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Should You Allow German Shepherds Off Leash In Dog Parks? Yes And No

Should You Allow German Shepherds Off Leash In Dog Parks? Yes And No

Got yourself a new German shepherd, and now you are ready to show it off to your dog park gang. The fancy leash is on, your GSD is heeling perfectly, and everything is as smooth as butter.

You reach for the dog’s neck to get the leash off, and before you know it, it is going a hundred miles an hour, zooming across the dog park. The other owners and dogs are in disbelief as to what kind of beast this is.

Most times, people feel ashamed that their dog is acting out and collecting judging gazes, which makes you think about whether you should allow German shepherds off leash in dog parks. Here is what you have to know about that topic.

The Dangers Of Off Leash German Shepherds

german shepherd and golden retriever fighting in the park

Known as one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, the German shepherd is highly trainable and can understand most situations perfectly fine. Professional dog trainers can make them perform admirable things, but most dog owners only require basic obedience.

Equal to their intelligence is their aggressiveness. Are German shepherds aggressive? They are a head-strong breed, so disobedience and acting according to their own agenda is a common scenario.

If you are wondering what the consequences of a GSD off leash are, let me tell you that playing with other dogs can turn into a dog fight in one second. Maybe your dog will react to another dog’s anxious or “rude” behavior and retaliate, putting the other dog owners at risk too.

A well-trained GSD will have a low likelihood of creating havoc in the dog park, but it still is not safe to let a medium-large dog run unattended and uncontrolled. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there will be no issues. Still, one incident is enough to change everything.

For this reason, it is wise not to allow German shepherds off leash in dog parks. This applies to most untrained or only obedience trained dogs that are known to be protective and aggressive.

Keep in mind that the aggression I am referring to does not mean it will massacre every living being around. This aggression is closer to stubbornness and self-confidence. If you are just planning to get a GSD, here are some things to consider whether it is a right fit for you.

With that being said, let me tell you more about the why, how, and ways to prevent behavior.

Reasons A Dog Park Can Bring Out The Worst In Your GSD

german shepherd dog in the park

It is not just about whether your dog can hurt another dog or person in the dog park. There are many other factors that are not as serious as your German shepherd physically assaulting another dog or owner.

One thing to consider is that German shepherds require a lot of exercise to get the high energy levels under control. If you live in an apartment and a couple of walks daily are all the physical activity your dog gets, it might be tense letting it go into an enclosed space.

With proper socialization, GSDs get along fine with other dogs. Despite that, they are not big lovers of large packs. Even if you own other dogs that live with your German shepherd, it might tolerate the rest of the pack, but only respect the owner.

Unfamiliar dogs are the setting most frequently encountered in dog parks. Many dog owners bring their canines to the dog park expecting to learn social behavior. That is not responsible ownership, especially when the dog’s first experience of a dog park is in its adulthood.

This is why an off leash German shepherd should not be allowed to roam freely in that scenario. Behaving admirably at home seldom translates into great manners at dog parks, so make sure your dog is as well-trained and socialized as possible beforehand.

Overexcitement Is A Red Flag

If you are new to the dog park and your German shepherd dog is the new kid on the block, you should first get acquainted with the owners and observe their dogs’ way of interacting with each other.

Passing by with your GSD should give you an opportunity to see its reaction to the atmosphere. Based on that, you will be able to assess how excited or interested it is in participating in group activities.

It will depend on every German shepherd’s individual character – some dogs prefer one-on-one playtime with the owner, while others want to run around with their own as well. Evaluating your particular GSD is very important.

Entering the dog park should be done in a relaxed state of mind. A dog that gets too jumpy or pulls the leash near other dogs requires more work on your part. It is always a good idea to consult a dog behaviorist or trainer before deciding to enter the coliseum of dogs.

As a rule of thumb, you should let your German shepherd spend most of its energy before the visit. That way, there will be a much lower chance of pent-up aggression being released on other dogs. A hyper German shepherd dog means trouble in a dog park setting.

Although positive reinforcement works with many dogs, certain behaviors have to be corrected. That means using the leash to redirect the dog from a fixated into a relaxed state of mind has to be done with dogs that exhibit such behavior.

If You Are Inside The Dog Park, Here Is What To Do

german shepherd running in dog park

The main thing is staying calm. We humans love to anticipate things, and sometimes we can be the cause of a German shepherd’s undesired behavior.

Once you enter the dog park, do not let your dog off the leash. Because GSDs are quite fast, if you unleash it, the most likely scenario is it will run right towards the other dogs.

This might excite the rest of the dogs and result in a swift reaction. Larger dogs are usually aware of their size and strength, so smaller dogs might end up getting the sharper end of the stick.

In some cases, your German shepherd might be scared of everything, and in that state other dogs might target it as the weakest member of the pack. Infrequently, a GSD that is not properly socialized can behave in an anxious manner.

For those kinds of dogs, it is best to avoid going into unknown territory without first putting a finger on the actual source of the anxiety and rectifying it. Do not go improvising on this. Look for a professional to help you out on this sensitive matter.

Being a herding dog, the German shepherd will sometimes consider other dogs as sheep and try to herd them. Naturally, that behavior is not well accepted among canines, so you might find out that your dog suddenly does not like dog parks.

To avoid this behavior, let the other dogs in the park come and meet your dog while it is still on the leash. Read your GSD’s body language to understand how the meet and greet is going.

Here is how to read the German shepherd tail and an ear position chart to help you navigate the canine mind waters.

Leashing The Conclusion

The simplest answer to whether you should allow a German shepherd off leash in dog parks is no. However, if your dog has not had incidents and interacts well with the other dogs, you can unleash it.

Do not take your attention away from it, though. You never know what mood any of the other dogs are in at that particular moment. The damage a dog can do to another in a matter of seconds is too big to risk a lawsuit, fines, and injury.

Last but not least, it is crucial you do obedience training with your dog. Use different types of rewards because once a dog sees red, food, or toys are irrelevant. Establish a tight relationship with your German shepherd and everything should be good.

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