It’s the weekend! And of course, I wanna get my dog outside to enjoy the sunshine!
The sun is shining! A nice breeze is keeping you cool! You wanna take your dog on a fun adventure! Dog park? Dog Beach? Forest preserve? So much to choose from. When it comes to adventures, you can almost guarantee that other dogs will be there.
They’re just dogs, right?! They’ll be fine with other dogs. They’ll be fine with children and bicycles and skateboards. They ALWAYS listen to their mom! They’re recall is spot on! I’ll just keep treats in my pocket and, that’ll do the trick!
I’ve heard it and seen it a million times, twice.
Being a dog mom/dad is a responsibility. They are just like children, but different. They’re different because they don’t speak English or, Spanish, or French, or Russian, or anything with words.
What do they speak, you might ask? Well my friend, I’ll give you a hint….
…They speak dog….
I know, shocking. Mind blowing.
When you go to a dog park, have you ever just watched your dogs body language? I mean really watch it? Have you watched other dogs’ body language? A lot of people say yes. But do you really understand what it means?
If you’re a dog owner, you NEED to understand how they communicate.
10 Helpful Tips For Dogs and Dog Parks! The Do’s & Don’ts
- WATCH HIS/HER BODY:
Is your dog super excited? Scared/Nervous? How do you know? Look for these tips:
Relaxed body posture, smooth hair, mouth relaxed. Ears are in natural position (not pushed back and down), tail is wagging or neutral, eyes are normal shape.
A happy dog will “invite” others to play. Your dog will lower his front half, and raising his butt, with tail wagging, and possibly barking.
BIGGEST SIGN: Tail is tucked in between back legs. Nervous dogs will lower their head, while still looking up. Ears will be pressed back, and dog will open mouth excessively (looking like a yawn).
A dog will lay down and avoid eye contact and turn his/her head away. They will lick their lips, body will shake.
A scared dog will have raised fur, tail tucked, eyes pinned back, showing teeth, barking, panting, yawning, licking lips. A scared dog will go into fight or flight. It is important to notice these triggers and REDIRECT their attention.
** IMPORTANT: Do not coddle them while scared, they will think that this feeling is okay. When they become scared, turn them around –redirect– and go back once they’re calmer. Training is important!
Angry dogs will stand firm. Their posture will be stiff and stagnant. Ears are UP, not relaxed. Hair is raised, tail is up and stiff (not wagging). ALTHOUGH, dominant dogs that want to be aggressive, will wag their tail. If the dog is restrained, they will bark excessively, pull and lunged towards others.
DO NOT LOOK AT THEIR TAIL. ANGRY DOGS WILL WAG THEIR TAIL, IT DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE HAPPY.
2. Let the dogs say Hi! Dogs communicate through smell. They will smell butts, boy parts, and girl parts. Countless owners pull their dogs away, or yell a them for doing a natural instinct. This is how they get to know the dog, who they are, where they’ve been, how they’re feeling. Let your dog sniff!!!
3. Barking dogs happen! Each dog plays differently! Some dogs play rough, some dogs love to run, some dogs just want to fetch a ball, some dogs want to chill. You cannot deem a dog aggressive just because they’re barking, playing and wrestling with your dog. SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE DONE! Big Mac has a loud deep bark. He loves to bark while wrestling, or running. People have told me “You need to separate your dog from mine. He’s to aggressive”. I simply tell them, “well if this is aggression, your dog likes it”.
4. Know when your dog needs a break. Dogs can get tired, and don’t know when to stop. In a matter of a second, your once happy dog can turn into a – leave me alone – dog. If your dogs behavior has changed from anything other than playful, redirect him away. If the other dog is insistent, get the owner. Simply say, “my pup needs a break. Do you mind helping me out?”
5. WATCH YOUR DOGS SURROUNDINGS! Even before entering the dog park, use the entrance gate to let your dog smell the “dog park greeters”, and YOU can see how other dogs are playing.
6. Watch YOUR body language. This is important. If you’re nervous, your dog is nervous. If your dog is nervous they’ll try to protect you, or go into fight or flight. A dog in flight, will still bite other dogs. Make sure you’re collected and calm. If you’re having constant anxiety, bring a friend!
7. NEVER EVER EVER BRING A DOG INTO A DOG PARK/BEACH ON LEASH! This is a golden rule. I understand that you’re unsure of how your dog will be, and you want to control the situation. Keeping a dog on leash when they’re nervous, will make them vulnerable. Other dogs will pick up on it, and take advantage. Your dog can only go as far as the leash. If the dog is off leash and gets scared, they can run away.
TIP ** if you’re nervous about your dog, keep him/her in the entrance gate until they’re relaxed. Or walk them around the outside of the park. Let your pup sniff! Let them see your excitement. Once YOU’RE ready, take the leash off, take a deep breath, open the gate. Stay calm for your fur baby!
8. Toys are your choice. But don’t get mad when your dog won’t share. Toys help your dog run and get the energy out. BUT it can be a trigger for aggression.
My dog, doesn’t share; especially when swimming. He’ll growl, show teeth, and re-correct if they even get close to his toy. You, as the owner, needs to judge whether bringing a toy will create happiness or stress.
9. Re-corrections happen. Big Mac is re-correction king. He’s a dominant, neutered, male. He hates being mounted. Hates paws on his back. Hates dogs jumping in his face. Hates dogs around his toys. Hates jumping puppies. It sounds aggressive. The other dog might yelp. But it is a way they communicate, “Stop. That’s enough!”. A re-correction will stop. Aggressive fighting does not stop. If you’re nervous, talk to the owner; get a sense of how to dog likes to play.
10. HAVE FUN! If you’re having fun, they’re having fun! Do your research! Communicate with other owners. Watch your dogs behavior and body language. Bring him to new parks. If something negative happens, redirect him. Follow your pup in the background for a bit.
I hope this helps!! Dog parks are an adventure. There’s so many different types of parks out there.
Click Here, to help you find a dog park near you!
Leave a comment of your dog park experiences. What do you do when going to a dog park? Leave a picture of your fur baby!