Dog parks can be a lot of fun for pets and owners. But they can also get very tense, very fast. So before you head down, consider these five things to do to get your rescue dog ready for the dog park.
Dogs under the age of 16 weeks aren’t ready for the dog park because they may not be finished with their early inoculations and can be vulnerable to disease. But older dogs need to keep their health in mind too. Check that your rescue dog’s vaccination, flea and heart treatment records are up to date. They’ll also need to be dedesexed: dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered can cause issues among the group (not to mention risk unplanned mattings).
Dog parks can be overwhelming for anyone. But if you have recently adopted a rescue dog it pays to go slow. Try taking them on a walk with another dog you know first. That way you can get a sense of their reaction to other animals in a more controlled environment. If they seem tense, aggressive, or overly anxious give the dog park a miss for now. Focus on behavioural training and helping them feel secure with you first.
Once you’re sure you’ve got you rescue dog ready for the dog park, read up about the space online or swing by alone first. This will inform you of specific rules ahead of time. For example, are there areas for different sized dogs? Is it an on or off leash space?
In general, pets that don’t have strong recall skills aren’t ready for the dog park. This means they (always) come when you call, no matter what else is going on.
To decrease the chance of them getting overly excited, don’t take them straight to the park. Go on a walk first where they can burn off extra energy so they arrive in a more relaxed state.
All dogs need to wear a collar and tag with their name and your phone number on it. Make sure their registration information is up to date too. Whether it’s an on or off leash park, they should stay leashed as you enter.
Pack a Bag
Remember your poop bags. Many parks provide them, but there’s no guarantee they will be stocked up. Leaving mess behind in a communal dog park is a bad move.
Take toys, but not their favourites. Remember, anything you bring could be damaged or snatched by another dog. You don’t want them to become overly possessive or risk losing a special item.
Treats are a great way to reward your dog for good behaviour, but ask before giving them to other pets. You never know who has allergies or special diets.
Have a “Is This Rescue Dog Ready for the Dog Park?” Heart to Heart
Ultimately, you’re the one who has the best sense of whether or not you’ve got your rescue dog ready for the dog park. Even the sweetest animals in the world can get anxious, overwhelmed, or struggle to properly engage with other pets. Be objective: is your pet going to be a positive presence in this space? Will they make it a good experience for others? If not, that’s ok. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad dog. Just not a dog park dog.
For more help with your pup, check out Scratch’s ultimate new dog guide.
Getting ready for life with a rescue dog? Get more great advice here.
Photos via FreePik