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The most dangerous thing you will find in most dog parks, are the owners.

Social dogs playing hard in a dog parkBy dangerous I mean what owners who don't walk their dogs regularly might see in a dog park.

What I mean is not danger as in risking a dog's life, but a human being upset with what they see.

Ready for it?

its two dogs consensually playing roughly.

As a responsible professional dog walker, I don't allow my dogs to engage in any rough play that will potentially risk a bite. Dogs can dominate consenting dogs, and they can submit, they can do what they want as long as it is not going past one dogs comfort zone.

how do you know this? By body language, length of time these dogs have known each other and the sound of their growls or barks.

Social dogs very rarely get in a fight, and the fight that a social dog gets in is caused by a non social dog.  Sounds too simplistic right, but its true.

A social dog is mostly free to run, play, sniff and track what it wants in a dog park. A social dog might decide that it wants to challenge another dog, often not in the same pack, because it seems then as an equal rival. Play is a way of challenging and going up in the dog pack rank.

A social dog knows when to stop, They stop when a dog doesn't like being dominated by them, or they find a way to walk away from a dog trying to dominate them. There is no prolonged conflict, because a social dog is not aggressive, unless forced to protect itself. it doesn't act out of fear aggression, it doesn't carry unresolved anxiety around.

The brown and white dog coming to conflict in the dog park

The two dogs in this photo are an interesting case study. I know both of them reasonably well, and they are not part of my pack.

They are rescued dogs and walked socially, and the white one is maybe 90% social with submissive tendencies while the brown dog is maybe 80% social with dominant tendencies. Today they met and played for maybe 10-15 minutes. The white dog mostly wanted to just run around with a ball in its mouth.

The brown dog saw that my pack was to settled to run or chase, so it decided the white dog had to be its target for play.  It even stole the white dogs ball to make it play with her, but the white dog didn't fall for that. Mostly because it is social and saw that harder play could lead to a rigorous fight, and it also is just a happy go lucky dog. So the white dog just waited for the other dog to drop the ball.

The brown dog just had way too much energy today that needed to be burned off and since the white dog would not engage to get the ball back, it decided to try and drag the dog around by its collar. this is when the white dog's owner stepped in and the dogs were separated and owners and dogs went separate ways. No malice, no major telling off of dogs needed. DEFINITELY NO SMACKING!  Being removed from pack play is often punishment enough, for social dogs. Dogs are smart and read owners expressions and get that they did wrong.

It was just the right set of circumstances today with weather, available dogs and dog energies. No harm done, but to an outsider this play challenge, before the pulling of collar would have raised their concerns and they would have stopped play before any play happened. that was healthy happy play. They would not trust their dogs .. and dogs not being allowed to make good choices for themselves don't evolve socially.

I love both the brown and white dog in these photos and our pack will play or socialise with them again no doubt. But that is because we and the other owners walk enough to know what is acceptable and what is not.  Hence why many people choose and trust good professional dog walkers to take their dogs to a dog park and learn and get fit and have fun.

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