Wareham Dog Park Learns Canines Obey Rules Better Than People
This past Saturday, the Wareham Dog Park officially opened after nine years of planning, and welcomed the first dogs to come and experience the off-leash park along with their human companions.
The group behind the park – the Dog Park Affiliation of Wareham, or DPAW – posted to its Facebook page on Tuesday a reminder of the rules of the park, and judging by some of the comments, it seems the dogs are more ready to obey those rules than their owners.
Many of the rules are to be expected, such as the park closing at dusk, no smoking or vaping allowed, picking up your dog’s waste and disposing of it properly, etc.
Other rules are for safety, such as dogs wearing their current licenses and rabies tags while at the park, dogs kept on a leash unless in the fenced-in off-leash area and children under five years old not being allowed in the fenced-in area.
There was also a list posted of some things not allowed in the park, such as dogs that have not been spayed or neutered, puppies under four months of age, and no dogs without human supervision.
Some of the other things not allowed include dog food or human food, toys, spiked collars, e-collars, and any kind of individual or group dog training.
Now these restrictions make all the sense in the world, right? Not to some, though.
“Seems like a lot of rules for a place I just wanna go and let my dog run and have fun,” Melissa wrote. “I was looking forward to coming until I just read this insane list of rules.”
DPAW politely replied, “We just want everyone to be safe, we're sorry you are unable to enjoy it! We would love the feedback on which items you find ‘insane’ to help us improve.”
Melissa responded that insane was probably a poor choice of words, but that she didn’t understand some of the rules.
“I just don’t understand why my dog can’t wear the collar that I feel most comfortable with him wearing,” she wrote. “Also why can’t I bring a toy for him to play with? Why does he need to wear his license? What if I bring my mom’s dog who has a Plympton license? Does that mean she’s gonna get kicked out because it’s not a Wareham license?
“And I can’t bring treats for him? I’ve brought my dog to several other dog parks and dog friendly areas. I have never seen such a long list of rules. I think dogs should just be able to play and have fun. Punish the bad dog owners, not the dog,” she continued.
DPAW responded that e-collars, which give out an electromagnetic shock to help correct behavior, “can end up causing harm” when in group play.
“With e-collars there is a greater chance for misuse (poor timing of shocks). Your dog also may associate the painful shock with people or other experiences, leading to fearful or aggressive behavior,” the group wrote.
The group also said dogs only have to be licensed to enter the park, that they don’t have to be licensed in Wareham, and that the rabies tag and dog licenses are town requirements.
As for why no toys or food, “some dogs can be toy and/or food aggressive so we are trying to limit triggers,” the group wrote.
Another commenter, Alba, also felt this was too much.
“OMG, this park has more rules than me when I was little,” she wrote. “I guess my dog will have to stay at home. She cannot go anywhere without her toy. Also I have a little baby which I cannot take with me to the dog park.”
Ken commented that “all the other rules seem normal,” but took issue with no dog training or toys at the park.
“The point of going to a dog park is to play with your pup in an open space,” he wrote.
Sharon echoed that sentiment.
“Why no toys? I would only bring a ball,” she wrote.
“We will be adding obstacles and play structures in the near future,” DPAW responded. “Some dogs can be toy aggressive just like with food, so we are trying to limit any ‘triggers.’”
Others saw nothing wrong with the required rules to participate in the dog park.
“Nothing unreasonable there!” wrote Cindy.
“Completely in line with just about every other dog park around,” Matthew wrote.
“I’ve seen things go really bad in dog parks because of irresponsible owners,” Annemarie wrote. “These rules must be explained over and over again in order to keep the pups safe. Oh, and the humans too. Thank you again. It's absolutely perfect!”
“PSA: when dogs come together in groups their personalities can change (pack mentality) and they can become aggressive even if they never were before. Kind of like kids, or internet trolls, they are emboldened by their ‘peers.’ So rules need to be in place for dogs’ and handlers’ safety,” Lisa wrote.
Al summed it succinctly.
“These seem like reasonable rules to keep everyone safe,” he wrote. “Those that are arguing against them just shouldn’t use the facility.”