The dog park is an amazing place for city pups. It is the closest thing to a backyard for most of us with the added bonus of playmates.
The dog park can be a great way for both your puppy and you to socialize, but you want to make sure to follow a few steps to ensure a safe and happy environment.
- Don’t bring an over-excited puppy into the dog park – If Fendi seems overly excited/anxious to get to the dog park, I walk her around the actual park until she has calmed down. It is easy to tell when Fendi is excited as she is not a puller and will start pulling if she has too much energy. ALWAYS make your puppy sit or lay down before actually entering the dog park and walk through the door first.
- Watch over your puppy – Just because it is a gated area and just because you may feel your dog/puppy is perfectly behaved does not mean you can zone out. Not every dog that enters the park is well socialized & fights do break out. On the flip side, some owners can be extremely anxious & mistake play for harm. This is especially true with larger dogs playing with smaller dogs. I personally feel if you just bring your dog there to sniff around so you don’t have to walk it, you shouldn’t really be there in the first place. Regardless, it is important for everyone to feel comfortable and safe from a human & dog perspective.
- Practice recall – At the advice of my puppy trainer, I keep Fendi’s leash around my neck at all times so she does not know when we are actually leaving. I recall her at least twice before doing the final removal for the park. This way she doesn’t see recall as the cue to leave. Sometimes she ignores the recall, especially if she found a really fun playmate. We are working on this.
- Know when to leave – There are sometimes dogs at the park that just do not seem to get along with Fendi. Fendi loves playing with everyone, but if I notice a dog she seems scared of that wont leave her alone, we will pack up and come back later. True to her breed, Fendi is a dog that will keep going forever, no matter how exhausted. I have noticed when she is really tired, she plays less and sometimes starts grabbing at dogs collars. This is my cue that she has had enough and is becoming bratty rather than playful.
- Do not substitute the dog park for regular exercise – Dogs & puppies still require their daily walks in addition to free play. Walks are an essential time with you and your dog to bond & practice training. They are so important to your dogs routine and health. In addition to the dog park, Fendi gets about 3 – 4 walks a day (more/longer if we do not take her to the park).