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DOG PARK READY

By Megan Blake
Dogs parks can be like little bits of paradise; our pooches can run freely and play with their furry friends. But before just turning him loose, it’s a good idea to get him (and you) dog park ready.



Dog parks can be a great place for your dog to exercise and socialize with other friendly dogs, who can serve as role models and help refine your dog’s social skills. If you both are ready and know how to avoid problems, the dog park should leave you and your canine safe and happy.

First, your dog should be over four months old, current on all vaccinations and in good health. A pup under four months won’t be fully immunized and could be exposed to life-threatening illnesses.

Additionally, if a pup is overwhelmingly frightened at the park during the fear imprint stage (between 8 and 11 weeks) he could be traumatized and will never be comfortable fully socializing with other dogs. So wait until he is ready! Then, make sure dogs are spayed and neutered, and never bring a female in heat.

Before entering a dog park, your dog should know basic obedience commands well, like come and leave it. A good sit and down-stay are handy as well. It is very important to know your dog well, especially how he reacts to other dogs and strangers. Dog parks are meant to be “happy hour” so if your dog is people or dog aggressive, dog parks are not a good option. But a trainer who specializes in treating aggression may give him a chance at a later time.

The best dog park visitor is polite, controls his dog, cleans up after him, anticipates trouble, and removes his dog from situations before anything bad occurs. An ideal visitor also politely asks another dog guardians to stop his dog from irritating his and listens with an open mind if someone complains about his dog.

We, humans, are the ones ultimately responsible for our dog’s behavior. Obey park rules, even if you disagree with them. Control your dog and don’t let him engage in aggressive behavior. That is not only growling or fighting, but can be herding, excessive barking, stalking, slamming, running into people, mounting, crowding, or just playing too rough. Stop interactions before harmful situations occur, and be attentive at all times.

Look for warning signals from the dogs like overall stiffness instead of relaxed bouncy moves, raised hackles, fixations on a particular dog, and chases with nips, growls and escalating speed. If you see a warning signal, call your dog away from the area. Dogs often like to gather at the gate to smell newcomers. Don’t let your dog intimidate newcomers or stay in a crowd for long. Some parks don’t allow treats or toys inside because they can become objects to be battled over. So even if they are allowed, evaluate the situation before bringing them in.

Be aware of the ever-changing dog hierarchy. Dogs are pack animals and are constantly aware of the “energy in the room.” Every time a new dog enters or leaves the park, the dynamics of the pack change. Did a dominant dog just come in? Or an overly rambunctious barker who is creating chaos? Or a small dog resembling a squirrel and is triggering prey drive?

Humans in the dog park not only have to keep eyes on their dog, but on the entire pack to maintain safety and balance. If your dog sees and senses it, then you need to see it too. Notice if an entering dog triggers a negative response from your dog. If your dog sometimes bullies, move to an area away from the others and leave when he exhibits this negative behavior. If he is older or doesn’t like to play, respect his opinion and let him sit and observe. If there is an area for small dogs, and you have a little one, use it. It is for their safety.

Dog parks can be little bits of Heaven on Earth, and with minimal preparation and close observation you and your dog can fit right in.

Dogs Life Magazine DOG PARK READY
 

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Great info! I talked to the owner of our local pet valu and he said our park is great! Makes me feel a lot better. You can become a member. The park has so much money left over each year they donate it to a shelter. The park is 2 acres! I can't wait to take belle but I'm holding off until she is spayed.

edit: this should be a stickie!
 

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I helped bring a dog park to our town. We worked long and hard on it, raising money, etc. I practically live there! :lol:
Anyway, one little reminder. Dogs are similar to people, there are some that just do not get along...period. Just because a dog does not get along with one particular dog does not mean that he will fight will all others.
Also, dogs will warn each other, which is totally normal. If one dog does not like to be jumped on, he will verbally warn the others. Most of the time, they listen. It is amazing how they can communicate. So, unless it is a full blown fight, disagreements will happen. You just move to another part of the park or do a little time out. I have yet to see a full blown fight at our park.
 

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good tip! dog parks are great ways to exchange info with other dog owners not to mention a great way for your dog to release some of their energies. I will be bringing Titan after he reaches 4 months
 

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I wish we had a dog park! I just take mine to the baseball field, but there is usually no other dogs their besides us.
 

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I love the dog park for Bogey, he races around with the whole park chasing him, but I think some of the people here can be silly. We have a small dog/big dog park and there is quite a divide....pretty glad we don't go to the small dog park anymore and that's all I'm sayin!
 

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Hi all.. We have gone to the dog park 5 times now. Sunday we went and there was a LARGE doberman. Now my girl is 6 months and 42 pounds. This dog DOMINATED in Size and weight. The dobe chased her relentlessly. We asked the owners to seperate them and they just kept saying they are playing. I was like NO she is totally aggressive. This dobe would chase her to submission and hold her down by mouth until our girl squeeled. After the third time we grabbed our dogs collar and stood between the dogs. The punk kid said they are playing I am no you need to seperate them. Which part of the park do you want? He gave us dirty looks and finally went towards the front of the park and was gone when we went a few minutes later. They had gotten there the same time as us.

What is the etiquette for something like that? I am guessing they were warned since they promptly left. From what I gather if your dog is "reported" to the officer at the park more than 3 times you are asked not to return. We did not report them but I was getting pretty angry they let this dog single out our girl about 6 times before we got mad. I think if we were forced to leave because of her we would have reported them.

Anyway what are your thoughts on this, should we have left ? Or is it the one with the dog showing aggression that is supposed to leave?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Personally, I would have taken my dog out of that situation. I have learned that some owners do little or nothing in situations like these. They simply don't care! If they are not willing to correct their dog, then I will I step up and take action myself by removing my dog until the other dog has left :)
 

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I'm not sure about "official reporting" as the dog parks in my area aren't monitored by anyone except the dog owners that are there. From the sounds of it, you did nothing wrong and everything right. Sounds like the Dobie was doing more than just playing and it's totally appropriate to tell them to take control of their dog. Good for you for stepping in - ultimately you have to protect your dog and make your dog's well-being your number one priority. Your dog needs to know that you're there for her and will take care of her. That's one thing about dog parks that's hard to deal with....ignorant owners. Hope you have a better time next time!
 

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I'm not sure about "official reporting" as the dog parks in my area aren't monitored by anyone except the dog owners that are there. From the sounds of it, you did nothing wrong and everything right. Sounds like the Dobie was doing more than just playing and it's totally appropriate to tell them to take control of their dog. Good for you for stepping in - ultimately you have to protect your dog and make your dog's well-being your number one priority. Your dog needs to know that you're there for her and will take care of her. That's one thing about dog parks that's hard to deal with....ignorant owners. Hope you have a better time next time!
Yeah we actually during daytime hours have a park officer - or ranger whatever they are called as it is a dog park that is also a county park :)
 

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Why do you have dog parks?

Dog parks are a fun social area for dogs to be able to run and play without road / car danger etc. as they are completely fenced in.

At my home we have a fairly small yard which cannot have a fence so it gives her social time and running and playing.
 

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Dog parks are a fun social area for dogs to be able to run and play without road / car danger etc. as they are completely fenced in.

At my home we have a fairly small yard which cannot have a fence so it gives her social time and running and playing.
Is that because you have no other choice, you dont have fields around you? How big are dog parks, how many people / dogs normally go to their at the same time?
 

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Dog parks (from what I've seen) are generally in cities where no, they have no fields. Also, many cities have leash laws so you can't just take your dog for a cruise for the neighborhood unleashed. In a dog park they can run "free."

I saw one once, driving by. :)) They have one in our nearest "big city." It's pretty big, at least in my opinion. I think it was a few city blocks. I've heard people here say they are sometimes divided into a "small dog" area and a "large dog" area.
 

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Dog parks (from what I've seen) are generally in cities where no, they have no fields. Also, many cities have leash laws so you can't just take your dog for a cruise for the neighborhood unleashed. In a dog park they can run "free."

I saw one once, driving by. :)) They have one in our nearest "big city." It's pretty big, at least in my opinion. I think it was a few city blocks. I've heard people here say they are sometimes divided into a "small dog" area and a "large dog" area.
OK thanks, do you have to pay to get in?
 

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OK thanks, do you have to pay to get in?
Most of the time no. Some of the parks that are regulated require a yearly fee but for the most part (atleast in my experience) there are no fees.

I'm not a huge fan of dog parks; too many think that they can simply let their dog off leash and that's it. I've had one too many incidents where they were not able to call their dog off....not fun. :(
 

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Is that because you have no other choice, you dont have fields around you? How big are dog parks, how many people / dogs normally go to their at the same time?

That is correct, I have no fields around us. The regular park where you run/play etc the dog must be on a leash.

The park I go to is 14 acres big. At one time I have seen as many as 15 dogs or more in an area. Some times I have seen as little as 3-4 dogs.
 
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