Tips & tricks for visiting the dog park

The Dog Park committee members are getting excited about meeting all of the Christmas puppies at Celebration Unleashed. That is as soon as their shots are up to date. Remember to take all of the medical shot records to Town Hall and get your ID badge stamped with the entrance emblem for the parks. While we would like to have everybody come into the park that comes by with a dog, the only dogs allowed in will be dogs that have records and are accompanied by a person over the age of 16 and holding a proper ID card.

That said: here are a few training tricks you might want to put to good use while you are counting the days before your first visit. Remember that all dogs see each other as a member of a “pack.” You and your new best friend 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 a little. When a new dog is added to the park pack, there are a few minutes of total chaos. This is very normal for the dogs, but extremely stressful for the humans. Take a deep breath and will yourself to relax and breath.

The dogs will all dash over to the gate where you are entering and they each want to meet (sniff butts) the new kid. Don’t we wish the school playground had been so excited to see you on your first day? The older dogs will help establish the pack pecking order. If your dog is uncomfortable, she will want to make herself very small and probably hide under your seat. Don’t discourage or encourage the behavior. They really do want to be friends with the other dogs, it just takes a few minutes of being nudged around and then it is playtime.

While you have this one-on-one time together, you should be working on sharpening your commands. They are (in no specific order) Recall command, Sit, Stay and Drop it! (A good one when they have picked up something nasty). Recall is my favorite command when in a large space. “I use my voice and hand signals in conjunction. I clap 3-times and call Tilly. Not “come here!” I reward her with a treat when she comes quickly to me, a pat on the head when she delays for a few minutes. 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, and 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, healthy and wealthy. Just remember to keep teaching them tricks all the time. Training is most often disguised as a game.

By Lez’lie Reynolds

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