Dog Parks- 5 Tip on How to Socialize Your Dog
You’ve got a new dog and you want to take him to the dog park. You’ve heard how important it is to socialize your dog. What is a good way to do that? Take her to a dog park! Be aware though that there are things that you should and should not do in and around a dog park. Keep the following tips in mind when visiting your local dog park.
1. Old and Young Dogs
While dog parks are great places to socialize a dog, old or young, there are some dogs who should not go to the dog park because of their age. To begin with, dogs who are so young they do not have their proper vaccinations should not go to a dog park. Most dog parks have ordinances against dogs without vaccinations. It is important that your dog not spread any illnesses she might have to other dogs, but is also important that your dog does not contract any illnesses because of her un-vaccinated state. Young dogs also tend to get scared easily and the dog park can be a place of stress rather than fun. Young dogs can also end up under foot, or paw, of older dogs and can get trampled or hurt. Young dogs also do not have the ability to protect themselves if a larger dog were to become aggressive with them.
While very young puppies should not go to the dog park, senior dogs who are very fragile or injured should not go to the park. While your dog may love going to the dog park, you need to think of her safety first. If your dog has bad hips or elbows, you do not want to put her in harm’s way. Dogs often get excited at the dog park and can pack up. They will run and knock down any dogs, or humans, in their path. You do not want your senior dog to be accidentally hit by a younger dog wanting to play. Your senior dog could get seriously hurt this way.
2. Leash and Gate Etiquette
Many dog parks require dogs to be on leash until they enter the park and once they leave the park. Just because you are only thirty feet from the entrance to the park does not mean your dog does not have to be on leash. Dog parks are often near childrens parks or bike paths, and loose dogs can cause injuries to the people using the areas surrounding the dog park. Even if you have a ‘verbal leash’ for your dog, leash your dog outside of the park. You do not want to risk your dog’s safety, or another person’s safety, or a potential ticket just because you did not want to clip on your dog’s leash.
Most dog parks have some sort of double gate. Usually you can enter through the first gate, shut it behind you, take off your dog’s leash and then enter the second gate into the actual park. When using the gates, never let another person’s dog through the gate without the consent of the owner. Imagine if someone let your dog out of the park.
3. Scoop the Poop
This is a particular pet peeve of mine. Most dog parks today have stocked bag dispensers. If your dog uses the bathroom, pick it up. Even before the downturn in the economy dog parks did not have a staffed poop picker upper. If your dog does her business it is your responsibility to pick it up. You do not want to step in other dog’s poop, you do not want your dog stepping in poop, or eating poop. Be responsible and clean up after your dog.
4. The Aggression Factor
While very young dogs and very old dogs are not great matches for dog parks, neither are very aggressive dogs. If your dog has an aggression problem, do not bring her to the dog park. You do not want to risk her inciting a dog fight, or worse biting someone. If your dog attacks someone, you are liable, and your dog, in the worst case scenario, could be put down. While dog parks are important socialization areas for dogs, you cannot socialize very aggressive dogs at dog parks. You need to work with your aggressive dog before you take her to the park.
5. Watch Your Dog
When you go to the park, it is not time for you to zone out. You need to have an eye on your dog. While you do not need to know what she is doing every second, you need to make sure she is still in the park, and getting along with other dogs. Some dogs play well with most dogs, but not all dogs. Maybe a dog your dog does not get along with is in the park. If you are not paying attention to your dog, she could get hurt or hurt another dog. You also want to make sure she is not doing anything bad. If you punish your dog for digging holes at home, do not let her dig holes at the dog park.