Introducing Your Dog to a Dog Park
Dogs young and old can enjoy themselves at a dog park. It is a great energy release, social time, and bonding experience for the two of you. There are, however, things you should do before just showing up. A proper introduction to the dog park will keep your dog (and other dogs) safe and happy.
It is always smart to train your dog - that should go without saying, but many people skip this step and think their dog will behave just fine out in public. These are the dogs that can ruin a dog park experience for everyone. Don’t be this dog’s owner. Train your dog.
Steps To Introducing a Dog Park
Make Sure Your Dog is Healthy
A healthy dog can’t spread illnesses at the park.
Review Your On and Off-Leash Commands
At home, before heading to the park, take a few minutes to reward your dog for knowing his commands and practicing them with you. You want to practice his recall (his ‘come’) skills to make sure that he will come back to you when you call him at the park. Even in a fenced location, situations arise where you will want to call him back to you.
Get out some of your dog’s energy so that he won’t go crazy at the park. Throw a ball around for a few minutes after going for a walk before jumping in the car.
A pocket full of treats is a must, as you want your dog to be rewarded every time he listens to you at the park.
Make On-Leash Friends
Before crossing the fence line to where all the dogs are off leash, take a few minutes to introduce your dog to another dog who is also still on leash. This is important because you want your dog to feel zero stress or fear. Never keep your dog on leash while doing introductions with a dog (or dogs) who are off leash. This causes extreme stress and panic in most dogs and can present a very scary situation.
Continue Training at the Park
Practice your recall, sit, and stay/wait even at the park. You want to ensure that your dog can still listen even in new situations.
Know Your Dog
Know and understand your dog’s mannerisms and always be watching to see if your dog feels safe and happy. The dog park is not a dog sitting business. You are responsible for your pet. While it’s tempting to take your eyes off of him and spend the time on the phone, be present and interact with your furbaby.
It’s tick season, so a good inspection, rub down, and wash is a must after playing in the grass, mud, and dirt all morning.