5 Tips For The Dog Park (To Keep Everyone Happy And Safe)

Just A Few Things To Keep In Mind

Written by: Noel Johnson

 1) Pick up after your dog

This seems like an obvious one but every day I’m at the dog park there are “doggy land-mines” strewn about. This is not only bad for your shoes but also for dogs who are “poo eaters”.  If everyone just picked up after their dogs it would be a much cleaner place.  If you are picking up after your own dog and you see some doggy-doo next to it, why not pick it up to! Its not just going to magically disappear on its own.  Even if someone else left there dog mess behind, be the bigger person and pick up whatever you see around you!

2) No small children

If you have your little ones with you and don’t have anyone to take care of them while you take your pooch to the dog park then don’t go to the dog park! There is no way you can trust every strange dog in the dog park with your child especially if they are little and still don’t understand how to be “gentle”. Even if every dog there is fun loving and friendly (which they usually are). More than likely your kid is going to get bowled over while the dogs run around. Dog parks are parks for DOGS not CHILDREN.

3) If you can’t control your dog, keep it on a long leash

Before letting your dog off leash you should always work on their recall thoroughly. Realistically, some dogs are more independent or are just easily distracted which makes recall difficult. If this is the case you can purchase 20-40ft leashes from most pet stores. Use that at the dog park so if Fido is running off with someone elses ball and won’t come back at least you have the leash to grab and reign him in!

4) Don’t bring your dogs “favorite” toy

If you’re bringing your dogs favorite toy to the dog park you’re basically asking him to get into a fight. Even if your dog doesn’t have toy aggression, its just a risk best not to take. If your dog does have toy aggression, put a muzzle on them. Its not cruel its just common sense. In my opinion tennis balls should be the only toys aloud at the dog park. Why? because they’re cheap and usually the park is already full of them so most dogs don’t really care if another dog catches the ball before they do. The only time you should bring your dogs favorite toy is for recall incentive. Otherwise leave that squeaky goose toy at home.

5) Relax

Quite often I see a dog owner “mother henning” their dog. Following it around, yelling at it and freaking out whenever their dog starts to play with another dog because it looks like “fighting”. Take a deep breath and now that dogs can understand each other far better than humans and being anxious at the dog park is only going to make your dog nervous and perhaps act out aggressively. If you can’t read or understand dogs warning signs or calming signals and the park is too stressful, go elsewhere or wait for a less busy time. Your dog will be much happier with a calm and happy owner!

Learn more about dog walker & dog day care center in Toronto

Dog Recall Fundamentals

  •    Whether you’re teaching a young puppy or an older dog, the first step is always to establish that coming to you is the best thing your dog can do. Any time your dog comes to you whether you’ve called her or not, acknowledge that you appreciate it. You can do this with smiles, praise, affection, play or treats. This consistent reinforcement ensures that your dog will continue to “check in” with you frequently.

  •    You’ll usually be more successful at getting your dog to come when you call if you run away from her while you call. Dogs find it hard to resist chasing after a running person, especially their pet parent. This is important to keep in mind if you’re in an emergency situation—for instance, if you see your dog running toward a road. As hard as it is to resist running after your dog, if you scream her name and run in the opposite direction, she’s much more likely to change direction and come after you. You should only run after your dog in a situation like this if you’re confident that you can stop her before she reaches the road.

  •    Dogs tend to tune us out if we talk to them all the time. Whether you’re training or out for an off-leash walk with your dog, refrain from constantly chattering to her. If you’re quiet much of the time, your dog is more likely to pay attention to you when you call her.

  •    Appreciate every effort your dog makes at coming to you when you call. Often, a dog will start off running toward her pet parent but then get distracted by something and veer off in another direction. Pre-empt this situation by praising your dog and cheering her on at the beginning, right when she starts to come to you and before she has a chance to get distracted. Your praise will keep her focused so that she’ll be more likely to come all the way to you. If she stops or turns away from you, you can give her feedback by saying “Uh-uh!” or “Hey!” in a different tone of voice (displeased or unpleasantly surprised). When she looks at you again, smile, call her and praise her as she approaches you. Reward her generously when she arrives. Whenever you’re out training the recall, be sure to bring delicious treats that your dog loves, diced into bite-sized pieces. It’s especially effective to use special rewards that your dog doesn’t get at any other time, such as chunks of chicken breast, cooked chicken livers, cheese, hot dogs, baby food or bits of sausage.

  •    Progress your dog’s training in baby steps. If she’s learned to come when called in your kitchen, you can’t expect her to be able to do it at the dog park when she’s surrounded by a pack of her buddies. That would be like a child suddenly jumping from first grade to eighth grade in school! If your dog comes when called in the kitchen, try the upstairs hallway next. If she comes there, try the backyard. Then continue to practice in the backyard—but arrange for kids to be playing next door so that there’s mild distraction. Try the hallway again, but this time scatter a few of your dog’s toys on the floor in advance. Next, progress to your front yard or somewhere relatively quiet in your neighborhood. Finally, try your local park, but make sure there’s no one around to distract your dog when you first test her recall. Use a long training leash (15 to 40 feet long) whenever you’re training her outside of a safely fenced area. Only when your dog has mastered the recall in a number of locations and in the face of numerous distractions can you expect that she’ll come to you when she’s playing at the dog park or chasing a squirrel in the backyard.