Basically, dogs are social creatures. In addition to spending time with you and your family, puppies also like to socialize with other pups. Dog parks are ideal venue for your best pals to play around, have fun and get some good exercise time with other dogs under the right circumstances. However, just like a child at daycare, when being introduced to the dog park scene, a puppy might be anxious, stressed or overly dominant and present other unique set of challenges to its owner. That’s why, while some dog owners jump right into dog parks, others have hesitations. With some helpful tips below, you can work out these issues, set the stage for fun and stress-free experience when you take your furry friend to the dog park for the first time.
When is the right time to visit the Dog park?
It is ideal to take your puppy to the dog park when she is around 16 weeks of age. Any earlier, she has not been fully immunized and therefore will be vulnerable and likely to pick up a disease from other dogs. In some cases, some older dogs may display aggressive behavior towards a young pup, he can be very traumatized during an important stage of his social development. But when your pup is fully immunized, it is good idea to take him to the dog park as soon as it is safe. Plus, it is more likely to be a pleasant first experience if you take your puppy to the dog park before he hits adolescence – generally around 6 months of age. Most adult dogs will be patient with a young one who hasn’t mastered canine etiquette, but may get snappy with an obnoxious pooch in his teenage years.
You should also check your pup for parasites. Look for fleas, ticks and even cut his fur regularly to avoid some skin-related diseases and then spreading them to other dogs at the park. Apart from considering using preventative medicine for these parasites, keeping your pets well-groomed will prevent those problems from occurring in their fur and make all the difference. Instead of looking around for a good local groomer and spend on professional grooming services, home grooming can be a daunting but bonding experience with your pet. In order to make the trimming process as easy as possible and painless for both you and your puppy, you should choose a high-quality pair of dog grooming clippers.
It is also important to keep in mind that puppies and rescue dogs should finish their full course of vaccinations and make sure all vaccinations are up to date before they visit park with other dogs. An unvaccinated dog could easily catch some contagious diseases like parvo, kennel cough, hookworms, rabies… If your pup is still very young or was recently ill or malnourished, you’d better ask your veterinarian for their recommendation first, even after vaccination. He may need time to build up his immune system before being introduced to the dog park.
Set proper boundaries
When at off leash dog park, you can obviously cannot control what other dogs do, but definitely can play a role in how your puppy behaves. The key to keep your proactive puppy safe at the dog park is to have a good grasp on how your dog will interact with other dogs. If your dog has an aggressive, fearful or reactive personality, introducing him to a dog park might not be wise. If your dog hasn’t been around other animals and thus is new to social situation, introduce them slowly, start the socialization process with one or two calm friends or neighbors’ dogs before mixing in with strangers’ dogs
Moreover, an untrained dog can be a safety risk to itself and others at the dog park. At minimum, your dog should respond appropriately to “come” command. Other useful commands to teach are down, sit and stay. If your pup doesn’t come when called, it’s time to start training him by practicing commands off-leash in a fenced-in yard or in your apartment hallway. . When your pet’s command response is strong enough, you can feel confident that he will come to you whether dog behaviors and interaction escalate at the dog park.
Choose the right park for your dog
In the beginning, dog parks with secure fences are the safer bet for the first time visits. Members-only dog park are even better choice because they are cleaner by picking up trash, doggy-do and aggressive pooches can be kicked out if necessary. But if you can’t find a fenced park, pick one with open space so your puppies can stay a safe distance from bullies or other dangers from adjacent streets.
Besides, there are other things to consider when choosing a dog park such as the size of your dog as if your dog is small, you may want to find a park with a designated small dog area; park’s rules and other park goers. You should visit the park alone beforehand so you can observe surroundings, how the other dogs behave and interact with each other and then decide whether the park matches your puppy’s level of activeness and bring him to the park or not. It is also important to let him observe from outside and watch his reactions to give you an idea of his actual response. Last but not least, for your pup’s first visit to a dog park, the best time is when the park is not very crowded with lots of dogs and people so avoid peak evenings and weekends.