Dog parks are everywhere nowadays and if you have a dog park near you then you are probably excited to give your dog an awesome experience by taking them to one. Parks are great places for your dogs to socialize and exercise, which means you’ll have one happy best friend at the end of the day.
But if you’ve never been to one before, you might not know what to expect. Do you bring toys? Or maybe food? Does your dog need to be on a leash? What etiquette is required so both of you can have a great time?
Here at Delaware K9 Academy, we’ve rounded up 7 rules for the best dog park experience:
1. Your Dog Must Be Used to Humans and Other Dogs
Your dog must be properly socialized before you bring him or her to the park. After all, a park is a place where other people and dogs will also be having a great time, which means your dog must know how to behave around other humans and dogs.
A park is not a place to learn to socialize because there will be many different breeds and many different kinds of behaviors. There is a certain assumption that when you take your dog to a crowd, he or she knows how to behave. Basic obedience to your commands is also expected, such as “sit,” or “come.”
The park is not a place for aggressive dogs. So if there is a current behavioral problem that you need to fix with your dog, now is not the time to bring him or her to the park.
2. Choose the Best Park for You
Not all parks are created equal. Some parks may be more social than others. While some require your dog to stay on a leash, others may allow free-roaming canines. It’s important that you know what you’re looking for in a park so you can choose the best one for you and your pet.
Therefore the most important thing you need to consider is the rules of the park. Those that post their rules help to create order, preventing chaos and disagreements among dog owners.
Some of the most common rules in dog parks include:
- Owners must pick up after their dogs.
- The park must be free from litter at all times.
- Dogs must be leashed.
- Dogs must be spayed and neutered.
- No dogs allowed below the age of 4 months.
- No small children allowed.
If your female dog has not been spayed, please do not bring her to the park, especially when she’s in heat. This will attract male dogs to gravitate towards her, and make them more aggressive towards other male dogs. And when dogs become more aggressive, it only leads to chaos and trouble.
3. Ask Before You Pet Other Dogs
Never assume it’s okay to pet other dogs. Some dogs may actually be aggressive but seem friendly at first, or they may even be rescue dogs that don’t trust new people. Even small dogs should be never be approached or touched without asking the owner first. Not only does it prevent the occurrence of a violent attack, but it also shows respect to the dog owner.
4. Do Not Bring Food or Too Many Toys
You can bring a ball or one toy for your dog but always keep it a minimum. You do not want any unnecessary attention from other dogs, and colorful toys, and most especially food, is just asking for attention from other dogs. Not only is it annoying for other dogs to gravitate towards you, but it could also begin uncontrolled chaos.
5. Exercise Your Dog Before Heading to the Park
Parks should not be your dog’s only opportunity to socialize and exercise. It is merely a supplement to his or her daily activity. If you don’t exercise your dog, or if going to the park is his or her only chance of getting out of the house, then you’ll have an overly excited and exuberant dog that won’t rub well with other dogs. Any dog that’s behaving too enthusiastically will call out trouble.
It may be a good idea to walk your dog to the park instead of riding in your car to get to the park. That way, your dog has already had some exercise and stimulation before reaching the park.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Dog
Never take your eyes off of your dog. With other people and animals around, you never really know what can happen in an instant. Your dog may be bullied and the next thing you know, he’s biting away at the very human closest to him or her. Or, your dog might accidentally get loose from the leash and chase a tennis ball that’s not theirs. Or worse, your dog might break away and get lost.
If you’re planning to make some calls, check your social media, or tinker around your smartphone, don’t go to the dog park. You have to create the time to spend quality time with your dog, as well as to make sure your eyes never leave him or her, even for just a second.
7. Make Sure Your Dog Has Been Vaccinated
Do not bring your dog to the park if his or her immunizations are not complete. You are not only endangering your own dog, but you’re also endangering other dogs in the park. Exposing your dog to others while his or her vaccinations are not finished yet is increasing the risk of catching diseases and other medical conditions.
To be on the safe side, never bring a puppy that’s under 4 months old to a dog park. The puppy’s immune system may not be strong enough to fight off bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
If you want to bring your dog to a park but you’re unsure whether or not he or she is obedient to your commands in public or in a crowd, a great idea would be to enroll your canine in a professional dog training program. You will find a broad range of training programs at affordable prices, provided by highly experienced trainers in the field.
With our training programs, we’ll make sure your dog is properly socialized and obedient, and ready to hit the park once the course is done.