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Kristy
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If you are entertaining the idea of taking your beloved Golden puppy to a dog park for the benefits of exercise and socialization, I urge you to take 15 minutes and read the threads I am attaching below. They are just a handful of experiences people and their precious dogs have had over the past few years and shared on this forum so that we could all learn from them.

If you asses the risks to your dog and feel that the benefits outweigh the potential dangers, please at least wait until your dog is a full mature 18-24 months old so he or she might have a prayer of defending himself if attacked by an individual dog or pack of dogs at a park. All it takes is one attack to make your pet become fearful and/or dog aggressive for life.

I hope anyone who reads these sees the main theme in these threads is that these are GOOD owners who adore their Goldens and never dreamed something so awful could happen to their puppy while they were standing right there watching. Please do not make this decision lightly.

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retrievers-main-discussion/457794-dog-park-nightmare.html

"I took my Cassie girl to a dog park when she was a puppy, over six months old but under a year. It was a "nice" dog park and I took her in the morning so it wouldn't be too busy. One of those times there were some dogs there that I hadn't seen before. Without getting into specifics that might offend some folks, these dogs attacked Cassie. Tore up her side. Her coat was red, my clothes were red, she was shaved, stitched, was in pain. I will never take any of my dogs to a public dog park." http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retriever-puppy-up-1-year/120985-dog-park.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...n/451345-dog-park-nightmare-all-my-fault.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...-anyone-elses-golden-get-picked-dog-park.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retrievers-main-discussion/452809-dog-park-etiquette.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retrievers-main-discussion/60875-bullied-dog-park.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...my-puppy-attacked-again-acts-strange-now.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...ed-dog-park-then-breaking-house-training.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com...ing-intact-male-getting-bullied-attacked.html

http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/golden-retrievers-main-discussion/421785-dog-attack-injury.html
 

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This should be a stickie!
 

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I agree this should be a sticky. Thank you Nolefan. One thing to notice is that most people that do any dog sports do not put their dogs into situations were there will be unknown owners and dogs. They are pretty picky about who their dogs have the opportunity to associate with. For some dogs just one bad experience can change how they interact with their surrounding world. This is how so many dogs become reactive. Having a reactive dog is not fun for the owner. For some it can change how they go out and about for 10 to 12 or so years. For the dog living with fears the rest of their lives is very stressful. Taking dogs to quality training schools can help you find others with dogs and owners that would be more in line with the type of associations you would want for your dog.
 

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Thirding that this should be a sticky. It is something that is not always obvious to well-meaning new puppy owners who just want to provide early socialization and think that a dog park is the designated place to do so, for their new pup. Professionally and closely supervised "puppy clubs" put together by responsible organizations who check vaccination and stool status are a good alternative. Imo for an impressionable new pup who hasn't had much experience yet, a single bad interaction could shape his/her view of other dogs for a lifetime.


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Shrug. My local dog parks are great. In 15 years I haven't had a problem. I think they are wonderful for both dogs and owners. I worry about the leashed pit bulls being walked near my home. Not the Goldens, Labs and Beagles which fill our dog park. And of course most people can't afford the $30-$40 an hour training classes or $35+ a day daycares that are popular alternatives on this forum. I just recommend people exercise the same care and attention at a dog park as they would bringing their kids to a playground or skatepark. If you're unsure about a dog, leave. If pit bulls show up, leave. Pay attention and be proactive. But still, at least at my local parks, there are very few issues.
 

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Pit bulls are not the only breed that bites, lol. Statistics are funny. The either happen to you, or they don't. It is like when I read about not needing car seats for our kids because 30-years ago we climbed all over a station wagon. Well, we were blessed to not get in an accident, because if we were.... The results wouldn't be in our favor. Same with dog parks- Super fun, until a dog attacks. I am glad that you haven't had an issue in 15-years, but please don't discount that as fact they're safe. You've been blessed and lucky. We weren't.
 

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Ingrid, Now Mom to Brisby
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Although Brisby and I haven't attended dog parks for a couple of years, we had a wonderful time and met many terrific people and dogs when she was a puppy until about the age of 14 months. We stopped attending as Brisby lost interest in playing/running with other dogs and much preferred hiking and exploring off leash, often with other dogs we know and often just the 2 of us.

Our local dog park has 2 areas: one for small dogs and one for larger dogs. We met 3 other GRs as puppies there and arranged for specific times to meet daily at the small dog park. These are still our friends and we still meet up and walk off leash regularly with them.

We all were always very careful to observe who was in the park, how the dogs ( small to medium) were interacting and would only proceed to go in if things looked safe and right, although there is never any guarantee. We also left numerous times when I didn't feel that the energy with the dogs there was right and/or if there were known rough/troublemaker dogs present.

I guess we have been fortunate that our experience was a good one. That said, I have heard of a few incidents at the same park which did not turn out as well....where scraps did occur between dogs.

The above said, I guess it all really depends on the dog park, the dogs and what type of owners frequent the park. Sadly these days when I pass by some of the dog parks here, it looks like many humans are there to socialize and pay little attention to the dogs, especially on weekends. This is when most of the seeming irresponsible owners come out and bring dogs to dog parks that should never be in that environment.
 

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Here are my 2 cents:

I used to take my current dog to a private dog park very often years back. It was membership based and the dogs were screened. If the dog ever had an incident they were banned. In the 5 or so years we went we had 1 incident where a dog attacked her but thankfully she was ok (her fluffiness acts like armor). I believe I only saw 1 fight that ended very badly. I have to say that if I still lived in the area I would keep taking her back to the park. Why? Because even though she was attacked there she's also been attacked in my current neighborhood during a regular walk. A dog was on one of those horrible flex leads and the elderly owners did not know how to keep the leash short and the dog got my girl by the neck. I was able to fight it off and thankfully her fluff protected her from any real injury but she still suffered emotional trauma from it (after LOTS of training she is pretty much back to normal). Life is complicated and danger literally lurks around every corner. She was a very active girl (aussie shepherd) when she was in her prime so keeping her locked away was not realistic or really what was best for her. I didn't have a huge yard so there was no where she could just run her little heart out besides the park. I believe you have to be vigilant wherever you are but shouldn't live your life in fear. I won't take her to the parks where I live now because they are a free for all but I would love to go back to where we used to go. I would take her during non peak hours (early morning during the week whenever possible) and would not think twice about leaving if a dog I didn't like came in. But like I said this is my opinion and I understand why some people will not ever step foot in a dog park.
 

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First of all let me preface this by saying that while I no longer go to dog parks (mainly for the reasons that many other posters have given) I was involved in starting a dog park over 15 years ago. Back then we had a membership only rule, a very firm set of rules and all dogs were screened and owners had to provide proof of vaccination. Unfortunately about 10 years ago the city in which the dog park was located took over the park and the rules and regulations were determined to be "discrimination" and the rules (including screening of dogs) were tossed out. After seeing way too many ill-mannered dogs and negligent owners I stopped going and dropped of the board of the park (as did all of the original people).
Dog parks do provide a wonderful place to people who do not have a yard to exercise their dogs. In the city where I live there are very few locations where a dog is allowed off leash other than a dog park. That having been said unless the park is a well run and well regulated park there will always be dogs which should not be there. I don't know that there are currently any dog parks near my area where this is done. There is one park, in a very isolated area which seems to be so far off the beaten path that I rarely see any dogs there. I have actually recommended that park to dog owners who have been looking for a place to exercise their dog and allow the dog to run. I recommend it only because the park is generally completely empty.
So, I do believe that there is a place for a dog park but, unfortunately, these days it seems that the unconscientious owners with ill-mannered dogs make it difficult for everyone.
 

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I remember when we got Chloe our vet said a dog park was a recipe for disaster. We have two. Both you have to pay a fee and become a member. There isn't no temperment testing but vaccines are required. My mom refuses to take Chloe. It is true that they can get attacked anywhere. Chloe got attacked by a bulldog/pitmix about a month ago. Luckily she didn't have any wounds. But it happened with my mom while taking her on a walk just a few houses down. Now she won't even walk her in our neighborhood. They take her down the street to the park and walk her two miles every night. No matter where your at there are so many bad owners.
 

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I agree this should be a sticky - big thanks to Nolefan for putting these threads together. Our vet has cautioned us in the past not to go to dog parks because she keeps getting bite cases where the owner says 'oh I took my dog to the dog park and this happened'.

I can't even trust dog owners who walk their dogs on leash, let alone in an off-leash area like a dog park. I was 'pack'-walking my golden boy, Summer, a couple of weeks ago with my friend and her gentle mutt, and we met a dog being walked on leash that my friend and her dog knew. I stayed back because I didn't know the dog, but the owner said he was fine, and my friend seconded this, so I let my boy do the standard 3-5 second greet, but not before I clearly stated my boy was intact and still a puppy at 14 months. In those few seconds the dog tried to hump Summer, who growled without snapping to correct him and tried to get away, and the very next second this dog attacked my boy by biting his ear. Luckily no deep injury occurred, and Summer got away with hurt feelings (which he displayed by barking vociferously) and a minor scratch on his ear (promptly disinfected and attended to when we got home). Apparently this dog that attacked Summer had been in dog fights before he was rescued, so I don't blame the dog at all, but I do blame the owner for being so cavalier about letting his dog meet intact males.
Also, the first and last time we took Summer to a dog park, another black lab ran up and kept trying to hump him before we could get him off leash, and one of the other dog owners there just snickered and said we were making Summer an 'easy target' by keeping him on-leash. And then people were just kind of sitting along the periphery of the area chatting while their dogs just did whatever they wanted. We hared out of there pretty quickly and vowed not to go back. The whole thing just felt off. I'm sure there are other places where dog parks might be wonderful, but in my very limited experience I don't think they promise to be, and I'm happy to never find out.
 

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I am the owner of one of these dogs who should never be in a dog park. Major is a staffie, a very sweet dog who loves every person he meets. He is absolutely fabulous with 98% of the dogs he meets - it is the other two percent who make him a dog who I would never allow off leash in public. He goes from greeting politely to full-on attack in half a second.
So, we walk as far from others as is possible - and we never go to dog parks. I just wish other owners of "friendly" dogs who are allowed to wander everywhere off leash would keep them away from us.
 

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I also believe sometimes person meets another person that rubs them the wrong way, and I believe the same thing can happen to dogs. I have seen on two occasions my late Pyr not liking other dogs when going into Petsmart. I also saw at a state park a pair of staffies on leash walking through the park, and every dog in the park bark and growled as they walked by, including my own who thinks everybody is a friend. Luckily all dogs were on leashes, but not sure what those dogs gave off that triggered the response of the others. They appeared to be minding their own business, but who knows what body language they were given off. It was quite eerie.
 
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As others have said, thanks Nolefan for taking the time to gather up those threads. It would be great if this becomes a sticky for people to reference and link to.

We used to go to dog parks years ago with our first two Goldens. It occurred to me while watching people stand around drinking coffee, socializing, and not watching their own dogs being a problem and/or not seeing them pooping (and not picking it up) that these are dangerous places.

All it takes is for one dog to go off and for something really bad to happen. I've seen dogs go at it and it can be very very ugly. Horrible. Just not worth it to me.

I have enough problems with neighborhood dogs...
 

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Kristy
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This should be a stickie!
Here's what I was told by GRF Admin: "Sticky threads are threads that contain reference info such as the Health Clearances, info about heartworm/flea/tick prevention, joint supplements, etc. " and they would not make this a sticky. If you look at the stickies (and they are good ones) currently at the top of this board you can see how arbitrarily this is applied, but they make the rules. It's a shame that some of the hard earned, and painfully shared lessons of some of our members will not be made easily available.

Anyway, this subject has been on my mind for a while after seeing multiple forum members posting about pretty devastating experiences at dog parks. Maybe these occurrences aren't as rare as we may think. I guess we will continue to address it as it occurs.
 

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Here's what I was told by GRF Admin: "Sticky threads are threads that contain reference info such as the Health Clearances, info about heartworm/flea/tick prevention, joint supplements, etc. " and they would not make this a sticky. If you look at the stickies (and they are good ones) currently at the top of this board you can see how arbitrarily this is applied, but they make the rules. It's a shame that some of the hard earned, and painfully shared lessons of some of our members will not be made easily available.

Anyway, this subject has been on my mind for a while after seeing multiple forum members posting about pretty devastating experiences at dog parks. Maybe these occurrences aren't as rare as we may think. I guess we will continue to address it as it occurs.
This reason is correct however I am hoping you did not quote her PM with out her permission since this is not allowed.......
 

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Well that escalated quickly.. I really didn't get the sense that nolefan was using the quote in a disrespectful way or talking it down at all, just stating the facts.
And as a member, I was not aware of this rule, I may very well have done the same thing just to offer accurate information to all those who called for this to be a sticky.

As a side, I have been following this thread and have found the information on it very helpful! Thanks to all those who took the time to share information and personal experiences for the benefit of others.
 
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