The Dog Park members are getting excited about meeting new puppies and dogs at the dog park. That is as soon as their shots are up to date. Remember to take all your canines’ medical shot records to Town Hall to get your ID badge stamped with the dog park emblem. While we would like to have everybody come into the park that comes by with a dog, the only dogs allowed must have registered shot records and be accompanied by a person over the age of 16.
That said: Remember all dogs see each other as a member of a “pack.” You and your pup are the main pack, but for your dog to have a happy and healthy relationship with other humans and animals, the definition of a “pack” has to expand. When a new dog is added to the park pack, there is a few minutes of total chaos. This is very normal for the dogs, but extremely stressful for the humans. Take a deep breath and relax.
The dogs will all dash over to the gate where you are entering and greet the new kid. The older dogs will help establish the pack pecking order. If your dog is uncomfortable, she will probably hide under your seat. Don’t discourage or encourage the behavior. He or She really does want to be friends with the other dogs, it just takes a few minutes of being nudged around and then it’s play-time.
Work on sharpening your commands while you are waiting to get your stamp. Puppies love to learn; it gives them confidence. The commands are (in no specific order) Recall, Sit, Stay, Drop it! (A good one when they have picked up something nasty). Recall is my favorite when in a large space. I use my voice and hand signals in conjunction with all my commands, but for recall; I clap 3-times and call “Tilly.” Not “come here!” I reward her with a treat when she comes quickly, a pat on the head when she delays. After a while, I drop calling her name and just use three claps. Less annoying than constantly belting out her name.
It is the rule of the dog park that if there is a dogfight, all owners must retrieve their own dog, put them on a leash, and calm them down. Please don’t start pointing fingers. Dogs get into fights just as children do on a playground. The fight is usually forgotten within seconds. If it is more than a playground kerfuffle, please note the date/time/park, and names of the dogs and witnesses. This will help immensely in retrieving the video and having an unbiased group of people review the tape if disciplinary action is necessary.
Enjoy your furry friend. They can keep you happy and healthy. Keep teaching those tricks, training disguised as play is fun.
By Lez’Lie Reynolds