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.

Dog Greetings: “Hello!” Or “Oh No!”

Throughout our daily interactions, humans greet other humans in a variety of settings. We meet at the grocery store, the gym or a walk around the block. During these interactions, humans face each other and engage direct eye contact to whom they are communicating. If eye contact is avoided, the communicator can be perceived as aloof, rude or mischievous. If the eye contact is direct and uninterrupted, the communicator may seem angry or hurtful. Dogs on the other hand are not keen on direct eye contact and prefer small doses of face-to-face interaction. Learning to communicate with dogs can be as difficult, if not more so, than learning another human language. Keep reading for information on how to lessen the burden of learning to speak “dog”. More


Humans are a species that utilize language to convey wants or needs.  It’s a basic enough concept; but it’s becomes more complicated when communicating with another species. From a young age, humans learn or develop language to properly communicate to others within their species. It’s quite impressive how humans can use a variety of words for one thing and other humans are capable of interpreting the correct meaning. Dogs too can interpret human messages but sometimes the language is too complicated or overused. Below are simple guidelines to eliminate common errors between dog-human communication. More

Play Time

Humans and dogs are connected on many levels, namely we both love to play. Dogs are always at the ready for a game of fetch, tug or chase. Humans too are readily involved in play environments, be it actively or passively (how many readers watch game shows and competitive sports on television?). This similarity helps our two species get along so well and find the other so riveting.

 Human/Dog Connection

Scientists have noted that humans tend to exhibit paedomorphic tendencies. This means that humans tend to be juvenile versions of their adult ancestors. This adolescent behavior accounts for approximately one third of humans’ lives. Human infancy is extended compared to their nearest ape ancestor. Dogs exhibit this same characteristic in regard to wolf infancy. More

Leader of the Pack

Lately, I have been seeing people tying their dogs out on a long leash in the yard. While they run around chasing the passersby, the humans consider this activity the dog’s daily exercise. 

Animals are pack creatures which involves a migratory instinct. By lazily attaching the clasp and returning to watch reruns of “The Bachelor” you are unconsciously creating a monster. 

Pack Instinct 101

Dogs are creatures that follow in line to the chain of command. With domestication, YOU become the top dog! When you say jump, your dog should have all four off the floor. Not giving your dog the indication that you are the one who calls the shots can lead to a variety of undesirable behaviors: More

A little lovin’

All beings deserve to love and to feel loved. Unfortunately, we can’t really know whether our dog friends love us but it sure can seem like it! Dogs are not the biggest fans of hugs (it’s a sign of dominance) so here are ways to show your dog some loving:

Five Minute Fetch

My dog always greets me with his “buddy” or ball in his mouth. He is naturally inclined for this (he’s a working breed) but also, sometimes he just wants to play! Fetch is a pretty simple game if you have five minutes to spare or are able to multitask with your toothbrush and a tennis ball.  More

Festing with Fido

It’s summer and it’s festival season!!! What better way to celebrate summer than with a festival and your closest of friends (those with four paws included)? Before you venture to the great outdoors with your dog in tow, prepare yourself to make the experience great.

No Dogs Allowed!

Some municipalities are very lax with dogs being in parks and other community resources. But there are also some municipalities that have restrictions on these wonderful creatures. Check with the website of the festival of interest or with the municipality to make sure that dogs are allowed. If so, make note of what type of leash they must be on and if there are any exclusions (i.e. must be leashed at all times vs. allowed to roam in certain fenced in areas). Nothing worse than missing out on the concert of the summer because you have to take your pooch back home. More

Tuesday’s Treat: Pumpkin Crunchers

My Golden Retriever can’t seem to get enough of these tasty Pumpkin Crunchers. Let me know if your furry friend likes them as well!

Pumpkin Crunchers:
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons powdered milk (see note)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium-sized bowl, blend together the eggs and pumpkin. In a second bowl, combine the salt, powdered milk and whole wheat flour. Gradually, add the dry ingredients to the wet by hand (see note) to ensure even distribution. The dough will be dry and stiff at this point. Add enough water to make the dough manageable. 

Roll dough out to approximately 1/2″ thickness. Cut into your favorite shape and place on an ungreased cookie sheet approximately 1″ apart. 

Bake for 20 minutes. Flip over and bake for another 20 minutes. Cool and treat your pooch! More