As a dog owner, you want to find a secure place to let your dogs play, run, and interact with other dogs. This interaction with other dogs is critical to your dog's mental and emotional development. The local dog park is for many owners the perfect solution. However, it is important to ensure you understand dog park etiquette, how to prepare your dogs, and how to ensure your dog plays well with the other dogs.
Here are a few tips to help you have a successful trip to the local dog park.
Make Sure Your Dog Is Healthy
Talk to your veterinarian about when to begin taking your dog to a dog park. Your vet may suggest waiting until your dog is up to date on all their shots, is dewormed, and has a clean bill of health. Never take a puppy who has only had a first set of shots and does not yet have their rabies vaccination. This leaves your dog susceptible to unknowingly catching a preventable illness from another dog at the park.
Start by Taking Your Dog on a Leash
Always take your dog into the park on a leash, especially during that initial visit. Allow your dog to sniff around the park and interact with the other dogs. Only take your dog off the leash after your dog is acclimated to the park and you are sure your dog will have positive interactions with the other dogs.
Continue to Pay Attention to Your Dog
Many dog parents take the opportunity to talk with other pet owners while in the dog park. However, while you are chatting with other adults, never take your dog off your own dog. Even if your dog is well socialized, there is no guarantee that the other dogs in the park will be as well behaved. If you notice any signs that your dog is being aggressive with other dogs, or another dog is being aggressive with your dog, place your dog back on the leash and calmly walk away from the situation.
For example, your dog might feel uneasy if your dog's head is down and their tail is between their legs. Common signs of aggression in dogs are an arched back, a dog who bears their teeth, barks, growls, or even begins to fight your dog.
A little planning and knowing how to positively interact with the other dogs will help ensure that your dog has many successful trips to the dog park. Contact a professional in your area for more ideas about propper pet care.