Yikes... My Baby is at the Dog Park: What to Expect and How to Manage Behavior.
Hello everyone and welcome to Daragan's. We are a small pet care service that offers quality care for our busy clients. Being small does have it's advantages.
What I'd like to discuss today, are dog parks. Dog parks can be a great place to have your dog socialize and release some energy. Many people love to bring their beloved pets to one after a long day of work. Some dog parks have a wide open space with acres of land where dogs can run freely, while others have an enclosed space that keeps our puppies out of the woods or someone's yard. Either way each of us enjoy the benefits of allowing our dog to run & play with other mates.
However, there should be some caution when we bring our pets into any park where there are many other dogs and no trained staff. Some simple training techniques could prevent a costly trip to the vet and a wounded dog; both physically & emotionally.
Dogs love to run and play freely. They have no inhibitions or sense of expectations. We pull into the park, they jump out the car, and run to greet their friends. All they want to do is sniff, pee, run & play. They go into a dog park solely to have a great time. But, sometimes, things can get unbalanced and dangerous for our beloved pets. We need to be prepared to protect them when they need us. We need to know what's going on in the dog world in order to read what they are saying to each other.
Greeting - nose to nose, snout to snout, back side to back side.
When dogs greet each other, they get a good whiff of their friends through their sense of smell. Dogs sniff each other's mouths, then their ears, then their behinds. This is a great way to meet because dogs have poor eye sight and only see in black & white. A good sniff of their friends communicates to them who they are. Caution should be noted by the owner if two dogs stay nose to nose. In the dog world, two dogs staying nose to nose is danger and potentially harmful. Two dogs that stay nose to nose need a leader to intervene. Watch your dog carefully and keep them on leash until greeting have been complete and your dog knows you are keeping an eye on the situation.
Prey Drive- the chase.
Dogs live in four drives. One of the drives is the Prey Drive which starts with the "chase". This can be very difficult for a dog that is the prey and it is NO FUN. If you see another dog chasing your dog intently, in a prey zone, don't wait for something to happen or think, "they are just playing". In the dog world the Prey Drive is very deliberate and needs to be taken seriously by pet owners. When dogs are in the Prey Drive, the dominate dog is to the right of the submissive dog and slightly behind them. The dominate dog is focused in on the submissive dog and is relentless in the chase. This is where many dogs get hurt, bites occur, and sometimes much worse. We need to develop a strong recall command with our dogs in order to snap our dogs out of the Prey Drive. Watch your dog and make eye contact with them so they know you are present and are aware of what's happening. If your dog is the submissive dog, squat down and turn to your side, raise your arm and use a sound / treat to let your dog know you're there. Stay calm, your dog should run to you for your protection. When the other dog approaches you, push the dog away, firmly. Let the dominate dog know, you're in charge (your pup will thank you). If your dog is the dominate dog, have a high-level treat in hand and use a sound to recall your dog immediately. Don't let the chase go on too long. Don't scream or yell, stay calm; let your dog know that this chase is unacceptable by making eye contact. Train him that there's a high-level treat is in store for him when he stops and comes to you. Wait this out, your dog will responded to a leader that he can trust.
Rolling play - 50 / 50.
When dogs play they love to roll around and around, especially pups. They don't care if they are rolling in mud, grass, turf, or poop. They will play & play until they are exhausted. This play is very important for their development and social skills. What we need to watch out for is when one dog is on top of the other dog more then 50% of the time. A dominate dog will always be on top of another dog when they are playing. The dominate dog will pin down another dog by it's neck and hold him there for over 5 seconds. If this happens, we need to separate them and watch their play. If you need to, place a leash on one of the dogs and encourage this play of 50/50. If one dogs continues to play "too rough", step away from that dog. He will find another pup to play with.
The dog world is much different then ours and we need to be very present when socializing them with other dogs. This is not the time for us to mingle paying no attention to our pups. Sometimes a good old-fashioned walk is what's best for our beloved four legged family member.
Another great option is dog daycare. Daycare is a monitored environment with trained staff that allows your dog to play with others and learn social skills. Get in touch if you're interested in signing your dog up for our daycare services.