The dog park: An uncomfortable place

The dog park is not as much of a happy place as it may seem. Strangers gather to mingle and watch their pets play together, an activity that seems to promote a sense of community. But this is not always true.

As a responsible owner of a 6-month old male dachshund, it is my duty to supervise his eating and exercise habits to ensure he is healthy and happy. While I am also a full-time student with a full-time job, it is difficult for me to find time to make sure he is getting sufficient exercise.

Sometimes I don’t have enough time to take my dog on a lengthy walk, so I take him to the community dog park. However, after repeated indecencies and annoyances, I have come to avoid it at all costs.

Irresponsible pet owners should not be allowed in the dog park. Owners laugh and half-heartedly apologize as they watch their dog jump on other park attendees with muddy paws. Afraid they might look like abusive owners, they do not discipline their animal for acting out. This allows the dog to think it can do whatever it wants and act completely wild.

Granted, when dogs are excited they don’t always know how to contain themselves. Dogs that jump and bark at strangers are not just excited; they are oftentimes undisciplined.

When one dog sets a bad example, other dogs pick up their habits and behave in the same manner. These habits will not be restricted to the dog park, but will extend to the home as well.

There are always dog owners that, for one reason or another, do not feel the need to clean up after their animals. The dog park is littered with the canine droppings, making a walk in the park more like hopscotch through the park to dodge the doo-doos.

Perhaps the most intolerable part of a dog park visit is listening to people talk about their dogs for an indefinite amount of time. The small talk exchange of “what is your dog’s name?” and “how old is he or she?” is draining and utterly pointless. I’m sorry, I have my own rascal to keep up with, and I don’t need to know that your shiatsu’s name is “Muffins.”

Everyone thinks they own the cutest, smartest or most well behaved dog to ever grace Earth. There is a sense of superiority, and some owners will go on for hours about what tricks their dog knows and share stories like, “Spot got into his dog food last week and he had a belly ache for three days straight.”

To put it simply, dog parks are the last place dog owners should go if they aren’t in the mood to make small talk, deal with strange dogs or step in dog manure. This is why my dog has no friends. While I pride myself in being socially competent, I find nothing worse than dull, repetitive conversation. I don’t think my avoidance of dog parks makes me a bad pet owner, I just selfishly find alternate ways to exercise my dog without having to deal with the many dreadful aspects of the dog park.

 

Reach the columnist at Jocelyn.gee@asu.edu or follow her at @joc_gee.

 

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