I am asked more and more often what I think of free-range areas, dog zones and what they are all called.
This is not so easy to say, let alone generalize. In principle, I think it’s good to think about the dog owner and to create opportunities that help both dog and owner, or that enrich their lives. But in my opinion, the dog meadow is also something that should be viewed with skepticism. On the one hand, the dog is allowed to run around and let off steam, but on the other hand there is a real dog anarchy here. Every dog is allowed to do what he wants, according to the motto, here I am “dog”, here I am allowed to be.
Unfortunately, what I often observe is the following:
Many people come to the dog meadow with their four-legged friends, bringing a basket of coffee and cake, and of course dog treats. You meet up with other dog owners, let the dogs run, sit together comfortably and chat about this and that. This often goes on for several hours until the four-legged friend is packed back into the car and driven home.
Then you ask yourself: What was the point?
The dog had a great time, no doubt, provided he wasn’t bitten, which, mind you, happens very often on the dog run. More often than anywhere else. But more on that later.
The four-legged friend lies tired in the basket, and the owner is happy too.
But let’s go through the whole thing. If the dog could talk and we asked him, who is the person there for you, he would probably answer, my cab driver and my food provider. What I’m trying to say is that a dog certainly doesn’t build up a bond with its owner on the dog run. At best, he learns that dogs are funny and can play better than the owner. In the worst case scenario, he learns that dogs can be bullied by using his teeth. Or he is bullied himself, not so great either.
One thing must be clear: a child does not learn swear words at home at the dinner table, it learns them at school from friends or in the playground. A dog does not learn to be aggressive or unsafe towards dogs at home. He learns this on the dog run or in the dog zone.
And God forbid if you allow yourself to train or reprimand your own dog on the dog run for misbehaving with other dogs. Then disaster strikes! The dog mom brigade, who feel morally superior, hurl insults and even threats.
You shouldn’t lump everyone together, for God’s sake. But the fact is, many people go to the dog park because they can’t control their dog or are too lazy to go for a walk. The dog meadow is fenced in, which means the dog can’t get away, and he can find dogs to play with, which means he will be tired. So everything is perfect.
What happens, however, is that our dog becomes so fixated on this place that everything else becomes uninteresting, and it is not uncommon for owners to be dragged onto the dog run by their four-legged friend, barking all the while. Then he is released and has achieved exactly what he wanted. But what can be done instead, what would be the alternative? Dogs have to walk, that’s a fact. If you were to keep a dog on a leash for the rest of its life, it would not be species-appropriate. So what to do?
An off-leash dog test would be the solution. A test that no trainer, no club, but only the city or municipality itself takes. That would be the solution, but more on that in another article.
Have fun with your dog!