When Is It Okay to Take Your Dog to the Dog Park?
With dog parks popping up in just about every city most dog owners are eager to take their four legged friends as soon as they can. Dog behavior experts say that might not be the best idea.
“What you will hear sometimes is somebody wants to take their adult dog to a dog park to get socialized and that could potentially be a receipt for disaster,” says Liv Hagen behavior modification manager at the Animal Humane Society.
Dog parks are a great place to take your dog to run off some energy. However, if your dog doesn’t have a lot of experience with other dogs, taking them to a dog park can sometimes be overwhelming.
“It’s really important for us to listen to our dogs,” added Hagen. “They talk to us through their body language. You need to know your dogs, know their limits, and know what they are comfortable or uncomfortable with. It’s your responsibility to respond accordingly don’t force anything if it’s not right for your dog.”
If your dog isn’t comfortable with others, there are still ways to get them plenty of exercise.
“Taking your dog for walks when all the other neighborhood dogs aren’t out and walking is one option,” added Hagen. “Try using a gentle leader and going to training classes to learn how to communicate with your dog. It’s also important to always bring treats with you. That way you can distract them when another dog is around.”
Dog Parks Aren’t Off Limits
A dog park doesn’t have to be out of the question either.
“A dog park during off hours is a great way place to go,” says Hagen. “That way you can let your dog run off leash in a fenced in safe spot.”
Most importantly as a dog owner you should always look out for the safety of your dog and others.
“Always be aware and conscientious of what that dog is doing and the other dogs around them,” says Hagen. “Watch how they are responding. It might be the case that sometimes dogs just get way to excited to even be successful at a dog.”
If you dog is nervous around others there are classes you can take to help them cope. The Animal Humane Society offers called Reactive Rover. For more information about the class and other obedience classes offered by the Humane Society click here.