Let’s dive right in to this topic. I am not an advocate for dog parks. I discourage my puppy buyers from taking their Dogue de Bordeaux to dog parks-especially puppies, but adults as well. In this article I would like to discuss why, in my opinion, the so-call “benefits” can actually have the opposite affect. I will also discuss a few breed specific reasons why I would not take a Dogue de Bordeaux to a dog park.
PHYSICAL EXERCISE & MENTAL STIMULATION – Dogs can run freely, sniffing every blade of grass, marking every tree, chasing butterflies as much as they like. Your pet will have the best nights sleep he has had all week after a few hours at the park.
I feel this is a lazy way to burn pent up energy in our pets. As dog owners we must be dedicated to making sure our pet’s physical needs are met every single day. In addition, dog parks provide unstructured forms of exercise. If you take your Dogue de Bordeaux to the dog park, please make sure he is getting structured exercise (i.e. walk on a leash) more often.
SOCIALIZATION – Dogs are super social creatures. At dog parks pets of all shapes and sizes have the opportunity to mingle. They also meet many fellow pet parents. Allowing for socialization with both animals and humans.
In a perfect world we could be guaranteed that every dog in the park is as polite as ours. Alas, this is reality! The dogs are off leash. Some of them may be unstable. Some may be untrained, unresponsive to their owners. What if a brawl breaks out and it is your dog who is injured? You may have no recourse. You enter dog parks at your own risk. Consider too the annoying, yappy little breeds that have the awful tendency to antagonize the big dogs. Is your dog patient enough to handle that situation? Is your Dogue de Bordeaux gentle enough to be trusted with smaller breeds? Never under any circumstances should you bring your Dogue de Bordeaux to the dog park if he is lacking in any forms of social skills. Things can get out of hand fast.
Instead, socialize your Dogue de Bordeaux in a controlled, stable environment. I recommend basic obedience classes to all puppy buyers. I took classes with my first Bordeaux and it was so much fun! When you graduate basic obedience, keep going with more advanced classes. See perhaps about working towards a Canine Good Citizen award.
I am realistic. Not all of us have the time for dog classes. You can still socialize your Dogue de Bordeaux without straying too far from your hectic schedule. Take Hooch with you to town on your errands. Into the post office, Home Depot, take him for a walk on Main street, or around the square. Stop off for an ice cream cone on the way home. This is excellent socialization.
Dog parks are breeding grounds for an array of diseases. Giardia, intestinal parasites, parvo virus, etc. No doubt you keep on top of your vaccines and regular dewormings. So you may not think about the potential health risks associated with dog parks. Consider though, most wormers do not cover every strain of worm. Most dogs are not vaccinated for Giardia as it is not a core vaccine. Why expose your dog unnecessarily? Never ever take a puppy to a dog park until they have been cleared by the vet to do so.
Do not take your Dogue de Bordeaux puppy to a dog park until-at the very least-they have completed all of their rounds of vaccinations.
DDB SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS
SIZE – Fellow dog owners will likely be apprehensive seeing a mastiff with a head the size of a small Beagle zooming around the park. You might know that Hooch would never start a fight with a fly. Unfortunately, the other park goers do not know that. They may possibly become confrontational with you for bringing your Dogue de Bordeaux even though there is no prohibited breeds, or weight limits posted.
TEMPERAMENT – Dogues de Bordeaux are stubborn. Typically very self-confident which leads to moments of stubbornness. Some Dogues (especially males) are dominant, or dog aggressive by nature. Can you depend on Hooch for perfect recall 100% of the time? If not, please reconsider the dog park. Dogues are not the most social of breeds. Many are not interested enough to start a fight, but they will not back down from one. A couple more things to ask yourself: Is your Dogue de Bordeaux overly protective of you when you meet new people? When you meet new animals? Does your Dogue de Bordeaux get jealous when another dog approaches you?
WEATHER – Dogues de Bordeaux are heat sensitive. Do not take Hooch to the park in the middle of a hot summer day. As we mentioned, he will likely be running 90 to nothing much of the time. Heat stroke can occur in less than 30 minutes!
No matter whether you decide to take your Dogue de Bordeaux to the dog park, or not. It should be the goal of every dog parent to keep their “kids” happy, healthy, and fulfilled.