I felt the need to write this because I spoke to a potential new client today that wanted me to take his dog to the dog park right off the bat. I told him no and explained why. I find that I explain this quite often so I just wanted to put it out there in the open so that everyone understands my stance on dog parks and why I have very specific rules for myself and my clients.
I come from a medical background. I worked in a vet office for 13 years. I saw the aftermath of "dog park fun". There were ears ripped off, brutal bite wounds that required drains to be surgically placed, lacerations that needed sutures, damages teeth, nails ripped out of the nail bed, even death from an attack..... you name it, I've seen it. That is not including the many frantic phone calls that I answered that began with me words, "My dog just got attacked at the dog park." I have all of these things that lay dormant in my brain until someone says, "Can you bring my dog to the park so he can run off some of his energy?"
I will always say no.
Here is why:
* Your dog is not my dog. I will not be liable for something awful happening on my watch when it could have been avoided. I do not want to rush your dog to the emergency room. I do not want to have to make that phone call to you, telling you to rush to the ER because we don't know if your dog is going to be ok. Or that you have a huge vet bill because some other dog attacked your dog.
* I am not the owner. I am not the parent. I am not the alpha. I am the babysitter buddy that asserts authority when necessary. That dog will never listen to me like they would listen to their owner. If something happens (another dog fight, thunder, crazy child taunting, crazy dog taunting, loud truck sounds, etc) and I have to get that dog outta there ASAP and I call for him/her to come, they BETTER listen and come. I will take a dog to the park if I know that that dog WILL listen to me and come when called. This does not happen right away. ( Out of all of my clients, there are 2 dogs that I am completely comfortable with at the park. That is it. ) Once we develop a relationship and the park is close by and the dog and I have mutual trust (and I know that the dog goes with the owner all of the time), then I will consider it. It is just too risky otherwise. I have insurance, but i don't want to have to use it.
* My main goal is safety. When I come to walk your dog, I want that kiddo to stay SAFE! You are trusting me with your kid, and that kid needs to be on a leash, away from cars, away from aggressive dogs, away from harmful things on the street to eat and walk on (chicken bones, glass, gum, dead rodents, mouse poison) We jump, we play, we greet other people and dogs if we are all comfortable with it - but in the back of my mind I am assessing every situation.
* I know every dog that I walk like the back of my hand. They all have their quirks.
Some hate the mailman that's on 8th street
Some hate UPS guys
Some hate Fedex guys
Some hate both
Some hate kids
Some pick up tissues and paper towels
Some try to walk on glass
Some try to get out of their gentle leader or harness a certain way
Some hate other dogs (some small, some big, or just all dogs)
Some hate skateboards or anything on wheels
Some hate homeless people
The list goes on and on - but I know them and treat them as if they were my own dogs. I care just as much, and that is why I don't want to unnecessarily jeopardize their health and safety in any way if I can avoid it. I am there for a potty break, some love, some treats, and a safe walk.
I urge you to not be upset that I don't feel comfortable taking your dog to the park, but know that I am making that judgement based on experience and love for the animal.