Dog Parks: Safety Considerations
Before you head to your local dog park, you need to make sure that your trip to the park will be a safe one. Follow the below tips to ensure that this is the case.
1. Length of time
You’ve probably experienced an overtired child when something that was funny soon turns to tears and tantrums! This can also happen with dogs and a dog can start to become more sensitive or rough if he is feeling tired. Therefore, don’t stay too long at a dog park and go for a specific amount of time to ensure you don’t wear your dog out.
2. Paid entrance
If possible, it may be worth going to a dog park that requires you to pay an entrance fee as these may be cleaner and nicer than a free dog park. It’s likely that any payments received help towards maintaining the dog park.
3. Obedience commands
Before you take your dog to a dog park, make sure that your dog has mastered obedience commands in an environment which has distractions. This way when you are at the dog park your dog will still be able to tune into you and won’t get distracted by others around him. A great way to practice this is to ask your dog to sit or come back to you when you are out for a walk. For instance, say ‘come’ to your dog and then run away from your dog. Once your dog gets to you, you can then reward him with a treat. With time, your dog will be able to follow these commands in different locations when he’s on and off a leash and without the need for rewards. Another good idea would be to attend a group dog training or private dog training session to get more practice. You could even use a ‘board and train’ dog training center as these provide great opportunities to help train your dog to listen, even when near other dogs or in a distracting environment.
4. Time of day
Consider the time of day you go to a dog park and pick those times where you are not going to meet as many dogs, which will prevent undesirable behavior. For instance, if possible, go later on in the evening or early in the morning when most people are at work. If it starts to get busy, then consider leaving to avoid a crowded dog park.
You need to think carefully about whether or not to take toys to the dog park. Many dog behaviorists believe that it is better to avoid taking toys to a dog park. If, however, you do decide that you want to take toys with you, remember to take extras and not just one particular toy.
6. Stay focused
It’s important to pay attention to what your dog is doing and don’t get distracted by your phone or talking to somebody else. Make sure you are ready to intervene if a situation requires you to do so.
If you see any dogs exhibiting negative behavior, then leave the dog park. For example, look out for dogs that show tense body language such as crouching or staring.