Since Cooper is a “condo dog,” I always thought dog parks would be perfect for my situation. He typically gets several walks a day and I’m fortunate that my parents let him run around in their backyard. I’ve taken him to dog beaches, but until recently he hasn’t visited a dog park. We visited two parks and they were very different experiences.
Dog Park #1 – Not Good
My initial thought was, it’s not that I don’t trust Cooper, I just don’t trust other pets or their parents. When we showed up to the first dog park, I immediately didn’t like the area. There were a lot of dogs, but the park was dirty. There were sections for small dogs and big dogs which I liked. Cooper is an 8-pound toy poodle so I am very careful when socializing him. He was anxious to make some new friends and when we walked up a few dogs ran to the fence to say hello. They all sniffed each other and then one dog started snapping at Cooper.
That’s all I needed to know. As we were leaving snapping dog’s mom said, “oh, he’s typically really nice.” She was sitting outside of the fenced area. How was she going to break up a scuffle from there? A poorly kept park and irresponsible pet parents turned me off to dog parks for a while.
Dog Park #2 – Perfect
A year later I decided to try again because I wanted Cooper to be able to just run and have a great time. This time we went to a different park and it was during the day. The downside of this park is that it’s not sectioned off by size. When we showed up there was only one other dog there and the pet parent was in the midst of clicker training. There was a long walkway so I thought it was the perfect opportunity for the two dogs to meet before deciding whether to enter. The two of them were very happy to meet each other and I felt comfortable letting Cooper off leash to play.
As we walked in and I removed Cooper’s leash I could see that the park had plenty of water, small pools, waste bags and trash bins. It was a huge area. During the summer I’m sure the park will be a lot cleaner. When we were there it was a bit muddy due to recent weather.
Watching Cooper run with wild abandon filled my heart with such joy. Several times he said hello to the other pet parent and new friend Leo. A beautiful park and friendly company made it a perfect day at the dog park.
He got dirty so much to his chagrin, he got a bath when we got home.
The experiences Cooper and I had were night and day. I don’t see taking him to a dog park very often, but when I do, it will be during the day when it’s quiet. We were lucky to be at a well-kept park in the presence of another responsible pet parent. It was nice to meet other dog parents in hopes of organizing a play date. However, in a lot of cases, poorly kept parks and irresponsible pet parents make dog park visits frustrating. There is also the risk of your furbaby getting bordetella.
What do you think of dog parks? What has your experience been?