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Tips 

for a successful participation in the dog park

 You would like to take your dog to the dog park, but are little nervous about how he'll behave. It is your first time to the dog park and don't know what is best practice? Let's make the visit an enjoyable one for the dog and the yourself! Find a few tips below. 

Teaching your dog key skills so that he will have a good dog park experience is important. At a minimum, be sure that you can call your dog to you and ask him to settle down. You will feel (and be) more in control of a visit to the park. But what about you? Here’s a rundown of things to remember when using the park.

Take off the leash. 

What’s the point of going to the dog park if you’re going to put a leash on your dog? If you’ve done the recommended training, checked out the safety and design of the park, and observed the other dogs before entering, you’ve done what you can to give your dog a fun and safe experience. Leashes interfere with the natural body language of the dog, dogs can get tangled up in them and dogs who become stressed by constant pulling against a leash can act in undesirable ways. 

Small dogs need special consideration. 

We have specific small-dog playtimes. Please book those. It’s so easy for a little guy to get overwhelmed—not to mention bowled over by larger dogs. Keep your small dog on the ground rather than toting him around with you in the park. Being elevated can either give a dog a false sense of control because of the elevated position and close human backup, or entice other dogs to jump up at the dog being held to get a closer sniff.

Stay only as long as your dog is having fun. 

Visits to the dog park need to be fluid. If your dog isn’t enjoying the experience, or other dogs are getting out of control, you need to leave, whether or not you’re ready to go. If your dog is showing signs of stress and feels uncomfortable and your efforts are not helping, take the stress of your dog and go home. First timers might want to observe first from the corner or next to you. Build up their confidence and do not push them. If there are no signs of relaxation but more aggression building up, it's time to leave. But do not give up, come back at a time slot that's less busy and introduce your dog slowly. Confidence will build and it will become fun. Nevertheless, some dogs will never like the park, so don't force them either. Find other activities to do!

Be vigilant. 

Keep your focus on your dog no matter how enjoyable your human companions are. Don’t allow yourself to be part of stationary human clumps, because that will result in too many dogs gathering in one place. It is the humans’ responsibility to keep the park a safe and fun experience. Talk to friends. Just do it in small groups, and preferably while you’re walking rather than sitting.

Stay calm, talk quietly. 

Loud (and probably ineffective) commands as well as boisterous human chatter can raise the excitement level in the whole park and risk inciting some sort of bad behavior.

Save treats (and toys) for later. 

There’s just too much potential for dogs to engage in guarding or stealing behavior that can lead to aggression and fights. Be aware of this and the surrounding dogs. If you have treats with you and other dogs are approaching you, please check first with their owners if it is okay to give treats. The other dog might have food allergies you are not aware of. 
 

Stay connected with your dog at the dog park. 

Not via a leash, but through a mental connection. Call your dog to you from time to time. Play a quick game, or just give him a scratch and send him back to play.

Watch the dogs. You will not only learn lots about canine body language, you will also learn lessons about how to relax and have a good time. Always pick up after your dog, and insist that others do the same. Pick up the occasional extra pile, if needed. Provide your dog with many different forms of entertainment. If visiting the park is the only exciting event in your dog’s life, he’s likely to be overexcited upon arrival.

Relax and enjoy the experience. If for some reason you can’t relax - if you’re too concerned about your dog’s behavior, say - then you shouldn’t be there. Take some dog training classes to get better behavior, then try the park again.

Leave if you start to feel concerned about anything going on. Help to resolve the situation if you can, but your first responsibility is to keep your dog safe.

 

Have fun!

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