Your American Bully loves to play at home with their family – wouldn’t the dog park be a great place for them to run off some steam?
The answer isn’t a simple yes or no – you’ll need to decide carefully based on a few factors.
Dog Parks Aren’t For Everyone
Some vets and trainers are totally against dog parks – they think that they cause more harm than good. It’s true that group play can exacerbate behavioral issues and lead to fights, which can cause serious injuries, even death.
That said, many dogs play happily at dog parks and never get into fights. Others still get into scuffles, but the owners are able to interrupt them before they escalate.
No matter what dog breed you have, you have to consider your dog’s personality on an individual basis. Some toy breeds aren’t well-suited to the dog park – but their owners bring them anyway, and they can provoke larger dogs to attack. So it’s not just a matter of whether your dog is friendly. You also need to consider whether your dog has a stable temperament when it comes to other dogs that are not friendly.
Are American Bullies Dog Aggressive?
Many pit bulls and bully breed mixes are genetically prone to dog aggression. Some were bred from fighting lines, and may still have fighting behavior ingrained in their DNA. Genetics only make up part of a dog’s temperament, but it’s definitely something to consider.
That said, the American Bully is not a pit bull. Responsible breeders aim to breed puppies from dams and sires that are not ‘dog-aggressive’. They should consider temperament, not just ‘looks’ when deciding which dogs to breed.
The American Bully was created to be a companion dog, not a fighting or working dog. A well-bred American Bully will not be predisposed to dog aggression. Ask your breeder if your dog’s parents are dog-aggressive and if they breed dogs that have a stable temperament.
Choosing The Right Dog Park
When socializing your dog with others of their own species, it’s best-done off-leash. That’s because when two dogs meet face-to-face on a leash, they have nowhere to go if they become fearful. They cannot get away, so they may resort to attacking. It’s not natural for two dogs to meet this way.
It’s more natural for two dogs to meet in a wide open space. They may choose to sniff one another, but dogs do not have to be face-to-face to pick up each other’s scent. At a dog park, there’s plenty of diversions, like trees to sniff and balls to chase, so they can get to know each other without getting overwhelmed.
Choose a dog park with divided small and big dog sections. It should be large enough for your dog to spend time on their own if they choose. Try to go during an off-peak time so it does not become too crowded, at least during your first few visits.
Get to know the people in the park. Are they sitting and chatting and playing with their phones, or are they watching their dogs, interacting, and intervening when their dogs get too rough? Even friendly dogs can get too rough and will need to take breaks. You should feel comfortable talking to other people and letting them know if their dog is being too overbearing.
What You Should Know About Dogs Before Heading To The Dog Park
The American Bully likes to play rough. Some can learn to be gentle with smaller dogs, but for the most part, you can expect your dog to run around, use their body weight and teeth as they play. They can run down smaller dogs, and can unintentionally break the skin. Practice your dog’s recall before going to the dog park. Your dog should be able to stop playing when you call them away.
If you watch carefully, you’ll be able to pick up on each dog’s body language. It’s not unusual for one dog to do more chasing, but they may not stop when their friend needs space. Good dog play is loose and happy, and can even be noisy. Watch out for raised hackles, lowered ears, tight facial expressions, and “frozen” body language.
Alternatives To The Dog Park
If you decide that dog parks aren’t right for you and your American Bully, you can still socialize them. You can arrange playdates with dogs that you already know they get along with. When it comes down to it, dogs prefer human company – it’s okay if your dog does not have any doggy friends.
Boarding and daycare facilities can be a good choice for social dogs to make friends. The staff should be watchful, understand dog body language, and only group together dogs that match not only in size but in energy.
Your dog can get exercise through hikes, jogs, flirt pole, weight pulling, agility, and treibball. Their energy adjusts in proportion with how much activity they get. If your dog goes on 5-mile jogs each day, a short walk won’t tire them out. But if you consistently provide both physical and mental stimulation, their energy level will be manageable – and they’ll be happy to snuggle up with you on the couch at the end of the day.
Do you take your American bully to a local dog park? Please Share with us how you help your dog run off some steam!