You work long hours and need a place to take your dog for some off leash fun.
Unfortunately existing leash laws make dog parks one of the only viable alternatives for owners who want their dogs to run and play off leash and not risk the dreaded “off leash dog ticket”.
So how can you take some of the risk out of dog park play?
Tip #1 – Go at the “off” times.
Dog Parks are statistically busiest at those “after work” hours. Try and utilize the dog park at the slower times so there are less dogs there. Ideally I choose dog parks that separate large and small dogs and want to see a maximum of 10-15 dogs in the dog park if I would decide to go in. I have seen area dog parks with 30+ dogs and its honestly an accident waiting to happen. If you are going to utilize a dog park, go when its less crowded!
Tip #2 – Leave if a “problem” dog shows up.
I distinctly remember a dog park trip with some dog training clients to Bark Park in Fullerton. We had just walked in the gate when two dogs got into a scuffle.
“YOUR DOG ALWAYS CAUSES AN ISSUE” scolded one owner as the other owner tried to wrangle up their dog. We quickly gathered up our dog and headed to continue our lesson elsewhere.
The moment always stuck with me though because why would you continue to stay in a dog park when you know there is a dog who consistently causes issues? This brings us to Tip #3 …
Tip #3 – Watch for Signs of Problems!
There are many behavior signs we watch for when allowing dogs to interact in groups. Concerning behavior would be:
- Mounting Other Dogs
- Intense games of chase
- Fixation between dogs
- Guarding toys or other resources (water, owner, etc)
- Stiff Forward Body Language
- Fearful / Avoidance (these dogs can trigger the other dogs to gang up on them)
If you see any of these behaviors or if there appears to be a dog who is riling up all the dogs in the park, try to move away or redirect your dog’s attention elsewhere. Moving around the dog park is typically enough to get your dog to follow to keep up with you so stay moving and stay vigilant for any behaviors that may lead to a dog fight.
If you don’t think dog parks are right for you and your dog, dog daycares and dog walkers who go on adventure walks can make a great alternative. These allow your dogs to get plenty of exercise and some dog interaction in a safe, controlled environment.
If you want your dog to have safe dog play while boarding, check out OC Dog Ranch’s Dog Boarding services.