Tuesday, February 23, 2010
By Linda Cole
Dog parks have been around for a long time. They provide a safe area where dogs can run, play and socialize with other dogs. Knowing what to expect and what you need to know before you go, can make visiting a dog park a happy and safe experience for you and your canine companion.
I'm an advocate for dog parks. Every city should have a designated park just for dogs and their owners. It's the perfect place for owners to gather and get to know each other, hold dog related activities and give their best friend a safe area to run off leash and meet other dogs. Dogs are social animals, and dog parks give owners and their dogs a chance to interact with each other.
Before your first visit to any dog park, make sure you are not required to obtain a dog park permit and dog tags for the park. It's best to check out a park for the first time without your dog. This will give you an opportunity to read any posted rules that must be followed. You can observe the dogs and people using the park, see if there is anyone who monitors the park, and find out if there are dog professionals available who can answer questions. It also gives you a chance to talk to people and find out what their opinion is of the park.
Spending time at the dog park without your dog also gives you an opportunity to observe how other owners respond to situations in the park. You can find out if there are any problem dogs that are allowed to run while their owner ignores them, if some owners simply drop their dog off and leave, or if anyone has trouble controlling their dog.
The primary concern at any dog park is to make sure dogs and people stay safe. A dog who is properly socialized will interact and play with other dogs, but even a well mannered dog can and will get into fights. A basic understanding of a dog's body language can be helpful when an approaching dog and your dog are about to meet each other. Dog parks aren't for every dog, and knowing your dog's personality and temperament can help you decide if this is an environment you want to put your dog into.
For a shy dog, your first visit is a good time to find out when there may be fewer dogs at the park. An off time would give your dog a chance to sniff around and get to know the area without a lot of distractions. This gives him time to learn new smells that will help him be more comfortable when it's time to meet other dogs. It's best not to take a puppy, a fearful dog or an overly aggressive dog to a dog park. It's also best to visit the park without the kids.
CANIDAE is a proud sponsor and supporter of dog parks. Their most recent contribution of $15,000 was donated to the city of Redlands, California to help a local organization called R.U.F.F (Redlands Unleashed Fidos and Friends) in their dream of creating a dog park for the city's estimated 15,000 dogs. Upon completion, the park will have one area for small dogs and one for larger dogs, and plenty of parking available for their owners.
Before entering any dog park, make sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date. It's also a good idea to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian to make sure he's healthy. Never take a sick dog to the park and if you encounter a sick dog while there, keep your dog away from them. Don't forget to take a leash just in case you need to keep him next to you, and make sure to take plastic bags to pick up any deposits made by your dog.
Take your time when introducing your dog to the park and other dogs. A dog who seems anxious, shy or upset should not be unleashed until he's had a chance to get to know his surroundings and feels comfortable in them. The best way to ward off possible dog fights is to know your dog, understand a dog's body language and be ready to leave if you or your dog becomes uncomfortable.
A well run dog park gives your canine companion a safe area to romp freely, and allows them to burn off pent up energy while you socialize with other owners. By observing and asking questions before you go, the experience will be fun and rewarding for you and your best friend.
Read more articles by Linda Cole