Prerequisite for dogs attending off leash areas should be a string of commands that your dog can follow to balance his playtime with training. Don’t let your dog forget you’re there, be creative and implement fun training sessions during playtime, remind him that you’re fun too. Make a habit of calling your dog and teach him to leave his buddies to ‘check-in’ with you periodically.
This technique will boost your recall potential and improve the relationship you have with your dog at the park, it may also help educate other dog owners and prompt them to question why you keep calling your dog. The recall is so important it should be used during your dog’s playtime to ensure safety for your dog and others. Suppose a few canines get into a rumble, if you have a good recall you increase your chances of getting your dog out of a sticky situation. While it’s not a guarantee that your dog will not get into a fight or hurt a dog or person, it can be a safety net, and ‘good park manners’.
On a recent trip to a local dog park, I observed one woman call her young dog several times to no avail. This dog was never called during playtime, and it was clear the dog associated the call with the end of playtime. As a result, this owner has no safety net. Naïve dog owners with untrained or un-socialized dogs wreck havoc on a peaceful environment. It’s important to know how to read canine body language and gauge comfort levels. Understanding canine gestures can help get you to know the dogs at the park and learn to distinguish ‘nice’ play and ‘not so nice’ play. Dog owners need to pay close attention and watch for inappropriate behavior towards other dogs and people.
The growing popularity of Dog Parks can create the opportunity for all dog owners to network, as well as allow inexperienced handlers the benefit of interacting with experienced dog park patrons. We want to keep our Dog Parks, so take responsibility for your dogs’ behavior & safety, and don’t forget to teach your dog to “check in” during playtime.
For more information, contact Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz at www.MeritPuppy.com or (703)461-PETS (7387) for Dog Park Safety Tips.