The Wag defined dog parks as a place for dogs to have fun and get along with other four-legged pets. However, this doesn't always work out that way.
For instance, favorite balls get snatched, bigger dogs can be too rough with smaller dogs, dogs jumping on strangers, gangs of dogs pick on loners...the list goes on. But again, it does not have to be that way.
If every pet owner took accountability for their own pooch's actions, then everyone could enjoy the park in peace. Enjoying the dog park only happens when owners take charge of and act responsibly with their dogs. Needless to say, this doesn't necessarily mean they'll have to keep their pet on the leash, because learning some basic commands provides you the ability to divert your dog's attention from trouble, recall a dog, and most of all, encourage the best interactions with people at public parks.
Daily Walks are Key
According to Cesar’s Way, dog walks are great opportunities for your dog to see and potentially meet other people and dogs along with practicing proper behavior when out and about. This is because owners are bound to run into more social situations when they are out on a walk than when they're at home. But walks are also perfect for socializing dogs since they'll have less pent-up energy due to exercise and should be more submissive and calmer.
Besides this, Rover added that taking your pooch to public places will help him grow more comfortable with the people and world around him. Take different paths, allow your pet the chance to experience a wide variety of sights, and meet new friends.
Expose Your Dog to Various People
Dogtopia explained that puppies who haven't been socialized with others are usually fearful of new circumstances and situations - like going places or meeting new people. Socializing your pooch through activities like visiting the doggie daycare or the dog park, helps to ease anxiety.
Thus, you need to expose Fido to various people, from men and women of all ages to children, so he can get acclimated to the concept of people (who are much bigger). The notion is that if he only ever hangs out with one person, he may grow wary of anyone that is not that person. Therefore, it is critical to diversify his social calendar and spend some time for meets-and-greets.
- If your dog acts scared, stay calm and confident. Don't push but never make a huge deal out of its skittish behavior, either.
- Ensure that individuals who want to pet your pooch should place their hands where they can be seen, like your dog's chin or chest.
- Use treats to offer your pet a positive association with new experiences and people.
- Go back to the basics. A pup who is confident with its routine and training makes a well-rounded pet.
- Drop in a pet sitter or enlist a dog walker to provide your pup exposure to various caregivers during the day.
In a classic animal study cited by Pet Health Network, it was discovered that puppies that are socialized starting 5 weeks of age were significantly more interested in humans than puppies that started socialization at the ages of 2, 3, and 9 weeks. Hence, the said period is considered the sweet spot for socializing a puppy in order to build a good interaction with people and other animals.
Typically, during this stage, new pups should be exposed to unfamiliar people; body handling (paws, ears, or tail); unfamiliar dress (jackets, hoods, hats, sunglasses); urban environments; vehicles; bodies of water; parks, beaches, and woods; different types of ground surfaces and flooring; common neighborhood objects like bicycles, street signs, skateboards, benches, and bicycles; cats and other dogs.
The same study also revealed that at the 16th week (after 2 weeks of daily contact with humans) the dog participants were scored significantly lower on handleability. Meaning, these puppies were fearful towards humans and becomes a lot more difficult to socialize. But don't be dismayed. If you have an older dog that has never been socialized, remember you can always teach an old dog new tricks (contrary to the popular belief).
Attend Dog Classes
Hearts in Harmony noted that there are dog owners who complain about not being able to take their pooches out for a walk or have guests over in fear of jumping on the guests or chasing other pets. With proper socialization and early dog training, however, your dog will be exposed to other dog-loving people and four-leggers outside of your home setting and can help prevent behavior issues later in life.
If you can't do it alone, you can always ask for professional help by enrolling your pup in dog classes. Though, you can start a few basic puppy training at home but make sure to provide a safe environment for your dogs. Experts referenced at Pets Web MD recommend confining the puppy in a room, in a crate, or on a leash. As your pup learns that he needs to go outside to do their business and you puppy-proof your house for his safety, you can gradually provide them more freedom to roam about the house. Dog training classes are also an ideal place to meet other people and dogs in a controlled and safe environment.
Stock up on Treats
Most dogs will do anything for a treat, so it is handy to have a supply of these to keep your pup on his best behavior. Anytime your pooch has a successful interaction with other people and another dog, give him a treat. This encourages positive social behavior towards your dog. If you're searching for the best dog treats to offer to your pet, then you can visit Well Pet Coach for more information.
High-value and tasty treats will reach more mileage. Just be sure to adjust your pup's calorie consumption at mealtime to compensate for extra calories during snack time. Labrador Training HQ also reminds dog owners that treats should only be used as a reinforcement tool and not for bribery.
Hit the Dog Park
Best Dog Gear explained dog parks are exclusive for pet owners and canines, unlike other parks. This is where dog owners can bring their four-leggers to socialize with humans and other dogs. Moreover, it is a dog-friendly place with dog poop bags ready for use as well as scooper stations. Most importantly, it provides an off-leash experience for canines. If you want to introduce your dog to the dog park for the first time, you can follow the recommendations given by Best Dog Gear.
- Be sure to vaccinate your pooch with all the necessary shots
- Know your dog's personality
- Don't enter the dog right away. Always take it slow
- Train your dog for basic obedience first
- Never consider dog parks as a substitute for daily walks
- Always put your dog on a leash
- Learn how to break fights
Follow Your Dog’s Cues
Ensure that interactions are long enough for your dog to get acquainted, but not too long as to wear your furry pal out. Just like you and your best friend, spend plenty of time together and you might begin to notice things you have never seen before- for better or for worse.
Introducing a Chihuahua to a Chow Chow might sound adorable, but don't forget to practice caution when introducing canines. Before facilitating a meet and sniff, always ensure the other party is friendly. Be aware of the signs of discomfort in your dog (excessive yawning, panting, tail between the legs) and act accordingly).
As mentioned previously, know what to do if a dog fight breaks out. Despite all your best efforts, it can happen anytime. So, make sure you are ready:
- Give it a moment. Most doggie fights end as rapidly as they started.
- If they go at it for more than a few seconds, try to squirt them with a water pistol or a host or use a long stick to push them apart. Never step in with your body or hands.
- If they are still fighting after 3 seconds, you and the other owner should approach your pets from the rear. Gently grab their back legs at the upper part of the leg and lift them up like a wheelbarrow then start moving back. Never reach for the collar. Your pet could bite you by reflex.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and remember that the more successful interactions your pooch has with humans and his brethren, the easier it will get for him to enjoy his stay at the dog park.