The Dog Park.
Ah, mixed feelings. A lot of us do have mixed feelings about taking our dogs to the dog park, and that’s quite normal. Some have had great experiences, others bad, and for most of us fellow dog park goers, we’ve had both.
We have 5 tips for pet parents to help you and your pup make the most out of your trips to the dog park and hopefully help to keep the not-so-good experiences to a minimum.
1. Know Your Dog
Dogs, just like humans, are sociallyunique. Some are very social, are quick to get along with others, and seem to seamlessly fit right in. Others have varying tolerance levels of both old and new friends that may change from one day to the next. Yet there are some dogs and people that prefer their own company to the company of others. A dog’s behavioral makeup, past experiences, and how their day is going so far will all have baring on how well a trip to the dog park goes.
So what does this mean? Essentially this: not all dogs are made for the dog park and the dog park may not be made for certain dogs. While no amount of exposure, number of visits to the dog park, or all the treats in the world are going to make a dog more social if “social” isn’t part of their package to begin with.
Even so, they still must be socialized. Being a less social dog is never an excuse for bad, aggressive, mean, or unfriendly behavior at the dog park or anywhere, for that matter. Socializing puppies as soon as they are ready and have finished up their vaccines is a good way to start gauging where you pup fits on the social scale. At any age, we need to understand our dog’s behavior, tendencies, and consciously be respectful of their social boundaries.
2. Feel Out the Dog Park
Knowing the amenities at the dog park (or dog parks if you’re lucky enough to have more than one option), location, size, and how busy it gets is important. Some dogs may be over-stimulated by going to a park with too many other dogs. One park might not have the right amenities or be the right size for your dog to do what they really enjoy. The atmosphere at another park may be the wrong fit for you as a pet parent. Take the time to learn if one dog park is better for you and your dog than another or if you only have one option, which times are the most ideal to go.
3. Be Present Every Time You Go
This tip means two things: actuallybe physically present with your dog and also be mentally present while you’re there. There are dog owners who actually drop off their dog at the park and pick them up later. This is dangerous and irresponsible for several reasons — if a pet parent isn’t there to be in control of their dog, it puts other dogs and pet parents at risk if things happen to get out of hand. Dogs left unattended can be stolen or accidentally let out of the park. Equally bad are those that are on their phones, talking, or for any other reason unaware of their dog’s whereabouts or status.
For your dog’s safety, the safety of other dogs, and the safety of other pet parents around you, be present at the dog park. It can be a rewarding and bonding experience for both of you and it’s a great place to make friends!
4. Have a Plan
In the event that a fight erupts and gets out of control, have a plan and keep a doggie first aid kit in your vehicle if you frequent the dog park. Dogs or people can be injured even if there isn’t a dog fight and a first aid kit can be a lifesaver. Know where to take your pet if they need immediate medical attention and whether it is your vet’s office or a pet ER if your vet’s office is closed. Have their phone numbers already in your phone and know beforehand where the closest place to go is if it’s not to your vet. The stress of any emergency can be lessened by being properly prepared and will help to get your dog the care they as quickly as possible.
5. Be Social with Other Pet Parents
We don’t mean that you have to leave the park with a new bestie, but being open to conversation with other pet parents and communicating with them even if it’s just about your dogs is an excellent practice, especially if you have a dog that isn’t the social, gets-along-with-everybody-all-the-time type of dog. You know your dog, but other pet parents won’t. Some will understand their behavior, others will not. The involved, responsible pet parents that take the time to know their dog and understand dog behavior basics will make the dog park very enjoyable, rewarding, and an excellent learning experience. Learn tips that other pet parents learned from their trainers, get referrals to groomers and vets, and just have some fun! If you are relaxed and enjoying the park, chances are your dog will pick up on your positive vibes and be able to enjoy all that the dog park has to offer, too.
We’d love to hear your tips — other pet parents may benefit from them, as well! Share your experiences, tips, and stories about how you mastered the dog park or what you do instead if the dog park is just not a fit.
About the Author:
Lisa Montez is the founder of and a contributing author for Brindle, a pet blog. She has had a great love and passion for pets since childhood and is currently a humom to a Shiba Inu mix named Mars who she and her husband rescued in May of 2016. Lisa works in the healthcare industry by day and spends the rest of her time changing the lives of pets and their pet parents through customized nutrition for both cats and dogs. Brindle was founded to not only share Lisa’s own experiences as a pet parent and petPro, but as a place for pet parents and pet industry professionals to learn and share their experiences, knowledge, and specialties. You can also follow her on Facebook! Leave a Comment