Ah, yes, I can still remember my first trip to the local dog park as a blue tick/lab mix pup. I was so excited that I ditched my human and headed straight for the doggy pool. After the swim, I caught an ear infection and spent the next two weeks with a lampshade around my neck. Needless to say, it was a good lesson for my human and me.
To promote happy and healthy mutts, here’s a useful list of tips I’ve compiled for your reading pleasure:
Give small dogs extra consideration: Try finding a dog park with a small dog section, or specific small-dog playtimes. It’s easy for a little guy to get overwhelmed and bowled over by larger dogs like me. Also, keep your small dog on the ground rather than toting him under your arm in the park. The elevation can either give a dog a false sense of control or security, or entice other dogs to jump up at the dog being held to get a closer sniff, according to The BARk.
When your dog is pooped it’s time to go: Visits to the dog park need to be an all-round good time. If your dog is running out of steam, or other dogs are getting out of control, you may want to high tail it. On the other hand, if your dog is having a heck of a good time, you might want to stay a little longer.
Vigilant is the way to be: Remain focused on your dog no matter how enjoyable your human companions are. Avoid being a part of those stationary human chat circles, because that, in turn, will result in too many dogs gathering in one place. The dog park staff is there to maintain order, but it’s also the human’s responsibility to keep the park a safe and fun experience.
Training is key: Sure, your mutt has the freedom to do whatever he pleases at the dog park, but a trained canine will come in handy more than you know. It’s also pretty important that he is fully socialized with other dogs and knows how to play without picking a fight. Some key training lessons include: name recognition, come, stay, sit and leave it, according to PawNation.
Keep an eye on the thermometer: This is particularly important during those hot summer days. Be aware of the temperatures and how much heat your dog can take. It’s important to provide a cool area for him to rest, whether it’s a puppy tent or a nice, shady spot under a tree. And, if you know it’s going to be toasty, try and get your mutt to the dog park in the a.m. hours before the temp peaks.
Bonus: Tip of the Month
Moisture in a dog’s ear can easily set the stage for an ear infection, so be sure to clean your pooch’s ears thoroughly after each romp in the water. Pool, lake and ocean waters hold all sorts of bacteria that can infect, inflame and even damage your dog’s eardrums. Don’t know how to clean out that pesky moisture? Inner ear skin is delicate, so contact your vet to demonstrate the proper method of cleaning your dog’s ears.