Marianne Castle, pictured with her dogs Marty and Chelsea, is warning dog owners about the risks of dog parks. Photo: Kate Russell.

Dog parks are ‘dangerous and lazy’

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The idea of a proposed dog park for Nelson is “dangerous and lazy”, according to a local retired dog behaviourist.

Marianne Castle is the owner of two dogs and has over 30 years experience in dog behaviour training in Nelson and overseas.

She believes that the enclosed dog park idea that was proposed by local husky owner Andrew Cooke in an article in last week’s Nelson Weekly would be a bad move for Nelson. “Firstly, if you condense dogs into what is essentially a trapped situation, you will get aggression, fear and bullying,” she says.

“Dog parks can be places where dogs get to practice undesirable social behaviour and develop bad etiquette.

“They are a lazy option for dog owners and do not replace the need for a proper walk.”

She also says that dog parks bring out problems around possession, over-stimulation and dogs getting over-excited, as well as owners getting “dog park rage” over conflicting handling and training styles.

“An excited dog, a weak and timid dog, or an aggressive dog can become a fight-magnet. Dog parks really need to have ‘lifeguards’.”

Marianne adds that dog parks also “smack of segregation” and the establishment of a dog-park could push dogs and their owners out of other areas.

She also believes that Branford Park in the Maitai – the spot where a dog park has been mooted for by Andrew – wouldn’t go down well with locals. “I live in the Maitai myself and Branford Park is used by kids, for triathlons and the numerous responsible dog walkers I meet here on almost a daily basis. Everyone should be able to share that place.”

So, what is Marianne’s best advice for dog owners?

“Train your dogs – even the most difficult can be trained. And the very best exercise for your dog is a walk with you in varying environments,” she says.

“Nelson is a great place to walk dogs. Get to know other dog owners and go for a walk with them so your dog can interact with other dog buddies on an actual walk.”