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Dog parks = sick dog?
  • Hi all - the sidewalks here are iced over and unsafe, and those which aren't iced are now salt-encrusted. I took Kit on campus (where the walks are always clear and safe and sanded, not salted) for walkies but she was doing her polite guest in a new place thing and wouldn't pee or poop on campus. So then I took her out to the dog park, where I know for sure she will do both. The dog park here is huge and has lots of large separate enclosed yards so you can have some control over who comes in to play with your dog - they have chairs next to the double doors that secure the entrance. I am not comfortable having Kit interacting with off-leash dogs so we just take a yard to ourselves. Her breeder lives nearby and said she'd like to go on walks with us and her new puppies but honestly, Kit does not walk well with other dogs. She has a strong preference for walking on the grassy side of the walk and gets too distracted if there is another dog, we can't get good exercise and it's just a tumblefest. So I thought we could meet at the dog park but the breeder says that they are not health-safe. I have found lots of info on aggression in dog parks in the forums but I am not adding this to an existing thread because I am wondering about the health safety beyond aggression/violence - which she won't experience out there because there are enough yards to not have to share during the day.
    Post edited by Kitsune1 at 2012-12-22 13:54:38
  • tkfushtkfush
    Posts: 131
    How old is your Kit? I know our dog parks won't allow dogs under 6 months I believe. But either way, I think it's a personal opinion. I have heard people say they will refuse to take their dog to the dog park because of disease. For example, my neighbor won't take her dog because a friend of a friend or her uncle's monkey's brother's accountant or whatever :p said their dog picked up ear mites at the dog park. My vet doesn't seemed concerned with us going there. Does my dog pick us germs/viruses? Maybe- I did take note she came down with what the vet called canine stomach flu shortly after a visit to the dog park. But I guess I see it similar to taking a kid to the park or daycare. They might pick something up and get sick but don't we all?

    I don't have experience of my dog catching a major illness that could cause death or something more than what I would equate to the common cold of flu in humans but I'm sure others will share their opinions and experiences with dog parks and illnesses.

    Post edited by tkfush at 2012-12-21 17:26:09
  • Kit is 4 years old and in excellent health - and I am inclined to agree with you that it's always possible for a person or a dog to get sick, but it's better to go out in the world than to be cooped up in the apartment all the time and only ever see one tiny slice of the world in the form of our known walking circuit. I'd like to be able to give her more freedom now and then.
    Post edited by Kitsune1 at 2012-12-22 13:55:17
  • InoushiInoushi
    Posts: 555
    Dog parks, in my opinion are the perfect storm for diseases. The main reason being that you have a large concentration of dogs mixing and passing stuff around. While there are some diseases that your dog can get from walking around, others are more about being in close proximity to other dogs.

    A good example is at my own local dog park. A case of canine flu broke out, either due to ignorance, or selfishness, people repeatedly brought in dogs they knew were infected. The problem snowballed to the point, i havent been able to take kenshin to area in general. Then you have the fleas, ticks (which can transfer lime disease) pink eye, parasites, mange, and of course the things you vaccinate against. Remember vaccines are not 100% its all about herd immunity. If you have unvaccinated dogs going in they put other dogs at risk.

    Granted a healthy dog should avoid most of these illnesses, but it sucks when they don't. Health is only a small reason why I prefer playdates on private property. Even a dog park with a membership is better, at least you know the dogs are vaccinated.
  • Hmm, perhaps your breeder was concerned about her new puppies?

    In my opinion, behavioral issues tend to be a greater concern than health issues at dog parks. I've had vets try to sell me on the fear of disease, especially as they're trying to push more vaccinations. Bordetella because I take my dogs to the open-air dog park? Really?? Lepto and canine influenza are others that my vet has mentioned too, though I'm not actually in a high-risk area for lepto, and thankfully my dogs both do their best to actively avoid stagnant puddles of water.

    But that's one area I could foresee a health hazard. I do know several dogs who've gotten giardia from drinking dog park water, mucking around in mud puddles, etc. Other dogs have gotten sick from eating random things they find, from scraps of food to dead critters to piles of vomit (yeah really, who lets your dog vomit at the dog park and doesn't at least try to pick some of it up? probably the same people who don't bother picking up poop.)

    Fleas are present year-round in my area, and easily managed with monthly preventatives. We're not in a high-risk area for tick-borne diseases either, but that's something you learn to check for if you want to take your pets not just to dog parks but to forested areas, which I do.

    If you take your dog out in public, you can and should be monitoring for these things anyway. Dog parks carry an assortment of risks, disease being one of them, but appropriate management can help control many of those concerns. Not entirely eliminate them, of course. You can certainly learn how to assess your own situation. If your only option is a cramped, densely populated park where you don't know any of the owners and don't trust them... yeah, maybe the dog park isn't the greatest place to hang out. I personally prefer large, open parks where I can keep my dogs moving. Neither of mine has gotten sick from our near-daily visits (knock on wood), but I maintain vigilance, and always keep the risks in mind.
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    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • My town has no private dog parks with memberships and there are no other fenced areas where I can let Kit off her leash. In all honesty, she doesn't seem to care much for being unleashed - she does one turn around the yard (my dog park has lots of separate large enclosed yards - chalk that up to Kansas having lots of space) and then sits at my side like she's waiting to be put back on the lead. So she's not that crazy into it, it's more my own projected idea that it would be nice to not always be on the leash (while in a supervised, secure, fenced large yard). So no, my "only option" is not a "cramped, densely populated dog park" - my only option is a spacious yard which we never have to share with any other dogs because there are several other yards just like it or larger.
    Post edited by Kitsune1 at 2012-12-22 13:55:52
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    If you are in the yard alone with Kit I would take the opportunity and play with her to make it fun, run around and chase her or let her chase you. It's a great bonding opportunity. Juni prefers to play with us than other dogs usually so if we just sit still in the park she won't do much else than a bit of sniffing around too.
  • I will give it a try! But I think she has not been encouraged to chase people - when I try to play with her or get all bouncy (weight from side to side, clapping hands, running around) she looks at me very quizzically. Quizzically and slightly concerned. I might just go with that being a positive since she's 4 and I think her temperament is just very mellow.
  • Some dogs don't know how to play, either with other dogs or a human. You can teach a dog how to play though. You dog sounds just like my girl Maluko. She came to me at almost 5 years old, retiring from the breeder's breeding program. The big difference between Kit and Maluko is that Maluko is never shown.

    We have done many things together - Rally Obedience, Nosework, Agility are sports we actively participate in, in addition to things that we have tried - swimming, herding, lure coursing. And of course we go for a walk or a hike too. She was not very food motivated either and in general, a very low key and mellow dog. She never learned any verbal commands until she came to me and we did just fine. If you checked her SPAM thread, you will see that she is a very busy pup and really enjoys competing with me and is doing extremely well.

    As long as you are willing to grow and learn together, you and Kit can do anything and everything while still having a ton of fun - dog park or not. We don't go to dog parks much because of the unpredictability of the dogs and humans that could frequent the parks. We prefer private play dates with dogs and people we know or go for a hike on a trail.
    Post edited by sandrat888 at 2012-12-22 14:11:17
  • Sandrat - it's so great to find another owner of a dog like Kit, Maluko does truly sound like a kindred soul. I think Kit would love nosework, she takes a lot of pleasure in sniffing/tracking on our walks and it would be great to be able to play that as an indoor game too. I'm excited to learn new things to share with her to enrich her life and keep her happy and fulfilled. She's perfectly happy just to sit with me at home (I am an academic and spend most of my time at the computer) but I would like to have some indoor activities/games/communication-training to do at home in addition to our walks outside. I'm looking forward to talking more with you!

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