Preparing Your Dog for the Dog Park

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Your best friend knows you are ready for adventure when you reach for their leash, but what happens when you want to treat your fur baby to a little off-leash time? The dog park is the perfect option, and in Austin, there is no shortage of spacious parks that cater to four-legged friends. Unfortunately, many dog owners don’t realize they must prepare their pets for what to expect. Preparing your dog for the dog park is easy with our quick guide.

At Walk! ATX, we want to help you prepare your pet for dog park fun. We want your forever friend to be safe when running, playing, and interacting with other animals.

How to Prepare Your Dog for the Dog Park

Many pet owners think they can head to the local dog park for fun in the sun and just let their dog play. That is not the case. The dog park can be dangerous and scary for dogs, especially those not used to social interactions with strange people or animals. Exposing an unprepared dog to the dog park can lead to fights, bites, and injuries to you, your animal, or another person. Encounters with other dogs or the fecal matter left behind at dog parks can also be hazardous to your dog’s health, especially if they are unvaccinated. What steps should you take before preparing your dog for the dog park?

Step One: Vaccinate Your Pet

Before you even consider taking your new friend to the dog park, make sure they are properly vaccinated and up to date on all their shots and medications, including flea, tick, or heartworm medications. Puppies should not visit your local dog park until they are at least 17 weeks old and have full protection from all vaccinations.

Step Two: Ensure Your Dog Has Basic Training

Taking an untrained dog to the dog park is asking for trouble. You want your dog to understand basic commands like sit and come and have solid name-recognition skills.

Step Three: Understand How to Break Up a Fight

Even the best-trained and most social animals can occasionally get into a scrap. Know the signs of aggressive behavior and learn how to break up a dog fight. Dog fights are different from rough play. Look at how your animal holds its tail. Is it relaxed or tense? Dog fights are generally characterized by fast movements, with one dog acting as the primary aggressor. To break up a fight, attempt to distract the dogs or divert their attention. If that fails, use an object to separate the animals. Physically separating fighting dogs should always be your last resort because you can quickly find yourself on the receiving end of a bite.

Step Four: Time Your Visit Right

For your first excursion, time your trip right. For your first trip to the dog park, don’t visit during peak hours. This tactic gives you and your dog time to explore the dog park and its features without being overwhelmed by lots of other animals. You can also take this time to watch the activities in the park and get a feel for what the other dogs and dog owners are like before plunging your furry friend into the deep end. You can also visit multiple nearby dog parks or check with family and friends so that you select the park that meets your dog’s needs.

You’ll also want to observe what types of dogs frequent the dog park. Does your nearby park attract small dogs or other smaller animals? You may want to take your bigger animal to another park where the dogs are closer to their size and activity level. The reverse is also true.

Step Five: Leave the Treats at Home

Many pet owners reward their animal’s good behavior with treats. However, it is best to leave food at home. Some animals have resource-guarding tendencies and can become aggressive if they feel another animal is going after their food. Although most parks have watering holes for your four-legged friend, bringing a portable, collapsable bowl and water is wise. Playing all day can work up a thirst.

Step Six: Pay Attention

Now is not the time to let your dog run loose while you scroll through your phone. Don’t take your dog off leash if you can be distracted. Always keep an eye on your furry friend and monitor their behavior and that of the other dogs.

Other Tips to Consider for a Safe and Fun Adventure

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Here are more ways to help your pet have a great time:

  • Leave small children at home
  • Leave other pets at home
  • Bring a leash just in case, but don’t use it in off-leash areas
  • Avoid bringing toys
  • Clean up after your pet
  • Have fun! 

Contact Walk! ATX Today

What should you do when preparing your dog for the dog park? Austin has many fantastic dog parks for you and your furry friend to explore. However, when you don’t have the time to play or need help training your dog before you explore the park, turn to our happy pet team. Walk! ATX is a locally owned and operated full-service pet care company, and our Austin pet-sitting specialists can help you cater to your pet’s unique needs.

Call us at (512) 655-9557 for more information.

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