Q: Dog Park Etiquitte
I've never had a dog park close enough to me to bring Joyce to... and I'd really like to start doing it on a regular basis. We recently moved to a beautiful area and have a dog park 5 miles from the house!!
She hasn't been REALLY "socialized" with other dogs.. and I'm a little nervous about bringing her. She doesn't bite - but she's got a HUGE bark and has a tendency to get nervous (she's a small german shepard mix). What can I do to make sure that her experience is a positive one?? Any tips?
Jul 12, 2009
Dog parks can be tricky and you really have to know your dog. Many people bring dogs to the dog park that probably shouldn't be there. While some dogs find them very enjoyable and love to play with other dogs, some dogs find it very stressful. They spend most of their time fending off other dogs who are trying to sniff their back end or from playful pounces. I've also seen some pretty nasty dog fights break out and my neighbor witnessed one serious injury. Anyway, by the way you described your dog, I'd think twice about bringing her to a dog park. It might not be her idea of a good time. Some dogs there are very overbearing. Especially the younger ones who just don't seem to get the message. Perhaps you might consider introducing her a friend's or neighbor's dog on a one to one basis and see how she does first. If they do well, plan a few play dates. Always have them leashed a first so you can have control if it doesn't go well.
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Jul 13, 2009
You want to socialize the dog first. Try some training courses at Petsmart or where your dog will meet other dogs in a supervised environment. If that's not in your budget, you could try the dog park at a slow time, where there is only one or two other dogs. Make sure you enter the park happy and confident. If you are nervous, your dog will be too.
Dog parks aren't playgrounds where you can let your dog loose while you sit on a bench. You still need to play, throw a stick or ball, and interact with your dog. The more happy, fun attention you give her, the better experience it will be. Too many people think dog parks are places to exercise your pet with minimal effort from you.
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Jul 14, 2009
I would take it slowly. Start with opportunities for your dog to meet others one on one (with friends, neighbors, relatives dogs) if she has not had these opportunities. If she does well one on one or in small groups go to the dog park and walk her outside the fenced in area; you can let her get to know some of the ohers dogs, sniff through the fence, etc. I know there are times at my dog park when only 1 or 2 people will be there and this is when I would go in the fenced area for the first few times. Let her sniff and run around and get to know the area. If she appears to be stressed, it is time to leave. If she likes frisbees or balls, you can take a favorite toy to play with her. Have fun.
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