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Dog Park Popularity

Dog parks are very popular in Australia, and more and more councils are including fenced off leash areas in their town planning. Brisbane City Council (BCC) provides over 135 dog off-leash areas (commonly known as dog parks) in parks across Brisbane. These locations are generally fenced areas where dogs can run, exercise and socialise leash-free with other dogs and dog park visitors (BCC 2017).

Dog Park Pros

  • Allows safe free running and exercise

  • Allows dog-dog social interactions - opportunities for dogs to develop and maintain social skills

  • Allows dog-people social interactions

  • Develops a sense of community amongst like-minded dog owners Provides a location for community dog activities

  • Provides an opportunity for new dog owners to learn from more experienced dog owners

Dog Park Cons

  • Young dogs who have bad experiences in dogs parks especially during ‘fear periods’ may develop fears which effect behaviour throughout their life

  • Potential danger from aggressive dogs

  • Potential for lack of impulse control and over excitement

  • Owners who aren’t paying attention to their dogs

  • Potential for disease and parasites, particularly for young puppies (we do not recommend puppies who aren’t fully vaccinated to visit dog parks)

  • Potential for injury to people and dogs Many dogs are allowed to practice inappropriate behaviour such as humping or bullying.

  • Potential of lawsuits arising from dog fights

Who's Not an Ideal Candidate for Dog Parks?

  • Unvaccinated puppies

  • Females in heat

  • Entire males

  • Under socialised dogs

  • Fearful/aggressive dogs

  • Dogs who lack impulse control

Is the Dog Park Right for Your Dog?

  • Consider the pros and cons

  • Visit dog parks and observe before taking your dog in

    • Are the people advocating for their dogs?

    • Are the dogs interacting and playing appropriately?

  • Will your dog benefit from going to dog parks?

  • Do you have an understanding of canine stress signals and signs that your dog needs to be taken away from the dog park?

When to Interrupt

  • Dog’s should not be left to ‘sort it out’ with other dogs. This can be detrimental to physical and behavioural health. Instead, be your dog’s advocate and learn when to interrupt dog-dog interactions or take your dog away.

  • Take into consideration:

  • Knowledge of the dogs

  • The dog’s knowledge of each other

  • Context

  • Arousal levels of the dogs If one dog will harm the other dog physically or emotionally

  • If the interaction is one sided Is the behaviour socially appropriate? E.g. an older dog giving a quick growl or snap to a younger dog for being too exuberant.

  • Is the behaviour socially inappropriate E.g. humping another dog

  • Be conservative – intervene to prevent

Stay Connected With Your Dog

  • You don’t need to be a ‘helicopter parent’! But you need to be watching your dog.

  • Reward for check-ins

  • Call your dog, reward and release them

  • Be your dog’s advocate

We recommend exercising caution when deciding to use a dog park for your dogs. Dog parks are not suitable for all dogs and it is absolutely fine if your dog is one of those dogs. In fact, you are being very responsible for not putting your dog in a situation that may cause them physical and mental harm.

Download our full article below for video links on body language, references, and further reading.