This post is part 1 of a 3-part series on dog park safety.
March 20th marks the first day of spring in the US. And as the weather warms up, lots of us are planning to spend more time outdoors with our four-legged friends.
So, if you and your dog need a little sunshine in your life why not consider a trip to the dog park?
Dogs are social creatures, and the dog park is a great place for them to exercise and socialize with other dogs in a fun, safe environment.
But before you clip on the leash and head out to the dog park, there are a few important things you should consider.
In this post we'll share our top 4 tips to help you prepare for a visit to the dog park.
1) Socialize Your Dog
If your dog has had limited contact with other dogs, start socializing him in a controlled environment while monitoring his behavior.
An easy way to do this is by planning some doggy play dates. Have friends or neighbors with dogs? Invite them over and let the dogs get to know each other.
An enclosed yard is the best place to do this to avoid messy accidents in the house. Just make sure to supervise your dog closely and observe how he reacts around other dogs.
If your dog behaves well it's a good sign that he's ready for a trip to the dog park. But if he's anxious, aggressive, or unpredictable around other dogs we recommend socializing him over a longer period of time or working with a trainer to correct his behavior first.
When you’re ready to visit the dog park, it’s a good idea to take your dog out for a pre-walk first. This will help him to release pent-up energy, reducing the risk of anxiety or unwanted behavior around other dogs at the park.
2) Teach Your Dog Basic Commands
It's important that your dog responds to basic commands before visiting the dog park. This will minimize the risk of him getting into danger.
Some of the most useful commands to teach are sit, which can help to prevent unwanted behaviors like jumping up, stay which can stop your dog running off into potentially dangerous situations, and come, which can be used to get your dog to return to you quickly.
Two other useful commands are leave it and drop it. The leave it command is used when your dog is approaching something he shouldn't and is about to pick it up. The Drop it command is for when he's already picked something up and you want him to let go of it. These two commands can come in handy if your dog tries to take another dog's toy at the park!
3) Visit the Dog Park Alone
So, you've made sure your dog is well socialized and responds to basic commands. Now it's time to visit the dog park alone to check out the facilities. If you live in an area with several accessible dog parks, it's a good idea to visit a few to find the most suitable.
The most important thing to consider is safety. Look for double-gate entry and high, secure fencing so your dog can't escape and run off.
A good dog park will also have trashcans to dispose of poop, water fountains for thirsty pooches, and plenty of space for dogs to run around. A dog park with separate areas for large and small dogs to play will provide extra safety and peace of mind.
4) Pack Essentials
Our final tip in today's post is to pack some dog park essentials. The first thing to pack is your dog's leash. It's essential to clip on a leash when walking your dog from the car to the park. When inside the park, put your dog on a leash if he misbehaves or needs some downtime away from other dogs.
Poop bags are another essential for your trip to the dog park. Pack more than you think you'll need – and don't forget your Fifth Paw hands-free dog poop holder to avoid stinking up your pockets and pouches on the pre-walk!
Lots of dog parks will have water fountains on-site, but bring a supply of fresh water just in case. Dogs can quickly becoming dehydrated if they're running around, especially in warm weather.
That's it for today's post. We hope you're excited about planning your trip to the dog park! In part 2 of this series we'll share 4 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe at the Dog Park. Make sure to check back next week to read the full post.