When Tasha, Maia and Cooper were growing up, we didn’t have dog parks in my area. By the time we got one, they were already elderly and couldn’t really keep up with young pups at a park. Now that I have Freya and Mocha, though, I want to give them a chance to socialize with other dogs. Freya in particular LOVES other dogs, so I know she’d enjoy it. Since I’ve never actually been to one, though, I am a little clueless on what to expect! That’s okay, though! Anne of DogsAholic.com is here to fill us all in on what not to do when going to a dog park! Read on for her advice!
What Not to Do When Taking Fido to the Dog Park
The dog park can be a wonderful place to take your dog because there Fido develops valuable socials skills by playing and interacting with other dogs. Furthermore, going to the park allows you to unwind and surround yourself with lovable furry companions.
However, a dog’s first visit to the dog park can be overwhelming. Therefore, it’s crucial to learn dog park etiquette to ensure everyone has a fun time. For instance, you shouldn’t let your dog become wild and overbearing, as this could upset other dog owners and they may leave or ask you to leave.
To help you push any fears and worries you have about taking your dog to the park, we put together a few tips. If you follow these few rules, you and your dog are bound to have a great time!
Do Not Keep Fido on a Leash
Going to the dog park for the first time can be nerve wracking. You don’t know how your dog or the other dogs will react to each other. Therefore, it can be tempting to keep Fido on a leash to try and control the situation.
However, keeping him/her on a leash can be dangerous. If your dog gets along with his new playmates, he could trip and hurt himself. Furthermore, an extended leash could cause other dogs to become tangled up in it, causing them to get hurt.
Additionally, a dog on a leash can encourage dog fights instead of preventing them. Your dog might feel insecure because he knows he can’t escape if a fight does break out. This could cause larger or more aggressive dogs to fight, rather than play, with your dog.
Don’t leave prong collars or harnesses on your dog either. Dogs tend to nip near the neck and shoulders when playing. Therefore, leaving a harnesses or training device on could cause another dog to break a tooth or jaw. It can also cause another dog’s mouth to get stuck, which could start a fight.
The only exception is if you are going to a leash-on dog park.
Do Not Bring an Untrained Dog to the Park
This might seem like a no brainer. Unfortunately, some dog owners see the dog park as an opportunity to train their dog. Some dog owners just don’t care how their dog acts. Unfortunately, bringing an untrained dog can ruin everyone’s experience.
While your dog can learn valuable social skills at a dog park, if your dog has never interacted with another dog then the park is a bad place to bring him. Before going to the park, your dog needs to learn how to greet dogs.
Before taking your dog to park make sure he learns not to charge dogs. He also needs to learn to leave shy and uncomfortable dogs alone. Training your dog might take time but it’s key to having an enjoyable time.
A muzzle could be a useful training tool, when used properly. It can teach your dog not to bite or misbehave. While it’s not a permanent solution, it can help prevent injuries until your dog is trained. To learn more about muzzles and how to use them, read more here.
Do Not Bring an Unexercised Dog to the Park
You might be confused by the idea of exercising your dog before going to the dog park. Isn’t a dog park supposed to be the place where your dog can burn off energy? Not exactly.
A dog park is a way to add variety to your dog’s day. It should not be the only exercise or socialization he gets. When a dog is stuck in the house all day, bringing him to a dog park can overstimulate him. This can cause the dog to become over zealous towards another dog, which can start a fight. Or it could cause another dog to see your dog as prey, causing a fight.
Therefore, take your dog for a walk before going to the park. If you have backyard try playing with him. Just make sure your dog isn’t a ball of pure energy before allowing him to go free at the dog park.
Do Not Bring Puppies, Pregnant Dogs, or Dogs in Heat
No matter how well-trained your dog is, never bring a dog to the park if she is pregnant or in heat. It’s a horrible idea that will just end up with you leaving. A pregnant or in-heat dog will cause male dogs to crowd her. It’s a guaranteed way to cause a frenzy.
Don’t bring a puppy that is younger than 12 weeks. If your dog is behind on his vaccinations you should consider keeping him at home as well. A dog park can be a dangerous place for unvaccinated puppies and dogs.
A dog park is dirtier than you want to imagine. It can contain diseases and parasites that can harm unvaccinated dogs. Even easily treated diseases, such as worms, can do a lot of damage. Puppies have a challenging time handling worms because their bodies and intestines are still small. Therefore, avoid the dog parks until they are old enough to fight off parasites.
Do Not Bring a Small Dog to Large Dog Areas
If you have a small dog you should consider avoiding dog parks that don’t have separate areas for smaller size dogs. Sometimes small dogs are seen as prey to larger dogs, due to their size and higher-pitched barks. A small dog who runs too quickly can also trigger a larger dog’s hunting instincts.
Therefore, it’s always a better idea to take a small dog to a park designed for smaller dogs. This way you are guaranteed to avoid unwanted fights and injuries. It also avoids unaggressive dogs just following natural instincts from being blacklisted as aggressive.
If you do find yourself in the middle of an escalating situation, such as a dog fight, don’t pick up your small dog. When you pick up your dog it could make it look like your dog is trying to flee. This could make another dog charge at you in an attempt to get to your dog.
Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna’s passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed. She also helps curate contents for DogsAholic.com