Socializing at the dog park: When play turns unfriendly
Chicago dog owners have 21 public park options for letting their dogs run off -leash. It’s a chance for the animals to get exercise and socialize. But what does a dog’s behavior at a dog park say about the dog?
Dog behavior expert Sue Sternberg says for many people watching dogs interact off-leash , anything short of bloodshed is play.
But that is not always the case.
Sternberg has spent years videotaping and analyzing dog interactions. She says she learned much of what many dogs are doing is bullying, mobbing, pinning, body-slamming each other – in ways that are not friendly and are not play.
She says dogs need human guidance to play and interact appropriately.
Sternberg says multiple dogs together off-leash – can be especially dangerous when big dogs and tiny toy breeds are left to interact uninterrupted.
Sternberg says she often talks to dog owners who mistakenly think some dog nipping and growling is just “the pack” correcting each other.
Sternberg says dogs don’t reason the way people do. They’re not moral creatures and they can hurt or kill another dog if play is allowed to escalate uninterrupted.
Sternberg says the worst thing owners can do is ignore what their dog is doing in off-leash settings. Sternberg believes each dog park visit either enhances or erodes the owner / dog bond.
An out-of-control dog in the dog park – will likely be out of control in other settings.
Solid training can prove crucial – so your dog always comes when called.
For more information on Sternberg, visit her websites: