One: Make Sure They’re Well Behaved On-Leash
Before you attempt to take your dog to the dog park and let them run off-leash, make sure they’re well behaved on-leash.
Because there are a lot of new things to see and smell at the dog park, your pup might be tempted to behave erratically.
If your dog doesn’t behave on-leash, they’re not ready for the dog park.
Two: Know Where They Are At All Times
Dog parks are big, open, and full of dogs. It’s ultra easy for your dog to wander away. They can go out of sight without you even noticing.
Because of the general confusion at dog parks, it’s a must to keep track of your pup.
Three: All Introductions Done On-Leash First
When dogs meet, they like to be on equal footing. When one dog is leashed and the other isn’t, it can make the leashed dog fearful or defensive.
It will also let your dog know that you’re in control of the walk, their behavior, and their protection.
Four: Practice Off-Leash At Home First
If you have a yard, or a small area at home where you feel safe, let your dog practice being off-leash there.
If they have any doggie friends, bring them over to practice with your pup. This gives your dog the opportunity to be off-leash with other dogs around.
Five: Try Off-Leashed In A Fenced Area
Go away from your yard to a place with a secure fence. Tennis courts and baseball fields are good for this. Let your dog off-leash to practice for the park. Look for triggers of bad behaviors and correct them in practice. This can help save your dog’s life.
Six: Make Sure They’re Mind Their Manners First
If your dog is misbehaving in the practice areas, do not go to the dog park until you feel they are reasonably perfect.
Seven: Pay Attention
Cesar Milan is fond of saying that most dog park problems come from owners “checking out” once their dogs start to play. They get lost in conversations, texting or emailing, or watching videos on their phone. Even well behaved dogs can get spooked and dart away. For your dog’s safety, pay attention at all times.
Eight: Practice Commands
The more familiar and efficient your dog is following commands, the safer they’ll be at the park.
Nine: Watch For Over-Possessiveness Or Guarding
Being around strange dogs can trigger your dog to resource guard. This leads to a lot of fear biting and fear-aggressive incidents. If you notice your dog becoming possessive of a toy, ball, or any other object, step in and correct them.
Ten: Praise Good Behavior
Every minute at the dog park, and right after, is an opportunity to reenforce good behaviors. Make sure you correct the bad, but praise and reward the good as well.
Eleven: Watch Water Intake
Dogs can easily slip into dehydration when at the dog park. There is a lot of excitement and activity. Make sure your dog is drinking water while you’re there, and that they take breaks as needed.
Twelve: Exercise Away From The Park Too
Don’t rely on the dog park for your dog’s exercise. There is a lot of physical activity, but there’s also a lot of energy and excitement. Walking is still needed. Walking to the park, especially if the walk is 10-mins or more, is a great way to exercise and drain excess energy from your pup to prevent behavior problems while running around the dog park.