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Should you take your puppy to the dog park for socialization?

Updated: Apr 19

Dr. Orion and I had a chat recently about an interaction that I was involved in at the local dog park.

If you are one of my clients, you likely have heard me say, don't take your puppy to the dog park. Dog parks are not for socialization of new puppies. You have a mixed bag of neutral dog (dogs who could care less about any other dog), aggressive dogs (ones that attack other dogs), dogs that are over-aroused (too much stimulation that they cannot regulate their emotions) and timid dogs (dogs who are fearful, avoidant, hiding behind their owners).

And yet, how hypocritical am I to take Cola to the dog park?? Prior to Cola's final vaccinations, she was in our backyard, I took her to work with me, and I took her to training classes in a controlled setting. Once she was a bit bigger and we had some training under our belts, I ventured to the dog park. Initially I would watch to see what the other dogs did. She then was allowed to interact with some neutral dogs - they didn't care that she was there, or if she wasn't.

Cola's personality is of extreme submission. When we were at puppy classes, she was paired with a small breed puppy half her size because she was gentle, took things slow for him and wasn't pushy like the other two frenetic puppies in the class.

Dog parks are not for every dog. If you have a young puppy, it will be over-welling for them. Take your puppy to the outside of the park, and work on your relationship with them.

See this post on Puppy Socialization for more!

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