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Sunday, October 3, 2010


Dog parks have become very popular over the last few years. While I think group socialization for dogs is a must, I am concerned about the dog park environment. I stopped by my neighborhood dog park one day during the summer just to take a peek. There were about 15 dogs there. The owners were engrossed in their own social conversations. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to make friends, but our first priority should be keeping an eye on our pets.

One dog in particular I noticed was a lab. His body posture was stiff, alert and he was “bumping” his “playmate” with his chest and shadowing him. The other dog, a mix, was crouching low to the ground with his ears back and trying to get away. Being a trainer myself and someone who is familiar with the dynamics of group play, I had to step in and rescue the poor little cowering dog. The lab’s dad looked at me and said “He’s ok, he’s just playing, He always plays like that”.

This is what makes me nervous. People sometimes think their dog’s behavior is play when it is actually something else that could lead to trouble. His dog was not “just playing”. He was clearly exhibiting bullying behavior. It’s the kind of behavior that we don’t allow in our Doggy Day Camp.

I am by no means saying don’t take your dog to a park. It can be a wonderful thing and a great time for both you and your dog to make new friends. But, I am asking that you be aware of what is appropriate play and what is not. This is for the safety of all involved. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers has some wonderful information on it’s website for dog owners about dog parks – what makes a good park, information on body language, pro and cons, park etiquette, etc. Take some time to read the information there.

Finally, if you feel the environment there is not a good fit for you or your dog then leave. It’s better for your dog to socialize in a group where both you and he feel safe. You’ll both get so much more out of the experience.

Our Doggy Day Camp is a wonderful option for group socialization and play for your dog. All dogs are screened prior to attending, up to date on their vaccines and supervised. And don’t forget the parties we have!! Check out some of the older posts for the pictures we’ve taken at past parties.

For more information or to set up a screening interview, call us today at 781.245.1237.


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