Great weather? Then let’s get some fresh air. There’s always something going on in the dog park: Contacts are made, social behavior is encouraged and there’s a lot of raving going on with fellow dogs. To ensure that the trip to the dog playground will be peaceful, people and animals should observe a few rules.
Dog parks offer the advantage that dogs as social beings can interact more freely with their animal colleagues. But for many dogs, the narrowness and often also the overcrowdedness of the dog zones are a challenge. When approaching such a free running surface, it is important to observe one’s own dog particularly well! Is he overwhelmed by the number of dogs present? Is he already visibly stressed at the fence? Is there any prospect of positive contacts from which one’s own dog can profit? Are there same-sex dogs there that could be dangerous for him?
Does the own dog show calming-signals like turning away from the gaze, licking, sniffing? Then it must be honestly weighed up whether a visit to the off-leash-zone is more likely to satisfy social contacts than making the dog happy. If conflicts or insecurity can be avoided in advance, this should happen!
1Dos and Don’ts
Arrived at the off-leash area there is usually hardly any stopping. Nevertheless, we should not necessarily let our dogs off the leash immediately. Allow your four-legged friend a settling-in period on the area. To be able to look around first without having to step into contact with other dogs is easier for most animals. Especially insecure or anxious fur noses should get this chance.
In general, there is no leash obligation on especially indicated dog parks – the dogs should be able to let off steam. Nevertheless, each dog owner has certain duties, because each two-legged friend is responsible for his darling. It is very important that you constantly keep an eye on your pet and make sure that your four-legged friend does not bother or molest other dogs. The responsibilities of the owner also include the interruption in case of misconduct and the protection of the dog in case of a conflict.
It is also important to expose unfavorable constellations in advance. Two uncastrated male dogs and a submissive female dog could be the source of ignition. Therefore, please note: Before the dog park is entered, one should ask all present ones whether there could be problems. Never simply enter with your four-legged friend!
Important: Do not forbid your own dog to growl! In the worst case, your dog learns that growling is not desired and goes forward without warning.
3Communication is Everything
Since on the off-leash area all four-legged friends are let off the leash and may run freely around, it is particularly important to observe the behavior and the communication of the dogs among themselves constantly and to interpret also correctly. Especially for beginners in the dog park, it is recommended to visit supervised playgroups. Here dog and owner profit from the knowledge of the dog trainer, learn to interpret the communication of the four-legged among themselves and get guidance to the correct behavior.
4If There is a Conflict Between Two Dogs…
Fighting dogs must be separated in any case immediately and a further meeting must be well considered. If it has come to injuries, the addresses should be exchanged unconditionally, so that possibly arising veterinary surgeon costs can be reported later to the insurance. Discussions about which dog is to blame for the incident usually do not help anybody: With respect and a cool head, such unpleasant incidents can be solved much better.
In critical situations, it makes sense to have a projectile with you that does not hurt the animals but frightens them. That can be a so-called throw chain, a half-full water bottle or also a plastic box filled with pebbles, which can be thrown between – not on! – the dogs. This one moment of shock must be used as a chance for separation.
It makes more sense to lift up dogs at the back legs than to push the biting animal’s own limb or also the part of the dog’s body pulled down even deeper into the mouth. Both if you are being bitten yourself and if it is a dog, the aggressive dog will often let go out of shock. Violence leads rather more to fight, irritation to escape. Because “flight or fight” is the motto.