Earlier this month a Siberian husky named Bear-Bear was roaming in his neighborhood dog park when he approached a leashed German Shepherd. The Shepherd was owned by an off-duty police officer. The dogs play began to play rough and the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian, his owner’s brother, to call off the dog. But before he could do anything, the officer pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear.
This tragic scenario might have been prevented. It is important for dog owners to be educated in proper dog park etiquette and safety. With a little training for yourself and your dog, dangerous situations can be avoided. In an article by Trish King, the Director of Behavior and Training at the Marin Humane Society, wrote, “Dog parks are like going to a party where everyone is drunk. It could be fun, or it could be a disaster.”
Here is a list of recommendations for preparing your dog to visit a neighborhood dog park.
Before Going to the Dog Park
Is your dog sociable? Does your dog behave well with other dogs and people? These are important questions to ask yourself before your visit to the dog park. The earlier you socialize the dogs, the better. If your dog has not been exposed to other dogs, then you may want to consider some socialization prior to going to the dog park. Walk your dog around your neighborhood and meet the other dogs in the area. This is a good way to see how your dog reacts to other dogs.
Vaccinations and shots for your dog must be up to date. Most dog parks require this, but it is also for your dog’s best interest. This will help prevent diseases and parasites. Also, flea medication is a must, or plan to flea bathe your pet after your visit. You certainly don’t want to bring home any unwanted guests!
Be sure your dog is trained in the basic commands. Commands like sit, stay, and come are crucial at the dog park. If an altercation occurs, your dog will be more likely to respond to you and abondon an altercation.
Familiarize yourself to your dog’s play habits. Be able to differentiate when your dog is playing or getting aggressive. Know when to remove your dog if play gets out of hand.
At the Dog Park
Before entering, observe the environment. If the park is over-crowded, or some dogs are not playing in a suitable manner for your dog, do not enter.
Watch for toys. Some dogs are very possessive of toys. This type of behavior could easily lead to a skirmish at the dog park.
No food or treats at the dog park. Have you ever heard the saying “food fight”? This could be taken literally when dogs are concerned. Food is one thing that a dog will fight to protect.
Supervision is key. Don’t be the naive dog owner who thinks nothing can happen at the dog park. While you’re both there to have fun, your dog relies on you to keep them safe.
If a Fight Breaks Out
Remove your dog from the situation. If you notice a situation get out of hand, remove your dog before a fight can begin. This is when a strong “come” command is essential.
Resolve the situation with the other dog’s owner. Be proactive! Never reach for a dog’s collar, even your own. Always keep your hands away from their heads.
Knowing all about your dog’s personality is the key to a successful outing to the park. Also, being aware of what is happening will help with staying ahead of any potential conflicts and insuring a pleasant experience for both you and your dog.
Discuss your concerns about taking your pet to a dog park at our forum.