Thursday, July 30

9 Dog Park Tips

9 Dog Park Tips from Menagerie Mayhem

1. Offer a ball to the dog park Gods.

Everyone plays with the balls just laying around at the dog park - but what happens when they're all chewed to pieces, completely mucky, or all gone? Tennis balls are super cheap, and if your dog park is free, it's all the more reason to bring a ball with you and leave it behind when you go, so others can enjoy it too!

2. Pick up after your dog.

This should go without saying, but there are always a few folks that forget. Keep an eye on your dog so you can pick up its waste. Generally dogs go potty in the first five minutes, and they'll usually run clear to the other end of the park to go. Always have a bag handy so you can focus on where your dog is - it's very easy to lose sight of the poop! If your dog digs holes, fill them in immediately, as they are not safe for running dogs, or humans.

3. Leave the choke and pinch collars at home.

Aside from the fact that every dog park I know of does not allow these collars on while in the park, they are hazardous to your dog. Many dogs love to grab their canine pal's neck in play, and they could easily injure a pooch wearing a choke collar. Prong collars have the additional danger of flipping outwards and injuring another dog. You're not going to do any training in the dog park, so leave it off your dog(s) and let them go play safely.

4. Bring water and extra bags.

If it's a dog park that has running water and an endless supply of complimentary poop bags, you probably don't have to worry about this. But some dog parks do not have water, and rely on volunteers to bring it in gallon jugs. Likewise, they may have "bag stations" but again, need folks to keep it well stocked. Even if there aren't bag stations, you should always bring a couple extra to help out that one person who inevitably forgot to bring them.

5. Don't bring aggressive or semi-aggressive dogs.

This should be a no-brainer. If your dog is the type that can't play well with others, then the dog park is not the place for him. If you are trying to train your dog to not attack other dogs on sight, the dog park is still not the place for him. Only dogs with good social manners should enter the parks.

6. Don't go inside until your dog's energy is right, and keep him/her away from the entrance once inside.

One of the biggest causes of dog fights at the dog park is new dogs entering the park. Either a dog will come in obviously overstimulated, and go nuts, lunging at all the dogs around it, or a new dog will come in and be immediately overwhelmed by twenty dog noses poking and prodding him before he's even completely in the gate. The solution is simple - if your dog is barking, salivating, lunging towards the entrance, don't go inside. Keep your dog(s) outside the park until it has calmed down sufficiently. Yes, it may cut into your dog park time. But letting a dog inside when it is overexcited will only make its excitement grow each time, until you really wish you had just left your dog at home. Once the dog(s) is inside the park, move away from the entrance/exit and make sure your dog does too.

7. Watch other dogs' body language.

Just because a dog "seems nice" does not mean the dog plays nicely, or has good doggie manners. I have noticed, particularly when playing with my dogs, that other dogs will come over and become fixated on a certain one of my pack. When this happens, I stop throwing the ball, stick, or whatever I'm doing. You don't need to get nervous or ansy, just let your dogs run around a bit instead of throwing stuff, until the dog is obviously no longer fixated, or has wandered away. You can also tell if a dog is going to play too roughly with your pooch by observing its behavior as well. Even though a lot of dogs give clear signals about how rough they want to play, the other dog may not understand or even care. It is just as important to watch the other dogs at the dog park as it is to watch your own.

8. Always be extra observant and careful around water.

If your park has a pond, you need to be even more vigilant of your dog. When water is involved, everything becomes more hazardous - the play, the surfaces. Make sure your dog is not harassing others and being a good dog park pooch. If the area is too slippery for your pet, or your dog is getting unwanted attention from another dog, it is best to just leave the pond area altogether.

9. Have FUN!

The whole point of dog parks is to have a safe, secure area for your dog(s) to run off leash and play with other dogs. Some use the area to play ball, some to throw frisbees, and some just come for their dog to run around and socialize with other dogs. Whatever you choose

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