There are a few things to consider before going to dog parks with your canine friend.
Even though dog parks are great resources for exercising, stimulating and socializing dogs, not all dogs enjoy playing with unfamiliar dogs, particularly upon reaching maturity (2-3 years of age).
Young puppies who have not yet received a rabies vaccination should avoid the park for two reasons: disease prevention and the risk of being frightened by large, older dogs.
In addition, dogs that display aggression toward people or dogs are not candidates for the dog park. Take young pups to supervised puppy playgroups to ensure that their first interactions are pleasant ones.
Practice calling your puppy or adult dog to come first. Start in your living room and gradually work up to practicing across several rooms and in the backyard, as long as it is fenced. Generously reward him each time your dog comes. The “come” command is useful for numerous reasons. What if a fight breaks out? What if you want to leave? You need to wait until your dog is obeying most of the time before introducing off-leash play.
Children should always be close and under control. Encouraging dogs to chase them often leads to injury simply because not all dogs are familiar with children and they might perceive something that is running and screaming as prey. They should not run around or scream either. Small children allowed to wander among groups of dogs might be knocked over or stepped on, possibly creating a fear of dogs.
Not all dog owners who attend dog parks show good judgment about their dog’s behavior. There’s no delicate way to say it: many people have difficulty distinguishing normal play behavior from bullying, and they may not realize their dog is being rude. Others could mistake arousal for playfulness, which can result into dangerous situations. Listen to your gut! Take your dog away from the situation if you feel they are becoming overwhelmed or uncomfortable. If a dog experiences only stress and anxiety, the benefits of exercise is lost.
Sometimes, dog owners perceive a fight where none exists. Some even become very frightened when observing normal dog-to-dog interactions. Well socialized adult dogs teach puppies the limits of proper social skills without causing harm. An adult dog who growls and barks at a puppy that has jumped on his head is not fighting; he’s saying, “That’s unacceptable…knock it off.”
Observing puppy and dog play groups, supervised by professional dog trainers are beneficial for dog owners with questions about normal play and socialization. In addition, making sure that your dog is wearing his tags is another good tip. It should show that your dog is up to date with vaccinations and you are a responsible owner.
Lastly, picking up your dog’s mess is one of the job prerequisites of being an owner. No one wants to be carrying your dog’s mess on the bottom of their shoe.