Everywhere around the globe, dog parks are popping up and this is a great thing for dogs and dog parents alike. Getting out and about to socialize, run and play is great fun and fantastic enrichment for both your lives. The dog park is not your easy button though, there is work and responsibility that comes with attendance.
There is responsibility that comes along with this privilege. Yes, attendance at your local dog parks is a privilege we all should appreciate. Not long ago, this privilege was scarcely available in most areas. As dog parks become more available, we need more education for best practices.
The dog park is not meant to be a place to let dogs do whatever they please. It is a community of people and dogs, making it of the utmost importance that each of us be an asset to that community.
The dog park is not your easy button!
Being a responsible member of this community includes:
1) Come prepared with poop bags and always pick up after your dog. If you come across a poo someone missed, pick it up, we all make mistakes now and then.
2) Teach your dog an excellent recall. The safest dog at the dog park is one with a fantastic, turn on a dime recall.
3) Keeping a watchful eye on your dog at all times. Put the smart phone away, they are not just distracting while driving; they are a huge distraction everywhere. Be social and chat with others, but be as you would with a toddler at the park – keep one eye always on your dog.
4) If you are not sure whether your dog’s playmate is having fun, call your dog or go pull him away briefly. If the playmate comes bounding back at your dog, he was having fun. Let them resume play. If the other dog moves away, go for a walk or move away from that dog. Do not let your dog continue to crush another dog’s good time. Teach your dog a solid “leave-it” and you will be able to communicate to your dog to leave a particular dog alone.
5) If your dog is fearful around other dogs or about anything at the dog park, the park is not the place to work on this. You may elect to go to the park without your dog and talk with some of the regulars. Many of them have excellent dogs and may be willing to set up a private play date. Check your area for dog socials, run by a certified dog trainer well versed in dog/dog play. Overcoming fear needs to be taken slow and at your dog’s pace. For a fearful dog, the dog park currently is a very scary place. Guide them patiently in overcoming their fear.
6) If your dog is antagonistic towards many other dogs or appears to be a bully, do not take him back to the dog park until you have sought help from a certified dog trainer. Most often these things can be overcome, but it’s important we do not jeopardize the behavioral health of other dogs in doing so.
7) If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs, do not take them to the dog park to work on this. Pick up a copy of “Fight” by Jean Donaldson and contact a qualified dog trainer. Aggression is never something to take lightly. A dog trainer certified by Jean Donaldson can be found at: The Academy for Dog Trainers.
8) If you lack any control or ability to get your dog to respond to you, get you and your dog registered for a dog training class. There is no fun in that for you and it will certainly dampen the fun for others that you and your dog encounter. You just need a little assistance along the way. Make it a priority.
Worth repeating one more time, the dog park is not your easy button. It should not be a free for all for humans or dogs to behave as they please. Always be a respectful and responsible member of your dog park community. If you are educated on the best practices, share them with new people attending. Most often they just do not know. Send them to your dog park website and share articles there that will assist them in their learning.
Don’t be that person at the dog park that sours the fun for others, be respectful and responsible. Always be engaged with and enjoy your dog while having fun at the dog park!
Check out our additional Top 10 Dog Park Tips.
DogSense specializes in dog/dog interactions and play. Contact us for an in home dog training consultation in Minneapolis, Minnetonka & Edina, MN areas.
Until next time, Have Fun & Enjoy Your Dog!
Jody Karow – CTC
Your Personal Puppy Expert, Dog Life Coach & Online Dog Trainer
P.S. Don’t forget to check out our online dog training program for living your best life with your dog!