The Dog Park
I regularly take my dog, Penny, to the dog park. She is a cattle dog mix, so she is a working dog and full of energy. Since I don't live on a farm and she doesn't have cattle to herd, I need to come up with a variety of creative ways that she can exercise and be active.
Since she is a very active dog, she always has a lot of energy. If I don't provide ways for her to use her body and mind, she will misbehave out of boredom.
Each day I do something different with Penny because she will get bored if we go on the same walk or do the same activity a few times in a row. It is important to keep it exciting and switch it up!
Here is a video of some of Penny's favorite places to walk.
Here is a video of Penny playing with other dogs!
Since we go to a lot of different dog parks, we have come across many different personalities, breeds, and owners!
Penny gets a long with all other dogs, but she prefers playing with dogs her size or smaller than her. She also doesn't like when a group of dogs run up to her and sniff her all at once. Sometimes, she can get nervous. Some days she prefers to just sniff and explore instead of playing with dogs and some day she tries to engage in a game of chase. However she is feeling, she is always friendly and excited to meet new dogs.
Penny and I have created a list of tips and guidelines for Dog Park Etiquette.
- Ensure that your dog is friendly with other dogs and people. This usually means that your dog has had a variety of experiences with other dogs (good socialization when young) or your dog is still a puppy and learning socialization. Puppy's are always friendly with other dogs and people.
- Always keep an eye on your dog. Always be aware of where you dog is and what your dog is doing. Be aware of how your dog is feeling. If play is getting out of control, call your dog to you. If your dog isn't having fun with the other dogs (scared, angry, or frustrated) move on/keep walking or leave the park.
- Make sure that your dog is healthy and cannot pass anything on to other dogs.
- An over exuberant dog may rush into play with other dogs, which may lead to fights. If your dog tends to be too excited, take your dog for a walk or run before going to the park. Use the park as play time and socialization, not just a form of exercise.
- Keep the park clean, pick up after your dog. No one (dogs and humans) likes to step into the mess left behind or see it on the ground, even if it is a dog park!
- Bring water for your dog, especially on hot days.
- Be aware of the other dogs there. Are they suitable to play with your dog? Consider age, personality, experience. Not all dogs can play together. Dog parks can be very over stimulating. Some dogs to better just 1:1 or a 'play date' instead of a large group of dogs.
- Only bring a ball or toy if your dog is willing to share and does not become aggressive or display possession or resource guarding.
- Train your dog. Your dog should have good recall and come to you on command. This is for safety.
- Know basic dog body language and normal dog play. Growing, barking, snapping, chasing is normal in play, but you need to know when it has gone too far or when dogs are not taking turns. If they do not alternate being the chaser, barker, etc, your dog may be bullied or may be the bully. Constant nipping, mounting or chasing isn't acceptable. Know when to remove your dog (this is why recall is important).
- Keep aggressive dogs out of the dog park. If your dog is aggressive, it will constantly bully, bark, chase, nip, mount, growl at another dog without the other dog taking a turn. If this is your dog, you need to do some training and behaviour work before visiting the dog park.
- Only bring spayed and neutered dogs to the dog park.
- Be aware of children at the dog park. Not all dogs know how to interact with children. Children should be confident with dogs of all sizes and know how to keep safe.
- The dog park is NOT the place for your dog to learn how to interact with other dogs. This is not a place for learning socialization. Socialization should be in a controlled environment, where you know both dogs. Dog parks are for dogs that have a good understanding other dogs and are already socialized.
Overall, I think that this most important thing to remember when visiting the dog park is to pay attention to your dog, be aware of how to your dog is feeling and be able to remove your dog if necessary. You cannot control or worry about other dogs, but you can ensure that your own dog is having a good time. If your dog isn't, be ready to call your dog over to you (important to have excellent recall training!) and keep walking or leave.
If you have any other suggestions to add, please leave it in the comments! We want to know what you expect out of the dog park. Or tell us your own dog park story!