Contributed by Greg DiFranza, Animal Behavior Expert, Owner/Operator of Kamp K-9 Jax Bch
Dog parks can be a great way to continue the socialization process and to learn more about how dogs interact. But there are a few things you need to know before you go:
DO NOT USE THE DOG PARK AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE WALK!
Take your dog on a vigorous walk of at least thirty-five minutes to drain some of her energy. Never take an over-excited dog to the park, and always ensure that they are calm before entering.
WHILE AT THE PARK, DON’T “PUNCH OUT” ON YOUR CALM-ASSERTIVE LEADERSHIP
Be aware of your dog at all times and take responsibility for her behavior. If she is too excited, that’s a great time to leave before something happens. Don’t forget to pick up after her!
A CALM-SUBMISSIVE DOG WILL NOT ATTRACT ANOTHER DOG’S AGGRESSION…
…but an excited, weak, timid, or aggressive dog can become a fight-magnet.
KNOW YOUR DOG!
If your dog has poor social skills, is overly fearful, is dog aggressive, or if you have not yet established your calm-assertive leadership with your dog, find a more controlled way to introduce her to the company of other dogs, such as “play dates” with one or two other dog owners. The dog park continues the socialization process.
DO NOT WALK YOUR DOG ON A LEASH IN AN OFF-LEASH PARK
Practice recall and control of him from a distance. And if leashing is necessary, leave the park immediately.
DON’T CREATE EXCITEMENT OR COMPETITION
Bringing your dog’s favorite toy creates excitement and competition. So do treats. Neither of these should be components at a dog park. Remember to practice a calmer environment instead of a more excited environment.
PRACTICE PACK LEADERSHIP SKILLS BEFORE COMING TO THE PARK
Knowing your dog is one component of leadership. If you can’t correct your dog without screaming/yelling/getting emotional, then DO NOT ENTER A DOG PARK! This behavior from humans increases the energy/excitement and can trigger an even worse event. If you or your dog is out of control, it is a recipe for problems. YOU are responsible for your dog and their behavior.
ALWAYS CARRY A LEASH
A leash is a tool and a communication device, and it is designed and used to keep dogs and people safe. It’s also designed to ensure cooperation between dog and human; therefore, it should be on your person and within easy access at all times while in the off-leash area.
HERE’S HOW TO ENTER A DOG PARK:
- Know the rules at the park before you enter.
- You and your dog approach in a calm fashion on the leash.
- Once inside the first area, remove the leash and manage excitement both with your dog and others.
- When ready, open the door and walk in – do not open the door for the dog and then wait (you are a servant at that point, not a leader and every dog there now knows this).
- After you enter, start walking and moving (don’t sit on a bench or stand around and “let the dogs figure it out”. Practice the Migration Ritual/walking).
- Enjoy the day!
Dr. Greg DiFranza owns and operates Kamp K-9 Jax Bch and his clients have included professional sports figures, Grammy award-winning artists, dot-com millionaires, nationwide rescue groups, and dog lovers galore. He has trained with Cesar Millan – the Dog Whisperer – and returns to Cesar’s ranch to assist in training sessions and was named a Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Small Business Leader of the Year. Since 2013, he has helped more than 2500 dog owners with everything from human and dog aggression to puppies and senior dogs and brings the training to you at your house. Group Canine Leadership classes are also available. With more than 50 years of human and dog training experience throughout the world, he can bring you simple to understand solutions to difficult canine problems through instinctual communication. Contact Greg at Kamp K-9 Jax Bch at (904) 566-7625, email@example.com, www.instagram.com/kampk9jaxbch/, www.kampk-9jaxbch.com/, www.facebook.com/kampk9jaxbch/