Human beings love living an active social life and having fun outdoors. So do our canine friends. Dog parks offer both humans and dogs the opportunity to do just that!
However, taking your dog to a park demands a degree of responsibility from you in order to ensure that the time out is beneficial to your pet and others. A trip to a dog park can turn awry or even become costly to you if certain factors are not taken into consideration.
There are basically five important aspects of dog care that you need to pay attention to before deciding to take your dog for a visit to the park. These are health, training, understanding behavior, preparation, and supervision.
You should ensure that your dog has been vaccinated to avoid him or her contracting or spreading dangerous pathogens while at the park. Also be sure that your dog is not injured or in any kind of pain. Consult with your vet be sure that your dog has taken the required shots and is healthy enough to go to the park.
To avoid pregnancy or unwanted sexual behavior, get your dog spayed or neutered. An unneutered male has high testosterone levels when in heat and could become a nuisance to female dogs or a target of aggression from other male dogs.
In order to avoid unpleasant situations, you need to be in control of your dog’s behavior while at the park. You therefore need to get him or her properly trained to be able to respond to and obey your instructions. Basic skills like responding when you call, tell it to sit, or settle down are essential.
Not all dogs are the same. Understanding your dog’s temperament and behavior under different circumstances is important before allowing him or her to mingle with others in a park environment. Before going to a park, you could allow him or her to play with other dogs in the neighborhood. Understand your dog’s body language, social behavior and communication signals. If your pet exhibits signs of antisocial behavior, he or she may not be a good dog park candidate.
Prior to walking your dog to a park, it may be necessary for you to pay a few visits first to ascertain its suitability.
A good dog park should have the following features:
- The space should be large enough to allow for playing and running around. An easily crowded park is not ideal because the dogs may become tense and overly aggressive.
- The fencing around the park must be firm and secure. Look around to ensure there are no holes through which dogs can leave the park unnoticed.
- The park should have shaded areas where dogs can rest, especially in hot weather. Also important in this regard is availability of water.
- A good park should have enough trash bags and cans to take care of dog waste.
- If you have a small or young dog, check to be sure that the park has a separate section that caters to this category. Younger dogs can easily get bullied or intimidated by older ones.
During your prep visits,
- Look around for notices and information about the park use. Some parks may require your dog to have some documentation before admission.
- Note the days of the week and times when the park is busiest and choose when it is best to visit with your dog.
- Also, observe the manners of other park users and how they handle their dogs. Some people are poor handlers and you may want to avoid visiting on the days that they come around.
On your visit, take along some treats and enough water for both you and your dog.
Before entering the park, stay around the perimeter for a while to allow other dogs get used to seeing yours. Dogs get excited over a newcomer and may mob your dog if you are not careful.
Be alert and be on the watch for your dog while in the park to ensure he or she doesn’t get into any sticky situations.
To stay connected, call your dog from time to time, have a short private game or pat and allow her continue playing with others.
Allow your dog to enjoy itself and mix freely. However, if you notice any discomfort or unusual behavior from your dog or if other dogs become unruly, you may need to cut your stay short.
In the event that your dog gets into a fight, keep calm. You can interrupt the fight by using an air horn or water hose. Don’t pull your dog by the collar to avoid being bitten. The scuffling dogs should be separated by their owners by pulling them from behind. To avoid injury, pull your dog from the hips above the knee area and gently pull her backwards. Don’t grab by the paws, ankles or knee.
After a fight, you may decide to leave or walk your dog to another area of the park, if it is large enough.
OTHER DOG PARK SAFETY TIPS
Don’t shout or chatter noisily with others. This can make the whole atmosphere in the park charged and may result in unusual behavior from the dogs.
Don’t go to the park with your dog’s personal toys, others may want to share and yours may be unwilling.
Clean up after your dog to keep the park clean.