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  • Writer's pictureAureate

Dog Parks: NO, NO and a BIG NO!

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

For us at Aureate dog parks are an absolute NO! Now let's explore why we feel so very strongly against their use. Simplistically, we like the idea of more dog friendly green spaces being incorporated into growing infrastructure as part of city planning. The problem with the parks in part is how they are used. They create absolute SAFETY concerns for us.

For the most part people take their dogs to the park with the idea of letting them romp off leash with other "friendly" dogs to socialize. The problem is some dogs have absolutely no social skills, varying play styles and intensities, size differences and a varied personal history that may trigger dogs to feel unsafe or insecure. Not to mention the plethora of owners who completely fail to recognize obnoxious overly assertive behaviour which may trigger fights between other dogs. Other owners completely ignore their dog and do not monitor their behaviour. "Oh but he/she just wants to play!" Meanwhile the other dog's cues of discomfort, the attempts by him to diffuse and deescalate the situation are being completely ignored.

There is also a complete lack of public understanding about what a well socialized dog is. At Aureate, we believe a well socialized dog is confident and secure in its rapport with its owner and maintains focus ON their owner. They do not seek attention and affirmation from other people or wish to engage with other dogs unless they are released from their owner's attention. This is especially the case with sighthounds including whippets. They can be standoffish with other breeds that in their mind look strange with big fluffy coats or upright ears.

Think of it this way. Do you want to be forced to engage with every person you happen to cross paths with? Would engaging in a forced conversation with them make you a well balanced socialized individual? No, absolutely not. So why then do we wish our dogs would? Whippets often show off at speed in the dog park annoying other dogs and worst of all activating their prey drive. The result: a group of dogs chasing a whippet and the whippet becoming t-boned at speed, trapped or corralled. It can turn deadly very quickly for your whippet.

At the risk of sounding paranoid, dog parks are basically a toddler playground for spreading horrible behaviour and the opportunity for ganging up on other dogs. This will result in some dogs learning to become bullies and others insecure about social interactions and becoming dog reactive.

What's the alternative to dog parks? By all means your whippet needs to run every day and if you don't have a fenced in yard, you're going to have to be creative AND consistent. Train a solid recall and teach your dog to fetch. Meet up with a group of friends your dog knows for play dates or group walks. Pick unusual times to exercise your dog in public spaces so you're able to do so safely. Travel a bit further out of town to areas that are less busy to give your dog a chance at having a safe zoomy.
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