Here are a few tips to make your dog park visit a great experience for both of you.
1. Start outside the dog parkWe recommend that you take a few moments before you enter into the park to assess the situation. Walk around the perimeter and take notice of the different dogs and their behavior. Ensure your dog is calm and quiet. Do not enter the park if your dog is overly excited. Use the area outside the park to calm your dog and get him to relax.
2. Choose the right area
Most dog parks offer a fenced in area with a double gate. The small area between the two gates allows you to take the leash off your dog before you enter into the off-leash area within the confines of the park. Enter into the gate area, take the leash off your dog and then open the gate to the park. If the park offers two sections, often marked as "small dogs" and "large dogs," choose the area that best fits your dog’s size.
3. Walk around the parkWhen you arrive, some of the dogs inside the park will be coming over to the gate area to see the new arrival. Walk into the park and start strolling around. Don't just walk in and stand still. Decide, based on the energy of the other dogs, where you will go. If you notice a pack of dogs playing rough, walk into a different area. Your dog will usually follow you or stay close to you, so walk into the area that has the dogs you want your pet to interact with.
4. Let Fido play.
If your dog is outgoing and plays with other dogs in the park, relax and allow him to interact. You can watch from a distance. If you feel the energy is too high or there is some posturing that might turn into a dogfight, simply call your dog to you and walk toward a different area of the park. It is never a good idea to physically pull dogs from a dog-crowded area, as this can cause a dog fight. If you have worked with your dog on the recall command, he should follow your directions and come with you, when called.
Let your dog run with the other dogs, or, if there are no other dogs, walk the perimeter and let your dog explore the park. Be sure to pick up after your pet!
5.Throw the ball
We usually do not recommend bringing toys to the dog park, as they can stimulate the dogs into dominating behavior. However, sometimes you are the only one at the park and there are no other dogs to play with. In this instance, it is a good idea to throw a ball or frisbee to give your dog some added exercise.
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Until next time: Keep your Paws on the Road.