There are tremendous benefits to taking your dog to an off-leash dog park and letting him run free! According to the American Kennel Club, off-leash dog parks allow dogs to exercise and socialize safely. Even when we run with our dogs, they are merely trotting along beside us. The only time that they open up, let loose, and really expend some energy is when they are off leash and running after a ball or another dog.
Ask any trainer and they will tell you, a well-behaved dog is a well-exercised dog.
So once you have found your way to the dog park and made some friends, what more do you need to know? These are, in a nutshell, a few basic tips to consider when visiting a dog park:
• Gather useful information from not only talking with other pet owners but also from observing other dogs and their behaviors.
• Prevent dogfights by waiting for packs to disperse before entering the park. If you are already inside, bring your dog away from the gate. If a scuffle breaks out, redirect your dog’s attention quickly.
• Provide room for escape to curb your dog’s impulse to fight.
• Do not leash your dog when unleashed dogs are around. Apart from giving other dogs opportunities for bullying, it prevents your dog from feeling he can escape an undesirable situation.
• Do not bring treats or toys to the park that could stimulate competition.
• Never take your attention away from your dog.
• Always pick up after your dog. Sometimes picking up after others is a good practice, too.
Remember that dog parks are about socialization and exercise that will lead to better behavior and a better relationship between you and your dog, and between you, your dog, and your community!
Jill Aronson is an SLDogPAC board member who lives in the South Loop with her dog Leo. ©2010 Jill Aronson. This article originally appeared at Examiner.com.