parks can be a great way to socialize your dog, but not all dogs do well at them. Here are some things to think about before you bring your dog to a dog park:
Its not a failing of your dog if he doesn't like going to the dog park. A hike with you or a game of fetch in the backyard can be just as fun and rewarding for him. Don't force your dog to be a party animal if it is just not his temperament.
Know your dog. If your dog is naturally cautious, shy, or doesn't get along well with other dogs, a dog park is not the place to help him overcome his issues. Meeting too many dogs at once is the equivalent of putting someone with claustrophobia in a closet. Too much too soon. Try
introducing your dog to a friend's dog that you know interacts well with
other dogs. A one-on-one play date might be just the ticket for a fun playtime for your best friend.
Vaccinate your dog. For his safety as well as the other dogs at the park, keep him up-to-date on his inoculations and worming
Check the park out first.
Visit the park without your dog and watch
the dogs there interact. If the dogs seem too rough for
your dog, come back at another time or try a different dog park.
Make the initial visit a short one. 15
minutes or so is enough. Slowly increase the length of your stays as your dog becomes
more comfortable there.
Pick the best time to go. Weekday
evenings, weekends and holidays are the busiest times at dog parks. Try to avoid going when your dog could be easily overwhelmed.
- Supervise your dog.
It's easy to get distracted talking to other owners. Keep an eye on your dog at
all times to make sure his interactions with other dogs are safe. Watch his body language and be ready to remove him if he seems stressed or if another dog won't leave him alone.
Let your dog off leash as soon as you enter unleashed areas. Mixing
leashed and unleashed dogs can create a hostile situation. A leashed dog can't make the choice
his natural instinct tells him of "fight or flight"--if he cannot take
flight, he may have to fight.
Leave children at home. You can't
watch your kids and your dog at the same time. Rowdy dogs can scare - and possibly hurt - children.
Don't bring a puppy. Puppies
less than four months old aren't fully immunized yet and are at higher
risk for contracting diseases. They are also very vulnerable to being
traumatized by another dog's aggressive behavior.
Don't bring toys or food. Most
parks already have plenty of balls and toys that other people have
brought. Rewarding your dog with treats or giving him toys in front of
other dogs can create jealousy and aggression.
Know when to leave. Remove your dog from the park if he is being threatened or
bullied and seems fearful. If your own dog begins to display aggressive behavior by
becoming overexcited or threatening toward other dogs, take him out. A tired dog that is panting
heavily also should go home.
Watch for potential dogfights. Don't
allow your dog's over excitement turn into a fight.