Dog Parks
(why they are a bad idea)

 

Should I take my Pit Bull to a Dog Park?


Probably not.   With all of the informational sites to the left, I almost feel that it is not necessary to write this page. However, there are still those people who insist on taking their pit bulls to the dog park despite the potential for disaster.  One would hope that those who have never owned a pit bull before and have their very first would lean on those with experience.....you would think.  Your pit bull puppy will love other dogs until one day he is pushed beyond his limit of tolerance and a fight will happen. It may also happen as your pit bull matures into an adult pit bull. Most will begin to show some level intolerance towards other strange dogs around the time of social maturity which is 18 months to three years.  Some mature earlier and some mature later. Some pit bulls will remain dog friendly their entire lives however, this breed known for it’s willingness to engage when pushed or challenged by another dog.  They are not known for rolling belly up and taking an attack by another dog.  They are terriers and terriers will stand up for themselves when they feel threatened or pushed.  All it takes is one bad experience, one time of pushed beyond his limit of tolerance to start the process towards being aggressive to other dogs.  One time that your dog gets attacked by a unsocialized aggressive dog....to tip the scales and change his behavior forever.  Genetics is the key to dog aggression but poor attempts at socialization and bad experiences can also cause their own problems.  Socialization is always a great idea and can help moderate a dog’s interactions with other dogs but it will not prevent dog aggression.  Proper socialization is always recommended, however....


Dog parks are simply not the best place to socialize your dog. There are plenty of dogs that aren’t pit bulls that don’t belong at the dog park either.  All it takes is one person to bring an ill behaved dog, dominating dog and a fight to break out to cause a non dog aggressive dog to begin to display fear aggression around other dogs.  Dog parks are the most common place to find aggression - why?  because of the adrenaline and excitement, it’s easy for that to click over into a full blown fight when things get out of hand. It can happen at the blink of an eye.  Fights and disagreements in a dog park are common and I’m not talking about pit bulls, I’m talking about all breeds. But if your pit bull is there, it will likely be blamed and you may have to suffer the consequences.  Responsible pit bull owners avoid the drama and potential dangers of a chaotic crowded dog park.  Dog parks provide too many opportunities to NEGATIVE experiences.


A dogpark is not the same as a well thought out social group of known dogs.   Dogs that are slowly introduced to each other, compliment each other’s play styles and are supervised well.  That is NOT a dog park.  A dog park is a open, random grouping of dogs in a public place. There is no requirement for training and often dogs that go to dog parks have had little to no training or social skills with other dogs.  Their owner uses that as an opportunity to “exercise” their dog without putting forth any real effort.  These same owners will be sipping coffee on the sidelines while their dog goes around harassing other dogs, nipping and humping and they will make no attempt to intervene.


Why are pit bull people so divided on this issue?  The Greyhound people are quick to point out that their breed doesn’t belong in a dogpark (http://www.gcnm.org/dogparks.html)  and same with many of the GSD people (see Leerburg link).  Working breeds have different drives than other dogs and respond to differently to prey stimulus.  And some types, like the Terrier group are always quick to respond to a challenge.

Health - One big reason to stay away from the dog park. There is no-one at the gate of a dog park to make sure that a dog has a recent vet check up and is free of parasites. There is also no-one there to make sure a dog isn’t sick or god forbid have Parvo.  We actually took in a pit bull puppy that was left at a dog park and he was sick with Parvo. Parvo is a potentially deadly illness that costs a lot to treat.  Dogs that are not vaccinated are susceptible and even those that are vaccinated but with a weakened immune system can catch it too.  Unknown health status of other dogs at the park is a huge reason to stay away.

Owners -  I’ve been to the dogpark and I’ve watched people interacting with others and their dogs and there is an overwhelming number who just have no idea how to manage their dogs or have any understanding of dog body language  nor do they know what to do with their dog when their dog is being obnoxious.  It’s one big free for all as dogs try to establish a pecking order with little to no involvement from owners.  Owners who don’t understand basic body language will allow a wide range of behaviors that are rude and will often spark conflict.  These same owners will look astonished when a fight breaks out and blame the dog that finally got tired of being harassed by their rude dog.  Some owners allow their dog to try and hump other dogs - and some owners allow their dog to be humped.  This is just bad all the way around, things can get out of hand quickly if a dog feels trapped and outnumbered.  Some dogs handle it better than others, some dogs don’t handle it at all. I’ve even seen a dog try to break and run from being crowded by the “regular” pack only to be chased and further stressed.  Tail down and ears back with wide eyes means they want to get the hell out of there.  Ears up, stretching tall with stiff tail may mean something is about to happen that isn’t good.  A dog park is a good way to erode the trust between owner and dog especially when the dog is signaling for help and the owner doesn’t have a clue.

Socializing My Pit Bull - it’s possible!

Pit Bull Lovers - socializing
Pit Bull Rescue Central - socializing
Bad Rap - socializing
Pit Bulls On The Web

Socializing My Pit Bull - it’s possible!


  1. Pit Bull Lovers - socializing

  2. Pit Bull Rescue Central - socializing

  3. Bad Rap - socializing

  4. Pit Bulls On The Web

Socialization -   Building social skills is important in any dog.  It is important that dogs learn to be around other dogs and in the presence of other dogs and behave.  This is important for walks around the neighborhood and trips to the vet, that your dog not act like a fool when it encounters another dog.  And some dogs actually enjoy the company of other dogs.  But I would recommend a smaller controlled group where you know the owners as well as their dogs. So you know the dog’s vaccination and health status and you know the dog’s temperament.  It works better to match your dog’s play style and disposition to a suitable playmate that way.    For a dog to play well with other dogs they need to have basic manners, basic skills and listen to their owner.  Rude dogs should not be tolerated and dogs need to learn what behaviors are Ok and what ones aren’t.  Suzanne Clothier has a wonderful article that you can read on her website (www.flyingdogpress.com) called “He Just Wants to Say Hi” which discusses rude dog behavior and how uninformed owners misconstrue rudeness as trying to be friendly.  (to get to the article, click on “articles” and read the disclaimer...and agree...then you will be taken to a list of available articles).  This website has a great list of nuisance behaviors: http://www.lansingdogparks.com/ready1.html  these behaviors are unacceptable and need to be corrected as soon as they occur so conflicts are kept to a minimum.