Dog Parks – The Danger of Unsupervised Play for Puppies

January 13, 2019

Imagine for a moment you have a four-year-old she wanted to go into a playground nearby. In that playground are 13 and 14-year-old kids and they’re playing with no supervision. Are you going to send her in? Throughout many years of asking this question I have yet to hear anyone say, “Yes.”

This is the problem, because unsupervised playgrounds are dangerous for small children and puppies and young dogs. I steer clear of them with our Jumpstart puppies and do not recommend exposing yours to one because the lessons and experiences he will have are the opposite of those you want for him.

The Power of Play Dates

I do, however, recommend play dates with other puppies that are roughly the same size and have equivalent energy to your puppy. In our Jumpstart program, lots of puppy owners exchange phone numbers and meet up over the weekend with their puppies for playdates. This is especially helpful because all the puppies (and parents) have the same training and understanding as to what you want your puppy to learn and how far to let him go in play. For a video and great post, check out my blog post on Roughhousing in Puppies.

Early Encounters are Pivotal

It is important to manage your puppy’s early experiences, especially his social encounters as these are pivotal. If you have a young puppy or an adolescent that hasn’t been socialized well, you will notice an awkwardness in his interactions with peers. Whether or not there is anxiety or outright fear, this immaturity is due to a lack of social skills. This makes him a bit of a wild card for other puppies or dogs who cannot, “read,” him because he seems unpredictable. He appears this way because, despite his intentions otherwise, he simply doesn’t know how to engage them in socially acceptable ways.

Socializing Older Puppies – Learning to Talk Dog

The good news is that socializing older puppies is not only doable, but vitally important. Dogs can be unforgiving with each other when one doesn’t follow the, “rules of the road,” when it comes to dog-dog interactions. The sooner your puppy learns how to, “talk dog,” the better – and safer and more confident he will be in life.

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More Ways to Learn

Schedule a Visit to the Jumpstart Nursery.

If you live in or near Marin, California this is a great way to socialize your puppy. Nursery Visits are by appointment only and take place on Wednesday at 3:00PM.

Learn More About Our Program

  • Jumpstart is a daylong, 4-week program for puppies 8 weeks to 6 months old, specializing in socialization, training, and potty skills. You can learn more about the Jumpstart Puppy Program HERE.
  • Live near Marin, California? We invite you to visit the Jumpstart Nursery with your puppy. You can schedule your visit to the Nursery here.

  • Live far away? You can still join us in the Jumpstart Nursery via online Puppy Boot Camps and Courses.


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