake.

    And, of course, Fort Funston in San Francisco. Fort Funston is by far the nicest and most popular dog parks in all of the Bay Area. However, it is unfenced, so one of my dogs remains on leash while there for now. There is direct access to the off leash dog beaches and there is also a combination of paved and dirt trails for people who want to rough it or might have a wheel chair or stroller. It is highly popular with all the pro dog walkers in San Francisco and the Peninsula. The only downfall I know of is that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area, so sometimes there can be difference between the rangers and the dog groups in regards to long term use planning. So far, everybody is getting along.

  25. Pam August 13, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    I am surprised that more people haven’t mentioned the main reason not to take a PUPPY to a dog park: they are incredibly at risk for parvo, coccidia, giardia, and a slew of other puppy problems up to the point where their shots are complete. Dog parks are cesspools of bacteria and germs. There are the people who don’t bother to pick up after their dogs, and there are always dogs whose owners don’t bother to keep them vaccinated. There is a serious conflict in the information commonly provided to puppy buyers: socialize your puppy by taking them everywhere, and at the same time protect your puppy by avoiding contact with any unvaccinated dogs or places where unvaccinated dogs may have been, like public parks, dog parks, rest stops, etc. Puppies’ socialization experiences need to be in controlled environments where they are protected from unvaccinated and perhaps ill dogs. Private play groups, puppy classes that are held in safe places that are properly cleaned, or public places (like the post office or bank) where you can carry them. Personally, I don’t do dog parks at all. My big dogs are working retrievers and are used to being off leash in the open, not a fenced in lot smaller than my back yard. They socialize with other dogs in our training group: the rest of the time, they are to ignore other people and dogs. Works out well for us.

    • Jackie Phillips August 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

      After four months of age, their shots are complete and they can go outside. Most training classes will start then or younger if they are in a confined room with all dogs checked for vaccinations.

      I am sure you realize that coccidia, parvo, giardia and distemper are not puppy diseases. Adult dogs can get those diseases also.

      Obviously, your situation is not the average person who works nine to five and does not “work” their dogs in controlled environments with other trained dogs. For most people they might walk their dogs in their neighborhood, or take them jogging, but most dogs don’t get more exercise than that. Dog parks provide the outlet for intense play and exercise and socialization for an already happy and social animal.

      Repeat, if your dog is not social with animals or people and can’t tolerate play with strange dogs, DO NOT take your dogs to a dog park. Dog parks are for social and happy and friendly dogs ONLY. PLEASE do not bring your dogs to a dog park if they are not one of the above. I would truly appreciate that and so would my dogs and so would a lot of other people who do have happy and friendly dogs. The humiliation of getting booted from a dog park by other people who have happy and friendly dogs can be quite traumatic. I have seen it happen, and it ain’t pretty.

      • amycon66 August 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

        Leave the puppies home? How about NO DOG goes to a dog park. They are for lazy owners. The ONLY way they are a good idea is if you take your dog there is AFTER they have been thoroughly exercised and you went to shownyorndog how NOT to behave. What lazy owner invented the freaking dog park. Worst. Invention. Ever.

      • Jackie Phillips August 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

        I think the dog park is one of the best things ever created. I believe the smart dog person goes to dog parks with their well socialized dogs. I would prefer to be with smart dog people at dog parks than ignorant dog people who believe dog parks are wrong.

      • amycon66 August 15, 2013 at 2:54 am #

        yeah and I would rather be with responsible owners who know how ridiculous dog parks are for any dog or any breed. But hey, irresponsible owners are everywhere hence why I stay clear of dog parks.

      • paige August 14, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

        I agree! It could be used for a cool down after you have exercised your dog! Only kidding!

  26. Erica August 13, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

    I think early socialization is important, but it must be done safely and judiciously. To be fair, I’ve never run across a trainer or vet who suggests people take pups to dog parks. In fact, they usually state that dog parks are something that you should use with due caution, even with well-socialized mature dogs, and that they aren’t for everyone. I do wish there were more varied alternatives for off-leash exercise, like hiking tails, beaches and quiet corners of public parks that would allow well-behaved dogs to be off leash for training exercises, hiking, games of fetch or whatever. There are some places where dog parks are so small and crowded that the dogs just stand around and stare at each other with anxious looks on their faces (kind of like being at a too-large party in a too-small room). Those of us who have only small suburban yards (or apartments) and weekly agility classes are sometimes at a loss for places to take our dogs for exercise and fun.

  27. Laurie Vaughan August 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I don’t inflict my doggies on anyone and I don’t want anyone inflicted on them. My little boys are all touchy and they don’t want to know anyone else. They are perfectly happy with us, their humans and their human sister and her doggie… that’s it…

    • Jackie Phillips August 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      If your dogs are under-socialized and afraid of people, the dog park is the wrong place to be. The dog park is only for well socialized, friendly dogs.

      • Jennifer August 16, 2013 at 5:01 am #

        Dear Jackie:
        You are not indicative of the average – or intelligent – dog owners.

        You have obviously gotten very lucky. I am very happy for you.

        I challenge you to take your three dogs to a dog park that is outside your realm of normal stomping grounds. For instance, a dog park here in Georgia. You will very quickly understand that very few dog parks are as serene and well-maintained as the dog parks that you frequent, and that very few of the owners have any knowledge or sense whatsoever. At the very least, you will probably meet several “know it all novices” – people who know very little, who have not had their dogs very long, but think they know quite a lot. More than your average – and good – dog trainer. Even though their badly behaved and over-coddled little bundle of snarling anger would attest otherwise, these people thing they are among the best of the best of dog owners.

        You cannot say that because you have frequented the ideal situation, your experience is the only one that matters – or even the majority of potential experiences. I could tell you horror stories that would keep you from going to even your perfect situation parks. Most dog parks should not exist. And sadly, the majority percentage of people who frequent THOSE dog parks are not trainable with anything less than a 2×4 to the head. Although, God knows I would LOVE to see you try. The cat-fight that would go down between you and one lady in particular that frequents my dog park would be truly epic.

        Thank you,
        The rest of dogdom

        P.S. If you don’t like it, let me show you the door to this place. See the little red X at the top right of this screen? You don’t have to come back. This blog is called “Dog Snobs” for a reason. Kthx! ❤

      • Jackie Phillips August 16, 2013 at 5:35 am #

        I go to new dog parks pretty regularly since I travel a lot with my dogs for work and shows. I would say I attend a new dog park about once every six months. I can easily find them on Dogfriendly.com, or I ask local dog people. They are pretty easy to find. And, I have never had a single issue. When I am at home, I have about three dog parks to pick from, depending on how much time I have and whether I need artificial light or not, especially in the winter months.

        I just went to a new one last weekend. I had never been to that city, nor the human park or the dog park. Before bringing my dogs in, I confirmed it was fully fenced, that it had water and that it had a secondary area before the main gates for safety. It also had a small dog park and a large dog park. All of my dogs (ranging from 50 pounds to 10 pounds) had a blast in the big dog park. All the people were nice and informative about the area. There was even a four month old American Bulldog puppy, and the lady was very nice and her dog was sweet and nice and happy. She was also fine when her puppy played a little rough with my mini Dachshund and the Dachshund told the dog he was too rough. The puppy immediately stopped and found another dog to play with, and my Dachshund continued on his way sniffing the fence line. Nobody died or was harmed or scarred for life. The Dachshund lives with dogs much bigger than him, so he knows how to tell a dog off when he needs to.

        I have been attending dog parks all over the Western States since the late 1980’s with a variety of dogs, breeds, mixes and ages (including puppies!). My favorites are the natural turf ones because the dirt is a lot less, but, I don’t really care at all. I also prefer the fenced in ones, but I will do to unfenced also.

        Of course, my dogs are current on all the vaccinations, including Bordetella. I would never take a dog out of the house without current and regular vaccinations. My dogs have never had a single bout of kennel cough, worms, parvo, distemper or cooties of any type.

        I am finding another disturbing thread of thought here. There appears to be a type of person who finds it very difficult to imagine that their dog could ACTUALLY enjoy the company of other dogs and other people other then themselves. I love it when my dogs approach total strangers to ask for petting and scratching and attention, and when they run to play with another dog after receiving a treat for a recall. I want my dogs to be friendly with strangers, rather than being suspicious of strangers. I live in a highly urban environment where children and friendly people will approach my dogs, and I want my dogs to be friendly. I have lost count how many times a child will run or walk right up to my dogs, even though the parent might be watching or asking the child to ask. That is normal life and highly expected. Since when does a child see a warm and fuzzy and friendly dog wagging their tail and with tongue handing out of their mouths and not want to run right up to them? It happens regularly, and, thank god, my dogs love kids and all people, under all conditions. When it happens, I don’t need to be afraid or cautious. Dog parks are great for that because often times kids are in dog parks to, and they will approach the dog or the dog will approach them. Hurray! My dog just approached a small child and had a ball! That is the ultimate socialization experience for me.

  28. amycon66 August 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    Leave the puppies home? How about NO DOG goes to a dog park. They are for lazy owners. The ONLY way they are a good idea is if you take your dog there is AFTER they have been thoroughly exercised and you went to shownyorndog how NOT to behave. What lazy owner invented the freaking dog park. Worst. Invention. Ever.

    • houndsofgrey August 17, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

      Interesting… and how would you suggest that I go about exercising my greyhounds, who need regular play sessions where they can run hard and really stretch out to top speed? Clearly the problem is that I’m just “lazy” so what is it I’m supposed to do instead?

      I’m sorry you’ve had such terrible dog park experiences, but I live in a “normal” suburban area and my backyard is sizable but nowhere near what these dogs need to really run. I don’t live on a farm, nor should I be expected to buy one just so I can properly exercise my dogs. I don’t think anyone should be taking a puppy to a dog park, nor is it the place for dogs who don’t enjoy it. My dogs LOVE the dog park, and we make it a point to only go to the good ones we know of, where the owner are paying attention to their dogs and the other dogs tend to be well-behaved and friendly.

      • amycon66 August 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

        many many things can be done to exercise and work your dogs other than a dog park. You can go to ball fields that are fenced in, tennis courts, basketball courts. The best way to have your dogs run is what I have to do in the winter when there is ice out and tons of snow, or in the summer when the weather is too hot for my boy to be exercised properly for his evergy level. A treadmill! It works great, my dog LOVES his treadmill and would run all day if I let him. and no random other dogs can screw up his workout. Tons of other solutions for your dogs other than off leash play on public property with other off leash dogs and owners you don’t know.

      • houndsofgrey August 19, 2013 at 2:04 am #

        So… instead of taking my dogs to the place the city has set aside for dogs to run loose, I should take them to a ball field, tennis court, other place that it wholly and *legally* inappropriate place? I should keep other people from using that space for its intended purpose because I don’t want to use the dog park for its intended purpose?

        Also, there is no such thing as a home treadmill that is safe for my dog to use. Her strides are way too long. No to mention the fact that they’re dangerous… I’ll stick with the dog park, thanks, and so will thousands of other informed dog owners. Our dogs have a great time, and we don’t have to worry about being ticketed for letting our dogs poop on a tennis court (also way too small to properly exercise a sight hound)

      • amycon66 August 19, 2013 at 3:06 am #

        I didn’t say to not have a long lead I was giving examples of other places you can go that aren’t a dog park. You could go to any park that allows dogs that are leashed. As far as mills go they are VERY easy to make (slat or carpet-mill) you can make them the size you need for your dogs strides of your doing it yourself or buying a custom mill Very very safe way to exercise your dogs. Not sure where you have seen them being used properly yet dangerously or unsafe.

      • houndsofgrey August 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

        The point of this post is that some dogs can’t or shouldn’t go to dog parks and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is *also* nothing inherently wrong with dogs who can go to dog parks and enjoy doing so, or with dog parks themselves.

        How did we go from “Don’t look down on people who don’t go to the dog park for whatever reason” to “Dog parks are evil and stupid and only the very worst and laziest people go there”?

      • Kara August 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

        I think the tone turned when that Jackie person started calling people who don’t like dog parks “ignorant” and “uninformed.” So the reaction is, for my money anyway, “I’m not ignorant or uninformed; I don’t go to the dog park because I’m tired of fighting the tide of jerks.” The comment set my hackles up, most certainly, and got me remembering every single bad dog-park experience I had that led me to decide not to frequent them anymore.

        The man whose standard Poodle made a point of mounting Every Single Dog that walked into the park (and continued to mount dogs throughout the visit) and did nothing to correct the behavior–instead, laughed about it.

        The woman whose Golden Retriever chased a puppy underneath a picnic table and cornered him there–the Golden’s owner then had the audacity to tell the puppy’s owner she was overreacting.

        The woman I mentioned in another reply, who brought three out of control Labs into the park–dogs that then set on and attacked another, smaller dog.

        The time I had to wash another dog’s poop out of my dog’s fur because some genius didn’t pick up their dog’s mess.

        So yes, the reason I don’t frequent parks anymore? Because of stupid, lazy people. Who don’t pick up their poop. GAWD.

        Does that mean that *only* stupid, lazy people GO to parks? No–I have met some wonderful people at the dog parks, but eventually they also stopped coming to the park because of the jerks. And unfortunately, when you look at people in general? A not-small portion of them are jerks, when you get down to it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the folks who frequent this site are probably not lazy or stupid jerks, but that’s just a small sampling of a larger population. It’s been my experience that the friendly, responsible, knowledgeable owners are outnumbered by the jerks.

      • paige August 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

        Kara I have taken my dogs (not puppies) to several dog parks in Florida. I have never had one bad thing happen except my dogs being board. They have not interest in playing there. I not against dog parks if they friendly, not filled with jerks, clean, & everyone respects others. I would never bring a little puppy though. I leave their teaching to my older dogs. I find it to be best thing as a learning experience & they pickup the traits that I want & non of the bad ( The ones at dog parks breed) .

        Jackie has made this into mission to tell others what to do with are dogs! She has been so rude & posted so comments that I don’t see how she can take care of her own dogs. If she doesn’t like what is being said she can stop reading & writing to all of us & give her dogs the attention they so desperately they need. I’m just over her picking fights & being a Miss Know It All. None of are perfect but, at least we do what is best for our puppies & dogs!

        Kara you have been a treasure to chat with & I’m so happy to see you put her in her place. If Jackie is this much of a bully here on this site I would never want her dogs anywhere near mine. I hope you have a wonderful day & kiss your babies for me!

      • Kara August 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

        I’m in Florida as well, and have had a completely opposite experience. I think it has a lot to do with how dog-friendly the area is. The county I live in is notoriously unfriendly towards dogs (dog owners had to fight and fight for literally *years* to get exactly one-quarter mile of beach deemed “dog-friendly”). I mean, you’d think that would be incentive enough to encourage people to exceed others’ low expectations and try to be an example for responsible dog ownership. Evidently not! 😦

      • paige August 19, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

        Kara that is so sad! We have several dog friendly beaches & responsible dog owners. In fact people leave more garbage on the beach than the people who have dogs. The beaches are cleaner where the dogs are allowed than where they are not! It is a win win for me!

    • Jackie Phillips August 18, 2013 at 12:58 am #

      Luckily millions of very smart people do not agree with you, and their dogs are much happier and social. I would rather see a dog running and playing and chasing and barking in a dog park then stuck in a back yard digging and barking and chewing and being aggressive in their own private yard, bored out of their mind.

      • Cendra Lynn August 18, 2013 at 3:56 am #

        Funny. I didn’t know those were the only choices. Clearly we’ve been doing it wrong for 40 years: hours-long walks in the woods with the dogs who would go off to hunt and get lost kept on very long leashes. They get in an awful lot of running, playing, chasing, and barking…but they do that in the house, too.

      • Kara August 19, 2013 at 2:24 am #

        I find it interesting that the assumption you appear to be making is that dog parks necessarily attract owners with well-socialized dogs (which appears to be in line with the blanket generalizations you tend to favor throughout the course of your replies–also logical fallacies).

        Guess what? They don’t.

        I have three off-leash dog-parks near me, and I’ve stopped using them, all for different reasons. (I have no need for them now, and count myself lucky in that regard; my dog is socialized just fine, thanks, because I take him everywhere I can.)

        Dog Park #1: This park is located as a smaller portion of a state park. This park also has absolutely no restrictions — intact dogs, in-heat bitches, wolf-hybrids are all allowed: and I’ve all of those examples there. I stopped going after one of my dogs picked up giardia there.

        Dog Park #2: When this park first opened, I liked it. Not many people frequented it, and those who did were mindful dog owners. The longer it stayed open, the worse it got. Owners stopped picking up after their dogs, and stopped paying attention to their dogs in general. The last time I took my dogs to this particular park, my two Aussies were playing nicely with a third Australian Shepherd, smaller than both of mine. The park was otherwise empty. Then a woman showed up with her three Labs–three Labs that then proceeded to tear across the park and–utterly unprovoked– *attack* the third, smaller dog. That’s not the only attack that’s occurred there, and for me, the risk of one of my dogs getting hurt far outweighs the reward of them getting some off-leash runaround time.

        Dog Park #3: Another park associated with a larger state park. Despite abundance of poop pickup bags, this park has an overabundance of canine landmines. And because I have already gone through giardia with one dog, I have not gone back to park #3 because I care too much about my dogs’ health, and after the giardia incident and one dog possessing mystery allergies, my vet’s office already knows me way too well there.

        So it’s great that *you’ve* had positive experiences. Your experiences do not dictate everybody else’s realities. I have not had an overabundance of positive dog-park experiences. As such, I make the decision to take my dogs to agility class and fun runs; I take them out for 2 mile walks and runs, and play with them in my back yard. Do not insult those of us who make intelligent, informed decisions influenced by our experiences and fueled by our desire to do what we feel is best for our dogs by calling the rest of us elitist hypocrites and going so far as to lecture others on language (language? Seriously? Come on, we’re all adults here. Language usage is not the salient point here.)

        In short: you don’t know any of us on an individual level, nor do you know our dogs on an individual level, so kindly back off before spewing any more judgmental blanket generalizations.

      • paige August 19, 2013 at 2:58 am #

        Kara thank you for telling Jackie to back off!! Jackie must not be spending enough time or, effort with her dogs. Instead she has been on here way to much telling everyone what to do with their dog instead of giving them the attention they deserve!

      • Kara August 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

        Paige: I’m just getting tired of “I don’t like taking my dogs to dog-parks” being translated into “ignorant and uninformed dog-owner.” When we got our female Aussie (I now notice above sometimes I mention one dog, sometimes I mention two–our male was 2 yrs old when we got our second dog, and our second dog is a bit of a special snowflake) from the shelter, she was 20+ pounds overweight, and knowing I had to get the weight off of her, I tried going back to my local dog parks, and nearly *every time* I left one of the three parks at the end of a visit, I was frustrated and disappointed (I ended up upping my own exercise level AND theirs, and I’m happy to say she’s been at a healthy weight for years now). I can only control *my* dogs and *my* situation; I cannot control whether people vaccinate their dogs (and not all parks require vaccination records), and I can’t control whether they keep a watchful eye out or not. But I can choose to walk my dogs (which I will be leaving to do shortly here) and participate in other activities, such as agility (well, with my male; our special snowflake has some hip issues, so I have to keep an eye on her and her activity level), and just… own my choices.

        Are my dogs well-socialized? Yes. Without a doubt. I can take them to Petsmart, Petco, Lowes, Home Depot–anywhere they’re allowed to go. If anyone asks if they can pet my dogs, I can answer “yes” without hesitation. They occasionally go to puppy daycare and have regular “friends” there as well. I walk them around my neighborhood, and at paved parks where people jog or ride bikes or rollerblade, and have had some wonderful experiences doing that. (One particular day at a favorite park, a local school for special-needs kids was having an outing, and both of my pups did me proud when a few of the kids asked to pet my dogs.) Are they perfect? No. Do they lapse? Yes. (My male gets antsy around small, hyper breeds. My female loses her sanity if there’s food anywhere nearby.)

        I’m not saying DOG PARKS ARE EVIL, DOWN WITH DOG PARKS. I’m saying that I don’t like them, I find them risky, and I don’t use them. I’m not going to insult people who DO use them; I’m only going to say they’re braver souls than I, because I have had *too many* bad experiences, and those experiences were what made me look around for alternatives in keeping my two high-energy dogs well-exercised, happy, and healthy.

      • paige August 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

        Kara you know your dogs & what they need. You give then everything & dog parks are not mandatory for a well balanced, friendly, socialized dog. Like you said there are so many other ways to socialize your dog without putting them in danger.

        My dogs are not perfect but, neither am I. They are therapy dogs & yes they like food. My little Monet had a weight problem too. I just upped her exercise & cut down on the snacks & she is at perfect weight for her & has been since she was two! All my dogs love people & food but, also get enough exercise. I love to take them with me everywhere I go. People always ask are they friendly & to pet them. I always say yes because I know they will never bit or, hurt anyone. Just like your kids! I’m glad to meet a fellow dog lover who knows what is good for their dog & doesn’t attract other people like Jackie has done.

        Have a wonderful day & kiss your babies for me! Your an awesome dog owner!

      • paige August 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

        You are nuts Jackie!!! My dogs have never dug holes or, have been board in their backyard. They don’t just sit around all day without any attention from me. They are my kids & go everywhere with me. My puppies have never chewed up my house or, destroyed anything. They have so many toys to play with & each other to play with. Also, they are well socialized with other dogs ins neighborhood & love people. Just stop being so rude to others & if you don’t like what we have to say then get off of this site & go bully someone else. If you can’t play nice here I certainly don’t think your dogs can play nice with others either!!!!

      • Janet November 6, 2013 at 2:19 am #

        Again, with the “smart” comment. I have had dogs all my life, all breeds except pit bulls breeds (especially after a child I loved was mauled to death by one) and my 3 dogs are all sweet, fun and well socialized without ever having set foot in a dog park. Does that take points off my very high IQ? How do you know everyone who agrees with you has happier, more social dogs? Just because they agree with you? You come across as condescending and dismissive. Not the best way to “help” other dogs lovers/owners.

  29. Mom2LiveDog August 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Offering your puppy up as brunch for all canine comers and socializing him are not the same thing. Besides the fact that puppies catch cooties at dog Parks and learn to masturbate in public.

  30. Kara August 14, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Best. Ever.

    Unfortunately, I was one of those new puppy owners who let themselves get berated into taking her puppy to the dog park. Fortunately the first trip went really well (we went during off-hours and there was a charming and stable Boxer who introduced my boy to the kiddie pool). My second trip? Not so good (and the owners were more to blame than the dogs; it was a goddamn coffee clutch up in there and not a single owner was paying the least bit of attention to their dogs). I learned the off-hours and managed to meet up with people who were similarly put off by the BS, and thankfully my pup (who is now 7 years old) does not seem to have been scarred forever by the experience. Of course now we live on 3 acres and he and his sister don’t need to visit the stinky park anymore. 😀

  31. Mel August 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Both my current dogs have been going to dog parks since they were 12 weeks old. No big deal. Started with the big unfenced one early in the morning when there aren’t many people. Kept the puppy on leash and met one to two dogs at a time. They are now 4 and 5 1/2 and have excellent social skills. More importantly, they don’t care if strange, friendly dogs run up to them or have poor social skills. Living in suburbia, this happens. We knew it would happen, and we knew we would need to use dog parks regularly, so we included them in our socialisation regime. Both my dogs also know how to handle the rude dogs and the bullies. They shrug them off and move away. I rarely have to intervene on their behalf. It’s like a playground out there. There are nice kids and horrible kids, shy kids, bold kids, ratbags and troublemakers. This shouldn’t mean our kids don’t get to go to the playground. Or that we need to hover over them to protect them from all the riff raff. It just means that we work on teaching our dog the skills they need to enjoy their time in the dog park. If they are going to have trouble learning those skills, then they won’t enjoy themselves and shouldn’t be there.

    I am often bemused by the dog world’s insistence that somehow the prevalence of people who don’t know as much about dogs as they do means they can’t keep their dogs safe in that environment. It’s not that hard IME. Dogs are not unpredictable. You can even *gasp* MAKE FRIENDS with some of these people. And when you do, you have access to a network of local people who care about dogs. They will tell you when there is a mean dog visiting the park and what it looks like, they will help you catch loose dogs and reunite them with their owners, they will let you know if a dog from the park has been ill or injured, and I like to think if my dogs were ever to find themselves loose without me, they would stop for them if they saw them. That could save their lives. And on top of all of that, my dogs have dog park friends as well.

    • Jackie Phillips August 15, 2013 at 3:24 am #

      Very well put!

      This blog post is certainly bring out the elitist and hypocrite in many people. There is a very strong intended tone of “I’m not letting my dogs play with those disgusting and dirty dogs from the stinky dog park. My dogs might get horrible diseases from them. I can’t have my dogs actually learn they are real dogs. I am going to keep them hidden in my insecure human world and keep them locked away to be my only friends and I will be their only friends.”

      • paige August 15, 2013 at 8:55 am #

        You don’t have to go to a dirty dog park to have your dogs socialize with other great dogs! All the neighborhood gets together with their dogs everyday & they all play together! I don’t have to worry about my dogs getting sick or, beaten up by some dog I don’t know or, any dog that behaves badly! My dogs are very social with other dogs & have manners. They are therapy pets too! They give back to the community instead of hiding from mean dogs in some awful Dog Park!!

      • TheDogSnobs August 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

        Yes, that’s obviously what we were saying. *Holds up sarcasm sign*

        That one of the Dogs Snobs actually works for a dog park seems to have eluded you. If you’d like to climb off your Dog Jesus pulpit for 45 seconds you’d probably have read that. We’re very glad you have park appropriate dogs. Good for you. I have 3 dogs who are perfectly park appropriate as well. (And happy and social and all the other things you inferred non-dog-park-dogs couldn’t possibly be.) They don’t go often because frankly, two are old, they don’t need to and I don’t need the hassle of other people who don’t or won’t have control.

        That being said, that most public parks run like something out of Lord of the Flies. Take your puppies there at your own incredibly stupid risk. Frankly I’m too busy stuffing bread and water through their crates to quell the ‘Attica’ screaming to even want to attempt such a thing.

      • Mel August 16, 2013 at 11:29 am #

        Er, excuse me? Was that directed at me, TDS? How adult. For the record, I’m not sure why it should matter who the TDS crew are, what their experience is, and whether they have dogs that are “dog park appropriate” or not. The bottom line is I don’t agree that it is an “incredibly stupid risk” to take puppies to a dog park. Call me a libertarian, but if people want to do it I for one am happy to help them do it safely and be considerate of other dog park users in the process. I do not think saying that is combative or offensive, but apologise if it is interpreted as such.

      • TheDogSnobs August 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

        If half the comment doesn’t make sense, isn’t in the thread map back to you and seems oddly Bitchy when you really weren’t there’s a good chance it’s not for you, but apology accepted. It wasn’t directed at you. I had to look up your original comment to find out what you were talking about.

        We’re not going to agree. We regularly have to help people do stupid things in real life, we’re not going to advocate for it here. We really hope you continue to have such good luck.

  32. Meghan Lodge August 15, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    I LOVE this!! I have two dogs – one with a diva/domineering personality and one that is cautious and slow to fight/quick to end it….so we have to be careful with our interactions with other dogs. Quiet frankly, I’m glad they don’t like every other dog (or person) out there. I wouldn’t feel very safe if they did. They have a select few dogs they interact with on different levels. There’s a neighborhood dog that they like to sniff then walk with at a distance (mine are leashed). There’s a loose neighbor’s dog that likes to romp around with them for about 5 mins on our walks. Then there’s two others that they can be off leash with (in a fence) and play to their hearts’ content. Dog park? Not in a million years.

    • Jackie Phillips August 15, 2013 at 3:15 am #

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for realizing that your dogs are not dog park material. If dog are not happy, social and friendly with strange people and strange dogs, please DO NOT take your dogs to a park. My happy, friendly and social dogs thank you!

  33. Theresa August 15, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    I do go to parks cautiously, try to go at off hours and avoid the free for all times. So usually we only have one or two other dogs besides us.

    Puppies aside, I have seen people who believe they are doing their not-so-dog-social dogs some sort of favor by subjecting them to the dog park. I mean the kind of dog that freaks if other dogs run or goes off on every dog who approaches–clearly not comfortable at dog parties. . . . I’ve seen one lady who thinks the correct response to her dog’s discomfort is to alpha roll her and give her a kind of time out by making her lay on her side for several minutes whenever she snarks at a dog getting in her space. Haven’t seen her attitude change much in the last year . … guh.

    And recently on a dog forum to be unnamed, someone in the comments blithely reported that they took their severely aggressive dog, but kept her on leash with a pinch collar, to socialize at the dog park . . . . WTF?!!!!

  34. paige August 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Jennifer your awesome! I love your response to Jackie who has taken this way over the top & insulting way to many people! After all we are Dog Snobs & have years of knowledge behind us!! Thank you ❤

  35. AD August 14, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    I understand your point about dog parks BUT…. there are also dog parks that are very limiting. You need to be a member, your dog needs an evaluation and you need a special card just to get in. What about those? And more and more dog training facilities I see have specific puppy play classes. Classes for puppies 6 months and younger or 6 months to 1 year. Dogs are like children. You wouldn’t take them to a frat house but you would let them loose on a playground with a bunch of other children. OR what about dog walking groups? More and more of them are popping up everywhere. Dogs and puppies socialize but in a more controlled manner and with a purpose! (walking/migrating). Sorry I know too many trainers/owners that believe in the Stockholm syndrome way of training that would take this “no socialization” too seriously. Instead of just saying no to dog parks, I never see any really good alternative advice besides “a friendly friends dog”. Sorry but I think a puppy playing with one or two dogs is not enough.


  1. Pits with other dogs - Page 5 - Pitbulls : Go Pitbull Dog Forums - August 14, 2013

    […] I came across on FB this morning.. maybe this will help with the view about dog parks and such…. Welcome to the Frat Party a.k.a. I’m not socializing my puppy that way so go away. | The Dog S… Luna-Blue please read this link I posted and open your mind a bit. __________________ You […]

  2. Taming the Wild(ish) Beast | Ligiro Dog Training - August 21, 2013

    […] 6. No dog parks!! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: