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Need Some Canine Counseling? Ask Albert!


Question: 

It’s going to be my dog’s first time at the dog park. How should I introduce him to this new environment?
 

Albert Says: 

Your dog’s first experience at the park will be very exciting for him if he’s a social butterfly—it’s a fun place where he can be himself, meet new friends, and learn important social skills. 
 
First, do some research on the dog parks in your area. An ideal park will have a secure fence and separate areas for big dogs and small dogs. Bigger dogs often play a little roughly, which can be overwhelming for your Miniature Dachshund or Yorkie. 
 
Dogs who are not spayed or neutered should not go to the dog park, and puppies should not visit the dog park if they haven’t had all their core vaccines. Some parks require proof of a current rabies vaccine, but some aren’t as closely monitored. To ensure the safety of your dog and his playmates, keep him home if he’s not completely vaccinated yet.
 
For his first time, especially if he’s a little shy, bring your dog to the park when it’s not crowded. Early morning is usually your best bet; evenings and weekends are usually the busiest. Also keep his first visit short and sweet so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed. 
 
Bring along some water for him, but leave the treats and toys at home—you don’t want to trigger possessiveness or tension between dogs who are vying for treats.
 
Once you enter the park and take your dog off his leash, keep an eye on him at all times. Control him if he’s pestering another dog, and don’t let other dogs agitate him. If you see a bad situation developing, remove your dog immediately. Don’t wait for another owner to act or to see if the situation resolves itself; it’s your responsibility to keep your dog safe!
 
Perfect the recall! This is an invaluable command at the dog park. A reliable recall is more effective than chasing your dog around to leash him or to resolve a bad situation. Make sure your dog has been thoroughly trained to come when called outdoors (not just indoors), regardless of distractions.
 
Be courteous and remember to clean up after your dog. Many parks even supply bags and trash bins for your convenience.
 
If your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy the park, try introducing him to one or two other dogs and owners with private playdates. He may find a couple friends he enjoys spending time with instead.
 
 

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