It’s Time to Reconsider the Dog Run

They may be an amenity in hip neighborhoods and a convenient solution for city-dwellers, but dog runs are not the perfect solution you think they are. Despite their explosive growth in popularity, these outdoor spaces can often create big problems for people and pets.   

Bad Vibes, Bad Behavior 

All dogs need socialization. But not all dogs enjoy socializing with other dogs. Forcing them to interact with dogs they may not know (or may not like) in a confined space with no ability to hide or get away can be extremely stressful. Dogs in a dog run can’t ever really say “no”. This can escalate into physical confrontation (fighting or biting), significant behavior issues, development problems, and sometimes even result in injuries and death. Smaller dogs can also be easily injured by larger dogs, even if they are just trying to play. Humans can be injured as well, if they step in to try and separate dogs involved in a fight. 

If your dog is repeatedly exposed to negative social interactions they may develop anxiety issues, bad habits, and long-term fear of other dogs. How many people remember what it’s like to be bullied on the playground? The same thing often happens in the dog run.  

Dangers of Disease  

Along with the clear risk of injury and exposure to negative behaviors, dog runs can also expose many dogs to sickness and disease. Since most dog parks do not require proof of vaccines or health checks, your dog could be nose-to-nose with a dog who later turns out to be sick with a contagious disease. And since very few dog runs are consistently (or ever) cleaned or sanitized, that illness-causing bacteria can linger for months. Combine that with the large amounts of urine and waste that are excreted within the confines of the park, and you’ve got a concentrated petri dish that is best avoided. 

The Bottom Line: Friendly Spaces for Your Dog Don’t Have to be Dog-Focused 

One of the wonderful things that make dogs so engaging is their desire to run, play, and socialize. And all of these things can be achieved in many places throughout our community, and while your dog is on a leash. Consider exploring dog-friendly beaches, parks, trails, or even just a friend’s backyard. Before you assume the dog run is the place to be, think about what your dog really enjoys. Some dogs really just want to be with you, enjoying your company. Despite its relative convenience, a dog run may not be good for your dog’s physical or mental wellbeing, and it may not be worth the risk.