Tips for Enjoying the dog park

  1. Recognize that your dog may not get along with ALL other dogs, and that some combinations simply don't work.
  2. Educate yourself on dog body language and canine communication so you can recognize the difference between safe play and aggressive play. 
  3. Safe play is a “give and take” between dogs - not one dog continully pushing, jumping on or mouthing the other dog If your dog is doing this to another dog, go get him, or call him to you and get him under control.
  4. Make sure your own dog is actually playing with another dog, and not just responding in a defensive, deflective way. Call your dog to you, and when you release him to go back to "play," see if he indeed does return to engage with the same dog(s).
  5. Be willing to leave a dog park if you feel that your dog is either being a bully or being bullied, the play is getting too rough or your dog is just not having fun.
  6. Break up loose packs.  Packs of dogs will gang up on weaker dogs and may even physically attack them.
  7. Be sure to take your dog’s temperament into consideration and don’t assume your dog is having a good time – watch your dog’s demeanor and make an informed judgment about how happy s/he is to be there.  Some dogs will have no desire to play, yet will love to sniff all the bushes and trees; other dogs will be thrilled to race from one end of the park to the other.  Both can benefit from the dog park – they just enjoy it in different ways.
  8. Call your dog to you frequently, not just when it's time to leave. By calling him over to you frequently, praising him and then releasing him back to play, you can avoid the difficulty many dog park users experience: the dog who can't be caught when it's time to leave.
  9. Turn your cell phone off, or don’t take calls or text, unless it's an emergency. This is a good time for you and your dog to be together, and doesn't your dog deserve your undivided attention?
  10. Keep Moving!  Don’t allow yourself to be part of stationary group of people, which could result in too many dogs gathering in one place .  Move around so your dog knows it will need to keep an eye on you.  It’s a big park, why not explore it with your dog!
  11. Small dogs (under 25 lbs.) should use the small dog area and should absolutely not be in the be in the large dog area. Even if you’re small dog is used to playing with larger dogs, not every large dog is used to playing with small dogs. It’s so easy for a little guy to get overwhelmed or bowled over by larger dogs. The large dogs may not mean to hurt the smaller dogs, but play may be too rough, or they may see the small dog as a prey animal, pick it up and shake it, which can be fatal.
  12. Check out the entrance before entering to make sure dogs aren’t congregating there. If they are, try the other entrance. 
  13. Leave if you start to feel concerned about anything going on. Help to resolve the situation if you can, but your first responsibility is to keep both you and your dog safe.