Due to the leash laws in many areas, dog parks have become popular spots to allow pets to roam off leash and play with other dogs. Though dog parks have been established with the best of intentions, it is no recommended for most dog owners simply due to the fact that dog fights are common. If you take your dog to a dog park often enough, it is simply a matter of time before your dog gets bitten or in a fight with another dog. It is inevitable and absolutely will happen sooner or later.
Fights at dog parks happen for a variety of reasons. First, as soon as a new dog walks in, it often swarmed by numerous other curious dogs. Though the other dogs may only be approaching out of curiosity, the new dog often becomes very afraid as it feels as if it is being "ganged up on". As a result, the new dog may feel the need to defend themselves. While some dogs may try to run to escape the crowd of dogs, others may bite in an attempt to get the other dogs to back up and as a result, fights begin. Second, some dogs will attempt to dominate and when one dog attempts to dominant other dog that is not willing to be dominated, fights begin. Establishing dominance is commonly seen when one dog attempts to hump or place their paws over top the other dog. Third, many dogs like to run and play chase. However, chasing anything that moves quickly, even if it is another dog, stimulates the prey drive of some dogs. When prey drive kicks is, the natural instinct is to bite the prey object. This is often why many smaller dogs are bitten by larger dogs. Lastly, some owners with dogs that are aggressive towards other dogs are ignorant enough to bring their dogs into these parks.
Once a dog is bitten or gets in a fight, it tends to have an unfortunate effect on the psychology of the dog. Some dogs that were once very a happy and excited to see other dogs will become nervous and afraid of any dog that approaches. Other dogs will decide that the best defense is a strong offense and then take the initiative to bite first in order to not get bitten.
Despite this warning against dog parks, many owners will still take their dogs to dog parks. So here are a couple things you can do to avoid any altercations as much as possible.
1. Know your dog's personality. If you have a dog that will not tolerate being dominated or will bite when nervous, it is not worth the risk to go.
2. Before entering the dog parks, stand outside the fence of the entrance. The curious dogs will swarm to the fence and sniff your dog. Stand there with your dog and let them sniff through the fence to their content. After the dogs in the park are no longer curious, they will walk away. Now when you enter, your dog will no longer be swarmed by other dogs.
3. When the dogs are sniff each other through the fence, before you enter, examine all the dogs in the park. If you see there are any dogs that are too aggressive or constantly trying to dominate, just leave.
4. While you are in the park, do not hesitate to ask the owner of another dog to move their dog away from your dog if that other dog is behaving in an unacceptable manner. Do not allow the dogs to "sort it out themselves".
5. Whenever a new dog enters, take your dog to the far end of the park. Watch how that new dog behaves as it passes by all the other dogs. If you see aggression or constant acts of dominance, it is time to leave.