- Do you like being cooped up inside the house day after day?
- Did your parents raise you by keeping you in a cage-like box for long periods of time only letting you out to eat and empty your waste?
- Were you allowed to speak to other humans when you were growing up?
- Are you alone in the world, or do you have at least one friend (outside of your immediate family)?
- If you had 4 legs would you just want to lie around all day every day?
- Would you like me to quit asking questions and just answer the original one?
Excess energy aside, your dog is naturally a social creature. They are pack animals so they want to interact with other butt sniffing, ball chasing, water lapping, tail wagging, fur covered, treat seeking creatures. Taking your dog to the dog park early on in their adolescence (after they've had their appropriate shots, of course) has them develop socially appropriate behavior later on in life. If you rescue an animal and they are a few years along, or if your dog just hasn't been socialized and is now a few years old, you may want to take the process a bit slower. Join a Meetup group for dog owners and have puppy play dates to introduce your dog to one or two other dogs at a time, rather than taking him/her to a busy dog park. Meetup isn't your style? Maybe do the same with a friend, or two, that also has a dog. Either way, the first couple times you go with your pup to the park it's usually a little scary for them. They could whine, hide, cry, or act really submissive and may even get ganged up on by a few other dogs--not usually bitten or in a fighting manner--more so the dogs will capitalize on another dog that is submissive rather than confidant in the park. Humans do it all the time...remember back in elementary, middle, or high school and kids were ruthless to those that were submissive, quiet, or appeared weak? Yeah...bullying sucks...and, it happens at the dog park sometimes between pups. It's not bad, it just can happen.
Calypso, the first 3 times I took her to the dog park was excited to go, yet screamed when other dogs would come towards her, even though I had two other small dogs at home. She was only 5 months old when we started going...and by the 4th time she was gaining confidence. At my dog park there are two sides, one is for small dogs, the other is for big dogs. Calpyso, my husky, is a medium sized dog and was often getting dominated by bigger dogs on the "big dog" side. So, we started going to the small dog park. Her confidence only grew, now I can take her to either one and she does perfectly well with all sizes of dogs. I keep my eye on her, though, as some dogs are not socially appropriate and sometimes they get a little too aggressive. I simply say it's time to go, and we either go to the small dog park, or go home.
Does your dog bark and pull when they see another dog when you are out for a walk? Chances are that could be helped by socializing your dog at the dog park. Calypso became far more calm and trainable after being at the dog park. She quit pulling on the leash when we go for a walk or run. Also, now when we see another dog it's not like seeing cake on a Tuesday (EVERYBODY loves cake on a Tuesday!), she doesn't pull, she waits until we're close, tests the waters to see if the other dog is friendly, proceeds to greet sniff the other dog, and then we move along our way. She also seems happier after getting park time. I would say she smiles more, but you wouldn't believe me...
Also, you may meet some really cool people at the dog park! It's almost like you can see if people were socialized growing up in how they are at the dog park. Some go off to a corner and speak to no one. Some have a group they get with every day or night at the park. And, some wander from person to person simply saying "hello". Do they have people parks?? Oh...
Bottom line is that going to the dog park benefits your dog socially, while it also benefits you emotionally and mentally. Can you imagine what went through my head when I saw the hole in the wall? Talk about unnecessary, and unwelcome, stress and fear! I will not ever skimp on the dog park with my pups ever again. I hope this has helped and given you some insight as to why the dog park is so helpful for your dog and for you!