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Because we so often caution people about possible issues when frequenting dog parks I decided to post this excerpt from an article about socialization because of its discussion of using dog parks. It might lend support in future when the issue comes up again, also because of its identifying dog parks as potentially problematic for any type of dog, not just border collies.

Dog parks

Even though they're called DOG parks, they're not a good option for every dog, and despite conventional wisdom that says the best place to socialize a dog is at the dog park, they're an exceptionally bad idea for dogs who aren't socialized. If your pet is fearful of other dogs, aggressive or if you have little or no control over him (i.e., he doesn't respond to your commands), taking him to a dog park is asking for trouble.

"Dog parks are meant for dogs that are already social with their peers, not for those in need of socialization," says Schade. "Taking a socially questionable dog to the park puts everyone at risk. The action moves quickly and requires that the players understand the rules of engagement.

If your dog hasn't had ongoing, positive experiences with a variety of other dogs off leash, he might misinterpret the play and react inappropriately."

In order for the dog park to be a good experience for your pet and for you, your dog should enjoy interacting with others in a friendly way. If he doesn't go near other dogs due to fear, or if he approaches most unfamiliar dogs aggressively, this behavior should be addressed before you attempt a visit to a dog park. (https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2017/08/14/worst-places-pet-socialization.aspx?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=facebookpets_ranart&utm_campaign=20180901_worst-places-pet-socialization)

The link in the article is about dog park etiquette is also a pretty good read for people not already familiar with them.

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Once I was at the dog park and had to leave because some lady brought her kids there and of course they were running around getting in all the dogs' faces and being obnoxious. So that's a thing that can happen. (Maybe a "no children under the age of _" sign is in order. It just doesn't seem like a good place for little kids to be.) But other than that, I've never really had a bad experience at the park I go to and I am neither on the "they are great" side or the "they are the root of all evil" side. It just depends how many people are there and what they and their dogs are like.

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I don't do dog parks.  I worry about health issues.   You just don't know what is coming in with those dogs.  People say it is ok  because their dogs have shots but that does not begin to cover all the stuff that can spread like wildfire in those places. And secondly I am afraid of dog attacks.  From unsocialized dogs.  

I had a customer with 2 very expensive dogs.   One was a Portuguese Water dog - full sister to the Obama's dog, and a Scottish Border terrier.  She wanted me to take them to the dog park.  She said she would sign a release.  I had to dance out of that one.  There was no way. 

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I would never subject any of my dogs to a dog park. Very unsafe, potentially unhealthy places. The most social dog in the world can still be a victim. I have seen many bad things happen at dog parks, and all of them involved clueless owners, or people who simply didn't care, or thought it was funny that their dog should challenge other dogs or get in their faces and annoy them. To me, it's like taking someone to a huge party where they don't know anyone, most there are drunk, some may be obnoxious or utterly inappropriate or even abusive, and there may in addition be one who is spreading dysentery. Not something I would do to someone I cared about.

JMO, of course.

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@D'Elle You seem to have had many bad experiences with dog parks, and I don't blame you for feeling this way. But parks vary hugely from place to place, they're not all the same. At the one here, there is rarely more than 3 or 4 dogs at a time. Many times it's just me. I've never encountered an owner who allowed their dog to bully other dogs, nor have I seen any one there with a sick dog. There's two sections so if a dog doesn't want to play with other dogs they can go to the other side. As I say, the only bad experience I've had was the lady with the little kids. There's no "subjecting" my dog to the park. She seems to think it's as good a place as any to chase discs, and it's certainly bigger than my backyard. 

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1 hour ago, Baderpadordercollie said:

nor have I seen any one there with a sick dog

How do you know that? Dogs with dangerous hook- or whip worms don't look sick unless they've had a huge load and for a long time, but they still shed them if they eliminate in the park.

And IIRC dogs with things like distemper, parvo and kennel cough are contagious before they start showing symptoms.

And what about dogs that are there when you're not? How would you know if they're sick or not?

I'm just playing devil's advocate here. It sounds like you've got a pretty great dog park to visit and I'm not going to tell you you shouldn't use it if you like. But unsupportable statements like that really aren't helpful.

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@GentleLake It is stated clearly in the rules on the gate that dogs that have not been vaccinated or sick are not allowed to go in. No, of course there's no dog park police, but people generally follow the rules. I know that this is contrary to the way most dog parks are, but that's how it is. My dog is up to date on vaccinations against all of the things you mentioned, and is dewormed periodically of course. There's just not enough people that use the park for there to really be any issues. I don't think it's helpful to paint all dog parks with the same brush. The article was mainly about socializing puppies, and stated that a dog park was not a good place for this. I agree with this, I would never take a puppy to a dog park. My dog is over a year old.

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It is hard when you live in the city and need someplace to get your dogs out to run.

I used to take mine up yo Smithville Lake where there are miles of open grassland.  But then we had run ins with wildlife. dead and rotting fish,  dangerous abandoned fishing gear and eagles.  So that didn't work well, either. 

So mine stay in the backyard.

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12 minutes ago, Baderpadordercollie said:

There's just not enough people that use the park for there to really be any issues. (emphasis added)

You just kinda made other people's point. ;)

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@GentleLake It's not that I don't get their point, just that I wanted to add another one; not all parks are the same. If someone is using a small/less popular park such as the afore mentioned comes here and reads this, and thinks "ohmygod I took my dog to a dog park, he's going to die of some horrible illness," I would feel bad for them and I don't think that's true either. 

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Look, my only objection to anything you said was about not having personally seen any sick dogs, and it was more a question asking how you can be sure it's even true.

I'm not at all interested in continuing a dead end quibble.

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No, I can't be 100% sure. But in this case I think my dog is no more likely to get sick from the park than she is going for a walk, on which she usually walks along with her nose to the ground, stopping to smell all the places where dogs have been. And sometimes they've left poop, and yep, she usually sniffs that too before I can stop her. 

Quibble? Who's quibbling? It's a discussion forum, people discuss things, or have I got that wrong? I added my perspective just like you added yours. If you don't want to discuss it then don't reply. Either way I don't see that it's anything to be miffed about. 

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4 hours ago, Baderpadordercollie said:

No, I can't be 100% sure. But in this case I think my dog is no more likely to get sick from the park than she is going for a walk, on which she usually walks along with her nose to the ground, stopping to smell all the places where dogs have been. And sometimes they've left poop, and yep, she usually sniffs that too before I can stop her. 

Very well said. Certainly every situation is different, but for me these dangers are no less or greater at the dog park than they are walking through my neighborhood.  And I have the same disposition on dog parks in general as you do as well. My back yard is large enough for Mancer to run a bit, but the dog parks we go to give her the opportunity to really stretch those legs out and run like the wind, which she can't do at home. If she misses her weekly visit due to bad weather, she gets stir crazy all week. The only reason I take her there is because she loves it there. If that ever ceases to be the case we will stop going. I will openly advocate my dog park to other local owners,  but I don't automatically endorse dog parks to everyone (nor do I advise against them).

I certainly agree with the major points made in the article. If your dog is not accustomed to or doesn't like being around ither dogs, going to a dog park is not a good idea at all. But that also doesn't mean all dog parks are wrong for everyone. My recommendation on dog parks is to visit them alone before taking your dog, to observe what type of dogs and owners and general conditions you see.

If you are an attentive owner, and are lucky enough to have a park at your disposal where the other owners are equally attentive and responsible, a dog park can be a great way to add some fun and happiness to your canine buddy's life.

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I love dogs parks. At 6 am. When no one is there. :D

I don't enjoy dog parks. I've lived in three different cities (and they have been mighty different from each other), and all the parks I've been to have been the same: Too small, way too full of feces, and full of dogs that shouldn't be there, and people that have zero interest in interacting with their dogs. Or even watching them. 

The whole idea of a dog park is weird to me. Just a pretty boring, fenced-in area filled with dogs where this outing is probably the only exercise they get all week. And then you toss a whole bunch of dogs in together of different ages, play styles, and temperaments and are like "Go make friends!" I just think it is odd. I have known three separate friends with very happy go lucky dogs that got beat up, attacked or pestered to the point where they strongly dislike other dogs now. So even dogs that DO enjoy other dogs can have pretty terrible times at the dog parks. 

The amount of bad behaviour I see from dogs and people is enough to make me bow out. Plus there is this weird sentiment of "Let the dogs work it out" that I am 100% not on board with. 

So we used to go early in the morning (or on really crappy days, no one is out if it is pouring!), but now I just find alternative. Once their recall is solid we find big fields and let them run that way. And before it is 100%, we do fenced in school yards or long lines. 

Again, this is my take on the dog parks I've seen. And this is my account from ~10 dog parks. 

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You are making me feel extremely lucky. The park I usually go to is the exact opposite of what you just described. There are two adjacent fenced areas, each section being roughly the size of about 5 football fields. And the dog owners pay close attention to their dogs. There are occasionally a few piles of feces scattered throughout, but certainly not enough to spoil the experience. The ither park we go to, which is closer to home, is a little smaller and not fenced, but surrounded by woods. I've never seen any feces at this park, and again, the owners are very engaged and attentive. It warms my heart to see Mancer enjoy herself so much at these parks.

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There are some nice dog parks near me,  but no. 

We'll disregard my less social dogs (who really just would prefer dogs keep out of their faces and not make physical contact with them, please), and focus on the most social.  The one that is stupid tolerant, to the degree that a dog can actively be humping him and he mostly fails to notice.  The dog I let off leash in a public area with an unknown GSD and didn't worry about it. 
NO.

a-) disease. 

b-) even he has no desire to interact with unknown dogs.  He is very tolerant.  He is very polite.   He is supremely disinterested in extended interactions with other dogs. 

And that has, really, been my experience with adult herding breeds of almost any gender or specific breed.   They may grow out of it at a year old, or four years old, but grow out of it they do. 


And pushing it may lead them making their preference for not being another dog's only source of entertainment (and lbr, most of the time people take their dogs to dog parks they expect their dogs to play with each other) known in fairly impressive fashion. 

So.  Yeah, no way.

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We don't have dog parks as such in the UK but the mental image doesn't make me think they're the safest, most sensible or particularly pleasant places in the world.:(

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On 9/2/2018 at 10:23 PM, D'Elle said:

The most social dog in the world can still be a victim. I have seen many bad things happen at dog parks, and all of them involved clueless owners, or people who simply didn't care, or thought it was funny that their dog should challenge other dogs or get in their faces and annoy them. To me, it's like taking someone to a huge party where they don't know anyone, most there are drunk, some may be obnoxious or utterly inappropriate or even abusive, and there may in addition be one who is spreading dysentery. Not something I would do to someone I cared about.

Exactly what I see in my mind.  

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There are a couple dog parks close by that are deserted before about 8 a.m. I used to take the dog(s) there in that quiet time. I'm an early riser anyway and liked being out in the fresh air w/the beast(s). Good start to the day.

I wouldn't take a dog any other time, it's just not worth the strong possibility of Bad Things Happening. As always, YMMV.

Ruth & Gibbs

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We are quite lucky in our country city, in that we have a formal dog park (small dog and  large dog side, double gated entry, water fountain etc, but really quite small) and also a very large sports park, which has an Australian Rules football/cricket oval, multiple soccer/hockey fields, multiple baseball/softball diamonds and a concrete velodrome track, all set among trees, which is also leash free for dogs.  Our local council has several dog bag dispensers around the area, and many people go there to walk their dogs off lead.

A couple of our dogs can be a bit reactive to other dogs, so we go into one of the baseball diamonds (which is allowed) making sure we pick up after ourselves thoroughly, and let the dogs run free, chasing each other, sniffing etc.  For much of the surround of the diamond the fence is maybe three feet high, but even when there is a dog on the other side, our boys never think of jumping it. They can greet other dogs, and chase each other around the fence line, but there is a barrier in between them.

I don't really ever use the formal dog park.

The one thing that makes my blood boil though, is seeing people let their dogs out of their car, who then drive their SUVs around the roads in the sports park, leaving their dogs to run everywhere.  They can't even see the dogs half the time.

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On 9/6/2018 at 12:32 AM, Lawgirl said:

 

The one thing that makes my blood boil though, is seeing people let their dogs out of their car, who then drive their SUVs around the roads in the sports park, leaving their dogs to run everywhere.  They can't even see the dogs half the time.

WTF. People do that?

 

I have been fortunate enough to find someone who runs dog "playdates" with supervised well-socialized dogs.

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When traveling sometimes dog parks are the best choice for exercise. Seattle, Charlotte, Atlanta, New York City, San Fransisco. None were perfect, all exercised my dogs.That I'm a mean, dog protective SOB and look it has avoided trouble. Donald

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