Guest Post: Elliot Harvey’s Natural Health Column:
Dog parks are gaining in popularity faster than any one can imagine, but is your dog suited to this new phenomenon? Here are a few points to determine if you should load the family into the car and haul off to the nearest dog park.
Do dogs really need to be around their own species? Dogs really need to have quality time socializing with their human companions more than with other canines. Playtime with you is important for bonding, as well as exercise. Long walks will accomplish both of these. This quality time also affords you the opportunity to train and reinforce training with your dog. Yes, the well-rounded dog can gain more confidence by periodically socializing with its peer group, allowing it to maintain its dog social skills. You, however, are more important to your dog than any other dog it meets at a park. In other words, don’t let those dog park visits replace the play/bonding/walking you do with your dog.
Will my dog love going to the dog park? Not all breeds are friendly to other dogs. Some of the arctic breeds like Malamutes, and the Spitz breeds like Akitas, may not be fond of a large pack like those found at dog parks. They often bond with another family pet but their alpha temperaments may prevent them from peacefully romping in the park. Know the temperament of your dog before you inflict it on a large group of peace-loving park-hounds. Dog owners are bringing their puppies for socialization. Some older dogs may become aggressive to the puppy — you must control the environment so your dog will grow up without being scared and enjoy the park.
If you are one of those rare people owning an intact dog, those animals do not belong at a dog park. Hormones in close range with dogs are asking for a huge problem. Spay and neuter, then think about the park.
Animals with physical disabilities (missing limbs) or aging dogs with physical limitations may find it hard to keep up with younger dogs. Perhaps you can get your dog park to set aside a small area where these senior dogs can socialize. Most dog parks do have separate areas for small breeds which is a way to protect them from bullying by larger dogs.
Take off all choke chains or tangling collars before entering the enclosed dog park. Bring lots of pick up bags because it is YOUR responsibility to clean up after your dog. Make certain your dog is healthy and shots are up to date. Watch for people who bring aggressive or dominant dogs to the park. Always remain with your dog at the park and keep an eye on behavior and interaction. If you see a problem between two dogs, stop it before it escalates. If your dog park does not provide water, then bring your own. Keep a leash with you in case you need to remove your dog from an area.
Remember, dogs, like people have their own “political groups” and may not accept all newcomers. Small parks with large numbers of dogs can create tension because of the sheer number of animals in a small space. Try another time of day. Small children do not belong in dog parks. Not all dogs can be trusted around toddlers or infants. If you do bring children, keep them close to you while your dog enjoys the exercise and prevent them from running up to dogs they do not know. In most cases, using common sense can provide answers to your questions.
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This post was written by Elliot Harvey MH of www.doctorsfinest.com. (Pet Assure customers receive a 20% discount on products at doctorsfinest.com by entering coupon code PA-01.) Author of “The Healthy Wholistic Dog,” Elliot has years of experience in animal health and wellness. Pet Assure is not affiliated with and does not endorse Great Life Performance Pet Products. Pet Assure is presenting this guest post for the benefit of its readers and retains no financial interest in any future transactions.