If you ever stopped to wonder why your dog loves their park so much, a few simple words should clear things up–freedom, air, and many potential new friends. Unfortunately, some canine caretakers might witness their pooch taking on a completely different persona while they run free and work out their energy. Dog parks have quite a few elements that differ from your dog's everyday environment, and keeping a few simple practices in mind will help keep your K9 safe and focused on having fun.
The perfect time to fit in a bit of leash training and see how your dog reacts to being off-leash happens to be at the dog park. When your dog is at least five months old (age may vary) and has previously practiced socialization in more controlled environments, going off-leash may be a reasonable next step. If you're still unsure about how successful the experience might be, then do some testing. Taking a trip to the dog park outside of peak hours is an excellent time to evaluate the off-leash experience, and attending a gated park is an even better bet. Your pup should be calm when the leash comes off and not bolt away from you. If you feel like your dog may still need a leash, try easing up on lease pressure when you are at the park or try a chest-clip harness versus a traditional collar.
Be Mindful of Other K9s
Although friends aplenty often await at your dog park of choice, the wide variety of breeds, sizes and behaviors may not always fit with your pooch. Watching out for overtly aggressive dogs isn't the only thing to watch for. Sometimes kind-hearted larger breeds lack awareness of smaller canines. When with your dog, keep an eye out for bolters that may not see your dog, aggressive sniffers, and toy stealers. If you have a small dog, then look for a park with an exclusive small breeds area, which might be precisely what your dog needs. As for puppies, starting them off in a more protected area before slowly introducing them to new K-9 pals that you know will take it easy on them is recommended.
Stay Present and Connected
A beautiful day at the dog park can be a lovely distraction for pet owners, but it's critical to remain vigilant and watchful of your dog at all times. Surfing the web and paying attention to your phone is highly discouraged because you may need to intervene if your canine is being bothered by another pet. Proactively avoiding confrontations by staying present will keep both pets and caregivers safe and happy. Issues have the potential to arise in an instant, and when they do, owners must be prepared to act quickly.
The Dog Park Should be One of Life’s Many Adventures
Socializing your dog and taking them out for exercise doesn't have to be exclusively done at the dog park. In fact, having only one place for them to have fun may get them too wound up for the occasion. Try taking your pooch on walks around your neighborhood and do your best to include them in day-to-day activities that get them out and about as much as you can.
The dog park can also sometimes be overstimulating and can be a place where your dog picks up bad behaviors. Observe your dog and make sure that the particular dog park you frequently choose is a healthy environment for them. Always keep in mind that mixing it up will help create balance in your pooches social life.
Abigail Baker is a writer from Happy Writers, Co. in partnership with K9 Sport Sack, the top retailer for dog backpack carriers.