Going to the park with your kids is a great idea, however; sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth it when there are others that just don’t play well or know basic etiquette. As a parent this can result in a great opportunity to teach, but when your baby is a dog and you have a bad experience at the dog park that is just not the case. Since we now take our high energy, love to play all the time German Boxer to the dog park several days a week to burn energy, I have been pondering the similarities between taking kids and dogs out to the park.
I think the fundamental rule of any parent is that you should watch your kids (or dog). Either way lack of supervision can result in problems and issues. And some parents don’t have a clue. Here are some of my (and most likely other’s issues/pet peeves) that cause dog park drama….
Pick up after your baby. (It’s that or diaper your dog. Poop.)
Some kids don’t share well with others. Same with dogs.
Don't bring outside toys. A dog sees anything new brought into the park as open for their own enjoyment. Denied that opportunity, any dog can act up, and if your baby doesn’t like to share …. well opportunity for dog drama increases.
Territorial dogs are a pain. Whether they are protecting their human, guarding the park water bowl, or taking procession of the entrance gate area- no one likes a loud, unsociable hog. (Anyone should be able to play when and where they want, and not be harassed.)
Don’t bring in a puppy less than 4 months of age. (It reminds me of bringing an infant and laying it down in the sand box with 2 year olds to learn how to play.) If you want to socialize your baby take your baby to puppy events specifically designed for socializing. Arrange appropriate level play dates. I can’t tell you how many fights and bites I have seen because of a younger out of control behavior. (Kids too.)
SIck dogs should stay home. Do everyone a favor and do not expose others to an illness or disease.
Dogs in heat. (Ok, there really isn’t a kids parallel. Perhaps young teens in lust?) Quite frankly I think it is in extremely poor taste and very inconsiderate to bring a female in heat. For goodness sake this is play time not “shagging time” and (while I’m not a prude) it is embarrassing!
And finally…parenting skills dictate that if your child is misbehaving then you need to correct them. Same goes for dogs. If your dog plays too rough, is too unruly or starts a fight… correct the behavior, leash your baby, and leave the park.
Ok… I know what you are thinking. We are talking dogs here not humans, but really I have to confess that while I am not a dog trainer by profession, I am a pretty good parent of three great kids and one great dog. What they all need to know from their parents are: rules, clear expectations on behavior and boundaries (of course followed by love, acceptance, and lots of play).
I feel better know having got this off my chest, however life experience has taught me that it takes all kinds, and I’ll just have to except people and dog drama. (But that won’t stop me from fuming silently.)