The first rule of dog fight club is…
The first rule of dog fight club? You don’t talk about dog fight club. It must be the same rules Tyler Durden preaches in his Fight Club because owner after unsuspecting owner is ushered into the dog park as a fun place to exercise their dog.
Dog aggression is steadily on the rise and one day the government is going to have to intervene if we don’t set the path right. If people cannot make appropriate breed choices and take responsibility to have a well mannered dog, the government will eventually step in and limit your choices and availability to own certain breeds and expand breed bias legislation. I hate to say it but that may be the future, we should watch all the regulations being imposed in the U.K. they are a good example of what is to come. Every week another owner calls and asks me the same questions, how do I solve a behavior that is only happening at the dog park. I don’t do myself a lot of service to simply tell the owner to stop going to the *^%*! dog park. Then instantly the behavior improves and they don’t need to go see a trainer.
It is a hit or miss type environment. Besides not knowing what sort of dogs are there, do they have current vaccinations, does the owner have any control over their dog, there is a ton of social stress between people when a dog makes a mistake at the park? Typically the owners at a dog park are very permissive owners who’s dog will blow them off for the chance to continue to interact with the other dogs. Dogs at dog park practice behaviors and build frustration and over-stimulated play. If we were realistic about what we are doing I think less people would go to them. What if we changed the name to dog RING (like boxing arena) and called it sparing instead of “playing”. Dogs practice fight skills through play then one day, they use it and the owner is upset at them. The dog is shocked, he’s like “well why did you take me to karate, boxing and wrestling practice if you don’t want me to learn how to fight every week”? I can’t tell you the amount of horror stories I hear as a trainer about owners whose dogs have bitten 7 dogs at the dog park or worse killed a dog at the dog park. The right kind of owners are not always there and everyone has their own set of rules at the dog park (not to mention everyone there fancies themselves a dog expert).
The worst part about dog parks is they are rounding up dog owners into the corner of big open parks and taking us out of the rest of parks. All across the US signs are popping up that dogs are not aloud in recreational areas or are limited to a paved pathway. They get away with it if there is a 30 foot corner hidden behind some bushes called a dog park they can usher dog enthusiasts into. Dogs are loosing the right to be in public as their behavior deteriorates and concerned government officials get away with allowing them in public parks and areas as long as they provide off leash parks. Service dogs and Therapy dogs are only aloud to go everywhere because people trust that they will be well mannered and have training to be in that situation. Dog parks are hurting the bonding with owners who without dog parks might go play with their dogs and interact with them. I like my dog to play with dogs she knows and enjoys. Next time you are at the park, exchange information with the dog your pooch spends the most time with and make a play date to hang out and have some proper socializing. Maybe we need to change the rules of fight club and start talking about fight club.