Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Visit
While dog parks are a great way to help your pup socialize and burn off some energy, they can sometimes be sites of trouble.
Below, we’ve outlined some rules all owners should follow in order to make the best of the experience for both you and your pooch.
Tip #1: Pay attention to your dog’s body language and behaviour
While it may seem obvious, be sure to keep an eye on your dog at all times. It may seem like a great thing if you have the type of dog who gets excited when meeting new four-legged friends, but not all dogs like to be greeted the moment they enter the park. Letting your dog sprint up to another dog is not always the best way for them to say hello. If you see a new dog entering the park, always make sure your dog gives them space. Watch how the other dog responds to your dog’s greeting and look for signs of fear in the dog. Don’t let your dog bully others. Learn when your dog wants to play appropriately and when they are in engaging in aggressive behaviour or pestering others.
Some behaviours that require intervention include:
- Showing teeth
- Sounds of whimpering or yelping
- Following another dog as they try to leave
- Growling or snarling
Signs that your dog is nervous or scared include:
- Pinned ears
- Low or sunken body posture
- Tucked tail
- Looking in another direction
- Remaining very still and/or not moving
- Licking lips
If your dog exhibits any of the above signs, redirect him or her from the situation immediately to prevent your dog’s stress from intensifying.
Signs of relaxed, appropriate play include:
- Relaxed posture and tail
- Frequent breaks (both dogs allowing each other to rest)
- Play bows
Tip #2: Leave the toys at home
If your dog has a tendency to resource guard or to pick up toys that don’t belong to him or her, you shouldn’t bring your dog’s favourite ball to the dog park for a game of fetch. If either are the case, you should consider working with your dog on simple commands such as ‘drop it’, so that your dog is comfortable letting go of a toy. It’s also important to develop good recall in case you find yourself with a toy thief.
Tip #3: Be polite
Although we’ve covered some of the canine basics when it comes to identifying body language and behaviour, the latter is equally as important for owners. It’s important to remember to be respectful and take accountability for your dog’s actions. If your dog is being aggressive or behaving poorly and putting other dogs at risk it may be time to leave the park. Be mindful of the needs and feelings of other dogs and take appropriate action to remedy a situation.
By following these simple tips, you and your best friend are sure to have a blast at the leash free park!