Develop an optimal relationship with your dog

Socializing at the Dog Park

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Just as with our human children, socialization is an important part of raising a well-behaved canine companion. Dog parks are great places for a dog to experience some of what life has to offer and to learn and grow. Dog parks are similar to preschool and kindergarten as they offer a wonderful environment in which your dog can learn and practice skills, from dealing with different personalities and temperaments to learning proper play. Older dogs can practice more advanced distraction training, meet a new playmate, or just burn off pent-up energy.
Despite the growing number of dog parks in the Chicago area, they are still relatively rare and, therefore, crowded. As long as you are a vigilant owner, though, the benefits far exceed any risks.
Preparing for a Fun-Filled Visit to the Dog Park

At a Chicago Area Dog Park

Before starting off for the park for the first time, you should be sure your dog is fully protected.  For starters, make sure your dog is fully vaccinated and ready for such an experience. If your dog has a problem behaving with one or more dogs or is timid or aggressive, you should discuss the matter with a behaviorist or trainer. Proper training can be affordable and fun. Look for a trainer that teaches only humane, positive, and motivational methods to help build a great relationship between you and your companion. If your dog has previous or on-going medical conditions, talk to your veterinarian before going to the park to  prevent more serious problems or complications.

If this is your dog’s first visit to a dog park,  take it slow. Consider keeping your the dog on a lead outside the fenced area for while. This helps him or her remain calm and get use to the commotion. A dog who typically has a high level of energy may need some exercise before going into the park. Watch carefully and learn your dog’s threshold for stress and exhaustion. At the first signs of approaching either, it is time to go home. If your dog does nothing but bark, dig holes, bullies others or just appears uncomfortable, you should remove him or her from the situation.

Socializing at the dog park is great for all ages.

Above all else, use your common sense and knowledge of your dog. Remember to remain vigilent and never rely on another person to do the right thing. You should feel comfortable intervening on behalf of your dog whenever needed. Most importantly make sure you and your dog have fun at the park. If you get stressed, your dog also will get stressed.

When you are ready to go, remember to follow park etiquette:
  • Always clean up after your dog
  • Never bring glass into the park
  • Never bring food or treats into the park, including natural or artificial bones
  • Do not over-exercise your dog in excessive heat or cold
  • Be sure vaccines and license are up-to-date
  • Use a correctly fitting collar with ID tags
  • Do not leave a harness or prong collar on your dog in the park
  • Use a proper-length lead to and from the entrance
  • Keep an eye on your dog and intervene at the first sign of poor behavior
  • Only use safe toys manufactured specifically for dogs
  • Leave females who are “in heat” and small puppies at home. Intact males are not usually allow at dog parks.
  • Use extra caution if you bring a small child
  • Check with each park for local protocol, paid passes, and other rules

Having a fun, safe time at the dog beach.

What to Bring:

  • Extra water
  • Towels or rags – Clean dogs paws off with cleaning wipe or soap.
  • Extra lead and collar
  • Extra poop bags
  • First aid kit and vaccination paperwork
  • Knowledge of nearby animal hospital locations

Author: Big Sky Dog Training

Professional Reward Based Dog Trainer for over 20 years. Teaching obedience and foundation dog training utilizing leadership skills with an understanding of animal behavior puppy development stages and genetics.

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