What is ARLP's policy on dog parks?
Dog parks are a chaotic and often uncontrolled environment that can be frightening and traumatic for a young puppy or under socialized adult dog. Because other dogs are not leashed (and may have bad manners) they tend to swarm and overwhelm the newest visitor. Most young puppies do great in social settings like dog parks. However, as your puppy matures her limits with other dogs may change.
Dog park attendees can be rude for both canines and humans! Some owners with little or no knowledge of dog behavior will allow their dog to persist in dominant behaviors and postures toward other dogs. Others see the dog park as a "babysitter" and are not even aware of what their dog is doing; they prefer to chit-chat with other owners while their dog plays unsupervised at the other end of the park. For some dogs, a trip to the dog park is the only exercise they get! They arrive frustrated and keyed-up -- not a good playmate for your dog!
Socializing your dog is very important. However, as your bully matures from a puppy to an adult her tolerance of other dogs may lessen. Most canines become less tolerant of other dogs as they mature. Some pit bulls will be social with dogs throughout their lives; some will not get along with any dogs once they mature (around 2-3 years old). Most dogs will be somewhere in between.
If you have a pit bull that doesn't like other dogs, you can socialize him by taking him to a class where he can learn to accept the presence of other dogs on leash. With proper socialization, training, and (especially) management, your pit bull should never be involved in a dog fight. Good management means never allowing the circumstances that will set your dog up to "fail" and get into a fight. Part of proper management is avoiding places like dog parks. Please note that even with heavy socialization some dogs still become intolerant of other dogs as adults.
Bringing your pit bull to a dog park where you have no control over the behavior of other dogs and no knowledge of their histories is akin to walking across a busy street and hoping the other cars will see you and stop. You are putting you and your dog at great risk for a benefit that can be achieved in a safer way.
Should a fight ensue, guess who's at fault? You and your pit bull. It won't matter that the other dog started it, that he had been humping your dog the whole time or biting on her face or driving her nuts. If the pit bull was involved, the pit bull will be blamed.
Should the media get wind of the event, you will be "wrong" in the news regardless of what actually happened. The myth of the pit bull will be reinforced, and yet another person will have a misconstrued story to tell.
Your pit bull can still enjoy the company of other dogs. The best way to accomplish this is through supervised play groups of 2-4 dogs your dog has met before and enjoys. The other owners should also be present and supervising the play. Periodically stop the play and have each dog return to his/her owner to take a break. This will prevent over-arousal and helps keep things controlled.
Keep in mind that dog parks are not a necessity and your dog is not missing out if she doesn't attend them. Leisurely walks or jogs with you provide the best exercise, and small play groups give her a wonderful opportunity to play with other dogs!
Not sure if your dog is social enough to play with other dogs? Email an intake team member.
The best way to socialize your Pit bull to other dogs is through controlled positive interactions with select, appropriate playmates that your dog has been introduced to slowly. This way, you can create a positive atmosphere and closely monitor your dog's reactions.
But don't just listen to us!
We really like what Bad Rap has to say about pit bulls and dog parks