Socializing Dogs at Off-Leash Dog Parks
Socializing a puppy can create a well-behaved dog
Does your dog need to meet other dogs? An off-leash dog park is a great way to socialize your dog!
Our beagle Ruby is an exuberant little pup, to put it mildly. She seems to have a happiness about her that is apparent in every waking moment. Ruby is full of joy and has an uncanny ability to bring a ton of joy into our home.
So, it never occurred to me that others may not feel the same way about our sweet little beagle. Look at her; how could anyone resist such an adorable, innocent, floppy-eared face? As it turns out, quite a few people walking their dogs in the neighborhood can.
Sure, her howl may put a few people off, but it's always accompanied with the biggest, happiest tail-wagging. She simply is excited to see one of her own kind and would give anything to make a new canine friend. When allowed to greet, the sniffing exchange is always calm and both dogs seem to be happy. But, when not allowed to greet a would-be canine friend, Ruby seems to whimper in complete sadness as the other dog is walked away.
Finally, sick of what I think of as "dog walking snobs," I decided that I needed to find like-minded dog owners who wanted their dogs to meet other dogs and have fun being together; who didn't panic at our beagle's howls of anticipation; and who didn't flinch or walk away at the sight of an oncoming dog. The solution was obvious -- Ruby needed to be taken to an off-leash dog park.
Running freely at a dog park
Making friends at a dog park
Benefits of taking your dog to an off-leash dog park
Americans own over 73 million dogs and 60% of U.S. households have at least one dog. Dog parks are not only beneficial to the dogs, but also to the dog owners.
Dog parks benefit dog owners by:
- Allowing dog owners to meet and socialize with other dog owners
- Providing a place to get exercise by walking on trails with their dog(s)
Off-Leash dog parks benefit dogs by providing a place where dogs:
- Interact and play with other dogs
- Freely follow their pack instincts
- Explore unfettered, sniffing their way through trails (This is really important for our dog since a beagle's sense of smell and ability to track a scent is second nature.)
- Develop friendships and the companionship of other dogs
- Exercise by running at top-speed in open spaces and wrestling with each other
- Don't have territory and territorial issues, reducing any aggression
- Have fun, tire themselves out, and are more well-behaved at home
Dogs meeting other dogs in a non-territorial location is a big benefit of dog parks
Off-leash dog park rules
There are definite rules at dog parks and they should be followed for the safety of the dogs, as well as dog owners.
- Do not take a puppy under 4 months to a dog park. Puppies need to have all their rabies vaccines before interacting with other dogs.
- Even though dogs are running in open areas meant for dogs, owners are still responsible for cleaning up after their dog. Many dog parks provide plastic bags to encourage clean-up.
- If your dog is being aggressive, then remove him from the park.
- Many dog parks have double-fenced entries. Be sure to close and lock all gates.
- Only bring dogs that can follow verbal commands.
- Keep a watchful eye on your dog, monitoring both his safety and behavior.
Confident dogs are often well-behaved dogs
Finding a dog park
Things to bring to dog parks
Leash - Dogs should be leashed in parking lot areas and may need to be leashed within the dog park if problems arise.
Treats - Dog parks are wonderful places to train a dog and of course treats aid in that process. It is also a good idea to bring treats in case an uncooperative dog needs to be enticed.
Plastic Bags - Dog parks are enjoyable places for both dogs and owners to exercise so dog poop should always be picked up.
Bowl & Water - Many dog parks have drinking fountains for the dogs but they seem rather germy. I prefer to bring my own bowl and water, also because on hot summer days sometimes a drink is needed when far away from a fountain.
Towel - Depending on the dog park and whether or not there is water or it has recently rained, having a towel is handy for cleaning up before getting in the car to go home.