Well, I just found out that there is an off-leash dog park here in town (opened 6 months ago), complete with in-ground fountains and agility obstacles. I'd love to take Tallulah, and she would love it too, but I'm unsure about proper dog park interactions.
I tend to be a hoverer with Tallulah when she's around other dogs and/or kids. She's never had a problem with either, but she's still really young and hasn't been socialized to anything and everything yet (which is why I'd love to take her out there). Her breeder gave us a warning about dog parks too - that there can be a lot of (dumb) people out there with dogs with behavior problems and the like. So, I guess I'm just a nervous mum about these sorts of things. Tallulah can definitely hold her own with bigger dogs (her favorite play mates in class were the Dane and the Lab/Bear mix), but she plays rough too. Do people expect their dogs to play (even roughly) with other, unfamiliar dogs when they take them to the dog park?

I guess it can't be worse than walking her around the neighborhood (I'm supposed to assume that the dogs people leave unleashed in their front yards are friendly? And they are running up to Tallulah to give her a big smell, and not a big bite on the nose? How do I know?).
Thanks for anyone willing to give me the scoop (haha) on dog park etiquette.

Jodi
Thanks for anyone willing to give me the scoop (haha) on dog park etiquette.

I think they vary dramatically. My general feeling about official dog pakrs is that the people who use them are the ones who can't let their dogs offleash in unfenced areas. In other words, people who don't have a recall or control. That worries me.
I used to go to an unofficial dog park (totally unfenced). Pretty much, the dogs who weren't obedient, were naturally culled, one way or the other. Dogs who started fights over ball were shunned (as was a dog who bit a dog under my supervision), and we relied a lot on peer pressure.
I wouldn't go to an "official" dog park for anything..

Janet B
www.bestfriendsdogobedience.com
I tend to be a hoverer with Tallulah when she's around other dogs and/or kids. She's never had a problem ... young and hasn't been socialized to anything and everything yet (which is why I'd love to take her out there).

Check up on the rules for the dog park. If there are no rules, or they aren't common sensical, I wouldn't go. For example, our dog park has a rule that children under 8 cannot be in there under any circumstances. It is generally there for the protection of both the dogs and the kids, because some people are just idjits, and think nothing of having their kids chase dogs, throw things at them, or having their little baby eat dog park mud (all true!). Those of us who are there on a regular basis aren't Nazis about the rules, but we do enforce when it is in the best interest of the dogs/kids.
Her breeder gave us a warning about dog parks too - that there can be a lot of (dumb) people out there with dogs with behavior problems and the like.

I don't know about dogs with behavior problems. I do find people who don't know a whole lot about dogs, and are either too blase about obnoxious behavior, or too aggressive about "protecting" their dog. A good group of regulars, who can tell the difference between overly aggressive play and play that looks aggressive but isn't are invaluable.
So, I guess I'm just a nervous mum about these sorts of things. Tallulah can definitely hold her own with ... people expect their dogs to play (even roughly) with other, unfamiliar dogs when they take them to the dog park?

For us, it is a bonus when we can find a dog that plays as rough as mine. But, each dog is left to pretty much do what they enjoy. There are dogs that come just for chasing ball/frisbee, ones that come for the sheer joy of runnning, and others that really like to chase each other around, or slam each other into the ground and sit on their face. As long as the dogs are enjoying themselves, it all works out.
Thanks for anyone willing to give me the scoop (haha) on dog park etiquette.[/nq]A couple of tips for you. When you first start, do NOT go on weekends. Weekends tend to bring out the people who go once in a while, with dogs who may or may not be properly socialized, and these dogs/people tend to cause a majority of the problems I've seen. During the weekdays, you tend to find a core group of people who are there a lot - which should tell you whether this is a good place for you or not. If there are any concerns you have, bring it up.

For example, when we first started going, I would find out who owns the dog that Khan is playing with, and go talk to them. He plays rough, and is vocal, which tends to scare a lot of people. By bringing it up first, and assuring them that I know the dog well enough to read his body language, and that I have control over the dog, it sets their mind at ease.

And Janet is right to some extent. A lot of the dogs don't have a decent recall, so until you figure out who is who, keep good control over the situation. Basically, be close at hand so that you can read both dogs well, and preempt anything that you think is headed in the wrong direction. Keep a squirt bottle with you, because while your dog may listen to you, the other dog more than likely won't, and a little squirt, aimed properly, can get a dog's attention and break them off whatever mischief they're up to.
The rest is pretty basic. If other dogs are swarming the gate, you are under no obligation to go in immediately. Hang out until most of them have lost interest. If your dog is being a butt-head, take responsibility for it. If your dog is just playing and the other dog is not interested or scared, call her off. Ditto if your dog is at the wrong end of the interaction - let the other owner know that your dog is not ready for that type of interaction just yet. Don't accept behavior from your dog or other people's dogs that are objectionable, but don't be a killjoy either.
Hopefully, you'll both enjoy the experience.
Suja
I used to go to an unofficial dog park (totally unfenced). Pretty much, the dogs who weren't obedient, were naturally ... my supervision), and we relied a lot on peer pressure. I wouldn't go to an "official" dog park for anything..

I guess that's why I was leery of going. The problem is that the other few places near my house are on-leash, or dogs are banned totally. I don't want to sound like the person who says, "I have no other options", but I feel pretty limited in finding a good place for her to socialize that is not in a class setting. Maybe the trainer will be able to give us some tips on where to go.
Thanks!
Jodi
Check up on the rules for the dog park. If there are no rules, or they aren't common sensical, I ... basis aren't Nazis about the rules, but we do enforce when it is in the best interest of the dogs/kids.

I found a list online of about 20 rules. Kids have to be "closely supervised". Dogs have to be under voice control. And a lot more. It says if the rules aren't followed, people are kicked out and possibly banned. The park is run by the city, but I guess the city was petitioned by a group of dog owners to build it.
A couple of tips for you. When you first start, do NOT go on weekends.

Definitely! I've been waiting for when I have time to go during the week because I figured the weekends would be too crazy.
Keep a squirt bottle with you, because while your dog may listen to you, the other dog more than likely won't, and a little squirt, aimed properly, can get a dog's attention and break them off whatever mischief they're up to.

Thanks for this tip.
Hopefully, you'll both enjoy the experience.

Thanks, Suja. I'm at least going to drive out and see what it's like on Friday.
Jodi
we have lots of official off leash dog parks in my town, all un fenced. They are great. basically all the owners either play or stand around and chat. The dogs just go crazy and play for hours. I agree that they work on peer pressure. If you have a dog that isn't safe to be there then people are pretty snobbish and wont go near them. They tend to leave pretty quick. I love it. My dogs love it. It's the perfect place to play. You'll find if you go a few times at the same time on the same days then it will be the same people there. They will all look after each other.
I was watching a program that seemed to show a "big dog" area and a "small dog" area. There is a park opening this fall in a nearby town, but I don't know what the rules will be as yet.
n
Well, I just found out that there is an off-leash dog park here in town (opened 6 months ago), complete with in-ground fountains and agility obstacles. I'd love to take Tallulah, and she would love it too, but I'm unsure about proper dog park interactions.

Dog parks can be good and bad, you have to allow for you own dogs and other peoples dogs misbehaviour at times. I've seen both my dogs on separate occasions act out of character, they haven't ever harmed a dog or person but don't be harshly judgemental on someone's dog until you know the character of that dog. I've had my dogs threatened by other dogs with the owners apologising profusely (pathetically so sometimes)but it's clear their dogs are fine.
Dog parks are a valuable training ground for any dog, teaching obedience etc. with other dogs as distractions is a real test of your ability to communicate with your dogs, I often have people ask f my dogs are safe dogs because I regularly get them to heel, sit or stay next to me as other dogs go by, I try to explain I'm simply reinforcing their obedience but often people aren't so sure, they don't understand meanwhile their dog either lunges on the lead or runs around my dogs either way out of control.
I also think from my dogs POV it's their only contact with other dogs, if I only ever took them to places with no other dogs they may well believe they are the last dogs in the world, they enjoy the interaction it's good for their mental well-being.
The funniest thing is Sam a 45Kg black Lab X loves all dogs but particularly small dogs, dunno why but he thinks they are great, so here's the biggest dog in the park playing with the smallest, it always gets grins and laughs, meanwhile Roz loves to say hello to people before dogs, Sam runs up to the other dogs and Roz deviates and greets the other dog owners much to their amusement.
Don't get to caught up in all the rules etc., help people who have dog problems and enjoy it there, people go for different reasons, I'm not very people social at the dog parks, I spend my time with the dogs others like to stand and chat and let the dogs do their own thing, personally this is my real quality time with the dogs so they are my priority, I go there to spend time with them, playing, training and interacting and my dogs always pay me attention there because of that, some of the chatters dogs give up trying to pry them away and run off to do their own thing, a shame really.
Paul