Dr. Elliott: Your Dog at the Dog Park
Dog parks are very popular, but is your dog suited to this new phenomenon?
Dog parks are gaining in popularity faster than any one can imagine, but is your dog suited to this new phenomenon? Here are some important points to consider, when determining if you should load the family into the car and head off to the nearest dog park.
Do dogs really need to be around their own species? Dogs 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, and long walks will help 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, as it allows your dog the opportunity to maintain its doggy social skills. However, are more important to your dog than any other dog it meets at a dog park. In other words, don’t let those dog park visits replace the play/bonding time and 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. These breeds 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 a large group of peace-loving park-hounds upon it. Some dog owners are bringing their puppies for socialization. Some owners are bringing older dogs that may become aggressive to a puppy. You need to 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. Putting your dog in range of all those hormones is asking for a problem. Spay and neuter and then think about the dog 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.
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Some Things to Remember:
- 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
- Watch for people who bring aggressive or dominant dogs to the
- 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
- If your dog park does not provide water, then bring your
- 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 when it is less crowded.
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 children from running up to dogs they do not know. In
most cases, using common sense can provide answers to your
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