Pet Tips

Dog Parks – Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em?

September 20, 2022

I think Kitsune, Fenrir, and I are still on the fence (pun intended) about what we think of dog parks.  I know they can be great places for dogs to play and socialize.  Especially so for city dogs who might not have yards of their own.  However, I’ve heard plenty of dog park horror stories.  I understand why some owners would want to stay away from dog parks.  What do you think?  Do you (and your dog) love dog parks, hate them, or do your opinions fall somewhere in between?  This post includes our list of dog park pros and cons.

dog park pros cons

Photo Credit: AITFFan1 Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

This post was original published on 6/10/2014.  It was last updated on 9/20/2022.

Kitsune used to love all other dogs, but due to a few unfortunate events he’s now weary around some dogs.  Back when we still lived in the city, we’d come across other dogs often.  Unfortunately, a few bad encounters left Kit understandably nervous around dogs who are larger than he is.  I know some dog parks have different sections for large and small dogs, but the dog park near us didn’t.

There are some very valid reasons why responsible dog owners may choose to forgo allowing their furry friends to play in dog parks.  Here are some of them…

Dog Park Cons:

  • Potential for injury: Accidents happen, even to the most well intentioned dog owners.   Especially when you have large groups of dogs, there is always the possibility that someone (dog or human) could get hurt.
  • Spread of disease: Unfortunately not all dog owners are as responsible as most Paw Print readers are.  When you have large groups of dogs all together in one place, you increase the chance that one (or more) of them may be sick, have parasites, etc.  It would be a shame for an afternoon of playing to result in your dog getting sick.
  •  Uneducated owners: Not everyone is an expert on dog behavior.  Some owners may not know what type of play is appropriate for a dog park, and what is not.  Some owners may not be able to read their dogs well, to know if they are getting anxious or if their dog is upsetting others.
  • Stress: While dog parks are meant to be fun, they can sometimes cause undo stress to dogs who may not be 100% comfortable around groups of other dogs.  It’s important to watch out for signs that your dog may be stressed.

But of course, there are also some awesome reasons why some dog owners love frequenting dog parks.  Here are some of them…

Dog Park Pros:

  • Exercise: No matter how energetic you might be, I think all dog owners experience days when they just can’t seem to keep up with their pup.  Bringing your dog to a dog park can be a great way to allow your dog to burn off some energy without having to necessarily work up a sweat yourself.
  • Mental stimulation: Being able to explore a new area and interact with other dogs can be a great way to stimulate your dog’s mind.  Don’t forget, keeping your dog mentally engaged is just as important as making sure he/she gets enough physical exercise!
  • Socialization:  Dogs are pack animals, and thrive on socializing with not only other dogs, but with people as well.  Dogs who are well socialized are less likely to act aggressively when they encounter other dogs in their everyday lives.  Dog parks can be great places for people to socialize as well!
  • Fun: For dogs and their owners, as long as owners are responsible and dogs well behaved, dog parks can be a lot of fun!   It can be a great place to unwind after a long day, spend time outdoors, and bond with not only your own pet but with other like minded people and their pets as well.

dog park pros and consIf you decide to frequent dog parks with your dog, always make sure to supervise them closely.  Let them enjoy interacting with other dogs, but be prepared to leave early if the situation warrants it.

My Current Stance on Dog Parks:

I’d never judge another owner for responsibly using a dog park.  As you see from the list above, there are pros as well as cons to visiting a dog park.  I’ve decided that for me and my dogs, dog parks are just not for us.  After raising my dogs in the city, I’ve had too many negative experiences with unknown dogs to feel comfortable letting my dogs be in a pen full of them.  I’ve seen, first hand, how irresponsible, whether intentionally or unknowingly, other dog owners can be.  My dogs are both smaller breed dogs too.  I feel like makes them more likely to get hurt especially if a negative encounter involved a dog, or dogs, larger than them.

I very much prefer to allow my dogs to socialize with dog friends who we are familiar with.  It keeps everyone safer when we know that all dogs involved are healthy and friendly, and that they have compatible play styles.

What do you think?  Do you (and your dog/s) enjoy the dog park, or do you generally avoid them?  Did I miss any important dog park pros or cons?  Comment below!

dog park pros and cons

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