Brush Up On Your Dog’s Park & Rec Area Social Skills

Posted: Jul 18 2016 News

Dog parks are great spots to exercise and play with your pet this summer, but there are a few things to remember so other people are not inconvenienced.

If your dog is shy or fearful, the boisterous environment of a recreational park or beach might be overwhelming and cause stress for your dog that could be acted out in a negative manner. Well-meaning pet parents often believe that bringing their shy dogs into a busy dog-friendly area will help “socialize” them, but in reality the opposite is often true, and the dog becomes more fearful. For dogs who don’t do well in social situations, playdates with just one or two other dogs can be a much less stressful experience than a busy park or play area.

But, if your dog loves other dogs and is ready to hit the canine social scene, here are some tips to help you both have the best experience:

  1. If possible, choose a location that has separate play areas for small and large dogs. Its safer for everyone and eliminates the possibility of a small dog being injured (accidentally or intentionally) by a larger dog.
  2. Keep your dog away from entry and exit gates, as scuffles can break out when over excited dogs rush at newcomers. Keep your dog on a leash until you get into an off-leash area, but be prepared to release your dog as quickly as possible so she can greet others freely.
  3. Don’t use prong, choke or shock collars, which are especially inappropriate in group play at a dog park or regular park. Not only can they give your dog a negative association toward people and other dogs, but they can be dangerous if they catch on something during play.
  4. Your dog might love playing with toys, frisbees or balls while outside, but avoid using these in enclosed spaces – particularly in dog parks. Fights can often break out when a dog becomes protective over a valued object.
  5. Avoid taking food into these areas, as squabbles can happen between dogs who want first access to the tasty food. It will also prevent you from giving treats to others dogs – something that other people might not appreciate.
  6. Dog parks are not a safe place for children to play. A child who gets knocked over or who is running and screaming can be a dangerous combination with a larger group of dogs.
  7. During extreme heat, keep visits to the park short, or try some indoor games and activities instead. This is especially true if you have a short-nosed breed like a pug or a Bulldog, as they have a short upper respiratory tract which is not well-suited to exercising in the heat.
  8. Be your dog’s advocate - if your dog is showing aggressive behaviour or seems fearful, uncomfortable, or agitated, head home before anything escalates, and seek alternative environment to exercise in or activities to do.
  9. The last and the most important pet etiquette is to pick up after your pets. Although it may be an unpleasant chore, keeping pet waste off the ground is an important responsibility held by every pet owner.
By Victoria Stilwell – A world renowned dog trainer, author and TV personality

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