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About Dog Parks

Simsbury Dog ParkI have a complicated relationship with dog parks. On the one hand, they are a great place to find distractions and build a dog’s reliability, so I spend a lot of time with my clients near dog parks, but not actually in them. On the other hand I don’t go there to hang out with my own dog. It’s not that I don’t like them. In fact the people and dogs that go to dog parks tend to be a very pleasant and easy-going bunch (they are dog people after all). I’ve even noticed that sometimes those who happen to go at a particular time of day will form little cliques, and what started as coincidental meetings become more or less intentional. I suspect that a good number of friendships and even romances have blossomed at dog parks—both canine and human. No, the reason I don’t go there to hang out is a lack of time and the fact that our dog gets enough socialization in the course of her regular dog training duties.
No, my qualms about dog parks are fairly mild and specific. One is that they are a little like nursery school in that they can be places where your dog exchanges germs with others. I don’t mean to suggest that nursery schools don’t serve a higher purpose other than building your child’s immune system, only that whatever else happens there, that much surely will. So make sure your dog is fully vaccinated before heading over to the dog park.
Another thing is that although rough play and posturing are common at dog parks, it may not be healthy for younger dogs. For one thing, this behavior occasionally escalates into a dog fight. Young dogs are by nature submissive. Developmentally this is normal and a healthy survival approach, but not all adult dogs back off on cue. A few will actually try to push their advantage. For this reason I think it’s best to wait until your dog is at least six months old and even then, be a little protective relative to other dogs. Young dogs can be emotionally tender and you wouldn’t want your puppy getting beaten up physically and/or emotionally.
Cromwell Dog ParkMost dog parks have rules against dogs wearing choke collars or pinch collars inside the park, and for a good reason. Dogs tend to roughhouse in dog parks—in fact that’s one of the reasons you go there. With these loose-fitting collars it is possible for a dog to get his or her paw or lower jaw inside the collar of another dog. This can be a frightening situation, so it’s best to remove a choke collar or pinch collar before going into the dog park and make sure that other kinds of collars and harnesses fit snugly.
Other than that, I think it’s good in general for dogs to socialize with other dogs as it tends to contribute to their overall sense of well-being. Here are some nearby dog parks if you want to check one out. Please note that some parks limit use to town residents.
Simsbury– http://pawmeadowdogpark.org/
Granby– http://granbydogpark.com
Southington– http://www.southington.org/DogPark
Wethersfield– http://wethersfieldct.com/content/398/422/5195.aspx
Rocky Hill– https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rocky-Hill-Dog-Park/155781674457929


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