Dog parks are a great addition to communities. They bring people and dogs together in a safe area to play and socialize, whether indoor or outdoor. They’re increasingly popular, but they’re not necessarily a great fit for all dogs. So what are the keys to making your dog park visits the best they can be?
First of all, ask the dog’s owner during drop off if your canine client enjoys the dog park. The dog’s owner knows them best and will be able to advise if the dog park is a good idea or not. Some dogs are not successful in that environment. For instance, tense dogs may struggle to have a great time at the dog park. Here’s a few examples of how some dog-personality types and dog parks don’t mix.
The Stressed Dog
Stress and fear make a dog park an uncomfortable place for a pup. Ask these questions to determine whether this is true for your pet:
- Do they seem generally stressed or nervous?
- Do they always back away when another dog approaches?
- Are their ears to the side, tail low or tucked, and are they trying to look small and hunched back?
The Dog with a Job
Some breeds have predisposed behaviors that might not make them a good candidate for dog parks. Herding dogs, for example, are meant to herd animals, which affects their play style. Some of this herding behavior is considered rude dog behavior, and could escalate into an incident. This includes:
- Biting at dogs’ heels
- Direct eye contact
Dogs use their whole body to communicate, and just like in human conversations, misunderstandings can happen. It’s important to watch your dog with other dogs to make sure the play stays light and friendly. If one dog doesn’t understand what the other dog is saying, it can quickly escalate to a fight.
If you notice this, call your dog to you. If your dog consistently doesn’t understand another dog’s “I don’t want to play” behavior, then your dog may not be a good fit for a dog park.
Learn more about supervising dog interactions here.
The bottom line is that dog parks should be enjoyable and safe for humans and their dogs. When you go, always supervise your dog, protect them, and help them to be the best dog they can be. And before you go, make sure it’s the kind of environment that’s right for your pet.