Bark for the Dog Park

Dog parks are popping up across the country and there’s no better time than spring to get your paws to the trails. A dog park is an area of open park land where friendly dogs can run and play with other friendly dogs. Some parks may require a small fee for use (or a yearly membership) but you might get lucky and find one that’s free! As a dog owner, the park is a great place to teach your dog social skills and to meet other dog owners.

Is your dog ready for the party at the park?

Have an ID tag with a contact phone number on your pet to be able to be contacted if lost. This might seem like a no-brainer but dogs can take off after a squirrel and then it’s too late.

It’s advisable to immunize your dog against canine distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus (collectively DHLPP), rabies and bordetella. These immunizations prevent a series of aliments that could make the worst of fun time and could save your pup’s life through prevention. Many communicable (contagious) diseases are found at dog parks and your dog could come in contact with some of the above mentioned nasties through the environment and by romping with other dogs. At the appointment to immunize your pup, have your veterinarian check for anything that might get in the way of having a fun and safe experience at the park.

Playing it Safe

Playing it safe will make the dog park a positive experience and will create a wonderful bond between you and your dog. As the dog parent, paying attention to Fido is essential to prevent injury or sickness.

By romping and interacting with other subordinate dogs, the pack affects positive change onto the dogs that are not familiar with proper social etiquette. Letting the dogs self regulate (without exhibiting aggression) allows all dogs to learn from the most primal connection. Watching the way your dog interacts with other dogs additionally shows you areas to focus on during training sessions.

Not all dog parents bring friendly dogs to the park and may neglect to correct negative behavior from their dogs. In these circumstances, it is your responsibility to protect your dog from a dominant or aggressive dog. Call your dog’s attention and walk away from the problem dog. Or ask the owner to restrain their dog so that you aren’t putting yourself into a hazardous situation. Dogs that are in a heightened state of emotion are not predictable so use your best judgment and protect yourself and your dog.

Learning Can Be Fun

Most dogs are not great at following instructions in a highly arousing environment such as the dog park. There are more smells than there’s time to sniff, many fetching and playing dogs and so many other humans to greet! It’s like heaven on earth and a dog can become so engrossed in her environment that obedience is out the window. Dog parks are a great place to teach her to obey in front of any distraction (no matter how great) but this is also an environment to relax or play. A fair balance between play and learning is best for dog and dog parent.

Some easy wasy to work in training without taking the fun out:

  • When you arrive practice a sit before releasing from the leash.
  • Every once and a while, get your dog’s attention then praise and treat the good behavior and release for more fun.
  • Allow other humans to shake her paw or to show off another trick.

Final dog park tip: don’t wear shoes that you can’t live without.

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