Dog Parks —
Importantly, the dog park is not the place to socialize puppies (from an intensity and a potential disease risk perspective). Senior dogs too may find dog parks overwhelming. Pay attention to your dog’s cues about this experience.
It has been found that new dogs coming into a dog park provide information about themselves when they first enter by urinating a short distance from the entrance. This is an important process as part of successful social communication and managing group dynamics so should not be discouraged.
The treats you take to the dog park should not be the bees knees/absolutely fabulous. You don’t want to gather a crowd with this tasty food, instigating a fight. Dry biscuits should be fine and never feed other people’s dogs.
Once you have entered, avoid standing in a crowd which can cause dogs to hang around and play in a smaller area, which can lead to heightened exchanges. Try to stop your dog tailgating other dogs. Having a dog glued to your butt, sniffing profusely is not comfortable at all and the other dog is likely to retaliate with a snap.
If your dog is being told to move away by another dog and your dog is not listening, either undertake the recall or go over and move your dog away. The reverse should happen too, help your dog get away from a harasser. Don’t discipline somebody else’s dog, just move along to another area of the park.
Be aware of the potential for a play fight to accidentally escalate into a real fight. If one dog is just a wee bit too rough with an action this can cause upset.
Even if the dogs are racing around full ball, they should have many normal pauses in their play. The dogs should be relaxed at these points, if not, this is a good indicator things could be getting out of hand. At the least this ends up being good practice to be overly stimulated and uncontrolled in other situations.
With this, be on the lookout for unsupervised children, pushchairs, bikes and skateboards in the dog park. These can be triggers for dog aggression or chasing.
It may be obvious but do not take dogs who are in season to the dog park and you should have great control of an entire male if you venture to the dog park with them.
Keep walking around the park and working on your recall. This ensures the dog’s frolicking doesn’t get too heated.
If a problem starts to manifest, move off or walk faster to maintain you dogs focus.
Trust your instincts. If you see any dog or person that that makes you uncomfortable just head on home, Selina McIntyre, Dog Behavioural Consultant & Dog Trainer, Dogs Best Friend.