Going to the park should be fun, not stressful.
Here's a few tips to get you and your pup on your way.
I spend most of my days going to the dog park with my two pups; Doak and Benji. Every day is a new experience as you meet new and familiar dogs and their owners. So I've learned a few things I wanted to share with other doggie parents to make the dog park go as smoothly as possible.
I have been at the park where fights have broken out and everyone has to spring into action and grab their dogs. There is always a chance of this happening because well dogs are dogs and their behavior is unpredictable. As much as we get to know them, it's always best to prepare and be ready for these situations.
Your confidence will transfer to your dog. And if you're nervous, it could make them nervous. Their senses are much higher than ours. They get to visually see our demeanor but they get an advantage... their smell. It is impeccable. That's why they use dogs alongside our workforce like with police officers, bomb squads, and even on the mountain in snow patrol. They can sniff things out things we can't and never would be able to.
Sidenote: Shout out to those working dogs!
So take one for the team and hold your head high with confidence – your pup needs you!
Always, always bring water with you. I usually fill up old juice or water bottles and bring them in my backpack. Most parks should have public hoses or fountains for them but it's always best to be prepared and not rely on the public systems. The dogs NEED it! Especially on those hot summer days!
I had taken my German Shepherd to play in Florida one day and he actually overheated himself and passed out for a split second and collapsed. It was very scary and he got right back up but it made me realize that I have to take care of him on these hot days. Cause all he cares about is his ball.
Let dogs correct each other
Dogs are unpredictable. You never know what they are going to do. But usually, they will correct each other just like humans would. If someone was up in your face, you would probably verbally alert them to step back or they are being too aggressive. Some owners are quick to grab their dog at the slightest communication amongst dogs. But they really are smart and can usually catch on to which dogs are playful and would rather their space.
My little dog is a very vocal one and has no problem warning off dogs that get to close to his bubble but he is still great at the dog park and loves being there and interacting with other dogs.
A few barks to warn the other dog that "hey okay, too rough, I've had enough" is completely acceptable. But if things escalate and you hear multiple barks and snarls, it could be time to intervene. Usually, you can identify these fights quickly and everyone jumps into action.
When this happens, look and call for your dog immediately. Your main goal at this moment is to calmy divert their attention away from the noisy situation that could attract them.
If it is your dog in the fight, grab dogs by the collars and pull them away from each other. Use your whole body if you must and AVOID their mouths at all costs. Never put your hand in between their mouths to try to push them apart.
Keep an eye on your dog
Always keep a close eye on your dog even if you are confident in them. As I said, dogs are unpredictable. So it's always good to keep them in eye view. Especially if you're in a big dog park because even if you trust their behavior they also could get lost. My 6 yr old terrier mix got lost in an 11-acre park one day. We could see him on the other side of the park panicking and looking for us frantically. Like a little kid lost in a grocery store, he was so relieved when he finally found me.
Be on Paw Patrol
Our furry friends have sensitive paws and it's our job to watch out for them since they can't necessarily tell us. Be cautious about the temperature of the ground you are walking on and how rough the terrain is. They say you should put the back of your hand on the pavement to measure the heat temperature. If it's too hot for you, it's probably too hot for them. And paws can also get dry and cracked in the winter too from the snow.
When I first moved to Colorado my dog's paws would get cut up from running hard on the rocks and gravel. His paw pads would come off and he would have a limp the next day. The solution for this was to get him used to the terrain and going to the park more frequently as well as using creams to help keep them moisturized.
Have fun with your dog!
Dogs are seriously THE best! It truly is an amazing bond of loyalty and friendship that is very rare and should be treasured every day. Yes, they can stress us out at times but they are the definition of best friend. Always fun of love for us. So have fun with them and make time for them. They need to get their energy out and socialize, just like us. A bored or stir crazy dog is a recipe for disaster. Just like humans, physical and brain exercise is good for the soul. <3
Okay, dog rant over. Hope you enjoyed these few tips for taking your dog to the dog park. It is something I do almost every day of the week because my pups enjoy it so much. Pictured above is my shepherd Doak on the left. Ande a pretty friend he made, Karma, on the right.
Doak was very skittish when he was a puppy, with dogs and even people. I’ve worked very hard to socialize him and he's come miles since he was young. He loves the dog park and especially people now. All it takes is dedication, a lot of love and patience, and they will follow our lead.