The late night bar scene is not for everyone. It can be visually and audibly overstimulating when things are really going full swing. It can also be overwhelming to be polite to people who can’t take a hint. Sometimes the bouncers are too busy talking to regulars to prevent drunken squabbles from turning into fights. These social pressures that many people find uncomfortable are very similar to social pressures placed on dogs at dog parks.
Even just entering the dog park can be difficult, thanks to dogs guarding the entrance. Your dog gets through the gate, and before he can even stop to smell the grass, there is a nose up his butt and another dog jumping on his head trying to play. How overwhelmed would you feel walking into a bar to have half the patrons rapidly approach you, one clasping your shoulder, and just inches from your face, ask you what you want to eat and drink, all before you’ve even had a chance to orient yourself?
After surviving the introductions, now your dog has found a friend to play and run with. All the fun they are having has gotten attention from other dogs that are now jumping in to join in the fun. Now we have a group of multiple dogs, whom are unfamiliar with each other’s play preferences, trying to interact as one large group. Two of the dogs figured out they like to play jump, others know they like to herd, and then there’s always the one who thinks all the other dogs are solely there so he can hump them. A squabble among two of the dogs in the group breaks out, but nobody comes running to claim their dogs. It escalates, because one of the dogs likes to referee the others, trying to calm the situation – where are these dogs’ parents?!
Have you ever had a conversation in a really large, excited group of people? The subject changes five times per minute, there are other opinions that you really don’t care about flying your way, and you end up fighting just to get your two cents heard. Plus, so many diverging opinions can steer things the wrong way, fast. It’s often frustrating and emotionally draining trying to participate in such a large group.
Now let’s consider another component – age. I was much more willing to go out partying all night with friends at 21 than I am now. Dogs do “age out” of daycare regularly. They get to an age where there is just no more patience for that young buck who just wants to run around playing and tugging all day – and that’s completely fine! Dog parks prevent the older crowd from being able to separate themselves from the younger, more adventurous players. Even after politely expressing disinterest, there is no guarantee the other dog will understand the communication and actually back off. It doesn’t take many of these interactions before your dog is labeled the aggressor after appropriately asking the other dogs for a break.
Socialization is very important in a dog’s life, especially at certain ages, but caution should be taken before using the dog park. Does your dog actually want to play with other dogs, or do they just meander by themselves keeping distance? What play is your dog’s preferred style? Would he/she enjoy being run at by an unlimited number of dogs? What personalities are currently in the park now? There are many options other than the dog park for tiring out your pup both mentally and physically. If you’re running out of ideas or just don’t know what to do with your dog if you aren’t going to the park, please contact us for ideas. We are happy to help you come up with solutions that fit your and your dog’s lifestyle.