This park is small for a dog park. It has about an acre of fenced area for the dogs to run around and play. The ground of the park is covered in mulch, not grass, and some areas are a little bit muddy after it rains. But this park appeals to me because every time we have visited, we have either had the park to ourselves, or there have only been 1 or 2 other dogs present. So I am able to see what type of dogs are present, before we enter the park with my collies. And when I say type, I am referring to the dogs' temperaments, not their breeds.
|Ryder and his new dog park buddy. (up to plenty of mischief!)
One day we ended up leaving the park early, because someone did bring a dog, which was a wolf mix, that was acting aggressive. So we left before anything could happen, because it was only a matter of time before someone ended up injured. But for the most part, we have found this park to be a fun place to visit with our dogs. Kori tends to prefer the company of smaller dogs, she tends to avoid dogs that are her size or larger. Ryder on the other hand loves to run and romp with the big dogs. Abby and Holly only want to play with their own family members, or with people, so we don't bring them as often as the young collies. Scarlett is too little, so I haven't let her visit the park yet. She is still a puppy, and we want all her interactions with other dogs to be positive, and with the somewhat chaotic atmosphere of a dog park there is no way to ensure that all the dogs are behaving.
Still, I have found that dog parks, when they have the right mix of dogs present, can be beneficial. Socializing with other friendly dogs, in a large area is fun for dogs. They get a chance to meet other dogs, and play and run in a safely, enclosed area. They can really stretch their legs, and burn off a lot of energy. They get to run as fast as they want, they get to wrestle without worrying about damaging your furniture. They get to explore, free from leashes and free from their humans directing where they get to go. In short, they get to just be dogs.
Too often we read about how dogs are being placed in the role of family members, which has many benefits but also some drawbacks. They are expected to behave 100% of the time, which often means suppressing their normal canine urges. Dog parks, if all the dogs are friendly, can be so much fun for your dogs. But if you are hesitant about visiting one, like I was, try to find an area where you can safely let your dog off leash to run and explore. This can be a baseball field, once the baseball season has ended. Or if your dog has a perfect recall, this can be during a hike in the woods. But dogs need time to "just be dogs," which is something we humans sometimes forget. The next time you take your dog for a walk, try letting your four-legged friend choose the direction you walk. When your dog wants to stop and smell some interesting scent along the way, let her. Don't hurry her along, dragging her away before she is ready. A walk to your dog isn't about the exercise, it's about exploring the world around her. While I personally consider all my dogs to be family members, and while I do have expectations of their behavior inside the house, I have come to realize that they need time where they are allowed to be themselves...it's the only way to be sure that your dog is living a truly happy, well-balanced life.